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Badis ruber

Badis ruber
Burmese Badis
This is perhaps the best known Badis species in the aquarium hobby after B. badis . It was for a number of years known as Badis badis burmicanus and will be seen labelled as such in older literature. Within the genus it is most easily confused with B. khwae and B. siamensis but can be identified by the flank patterning which consists of rows of vertically-arranged dark markings. In B. siamensis these appear more in the form of horizontal stripes while in B. khwae they are absent altogether. The three also differ in the shape of the dark marking on the caudal peduncle; in Badis ruber it is relatively large and extends over the dorsal surface of the peduncle, in B. khwae it is noticeably smaller and in B. siamensis reduced even further or missing in some cases. Posterior to the caudal peduncle marking Badis ruber exhibits three more, smaller dark spots at the caudal fin base, B. khwae a dark bar and B. siamensis some faint blotches. 

Prior to 2002 the family Badidae included just five species of which only B. badis and, to a lesser extent, Badis dario (referred to as B. bengalensis by some sources) were popular in the aquarium hobby. However an extensive revision paper by Kullander and Britz released that year resulted in the erection of no less than ten new species along with the genus Dario into which B. dario was moved and designated the type species. Dario currently contains only three members which are most easily distinguished from Badis by their small adult size (usually less than 1"/2.5cm), predominantly red colouration, extended first few dorsal rays/pectoral fins in males, straight-edged (vs. rounded) caudal fin, lack of visible lateral line and less involved parental behaviour. Badis species now number fifteen with several new ones described recently and others awaiting description. 

Some of them are not always easy to identify correctly. For example B. badis , B. chittagongis, B. ferrarisi, B. kanabos, B. khwae , Badis ruber, B. siamensis and B. tuivaiei all exhibit a dark cleithral spot just above the base of the pectoral fin. However B. khwae , Badis ruber and B. siamensis all have an additional blotch on the caudal peduncle, and B. badis can be told apart from B. kanabos by possessing a series of dark markings in the dorsal fin and/or at its base (vs. a single marking at the front of the fin) and only faint or indistinct vertical bars on the flanks (vs. a series of dark narrow bars). B. badis , B. chittagongis, B. dibruensis, B. tuivaiei and B. ferrarisi only differ in some morphological counts although the latter has very distinctive patterning, displaying a series of black vertical bars along the centre of the flanks. 

Badids have historically been considered members of the families Nandidae or Pristolepididae and it was not until 1968 that Barlow proposed a separate grouping for them. They share some characteristics with anabantoids, nandids and channids; most notably for aquarists the typical spawning embrace in which the male wraps his body around that of the female. More recent studies have concluded that this procedure is an ancient trait inherited from a common ancestor to all these families. In the 2002 revision paper all Badis, Dario and Nandus species were found to share a uniquely bifurcated (split) hemal spine on the penultimate vertebra and the authors hypothesise that this may represent evidence of the monophyly of this group. They further propose that the family Nandidae should be restricted to include only Nandus species with the other genera (Polycentrus, Monocirrhus, Afronandus and Polycentropsis) grouped together in Polycentridae. Following this system the Nandidae and Badidae are only separated by differences in morphology and egg structure although the phylogenetic relationships between them are yet to be fully-studied. 

These recent studies have also shown that there exist several groups/clades within the genus, each containing species that are most closely-related to one another. The B. badis group is distinguished only by the cleithral spot and contains B. badis , B. chittagongis, B. dubruensis, B. ferrarisi, B. kanabos and B. tuivaiei . Badis ruber, B. siamensis and B. khwae comprise the Badis ruber group and are most easily identified by the combination of cleithral spot plus caudal peduncle blotch. The B. assamensis group consists of B. assamensis and B. blosyrus with a unique body pattern of light and dark striping while the B. corycaeus group includes B. corycaeus and B. pyema which possess an ocellated marking at the base of the caudal fin along with a reduction in the number of sensory pores on the head. 

There are two unique species which don't fit into any of these groups; B. kyar is separated by its relatively elongated body shape, pattern of vertical barring and band-like caudal fin marking; B. juergenschmidti is similar to B. kyar in some respects but the first vertical body bar is straight (vs. curved), vertical bars 5, 6 and 7 are solid (vs. vertically split) and the dorsal and lower caudal fin lobe are edged in white in males (vs. no white patterning). In the phylogenetic study B. kyar was found to represent the sister group to either the Badis ruber or B. badis /B. assamensis clades depending on the test performed and further studies are required to determine the exact placement of these two within the genus.