betta imbellis

Betta Imbellis Fish Guide: Diet, Care, Tank Mates, and Breeding Need

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Betta imbellis, or the Peaceful Betta, earns its name from being somewhat calmer than its feisty cousin, the Siamese Fighting Fish.

Many fishkeepers are attracted to its more laid-back temperament and the possibility of keeping this species in a small group.

This fish, however, isn’t totally without its dark side and can still cause trouble if territorial disputes arise!

Let’s take a closer look at how we can help the Peaceful Betta live up to its name as a happy, healthy, and peaceful fish in the aquarium.

Betta Imbellis Fact Sheet Info

Betta Imbellis Info 
Common NamesPeaceful Betta, Crescent Betta
Peaceful Betta, Crescent BettaBetta imbellis
Minimum Tank Size5 to 10 gallons
Experience LevelIntermediate
BreedingRequires experience
Lifespan3-5 years
DietOmnivore but primarily carnivorous
AggressionMedium
Water temperature72° to 81°F
pH5 - 7.5
Water hardness5-15 dGH

Origin and History

The Peaceful Betta is native to Southern Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. They hail from similar habitats to Betta splendens – rice paddies, swamps, ditches, and quiet pools.

They have been less exploited by the aquarium trade than their cousins, Betta splendens. Still, They have been becoming more popular in recent years due to their winning combination of placid character and beautiful looks.

What Does Betta imbellis Look Like?

Betta imbellis look similar in appearance to betta splendens, but for a few subtle differences.

They tend to have shorter, more rounded fins than their cousins, and the most popular forms typically come in a beautiful emerald-blue color with red-tinted fins.

Some individuals, perhaps those closer to the wild species, maybe duller shades of black and brown.

The Peaceful Betta’s round tail or caudal fins forms a beautiful semi-circle, earning this species its second common name – The Crescent Betta.

Since they are much less highly bred than regular bettas, their colors and fin variations are less diverse than betta splendens, but in my opinion, they are no less beautiful!

Sexual Dimorphism in Betta imbellis

Like other bettas, males typically exhibit brighter colors and longer fins than their female counterparts.

Their colors become especially intense during the breeding season when they’re asserting their territory and given a rich and varied diet.

Male betta imbellis also usually grow a bit larger than females. Males can sometimes exceed 2 inches in length, making them a little smaller than betta splendens which can reach 3 inches.

How Long Do Peaceful Bettas Live?

Betta imbellis can live for up to 4 years and, in exceptional cases, sometimes more.

You can help to extend your pet betta fish’s life by offering them meticulous care, clean water, plenty of plants and hiding places, and a varied, protein-rich diet.

Feeding

Betta imbellis share a similar diet and feeding habits to their Siamese Fighting Fish relatives. They prefer a meaty, high-protein menu but may supplement this by occasionally grazing on algae or plant material.

Because betta imbellis is less heavily domesticated than betta splendens, they may be slower to recognize dried foods such as betta pellets as edible.

They prefer foods that remind them of their natural diet: bloodworms, brine shrimp, daphnia, and Mysis shrimp are all good choices. Flake foods are also a great option.

How Much and How Often To Feed

Betta imbellis are notably susceptible to obesity and other health problems related to overfeeding. For their long life and well-being, it’s essential they’re not fed too often or too much!

Feed Betta imbellis no more than two times a day, with no more food than they can consume in a minute or two.

If any food falls to the bottom, be sure to clean it up before it begins decaying – or employ a shrimp or corydoras catfish to do it for you!

For more information on feeding bettas, be sure to read our feeding guide here.

Tank Setup

Tank Size

A single Peaceful Betta will need at least a 5-gallon to remain happy and healthy. But the wonderful thing about this fish is that you can usually keep more than one of them without them fighting too much!

A male-female Betta imbellis pair will need at least 10 gallons, but if you want to keep more than one pair, a 30-gallon tank with lots of plants and hiding places is advisable to avoid territorial conflicts.

Water Parameters

Betta imbellis is tolerant of a wide range of water parameters, but it’s still crucial to maintain stable conditions without sudden fluctuations.

They prefer a water temperature between 72-81 Fahrenheit and acid-neutral water between pH 5 – 7.5 with hardness between 5-15 dGH.

To retain a stable temperature in your tank, you’ll need a reliable heater with a good thermostat.

Filtration

As with Betta splendens, the Peaceful Betta needs a filtered tank but doesn’t enjoy a strong current. A big tank size ensures sufficient oxygen levels and water levels to maintain the biological balance of the fish.

This species doesn’t have to deal with much current in their natural habitat and will feel stressed if the surface water moves too fast.

Try to find a gentle flow filter, like a double sponge filter with a gentle air pump. They may also tolerate a power filter in a larger tank as long as the outlet can be directed to the lower reaches of the tank.

This will provide a more tranquil environment in the tank’s upper water, where the Peaceful Betta will spend most of its time.

Lighting

The pools and paddies home to Betta imbellis are often overgrown with floating plants and thick overhanging vegetation in the wild.

This means they usually receive a fairly subdued level of lighting in their natural habitat.

You can replicate these conditions at home by providing tank lights that are not too bright and perhaps some floating plants.

It’s essential for the health of your fish and your plants that the tank is kept away from direct sunlight and that the tank lights are turned on for 8-12 hours per day and turned off at night. Consider installing a timer switch to help you with this.

Suitable Plants

Betta imbellis will thrive in a heavily planted aquarium, and if you’re keeping more than one, the plants will really help the fish establish territories and provide more hiding places.

Floating plants like Amazon Frogbit or Red Root Floaters are perfect for breaking up the surface and producing a dappled shade effect.

Low-light tolerant plants include Microsorum pteropus (Java fern), Taxiphyllum Barbieri (Java moss), and Cryptocoryne spp. (Crypts) are all good choices of plant species that require lower light levels and can grow successfully under dim lighting where Betta imbellis thrives.

Tank Decoration

As for decor, think about this fish’s natural environment.

Among the shallow ditches and pools of South East Asia, you’ll likely find plenty of fallen branches, twisted roots in the water, and fallen leaves at certain times of the year.

You can replicate these conditions by offering Betta imbellis some choice pieces of driftwood and some Catappa Leaves (aka. Indian Almond Leaves) for leaf litter.

The tannins produced by Catappa leaves and driftwood will lower your tank’s pH, and many aquarists believe that the tannins also help to improve their fish’s natural immunity.

Tannins add a lovely golden brown tinge to the water that works a treat if you want to create a natural-looking aquascape.

Substrate

Your choice of substrate will depend on how many plants you want to include in your tank.

For heavily planted tanks, consider choosing aquarium soil that will provide a supreme rooting medium and long-term fertility for your plants to thrive.

For fewer plants, you could opt for a gravel substrate, with perhaps some root tablet fertilizers around the plants.

Be sure to choose gravel and rocks with smooth edges that won’t damage this fish’s delicate fins.

Sand tends to be rather compact for plants to thrive, and at least some live plants are recommended for this fish’s well-being.

Marbles and pebble substrates are unsuitable since they trap pieces of uneaten food, leading to water toxicity.

Tank Mates

While Betta imbellis may be referred to as the ‘peaceful betta’ – it should be noted this is only relative compared with the true Siamese Fighter Fish! They can still be fairly territorial and may still chase after other fish.

They are also quite a small and delicate species – meaning it’s important that any other species sharing their tank are both robust and peaceful!

This narrows the options to potentially benign smaller fish species such as White Cloud Mountain Minnows, Raspboras, Khuli Loaches, or Corydoras catfish.

Invertebrates like Ghost Shrimp, Cherry Shrimp, Mystery Snails, and Apple Snails also make interesting tankmates for Crescent Bettas while doing a sterling job at keeping the tank clean!

Breeding Betta Imbellis

betta imbellis

Betta imbellis are not mouthbrooders – they belong to the group of bettas that build bubble nests to reproduce.

Their courtship is extraordinary to watch and can be one of the highlights of keeping a more peaceful species like this which can be kept in pairs without fighting one another.

When ready to spawn, the male will build a bubble nest at the water’s surface. He’ll be looking for a place where the water is still and sheltered, so adding some floating plants is an especially good idea at this time.

Once the nest is ready, the male will coax the female to lay eggs, repeatedly curling his body around hers in a beautiful embrace. When she finally lays her eggs, he’ll simultaneously release his milt to fertilize them.

Fertilized eggs are then collected by both fish and transferred to the bubble nest.

The eggs hatch in 1-2 days and remain in the nest for a further 3-4 days to consume their yolk sac.

The male takes full responsibility for protecting the fry while they remain in the nest, so other fish need to give him a wide berth during this time!

This protective behavior normally ends once the fry has swum from its nest. Thankfully, the parents of betta imbellis won’t normally consume their own young unless they’re very stressed.

Raising the Fry of Betta Imbellis

Once free-swimming, the Peaceful Betta fry can be kept alongside their parents or in their own separate tank.

This tank should have a tightly sealed lid and some air space at the top to ensure a warm, humid environment for the young to breathe.

Remember, all bettas are labyrinth fish that breathe a portion of their oxygen from the water’s surface. This is particularly important for the fry.

Feed the fry with a baby fish food infusion for the first few days until they’re big enough to take a balanced mix of larger foods such as microworms and moderate quantities of baby brine shrimp.

Keep the water clean with a gentle sponge filter and weekly water changes.

Crossbreeding

This fish has been successfully bred with Betta splendens (Siamese Fighter Fish), Betta smaragdina (Emerald betta), and others. This led to many hybrids that may be quite difficult to track.

Hybrid offspring are likely to be between their parents regarding their appearance, care requirements, and temperament. Always ensure you do selective breeding to maintain the fish’s natural instincts.

If you want to make sure you’re getting a pure Betta imbellis, be sure to purchase your fish from a knowledgeable and reputable supplier.

Conclusion

Betta imbellis are among the most popular alternatives to the infamous Siamese Fighting Fish.

Their more laid-back nature and beautiful features make them a great choice for intermediate and advanced fishkeepers wanting to keep multiple bettas in the same tank.

If you decide to keep the Peaceful Betta in a pair or group, follow our advice in giving them a large, well-planted tank with lots of hiding places.

They may not be as ferocious as their infamous cousins, but this fish can still pack a punch if another fish crosses their territory on the wrong day!

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