Peaceful bettas are a great alternative to the more common Betta splendens species of Siamese fighting fish. Most people know that the common betta is highly aggressive. Whether this is how it evolved or how we have bred it to be over the last few hundred years, the fact is that you need to keep them alone in an aquarium if you want to avoid constant fighting. This isn’t the case for the peaceful betta!
Betta imbellis is the the species we often see labeled as “peaceful betta” in pet stores and online. Most often, people buy this one because they want to house several bettas – from a single pair up to a larger group – in one community tank which simply is not possible with our usual fighter fish. But – can this be safely done with this fish?
In fact, you’ll be happy to know that it can! Most of the time you will not have any problems doing this with imbellis bettas. They do flare their fins at each other but almost purely for show. It is pretty rare that a flaring match will end up in any significant amount of damage to either fish involved.
How do you care for the peaceful betta? It is pretty simple. The most important aspect of their fish care is giving them enough space. If you want to have just a male and female pair together, you should have a 10 gallon aquarium. For a larger group, please go with at least 25 or 30 gallons of water. No matter what size tank you go with you will need to have sufficient hiding spots for all the fish to feel safe. The best way to provide these hiding spots for peaceful bettas is to have a planted tank with different plant types and some caves.
Plants with big, broad leaves (such as Amazon sword) or bushy plants (like hornwort or java fern) are great choices. Caves can be either natural looking ones that you create on your own by using medium sized rocks or artificial ones – this choice would depend on the style of aquarium you are aiming to create.
As with other species of so-called ‘wild bettas’, peaceful betta fish can – and do – jump at times! You definitely need to keep the aquarium covered and may even want to lower the water level a bit.
Fish foods for Betta imbellis are pretty similar to Betta splendens but you will no doubt find that they will ultimately prefer live options at least some of the time. The good choices of live foods are larvae of mosquitoes and brine shrimp (though adult brine shrimp aren’t entirely nutritious). If you can’t get live foods where you live, frozen fish foods are a great alternative!
So, why not try your hand at keeping a community tank of peaceful bettas? You will not regret it!