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Vegetation is a necessary addition in any betta tank, but for many aquarium owners choosing the right plant is a nerve wracking experience. Have no fear, our easy-to-read guide is built off of personal experience and intense research in the aquatic vegetation world. Read on to discover the best plants for your betta tank.
Can I put plants in my betta tank?
Yes, in fact we encourage you to put vegetation in your tank to replicate betta’s natural environment and provide them with stimulation and enrichment. You can use either live or fake aquarium plants (or both) in your betta fish tank.
Plants in natural betta environment
Betta fish are found in rice patties, stagnant waters, marshes or ponds. As such betta fish are used to having a variety of aquatic plants to play and hide in. In fact, a heavily planted tank would make your betta feel right at home, and you’re sure to see them napping or building bubble nests on the leaves in no time.
Live Plants vs Fake Plants
There are benefits to having both fake and live plants in your betta fish tank, and there is really no right or wrong answer when choosing them. Below we’ve listed out a few pros and cons to each. Keep in mind that plants for betta fish don’t have to be all fake or all alive, you can provide a variety in your tank based on what you like. At the end of the day, the best betta plants are ones that you as the aquarium owner feel comfortable maintaining.
✅Won’t grow any larger
✅No light requirements
✅No transport of pests or parasites from other places
✅Will not decay or foul the tank
✅Easily removed and cleaned
✅Little to no maintenance
|❎Does not absorb CO2 or provide O2|
❎Does not provide food sources
❎Does not absorb toxins
✅Harbors beneficial bacteria
✅Inhibits algal growth by reducing nitrates
|❎Creates waste when decaying|
❎Can carry parasites and pests
❎Has lighting requirements
❎Can cause O2 deficiency at night
❎Can look unpleasing if they are nibbled on
Do Bettas need live plants?
Bettas do need vegetation to replicate their natural habitat, provide hiding places and resting areas, and encourage exploration and stimulation. However, it is not necessary to have live aquarium plants in your tank. While having a live planted betta tank can be beneficial in producing oxygen, providing hides and shade, and keeping water conditions optimal they are not necessary.
Plastic plants can provide the same enrichment and stimulation benefits as live plants, but keep in mind that fake plants can have rough or sharp edges that can be dangerous to bettas’ fragile tails and fins.
What plants can you put in a betta tank
You can put many different plant species in your betta fish tanks as long as they have the same water quality requirements as your betta. As bettas are tropical fish any live plants that you put in your betta fish tanks should also be able to survive in tropical conditions.
It is also worth noting that betta fish are known to be jumpers, and as such their aquariums should be lidded. When choosing plants for betta fish you should avoid ones that grow above the water surface that could potentially loosen the lid.
What plants are good for betta fish
A leafy green plant known for forming dense carpeting layers, java moss is an affordable and low maintenance plant making it a great aquatic plant.
Java moss is slow growing and maxes out at 2-4 inches. Java moss is a freshwater plant that is capable of living in water from 60-80. Java moss can grow almost anywhere from driftwood to gravel, and even to the water surface.
- Suitable for all freshwater fish
- Common in breeding tanks as it is known to harbor infusoria
- Can be planted with others without endangering their growth
- Easy to care for
- Algae grows among java moss in high light environments, in a betta aquarium this is hard to combat as you will have to find an algae eater that is compatible with betta fish
- The moss needs to be trimmed occasionally to ensure it doesn’t overgrow
Normally found floating at the surface or planted in the substrate hornwort has densely packed leaves. Found in every continent but Antartica hornwort grows in still or slow-moving bodies of freshwater.
This plant grows fast and can easily grow as much as 1-4 inches a week with enough light and nutrients. Hornworts can live in a varied temperature range but these plants grow best as floating plants. If you plant its roots in substrate it generally doesn’t grow proper roots and they tend to rot away.
- Grows quickly
- Excellent at "cleaning" the water by using nutrients from waste as food
- East to propagate-any hornwort shoot will become a new plant if allowed to float on surface
- Can drain the nutrients in an aquarium due to fast growth rate, is easy to remedy with liquid fertilizer
- Needs to be pruned or it will grow and block all the light
Depending on the variety purchased the Amazon Sword plant can have broad or narrow leaf shapes. A great background plant, Amazon Swords will compliment the colors of your betta fish and hide aquarium heaters or power filter intakes.
These plants tend to do best in water temperatures between 72 and 82. Amazon Sword plants tend to grow tall, generally at least 12 inches in height, but known to be 18-20 inches in excellent water conditions. A hardy plant, the Amazon sword plant can be planted in aquarium substrate with roots growing extensively throughout the tank.
- One of the best plants for betta fish tanks
- Baby sword plants are easy to propagate
- Affordable and easy to care for
- Leaves are susceptible to algae growth
- Can easily outgrow your tank, potentially pushing off the lid of your betta tank
- Delicate leaves, can crack, tear, or turn yellow and will not repair themselves
This easy to care for and slow growing plant will grow to a maximum size of 7.5 inches. A versatile plant, anubias can be placed in the foreground or background of your tank. Native to Africa it can be kept partially or fully submerged and is excellent for covering up substrate.
Anubias plants are well known in the aquarium hobby for their dark green leaves and water cleaning capabilities. Anubias nana will help remove pollutants, oxygenate the aquarium water, and control nitrate levels. When the plant is only partially submerged they are capable of blooming flowers that can last 2-3 months.
- Can be found in most pet stores and is very affordable
- Easy to maintain, only needing occasional trimming
- If you think the Anubias nana is too large for your betta tanks there is a smaller "petite" version
- Needs a high amount of light
- Leaves are thin and broad and susceptible to being nubbled
- Needs soft substrate like sand to be planted in
One of the most popular aquatic plants, due to its easy care, the marimo moss ball is a ball of algae that is formed naturally by the motion of the waves in their natural habitats. Known to live for over 200 years the Marimo moss ball is thought to be good luck charms.
Marimo moss balls range from 1.75 to 2.25 inches when bought from local pet stores, however they will continue to grow. The largest known moss ball is 37 inches and over 200 years old. Marimo moss balls require little maintenance and can live in both fresh and brackish water.
- Very little maintenance, you should occasionally rinse your moss ball with cool tap water to loosen algal growth as well as roll it between your hands to help it keep its shape
- Can provide enrichment as some fish will play and push the ball around the tank
- Requires no special lighting
- Do better in cooler waters with a maximum temperature of 76, brown spots may form if temperatures are too high
Java ferns are one of the easiest betta fish plants and are widely used in aquariums. Java fern is so easy to maintain that it can even just be dropped into the tank, and will thrive as a floating plant or seek out substrate to anchor to.
The java fern are not picky about the conditions they grow in and can survive in any lighting, and actually prefer a lower light setting. Soon after being added to the betta’s tank java ferns will begin to reproduce. You’ll be able to see tiny baby ferns at the edge of the mother plant leaves that will drop off and settle as they mature. Overall the java fern is one of our favorites for your betta.
- Easy to maintain
- Fish love to swim through the jungle of leaves
- Most fish don’t like the taste and won’t try to nibble on its leaves
- Can have lots of algae growth on their leaves
- Leaves will burn from too much light
Also known as water ferns, indian ferns, and indian water ferns the water sprite is versatile and can be planted or left to float in your aquarium.
With a lime green coloring the water sprite can accentuate the midground or background of your aquarium. If choosing to plant at the bottom of your tank choose a nutrient rich substrate that is 2-3 inches thick. With its wide leaves these are some of the best plants to provide shade for your tank.
FUN FACTWater sprites are epiphytes, which are plants that will attach to other plants. You’ll often see these plants wrapping themselves around Anacharis.
- Does well in a variety of water conditions
- Water temperature 68-80
- Fast growing and needs regular trimming
- Will need a large area to grow in
- Snails will feast on the leaves
Betta bulbs are a great betta fish plant, in fact they’re even named for each other. Betta’s tend to like these because they have dense leaves perfect for resting, absorb betta waste, and keep the tank interesting.
Betta bulbs are made up of a variety of Aponogetons which are a species of flowering plants. The bulbs should be buried in the substrate 2-3 inches apart, because they’re fast growing we recommend planting 1 per 5 gallons.
Maintenance for your betta bulb is easy, they require the same conditions as your betta fish, however they should occasionally be “rested” or pulled out of the tank for a few months a year to replicate the dry season when they aren’t fully underwater. This will also help your tank replenish its nutrients and keep both your betta and bulb happy.
- Extremely hardy
- One of the best plants for betta
- Doesn’t need specific water conditions if its in a betta tank
- Don’t propagate as easily as other plants
Also known as Brazilian water weed, waterweed, and elodea, these are sturdy stemmed plants that are excellent for planting as a background plant or allowed to float.
The Anacharis plant is a fast-growing, bright green plant that has become a very popular plant among fish keepers. This plant is known to absorb excess nutrients, reduce algae growth, and filter toxins, making it a great addition to your Betta tank. And because of its lush growth and delicate leaves, it has become a favorite among plant-eating fish and snails.
The Anacharis can be planted or left to float, and since this species grows into thick “forests,” it makes a great hiding place and gives your Betta an excellent place to rest or sleep.
- Can survive in temperatures as low as 60, but does well between 72-78
- Easy to keep
- Apple snails like to nibble on it
- Propagation is difficult
- Challenge is keeping it from taking over the tank
Light green and multi-leaved pennyworts are an easy to keep, floating or rooted. Leaves vary from 0.75 inches to an inch in length and have beautiful veins that radiate throughout the leaf.
As a fast growing plant pennyworts don’t have an issue with algae growth and do best in water temperatures between 68 and 82 degrees. Some aquarists claim that this is one of the best live plants for betta because of its ability to help keep nitrate levels down.
To propagate trim a few inches of stem with plenty of leaves off and let it float in the water, in a week or two the trimmed stem will begin to grow roots and soon you will have a plethora of baby plants.
- Fast growing
- No issues with algal growth
- Can help keep nitrate levels down
- Can take over a tank if not maintained
A staple in many freshwater aquariums, duckweed is adept at nutrient control, and easy to find at pet stores or even in nearby ponds.
Often confused for algae, duckweed grows in pods, with best growth occurring with a slow, gentle water flow.
TIPIf you choose to acquire duckweed from a natural source we strongly advise to wash it well with potassium permanganate and keep in a quarantine tank for at least 2 weeks before putting it in your tank to avoid the introduction of any parasites or diseases.
- Can grow in any depth of water, but deep water slows its growth considerable
- Widely used as a food source in community tanks
- Rapidly growing and can double its size every 3 days, earning the name of water weed
- Does not do well in well aerated environments such as those that have a strong filter or bubbler
Otherwise known as water wisteria, and native to India it can grow to a maximum size of 20 inches and requires at least a 10 gallon tank to be successful.
Generally found rooted in substrate, or spread across it like a carpet, water wisteria can provide a multitude of aesthetically pleasing effects to your tank. Usually used by bottom dwelling fish, water wisteria can be excellent live plants for betta tanks as they can house more beneficial bacteria and provide refuge for tank mates that like the lower levels of the tank.
- Undemanding and easy to maintain once established
- Provides a soft bottom to your tank and helps hide substrate
- Propagation is easy
- Popular and easy to find
- Fast growing and will need to be trimmed
- Can cause a nutrient deficiency due to fast growth
- Does need a moderate-high light environmen
Sometimes called a water trumpet these living plants have a plethora of species and varieties, and shapes.
Depending on the species, your Cryptocoryne can be easy or complicated to grow, but they generally all do well with low CO2 levels and low illumination.
- Variety of sizes, shapes, and colors allow for interesting planting arrangements
- Needs low light environments
- Will be upset if tank conditions go through any significant changes
- Needs specific water height (from substrate to the water surface) of 8-12 inches
Creating a dense jungle of long leaved grasses Vallisneri has the lowest maintenance needs out of all of our betta fish plants.
Vallisneri can tolerate a wide variety of conditions including low levels of salinity, but does best in environments with hard water. Providing plenty of shelter Vallisneri can be allowed to overtake a tank without any worries for your fish.
- Bettas will build their bubble nest among leaves
- Provides plenty of growth for hiding and resting places
- Hard to tell what variety you have
- If the crown of the plant is buried too deep in the substrate it will rot
- Does not react well to low nitrate levels of unstable CO2
A bright green, multi-leaved plant Amazon frogbit looks sort of like tiny lily pads on the surface of your water.
Commonly used for cover and shade, caring for Amazon frogbit is extremely easy. It requires the occasional trimming and can not be completely submerged, however it does withstand large temperature ranges or require CO2 supplements.
- Flowering plant
- Effective at nutrient intake
- Keeps light from reaching down
- Blocks gas exchange
What plants do betta fish like
Betta fish enjoy large-leaved plants or thick vegetation. These provide shade within the aquarium and places for your betta to escape to. Within your betta tanks you should provide a variety of betta fish plants to ensure diversity for your fish. You can also observe your betta to see what kind of vegetation they like best. Often betta fish love floating plants or ones that rest on the aquarium floor.
What live plants are good for betta fish
Plants that didn’t make our list but still make fantastic betta fish plants include the pygmy chain sword plant, the banana plant, and Christas moss (which looks like mini fir trees!).
The banana plant is especially elegant and useful for creating private hides for your betta.
Do betta fish eat live plants
Betta fish are carnivores which means they eat a diet that mainly consists of meat. If you see your betta nibbling on live plants they could be bored, starving, or picking off microscopic animals that are attached to the plant surface.
A mistake that many betta fish owners make is not feeding their betta fish as much just because they have added an aquarium plant to the betta fish tank. Regardless of how much vegetation is in your tank you should still be feeding your betta fish.
What plants are toxic to betta fish?
The most important thing when questioning if a plant is toxic to betta fish is to check if it has calcium oxalate crystals, as they are the culprit of the poisoning. Calcium oxalate is an insoluble chemical (it doesn’t dissolve in water) that can cause digestive problems such as stomach swelling and irritation. This chemical can also cause problems in a fish’s central nervous system.
Plants to avoid include:
- Hygrophila balsamica
- Water hemlock
- Water lettuce (contains saponins)
- Peace lilies
NOTEHygrophila balsamica shoots are toxic upon emmersion from the soil, but the toxicity ceases once it assumes its submersed forms. Since most aquatic plant nurseries grow their plants underwater it’s difficult to determine whether this plant would be safe and it is best to avoid it altogether.
Watch this video below for more info on what plants to avoid with betta fish.
Should you use fake plants for betta?
Choosing whether to use fake or live plants is really a preference for each aquarist. Fake plants require less care and provide many of the same benefits as live ones when it comes to betta fish. The best fake plants are ones that have no sharp edges to ensure no harm comes to your betta. We recommend feeling the edges of the plant before you buy or using silk plants for betta fish.
In conclusion, adding vegetation to your betta tank will not only make it more pleasing but provide enrichment and other benefits to your betta, and any other aquatic life in the aquarium.