With their vibrant colours and long flowing tails and fins, bettas are wonderfully attractive fish - and you can enhance both their health and their natural beauty by carefully planning your betta fish tanks with plants.
When it comes to putting together your perfect tank, betta plants are an important part of the equation.
Should you consider using live plants in your betta tank?
What about plastic plants or silk plants?
Are there some live plants that bettas like better than others?
Keep reading to find out.
10 amazing plants for betta fish
|Image||Name||Scientific Name||Best Price|
|Amazon Sword||Echinodorus Amazonicus||Check it out on Amazon|
|Anacharis (Waterweeds)||Elodea||Check it out on Amazon|
|Anubias||Anubias Barteri||Check it out on Amazon|
|Bamboo||Dracaena Braunii||Check it out on Amazon|
|Duckweed||Lemnoideae||Check it out on Amazon|
|Hornwort||Ceratophyllum Demersum||Check it out on Amazon|
|Java Fern||Microsorum Pteropu||Check it out on Amazon|
|Java Moss||Vesicularia Dubyana||Check it out on Amazon|
|Peace Lily||Spathiphyllum||Check it out on Amazon|
|Water Sprite||Ceratopteris||Check it out on Amazon|
Are there plants in the natural habitat of bettas?
Bettas originate from the rice-paddy fields and river basins of Asia.
In the wild, they’re used to a habitat that’s relatively shallow and thick with vegetation – which makes them an ideal fish for keeping in small domestic aquariums.
Like all animals, your betta is likely to be happiest in an environment that mimics their natural home.
This means adding some live betta plants to your aquarium.
Do bettas like live plants in their tank?
Because plants are part of the traditional betta habitat, they really do seem to enjoy playing in plants and hiding in their stems and under their leaves.
Plants recreate the natural environment they’re used to living in, and recreating a natural environment can help many different kinds of fish to feel relaxed and comfortable in their tank.
Bettas also like to nibble on various plants.
Although they’re carnivorous fish, bettas benefit from having a little fibre in their diet to “move everything along” – just like us!
Natural live plants can give them this extra fibre without you needing to supplement their diet with fresh peas or other kinds of vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, cucumber or zucchini.
So, adding live plants to your aquarium is an excellent way to maintain the optimum health and living conditions for your betta.
Will plastic plants hurt your betta?
Plastic aquarium plants are generally designed to be safe for most pet fish.
However, bettas have beautiful long, flowy tails and fins. Sometimes a betta might catch their tail or fin on a rough edge of a plastic plant, especially a cheap one, and they could hurt themselves.
Make sure that if you are using plastic plants with your betta fish, that they are soft and pliable rather than hard or rough. Live plants are a better option for a range of reasons including oxygenation and filtration.
Are silk plants safe for aquariums?
Silk plants can be a good alternative to plastic plants in a betta tank.
Silk plants are generally softer and have less chance of accidentally hurting your betta if they brush up against them or play or hide in them.
However, silk plants don’t offer the same benefits that live plants do, such as oxygenation, filtration and others.
How do live plants work in a betta tank?
Live plants work in water the same way that forests work in our own environment – they help to create oxygen for the water of your tank.
Live plants naturally absorb toxins and other substances from the water that can harm your fish.
For example, some live plants are fantastic at sucking up ammonia from your betta’s excretions, so they also help you to keep the tank clean. And anything that reliably and naturally cuts down on your cleaning requirements is a good option, right?
How should you care for live plants in your betta tank?
Different plants have different needs, so you will need to learn about each plant species before deciding whether they’re right for your tank of bettas and what kind of care they’ll need.
If you buy rooting plants, the roots will start to grow downwards into your substrate (if you plant them) or into the tank water (if you let them float free).
Always keep an eye on how big the plant is getting, so that you can trim if you need to, or move the plant to a larger tank.
Bettas take in surface air through a special organ called a “labyrinth” on the top of their head, so they need to be able to reach the surface easily and not have to fight their way through a forest of floating plants.
If any of your plants start looking unhealthy or brown, take them out of the tank and replace them so that they don’t compromise the water quality in your betta’s aquarium.
What should you look for when buying live plants for your betta aquarium?
Make sure you always choose plants from a good aquarium shop or pet store, as the staff there will understand what’s best for your betta and can give you good advice.
If you go shopping for plants on your own, always look at them closely to see if you can see any signs of rot or discolouration. Try to avoid buying anything that looks like it’s less than perfect!
For live plants that are sold in tubes or separate packages, follow all the instructions on the label.
These plants are in an environment you don’t know anything about, so they could be carrying diseases or parasites that you could then inadvertently introduce into your tank at home. This could easily result in your betta fish getting sick or even dying.
What live plants should I add to my betta tank?
In this article we’ll cover 10 of the most popular live plants for your betta aquarium.
Check out this short video that also explains how to put together a simple betta tank with live plants – it uses white sand from PetSmart as well as Amazon Sword and Anubias, two of the popular plants for betta tanks:
The 10 best betta fish plants options
Amazon sword Scientific name: Echinodorus amazonicus
Amazon Sword is one of the most popular plants for betta fish tanks and aquariums. They are super easy to grow and look after so they’re a great option for everyone from beginners right through to hard-core aquarists.
It gets its name from the shape of its leaves, which look like long, flat swords shooting up from the base of the plant, and from the fact that it comes from the Amazon basin.
There are lots of different varieties of Amazon Sword, but they are often sold under the same generic name. This can cause issues, as some varieties grow very large and they might not work if you have a small tank. However, you can trim them to keep them to a suitable size.
This plant does best when it’s rooted into 3-4 inches of substrate, though you can also bury the roots underneath aquarium gravel. It also likes an occasional application of fertilizer.
Common Name: Waterweeds
Scientific name: Elodea
This plant is a terrific option for beginner aquarists. It’s a long, wispy, ferny type of plant with long arms that can easily grow to cover a wall in your tank. It has a green stem with lots of small, flat leaves growing off it.
It’s a resilient plant and easy to care for, so you don’t need to have such a green thumb to keep it successfully in your betta aquarium. It can handle a range of water quality and temperatures. It doesn’t root, doesn’t need fertilizer, and it propagates easily. It grows fairly large so you can trim it, or keep the trimmings to create new plants.
Anacharis absorbs ammonia from water, so it helps to keep the tank clean and keep your betta healthy. It also helps to prevent blue-green algae build-up, because it secretes a special chemical that stops them spreading.
Because it’s a fast grower, it returns plenty of good oxygen back into the water and your betta will appreciate that too.
You can use this plant in your tank in three ways:
Anacharis can handle temperatures from 40-77 F, although many aquarists report good results between 78-82 degrees as well.
Anubias Scientific name: Anubias barteri
There are many different species of Anubias, but Anubias barteri is the most common one. It’s a bright green colour and has large, broad leaves with a flowing look.
But you can choose one that’s tall and thin, or short and fat – whatever suits your tank best.
You can also get some varieties of floating Anubias that might look good in your betta tank.
Bettas will appreciate having lots of places to hide and sleep under Anubias leaves!
One thing to look out for is algae – Anubias tend to attract it because of its large, flat leaves. You can add an Anacharis as a partner plant to help correct this tendency, or put it in a place in the tank where the movement of the water will discourage algal growth.
Anubias grows best in low lighting and in temperatures between 71-81F. You can leave the rhizome and roots exposed, and just gently tie it to some wood or an ornament.
Bamboo Scientific name: Dracaena braunii
Also known as lucky bamboo or floating bamboo, this live plant is a popular option for many betta owners.
It’s sleek and looks good in a small bowl or tank, although be careful not to let any of the leaves enter the water or they will rot and pollute it – you want to make sure you just have the stem in the water only.
Duckweed Scientific name: Lemnoideae
Duckweed is a hardy plant that thrives in a range of temperatures and water conditions, so it often comes in towards the top of the list for popular plants for betta tanks.
This plant is a spreading one that floats on the surface of the water, so it’s important to keep your eye on it and maintain it regularly, so that it isn’t blocking your betta from bumping the surface with its head and taking in oxygen. Your bettas might enjoy hiding out in the shade it provides, or nibbling on the little leaves.
Duckweed also has a tendency to suck out nutrients from the water, so it’s a good idea to use fertilizer to help feed it – and also keep your other plants from being starved.
Duckweed grows in temperatures between 56-85F.
Hornwort Scientific name: Ceratophyllum demersum
Hornwort plants have a light, airy look that can really elevate the aesthetics of your tank.
They are renowned for their abilities to send oxygen into aquarium water and greedily suck up the ammonia that your fish produce.
It’s also good at removing nitrates so you might even consider some regular fertilizer to supplement it.
It’s an excellent idea to consider hornwort for your betta tank. Be ready for regular maintenance though, as hornwort grows very quickly, so you must be careful it doesn’t take over the tank.
And watch out for its “nettles” – it regularly loses them into the tank, and if you don’t take care to pick them up, they can rot and pollute your tank water.
Hornwort is rootless and will live happily in a wide temperature range from 40-95F.
Java fern Scientific name: Microsorum pteropu
Java fern is an excellent option to consider as a live plant for your betta tank, as it thrives in the same kind of conditions as betta do themselves.
Java fern likes the same amount of lighting, the same kind of water temperature, and the same kind of pH level.
Java fern has rough, wrinkled leaves that look like a fern. It doesn’t enjoy too much light – you might find that the leaves turn transparent and then wither. It has long “arms” that grow out into the water and flow along with it.
They’re also super easy to grow – and you can propagate them by just pulling some leaves off the main plant. When you leave them to float in the water, there’s a high likelihood that they’ll sprout into a new plant completely by themselves.
Java fern grows well when it’s attached to a piece of driftwood or another ornament. There’s no need to bury the plant’s rhizome - if you do, it will rot. You can however bury just the brown roots that come out from under the rhizome itself.
Java fern is a good additional filter for the water in your tank. It does best in temperatures from 65-85F.
Java moss Scientific name: Vesicularia dubyana
Java moss is a furry, mossy plant that is one of the easiest live plants to keep in your tank. It’s a great option for beginners or for aquarists who are looking for low-maintenance plants.
Java moss grows in a round, bushy shape by sending out lots of small new sprouts that look like little branches. Think of a plant that looks like Cousin It from The Munsters! You can also grown java moss into a kind of carpet on the floor of your tank.
It grows from a rhizome, but java moss doesn’t need to be planted with its rhizome in substrate – instead, you can attach it to an ornament, some wood or a piece of décor that’s in a good place in the tank.
Bettas like java moss because they can nibble on it, play in it and hide in it. It grows fairly quickly in cooler water, so keep an eye on it and trim it when it starts to get too big, to make sure it doesn’t take over your tank completely. In warmer water, you’ll find the growth rate is lower.
Java moss can deal with most typical tank conditions, which makes it a very versatile plant for many aquariums. It tends to like cooler water, but it be ok in any temperature range that is between 65-80F.
Peace lily Scientific name: Spathiphyllum
In recent years it’s been popular – if controversial – to keep bettas in a large vase with a peace lily.
Is this safe? Can bettas also live in a bowl with a peace lily?
Betta specialists tend to advise against this combination, arguing that it doesn’t provide your betta with enough room to swim and play, feed or breathe.
However, you can keep peace lilies in your larger betta tank as a companion plant. The root balls don’t like to be buried, so it’s a good idea to create a structure that can support the lily at the surface and leave its roots dangling.
The plant likes low levels of light, so be careful with placement.
Water Sprite Scientific name: Ceratopteris
Also known as “water lettuce” water sprite can be your betta’s best friend in the tank as it absorbs ammonia super easily and helps to keep your aquarium water healthy and clean.
This light, feathery plant is also a fast grower and is very happy to float at the top of the aquarium, providing shade and hiding spots for your fish in its roots and leaves.
Water sprites thrive in temperatures from 64-82F, but be aware – they’re not “hardy”, as they don’t like sudden changes in temperature, heat, pH or anything else.
It will thrive with some regular additions of fertilizer.
As you can see, there are a range of excellent planting options to choose from when you’re considering how to plant out your betta tank.
You can choose from plants with many different features – floating, rooted, long-leafed, flat-leaved, hardy or delicate.
With so many options to choose from, the only thing you need to decide is what’s going to be best for the betta tank you have. Remember to consider lighting levels, water movement, oxygenation and ammonia saturation, and then pick the live plants that will work best in your betta tank.
Every betta is different. Some will love hiding in the shade of a plant leaf, and others will want to nestle up against floating roots. One will nibble on duckweed and another will chomp down on water lettuce.
It could be a good idea to try out a few different varieties and see what your bettas like best!
What do you think? Have your bettas preferred one kind of plant over another? Tell us in the comments.