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Best Live Plants for a Betta Fish Tank

For most aquarium fish, plants are vital to their overall wellbeing. Not only do they provide a source of food, but they also help oxygenate the water and provide coverage from potential predators. If you have a betta fish aquarium, you may be wondering why plants are best?

The ‘top 10’ live plants for a betta fish tank include anacharis, anubias, amazon sword, duckweed, hornwort, java moss, java fern, water sprite, wisteria, and vallisneria. Fake plants can also be used if you don’t have a ‘green thumb’ – provided they’re safe and designed specifically for aquarium use.

Now that you know the 10 best live plants for a betta fish aquarium, let’s explore this topic in more depth. Together we’ll discover if bettas like a planted tank; if they need plants to survive; if they can be kept with fake plants; if they like floating plants; which plants are toxic to bettas; and how to setup a betta tank with live plants.

So, if you’re ready to learn more about plants (both real and artificial) and how they help betta fish thrive in captivity, then please read onward…

Do Bettas Like a Planted Tank?

Bettas love a planted tank! Their natural habitat (shallow waters like rice paddies, marshes, and/or stagnant rivers in Asia) is full of lush, dense greenery which they like to swim through and hide out in. Live plants in a betta fish aquarium not only look appealing but also help keep the water clear and oxygenated. Also, live plants naturally eliminate toxic ammonia to keep the environment clean and safe.

Do Bettas Need Live Plants?

Though they’re typically sold in tiny fishbowls with no greenery, bettas need space and live plants to thrive in captivity. Confining these beautiful fish to such a small aquatic environment is cruel, in my opinion. A single betta fish should be kept in a minimum 5-gallon planted aquarium with some fine gravel substrate to help anchor the vegetation.

male betta in a live planted tank

What Live Plants are Best for a Betta Tank?

The best live plants for an aquarium with betta fish are anacharis, anubias, amazon sword, duckweed, hornwort, java moss, java fern, water sprite, wisteria, and vallisneria. All are safe for bettas and help to absorb ammonia while oxygenating the environment. Whenever possible, use real instead of fake plants in your freshwater aquarium. Live plants also help stunt algae growth to keep the water clean and clear.

Can Bettas Be Kept with Fake Plants?

Live and fake plants are okay for a betta fish tank. Both provide enrichment and coverage as well as help mimic the natural habitat of this species. Fake plants are easier to maintain however, live plants provide the added benefit of cleaner, safer, oxygenated water.

You can purchase fake floating plants like zoo med betta leaf hammocks at your local pet shop or online through Amazon.

Can You Put Bamboo in a Betta Tank?

Real bamboo is dangerous and toxic for betta fish. However, you can safely introduce ‘lucky bamboo’ (dracaena sanderiana) to their tank. This decorative flowering plant won’t harm fish or other aquatic creatures like crustaceans. Said to bring both good luck and prosperity to the place where it’s grown, lucky bamboo makes an attractive addition to almost any aquarium.

On the other hand, dried real bamboo can be safely added to your betta tank once it’s been properly cured. To do this, begin by boiling the plant for 30 minutes to kill any bacteria or parasites living within it. Next, treat it with acrylic resin and place it in the tank (without fish) for at least 24 hours to see if it contaminates the water. You’ll know after doing a water test if its safe to add your bettas.

What Plants are Toxic to Betta Fish?

The 5 worst plants for a betta fish tank include peace lilies, devil’s ivy, water hemlock, water lettuce, and hydrophilia balsamica. These plants are all poisonous to Siamese fighting fish if ingested. Though bettas typically don’t eat plants, they may nibble on a green leaf or two out of curiosity. You best bet to stick with fake plants (specifically designed for aquarium use) or live plants known to be safe for bettas.

How to Make a Betta Fish Tank More Natural?

To make a betta fish tank look more natural and appealing, try adding plants. Both rooted and floating plants are good for Siamese fighting fish, just make sure they’re safe and free of toxins. The tank should also be long and short as opposed to wide and deep since their habitat in the wild is shallow with plenty of space. Also, keep the tank out of direct sunlight since this species prefers a dimly lit environment.

How to Keep Aquarium Plants from Floating?

If a planted betta tank is your preference, then you must provide a solid foundation for greenery to root. Gravel substrate is better than sand for most freshwater aquariums. Finely crushed rock allows water to flow though easier. This helps to better nourish the plant roots while preventing the buildup of bacteria in the substrate. Just make sure there are no rough edges which can injure fish with free-flowing fins.

Do Betta Fish Like Floating Plants?

Betta fish really like floating greenery since they spend most of their time in the top 1/3 of the tank. Live plants such as Amazon frogbit, redroot floating ferns, and water sprite are all good examples. Be careful with living floating plants however, as they grow quickly, spread rapidly, and will overtake the tank if not properly maintained. Fake plants like leaf hammocks are great for bettas and require little to no effort.

Beautiful Betta Fish

How to Setup a Betta Tank with Live Plants?

To setup a betta tank, begin by choosing a 5-gallon, horizontal (rather than vertical) aquarium. Add a submersible heater and a LED light with an adjustable brightness feature. Place 4 inches of fine gravel along the bottom of the tank and bury the stems of the plant at least 2 to 3 inches deep in the substrate. This will mean that some of the leaves are covered as well but that’s okay.

Be sure to provide enough space between the plants – this allows for better growth. Don’t place the roots in a single bunch but rather anchor each stem separately in the substrate a few inches apart from each other. Fill the tank with pretreated or conditioned tap water and let is stand for a few days. Ensure the temperature and pH level are accurate as well before introducing the betta fish.

You can also add a plant fertilizer such as API Leaf Zone to the water to encourage faster growth. Just make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions completely. Set the aquarium light to 8 hours on and 16 hours off so as not to shock your betta fish.

If hassle-free tank maintenance is more your speed, then purchase artificial plants designed for use in aquariums. These won’t decay yet still look appealing.

Final Thoughts

To sum-up, the 10 best plants for a betta aquarium are anacharis, anubias, amazon sword, duckweed, hornwort, java moss, java fern, water sprite, wisteria, and vallisneria. If you have trouble with live plants, you can also use fake plants in your betta tank. A planted tank (whether real or artificial) is great for bettas as it helps to recreate their natural habitat while helping to soften and oxygenate the water.

I trust this article has helped you learn more about betta fish and what types of plants are safe to use in their tank. Thanks for reading and best of luck with your aquarist hobby!

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