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Acceptable Plants for Bettas – Common Aquarium Questions

Bettas have long been popular as beautiful, low maintenance pets.  They are visually appealing and easy to care for, a terrific option as a child’s first fish or someone on the go.  We’re happy to answer questions about these terrific little fish any time, as with this one sent to Marinebio@thatpetplace.com:

Nancy Wrote:

I am wondering which plants are okay for betta fish. I will be doing many bowls and would like variety if possible. I wasn’t seeing anything specific on your plant info and I certainly don’t want to harm the fish!

Marine Bio Wrote:

Plants are a great addition to any betta set-up, whether you choose plastic, silk, or live varieties.  They let the fish feel safe and secure by providing cover with their roots or foliage.  Bettas do not eat the plants, but some plants can be toxic. If you want to use a plant that comes out of the top of the bowl or vase, choose a Spathiphyllum sp., commonly known as a peace lily, “Lucky Bamboo” which is actually a Dracaena sp., or many types of vining philodendrons can work as well. You can find a wide variety of foliage shape and color in these plants. For example, there is a variegated from of peace lily called ‘Domino’, and several different philodendrons that should be safe and will root in the water.  If you want plants that are submerged, try a strand of anacharis or hornwort, or a small cluster of riccia or Java moss. The main issue with keeping aquatic plants vibrant would be making sure that they have enough light. The plants I listed above should work in lower light conditions fairly well. A well lit room with lots of natural light coming in from windows would be sufficient. Just remember that you do not want to keep the betta bowls in the window because sunlight coming through the window can actually heat the bowl up if it is lit directly by the sunlight. Also, at night, the window tends to be one of the colder spots in the house. So the fluctuating temperatures would be bad for the fish.

For more information on bettas and their care, please read these helpful articles in our archives:

http://www.thatpetplace.com/pet/displayArticle.web?Filename=../Article_archive/Fish/Betta_Basics.html

http://blogs.thatpetplace.com/thatfishblog/2008/06/26/carnival-fish-part-2-the-betta/

66 comments

  1. avatar

    I am having some problems with my tank. I have had this tank and set up and residents in this tank for four years but all of a sudden, I am having major outbreaks of infection. I do weekly and monthly maintenance on it but I can’t seem to beat this. I have recently torn down the whole system, bought new lines, filters and scrubbed and cleaned all the decorations. I have not returned any of the decorations to the tank and have treated it with Formalyn. I saw an improvement, but the infection is back. I don’t want to lose these fish, I have an 18inch Pacu and two 8 inch Oscars and one 10 inch Oscar. I know your question.. yes, the aquarium is plenty big enough for them all. Should I try the Malechite green? The infection starts with eye cloud and then progresses from there. Any help you could give would be appreciated.

  2. avatar

    asksts,
    You are correct in assuming that my first question would have been “how big is your tank?” I would hope that your aquarium is at least 100 gallons, given the size of your fish. The first thing that I would look at is your water quality, recuring bacterial infections are often a symptom of poor water quality, caused by lack of filtration, overcrowding or some other stressful factor. Make sure that your water is Ammonia and Nitrite free, your Nitrates are low, and your pH is in an acceptable range (6.8-7.5 in this case)
    Formalin, and Malachite green are excellent agents for treating parasitical problem, but are not effective against bacterial infections such as cloudy eyes or skin infections. For treating cloudy eye, and advanced infection, I usually reccomend the use of a broad spectrum antibiotic such as Jungle’s Fungus eliminator ( Nitrofurazone, Furizolidone based product)

    I hope that helps,
    Dave

  3. avatar

    Is an airplane plant safe for a Beta tank?

  4. avatar

    Hi Tammy, thanks for the comment.

    The Airplane Plant should be fine, the roots will grow into the water, just be sure that any dead leaves are trimmed from the plant and that the plants are not too far into the water, just the tips of the roots. Good luck!

  5. avatar

    Do Betta’s thrive better in a heated home versus a cold water system?

  6. avatar

    Bettas will survive in temps from the mid 60′s to the upper 80′s, but the ideal temps are mid to upper 70′s (74-79). They will be less active in a cooler environment, and it may also effect their ability to ward off disease. A warmer climate will keep the fish happier and more active, and an active betta likes to show off those pretty fins! You may not have to supply a heat source, just keep them in a warmer room in your house and away from drafty areas like windows.

  7. avatar

    How do you recommend using Lucky Bamboo in a tank/bowl/aquarium with a Betta?
    The Lucky Bamboo should really only have their roots in water, and maybe only an inch or two of their stalk, so what is your opinion on adding Lucky Bamboo? Have you seen them combined with the Betta various ways?
    Thanks so much!!

    Melanie

  8. avatar

    Just like with Peace lilies, Lucky bamboo can be anchored to the neck of the bowl/vase using a plastic dish and some decorative pebbles or stones. You have to be a little more creative with the hole in the plastic so the bamboo is snug. The plant will benefit from the betta water, as the organics the fish produce can provide mild fertilizer, and by doing regular water changes with aged water, you’ll be keeping the plant and the fish happy and healthy.

  9. avatar

    Please don’t advise people to add peace lillies and philodendrons to their fish bowls. They are very toxic to fish. I have seen quite a few fish die within a matter of hours when these plants were added.

  10. avatar

    We have kept bettas in displays with these plants for years without issue. The plants are not the issue in sad cases of betta demise, I believe, but the way the plants are applied to the display. The bettas do not ingest the roots. The roots of the plant are to be the only part submerged…if leaves are submerged the resulting decay of the leaves can create water issues and may cause toxicity, and if the opening to the enclosure is sealed to tightly with the plants, the betta can suffocate. We recommend these plants only because of positive experiences and the plant’s ability to thrive in the water only root environment.

  11. avatar

    is regular bamboo ok to have in a betta tank?

  12. avatar

    Lucky Bamboo is a Dracaena species that can tolerate the full water root exposure. I would say it depends on the species of bamboo. There are over a thousand species of bamboo, and they will each vary on the requirements they need to survive. You would have to research the species you have to see if it might survive.

  13. avatar

    i just wondered if it was harmful to bettas not about survival..

  14. avatar

    I do not have any at the time being and want to know what the BEST plants are for bettas. Thank you

  15. avatar

    What is the best siz tank for bettas. Thank you

  16. avatar

    Bettas can be kept in small enclosures, even less than a gallon. They cannot be housed together in a tank unless the tank is fitted with dividers so they cannot fight. I recommend a seperate enclosure of about a gallon in size for each betta you want to keep.

  17. avatar

    Bettas do not rely on plants for their well-being. I recomment live plants for their aesthetic value and thier ability to keep the environment cleaner and more healthy for fish. The plants you choose are based on what you prefer, but I recommend hornwort, java moss, or anacharis, as they are low maintenance and easy to grow.

  18. avatar

    Moss or fern?????. Any way. Thank you I may have some soon I had one one time but he passed away :( he did note list one dey I do not know why. I did not luke up on how to take care of them I stell fell sorry for hem :( :( :( :( :(

  19. avatar

    Can fish die if they get over fed?

  20. avatar

    Hello I have a new betta boy he is pink and blue and and on hes fin is white and the blue is on hes top of hes fin:) I love hem. Do I have to have gravel in ther so I can have a plant I thank I well go gete a betta bulbs????? is that OK I do note know but somone sad that they wer OK?????. Any why. Thank you

  21. avatar

    They can die if there is too much food left to pollute the tank, they will usually not eat themselves to death, but the decaying food that is leftover can create a toxic environment. I would recommend not feeding as most foods suggest, but half of the recommended feeding to reduce the food that goes to waste.

  22. avatar

    The betta does not need gravel, special bulbs or plants, these are all things that make his environment nicer to look at and maybe a little more pleasing to the fish. Live plants like java moss and hornwort do not need graavel to grow as they do not root.

  23. avatar

    If I use a live plant like an ivy in the top of the bowl with the roots in the water, does the water need to be treated to remove the chlorine or will the plant take care of this? If the plant does take the chlorine out, how long should the plant be in the water to take the chlorine out and what size plant should it be for a gallon size container?

  24. avatar

    Chlorine actually evaporates out of the water over the course of a few hours and has little or nothing to do with the plant. If you have chlorinated water, just fill a bucket or jug with water the day before you plan to use it and the chlorine should not be an issue.

  25. avatar

    It is me I got a plant and I got some smoth rocks and two snalls and it looks good. He got more coler more bule. Thank you Emmanuelle

  26. avatar

    are aloe plants ok to give to betta fish?

  27. avatar

    Thanks for your question. The aloe plant is a succulent plant not adapted to the all-aquatic environment of most betta setups. It is unlikely the plant would survive.

  28. avatar

    Is an umbrella plant safe for my betta? I got if from Petco and it says it is for fresh water, but I did not purchace it from the “Betta section”

  29. avatar

    If you bought an umbrella palm, Cyperus alternifolius, it should be safe for the betta, but may not do too well as it is a high light plant and will need full sun to thrive.

  30. avatar

    Hi
    im trying to find a better way to keep my betta fish bowl cleaner. i have heard plants can help. i have a good luck plant i think.. its one of those you would by from an asian gifts store. would this be okay? and how would i get started?

  31. avatar

    Live plants can help with keeping the water a little cleaner by processing some of the nutrients, but the lucky “bamboo”, though it can be used will do a minimal job. Depending on the type of cleaning you’re looking to reduce, the addition of the plant and it’s results may be disappointing. You may still get algae growth depending on how much you feed, where the container is located, temperature, and how frequently the bowl is cleaned. If your water is cloudy you may be over feeding. The plant in any case may help a little with nitrates, and they do tend to add to the aesthetic of the set-up.

  32. avatar

    I just wanted to know if Money plants are good for my betta fishes i have a small bow.

  33. avatar

    You can use any small or bunched aquatic plant, as long as it has sufficient light and nutrients it should be fine. I am assuming by money plant you are referring to moneywort, Bacopa monieri. You’ll for many bunched plants you’ll need at least 2 watts per gallon of full spectrum light. Some plants like java moss, java fern and hornwort are a little more forgiving and can take less light and may be easier to provide for.

  34. avatar

    Thank you for that information. I appreciate not having to sign into a cite to retrieve an answer. Great help. Thanks a million!!

  35. avatar

    What about ornamental sweet potatoe vine in a betta tank?

  36. avatar

    Shouldn’t be toxic to the fish, but it will need high light and indoors they are prone to spider mites.

  37. avatar

    Would a betta be okay with Dwarf hairgrass (Eleocharis acicularis) as well as Water Sprites (Ceratopteris thalictroids)?

  38. avatar

    I’ve kept them with water sprites before, they look very pretty (especially the floating type) Eleocharis should be fine too, they start out emersed , the tips may eventually grow above the surface depending on the set-up you have.

  39. avatar

    I just recently bought a betta,i boiled the decorations before i put them in the bowl, the bowl may be a bit big for the betta but i need a plant that will work for him. I live in a pretty cold climate, and my room is about 65 degrees. I don’t get alot of sun either, and plant suggestions?

  40. avatar

    Hi Lily,

    If you’re looking for plants for in the bowl, try java fern, java moss, anacharis or hornwort…these are all lower light and will handle cooler temps. Only the Java Fern will need to be planted, the rest can float. Anubias could also work. If you’re looking for plants for the top of the container or to come out of the water, Brazil swords (peace lilies), philodendron cuttings, or arrowheads (syngonium) may work for you…let me know if you need any other suggestions.

  41. avatar

    Are spider plants ok to put in the tank with the Betta

  42. avatar

    Hi Robbie, Spider plants should do fine in a vase-opening application, offshoots with roots already growing can be anchored in the to p of the vase and the roots should grow into the water. Spider plants cannot be submerged though, and only the root tips should be in the water or the base of the leaves will eventually rot.

  43. avatar

    ummm hi i have a large tank roughly 10 gallons with gravel and a betta fish with abotu 2 tetras. i was wondering about the plants. my room is an okay size but i live in warm climate. high sunlight. so can i place the tank under a window? its on a stand under the window without full sun contact so it shouoldnt be a problem?

  44. avatar

    Hi Justin, as long as the tank isn’t in direct sun the temperature shouldn’t become too high. The plants may benefit from the additional light, but keep an eye on the tank as the spectrum of the light through the window may increase algae growth.

  45. avatar

    is hardy aponogeton poisonous to bettas? i have a used 10 gal. and wondering if this plant will be poisonous to the fish.
    if the plant is, what ones will do good in low lighting?
    also, would a single male enjoy having a tank all to himself? what fish/snails/shrimp would be great with him?
    thanks for any advice!

  46. avatar

    Aquatic aponogeton should not harm the betta as long as any dead leaves are removed before they decay and pollute the water. Other good candidates include hornwort, anubias and crypts. Male bettas should be housed alone as they can be aggressive towards other fish, be nipped by other fish, and may eat small shrimp after they molt. Larger shrimp may be ook to house with bettas, but they may also attempt to catch and eat a betta depending on the type you purchase. A snail can be housed with a betta, but there has to be enough algae to sustain him.

  47. avatar
    I just clipped off a shoot from my spider plant. Are the ok to put into a beta tank

    I just clipped off a shoot from my spider plant. Is it ok to put the spider shoot into a beta tank

  48. avatar

    Should be fine, just make sure only the root tips are in the water, otherwise the crown of the plant will rot and fall apart.

  49. avatar

    I have noticed that alot of the betas in the stores have drewpy fins and stay toward the bottom of the plastic container. Are these fish diseased, tired, or just plain lazy? Is a five gallon bowl to big for a beta? I have seen little beta ” cubes” in stores, these ”cubes” have got to be only a quart of water for capacity. Is this healthy for a fish?

  50. avatar

    Bettas are pretty laid back and lazy. They tend to perk up when something stimulates them (feeding time, bright colors outside the bowl, ect) but generally their graceful fins are relaxed and they tend to hover still or lay on the floor of the bowl. You’ll hear/read ditterent things on the size tank required for bettas. They aren’t active fish and since they should be housed alone, a smaller enclosure like the cube habitats are fine. You can always use a larger enclosure, but most of the space will generally go un used unless you plan on breeding and raising fry. Most fish are ruled by the bigger tank the better mentality, but bettas and other small labyrinth fish can live long, healthy lives in well-maintained small enclosures.

  51. avatar

    Cool! Thanks! How long do betas live? and how big can the get?

  52. avatar

    I just got two betas and they are duing really well, except one of the betas has small tears in it’s fins. It also has redish spots on its fins especially it’s tail. Is my betta diseased? I know that these signs in goldfish are from a disease is this the same thing only with a beta. And if it is how do I treat it , or will it clear up on its own?

  53. avatar

    They usually live 2-4 years on average, though there are some accounts of bettas living to 8 years! They max out at about 3 inches but the fins can add about 2 more inches to the length.

  54. avatar

    Sounds like either poor water quality or damage from trauma. Something to help heal the fins would be best, maybe melafix or bettafx http://www.thatpetplace.com/pet/group/4071/product.web might help

  55. avatar

    I have a betta fish in a small tank, I would like to put a one small lucky bamboo plant inside the tank. Will this harm my fish?

  56. avatar

    I’m sure the betta will enjoy it! The plant is safe for the fish, but lucky bamboo cannot be completely submerged so you’ll need a piece tall enough that the leaves will be above the water line.

  57. avatar

    he does anyone know if fish poop and left over food furtilizes plants? specificaly my lucky bamboo in my betta tank?

  58. avatar

    Everything in moderation :) small amounts of waste may benefit the plants in the short term, but the negative effects of too much waste left that the plant cannot process outweigh those benefits. Better to keep the habitat clean for the fish’s sake.

  59. avatar

    ok thank you, i ussually do keep it clean :) love this site

  60. avatar

    I have a beautiful dark blue and he has a white/brown spot on one of his fins. It seems to be slowing my baby “George” down. Maybe even making it hard to swim to the top to feed. I aquired a plastic plant taht goes almost to the top of the water so he can eat and breath without to much effort. I’ve done alot of reserh and can’ find what it is and how to treat. Can someone please help??? I’ve had George about 4 years and love him soooo much… :(

  61. avatar

    Any possibility you can take a good photo of the problem area? Send it to marinebio@thatpetplace.com and maybe we can tell you what to do.

  62. avatar

    Can I put a red apple aptenia in my beta tank?

  63. avatar

    Cindy, I am not familiar with the use of aptenia as an aquatic plant, I would not expect this species to do well in a moist or especially a submerged environment.

  64. avatar

    I just bought my betta fish, Prince Cornelius, and I was wondering how I can safely suspend just the roots of my vining philodendron cuttings safely from my half gallon cube tank. I’m hoping to upgrade to a larger tank environment once I can afford and have space for a larger one. I just dont want to hurt the plant or suffocate Cornelius. The cube tank has a lid that lifts and a window for feeding. Cornelius seems pleased with his tank but I also worry about the heat right now. I’ve got him near a window but the curtains are never drawn so he’d not in direct flight

  65. avatar

    Staci, I have seen a few ways to suspend a plant above a tank, so that the roots can dangle in the water. You can use a small clear deli cup with an x shaped hole cut in the bottom. Use some form of clip or fasten to the edge to support. You can also use a small piece of Styrofoam, or other floating material that you poke a hole in for the roots to pass through. Be carefull keep your fish in areas that have drafts or rapidly changing temperatures like windows. Use a small submersible heater to help keep things stable.

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Marinebioblog is the post name of That Fish Place - That Pet Place's aquatics and aquarium experts. Contact them through the links here or leave your comments below.