Lucky Bamboo in Aquarium: Is it Safe for Fish?

Would you like to add lucky bamboo in aquarium renovations, but aren’t sure if it’s safe for fish? The good news is that yes, lucky bamboo can be safely put into your fish tank when you know the right bamboo plants to use and the correct way to take care of it.

In this article, I explain which type of bamboo is safe to utilize in aquariums and which are toxic to fish, how to incorporate lucky bamboo plants into your tank, and how to care for them, so the plants and your fish remain healthy.

So, keep reading to discover all you need to know about how to safely use lucky bamboo to add interest to your aquarium landscape!

fish tank lucky bamboo

Which Bamboo Species are Safe for Aquariums?

Bamboo plants come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and species. Some plants may closely resemble true bamboo but are not related. There is a constant debate within the community on whether or not it’s smart to put bamboo plants inside your aquarium, so many people shy away from trying it for themselves.

But, many fish tank enthusiasts love the “tree-like” appearance of bamboo and want to use them for decorative accents inside their aquarium.

Let’s look at the different types of bamboo to learn which ones you can safely put inside your fish tank without worry that you will harm your fish.

Bamboo from the Bambusoideae family

The first crucial thing to know is that any true bamboo from the Bambusoideae subfamily will not live in an aquatic environment and can be lethal to fish. Another factor about this species of bamboo is that most of these plants grow way too large ever to consider using them in an aquarium in the first place.

Any bamboo plant from the Bambusoideae species will immediately start to die off when you immerse them in aquarium water. The decomposition of the bamboo will pollute the tank water, which quickly increases ammonia levels and causes distress or even the death of fish.

Under no circumstances should you attempt to add bamboo from the Bambusoideae family to your aquarium.

Bamboo from the Dracaena family

Fortunately, lucky bamboo is of the plant species Dracaena. While this plant looks very similar to bamboo, just in a tiny version, it is perfectly safe for fish tanks and the creatures that swim within.Many people love the fun twists, bends, and even woven designs you can purchase lucky bamboo plants. The size of the plants are perfect to fit within most fish tanks and can add a lot of pizzazz with little expense.

The best thing about adding plants such as lucky bamboo to your fish tank is that live plants help control the nitrate levels in the water. Too much nitrate can harm fish, so incorporating plants that filter nitrates from the water help your fish stay healthy.

How to Add Lucky Bamboo to Your Aquarium

Once you find the perfect Dracaena lucky bamboo plants, it’s time to add them to your freshwater aquarium. There is some debate on whether the plant grows better when you let the leaves grow above the waterline, or if you submerge the entire plant completely.

People have success with both methods, so the decision should rest on the aesthetic you are trying to achieve in your aquarium. Do be aware that if you set lucky bamboo plants underwater, they will grow slower than if you expose the leaves to air.

Adding a lucky bamboo plant to your beta fish tank is an excellent way to add color and interest without taking up much space. Leaving the foliage above the waterline adds a nice decorative touch when you leave the tank on a counter or table.


It’s vital to set the plants several inches deep within the substrate material. Planting deep will keep the bamboo from floating out of position and allow the roots to soak up minerals from the fish waste sediment that lands at the bottom of the tank.

Keeping the root growth covered also keeps fish from snacking on the delicate root hairs, which could end up killing your lucky bamboo plant.


Lucky bamboo grows naturally in places that flood and are in the shadows of the canopies of larger trees. The adaptations the plant makes to keep growing under shady, wet conditions, is what makes the lucky bamboo perfect for your aquarium.

Keeping the lighting in your tank low is very helpful to your fish and the lucky bamboo. Any direct sunlight on the plant can make it turn yellow, which is a sign of severe damage, so position the tank to avoid any problems with too much sun.

How to Care for Lucky Bamboo in Your Aquarium

Your lucky bamboo plants must thrive inside your fish tank, so you need to tend to their needs just as carefully as you do your fish.


Any lucky bamboo in aquarium settings requires a supply of carbon and other nutrients to grow strong. For your lucky bamboo to remain healthy, you need to add a plant fertilizer like Flourish Excel by Seachem in the proper dosage to your aquarium on a regular schedule.

Follow instructions carefully when using any plant fertilizer in your aquarium, as too much can kill your fish. Keep a close eye on your plants. If the lucky bamboo is vibrant green and putting out new leaves, your plant is healthy and happy, and your maintenance routine is working.


Good aeration of the water helps the aerobic respiration of the lucky bamboo, which converts sugars into the energy the plant needs to grow.

Use any combination of the following to maintain proper aeration levels:

  • Power heads
  • Filters with waterfall features
  • Air stones
  • Aerating decorations
  • Frequent water changes
  • Long tanks with more surface area

You can also choose to decrease the number of fish inside your tank if good aeration levels are a continual issue. Another option is to incorporate other live plants such as hornwort, Amazon sword, and Sagittaria, which provide a lot of oxygen to the water, even during the nighttime hours.

Lucky bamboo pruning

To keep your fish from experiencing problems from rotting plant tissue, it’s vital you prune off any yellowing leaves you spot on your lucky bamboo right away. Yellowing leaves could be just the natural life cycle of the plant as old leaves die off, or it could be from poor conditions within the tank.

An occasional leaf dying off should not concern you. If you have a constant issue with your lucky bamboo leaves turning yellow, then you need to reassess the planting depth, fertilizer, oxygen levels, and lighting to determine which is causing poor results.

If you see the stem of the lucky bamboo turning yellow, remove the entire plant from the tank immediately. The plant will only continue to rot and destroy the delicate water balance in the tank, which is detrimental to your fish.

Final Thoughts

Adding lucky bamboo in aquarium design is a fantastic way to brighten up your tank and benefit the health of your fish. Knowing how to manage lucky bamboo inside your tank is the key to success, and I hope you use the information in this article to bring new life to your freshwater aquarium.

Nothing lowers your stress levels more than viewing a serene setting inside your aquarium that highlights the beauty of your fish. Now you can confidently use the unique shapes of lucky bamboo plants to enhance your fish tank even more!

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