Betta aquariums are captivating and fun and enrich any space you put them. The marvelous betta fish, with all its personality, can also be a very good pet for beginners and even experienced aquarists. Yet, even though betta fish are easy to care for, they do need some things to be healthy and happy—like live plants.
Whether you have a small tank or a large one for your betta, you need live plants. Luckily, there are various kinds of freshwater aquarium plants that your betta fish will love.
Keep reading to find out more about the best plants for best plants for betta fish.
Why Do Betta Fish Need Live Plants?
Live plants have more benefits for an aquarium than looking nice. For betta fish, plants are entertainment, hiding spots, and a more natural habitat. They will snooze in floating roots or nibble on leaves. Plants also work as filters and will absorb chemicals in the water, which is great if you don’t have a filter on your tank or bowl.
Best Plants For Betta Fish
10 Choices Betta Fish Will Love
1. Anubias (Anubias Barteri)
Starting off our list is one of the easiest plants to grow: the Anubias. There are several different species to choose from, but all of them require little light. Originally from West Africa, you can find Anubias almost anywhere. If you know how to care for plants, then you should have no issue growing Anubias in your tank.
Keep in mind that these plants are not fans of high, direct light. Low lighting or shade is necessary for Anubias to thrive. There are some varieties that grow very tall, so you will have to prune them to keep them under shade. This will obviously change placement in the tank.
Anubias does not mind being left to float, but most aquarists do prefer to tie these plants down to other objects—rocks or driftwood work well. Do not bury the roots, since they can rot more quickly and contaminate the water. Otherwise, it is super easy to work with, and your betta fish will love it.
2. Brazilian Waterweed (Anacharis)
Here is a common live plant that you often see in aquariums—the anacharis or Brazilian waterweed. They are adept at supplying oxygen to the tank and also help draw ammonia and other toxins from the water. These plants also don’t root, but they don’t mind being tied down either.
Anacharis is excellent for beginner fishkeepers too. They are hardy, can survive in a number of conditions, and will also propagate quickly. So if you kill off plants, you should give anacharis a try. You also don’t have to worry much about fertilizer.
That said, if you do manage to kill off Brazilian waterweed, you need to remove it right away, because it can mess up the chemical balance of your tank.
One thing you will need to be successful with Brazilian waterweed, however, is plenty of light. They need a lot of light and will do best being close to the light source. If you see the leaves start withering, though, it means you are giving it way too much light.
3. Amazon Sword (Echinodorus Bleheri)
If you have a tank that is larger than average in terms of volume, then you need to reduce the amount of open space. There are several plants that are great for this, but the best one has to be the Amazon sword. The leaves of the Amazon sword provide great coverage and hiding spaces for your betta—which they love.
The Amazon sword is a bit more difficult to work with in your tank. You need the appropriate substrate and fertilization. The Amazon sword develops long roots, so you need about 3-4 inches of substrate for it to firmly plant itself. Also, while it will grow well without fertilizer for a while, you will need to provide adequate nutrients or the plant will struggle later on.
Amazon swords need low to medium light and grow rather tall, so put it in the middle of the tank or in the back. Don’t let it get too big, because it might overshadow other plants.
4. Amazon Frogbit (Limnobium Laevigatum)
Another one of the best plants for betta fish would be the Amazon Frogbit, which looks like a cluster of miniature lily pads. The nearly round, flat leaves float on the surface of the water and sometimes sprouts little white flowers. It adds a touch of interest to your aquarium and creates a unique environment for your betta fish and its tank mates.
The one problem is that your betta fish needs to go to the surface to get oxygen, so you cannot have too much Amazon Frogbit. Otherwise, your betta will be obstructed and light won’t be able to reach the substrate. Generally, you want about 1/3 of the surface area, ½ at max covered.
You will medium to high light levels for this plant. The Amazon Frogbit requires little to no maintenance. It does need pruning, but it doesn’t need a lot of fertilizing or substrate (since it floats). You place it anywhere in the tank, but do keep it away from the filter, since the top of the leaves will start to dry out and rot.
5. Wisteria (Hygrophila Difformis)
This is not the same kind of wisteria that you see in Asia with purple flowers. Water Wisteria is attractive and undemanding. The leaves look like lace and will change depending on the parameters of the water. For instance, when the water is cold, the leaves look smaller, more lobed. If they are in low light (not recommended), the leaves are less pinnate.
Water wisteria is ideal for beginners and freshly set-up fish tanks. It does need nutrient-dense substrate and a CO2 and iron-rich fertilizer. You also need decent lighting, usually around 2-3 watts per gallon with a full light spectrum (5000-7000K). Place your wisteria plants in the back of a tank and be prepared to prune them once in a while. They can grow quite large, obscuring your fish.
6. Java Fern (Microsorum Pteropus)
One of the plants you see a lot of is Java fern. Not only do they look pretty and flow well in the current, but they can thrive alone or planted in clusters. Also, they will grow to about 8 inches maximum. You won’t have to worry about the Java fern becoming uncontrollable or needing a lot of maintenance.
These plants are not high light. Too much lighting will sap the color from the leaves, making the plant look sickly. They will thrive in low and medium light conditions. That is why you should also plant Java fern in more shadowy places around the tank. You can place them next to bigger, broader plants so they can grow in the shade. Otherwise, they are easy to keep.
In terms of planting and rooting, you cannot bury the roots. Java fern will rot once the rhizome is covered. Use a string to attach the plant to the place where you want it, whether it’s tied to a stone or decoration, and let it stay there. Eventually, it will take root on its own. You don’t need much fertilizer, but it will help the Java fern grow during the first few months.
7. Hygrophila (Hygrophila Corymbosa)
The hygrophila has two variants: the Temple Narrow Leaf and Kompakt. The plants do have differences in appearances. As you may have guessed, the Temple Narrow Leaf has thin, pointy leaves. The Kompakt variety is more stumped and has compact leaves. Either one you choose, your betta fish will be delighted.
The hygrophila is easy to maintain and takes root quickly. You do need to give them 2-3 watts of moderate light per gallon of water. Gravel and sand is the preferred substrate. However, placement depends on the species you choose. The Temple Narrow Leaf flourishes near the back and sides of the tank. The Kompakt type is shorter, so you can place it anywhere.
Hygrophila does require some fertilizer. Choose varieties that are rich in CO2 and iron. Also, you will need to prune your Temple Narrow Leaf. Otherwise, it will overgrow and overshadow other foliage in the tank.
8. Java Moss (Taxiphyllum Barbieri)
Not to be confused with moss balls, Java moss is a fluffier version that can grow in a number of places around the tank. Although Java moss doesn’t necessarily look common, it is very easy to care for. Keep the light low; this is not the plant for high light tanks.
Again, you can also put this moss anywhere. You can let the moss float around, place it on top of decorations, or even among the substrate. It will grow happily anywhere since it doesn’t root. You also don’t need fertilizer.
One thing to keep in mind: temperature is important. Java moss does not flourish in warm water. In fact, it thrives in colder temperatures; but it can thrive in betta tanks in spite of this. It simply will not grow as fast.
9. Hornwort (Ceratophylum Demersum)
Betta fish owners around the globe do say that hornwort is easily one of the best plants for betta fish. It is easy to maintain and is very simple to keep in an aquarium. The plant also has a unique shape and color, adding plenty of texture to your tank.
You don’t have to worry much about the water temperature with hornwort. It can survive in waters between 50-77 degrees F (10-25 degrees C), making it suited for plenty of environments. Hornwort also needs moderate light. It won’t fair well in dark conditions, and it will also wither if given too much light. Put it where it can be partially shaded.
Depending on what you want, you can leave your hornwort floating around the aquarium. You can also bury your hornwort in substrate. If you do that, though, you must remove the bottom nettles to keep the plants from perishing. It will not root, so you might have to tie it down.
10. Marimo Moss Balls (Betta Balls)
Sometimes called betta balls, marimo moss balls are fun additions to any tank and are one of the easiest plants you could add. As long as these spherical plants have good light, nutrients, and plenty of freshwater, they will stay a vibrant green. The only thing you need to remember with moss balls is this: during water changes, you will need to squeeze the old water from the balls to remove any pollutants that may be built up in the moss.
Marimo moss balls are excellent natural filters and will absorb any chemicals or toxins that your betta doesn’t need to be exposed to. Since they also suck up any extra nutrients, moss balls inhibit the growth of algae as well.
Another reason betta fish love marimo moss balls is that they are entertaining. Since betta fish love swimming around and explore, they are bound to play by pushing the moss balls around. But the best part? You can break these balls apart, roll them into smaller balls, and then grow even more of them!
Should I Use Live Plants or Synthetic Plants?
If you are still on the fence about whether to use live plants or synthetic ones for your betta tank, you should consider the following:
Live Aquarium Plants
Live Aquarium Plants
Are Any Plants Bad For Betta Fish?
Now, you should be aware that there are some live plants that are not beneficial in a betta tank. Obviously, any plant that is known to be toxic to fish should be avoided.
Also, any plants that are not aquatic should not be used. This includes any plants that come in those “betta vases,” like bamboo or philodendrons. The plants will slowly die, and the roots decompose, dirtying the water. This will impact your betta’s health.
In short, always select aquatic plants and nothing else for your betta fish.
What to When Choosing The Best Plants For Betta Fish
Aside from thinking about which plants would do well in an aquarium with betta fish, you need to consider things like how much time and money you want to put into your plants. Any plant you choose is going to cost something and will need some maintenance in order to thrive. Plus, you will need to purchase adequate lighting for your plants, such as an LED aquarium light.
Plants also need decent substrate and fertilizer. You can purchase tablet, plug, or liquid fertilizers for your plants from reputable pet shops or online, but be sure to do your research before you buy.
Heat is another thing to consider. Some plants, particularly tropical ones, are not going to do well in cooler water (and neither will your betta fish). You may need to purchase a heater if you don’t have one already.
The good news is that if you focus on making the tank habitable for both your plants and your betta fish, you shouldn’t have any problems!
Quarantining New Live Plants
Before you plant your new leafy additions, it is always a smart choice to gently wash the new plants. Then, place them in a quarantine tank for the time being. Wait around 3-4 weeks before putting them inside the main aquarium.
The reason for this is the potential presence of parasites and disease. You don’t want anything toxic to be transmitted to established plant life, decorations, or your fish. If you wait the standard amount of time and see no change in the plants, they should be safe to introduce into the main tank.
Otherwise, if you don’t have another tank for quarantining, you can use potassium permanganate to disinfect the plants. Let them sit around 10 minutes in the solution, rinse them thoroughly, and then introduce the plants.
Hopefully you have found this guide on the best plants for betta fish to be informative and enjoyable. When it comes time to adding live plants to your tank, think about the options in this article as well as the pros and cons of keeping live freshwater plants. That way, you can create a beautiful home for your betta fish in no time.