14 Best Live Plants for Betta Fish Tank (Care Guide)

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Have you ever pondered on the possible ways to keep your betta fish happy and lively? Have you also wondered at the magical touch required to refresh the look of your betta fish tank? All you need to do is read through this article, to glean all the necessary tricks.

It is of utmost importance to note that betta fish do not require a small space, like that of a small bowl. Instead, they thrive better in an environment that mimics their natural eco-system.

Their natural eco-system suggests they should live in large spaces containing thick vegetation. The popular opinion that betta fish can survive in a small glass bowl was born of the fact that these cute fish have the ability to breathe air from the surface of the water, with the aid of their labyrinth which functions as lungs.

Let’s talk a bit about the betta fish tank:

To set up a betta fish tank, you have to follow these steps:

Pick the right kind of tank for your betta fish.

Getting the right kind of betta fish tank means finding the middle ground between a small glass bowl and their large, enriching, ideal environment.

As we have established, to set up a betta tank you need to consider space–you will need something capable of holding at least 5 gallons of water. MarineLand 5 Gallon is one of my favorite tanks for betta fish.

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I would advise against going to a pet store to get the kit you need. It’s a bad idea because the quality of the products may not be the right fit.

Also, you will most likely pay so much for those kits, when you can actually get a Fluval Spec V which will serve its purpose just as well.

Bettas have the ability to jump quite high, so your tank must have a tight lid for safety reasons—you do not want to have your betas jumping out of their tank!

Major advantages of getting a large tank for your betta include:

The nitrogen cycle of the mini-aquarium will not be easily disrupted; it will instead be easily established and maintained.

The water in the tank will not get contaminated so quickly. The water in small tanks is prone to easy contamination because of the lack of space. You will not experience this issue with a larger sized tank.

A large sized tank can be heated without any form of external complications. It is quite safe.

You need filters.

Filters make it easy for your betta to swim effortlessly, because their home environment is large bodies of water that have gentle currents. Check this one on Amazon.

Filters also enhance the nitrogen cycle of the betta fish. The absence of appropriate filters in the betta fish tank will make it difficult for their long fins to move against the current. Your filter has to fit your chosen tank size perfectly.

Water heaters are indispensable.

You need to get a water heater for your betta fish tank because water heaters make the temperature bearable for the survival of the fish. I recommend you check the SZELAM Smart Mini Aquarium Heater on Amazon.

They are tropical fish, and as such they are used to a temperature that ranges between 78-82°C. Any temperature range below this might prevent your betta fish from reaching their full size.

A heater will, in essence, serve to regulate the temperature of the tank. Should your tank fall below the required specifications, you run the risk of overheating the water in your tank and thereby endangering your betta fish.

This is one very important reason for trying to keep to the exact specifications as described.

You need the right kind of substrate.

A substrate is usually required to line the bottom of the tank because it mimics the original habitat of the betta fish.  It is home to good bacteria which in itself also plays a part in creating the ideal environment for your betta fish.

A more pleasing kind of substrate will be fine gravel or fine sand in place of gravel which contains large pieces of rocks. Make sure you check out our list of best substrates for planted tanks.

It is possible for food and waste substances to cling to the cut edges of the large pieces of rocks. In turn, this will raise ammonia levels, which is not healthy for the betta fish.

You certainly don’t want to hurt your betta fish, right? So it’s probably best to stay away from large rocky gravel.

Also, choosing a substrate containing colors like black, white, brown or any other natural colors will help to create the right kind of environment for your betta.

Any color that isn’t natural will look artificial. A pink or orange substrate for example will look nothing like their natural environment. Make your fish happy; choose natural colors to line your betta tank!

The depth of the lining to be created with the substrate is also an important point to consider. If you intend on using live plants to line your betta tank (which is definitely encouraged!), it will require a substrate lining of two inches; but if you prefer silk or plastic plants, you will only need one inch.

What is the best kind of plant for your betta fish tank?

Some people prefer the use of artificial silk or plastic plants for their betta tank. Although this is not a totally bad idea, you should make sure that the kind of artificial plants being used do not have any sharp edges.

Sharp edges will be injurious to your betta fish (it would be so sad if the betta fish injured their thin fins on sharp edges of plastic plants).

Living plants breathe out oxygen which is crucial for the survival of the betta fish. However, their benefit doesn’t end there—they are also essential in the removal of nitrates.

Additionally, they enhance the creation of a healthy, natural environment for your betta. In choosing live plants for your betta tank, you need to consider the conditions necessary for growth.

They are summarized in the table below.

Conditions to consider
The size of the tank Small(2-5 gallons) or large (10 gallons and above)
The growth pattern of the plant Slow or fast
The kind of substrate required Fine-gravel or rocky substrate
The lighting requirements Low or high-intensity lighting
Heating Mild or extreme temperature
Fertilizer Liquid, tablet or plug fertilizers
The intensity of maintenance. Light or rigorous

Best Live Plants for Betta Fish Tank

1. Amazon Sword

This plant has broad leaves and it is loved by most betta fish. It is known to grow very large over time. Therefore, there are some necessary requirements to bear in mind.

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If you intend on keeping a 2-5 gallon tank, you probably should have a re-think on using this kind of live plant, because of how broad its leaves can grow.

Amazon sword also has the ability to grow a little bit deeper into the substrate. Hence you should consider getting a quality substrate (about 3-4 inches in depth) that can effectively anchor the roots of these plants.

It also requires low to moderate lighting to thrive well.

Next on the list of live plants you can use for your betta tank is:

2. Marimo Balls

These plants grow as unique spherical balls and they create such a beautiful environment for the betta fish. They are one of the best options to consider for a betta tank.

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The marimo balls are a species of good algae. Due to their spherical nature, they provide a cushion-like effect for the bettas and they can also be adapted into a toy by the bettas for resting and relaxation.

Marimo balls can grow well under any range of temperatures. They also require minimum lighting for growth, and they do not occupy a large area—unlike the amazon sword. Hence, they are recommended for tanks ranging from 2-5 gallons.

3. Water Sprite

With parts easy to trim, water sprite is considered as one of the betta fish favorites. It does not necessarily require a deep substrate for planting as it can be left to float free on the surface of the water tank or planted in a 1-2 inch deep substrate.

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Floating water sprite can be used by your betta fish as a good cover for building bubble nests! Water sprite is known to grow quickly, but it can also be trimmed as it grows—to control its size and reduce the amount of space it takes up.

You can cut the base of its stem to prevent its leaves from rotting. It really is a beautiful live plant that can be used as a playground by your betta fish. It is excellent for starters.

4. Java fern

Also known as Microsorum Pteropus, java fern is another excellent plant for beginners. This aquatic plant does not require too much light and nor does it require extra nutrient dosing for it to thrive. It is a simple “unstressful” plant which is commonly used in aqua spaces.

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The java fern does not need to root into the substrate. Instead, it attaches itself to rocks. It requires a cheap LED light and it thrives in a wide range of temperatures (15-28°C).

It also can grow in water which is either slightly acidic and soft or alkaline and hard because it adapts well.

Unless you prune it often, it has the ability to grow very tall—hence if you are considering using it for a tank that is less than 10 gallons in size, you should watch it closely and prune when necessary.

5. Anubias Nana is another great choice you can make.

The anubias nanas is quite a small plant. Its size is a great advantage as it means it can fit into most tanks. You certainly won’t have to worry about keeping an eye on its growth, or pruning it to stop it reaching the top of the tank.

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If you are considering having a small betta tank that measures up to about two gallons, then anubias nanas is your one of the best choices you can make.

Another beautiful feature of the anubias nanas is that it has broad, wide leaves. These leaves are often adopted by the bettas as relaxation spots. The bettas find it comfortable to sleep on the broad leaves.

You do not have to worry about getting an expensive light kit with the anubias nanas. It thrives effectively in low light. Its substrate has to be fine gravel for proper growth. It doesn’t really depend on the use of fertilizers to grow, but it won’t mind if you give it some once in a while!

6. Pennywort

This live plant has good features that enable it to fit perfectly in a betta tank. Firstly, it does not require much light—which means you will actually save money!

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Secondly, pennywort can thrive anywhere in the tank—above the water surface, on the water surface, below the water surface, in fact anywhere! It is very easy to care for because it does not require any delicate treatment or considerations. A 1-2 inch substrate layer will be sufficient.

However, pennywort has a natural tendency to move towards the surface of the tank. When allowed to dwell there for a while, it can quickly cover the surface of the water. As bettas can breathe from the surface, this plant might prevent them from getting the air they need.

This means you have to be alert, and make sure the pennyworts do not cover the surface of the tank. We certainly do not want anything posing a risk to the survival of our precious betta fish, do we?

7. Hygrophila

From its name, you can guess that it will function well for a betta tank! There are two main varieties of the hygrophila plant—temple narrow leaf and kompakt.

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Hygrophila is a popular aquatic plant with broad leaves. These broad leaves can function as resting spots for the bettas—making them a great option for your tank.

Not only that, hygrophila thrives in fine gravel as this enables its roots to grow well.

If you are considering having one small cute tank (between 2-10 gallons), hygrophila might not be the best choice for you, unless you don’t mind continually pruning it to keep its height in check, as it can grow up to about 28 inches tall.

However, it would be very well suited to a 20 gallon tank.

The lighting requirement for hygrophila is about 2-3 watts per gallon of water.

Fertilizers rich in iron and carbon dioxide will further enhance its growth.

8. Java Moss

Java moss is a perfect fit for beginners. It is very easy to care for and it can really beautify your aqua space. Requiring only low-moderate light and thriving well in a wide range of temperatures, this plant is really very easy to look after.

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It also does not require rooting into the substrate available. It can, however, be attached to driftwood and left to float or sink into the bottom of the tank.

It is a good choice for your betta tank as it gives your fish a colorful home and needs no fertilizing.

Here is a top tip—using very warm water will slow down this plant’s growth, whereas cold water will make it quickly grow.

9. Duckweed

Duckweed, if effectively managed, can be a great source of joy for your betta fish. It is known for its ability to grow quite quickly, and also floats up to the surface of the tank.

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If it is not properly pruned, it can prevent your precious betta fish from the oxygen they need.

Now, here is the balance point;

If you want to create a tank with a perfectly natural look for your betta fish, then definitely consider this plant. But you must also be ready to prune it regularly, to stop it from cutting out a significant amount of light that might be needed by other low-level plants.

10. Anachris

This live plant grows very fast. It is used by many fish farmers. It also does not require very much light, and it can be attached to drift wood and left to sink to the bottom of the tank, or allowed to float on the surface.

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One thing to note about anachris is that it filters toxins and serves as a control mechanism for algal growth. This important feature makes it an excellent choice for any home aquarium.

Bettas are fond of hiding in the anachris, and also use it as a perfect relaxation spot.

Care and a proper monitoring system must be put in place to ensure that the anachris, when left to float, does not cover the surface of the betta tank.

11. Wisteria

This is another popular aquarium plant. Known as water wisteria, this plant has some amazing features which make it suitable for use in a betta tank.

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It requires moderate lighting for survival and proper growth (about 2-3 watts per gallon is ideal). It also can grow in any kind of substrate.

Its very unique leaf patterns make it a perfect resting and hiding spot for the bettas. In addition, its color and lovely shape will make your aqua space very beautiful.

It is important to note that the water wisteria can grow very tall (up to over a foot). This means that supervision and regular pruning will be required to make sure it does not grow above the lid of the betta tank.

If you opt for a large tank (10-20 gallons) then the water wisteria will be just perfect.

Regular fertilizing is required to keep this plant alive and well.

12. Hornwort

Hornwort is a very versatile, adaptable plant. It requires low light but not too dark as if the lighting is too low, it will die.

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Not only does it provide great cover in the betta tank, but it also once again doesn’t need to root and can be left to float on the surface of the water. It requires just a small amount of fertilizer.

One good reason for using this plant in your betta tank is its ability to remove toxins from the aquarium and also filter nitrates.

However, keeping hornwort in your tank will also require some extra care because it tends to grow quickly. Not only will it require regular punning, but it will also require careful handling as its bristles detach easily and tend to float all around the betta tank.

13. Amazon Frogbit

This plant can be found on ponds and can be adapted for aquariums. It produces really beautiful small white flowers. It is a fast-growing plant that can quickly cover the surface of the betta tank.

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Moderate to high levels of lighting are required for the amazon frogbit. Since it does not root, it can be left to float. However, care must be taken to ensure that the plants are kept away from the filter so that it does not rot. It requires a small amount of fertilizer.

14. Dwarf Hairgrass

This plant is verdant and pleasant. It is ideal for creating a balanced eco-system for your betta fish. It requires driftwood to enable it to grow.

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It also requires medium lighting levels and temperatures ranging from 70-83°F. it requires a rich substrate to thrive. Some additional fertilizer will also enhance its growth.

Benefits of Live Plants in Aquarium

Apart from maintenance (regular pruning, water temperature control and the application of some supplemental fertilizers), there seem to be plenty of advantages in the use of live plants for your betta tanks. They are:

Reduction in Algal Bloom

Making a choice from the list of live plants described above should help you to eliminate algae. Some plants like anachris and marimo balls compete with algae for nutrients, thereby reducing their chances of survival.

Aesthetics

The use of live plants in your betta tank makes it aesthetically pleasing to the eye. It gives it the feel of a naturally planted aquarium. This can rarely be achieved with the use of fake plants.

Proper filtration

Live plants are natural filters. With their recruitment into your betta tank, you will not need to put as much effort into an aquarium filtration system. Those nitrates and toxins will get the filtration they need!

Aeration

Live plants utilize carbon dioxide for their own survival and give out oxygen. In essence, they pump the water full of oxygen, which is an essential aeration mechanism.

An increase in the water’s oxygen content reduces the growth of algae and promotes excellent fish health. Having live plants in your betta tank is therefore a total win-win situation!

Now that we have fully discussed the kinds of live plants you can use in your betta tank, here are some other bits of useful information.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do betta fish like lots of plants?

Betta fish are attracted to plants with parts large enough to serve as play or relaxation spots. However, the presence of lots of plants will most likely congest the betta tank, thereby creating little space for free movement of the betta fish.

Do bettas need decoration?

Decorations beautify the aquarium, so long as they are safe and will not harm your fish. However, they are not strictly necessary.

Can betta fish live in a vase with a plant?

Yes, they can because they can survive on the surface air. However, this can be injurious in the long run. The natural habitats for bettas are large ponds, and they will only properly thrive in a larger space.

Do bettas like fake plants?

Fake plants are not a bad choice, but aeration, filtration and beautification are only a few of the advantages live plants have to offer. These make them a seemingly better choice.

Now you know everything that is needed to take care of your betta fish effectively. Go for it, treat those wonderful bettas right!

Saurabh Kumar

I am a passionate fish keeper, with years of experience in my hobby. You will find some really useful tips and information that I have learned along the way.

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