9 Best Aquatic Plants for a Planted Betta Tank
So you decided to add some plants to the barren scenery of your betta's aquarium but have no clue where to start.
Luckily, being something of an "expert," we can point you to the best live aquatic plants for a new betta tank. Essentially, you should always aim to add extra floating aquatic plants to the setup because that's what makes Bettas feel at home. However, any 5-gallon tank or bowl can benefit from a handful of ground plants here and there. In this article, we will walk you through some good picks for betta fish plants and give you some helpful advice along the way.
Our newest betta addition to the Buce Plant Team, Moose
Top 9 Live Plants For Your New Betta Tank
To better understand what type of plants would work best for a betta tank, we first need to consider the origin of your new pet fish. The Betta fish you see in pet stores have their roots in the shallow waters of Southeast Asia. There, Bettas enjoy partial shades cast by dense vegetation, which provides shelter and exciting places to explore for food. Because of the natural lifestyle of a Betta fish, it is best to have live aquarium plants, as opposed to fake plants, that partially cover the top of its tank.
Floating plants fit this description perfectly, which is why our list will consist of many of these. Moreover, having too few or no plants in its habitat can stress your pet Betta. Stress may lead to all sorts of complications for a Betta fish, ranging from losing its lively color, to a shortened lifespan.
That being said, have a look at some of the best plants for a betta tank:
1. Anubias Nana
Anubias is one of the most popular live plants in the aquarium hobby and that's without exaggeration. This is because Anubias looks good in any planted tank and it's also an easy one easy to look after. These traits make it great for beginners who are just starting out with aquarium plants.
Coincidentally, it's also one of the best plants to put in a Betta tank. Mind you, the Anubias rhizome should NOT be planted directly in the substrate. We recommend gluing your new Anubias on a piece of driftwood, stone, or aquarium decor. If you decide to glue the plant, use an aquarium safe superglue, like Aqua Worx Super Glue, and make sure the active ingredient is Cyanoacrylate. If placed near the surface, Anubias will provide that natural feel of shelter that Betta fish enjoy, helping your buddy become more confident.
Furthermore, if the plant is near the top of the tank, you may witness your Betta resting on one of its larger leaves. The leaves of Anubias Nana are ideal for this and act as a natural Betta hammock. This is normal behavior for a Betta and it signals that your pet fish feels comfortable in its aquarium.
We recommend trying Anubias Nana for a 3-gallon or a 5-gallon tank. That's because the leaf size of Nana suits such small tanks. If your tank is larger than 5 gallons you can try the Anubias Barteri variety, the leaves of which can reach 3 inches in length. Speaking of which, there are also a lot more Anubias varieties aside from the Nana and Barteri and all of them can go in a Betta tank.
2. Dwarf Water Lettuce
The Dwarf Water Lettuce (Pista Stratiotes) is a floating plant that's suitable for medium-sized Betta fish tanks. What makes Dwarf Water Lettuce a perfect addition for your Betta aquarium is the natural partial shades it casts and its long root systems. The leaves of dwarf water lettuce will float at the surface of the water, and long fuzzy roots will stretch down into the water column.
Swimming alongside this plant's roots, which can sometimes reach the bottom of the aquarium, will help your Betta feel safer in the tank. The long roots also make the swimming space in the tank more labyrinth-like and Betta fish, being curious explorers, enjoy that.
However, what we personally like about the Dwarf Water Lettuce is how fast it grows. By growing like there's no tomorrow this plant sucks up all the excessive nutrients from the water. This in itself has three main benefits for a Betta tank:
- It keeps Nitrate levels low and helps reduce the need for water changes
- It prevents unwanted algae issues
- It provides overall stability in the water parameters of the tank
However, one small caveat to having Dwarf Water Lettuce in your Betta's aquarium is that you'll need to periodically remove the crazy growth. Also, if given the opportunity, Dwarf Water Lettuce will take over the whole water surface of the tank. This is not ideal because your Betta needs some open water surface to gulp atmospheric air. For this reason, we recommend using a floating ring to contain the Dwarf Water Lettuce growth or regularly propagating and removing some of the plants.
- Tip: Dwarf Water Lettuce doesn't like too much water surface agitation, so don't use it alongside a powerful filter.
3. Water Wisteria
Water Wisteria is a fast-growing aquatic plant with soft leaves that's not demanding in terms of care. Aside from being beginner-friendly, this plant is known to make male Betta fish feel more comfortable in their home.
Moreover, male Bettas seem to consider the leaf texture of this aquarium plant as decent protection for their future offspring. It's not unheard of to introduce Water Wisteria to a Betta tank just so see your pet fish building its bubble nest near the plant. Anyway, this plant can be both planted in the substrate and left to float. We recommend floating it in the aquarium if you're keeping a male Betta. Ramp up your aquarium lighting to medium intensity and make sure that Water Wisteria doesn't take over too much of the water's surface.
4. Dwarf Sagittaria
Dwarf Sagittaria, or Sagittaria Subulata, is one of the few foreground plants we will recommend in this list. This aquatic plant resembles your regular grass, which makes it a great foreground choice for aquascaping. Its grass blades can grow tall enough to create the illusion of an underwater jungle in a small Betta tank or bowl.
Consequently, Betta fish love swimming in and around Dwarf Sagittaria because it seems that the plant's texture triggers their hunting instincts. Your pet fish will curiously explore each and every grass blade, while you enjoy the view of a nice planted tank. Also, Dwarf Sagittaria is easy to take care of since it's very versatile.
- Note: Under lighting with high intensity, this aquarium plant explodes with growth.
5. Water Sprite
Water sprite looks very similar to Water Wisteria, with the difference that the former expresses a thinner shape of the leaf.
This plant can thrive regardless of whether it's being floated or planted. If you're using it for your new Betta aquarium, then we recommend that you leave it floating. Keep in mind that this plant grows at a fast rate and may need regular pruning.
Great water surface coverage and fast growth aside, Water sprite will keep your Betta's water free from excessive nutrient levels. This plant acts like a Nitrate sponge in the aquarium, which is great because most new Betta owners tend to start with a small tank. In smaller tanks, the water parameters are more unstable because nasties build up quickly. This is why it's a wise move to have a cool-looking plant such as the Water Sprite in your Betta tank. The plant will help keep the water clean and free of algae and excess nutrients, and your Betta will enjoy the extra shelter.
6. Cabomba Aquatica
In our experience, Cabomba Aquatica is an aquatic plant that would best fit the middle or the background of your Betta aquarium. We included it as a recommendation because it's suitable for beginners and it also looks excellent in a tank.
Cabomba can be grown floating, but we recommend planting it to achieve that "underwater forest" look. Your pet Betta will enjoy patrolling around this plant. Also, when Cabomba grows to the top of the tank, your Betta may find the upper growth protective enough to create a bubble nest around it.
- Note: Cabomba remains healthier under medium lighting.
7. Red Root Floaters
The Red root floaters, also known as Phyllanthus Fluitans, are one of the best surface plants for a Betta fish. In addition, Red Root Floaters are our most popular and best-selling floating plant. Both aquascapers and their Bettas seem to love it without exception. Your pet fish will find solace underneath the dense surface mat the plant typically forms. Moreover, red root floaters grow unique blood-red roots, which can really add up color to your Betta tank.
- Note: Red root floaters do best with very little water surface agitation. Also, if you decide on this plant, your Betta tank should also have no lid. That's because the red root floater does not like to get wet on top, as it happens from the water condensation formed in tanks with lids.
For a more extensive Red Root Floater care guide, click here.
8. Brazilian Pennywort
Hydrocotyle Leucocephala, or Brazilian Pennywort, is a stem aquarium plant that Betta fish seem to enjoy overall. The fish would usually "claim" the plant and hang around it. We've also seen some Bettas getting emotionally attached to their Brazilian Pennywort (we think?). Smaller Betta fish would also use the plant's leaves as a hammock. However, it's not unseen for larger specimens to actually rest on the roots and stem if the plant is left to float.
We will not take a stance on whether you should float or plant Brazilian Pennywort in your Betta tank. Your fish will find a way to benefit from this plant either way. Also, keep in mind that Brazilian Pennywort is one of the fastest growers in the aquarium hobby.
Okay, we know that driftwood isn't an "aquarium plant," but technically, driftwood was once a live plant, right? The reason we decided to add it to our list is that it's one of the best pieces of decor you could possibly add to a Betta aquarium. Of course, a piece of driftwood can instantly add a natural look to any fish tank. Get multiple pieces of wood to play around with the aquascape and be creative.
The biggest reason driftwood is a great choice for the betta tank is because the driftwood can leach tannins in the aquarium water, which will naturally tint the water brown. This creates a comfortable environment for a Betta fish and can have a positive impact on its overall wellbeing. The natural habitat of Bettas is full of tannins because of the branches and bogwood scattered in the water. This suggests that Betta fish may feel natural comfort in the presence of driftwood in their tank.
What aquarium plants are best for a beginner?
Assuming that most of you reading this guide are just starting out in the hobby, we'd like to reiterate that all plants above are perfect beginner plants that are easy to care for. Though we have a whole separate guide where we list good picks for beginners in general, there are many other fitting choices. Aside from the ones we've listed here, some other betta tank plants you can try in your aquarium:
- Java Fern - a very hardy plant that is perfect for filling space;
- Cryptocoryne - fits the middle ground of an aquarium nicely;
- The Banana Plant - has an exotic appearance;
- Amazon Swords - a great centerpiece plant if you'd like it to be;
- Hornwort - grows fast and its looks stand out from the crowd;
- Vallisneria - tall aquatic grass;
- Riccia Fluitans - can be floated or grown as a carpet and likes to pearl.
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