9 Best Plants for Betta Fish Tanks and Aquariums

Betta aquariums can make a fantastic, enriching addition to any space, with the great variety in colors of the fish making them beautifully captivating to watch.

To help keep these fish healthy and happy, they need a natural feeling environment, and that’s most easily created by having live plants.Best plants for betta fish tanks written beside a blue and dep red betta with planted tank backgroundNot only do plants give your fish something to interact with, they also offer a wonderful opportunity to personalize your tank, so it’s worth looking into the different options available to you.

In this article, we cover 9 of the most common and best plants for betta fish, the most easily obtained by, easy to grow and easy to care for by beginners.

This list is not exhaustive, we only cover the best ones for beginners. There’s other plants that could just as easily as made the list – such as the peace lily, moss balls, anubias nana, water sprite and more – but they are either harder to obtain harder to care for, or simply didn’t make the list as we had to keep the list short and manageable.

Enough small talk, lets’ look at some of your best options:

At a Glance: Our Top 5 Picks for Best Plants for Betta Fish

Note: The links above take you to more information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon.

Should I use Live or Synthetic Plants?

This is a huge topic and one that deserves an article of its own so we will be writing in detail about this and will post a link on this page once it is finished.

For now, here’s a quick overview of the ‘pros and cons’ on live vs synthetic fake plants to give you a rough idea:

 

Synthetic Plants:

Pros:

  • They don’t require any maintenance, so you only need to worry about the health of your fish, not the plants.
  • They will always look ‘healthy’ and sturdy, giving your fish plenty of options to find a hiding spot.
  • There’s a great variety; you can opt for plastic plants or silk, meaning you have a fantastic range of color and shape to choose from.

Cons:

  • Synthetic plants won’t give your fish a natural environment to live in.
  • Cleaning is still required. Make sure you clean them carefully every time you change the water in the tank to ensure they aren’t harboring any nasty dirt or parasites.
  • Some synthetic plants can cause problems for bettas, especially plastic ones. If you pick anything with slightly hardened edges, your fish might catch their fins on them. So stick to silk plants if you do go synthetic!

Live Plants:

Pros:

  • They produce oxygen, enriching your fishes environment, helping them to breathe.
  • Replicating the natural environment of your fish will obviously be more realistic if you have living plants for your fish to interact with.
  • Variety is still very good, with lots of ‘easy to maintain’ options available in a range of shades and shapes.

Cons:

  • You need to keep an eye on their size, as if they get too big, your fish may not have the room to swim that they really need.
  • Live plants need the right environment to survive, so there’s a learning curve to do with lighting, fertilization and more. You also need to prune and remove them if they’re starting to die.
  • Some plants can be toxic, so make sure you do your research before putting anything in your aquarium.

One option you may want to consider if you’re feeling unsure about having live plants to start with, is getting a mixture of both live and synthetic ones for your tank.

There are lots of great live plants to choose from if you do decide to go down this route, so from this point, we’ll only discuss this option.

 

Things to Consider When Choosing Live Plants for Betta

There are a few things you’ll need to think about once you’ve decided to get live plants for your tank.

One question you need to ask yourself: how much money and effort do you want to put in? No matter your answer, you can easily find varieties to suit your preferences.

Live plants need a good source of light to be able to thrive in your aquarium, and either fluorescent lighting or LED aquarium lighting is best for planted tanks that contain betta fish (incandescent lights can heat the water too much for the fish, which can create a whole host of issues.)

It’s not just lighting needed so plants can flourish in an aquarium; most of them also need fertilizer. You can easily get hold of liquid, tablet or plug fertilizers from good pet shops, so you can decide which option will work best for you.

Whether or not you heat your tank is another important factor when choosing your varieties, because some will thrive better in heated and others in unheated water.

In summary, you have to create the right environment to care for live plants, and in this case it must match the same environmental conditions required for optimum betta care.

9 Best Plants For Betta Fish Tanks and Aquariums

Once you’ve thought about the points above and still decided live plants are something you’d like to add to your tank, it’s time to start picking. The following types of plants are good for bettas…and beginners!

Anacharis (Brazilian Waterweed)

1 Imported Anacharis Bunch - 5+ Stems | Egeria Densa - Beginner Tropical Live Aquarium Plant

This is a very common and easy-to-care-for variety, making it a great option if you’re not too confident with live plants. They supply a steady level of oxygen, and help remove ammonia which is harmful to fish.

Why are they good for beginners?

Anacharis isn’t fussy – it can survive under a fairly wide range of conditions, and it propagates really quickly, making it quite hard to accidentally kill off.

How much light do they need?

Light is loved by this plant, and it will thrive best floating at the top of a tank. Be careful that the leaves don’t start to wither though as this means it’s getting too much light.

Where best to place them in the tank:

This is down to personal preference. Anacharis can survive almost anywhere in an aquarium, so you can bury it, or leave it to float.

Substrate and rooting requirements:

Anacharis will not root, but can be tied to areas of the tank if you want.

Fertilization requirements:

No fertilizer is needed for it to thrive, but it won’t hurt it to add some.

Tips:

When it dies, make sure you remove it straight away, as Anacharis can make a real mess of your aquarium.

 

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Java Fern (Microsorum Pteropus)

Aquatic Arts Java Fern - Huge 3 by 5 inch Mat with 30 to 50 Leaves - Live Aquarium Plant

Jave fern make a great addition to a betta tank, and can be planted singly, or in small groups (depending on the size of your aquarium.)

They grow up to a maximum of approx. 8 inches tall, so won’t ‘take over’ an aquarium like some other species are known to do.

Why are they good for beginners?

As long as you can keep the lighting fairly low, they are very easy to maintain.

How much light do they need?

Low to moderate light is best for Java fern, with too much light having been seen to make the leaves turn translucent.

Where best to place them in the tank:

Due to its love of darker spots, Java Ferns seem to do well next to larger plants providing a canopy and shade. It will survive almost anywhere though, as long as you have something to tie it to.

Substrate and rooting requirements:

Be careful not to bury this plant, as it will rot very quickly if the rhizome is covered. Instead, use a small amount of string to attach it to where you want it to root – rocks, stones or decorative objects are easy places to tie it to.

Fertilization requirements:

A small amount of fertilizer will help the Java Fern thrive in your aquarium, but it won’t matter what type you use.

Tips:

If you’ve never tied a plant down before, make sure you use a tiny amount of string or fishing line so you don’t create hazards in the tank for your fish.

 

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Hygrophila (Hygrophila Corymbosa)

Planterest - Hygrophila Corymbosa Bunch Temple Hygro Live Aquarium Plant Decorations BUY2GET1FREE

There are 2 main varieties of this species – Kompakt and Temple Narrow Leaf.

These plants do look different, and are well described by their names, with the Temple Narrow Leaf having tall, narrow leaves (who’d have thought it!) and the Kompakt variety being shorter, thicker and more ‘compact.’

Why are they good for beginners?

Offering a nice variety to the foliage in betta tanks, these plants are easy to root and maintain.

How much light do they need?

Per gallon of water, you will need 2-3 watts to give a moderate level of light.

Where best to place them in the tank:

This depends on the species you opt for – size means you may want to place a Temple Narrow Leaf plant nearer the sides or back of the aquarium so it doesn’t block the view of your betta fish, but the Kompakt is much shorter and so can be placed to suit your preference.

Substrate and rooting requirements:

Sand or gravel are the best options for this plant, and you‘ll need to bury the bottom carefully to ensure it stays well rooted.

Fertilization requirements:

Nothing is needed to keep this plant alive, but fertilizers rich in iron and CO2 will help it grow up much fuller and strong.

Tips:

If you opt for the Temple Narrow Leaf, make sure you keep it pruned, or its growth may start to over-shadow other plants in the tank.

 

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Amazon Sword (Echinodorus Bleheri)

3 Amazon Sword Aquarium Plant Live | Echinodorus Bleheri

One of the best plants for betta tanks larger in volume than average. When you want to fill a space, these are an excellent choice as there are several varieties of this species and most of them are fairly large.

Why they are good for beginners:

Amazon sword is seen as slightly more challenging than some betta aquarium plants, but don’t let that put you off! Get the substrate and fertilization right, and it can be a lovely addition to your tank.

How much light do they need?

Low to moderate lighting is needed for this plant to thrive.

Where best to place them in the tank:

You may want to consider the size of any Amazon sword when you are placing it, as some varieties can grow quite big. Make sure it won’t overshadow other plants when you decide where to root it – most people opt for the middle or back of the tank.

Substrate and rooting requirements:

Lots of long roots keep Amazon sword healthy, so you’ll need to bury it into a reasonable level of substrate, with 3-4 inches being ideal.

Fertilization requirements:

Amazon sword will be fine without fertilizer for a while, but once the nutrients in the water have gone, it may begin to struggle. Consider adding fertilizer fairly regularly to keep the Amazon Sword healthy.

Tips:

Make sure you have deep enough substrate so the roots of the plant can spread as far as they need to.

 

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Java Moss (Taxiphyllum Barbieri)

Java Moss Portion in 4 Oz Cup - Easy Live Fresh Water Aquarium Plants

This moss is a great addition to an aquarium if you’re hoping to achieve a natural looking environment.

It can grow on top of objects, or at the bottom of the tank if you want to change the look of particular areas.

Why are they good for beginners?

Although Java Moss looks very different to other plants recommended for beginners, it is just as easy to take care of. As long as you can keep the lighting fairly low, you can use this in your tank to add variety.

How much light do they need?

Low to moderate light is all that’s needed for java moss, and it will not do well in aquariums with intense lighting.

Where best to place them in the tank:

The beauty of this moss is it can be attached anywhere you like! It can also be left to float, but this is quite uncommon, as it is normally placed on top of objects.

Substrate and rooting requirements:

Java moss doesn’t root, so can be placed anywhere in the tank.

Fertilization requirements:

No fertilization is needed for this plant.

Tips:

Very warm water will stop the moss from growing as fast, so if you want to see it thrive, a cold water aquarium is your best bet. But it’s still suited to betta tanks despite this, it will just have slower and stunted growth.

The cure? Buy a bigger plant to begin with, or grow it in a separate tank before moving it into your betta aquarium.

 

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Anubias (Anubias Barteri)

Potted Anubias Barteri Aquarium Plant by West Coast Aquatics

Originally found in West Africa, a range of Anubias species have now been found and are available to buy.

The leaves are a darker green than many plants so can help add variety of shade into your tank.

Why they are good for beginners:

As long as you’re good at keeping your aquarium nice and clean, this is an easygoing plant that‘ll thrive in a range of tank sizes.

How much light do they need?

Anubias are not fans of direct light, so low lighting is needed unless you can shade them with other plants. Some varieties grow quite tall though, so it may be harder to shade them.

Where best to place them in the tank:

Placing can be left down to personal preference – just keep the lighting requirements in mind when you decide where to put it.

Substrate and rooting requirements:

This can be left to float, but most owners tend to tether it to objects in the tank such as driftwood or rocks. Make sure you don’t bury the roots of the Anubias plant, as they’ll rot fairly quickly leading to death and water contamination.

Fertilization requirements:

Anubias aren’t fussy, no real fertilization is needed, but putting some in won’t do it any harm!

Tips:

You need to make sure you keep your aquarium really clean for Anubias to survive, as it has been known to disintegrate if you allow the tank to become dirty.

 

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Hornwort (Ceratophylum Demersum)

Pond Oxygenating Hornwort Bunch Plants

Widely considered one of the best plants for betta fish, Hornwort is easy to get hold of, and is fairly simple to keep maintained and healthy. The shape and shades of the plant make it great for creating variety in any tank.

Why are they good for beginners?

Temperature isn’t a real issue for hornwort, and it can survive happily between 50-77° F so it’s well suited to a range of tanks.

How much light do they need?

Moderation is the key– it’ll die if it’s left in fairly dark conditions, but will suffer the same fate if it’s put under high level lighting. Try to keep the lighting low-medium to help this plant thrive.

Where best to place them in the tank:

Depending on your taste, you can leave Hornwort to float at the top of your aquarium, or you can bury it in the gravel. If you decide to bury it, consider removing the bottom rows of nettles to stop them from dying.

Substrate and rooting requirements:

Hornwort doesn’t root, but can be tied or buried in the tank quite easily.

Fertilization requirements:

A small amount of fertilizer will be needed to keep this plant alive. It’s very efficient at collecting the nutrients it needs from the tank, but if it’s left unfertilized, it’ll run out of the nutrients in a short space of time.

Tips:

Be careful hornwort doesn’t start to over-run your aquarium…it can break very easily, and once this has happened, new plants are formed from the broken pieces.

 

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Wisteria (Hygrophila Difformis)

Hygrophila Difformis Water Wisteria Potted Freshwater Live Aquarium Plant Fish Tank by Greenpro

Variety is the name of the game here, as wisteria will look very different depending on the conditions of the tank it’s grown in.

Why are they good for beginners?

This is slightly less common than the other plants covered so far, but it’s still easy to get hold of and maintain within a tank.

As long as you’re confident enough to prune it, the leaves on wisteria will add some nice variety to your aquarium.

How much light do they need?

A moderate amount of light is needed for the leaves to fully develop and thrive on this plant. 2-3 watts per gallon is ideal.

Where best to place them in the tank:

The back or sides of the tank are the best places for the Wisteria as they are quite large and can obscure your fish.

Substrate and rooting requirements:

You can leave wisteria to float if you prefer, but most owners tend to root it into the substrate as it seems to flourish better in these conditions.

Fertilization requirements:

Wisteria needs regular fertilization, with iron-rich fertilizers being your best bet for keeping wisteria healthy.

Tips:

Wisteria grows quickly and will need fairly regular pruning.

 

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Amazon Frogbit (Limnobium Laevigatum)

Close up of some brightly colored, deep green amazon frogbit leaves
Cardex [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
You may well have seen this plant not only in aquariums, but also in ponds, as they’re a very commonly seen floating ornamental variety used by many.

When they reach maturity, Amazon frogbit produce small white flowers, making them a unique decorative option for your tank.

Although one of our top choices of best plants for betta, you don’t want to have too much of this as it does cover the water surface of your aquarium and hence prevent betta from surfacing to breathe from the air. So make sure to only allow this plan to cover, say, 1/3rd of your tanks surface area, perhaps 50% at most.

Why are they good for beginners?

The Amazon Frogbit needs very little maintenance, but really improves the look of any aquarium.

How much light do they need?

Moderate to high lighting levels work well for Amazon frogbit, but as they float on the top of the tank, there aren’t normally any issues with them not getting enough light.

Where best to place them in the tank:

This plant can be placed anywhere in the tank, but is best kept away from the filter, as the top side of the leaves need to be kept completely dry or they’ll begin to rot.

Substrate and rooting requirements:

Amazon frogbit needs to be left floating and will not root.

Fertilization requirements:

No special requirements needed for Amazon frogbit, but a good quality fertilizer will help it thrive.

Tips:

Make sure you thin Amazon frogbit on a regular basis, or it’ll grow to cover the entire surface and deplete the levels of oxygen and light in the tank.

 

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Quarantining New Plants

It’s always a good idea to gently wash any new plants you buy, and then place them in a separate tank for a while before introducing them into your main aquarium.

Disease and parasites can easily spread from new plants to your established ones, or new plants may bring disease and parasites to your fish. Therefore it’s recommended you keep new plants quarantined for around 3 weeks to minimize the risk of infecting your main tank.

If you don’t have space to quarantine your plants, you could consider disinfecting them. Potassium permanganate can be used to soak your plants for a short amount of time (around 10 minutes), but they’ll need to be carefully rinsed with aquarium water before they’re introduced to the main tank.

Happy fishkeeping!

 

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B Hamilton

Hey there! I'm Brian, a lifelong enthusiast and fish keeper with a wealth of knowledge and experience on freshwater aquariums, that I love to share on this site. If you have any questions or need any help, please do ask in the comments section below, I'd love to hear from you and will help where I can.

14 thoughts on “9 Best Plants for Betta Fish Tanks and Aquariums”

    • Hi Chantal,

      It can be done, but it’s not easy, so I would pretty much always recommend to use a filter. If it is something you want to pursue though, if you really want to know how to set up a tank where plant and fish live perfectly balanced (without using filtration), please google and read up LOTS on the Walstad method. It’s not the only method, but is the most common and popular. But please do loads of reading and research until you think you are truly knowledgeable on the topic and understand all requirements before you go for it.

      Best of luck!

  1. I would like to use a large vase for a betta fish and a zebra snail. I have a disc cover that will allow a plant to sit on top of the vase with the roots in the water. Which plant would work best for this? Also, how long should I leave the plants in the vase before introducing the betta and snail?

    • Hi Mari,

      We don’t recommend to keep betta in vases, as they do much better in larger environments, with proper filtration. Please see our article on tank size here for details: https://www.itsafishthing.com/betta-fish-tank-size/

      That’s not to say your vase may well be very large, I couldn’t possibly know, but we would advise to avoid anything under 2.5 gallons, with 5 gallons being our preferred smallest size.

    • Hi EeeDee,

      Peace Lilly are OK for betta tanks, just please don’t fall for the misinformation that they can survive off eachother (the betta in a vase with peace lilly that you often see.) The betta eating the plant, and the plant surviving on the fish waste only works so far, and really is not natural. Betta are carnivorous and need a high protein meat diet, they shouldn’t be forced to try to survive off a plant alone.

      a 1.5 gallon tank with filter can work, and many betta breeders and specialists do keep betta in such small tanks. But we would always recommend a larger tank personally. Larger tanks are easier for hobby fish keepers to keep, to maintain proper water parameters and a healthier fish.

  2. Help want to place Betta in water with my potho plants no dirt ever on roots can fish survive in this water.

    • Hi Carrie,

      Peace lily will need some – or most – of it’s foliage above water in order to do well. Some leaves can be submerged, but if all are then it will ultimately wilt and eventualy die off.

      I’m not sure about varigated pathos, and a quick search has shown different opinions from others. Some say they have successfully grown it submerged, others not, so I’m unable to say I’m afraid.

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