Decorating the tank is one of the most fun aspects of owning a betta.
Every betta owner has their own unique decorating style. Some betta tanks are fun and colorful, while others look more natural.
Many fish keepers center their aquarium design around various plant species.
But do betta fish need a planted tank?
Betta fish are much happier in a tank with aquatic plants. Aquarium plants provide ample hiding spaces for your betta and encourage bubble nest building. Live plants oxygenate the water and act as natural filters against toxins. A planted tank also gives your betta a more natural environment.
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What Is the Best Type of Habitat for a Betta Fish?
Bettas are tropical fish, and their native habitat is the warm waters of Southeast Asia.
These fish usually live in shallow water environments like rice paddies, marshes, and forest swamps.
Water conditions in a betta’s natural environment include slow-moving currents and a variety of aquatic plant species.
In some locations, there are blackwater conditions. The dark water and aquatic plants give the betta fish shelter from predators.
Even though bettas come from shallow waters, they still need plenty of space for swimming in an aquarium.
The smallest recommended tank size for bettas is five gallons. But if you want to provide your betta with lots of plants, a 10-gallon tank is better.
A larger tank gives you more room for aquatic plants and decorations without overcrowding your betta.
Recreate the warm waters of your betta’s native habitat with an aquarium heater. The ideal temperature for betta fish ranges from 78-80° degrees Fahrenheit (25.5-27° C).
You also need a filter in your betta tank to help keep the water clean.
Choose a filter with adjustable settings for a slow current. Bettas have difficulty swimming in fast-moving water because of their flowing fins.
Maintaining stable water parameters is vital for your betta’s health.
Sudden fluctuations in water temperatures or pH levels can cause shock in betta fish.
Improper water conditions also increase the risk of illness due to low temperatures and harmful toxins.
What Are the Benefits of Aquarium Plants?
Live aquatic plants do more than look pretty in your betta tank. They provide several benefits for your water parameters and your betta.
Aquarium plant life helps filter out toxic substances in the water, such as:
- Carbon dioxide
Of course, you still need a filter in a planted tank. But live plants can reduce the bioload on your filter.
Live plants convert some of these toxins into oxygen. Increased oxygen levels keep your betta healthy.
Beneficial bacteria also consume oxygen as part of the nitrogen cycle.
You won’t get these benefits from artificial plants. But fake plants still provide shade, which decreases algae growth in your betta tank.
No matter what type of plants your choose, ensure they are safe for your betta.
Some live plants contain harmful toxins when ingested by fish. Your betta is not likely to eat plants unless it is starving, but you do not want to take any chances.
Other freshwater plants are dangerous because they have pointy leaves. These pointed leaves can tear your betta’s delicate fins.
Plastic plants may also have sharp edges, making them unsuitable for a betta tank.
Avoid this hazard by choosing artificial plants with smooth silk leaves.
Plants also provide your betta with lots of enrichment. Plant life creates a natural environment for your betta, which reduces stress.
Without enrichment, a betta becomes bored and depressed. A bare tank leaves you with a sad betta.
What Types of Live Plants Do Well in a Betta Tank?
There are several varieties of aquatic plant species to choose from for your betta aquarium.
Some plant choices need more maintenance than others. Fast-growing species need trimming more often than slow-growing plants.
You must also take into account the lighting needs of your freshwater plants. If a plant needs bright light conditions, ensure other plants are not creating too much shade.
Do not overcrowd your betta fish tank with too many plants. If your betta has no space for swimming, remove some plants or consider getting a larger tank.
Bushy plants give your betta places to explore and hide. This type of plant usually has several clusters of thin leaves on each stem.
Blyxa Japonica is the perfect plant for a betta biotope setup.
The plant originates in Southeast Asia and is part of a betta’s native habitat.
It works well in a blackwater environment since it prefers more acidic water. But this plant requires bright light, which is challenging in dark water.
Ludwigia Repens has bright red leaves growing in clusters from a thick stem.
These beautiful plants take in water through their roots and need a nutrient-rich substrate.
Plant maintenance involves pruning to prevent it from growing too large.
Anacharis is one of the hardiest aquarium plants available.
This forgiving plant grows well in low levels of light and does not need fertilizer.
Since Anacharis does not have roots, you may attach the plant to rocks and driftwood. It also floats on the surface.
The bright green leaves grow in groups on long stalks.
Anacharis removes ammonia from the water and oxygenates the water due to its fast growth.
It helps prevent blue-green algae by releasing a chemical to stop it from spreading.
Camboba, also known as Carolina Fanwort, is a short, bushy plant with soft leaves.
You may let it float, but anchoring the plant to a rock or piece of driftwood is better.
The plant’s network of stems is powerful and can trap your betta, so be aware of this.
Rotala Indica is another excellent choice for betta tanks.
The stems and leaves grow upward and release oxygen pearls for better tank oxygenation.
Since Rotala Indica is tall, it makes a great background plant. It grows well in nutrient-rich soil.
Betta fish use broadleaf plants as resting and sleeping spots.
Be careful where you place these plants in your betta tank.
The broad leaves may prevent light from reaching other plants. But shade also inhibits the growth of algae.
Cryptocoryne Wendtii can grow in bright light and low light conditions.
It is a great choice for beginners because it does not need much maintenance.
The broad leaves of this plant have wavy edges and may be green, bronze, or reddish in color.
Amazon Swords are some of the most common plants found in pet stores.
This hardy aquarium plant grows well in limited amounts of light.
Since Amazon Swords grow large, they do well in bigger tanks. If you grow Amazon Sword in a small tank, you must trim it, or it will take over the entire tank.
Java Fern (Microsorum pteropus)
Java fern is an ideal choice for beginners. This hardy plant grows well in low-light conditions and does not need fertilizer.
Bettas love resting on the long, broad leaves.
This versatile aquarium plant grows from a rhizome and is usually attached to a piece of driftwood or rock.
If you plant a Java Fern in the substrate, leave the rhizome exposed. When the rhizome gets covered by substrate, the roots rot.
Anubias is another excellent plant for beginners.
It grows in low-light conditions and is suitable for aquariums of all sizes.
Like the Java Fern, Anubias grows from a rhizome.
Anubias plants are prone to algae growth. You must plant them near the filter or in a shady spot.
Pairing Anubias with Anacharis also helps avoid algae growth.
Bucephalandra, also known as Buce, comes from Southeast Asia. In its native environment, this rhizome plant grows on rocks and driftwood.
This plant’s broad leaves and colorful flowers make it stand out in your betta fish tank.
Buce does not grow fast, so you do not have to worry about crowding out other plants.
Moss plants are popular in freshwater tanks.
These fuzzy plants are low-maintenance and can grow almost anywhere in the aquarium.
Low light levels are perfect for moss plants, and they create a natural setting in your betta fish tank.
Marimo Moss Ball
Marimo moss balls are one of the best plants for betta fish.
They lower ammonia and nitrate levels and absorb other phosphates from the water.
Bettas sometimes roll these little moss balls around the tank like a toy. They are also a favorite among ghost shrimp, which make excellent tank mates for your betta.
Java moss grows like a carpet in betta fish tanks.
You may use Java moss for covering rocks and driftwood for a more natural look in your aquarium.
The plant is very soft, so your betta may rest on it.
Floating plants provide a lot of cover for betta fish.
Many bettas use floating plants as hiding spots or for attaching their bubble nests.
Since these plants float on the surface, getting enough light is not an issue. Be aware of the plants underneath and ensure they receive enough light.
You may plant water sprite in the substrate, but it grows well as a floating plant.
Water sprite does a great job of absorbing toxins from the water.
But because of its fast growth, it may absorb too many nutrients from the water column.
Betta Bulb (Banana Plant)
There are several varieties of betta bulbs, but the banana plant is one of the most popular.
Banana plants get their name because they look like bunches of tiny bananas.
These unusual plants float like lily pads and grow long stems above the water.
Amazon frogbit has dense roots bettas love exploring.
This plant grows very fast, and you must trim it to prevent overgrowth.
How Do You Plant and Maintain Live Plants in a Betta Tank?
The placement of your plants in a betta aquarium depends on the root system and how much space you have.
Rhizome plants must have their rhizomes exposed above the substrate. If the rhizomes get covered up they rot, and the plant dies.
Many rhizome plants do not need soil. They are usually attached to driftwood or rocks.
Rooted plants need a nutrient-rich aquarium substrate to thrive. Many fishkeepers place these plants in a soil substrate covered with a thin layer of gravel.
Adding floating plants to your betta fish tank is easy because you do not need any special substrate. Place the plants on the surface, and you’re done!
Have a design plan in mind before buying plants for your betta tank.
Taller plants usually go in the back of the tank, with shorter plants near the front.
There are no set rules for where you place your plants. Be mindful of larger plants blocking the light from smaller plants.
Fast-growing plants need regular trims. This prevents overgrowth, which is a problem in smaller tanks.
If your plants turn yellow, they may not be getting enough nutrients.
Greedy plants take essential nutrients from the water column. If they take too many, your other plants suffer.
You may consider adding a plant fertilizer when this happens. Ensure your fertilizer is safe for your betta and other fish in the tank.
Snails and shrimp are sensitive to copper and can die from exposure.
Can You Use Artificial Plants?
Artificial plants are a great choice for betta tanks. Many fake plants come in bright colors and liven up any decor.
Some fish keepers mix artificial plants with live ones for the way they look.
Artificial betta hammocks are a popular choice. They consist of a single leaf attached to a suction cup.
Bettas love resting and sleeping on these small leaves.
Place the hammock at different heights in the tank to see what your betta prefers. My betta loved having his hammock near the surface where he could swim up for fresh air as needed.
Avoid using plastic plants because they may have sharp or rough edges.
Instead, choose artificial plants with silk leaves. Silk plants have smooth edges and do not harm your betta.
Artificial plants do not have the maintenance needs of live plants. You also do not have to worry about introducing parasites to your tank.
The only downside of fake plants is their inability to filter toxins or oxygenate the water.
Ensure you bury the fake plants deep enough so they do not fall over.
How Do Plants Affect a Betta’s Behavior
Plants give bettas a sense of security by providing ample hiding places.
If bettas do not have enough hiding spots, they become stressed and skittish.
When bettas are in community tanks, a lack of plants for hiding spots causes aggressive behavior. If your betta does not have a safe space, it may attack other tank mates.
Keep a close eye on your betta when adding new plants or decorations to the tank. If your betta doesn’t like something, it will inform you by flaring or staying away from the offending object.
Consider rearranging your betta fish tank from time to time. This keeps your betta interested in its environment and prevents boredom and depression.
Can Plants Affect a Betta’s Health?
Plants have a positive impact on a betta’s health.
Live plants filter out harmful toxins and keep the water cleaner between weekly water changes.
Creating a natural environment with plants lowers your betta’s stress levels. Less stress means a stronger immune system.
Always quarantine new plants in a separate tank before adding them to your betta aquarium.
Sometimes, live plants harbor parasites or snail eggs. Placing infected plants in your tank as soon as you get them puts your betta at risk for parasites.
Remove dead plants right away. Dead plants release harmful toxins and may cause an ammonia spike in your tank.
Give Your Betta the Natural Habitat It Deserves
Plant life creates a more comfortable, natural environment for bettas. They also provide bettas with hiding places and enrichment.
Live plants help maintain water parameters by removing harmful toxins.
If you do not want the maintenance of real plants, consider adding artificial silk plants.
Plants are a necessary part of your betta’s habitat. Do not leave plants out of your betta tank for the sake of convenience.
Depending on your tank, you may also want to avoid the hornwort plant in betta tanks, and this article will tell you why.
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