The Best Plants for Bettas

Written By Lewis German  |  Tropical Fish  |  0 Comments

You may be looking at your Betta tank and wondering if there is anything more you can add to improve your fish’s life. You may be wondering what plants may be best to add, or what species are better suited for smaller aquariums.

In this article, we will go over what the best plants are for Siamese Fighting fish and explain why these plants are our top picks.

Do Bettas like real plants in their tank?

Bettas are naturally from forested pools in South East Asia where there is a high amount of leaf litter and plant life in the waterways.

These slow moving waters are usually covered with floating plants and overhanging branches which Bettas take shelter under.

When it comes to housing your Betta in an aquarium, replicating its natural environment is key to success, and if you want a healthy, happy Betta, incorporating live plants into the setup is a good way to go.

How do you know which plants are suitable for Bettas?

Bettas like to live in soft, acidic waters and warm temperatures, which is the ideal parameters for most tropical aquarium plants. Most of the plants you find at your local fish store will be suitable for a Betta tank.

However, if you keep your Betta in a smaller tank, like most people do, you will want to look for slow growing plants as some of the larger, faster growing plants can quickly overtake and cause problems.

What plants do Bettas eat?

Bettas do not eat plants as they are more carnivorous and do not possess the tools or strength to tear up, dig up or consume healthy plant matter.

Your Betta may occasionally nibble on leaves or chew up Duckweed from time to time, but your Betta is not going to destroy your planted tank. If your plants are dying, it is likely from a different cause.

How to choose plants for a Betta tank

Choosing plants for your Betta tank is fairly easy; you need to look for plants that either grow along the surface and provide cover up top where the Betta spends most of its time, or you need to look for slow growing plants.

Plants with a Rhizome (those that do not need to be planted into the substrate) like Java Fern, Buce and Anubias are particularly slow growers and make good additions to a Betta tank.

The best plants for Bettas

Lily Pads on a Pond
Image by Randy Auschrat

Bettas spend the majority of their life at the top level of the water, skimming the surface for tiny insects and infusoria – because of this, they are vulnerable to attack from above in the form of birds, snakes and mammals.

In the wild, Bettas take shelter underneath floating plants to avoid predators, and that instinct passes on into captivity as well.

Having plants up top makes Bettas feel safe and comfortable in their environment.

Dwarf aquarium lily

Better for those larger Betta tanks, Dwarf aquarium lilies make amazing additions to a planted tank as their colourful red foliage stands out against the rest of the plant life.

They grow from a bulb which is buried under the soil. The lily pads grow up top and down low, providing good cover in the upper and lower sections of the tank.

Your aquarium lily will need to be fed however, so weekly doses of fertiliser or placing a root tab within the substrate may be necessary to keep it healthy.

Java Fern

One of the best, if not the best starting plant for anyone who owns a fish tank, this plant is highly versatile and extremely hardy. It is great for Betta tanks as its broad, bushy leaves provide space for them to hide in and rest on.

Java Fern is also slow growing and very undemanding on light and nutrients, making it ideal for nano tanks. It also does not need to be planted into the substrate and can be tied to a rock or piece of driftwood.


Image by Forest and Starr

This plant resembles a 3 leaf clover, but floats along the top of the water, having roots which hang down and extract nutrients directly from the water column. They separate and spread fast creating a carpet above the tank which gives Bettas the perfect cover they want for themselves and their bubble nests.

Salvinia is great for small tanks as it does not grow large, is very easy to keep alive and it is also very good at removing nitrates, which is very important in small tanks that have little filtration and water volume.

Salvinia however, must be managed and removed regularly, otherwise it can take over, blocking out light for plants down below and can cut off gaseous exchange between the water and surrounding air.

What plants should you avoid putting in a Betta tank?

Bettas will utilise all the plants in their environment as they appreciate water bodies thick with vegetation; however, not all plants are suitable for a betta tank.

Coldwater pond plants or river plants will not fare well in the warm tropical, slow moving waters of a Betta aquarium and will struggle to survive. This way, it is best to stick to tropical aquarium plants and avoid those which are from cold parts of the world.

Do Bettas need live plants?

Bettas do not necessarily need live plants to stay alive, but they are highly recommended as they will keep your tank clean and healthy by removing nitrates, providing food in the form of infusoria, creating shade/cover for your fish to seek shelter in and they create an ecosystem similar to that of the Bettas natural habitat.

If you want your Betta to do well, or if you intend to breed your Betta, then keeping them with live plants is the best way to do it.