ScapeLyfe provides our readers with in-depth news and information about Aquascaping, and we cover everything from daily maintenance and water changes, to long-format coverage of substrates, filters, and more. Read more about what we do.
Huy phan n Jr SZM Oa Jg unsplash — Live Plants For Betta Splendens

Live Plants For Bet­ta Splendens

Issue 004/ May 18, 2020
The myth that Bet­tas don’t need any­thing more than clown vom­it and a 12 gal­lon fish­bowl is final­ly dying. Let’s take a look at the best live plants you can get for your Bet­ta to live a hap­py and healthy life.

First: when you’re con­sid­er­ing plants for your Bet­ta, it’s impor­tant to remem­ber that Bet­tas need low flow, and lots of cov­er in the tank — they don’t do well when placed in open tanks, like those in the Iwagu­mi style. A set­up with mod­er­ate flow and few areas of cov­er can eas­i­ly over­whelm and stress them. 

That does­n’t mean they should always be in thick, jun­gle-like tanks. Quite the con­trary: their tank can include some open areas, but cov­er should always be pro­vid­ed to avoid stress­ing bet­tas. While larg­er fil­ters are almost always the bet­ter choice, giv­en the prop­er fil­ter hard­ware (via spin out­flows, par­tial­ly-closed out­flow valves on com­pat­i­ble fil­ters), thick, thriv­ing plant life near the out­flow can also reduce the exit speed of water to some­thing a bet­ta would be com­fort­able with.

That means the plants you choose need to pro­vide that cov­er and baf­fle any exces­sive flow from your fil­ter. The choic­es below pro­vide a com­bi­na­tion of cov­er and flow baf­fling — any com­bi­na­tion of these plants are a per­fect match for the ide­al Bet­ta tank environment.

Easy + Low-Tech
Ama­zon Sword (Echin­odor­us Bleheri)

Ama­zon Swords are an eas­i­ly-grown, slow-growth plant that gets quite large.

These are ide­al for tanks 5 gal­lons or larg­er, and grow to the per­fect back­ground size. They’re able to hide tank equip­ment in cor­ners, and give fish (includ­ing your Bet­ta) a cozy place that pre­vents stress buildup in an oth­er­wise-open tank.

$7.99 from Planterest

Ama­zon Sword

Ama­zon Swords get large. They’re ide­al for larg­er plant­ed tanks, but should­n’t be used for tanks small­er than 10 gal­lons, as they can eas­i­ly shade small­er plants or car­pets. Bet­tas often love swim­ming amongst the leaves of these larg­er plants, and they make great shel­ter and play’ areas for them. (When con­sid­er­ing that the nat­ur­al habi­tat for a bet­ta is a rice-pat­ty pond with lots of shade and veg­e­ta­tion, Swords are a great fit.)

Swords are heavy root-feed­ers, mean­ing they grow best in a nutri­ent-rich sub­strate like ADA Aqua­soil, UNS Con­tra­soil, or anoth­er nutri­ent-laden sub­strate. In addi­tion, it’s impor­tant to have a thick lay­er of sub­strate. Since an Ama­zon Sword’s leaves get quite large, they can eas­i­ly be caught in the fil­ter out­flow and put sig­nif­i­cant strain on the roots. It’s pre­ferred to plant these as deeply as pos­si­ble, at least 3 inch­es deep.

Inert sub­strates like Flourite, Eco-Com­plete, sand, and oth­ers aren’t well-suit­ed to grow­ing swords unless you’re will­ing to use root tabs. (Note that you’ll need to peri­od­i­cal­ly replace these, so it’ll be an ongo­ing main­te­nance task.) These plants also tol­er­ate most any light­ing con­di­tion, but grow best in medi­um to high-light. Sim­i­lar­ly, CO2 injec­tion isn’t required to grow an Ama­zon Sword, but the plant does bet­ter when it’s provided.

Lowest Maintenance
Java Moss

Famous for being one of the eas­i­est plants to main­tain, Java Moss is a sol­id choice for Bet­ta tanks.

Tax­i­phyl­lum bar­bi­eri is near­ly impos­si­ble to out­right kill. High light, low light, even pure­ly ambi­ent light is tol­er­a­ble. If you do have a mid/​high tech set­up, be pre­pared to trim 2 – 3 times a week.

$21.09 at Amazon (2 pads)

Java Moss

This is like­ly one of the eas­est aquar­i­um plants to grow. It’s like­ly the most pop­u­lar aquar­i­um plant of the last decade! 

It’s extreme­ly tol­er­ant of near­ly any light­ing, sub­strate, and water con­di­tion that could occur with­in a plant­ed tank, and it’s for­giv­ing of near­ly any­thing — even slight­ly brack­ish water! (Which is good for emer­gency sit­u­a­tions when treat­ing fish sickness.)

Be warned — this plant eas­i­ly takes over a tank, espe­cial­ly in high­er light­ing lev­els or heavy fer­til­iz­er dos­ing. It’ll become a dense web of plant growth that pro­vides an ide­al bet­ta envi­ron­ment for exploration/​engagement.

Java Moss is a great choice for a fore­ground plant, and is ide­al­ly-suit­ed to areas of high flow, where debris can’t eas­i­ly attach to it. That means it’s per­fect­ly-suit­ed to being attached to the hard­scape of a tank, even right in the out­flow cur­rent of the filter.

It’s per­fect for Bet­ta tanks, where it’s able to soak up extra nutri­ents in the water col­umn, help­ing with algae con­trol. (If you have high light in your bet­ta tank, be warned: Java Moss will grow incred­i­bly fast.) You don’t even need to plant it, since java moss can grow as an epi­phyte (i.e. non-sub­strate roots/‘floater’ type plant).

You can read more about java moss in our Java Moss Care Guide.

No Trimming
Anu­bias Nana

The reli­able, slow-grow­ing plant that’s an easy choice for Bet­ta tanks.

If you’re look­ing for some­thing with easy main­te­nance — it does­n’t get any eas­i­er than Anubias.

$13.95 from SubstrateSource

Anu­bias Nana

Anoth­er extreme­ly tough choice, this plant is per­fect for a low-main­te­nance, low-light Bet­ta Splen­dens tank. Tol­er­ant of all types of light­ing con­di­tions, as long as you keep its roots out of the sub­strate and attached to the hard­scape, this plant will survive.

Addi­tion­al­ly, this plan­t’s water para­me­ters match near­ly per­fect­ly with those of Bet­tas, which makes for a health­i­er tank. (No bal­anc­ing and com­pro­mis­ing on the ide­al para­me­ters for your livestock!)

This plant grows slow­ly, though — if you’re look­ing for a mature tank with­in a few weeks/​month for your Bet­ta, you should con­sid­er oth­er options.

How­ev­er, its slow growth makes it per­fect for small­er tanks, being per­fect­ly-hap­py with any tank over 2 gal­lons. (But your tank should be big­ger than that, since a Bet­ta’s nat­ur­al envi­ron­ment is actu­al­ly a sprawl­ing, mas­sive rice-pat­ty pond!

The 'classic' betta carpet
Dwarf Hair Grass

AKA Eleocharis Parvula

DHG is the clas­sic choice for car­pets in a bet­ta tank — it’ll stay small enough to main­tain your tank’s sense of scale, while still using enough nutri­ents to help keep a small tank in balance.

$19.99 from GreenPro

Dwarf Hair­grass

This is the clas­sic’ car­pet­ing plant, and it’s one that Bet­tas love swim­ming through + hunt­ing’ with­in. Even bet­ter, it’s rel­a­tive­ly-easy to care for, only requir­ing mod­er­ate light to sur­vive. (As always, you’ll see the fastest/​thickest growth with high light + CO2 injection.)

If you’re look­ing for a low-main­te­nance tank for your Bet­ta, this is like­ly not a good choice. Once it’s through the tran­si­tion to your water para­me­ters, it will require con­sis­tent trim­ming and con­trol to keep it from spread­ing through­out the whole tank. (Unless that’s what you’re look­ing for!)

This is a par­tic­u­lar­ly-good choice for Bet­ta tanks, as it leaves open water areas to see those tail flares!

An alternative carpet
Dwarf Sagit­taria

If you’re look­ing for some­thing that looks like a lawn, this is your choice.

AKA Dwarf Sag, this plant looks as much like a lawn as you’ll find in an aquas­cape. Your bet­ta will love the thick, lush growth to swim with­in, and it’s begin­ner-friend­ly, so if this is your first plant­ed tank, it’s still a great choice.

$14.48 from PlantsFactory (10 Pack)

Dwarf Sagit­taria

This is one of our favorite plants! Pro­duc­ing a lush, deep-green car­pet across a tank, Sagit­taria is the per­fect choice for a mid-ground plant in a Bet­ta tank. (You’ll love the way your bet­ta’s tail looks through these leaves.)

As is the case with the oth­er plants, Dwarf Sag does­n’t require high light con­di­tions or CO2, but grows faster/​thicker when it’s provided.

Com­bine this plant with a wood hard­scape, and you’ve got an award-win­ning com­bi­na­tion! (Lit­er­al­ly — check out the last few nano tank win­ners, and you’ll like­ly see this plant make an appear­ance along­side the midground of a wood hardscape.)

Build a better Aquascape.Sign up to get the latest aquascape techniques each week.