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.
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 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.
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)
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.
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
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!
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
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!
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)
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.)