22 Easy Betta Fish Plants for Beginners (The Complete Guide)

The idea that Betta fish can live in small, empty bowls is a sad misconception.

Like most fish, Betta fish are happiest when their tanks reflect an accurate representation of their natural environment. So, what exactly does the natural environment of Betta fish look like?

rice paddies betta fish
Thailand Rice Paddies (Source)

Notice anything surprising? Their natural habitat isn’t a tiny pond…in fact, rice paddies are massive in size and heavily planted.

Why, then, do pet stores spread the misconception that Betta fish are perfectly fine in tiny bowls?

The answer is sad, yet quite simple; to sell more fish. Pet stores know that they will sell more Betta fish if people think that they can simply put them in a $5 glass bowl and forget about them.

Since Betta fish are capable of breathing air from the surface, they have the unique ability to survive in small ponds for a short period of time. Pet stores capitalized on this ability and spread the lie that Bettas “thrive in tiny ponds in the wild” and are fine in small bowls. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Betta fish only live in tiny spaces if it is a matter of life or death.

In reality, they are much happier, healthier, and more comfortable in large spaces with thick vegetation.


22 Best Betta Fish Plants: Our Top Picks

Here are 22 of the best live plants for betta fish tanks:

1. Amazon Sword

Amazon Sword plant

The broad leaves of the Amazon Sword make it a favorite among Betta fish. That said, the Amazon Sword has a few unique care requirements that you should keep in mind.

First, the Amazon Sword can grow quite large; as tall as 3 feet, depending on the species. As a result, it probably isn’t the best choice for a five gallon tank. These plants are better suited to Betta tanks at least 10 gallons in size or larger.

In addition, the Amazon Sword must be rooted a few inches deep into substrate to remain properly anchored as the broad leaves catch current and siphon hoses with ease.

Amazon Swords are also very nutrient-hungry betta fish plants. As a result, choosing a quality aquarium substrate is vital if you plan to keep these plants. The broad leaves of these plants make them little stages for fish displays, algae eating critters, and even breeding platforms for some fish and snails to lay their eggs upon!

  • Full Name: Amazon Sword Plant (Echinodorus spp.)
  • Care Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Light Level: High

2. Anubias Nana

anubias nana

If you are searching for the perfect Betta fish plant, look no further. The Anubias Nana tops our list for several reasons:

First of all, the Anubias Nana has broad, wide leaves. Since Bettas are known to perch themselves on plant leaves to conserve energy and sleep, which makes Anubias Nanas a great fit for any Betta tank.

In addition, Anubias Nanas is small and easy to keep. They stay small enough to fit in any aquarium over 2 gallons and don’t require intensive lighting.

They don’t need much in terms of fertilizer and their leaves taste terrible to snails and other nibbling creatures. They can also be attached to rocks and driftwood as well as rooted in the substrate. Hence why Anubias Nanas is not only a great Betta fish plant but is also featured on our list of the best low light aquarium plants.

Finally, Anubias Nanas are notoriously slow growers. This may seem not seem like a great thing at first, but slow growing plants actually make aquarium care and maintenance much easier.

  • Full Name: Anubias Nana (Anubias Barteri var. Nana)
  • Care Difficulty: Very Easy
  • Light Level: Low to High (indiscriminate)

3. Marimo Moss Balls

marimo moss ball

Marimo Moss Balls are definitely one of the best options for anyone looking to add a unique plant to their Betta fish tank.

Interestingly, these unique spherical balls are actually a type of algae (don’t worry, not the bad kind). They live on lake beds in Japan and Northern Europe, where slow currents continually shape them into a spherical shape.

Marimo Moss Balls prefer cooler, even unheated aquariums, but will thrive at any temperature below 75 degrees. They also require high quality water with little nutrients or pollution load and indirect lighting. 

Marimo balls are also a favorite among Betta fish, shrimp, and other species. Bettas are known to use these moss balls as resting spots or even roll them around like a toy. Keep in mind that due to the lack of current in many smaller aquariums, your Marimo Ball may flatten out over time.

We highly recommend this species to anyone looking for an interesting conversation starter for your betta fish tank.

  • Full Name: Marimo Moss Ball (Aegagropila linnae)
  • Care Difficulty: Moderate
  • Light Level: Low

4. Java Fern

Microsorum pteropus - java fern

Java Ferns are great plants for Betta tanks because they are extremely easy to grow and do well in low lighting. I once grew a Java Fern in a jar for months with only the natural light in the room. Seriously, they’re that easy.

That said, be very careful when planting Java Ferns. The plant will die if you bury the rhizome. Attaching them with rubber bands or string to rocks, driftwood, and other anchor points is the best way to grow them.

Java Ferns are also slow growers, so you won’t need to trim them back every few days like you would have to do with Hornwort, Anacharis or other aggressive growers.

Lastly, Java Fern reproduces by creating tiny baby ferns along its mature leaves. The tiny new Java Ferns can be plucked off and attached to hard spots in your tank where they’ll eventually mature. 

  • Full Name: Java Fern (Microsorum pteropus)
  • Care Difficulty: Very Easy
  • Light Level: Low to moderate

5. Water Sprite

water sprite
Water Sprite (source)

These aquatic ferns are a great plants for your Betta fish tank. In fact, a lot of Betta fish enthusiasts refer to Water Sprite as a “Betta fish playground” because of the way Bettas often hang out in the forest of leaves.

While tolerant of low light, they thrive in high light environments. They also tend to grow explosively, which makes them a great nutrient sponge but also a bit of a nuisance.

One thing that makes Water Sprite a great option is that it can be planted or let free to float on the surface. For a Betta tank, floating plants create great cover and can even encourage your Betta to build bubble nests.

Through Water Sprite is known to grow very quickly, it is one of the easiest plants to trim. Simply cut at the base of the stem and discard the leaves to prevent them from rotting in your tank.

Keep in mind that like most floating plants, Water Sprite can coat the surface, soaking up all available light and hindering plants growing under the water.

Thanks to their attractive appearance and ease of care, Water Sprite is a great beginner plant that fits in well in any Betta tank.

  • Full Name: Water Sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides)
  • Care Difficulty: Easy
  • Light Level: Moderate

6. Java moss

java moss

Java Moss is one of the most popular freshwater aquarium plants, and for good reason. This species is hardy, easy to care for, and visually appealing. Overall, Java Moss is the perfect beginner plants for Betta fish.

Java Moss doesn’t require any sort of intense light setup to grow well. In addition, it doesn’t need to be rooted into substrate, which makes it a popular choice among Betta fish owners.

Attach it to driftwood, let it carpet the bottom of the tank, or simply let it float; regardless or where you keep it, Java Moss is an easy and great plant for Betta tanks.

Java Moss tends to create a dense, untidy tangle of growth that Betta fish and other tank inhabitants love to explore. But it also requires regular maintenance and tends to get everywhere.

Other moss species, like Christmas Moss (see below), are slower growing but often easier to keep looking neat.

  • Full Name: Java Moss (Taxiphyllum barbieri – with several related species also sold on occasion)
  • Care Difficulty: Very Easy
  • Light Level: Low to Moderate

7. Anacharis

Anacharis
Anacharis (source)

Anacharis is a fast-growing, bright green plant that has become extremely popular in fish-keeping over the last few years. This species is known to help filter toxins and curb algae growth by soaking up nutrients and creating shade, making it a great plant for your Betta fish tank.

Anacharis can be planted or left to float, which gives Betta owners more options when it comes to the aquascaping of their tank.

Since this species often grows into thick “forests”, it acts as a great hiding place and gives your Betta a good spot to rest/sleep.

With its lush growth and soft leaves, Anacharis is a favorite of plant-eating snails and fish. But with how quickly it grows, a bit of browsing rarely causes the plant lasting harm.

Anacharis loves light and will drop its lower leaves if light levels get too dim. This creates a threadbare, rather ugly look that’s a signal for you to think about investing in more lighting.

  • Full Name: Anacharis or Elodea (Elodea densa)
  • Care Difficulty: Very Easy
  • Light Level: Moderate to High

8. Pennywort

Pennywort
Pennywort (source)

Pennywort is a versatile aquarium plant that can thrive under, on, or above the water surface. It is easy to care for and has very low lighting requirements, making it a popular plant for Betta tanks.

If you’re so inclined, the plant is even edible for humans, with spicy notes reminiscent of black pepper.

Pennywort naturally gravitates to the surface as fast as an inch per week to soak up light, where it creates great cover for Bettas. It has a tendency to cover the surface quite quickly, so make sure to trim it often to ensure the surface doesn’t get smothered out (this can be dangerous for Bettas since they often breath from the surface).

As long as you don’t let it take over your tank, Pennywort is an interesting and visually appealing plant that is perfect for most Betta tanks.

  • Full Name: (Brazilian) Pennywort (Hydrocotyle leucocephala)
  • Care Difficulty: Easy
  • Light Level: Moderate to High

9. Duckweed

duckweed
Duckweed (source)

A lot of planted tank owners have a love/hate relationship with Duckweed.

On one hand, Duckweed is a unique surface plant that gives tanks a swampy, natural look. Duckweed is also great for sucking up excess nutrients and helping Bettas and other surface dwellers feel less exposed in the water column.

On the other hand, Duckweed tends to grow extremely fast and can be hard to eradicate once established in a tank. It will float and sink with any sort of current – and if you decide you want to be rid of Duckweed, you have to thoroughly eradicate it. Even a single remaining plant will become several more in the course of days.

An overabundance of Duckweed can also block a significant amount of light from reaching lower-level plants, stunting their growth.

Make sure it doesn’t completely cover the surface if you plan to keep this species. Placing a floating plastic ring is a great way to corral it and keep Duckweed from taking over the surface of your planted Betta tank.

  • Full Name: Duckweed (Lemna minor)
  • Care Difficulty: Very (too) Easy
  • Light Level: Low to High

10. Hygrophila

Hygrophilia
Hygrophila (source)

Hygrophila is a broad leaf plant popular among planted aquarium enthusiasts. The large leaves provide great resting spots for Betta fish, making it a useful and effective choice.

Since Hygrophila can grow up to 28″ tall, so a 20+ gallon tank is recommended. This species tends to grow quickly, so can will outgrow smaller aquariums in no time.

Hygrophila will tolerate low light levels but will drop its lower leaves and take on a stringy, rather ugly look. High light levels, especially in deep tanks, will keep it looking its very best. 

Hygrophila can be a great choice for those who were already planning to give their Betta fish a little more room than normally required. They also come in red leafed forms for those looking for a splash of background color!

  • Full Name: Hygrophila (Hygrophila polysperma)
  • Care Difficulty: Easy
  • Light Level: Moderate to High

11. Hornwort

Hornwort
Hornwort (source)

Hornwort is popular in Betta aquariums because it is easy to care for and versatile. It’s capable of thriving either planted in the substrate or floating at the tank surface, and provides great cover for Betta fish.

Hornwort grows quickly, even in low light setups. Be careful when trimming this plant; it tends to be delicate and you really don’t want the bristles floating all around the tank (they take a while to clean up but pose no other problem).

Hornwort is also great at removing toxins and nitrate. As long as you don’t mind a little extra maintenance, Hornwort is a great choice for Betta setups.

  • Full Name: Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum)
  • Care Difficulty: Very Easy
  • Light Level: Low to High

12. Wisteria

water wisteria
Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz / CC BY-SA

Water Wisteria is a popular aquarium plant that is known to thrive in low-light setups. The unique appearance and interesting leaf patterns of Wisteria will help give any Betta tank some extra flair.

Water Wisteria can be grown as a single plant rooted or trimmed to form a carpeting foreground plant. It even changes the shape of its leaves depending on how its planted.

Free-growing Water Wisteria can grow pretty large (over a foot tall), so it may not be the best choice for smaller aquariums. With regular trimmings and good care, a 10 gallon tank should suffice.

  • Full Name: Water Wisteria (Hydrophila difformis)
  • Care Difficulty: Easy
  • Light Level: Moderate

13. Amazon Frogbit

frogbit aquarium plant

If you love the look of Duckweed but don’t want the invasive mess it makes, Amazon Frogbit is a great alternative.

Frogbit is a great plant for Betta fish tanks because it grows much larger, making it easier to weed and maintain. The dangling roots are also much larger, giving the Betta and its tankmates a complex environment to navigate and build nests in.

Like Duckweed, Amazon Frogbit is a nutrient sponge but will also shade out anything beneath it. You’ll need either surface areas protected from its growth to allow additional light in or really love Frogbit. As hardy and easy to grow as it is, you’ll have plenty of it in no time at all.

  • Full Name: Amazon Frogbit (Limnobium laeviatum)
  • Care Difficulty: Very Easy
  • Light Level: Low to High

14. Anubias Barteri

Anubias Barteri

If you’re a fan of bulletproof Betta fish plants, look no further. Anubias Barteri is a West African plant that, like Anubias Nana, is slow growing but undemanding in terms of light and water requirements.

Snails and vegetarian fish find the tough leaves unpalatable but algae will occasionally find them great growing platforms. 

Anubias Barteri grows significantly taller than Nana; maxing out at around 18-24″ in height. All Anubias species prefer being attached to hard surfaces like rocks and driftwood; burying the rhizome can cause rot and even death.

When content, Anubias Barteri may even send a flowering spike with a single white, fragrant flower to the surface!

  • Full Name: Anubias Barteri (Anubias Barteri var. barteri)
  • Care Difficulty: Very Easy
  • Light Level: Low to High

15. Banana Plant

These striking plants are found in warm, slow moving waters throughout the Southeastern United States. The “bananas” of a Banana Plant are specialized roots that store nutrients for lean times in the future.

The leaves are broad and race to the surface where they form lily pads to soak up all the light it can. Banana Plant leaf color varies depending on the variety and light intensity from reddish purple to lime green.

As plants for Betta fish tanks, Banana Plants are undemanding and easy to care for. They also create a lily pad look without being as invasive as Duckweed or Frogbit (though make sure the pads don’t shade neighboring plants).

  • Full Name: Banana Plant (Nymphoides aquatica)
  • Care Difficulty: Easy
  • Light Level: Low to High

16. Aponogeton ulvaceus

As an African alternative to Amazon Swords, Aponogeton Ulvaceus have delicately twirly, translucent leaves that grow a foot or larger in length.

This, combined with their undemanding nature makes them great show plants for Betta fish tanks. Aponogeton Ulvaceus comes in several varieties with different colors, leaf shapes, and adult sizes. 

They are usually sold as dried bulbs, making them easy to purchase across the country. Once buried in a new aquarium, new leaves quickly bolt for the surface, allowing you to really appreciate watching your new plant get established.

  • Full Name: Aponogeton ulvaceus
  • Care Difficulty: Easy
  • Light Level: Moderate

17. Cryptocoryne parva

cryptocoryne parva

Cryptocoryne parva is a unique plant for the Betta fish tank that can help create a foreground carpet without too much work. While undemanding, Cryptocoryne parva does prefer high light levels to spur its growth.

Given that it remains short and grows fairly slowly, it takes constant nutrient access and no shading plants to get lush, verdant growth. Slow growing plants have the advantage of needing less trimming and maintenance, however.

  • Full Name: Cryptocoryne parva
  • Care Difficulty: Moderate
  • Light Level: High

18. Christmas Moss

Vesicularia montagnei - christmas moss

While superficially similar to Java Moss, Christmas Moss is an equally hardy, much slower growing species with a similar look.

Instead of swarming over every surface available, Christmas Moss forms tidy little bunches that look like fir trees. Over time, you’ll have a forest of little trees, making them a great addition to the plants for Betta tanks.

Undemanding and hardy, Christmas Moss prefers moderate lighting but will tolerate nearly any light levels and warm water; 78 to 80 degrees.

  • Full Name: Christmas Moss (Vesicularia montagnei)
  • Care Difficulty: Very Easy
  • Light Level: Moderate

19. Marsilea Minuta

Marsilea Minuta is not as well known as some of the other plants here, but is a fantastic choice due to its ease of care.

As long as the light levels are high and the substrate not too poor, Marsilea Minuta will form a carpet of clover-like leaves that will fill in any bare, well-lit spots. In lower lighting environments it will tend to run tall, reaching for the light instead of hugging the substrate.

Marsilea Minuta can tolerate a wide range of water temperatures. While not a fast grower, with a bit of dedication, Marsilea will create a lush playground for your Betta fish tank.

  • Full Name: Marsilea Minuta
  • Care Difficulty: Easy
  • Light Level: High

20. Pygmy Chain Sword Plant

Echinodorus Tenellus pygmy chain sword
Uccio D’Agostino / CC BY

As the name suggests, Pygmy Chain Swords tend to grow by sending runners throughout the substrate.

Baby sword plants pop up along the runners, mature, and branch out further until you have a lush lawn of tiny sword plants that really looks just like grass! 

While tolerant of a range of pH and temperature conditions, they prefer high lighting for growth and a rich substrate will encourage them to spread.

As Betta fish tanks tend to be small, they’re also easy to keep brightly lit. That’s why Pygmy Chain Swords are one of the most popular foreground plants for Betta fish tanks.

  • Full Name: Pygmy Chain Sword Plant (Echinodorus Tenellus)
  • Care Difficulty: Moderate
  • Light Level: High

21. Cryptocoryne Wendtii

cryptocoryne in aquarium

Cryptocoryne Wendtii is a very undemanding plant from Sri Lanka that’s a perfect Betta fish plant for low light levels. In fact, high light levels will actively cause it harm, as it tends to grow in the shade of overhanging trees and taller aquatic plant species. Slow moving water like within a planted aquarium suits it best.

Cryptocoryne Wendtii has leaves that vary between dark green and a reddish brown color.

They tend to max out at 6 to 8 inches in height and are a slower growing species. C. Wendtii comes both in potted form as well as dried bulbs.

  • Full Name: Cryptocoryne Wendtii
  • Care Difficulty: Very Easy
  • Light Level: Low

22. Vallisneria

Vallisneria

Vallisneria is a genus of plants so popular with aquarists you can buy them in plastic! They’re responsible for the eel grass look that people often associate with aquatic life and thankfully, are extremely undemanding and easy to care for.

Vallisneria come in several species, including V. spiralis (with twisting corkscrew leaves) and V. gigantea, which can grow tall enough to curl over the surface of your planted Betta tank!

Pruning back Vallisneria is as simple as taking scissors and making your cuts as needed.

As long as they have adequate nutrients and light, Vallisneria will create a stunning backdrop plant that accents the mid ground and hides filter pipes, hoses, and other unsightly elements!

  • Full Name: Vallisneria spp.
  • Care Difficulty: Easy
  • Light Level: Low to High

Lighting Requirement for Live Plants

If you decide to stock your tank with live plants (vs fake plants, which we will cover below), you’ll need a light source to keep you plants alive.

If you still don’t have your Betta tank set up you (or if you’re looking to upgrade) our recommendation would be to purchase a quality all-in-one system. All in one systems contain all lighting and filtration that you’ll need. We recommend the Fluval Spec V.

Sale
Fluval Spec V Aquarium Kit, 5-Gallon, White
  • 5 gallon Nano aquarium
  • Etched-glass tank with aluminum trim
  • Powerful 37 LED Lighting System

If you’re not looking for a whole new setup, you can purchase a standalone light such as the NICREW Classic. Just make sure that you measure your tank and get one that is the right length.


Using Fake Plants for Betta Fish Tanks

For those who don’t want the responsibility of caring for live plants, fake Betta fish plants are always a great option.

When considering fake plants for your Betta fish, try to look for plants that are made from silk. Other types of material can harm your Betta’s skin if they aren’t made well.

Here are a few of the best fake plants for Bettas:

Zoo Med Betta Hammock

Zoo Med Laboratories AZMBL20 Betta Hammock
Simple and easy to use, this Zoo Med Betta Hammock will instantly become your Bettas favorite hang out. Just stick to the side of your tank near the surface and watch as your Betta makes itself at home.

The Zoo Med Betta Hammock is a single leaf that easily sticks to the side of any tank. Though it may look overly simple, this plant functions as a “hammock” for your Betta and allows it to rest away from water flow.

In the wild, Bettas often like to perch themselves on wide leaf plants to conserve energy and sleep. The Zoo Med Betta Hammock perfectly replicates this in any home aquarium. This small addition will quickly become your Betta’s favorite spot!

Though this plant isn’t silk, it is soft enough to not harm your Betta’s fins.

Marino Natural Silk Red Plant

Marina Naturals, Red Foreground Silk Plant, Small Fish Tank Decoration, PP117
  • Red Foreground silk plant aquarium decoration for aquatic environments undulates with currents
  • Natural-looking translucent colors closely mimic live aquarium plants and won't fade
  • Easy to install and secure, simply bury base in aquarium gravel

If you are looking for something to add a little more color to your tank, this colorful piece by Marino Natural is a great choice.

Measuring about 6 inches tall, this plant is large enough to become the main piece of any Betta tank. In addition, the silk material and soft edges assures that your Betta is 100% safe and comfortable.

Perhaps the best feature of this plant is the large leaves. They function as a good alternative to a Betta hammock and provide a good place for your Betta to rest or sleep.

Overall, this plant by Marino is a great choice for any Betta tank that needs a little color.


So…Live or Fake Plants?

The decision to go with live or fake plants for your Betta tanks is completely dependent on you. Here are a few advantages and disadvantages of keeping live plants:

small aquarium with plants

Advantages of Keeping Live Plants

  • Visually Pleasing: There are not many things more beautiful than a naturally planted aquarium. Its almost like having a little slice of the Amazon River right in your house. Adding live plants to your Betta tank gives it a real, natural look that plastic plants simply can’t compete with. Though plastic plants are much more realistic that they were years ago, they still don’t match the beauty and movements of live plants.
  • Better Filtration: A lot of fish owners get super hung up on their filtration systems, but completely ignore live plants. In reality, live plants are one of the best filtration systems you can own. As plants grow, they remove toxins and unwanted compounds (such as nitrate) from the water and use it as fuel for growth. You can’t beat natures original filter!
  • Aeration: As plants grow, they remove carbon dioxide from the water and replace it with oxygen. A high dissolved oxygen concentration helps promote fish health, reduce algae growth, and lends to an overall healthier tank. The mutually beneficial relationship between plants and fish is really quite amazing.
  • Reduced Algae Growth: Algae and plants often compete for the same nutrients. By adding plants to your Betta tank, you are dramatically reducing the amount of nutrients available to unwanted algae. Algae eaters are another great way to reduce algae growth without harmful chemicals.

Disadvantages of Keeping Live Plants

  • Maintenance: Fake plants are a “set and forget” kind of thing. Live plants, on the other hand, require more work. You have to make sure the plants have enough lighting and nutrients, trim them every few weeks, and pay more attention to water conditions. In addition, some species can be difficult to care for and require supplemental aquarium fertilizers and additives.
  • Lighting Requirements: Live plants need light to survive. Though most of the plants on our list are easy to care for and don’t require specialized lighting, not every type is so easy. Large tanks with more difficult plants can require expensive lighting and CO2 systems.

BETTA FISH PLANTS

Setting Up a Betta Fish Tank

We know that keeping your Betta fish in a bowl is wrong…but how do you set up a Betta tank the right way?

Picking out a good tank for your Betta is a crucial step in the process. As we talked about before, small bowl are not a good option.

Stay for away from the “kits” sold at pet stores (you usually pay way too much and the quality is really bad). Whatever tank you choose, it should preferably be at least 5 gallons. The smaller the tank is, the less water volume there is to buffer sudden changes in temperature or chemistry.

We recommend the Fluval Spec V (5 Gallon Model). It offers a lot of space for your Betta and comes with a light capable of growing most plants.

Related Content: In you are interested in putting together a more serious planted tank, check out our all-inclusive beginners guide to setting up a planted aquarium.


Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, the idea that Betta fish are capable of living in small, unfiltered bowls has become a popular misconception in the hobby. As we have learned today, this is neither healthy nor enjoyable for your fish.

As a result, responsible Betta owners should do everything possible to provide a natural, healthy environment for their fish. Part of this means giving your Betta enough space (at least 5 gallons) and enough hiding/rest spots (plants).

By following this guide, you should be able to put together a stunning naturally planted tank and give your Betta fish the best life possible!

The Aquarium Handbook

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