For most betta fish enthusiasts, the best plants are the ones that don’t die the week after you get them.
In this article, I’ve listed 5 aquarium plants that are practically un-killable.
Not only that, but these aquatic plants grow under low light, don’t need fertilizer, and will make your betta fish smile.
If you want to learn more about setting up a planted tank, either for fish or shrimp, check out my article on starting a planted tank.
Alright, the best plants for betta fish are:
1. Java Moss (Vesicularia dubyana)
Java moss is almost un-killable.
Pictured is a clump of java moss I’ve been growing in a jar near a window.
This Southeast Asian moss is ideal for low light and low-tech fish tanks.
Java moss can be attached to rocks and wood with fishing line or thread.
Once it anchors itself, the fishing line or thread can be removed.
Java moss grows well under most aquarium lights, even kit lights.
But, if you provide more than 7-8 hours of light, hair and other algae may begin growing on your java moss.
Grows under fish tank kit lights and other low powered light sources.
Can be used as a carpeting plant or to cover rocks and driftwood.
Excellent hiding place for shrimp, fish fry, and shy betta fish.
Nutrient rich substrate is not required and liquid fertilizer is not needed, but Java Moss will grow quicker if liquid fertilizer is provided.
Grows quickly and needs trimming under ideal conditions.
Hair algae and other types of algae are difficult to removes from the moss, it gets tangled.
Growing Java Moss Tips
If having a Java Moss carpet is your goal, place a thin layer of the moss on the substrate and anchor it down with rocks while the moss grows roots.
Java Moss can also be grown on coconut shells, wire mesh, and other décor and strategically placed to look like a carpet or green patch in your tank.
If you need greenery higher up in the water column, try attaching java moss to some cork bark and letting it grow down toward the bottom of the tank.
Overall, Java Moss is just easy, and it looks great, so it’s my top plant for betta fish tanks.
2. Anubias Barteri
Anubias plants come in a variety of species and most are very easy to grow.
Anubias is a common plant in the aquarium hobby with thick green leaves that are typically avoided by snails and fish that typically like to nibble on plants.
The wonderful thing about Anubias plants is that varieties exist for every tank size.
From Giant Anubias to Anubias Nana Petite, and medium sizes too, anubias is an amazing plant for setting up a low-tech planted tank.
Grows in low light tanks.
Grows without fertilizer or CO2 (but will grow faster with both).
Easily attached to driftwood or placed between rocks.
Anubias grows slowly, so it’s not an ideal plant for filling in tank backgrounds.
The thick, unmoving leaves of anubias plants are often targeted by algae.
Growing Anubias Tips
Anubias is a must-have plant for your betta fish.
Not only is the plant almost un-killable, thriving in low light and low nutrient tanks, but its thick leaves give your betta the perfect place to sleep or hangout.
Having anubias plants in your betta tank will also improve your betta’s water quality and health.
Anubias is a rhizome plant, which means it does not require planting in substrate.
Anubias will grow happily attached to driftwood and rocks, or just sitting on top of some gravel.
If you do have substrate in your tank, be careful not to cover the rhizome of your anubias plant, or it may rot and die.
A happy anubias plant will continue to produce new leaves and its rhizome will increase in length.
Anubias is an excellent plant for your betta fish tank and is only overtaken by Java Moss because it’s slow growing and somewhat pricey.
3. Java Fern (Microsorum pteropus)
Java fern comes in a wide range of leaf structures, making it a versatile choice for planted tanks and aquascapes.
Java fern, like Anubias, grow from rhizomes.
But, Java ferns also propagate by producing new plants under the leaves of adult plants.
Both Java ferns and Anubias are amazing plants for betta fish, with Java Ferns coming in 3rd based on aesthetic appeal only.
Both plants look spectacular and are almost un-killable, but I find the dark, thick leaves of Anubias plants especially appealing for small tanks.
But, Java ferns grow more quickly than Anubias plants and propagate more easily as well.
Tiny baby Java ferns will sprout from seeds underneath the leaves of adult plants and eventually detach themselves and float around the tank until they land on a rock or some substrate.
Grows in low light.
Does not require fertilizer.
Propagates easily on its own.
Can be used as a background in small tanks.
Comes in a variety of leaf shapes.
Can be attached to wood and rocks.
Jana Fern Growth Tips
As a rhizome based plant, Java fern will thrive when attached to driftwood and rocks.
Keeping the rhizome above the substrate is key, otherwise it may rot and kill the plant.
Java fern fronds look spectacular swaying in a current, so if you enjoy seeing movement in your plant foliage, Java fern tends to be a better choice than Anubias, whose leaves are too thick to sway gently in a current.
Varieties of Java Fern include:
1) Windelov Java Fern: leaves on this variety branch out into little finger-like prongs.
2) Narrow Leaf Java Fern: leaves are elongated and narrower in shape.
3) Needle Leaf Java Fern: Even skinnier than the narrow leaf variety, these java ferns add visual appeal to any tank.
4) Philippine Java Fern: a wider leaf type of fern.
5) Undulata Java Fern: leaves are wider toward the top of the leaf.
6) Thor’s Hammer Java Fern: leaves split into two prongs; like the trident variety but without the middle prong.
7) Trident Leaf Java Fern: three-pronged leaves invoke the shape of a trident.
Finding these different java ferns can be challenging, with “Windelov” and “Narrow Leaf” being somewhat common and rest being rare (unless your local fish store stocks them).
4. Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum)
Hornwort is a fast growing plant with a long stem that supports needle like leaves.
Hornwort does not produce roots and needs to be weighted down if you intent to make a background with this plant.
Hornwort also makes a great floating plant and aquarium shrimp and fish fry love to hide in it.
Shrimp and fish fry love it.
Easily propagated with trimmings.
Hornwort may drop its needle-like leaves and leave a mess, especially in fish tanks with some degree of salt in the water.
These leaves will grow back but the fact that it drops them can be a downside.
Hornwort needs frequent trimming in high light and fertilized tanks.
Hornwort Growing Tips
Hornwort will grow without fertilizer or CO2 but grows rapidly if given additional nutrients.
Hornwort is especially useful for aquarists who want to breed fish.
It is easily propagated by trimming existing plants and the cuttings will quickly grow into large stems in a matter of weeks.
5. Susswassertang (Lomariopsis)
Susswassertang (often misspelled “Subwasstertang”), once known as Pelia, is a fascinating plant that is actually related to ferns.
Susswassertang is unlike any other aquarium plant, it is squishy-soft and seaweed-like, with a wavey texture.
Compared to aquarium mosses, susswasstertang is a brighter green and looks more fragile.
Susswassertang is a slow grower but once it fills the bottom of a tank, it is unlike any other ground cover.
It lacks roots but will expand throughout the tank.
And broken off pieces will become new plants.
I ranked Susswassertank last among the 5 best plants for betta fish, but only because it is somewhat hard to find.
Seems especially good at absorbing nitrates and improving water quality.
Grows in low light and does not need fertilizer.
Creates a great hideout for betta fish or fish fry.
Perfect for a shrimp tank as well.
Hard to control what it looks like, trimming will only make a mess.
The plants in this article share one main characteristic in common: they are NOT root feeders.
This means that the plants mentioned above primarily absorb nutrients in the water through their leaves and other parts.
This ability to not rely on food transfer though their roots makes these plants especially versatile and virtually un-killable.
No fancy aquarium substrate is needed to keep them alive.
While these plants would enjoy a weekly dose of liquid fertilizer, it is not necessary.
Rhizome based plants like Java Fern and Anubias are especially hardy because their rhizomes act as nutrient storage containers, allowing the plant to survive during hard times.
This makes the plants mentioned above some of the best aquarium plants for a betta tank or a shrimp tank, especially if your betta tank is low light and low-tech.
Plants will not only make your betta tank look amazing, but plants will also improve water quality and provide your betta fish a place to hide, and even sleep.
If you are a new betta fish owner, and need a name for your fish, check out my article on betta fish names.
Stay zen aquarists.