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 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.
Alright, the best plants for betta fish are:
1. Java Moss
Java Moss (Vesicularia dubyana) is almost un-killable.
This Southeast Asian moss is ideal for low light and low-tech fish tanks.
I’ve personally grown Java Moss in a jar, far away from natural light.
It definitely grows slowly without direct light, but it still grows.
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.
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
Java Fern (Microsorum pteropus) comes in a wide range of leaf types, making it a versatile choice for planted tanks.
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.
Relatively slow grower.
Leaves may melt occasionally.
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 the 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.
Hornwort is a fast growing plant with a stem and needle like leaves.
It does not produce roots and tends to float unless weighted down.
Hornwort makes a great background or even a floating plant.
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.
Susswassertang (often misspelled “Subwasstertang”), once known as Pelia, is fascinating plant that is excellent at improving water quality if you can find it.
Susswassertang is unlike any other aquarium plant, it is “soft” and seaweed-like and exists as a wavey green clump.
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.
In my opinion, these qualities of the plants in this article make them the top choices 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 the plants will 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 fish keepers.