Fish Bowl Plants: Keeping Betta Fish In Water-Based Houseplant Container

Fish Bowl Plants: Keeping Betta Fish In Water-Based Houseplant Container

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By: Liz Baessler

Are you interested in a houseplant with a twist? Or do you have a fishbowl that’s looking a little sparse? Fish bowl plants are very popular right now, and they’re very easy to do. Keep reading to learn about keeping betta fish in water-based houseplant environments.

Keeping Betta Fish in Water-Based Houseplant

Fish bowl plants are good for everyone involved. They make for a nice decoration for you, and they give your fish something to explore, hide in, and rest on. It’ll make both your lives more interesting.

The first thing to ask yourself when you’re keeping betta fish in water-based houseplant environments is if you want to use live or fake plants. Both are fine, but you need to take some things into consideration.

If you’re using fake plants, make sure they don’t have any sharp edges to them. Rinse them thoroughly with hot water first. Try to avoid fabric plants, as these usually have wire in them that can hurt your fish.

If you want to use live plants, you have two options – either underwater aquarium plants that will live in the tank with your fish, or land plants that will stick up out of the tank with just the roots submerged.

What Types of Plants Do Betta Fish Like?

If you want to use live plants for a betta fish, make sure you pick one that’s safe. Java ferns and Chinese evergreen are two underwater plants that work well with betta fish.

If you want to try the fish bowl with plant on top method, peace lilies and philodendrons are good choices. Remove the plant from its pot and, in a big bucket full of water, carefully work all the soil away from the roots. Carefully cut the roots into a size and shape that will fit in your tank and still give your betta plenty of room to swim.

Care for your fish as normal, changing out the water as necessary.

This article was last updated on

Read more about General Houseplant Care

Creating a Beautiful Betta Fish Vase with a Plant

It doesn't take a lot of work to come up with a great vase that has a plant and a beautiful Betta fish in it. Maintaining this set up is easy! It makes a great center piece for the dining room table or for special occasions (including weddings and showers). Or you can put it on a shelf and add to the décor of your home.

Other Betta containers can look wonderful as well, but there is something about the fish, the plant, and the easy care that makes this set up unique. After all, with just a little work you can have a fish and a plant that you don't have to remember to water!

Our List Of The Best Betta Fish Plants

There are a ton of options you can choose from when it comes to Betta fish plants. However, we’ve taken our own experience and the wisdom of some of the best Betta owners we know and come up with this tidy list.

Each of the plants on this list is easy to care for and can improve the overall health of your tank (and fishes).

1. Java Moss

Java moss is a plant that we find ourselves recommending all the time for a number of purposes. It’s one of the most versatile aquatic plants out there, and it’s a great fit for Betta fish.

It can be rooted or used as a floating plant which gives you some room to be a bit creative, and it’s a piece of cake to maintain. One of the reasons why people like Betta fish so much is because they’re a very approachable fish for beginners, and Java moss is the same!

They don’t need a lot of light as well which means you can use them in a fairly minimal tank setup. A lot of Betta owners like having a low-maintenance habitat, so that makes Java moss a great fit.

Ultimately, it’s really up to you to decide how you want to include it in your tank. You can attach it to driftwood, rocks, or carpet it along the substrate. This flexibility is why it’s one of the best Betta fish plants you can get.

2. Hornwort

Hornwort is definitely one of the best live plants for betta fish, and it’s probably our personal favorite aquatic plant in general. There’s so much to like about this plant that it’s going to be tough to keep this section short!

First of all, this plant is absolutely beautiful. It has a nice rich green with thin whispy leaves that create a cool flowing effect in your tank. We like this because it matches the flowing beauty of Betta fish quite well.

This plant also requires very little experience to care for. It’s extremely hardy and can tolerate a wide range of water conditions. It would probably be hard to kill even if you wanted to.

Just like Java moss, you can choose to root it or float it. No matter which you choose, it will serve as a comforting hiding spot and object to investigate. Keeping stress levels low is one of the most effective ways to maximize the lifespan of your Betta fish and helping them live a happy life.

Author Note: One thing you’ll need to look out for with this plant is its growth rate. Your main job as an owner will be to consistently trim it to prevent the Hornwort from taking over your tank.

3. Amazon Sword

The Amazon Sword is a good Betta fish plant that’s a favorite of many owners. We’d say that about one-third of the Betta fish owners we know have this plant in their tanks!

First off, the Amazon Sword looks fantastic. The large leaves that jut out of the substrate add a neat visual effect. Under the right light, they almost seem to glow.

This provides an interesting backdrop for your fish to swim around. There’s something about watching a colorful Betta swim next to these leaves that really catches the eye.

The Amazon Sword also can serve as a great hiding spot for your fish. The large leaves act like a barrier or divider that can provide some much-needed privacy.

There are two main things to be aware of if you’re thinking about getting this plant. First, this plant can get quite large. This means it’s not a good fit for a nano tank.

Secondly, it needs a decent amount of light in order to thrive. If your aquarium setup is stopping you from providing that then you should steer clear from this plant as well.

4. Anacharis

Anacharis is another good plant for Betta fish because of how easy it is to care for. Even if you’re dealing with your very first tank, keeping this plant alive will be no problem.

Most aquarists prefer to spend the majority of their time thinking about the fish in their tank, so having a low-maintenance plant is always convenient.

Anacharis doesn’t need a lot of light to survive and is versatile in how it can be utilized. You can root it or float it (floating is our favorite actually) which is nice.

Since this plant can grow quickly and get rather dense it can be a great hiding place for the Betta fish in your tank. Even one plant can end up being more than enough depending on the size of your aquarium and the number of species you keep.

Under the right light, Anacharis can blow you away with the vibrant green it has. This color in combination with the natural beauty of a Betta is yet another reason why this pairing is so great.

5. Cryptocoryne Wendtii

Most of the Betta fish plants we’ve included on our list are pretty popular. Chances are you’ve heard of at least one or two before (no matter how long you’ve been interested in aquariums).

But Cryptocoryne wendtii is a bit different. This is a species that doesn’t get a lot of attention and isn’t found in tanks nearly as often as something like Hornwort.

That doesn’t mean it’s not worth considering though.

Cryptocoryne wendtii is a great live plant for Betta fish because of how easy it is to care for, and what it adds to the tank. This species of plant needs very little light to survive which makes it a smart choice for any owner who doesn’t want to add lighting to their tank setup.

The large leaves make for great hiding places, but the smaller stems allow for movement underneath. We’ve seen some really creative tanks that use this to create little passageways from one side of the tank to the other.

Author Note: When you see this plant out of the water it can be easy to dismiss it. When it’s under the surface it’s a totally different story. Cryptocoryne wendtii is one of those plants that really transforms underwater, so give it a chance!

6. Vallisneria

Vallisneria is a solid all-around option no matter what sort of tank you have. For our purposes, we’ll be looking at it through the eyes of a Betta fish owner, but you can absolutely use it for other purposes as well!

This is a plant that is about as low maintenance as it gets. Once it’s planted properly your only job will be to give it a trim every once in a while. It’s really as simple as that.

Vallisneria has long thin leaves that can grow quite a bit if left unchecked. This means you can make quite an impact on the look and feel of your tank with only one or two plants.

We’ve found that a very dense amount of Vallisneria can be a little too thick for Betta fish to navigate, so keep this in mind. As long as you maintain it and prevent things from getting out of hand, it’s a great Betta fish plant.

7. Pennywort

Pennywort is a plant that we’ve been fans of for years. It’s a staple of the aquascaping community and has been used in a variety of ways for quite a while.

This is a plant that tends to be more of a surface dweller than others and is often floated. You’ll need to be aware of this because Betta fish regularly visit the surface and you don’t want to block their access entirely.

Another reason why Pennywort is a great Betta fish plant is the low-maintenance care requirements it has. You can honestly throw this plant in your tank and leave it alone until it’s time to get pruned.

Author Note: If you want to keep the growth rate under control one thing to try is limiting the amount of light you give the plant. The speed that Pennywort grows will directly match the available light. This makes it easy to manipulate the growth rate however you want!

8. Java Fern

Java Fern is a very popular plant that’s a great fit for Betta fish. This species can not only tolerate a wide range of water conditions, but it looks great too.

Our favorite thing about Java Fern is the pattern and texture of the leaves. When viewing it underwater it creates a very unique look that not a lot of other plants can replicate. We’re a big fan of pairing beautiful plants with Betta fish because they play off each other nicely.

Another benefit of owning Java Ferns for your Betta fish tank is their growth rate. This plant inches along and doesn’t grow like a weed (unlike some others on our list). That makes it easy for you to keep up with them and stops you from having to spend a ton of time pruning them.

While these plants usually prefer some kind of water flow, it’s not something you need to plan around in your tank. They’re hardy enough to deal with pretty much whatever conditions you put them in.

9. Amazon Frogbit

Amazon Frogbit is one of the best plants for Betta fish because of its unique build. This plant is different from most of the others on our list, and those differences go a long way.

If you include this plant in your tank you’ll be floating it and relying on the dangling roots to provide a source of enrichment and serve as hiding places. The roots are so long that you can really change the look and feel of your tank with a minimal amount of plants.

Your Betta fish will enjoy swimming around the roots and going up to the surface to interact with the large leaves that rest on the surface. It also looks really neat when viewing the tank!

This plant is hardy and easy to care for too. There’s very minimal pruning that needs to be done and it can thrive in a variety of different conditions.

Author Note: Don’t go overboard with this plant. Because the large leaves can quickly cover the surface of the water, it can prevent your Betta fish from accessing the surface too. Make sure there are comfortable gaps where light can come in and surface access is available.

10. Water Wisteria

Water wisteria is a plant that we overlooked for a long time. For whatever reason it just didn’t hit our radar!

But it was actually a Betta fish owner that introduced this plant to us. This aquarist provides some of the best Betta fish care we’ve ever seen and uses water wisteria almost exclusively in his tank.

The reason for this is a mix of form and function. This plant looks incredible when underwater and that effect is even stronger when you put some light on them. It seems to hit a certain color green that other plants can’t!

It also serves as a great place for your Betta fish to hide out and play. Just a couple of these plants in a tank can totally change the comfort level of your fish because they have so many new areas to sneak around in. There’s something about water wisteria that seems to bring out the exploratory nature of Bettas.

It’s also a durable and fast-growing plant that doesn’t need a lot of attention. All you’ll need to do is check to make sure it’s not growing too large and trim it down if needed.

11. Banana Plant

This is one of the more interesting Betta fish plants on our list. While a lot of the other species tend to have a pretty straightforward look that you’ve seen elsewhere, the Banana plant is completely unique!

This species gets its name from the green banana-like roots that can be found at the base of the plant. They extend and bend downward from the start of the stem and almost look like little legs on an alien creature.

From there the thin stem travels up to a small, wide leaf that looks a lot like a Lilly pad. This means you can plant a series of them in your tank while still leaving room for your Betta fish to swim around comfortably.

This is a plant that doesn’t require a lot of effort from you at all. They won’t grow quickly and take over your tank, they don’t need a lot of light, and they’re generally quite durable. This makes them a very good live plant for Betta fish.

12. Duckweed

Duckweed is a plant that provides an interesting look and feel to a tank, no matter the size. This plant grows like crazy and will quickly take over the upper portion of your tank if you’re not careful.

We would recommend this plant for your Betta tank if you have a little bit of room to spare. Duckweed can quickly drown out any light that enters a tank and make things feel very cramped. You don’t want your plants to cause added stress for your fish, so be honest with your setup before you get this plant.

The upside of this plant is that it’s super easy to take care of. From an overall care perspective, it’s very low-maintenance and will survive (and quickly grow) no matter what conditions you present it with. The only thing you’ll need to remember is that it’s important to trim this plant aggressively, no matter how much room you have in your tank.

13. Hygrophila

Some aquarists consider Hygrophila to be a “plain” or “boring” plant. This is because it looks a lot like a number of plants you might see on your local trail. There aren’t any specific gimmicks or traits that blow you away.

But it’s still a very good plant for your Betta fish.

Hygrophila has incredible growth potential and can almost two and a half feet in height if you don’t trim it. This means you’ll likely want to have a decent-sized tank if you plan on seeing its full potential.

It’s recommended that you provide this plant with a moderate amount of light in order to maximize it’s growth, fullness, and color. The best Betta fish plants are functional but also beautiful at the same time. It would be a shame to waste a potentially pretty plant by giving it insufficient lighting.

As far as the other tank conditions go, there’s nothing special you need to do. Just plant it and do some pruning from time to time!

14. Anubias Nana

There are a number of reasons why Anubias Nana is such a great live plant for Betta fish. We were fortunate enough to stumble across this early on in our Betta-keeping days, and we haven’t looked back since.

Our personal favorite feature when it comes to this plant is the rich and vibrant green it has (when healthy of course). This plant steals the show in most aquariums, but when paired with a Betta fish they play off one another quite nicely.

With just a little bit of light and enough room to grow, Anubias Nana will be a gorgeous green that is unmatched by most other aquatic plants. You really have to see it in person!

It’s also a very low-maintenance plant that can be cared for by anyone. You don’t need to provide it with any special conditions or spend a lot of time to ensure that it thrives.

Author Note: If you’re an aquarist who isn’t interested in the notion of frequently trimming or pruning, Anubias Nana is a great choice for you. This plant has a very modest growth rate which makes it very easy to stay on top of.

15. Marimo Moss Balls

A lot of people assume that Marimo Moss Balls are just a gimmicky plant that doesn’t provide much value to a tank. But that’s actually far from true.

These plants are an interesting inclusion that will definitely get a double-take from guests. They’re just simple green balls of algae!

The reason why they make great Betta fish plants is that the fish seem to love them. There are a ton of videos out there that show Bettas playing with Marimo Moss Balls and getting a ton of enrichment from them.

This is a unique benefit that you can’t get from the other plants on our list. Sure, your Betta will explore and interact with the plants in its tank.

There’s something about Marimo Moss Balls that seem to bring out the playful side of Betta fish. This is super important because Bettas are quite intelligent little fish and need stimulation if they want to live a happy and healthy life.

It might look funky, but this plant is one of the best plants for Betta fish that you can possibly get.

16. Water Sprite

A lot of aquarists forget to think of the Water Sprite when they’re considering what plants to get for their Betta fish. We’re not totally sure why that is, because there’s a lot to like about this plant.

Because of their spread-out leaves and stems, Water Sprite is a great environment for Bettas to interact and explore. They create so many natural nooks and crannies that just one plant can provide a lot of enrichment for your fish!

This is another versatile plant that can be rooted into the substrate or left to float near the surface. We personally recommend rooting it if you’re going to be including it in a Betta tank. It seems like this setup gets more engagement from the fish.

Water Sprite is a plant that requires very little care and maintenance. They can thrive in almost any aquatic setting which means you won’t need to plan around it.

Author Note: This is a plant that grows rather quickly, so many sure you check in on it from time to time. Giving it a quick trim will only take a minute!

17. Aponogeton Ulvaceus

This is a plant that gets overlooked far too often. Not only is it a great Betta fish plant, but it’s also a great aquatic plant in general!

Aponogeton Ulvaceus has long stems that connect to rather long and thin leaves. But where things get interesting is in the shape of the leaves. The leaves twist like a corkscrew which gives them a very unique look.

Seeing this plant wave around in the aquarium is really quite mesmerizing. It can be fun to watch your fish brush by them as well.

Aponogeton Ulvaeus is also a very easy plant to take care of. It does well with a little bit of light, but nothing too intense and can handle pretty much whatever water conditions you throw at it.

The growth rate isn’t anything to be scared of either. While they can grow to be reasonably tall, trimming them is about as easy as it gets.

Signs Of A Bored Betta

So, how can you tell if your betta buddy is bored?

A responsible owner observes his betta fish every day to get to know his pet’s usual behavior. If everything else is well, and your betta is not showing any signs of illness, changes in behavior could be due to boredom.

Behavioral changes that can be indicative of a bored betta include:


Some betta fish are pretty lazy characters, spending long periods resting or napping and occasionally exploring their environment.

However, if your usually lively fish stops patrolling his territory and seems to be laying around doing absolutely nothing, that may be a sign that he is bored. Keeping active is very important for your fish, as bettas can become obese or bloated if they don’t get enough exercise.

Poor Appetite

Betta fish are generally greedy creatures, so if your fish stops rushing up to the surface to gobble up his grub, it may be a sign that he is bored.

A lack of interest in food goes hand-in-hand with lethargy, as a busy, active betta will quickly work up an appetite, whereas one that does nothing all day probably won’t be hungry.

Tail Biting

Your betta fish has tiny white teeth in his upturned mouth, which he uses to grab insects and other prey from the water surface.

Unfortunately, a bored betta sometimes turns his teeth on his lovely, flowing tail, purely out of frustration. As you can imagine, those sharp teeth can do a significant amount of damage to the fish’s fragile tail, leaving your betta susceptible to bacterial infection and attack by parasites.

You may have seen some aquarium set-ups where plants can be seen growing out of the aquarium. An aquarium cultivated like this is usually crafted by experts and is not necessarily an aquarium, but a water garden. It is popular with some betta keepers to grow semi-submerged bamboo in an aquarium. You can read more on the risks of growing semi-submerged bamboo below.

You should be able to buy live plants at your local aquatic store, or you can buy them online. We bought our latest Java Fern from, and we were really happy with the quality and service. We’ve also bought plants from Swallow Aquatics in the past, which is an aquatics store local to us that also sells online.

Disclaimer: we have no affiliation with these sites, we’ve just been impressed by their service. In time, we’ll list more buying options for different countries.

The Modern Betta

Feathertail betta variation

Bettas migrated to the U.S. in 1910 with Frank Locke. Their name quickly ended up corrupted to “Beta” – as in the second letter of the Greek alphabet.

The correct pronunciation got lost. (Bettas were initially named “bet-tah” after the Asian Bettah warrior tribe)

Selective breeding grew in interest. Different colors, patterns, and tails came into favor. Aquarists combined hybrids with the original wild-type to create the fish you find today.

Few resemble the actual stock you find in ditches, slow-moving streams, or shallow pools.

Wild bettas lack the iconic dramatic fins . Instead, they have dull, grey-green scales and much shorter fins.

Plakat female – wild type

They’re native to the tropical waters of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. In Thailand, they’re called Plakat, or “biting fish.”


Choosing decorations for your betta isn’t difficult when you follow a few simple guidelines. Remember the best decorations for betta fish will:

  • Have no sharp edges or anything your betta can hurt itself on.
  • Shouldn’t be made out of metal, anything calcium based, glass, or plastic.

Also remember that a betta needs decorations to make him feel at home, keep him entertained and give him somewhere to relax!

Subscribe & Get Your Free E-Book!

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Watch the video: How To: Keep Bettas In Vases


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