bamboo betta

Lucky Bamboo For Your Betta: Understanding How To Grow It In Your Tank

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Bamboo is traditionally regarded as a lucky plant in Asia and many other parts of the world. You can buy Lucky Bamboo resin aquarium ornaments for fish tanks, and they’re especially popular in betta tanks. 

However, wouldn’t it be better to keep real, living Lucky Bamboo in your betta aquarium? Well, you can buy partially submerged braided LuckyBamboo stems in many supermarkets, but would one of those plants live in a fish tank?

Read this guide to learn everything you need to know about growing lucky bamboo in your betta tank.

Is Lucky Bamboo Safe For Fish Tanks?

Yes, you can safely put Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) plants in a fish tank. 

These decorative plants won’t harm your fish or invertebrates and can even benefit your setup as the plant mimics the natural habitat of your fish.

Are Lucky Bamboo And True Bamboo The Same Plant?

Lucky Bamboo is a common houseplant that you see in many homes. The plant is extremely easy to care for, and you don’t even need to plant it in compost or soil. In fact, you often see lucky bamboo thriving in just a few inches of water.

Interestingly, Lucky Bamboo isn’t really a species of bamboo at all, nor is it an aquatic plant. 

So, What Is Lucky Bamboo?

Lucky Bamboo is actually a species of flowering lily that’s native to Cameroon in Central Africa. In nature, Lucky Bamboo grows in tropical forests where it can survive seasonal droughts and flooding. That makes the plant incredibly hardy and virtually impossible to kill, even if you neglect its care.

And True Bamboo?

There are over 1,000 species of true bamboo plants found all over the planet in various environments and conditions. All the bamboos are relatives of the grass family, including rice, wheat, and even your lawn! 

Many people grow real bamboo in their gardens, although this plant can quickly take over if not kept in check.

How To Grow Lucky Bamboo In Your Betta Tank

So, Lucky Bamboo’s flexibility and adaptability make the perfect underwater plant for inclusion in your betta’s tank.

Water Parameters

You can only grow Lucky Bamboo underwater in a freshwater tank, as it won’t grow in brackish or marine tanks where the water is salty.

This adaptable plant species can survive in water temperatures ranging from 65–95°F, so it’s perfect for a tropical betta tank. The ideal water pH for Lucky Bamboo is 6.0 to 6.5, although the plant will grow happily in the 6.8 and 7.5 pH range of your betta’s aquarium.

Exposure to chlorine and chloramine stresses the plant’s roots, leading to yellow leaves or a poor growth rate. Fluoride is also toxic to Lucky Bamboo, so the plant should do well in the dechlorinated water of your aquarium. 

How Do You Plant Lucky Bamboo In Your Fish Tank?

So, does the plant need to be exposed to the air, or can you submerge it completely?

Lucky Bamboo is happy either underwater or with its leaves growing above the water surface. That makes this plant an excellent choice for aquascaping in tanks of different shapes and sizes.

Just ensure that the bamboo stalk is submerged in up to 2 to 3 inches of substrate material so that the bamboo can take the nutrition it needs from within the substrate and remain firmly anchored in place. It doesn’t tolerate dry roots.

Rather than using sand or aquatic soil, we recommend that you use gravel as the ideal substrate for growing Lucky Bamboo. The spaces between the gravel fragments ensure plenty of water circulation and a constant supply of nutrients for the plants. Sand and soil can become compacted around the plant’s roots, allowing hypoxic dead zones to develop where toxic bacteria can proliferate, poisoning your water.

Lighting

Bamboo needs moderate light levels to grow well, so it does well in most aquariums with regular lighting units. However, if you want to grow your Lucky Bamboo partially above the water, you can’t use LEDs, as the intense light they produce tends to burn the leaves and kill them.

Does Lucky Bamboo Need Fertilizer Or CO2?

It doesn’t take much fertilizer to keep your lucky bamboo happy, especially if you have a community tank where the fish produce a lot of waste. The plants will extract the nutrition they need to thrive from the water column.

Like your other aquatic plants, Lucky Bamboo uses CO2 during photosynthesis. However, as the plant is not fast-growing, additional CO2 supplementation isn’t necessary. Basically, as long as you have an efficient filtration system, the bamboo will get all the nutrients it needs from the water column.

Why Plant Lucky Bamboo In Your Betta Tank?

Lucky Bamboo makes a beautiful, unusual addition to your betta tank’s aquascape, but there are other benefits to including this plant in your setup, too.

The plants oxygenate the water, take up CO2 and use nitrates as fertilizer, helping to keep the environment safe and healthy for your fish. Many fish also enjoy nibbling on the bamboo’s root tips that grow from the stalks, so Lucky Bamboo makes an excellent supplementary food source, too.

How Long Do Lucky Bamboo Plants Live?

Generally, a Lucky Bamboo plant can survive in water and do relatively well for up to three years.

After that time, you’ll need to transplant the bamboo into soil or compost. There are exceptions, and some Lucky Bamboo plants survive in betta tanks for over five years. 

Does Lucky Bamboo Grow Quickly?

Unlike true bamboo, Lucky Bamboo is a relatively slow-grower. As with most plant species, Lucky Bamboo’s slower growth rate is heavily influenced by how much light the plant receives each day. 

If you have moderate, indirect light, Lucky Bamboo grows at the same rate as most other houseplants. However, under low lighting conditions in your betta tank, the plant grows more slowly.

Can Lucky Bamboo Oxygenate My Betta Tank?

Yes, it does. Lucky Bamboo photosynthesizes just like all other plant species and gives off oxygen as part of that process.

The plant releases most of its oxygen from its leaves. So, if you plant your Lucky Bamboo underneath the waterline, it will produce oxygen that your fish and inverts can utilize.

Urban Myths Surrounding Lucky Bamboo In Betta Tanks

Unfortunately, there’s lots of incorrect information circulating on the internet about using Lucky Bamboo around fish. In this section of our guide, we put things straight!

Lucky Bamboo Poisons The Water

No, Lucky Bamboo does not poison your fish tank water. 

That myth comes from the fact that including traditional bamboo in aquariums will cause problems. True bamboo releases toxins into the water, causing an ammonia spike and quickly making the environment toxic for your fish.

How so?

Well, true bamboo won’t grow if its roots are submerged. Instead, the roots will suffocate and rot underwater, releasing ammonia that will poison your fish. However, Lucky Bamboo is safe to grow in betta tanks.

Fertilizer Is Bad For Lucky Bamboo 

This myth is totally inaccurate! You can use special aquarium-safe liquid fertilizer or plant tabs to feed your Lucky Bamboo. 

However, as previously mentioned, that’s generally not necessary, as Lucky Bamboo plants are not heavy feeders. And of course, if you want to use fertilizers for your other plants, that’s fine.

Lucky Bamboo Leaves Must Grow Above The Water Surface

That’s definitely a myth!

Lucky Bamboo plants will grow with their leaves submerged, for example in a portrait tank or bowl, and you can also grow the plant totally submerged.

Lucky Bamboo Will Grow In Your Aquarium Filter

Yes, that’s true; you can grow Lucky Bamboo in a HOB filter. 

Some hobbyists substitute their replaceable filter media for gravel or bio-balls and put the Lucky Bamboo roots into the filter compartment. Leave the filter box cover off, and the bamboo plant will grow out of the top of the HOB. That can add a whole new dimension to the look of your tank.

The main drawback to that system is that the plant’s roots don’t remove toxins from the water as well as your regular filter media. Also, leaving the filter box open allows dust and debris to get into the water.

However, the myth is true. Some hobbyists do like to grow Lucky Bamboo plants in their betta tank filter.

Final Thoughts

Lucky Bamboo can make an attractive, unusual addition to your betta tank, and your curious pet is sure to enjoy exploring his new decoration!

This species of plant is easy to grow and remarkably hardy, as well as bringing many benefits to your betta’s aquarium.

Do you have any of these beginner-friendly plants in your betta’s tank? Tell us how you make your Lucky Bamboo a feature in your aquarium using the comments box below.

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