Floating Plants for Betta

17 Floating Plants for Betta Fish in Your Aquarium

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Betta fish are intelligent creatures that enjoy plenty of mental stimulation in their tank.

These fish love floating logs, caves, and flat-leaved plants to rest on. But do betta fish appreciate floating plants?

Well, yes they do! Bettas use floating plants to hide in and as anchors for their bubble nests.

So that your betta fish can enjoy some beautiful floating plants in his habitat, we’ve put together this guide, introducing a wide range of floating plants that will do well in your betta tank.

17 Best Floating Plants for Your Betta Tank

In this section of our guide, we introduce 17 fabulous floating plants that your betta fish will love!

All these plants can tolerate the same freshwater tank conditions as your betta and they are relatively straightforward to care for.

Java Moss (Taxiphyllum barbieri)

Java Moss With Betta

  • Water temperature: 70° to 90° F
  • Lighting level: Regular

Java moss is an aquarium favorite since it’s extremely attractive and easy to grow, too.

You can fix the plant to pieces of wood and rocks or allow it to grow on the water’s surface. The plant has dense foliage that’s a perfect hiding place for bettas and shrimp.

To propagate Java moss, take a cutting from the mother plant and fix it to a piece of wood or stone.

Red Root Floater (Phyllanthus fluitansor)

  • Water temperature: 70° to 82° F
  • Lighting level: Regular

Red Root Floaters are charming little floating aquatic ferns that happily spread right across the whole water surface if allowed to.

The plant is quick-growing and you’ll need to thin it out periodically so that any plants growing beneath get enough light.

Remember too that your betta needs access to the water’s surface to breathe through its labyrinth organ.

As the plant’s name suggests, its leaves are vibrant green and red, spreading across the surface and sending down long, dark crimson roots that absorb excess nutrients from the water column.

Occasionally, Red Root Floaters produce tiny white flowers to add to the beautiful display.

Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum)Hornwort

  • Water temperature: 59° to 86° F
  • Lighting level: Medium to low

Hornwort is a hardy plant that you can grow free-floating on the water surface or grounded in the substrate of your betta tank. The plant sends out side shoots to propagate.

The main drawback to growing Hornwort is that it tends to shed its tiny needle-like leaves, potentially clogging your aquarium filter.

In addition, the plant doesn’t appreciate very strong lighting, which encourages the branches to grow “leggy” and stringy.

Duckweed (Lemnoideae)Duckweed

  • Temperature: 50° to 86° F
  • Lighting level: Regular

Duckweed is so easy to grow that it often takes over a tank, covering the entire water surface if you don’t thin the plant out regularly.

So, although the Duckweed’s carpet of tiny emerald-green leaves is undoubtedly beautiful, it is a relatively high-maintenance option.

On the plus side, Duckweed does enjoy warm water conditions and doesn’t need access to very bright light to thrive.

Cabomba (Cabomba caroliniana)

  • Water temperature: 72° to 82° F
  • Lighting level: Low

Cabomba is a gorgeous plant but it can be a tad challenging to grow successfully.

The plant is available in reddish-purple and green varieties, with the former being the most difficult to grow.

Ideally, you’ll need to supplement the plant with root tabs or liquid fertilizer, as well as CO2 supplementation.

In addition, the plant is quite delicate and does best in a tank without potential nibblers, such as snails.

Dwarf Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes)

Dwarf Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes)

  • Water temperature: 64° to 68° F
  • Lighting levels: Medium

Dwarf Water Lettuce comes from the arum family of floating plants and is often seen in fish tanks and garden ponds. Often the plant is sold as Water Cabbage or Nile Cabbage.

Dwarf Water Lettuce is very easy to grow and quickly covers the water surface with a carpet of gorgeous cabbage-shaped rosettes.

The plant does best when kept in a relatively humid environment.

Amazon Frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum)

Amazon Frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum)

  • Water temperature: 64° to 84° F
  • Lighting level: Medium

Rather like Duckweed, Amazon Frogbit grows incredibly easily and quickly, putting out a carpet of circular green leaves across the water’s surface.

To maintain the plant, you’ll need to thin it out periodically.

Note that if you keep snails as companions for your betta buddy, the mollusks can quickly eat away at the underside of the plant’s leaves.

Water Wisteria (Hygrophila difformis)

  • Water temperature: 70° to 82° F
  • Lighting levels: Medium

The Water Wisteria plant is super-easy to grow and ideal for beginner betta tanks. You can grow the plant as a free-floater or anchored in the gravel.

Water Wisteria can grow up to 20 inches tall with a 10-inch spread, so it’s really only suitable for use in larger tanks.

However, if the lighting levels in your tank are quite low, growth will be restricted, and moderate pruning helps to control it.

Brazillian Pennywort (Hydrocotyle leucocephala)

Brazillian Pennywort (Hydrocotyle leucocephala)

  • Water temperature: 68° to 82° F
  • Lighting levels: Medium

Brazillian Pennywort is named for its dime-sized leaves, growing on long, trailing stems. The plant also produces tiny white flowers at the water’s surface and small white roots.

The plant grows best when allowed to float freely at the water’s surface, although you can also plant it in the substrate.

Indian Toothcup (Rotala indica)

  • Water temperature: 68° to 82° F
  • Lighting levels: Medium

Indian Toothcup is a gorgeous flowing plant that grows in rice paddies as a weed in its native Southeast Asia.

The plant is easy to grow and flourishes emerged or submerged in a wide variety of water conditions.

Indian Toothcup requires a modest degree of regular maintenance in that you need to snip away some of the growth to thin out the plant and prevent it from becoming top-heavy.

Anacharis (Elodea)

Anacharis (Elodea)

  • Water temperature: 60° to 82° F
  • Lighting levels: Medium

Anacharis is an excellent choice for novices since it’s straightforward to grow and can do very well in a variety of conditions and a range of water temperatures, including those in your betta tank.

You can grow Anacharis in the substrate or allow it to float freely in your aquarium.

Bettas love to explore among the trailing stems and long white roots put out by the plant, and in summer you often get to enjoy pretty white flowers that grow above the water’s surface.

This fascinating plant falls and rises in the water column, depending on the temperature and the time of day.

For example, in the wild environment when the weather is warm, Anacharis floats to the surface where it can soak up the sunshine.

When the sun goes down at night, the plant sinks down again.

Creeping Primrose Willow (Ludwigia repens)Creeping Primrose Willow (Ludwigia repens)

  • Water temperature: 75° to 79° F
  • Lighting levels: Medium

Creeping Primrose Willow grows wild in various areas in the Americas, spreading readily and being regarded by many people as a weed.

The plant will grow well in the aquarium, floating freely on the surface or anchored in the substrate.

The plant’s color varies from red and reddish-brown to dark green, depending on how submerged it is.

Crystalwort (Riccia Fluitans)

Crystalwort (Riccia Fluitans)

  • Water temperature: 57° to 77° F
  • Lighting levels: Medium

Crystalwort is a variety of liverwort that comes from Japan.

This attractive plant grows across the water surface or you can use fine thread to fix the plant to wood and rocks under the waterline.

If you grow Crystalwort across the surface, it doesn’t send out roots or shoots, so you don’t need to do much in the way of maintenance.

Water Sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides)

  • Water temperature: 68° to 82° F
  • Lighting levels: Medium

Water Sprite is also sometimes called Indian Fern, Water Fern, and Indian Water Fern, and is a common aquatic plant that you can buy from most pet stores.

The plant is perfect for a betta setup, enjoying the same water conditions as your betta buddy and providing an attractive canopy where your fish can hide or create a bubble nest.

Keep the Water Sprite plant neat and tidy by trimming away excessive growth, and propagate the plant by taking cuttings from the main stem and allowing them to float in the water.

Water Spangles (Salvinia minima)

Water Spangles (Salvinia minima)

  • Water temperature: 65° to 89° F
  • Lighting levels: Medium

Water Spangles is a floating plant that comes from Central and South America.

This plant is best suited to a large tank since it can grow quite big and puts out long, trailing roots that enable the plant to extract the nutrients it needs from the water column.

Water Spangles have large, flat leaves that provide an excellent spot for a betta’s bubble nest or as a resting place for your betta buddy or tank mates such as shrimp.

This plant does best in a tank without too much water movement and is generally a great fit for a betta tank.

Water Velvet (Azolla)Water Velvet (Azolla)

  • Water temperature: 59° to 80.6° F
  • Lighting levels: Strong

Water Velvet comes from North and Central America where it’s also known as Carolina Mosquito fern.

Here, the plant is cultivated commercially as a fertilizer because of its ability to absorb and store nitrates and other chemical compounds from the water column.

Water Velvet is also widely used in fish and poultry food production.

When grown in an aquarium, Water Velvet self-propagates by sending out runners that eventually detach from the mother plant. Simply snip off a baby plant and let it float freely around the tank.

The main downside of growing Water Velvet is that it needs high lighting requirements to thrive. For that reason, you’ll need to use a special aquarium light that’s designed for planted tanks.

Floating Bladderwort (Utricularia gibba)Floating Bladderwort (Utricularia gibba)

  • Water temperature: 65° to 75° F
  • Lighting levels: Medium

Floating Bladderwort is an unusual plant that can do well in a betta tank, even though it prefers cooler water. This interesting plant is one of over 200 varieties of bladderwort.

The plant has small food traps growing along its stems that resemble bladders or seedpods.

Bladderworts are carnivorous plants that feed on zooplankton, microorganisms, and other nutrients that they extract from the water column.

This beautiful plant produces a display of bright yellow flowers when given sufficient lighting. To keep the plant tidy, remove any new plantlets so that your betta tank doesn’t get overcrowded.

Why Should I Keep Floating Plants In My Betta’s Tank?

As well as looking beautiful and providing a stunning 3-D effect in your betta tank, floating plants bring several other benefits to your betta buddy’s home.

Shade

Bettas come from a natural environment where the water is slow-moving and relatively well-shaded by overhanging vegetation and floating plants.

In your fish tank, growing floating plants can help to replicate that habitat.

Floating plants diffuse the light from your betta fish tank lighting unit before it enters the water, producing dappled shade patterns on the water.

Your betta will love hiding and exploring amid the floating plants and will appreciate the shady shelter they provide. That helps to keep your pet’s stress levels low, boosting his overall health and happiness.

Improved Water Quality

Plants are excellent for improving the overall water quality in your aquarium, and they do that in several ways:

Living Filtration Systems

Every betta tank, no matter how large or small, should have a filtration system to keep the water clean and healthy for the fish.

Without an effective biological filter system, dangerous chemicals, such as ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates quickly accumulate in the water, quickly poisoning your pet.

All aquatic plants absorb nitrates from the water column for use as a source of food and nutrition.

That relieves the burden on your biological filter, reduces nitrate levels in the water, and can even reduce the frequency of partial water changes you need to carry out.

Diffused Oxygen Producers

Your betta fish needs oxygen to survive. Bettas take up diffused oxygen from the water column, as well as visit the water’s surface to take gulps of atmospheric oxygen into their labyrinth organ.

Plants take carbon dioxide from the water throughout the daylight hours and respire oxygen at night through photosynthesis. This process helps to oxygenate the water for your betta fish.

Hiding Spots

Many species of floating aquatic plants send out long, dangling roots that form an attractive shelter for shy betta tank mates, shrimp, and fish fry.

Fish naturally seek the shelter of thick planting to feel secure, and including floating plants in your betta’s tank can be a great way of preventing your pet from getting stressed.

Napping Places

Bettas are renowned for enjoying frequent naps during the day and at night when the fish are least active.

Floating plants with flat, broad leaves are a popular choice for betta tanks as they provide a comfortable hammock-like spot where your pet can rest.

Marimo moss balls are also a popular aquarium plant that make a good choice for betta beds, and their vivid green color adds further interest to the setup.

Low-maintenance

Floating aquarium plants are generally a pretty low-maintenance option for betta tanks.

You don’t need to worry that the plants will drift out of the substrate since they have no anchor point.

Floating plants grow pretty quickly and most are self-propagating. All that’s required to keep the plants tidy is a quick trim every so often.

What Floating Plants Are Best for Your Betta Tank?

As you can see from the list earlier in this guide, there’s a wide variety of floating aquarium plants to choose from, so how do you know what species to choose?

Here’s what you need to consider when choosing floating plants for your betta’s tank.

What Livestock Do You Keep In Your Betta Tank?

First of all, you need to look at what livestock you keep in your betta tank and work out what floating plants would suit them best.

For example, betta fish love to nap on flat surfaces, so plants with large, oval leaves can be a good choice.

If you’re hoping to introduce a female betta sorority for your male fish, fry will have somewhere to take refuge if you include floating plants with trailing roots and stems.

Obviously, your betta is a labyrinth breather, so he needs access to the water’s surface to breathe. So, choose floating plants that won’t grow so quickly that they completely take over the surface.

How Large Is Your Betta Tank?

Many floating plants grow very quickly, rapidly covering the whole surface of a small tank.

So, if you have a nano tank, you’ll want to choose a slow-growing species of plant that won’t require lots of trimming, thinning, and general maintenance.

Lighting Requirements

Betta fish don’t appreciate very bright lighting in their tank. That’s why floating aquarium plants work so well in a betta tank, as they create a shady vibe and diffuse the light given out by your aquarium lighting unit.

Most floating plants do just fine under regular aquarium lighting, although some do require higher light levels, which might not suit your betta tank.

However, you need to bear in mind that rooted plants growing in the substrate typically need more light than surface-growing plants.

So, you need to ensure that your floating plants don’t cover the entire water surface and cut out the light to those underwater plants growing beneath.

Tank Conditions

Most floating plants can tolerate a range of water parameters. However, some species need cooler temperatures than others, so might find your betta tank a little too warm for comfort.

In addition, many surface-growing plants cannot withstand too much water movement. If you have a bubbler or aerator in your setup, bear that in mind when selecting your plants.

Floating plants can be quite fragile and won’t tolerate the buffeting and bruising that too much surface movement will inflict.

We recommend using a tank with a lid to house bettas since they can jump.

A lid is also essential if you grow floating plants. The plants grow above the waterline and their leaves will quickly become dehydrated and brown if you don’t maintain a high humidity level.

Growth Rate

Most floating plants have a rapid growth rate. That means you won’t need to wait too long for your plants to become established and you don’t need to buy many to create the perfect aesthetic in your tank.

On the downside, fast-growing plants with trailing roots can overtake the whole tank, especially if your aquarium is a small one.

Research the plant’s growth rate carefully, and be ready to trim and thin out the plants frequently.

FAQs

In this part of our guide, we answer some of the most commonly asked questions about floating plants for betta fish.

Q: Do Betta Like Floating Things?

A: Yes, bettas like to have floating objects in their aquarium, including plants.

Betta fish are naturally curious creatures that enjoy exploring among the dangling plant roots and will even rest there.

Your betta also enjoys building bubble nests, and floating plants can provide the ideal platform to anchor them.

Q: Will Floating Plants Prevent Betta From Jumping?

A: Bettas can and will jump if startled. Many betta keepers have found that keeping a mat of floating plants can help to discourage their pets from jumping.

However, you must remember that your betta needs to access clear water at the surface to breathe through its labyrinth organ.

So, be sure not to completely clog the water surface with planting.

Q: Is Amazon Frogbit Good for Bettas?

A: Amazon Frogbit is fast-growing and easy to care for, making it a perfect plant to add to your betta’s tank.

Frogbit absorbs harmful nitrates, helps to control the growth of algae, and generally improves the water quality in your betta’s aquarium.

Q: Do Floating Plants Increase Oxygen?

A: Yes, all aquatic plants can help to increase dissolved oxygen levels in the water of your betta’s tank.

Plants take up pollutants, such as nitrates, from the water for use as nutrients, while they produce oxygen through the process of photosynthesis.

Q: Do Floating Plants Reduce Ammonia?

A: Yes, aquatic aquarium plants, including floating varieties, absorb ammonia from your betta’s aquarium water.

Ammonia is highly toxic to your betta and his tank mates, and adding plants to your setup can help to improve the water quality by removing the chemical for use as a nutrient.

Final Thoughts

Floating plants make an attractive addition to your betta’s tank that your pet will love.

All the floating plants featured in this guide are easy to care for and take relatively little maintenance.

The plants provide hiding places for your betta to explore, make a good anchor for his bubble nests, and help to remove toxins from the water.

Floating plants can even help to dissuade your betta buddy from jumping out of the water.

Do you have floating plants in your aquatic setup? Tell us what species you keep in the comments box below, and don’t forget to share this article if you loved it!

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