5 Best Floating Plants for Betta Fish

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Bettas are adaptable fish that don’t require extreme care to thrive. Even so, they have specific environmental requirements that you need to adhere to in order to accommodate your bettas.

Today, we will discuss the ideal floating plants for betta fish because this is an actually hot topic for novice aquarists.

If you’ve never had bettas before, there are 2 things to learn about them before decorating their tank with plants:

  • They eat at the water surface and
  • They possess a labyrinth organ which bettas use to breathe atmospheric air

These 2 points tell you that you should provide bettas with uninhibited access to the water surface for breathing and eating purposes.

So, choosing the ideal floating plants is paramount for these fish.

5 Best Floating Plants for Betta Tank

You can choose from various plants, but only a few are fit for your betta tank.

Let’s look at the 5 most popular plants that any aquarist should consider for their betta setup:

1. Amazon Frogbit

This is a highly popular plant thanks to its growth rate, size, and overall display. Amazon frogbit grows up to 20 inches in height and can be fit to any aquatic setup with adequate preparation.

This floating plant doesn’t have specific tank size requirements since, with proper trimming, can adapt to any environment.

Amazon frogbit is highly recognizable thanks to its flat green leaves covering the water surface. This is a hardy species that doesn’t need any special care.

The ideal water conditions include a temperature range of 64-80 °F and a 6.0-7.5 pH level.

Special Mentions

While Amazon frogbit is great for any fish tank, there are some issues to consider along the way. Trimming is more important for this plant than probably any other plant species.

There are 3 main reasons for that:

  • The plant’s growth rate – Amazon frogbit grows fast and is capable of taking over the entire tank, fully covering the water surface. So, you need to trim and control the plant’s expansion to keep the environment stable.
  • Illumination problems – Amazon frogbit is known to inhibit the growth of other plant species simply by cutting their access to sunlight. An overgrowing of Amazon frogbit can cause other plants to die, which, in turn, will alter the water chemistry and have disastrous consequences for the environment.
  • Surface access problems – Bettas love live plants in their environment, but they also love getting to the water surface for food and air. You should control your Amazon frogbit to ensure it doesn’t restrict your fish’s surface access.

2. Dwarf Water Lettuce

Everything we’ve said about the Amazon frogbit applies to the dwarf water lettuce as well.

This resilient and adaptable plant species will quickly adapt to your betta’s setup, covering the entire water surface.

While the Amazon frogbit comes with round and smooth leaves, the water lettuce delivers a more elegant impression. This species contains elegant florets, making the plant resemble lettuce at a first glance.

You can see a combination of small and larger leaves, creating a rich pattern that will undoubtedly beautify the tank.

The water requirements are standard. Go for water temperatures between 72 and 86 F and a pH level of 6.0 to 7.5.

The only noticeable difference here is the temperature. Dwarf water lettuce doesn’t like cold water, so you should keep the water temperature in the mid-70s.

Special Mentions

This plant also needs careful trimming since it can cover the entire water surface quickly. The leaves are also larger, which can cause the water lettuce to cause even more problems than the Amazon frogbit.

Fortunately, this plant comes with more pros than cons, thanks to its appearance and physiological activity.

The dwarf water lettuce has long stems floating freely in the water and serving as hiding spots for fish fry. The plant uses these to extract nutrients from the water column.

It’s also worth noting that the dwarf water lettuce ranks as an amazing ammonia and nitrite consumer.

This allows the plant to cleanse the water of toxins that could kill your fish, making the water lettuce a welcome addition, especially in a betta tank.

Just make sure you trim it properly, not to restrict the bettas’ surface access.

3. Salvinia

Salvinia auriculata is also known as butterfly fern or eared water moss. This species doesn’t need CO2 injections to thrive, can cope with moderate lighting levels, and is generally easy to maintain.

The plant’s small leaves stick together, forming tight formations floating at the water surface. This species is great for both indoor tanks and outdoor ponds, thanks to its amazing adaptability.

The leaves won’t grow past 1 inch in most cases, although some species can get past that.

The standard water requirements include a temperature range of 72-79 F and a pH of 6.0 to 8.0.

Moderate light is all that the plant requires to thrive, along with the occasional liquid fertilizers to support its growth.

Special Mentions

Constant trimming and pruning are a must to keep the plant under control. In typical floating-plant fashion, Salvinia grows fast, especially in highly nutritious environments.

This species is also more demanding in nutrition, so you need to provide it with liquid fertilization occasionally to prevent nutrient deficiency.

You can tell that the plant isn’t getting proper nutrition if the plants turn yellow and lose their vibrant coloring.

Just tread carefully. Liquid fertilization is known to promote algae overgrowth past certain points.

So, always verify the tank and perform regular maintenance to prevent algae from suffocating the environment.

4. Red Root Floater

Red Root Floater Photo by Adam B. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The red root floater is the perfect choice for more color-rich environments. This plant grows small leaves, up to 1 inch around, and it spreads fast under the right conditions.

It also doesn’t hurt that the plant is adaptable and can withstand a variety of water parameters.

The plant’s name comes from its red floating roots but also its leaves. While the red root floater has bright green leaves, the plant can change its color depending on the light intensity as such:

  • Low light conditions – Green leaves
  • Medium-light conditions – Green leaves with red tints
  • High light conditions – Bright red leaves

Naturally, not all leaves will acquire the same red intensity. This leads to the plant displaying an awesome color gradient for an even more interesting effect.

Special Mentions

Red root floaters are notorious for their nutrient demand. You must use liquid fertilizers to keep the plant healthy and growing.

Just keep in mind that red root floaters have a pretty accelerated growth rate, so it doesn’t take much for the tiny leaves to cover the entire surface.

Pruning is necessary to control the plant’s spread, especially since you’re housing bettas that require easy surface access.

5. Duckweed

Duckweed is definitely the most adaptable and hardy plant species on this list. It is also the smallest since the leaves only grow up to 0.3 inches.

This doesn’t prevent the plant from occupying a lot of space, though, especially if you lack any control strategies.

Duckweed will exceed your expectations from an adaptability and resiliency standpoint. This plant can withstand temperatures between 60 and 90 F, making it the hardiest plant species in this sense.

All other water parameters are basic since duckweed doesn’t have any special environmental requirements.

It also doesn’t hurt that it requires low-to-no fertilization and can thrive even in the absence of CO2 injections.

You can also grow duckweed anywhere, including 1-gallon nano tanks. Yes, that’s 1 gallon, not 10.

Special Mentions

The only downside I could find relates to the plant’s lighting requirements. Unfortunately, this plant demands more light than other plant species, which may not sit well with your fish.

However, if you can find the sweet spot, duckweed will make for a fine addition to your betta tank.

Benefits of Floating Aquarium Plants for Bettas

Live plants are always great for both open and closed aquatic ecosystems. So, what benefits should you expect from your floating plants?

You have several to consider:

  • The shading element – Most fish, bettas included, prefer dimmer lights, as a darker environment helps them feel safer and more comfortable. Floating plants restrict the light’s access to the tank’s lower areas, keeping the deeper water layers shaded and comfy for your bettas.
  • Improve water chemistry – Floating plants are great at consuming ammonia and nitrites, keeping the environment clean and healthy. Just keep in mind that some plant species are better at it than others.
  • Provide hiding support – Fish fry are notoriously vulnerable, so they can use some hiding areas to help them flee the more aggressive adults. Most floating plants have long stems floating in the water, allowing the fry to hide between them in case of need.
  • A more natural feel – Bettas enjoy floating plants because they mimic the fish’s natural environment. This stands true for many tank fish species, as well, since floating plants are widespread in stale or slow-moving waters.

You can add improved water oxygenation on top of everything else, which is something that comes naturally with all live plants.

Importance of Maintaining Floating Plants

Since we’ve already discussed the benefits, we should also touch upon the downsides. Floating plants require more intensive maintenance than rooted species.

We’re not talking about a time-sinker maintenance process, but you do need a good maintenance routine to keep the plants in check.

Floating plants are famous for their accelerated growth rates and spread potential. Providing your plants with a lot of nutrition and not controlling their spread will only add fuel to the fire.

As a result, the plant will cover the entire surface, restricting the fish’s access to light, oxygen, and food.

So, you need to have a good pruning-and-trimming schedule in place to keep the plants under control. Always leave open areas for the fish to use in case they need to reach the water surface.

Conclusion

Floating plants are great additions to any fish tank, provided you handle them adequately.

Just make sure that your plants are healthy and control their growth, and spread properly for the best results.

avatar I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.

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