There are a number of toxic plants for Betta fish that you might want to avoid. Most of these plants are only toxic if they are ingested, but some plants can release toxic chemicals into the surrounding water.
On this page, you’ll find a list of Toxic Plants for Betta Fish, and a little further down the page, we have a selection of the best live plants for Betta fish tanks that are completely non-toxic and fish safe.
Toxic Plants for Betta Fish
Hygrophila balsamica is a bog plant that is native to the Indian subcontinent. This plant is poisonous to fish and invertebrates, and in its emersed form, it will release noxious chemicals into the water from its roots, leaves, and stems.
Hygrophila balsamica will cease to be toxic once it has been submerged for a prolonged period of time. However, most aquatic plant nurseries grow their plants emersed, and it can be hard to verify how a plant was grown before you bring it home.
Luckily Hygrophila balsamica is a rare plant and it’s not commonly sold in fish stores, but you still need to be careful when purchasing plants for a Betta since it is available for sale online.
Peace Lily plants are a very popular plant that’s commonly paired with Betta fish that are sold in a vase. This practice alone is questionable for a number of reasons, but it’s also a bad plant choice since the juice and sap of peace lilies contain high concentrations of calcium oxalate crystals.
Do Betta Fish Eat Peace Lily Roots
Many people are misled to believe that Betta fish will live off the roots of a peace lily when they are kept in a vase. This isn’t true since Betta fish are primarily carnivores, and they won’t survive for long eating vegetation alone. However, if they are kept in a vase without food they will start to pick at the roots of a peace lily plant for nourishment as they begin to starve.
This can expose a Betta fish to the toxic calcium oxalate crystals in a peace lily plant, which when consumed in large enough amounts can cause severe intestinal problems. That’s why it’s not a good idea to keep a Betta fish with a peace lily plant since you never know when they might nibble at the roots if they get hungry or bored.
Pothos is a very common houseplant that many people use to remove nitrates from their fish tank. However, pothos does contain calcium oxalate crystals, which can be toxic even when ingested in small amounts.
If your Betta fish likes to nibble and eat roots then a Pothos plant might not be the safest plant for a Betta fish. However, most Betta fish leave pothos roots alone, and the amount of toxic calcium oxalate crystals in pothos roots is relatively low. Just keep an eye on your fish since pothos can still cause intestinal problems and discomfort when ingested.
Water Lettuce is a floating plant that has large pale green leaves that can reach 6-inches long. This plant contains poisonous calcium oxalate crystals, which can lead to severe health consequences when ingested. Symptoms of calcium oxalate toxicity include a burning sensation that can cause erratic behavior along with inflammation of the mouth and throat.
In most cases, a Betta fish won’t be interested in eating water lettuce, but they might nibble at the roots of the plant which also contain a significant amount of calcium oxalate.
Water Lettuce is also a very fast-growing plant that will quickly spread over the water’s surface, which can lead to a reduction of the dissolved oxygen content in the water.
Lily of the Valley
Lily of the Valley is a semi-aquatic plant that features small, bell-shaped flowers that have a sweet fragrance. This plant is extremely toxic since it contains cardiac glycosides which can cause severe illness or death. Symptoms of cardiac glycoside toxicity include irregular pulse, dizziness, coma, and heart failure.
Lily of the Valley primarily grows outdoors near the edge of lakes, streams, or ponds. It might be tempting to bring it indoors and use it in a Betta vase, tank, or bowl as a replacement for a peace lily. However, this plant is so toxic that it’s not worth risking the health of your Betta fish or any other pets in your house.
Water Hemlock is one of the most toxic plants in North America, and it grows near bodies of water throughout the country. This plant contains cicutoxin which acts as a stimulant that damages the central nervous system. The symptoms of cicutoxin poisoning include convulsions, seizures, and death.
The highest concentrations of cicutoxin are found in the roots of the water hemlock plant. When the stems or roots of water hemlock are damaged or cut they will release the toxin into their surroundings, which means they are a risk to even handle or touch.
Water Hemlock isn’t commonly used for decorative purposes, but it can easily be found growing in the wild. This plant should be avoided at all costs since it is extremely toxic, and it will quickly kill fish, pets, and livestock.
Swamp Lily is a plant that grows in marshes and swamps, and it can be found along river banks in the southern parts of the United States. All parts of this plant are poisonous, and it can cause intestinal distress if ingested.
Best Live Plants for Betta Fish
Marimo Moss Balls (Buy Online) are a great live plant for Betta fish since they are easy to care for and they don’t require much light or nutrients to grow. Moss balls are also compact, which makes them a perfect fit for a small tank, vase, or bowl. In addition, they are a fun toy since Betta fish love playing with them and rolling them around when they get bored.
Anubias (Buy Online) is a very popular aquarium plant that’s great for beginners. You can get Anubias in a wide range of sizes that will fit in any Betta fish tank. If you have a small tank then Anubias Nana Petite is your best option since it remains small throughout its life. However, if you want to try out multiple species of Anubias then you can get a bundle of four different Anubias plants by clicking the link or image above.
Java Fern (Buy Online) is one of the best live plants for Betta fish since it’s very easy to grow. You can keep Java Fern in aquariums that are 10-gallons or larger, and they make good background plants since they can grow to be about a foot tall. However, if you’re looking for a dwarf variety then Java Fern “Philippine” only grows to be about 5-inches tall.
Dwarf Hairgrass (Buy Online) is a carpeting plant that’s relatively easy for a beginner to grow in their Betta tank. This plant will quickly spread and create a lush green ground cover across the substrate of your aquarium. The best way to get Dwarf Hairgrass is to purchase it as a tissue culture since this will ensure it is disease and pest free. You can buy Dwarf Hairgrass tissue culture online by clicking the image or link above.
Java Moss (Buy Online) is one of the most popular plants in the aquarium hobby, and it’s also extremely easy for anyone to grow. Java moss will quickly replicate itself, and it can be attached to ornaments or wood to create unique aquascape designs. Best of all it’s relatively cheap, and it’s available for sale online, and in most local fish stores.
Best Fake Plants for Betta Fish
biOrb Easy Plant Sets (Buy Online) are one of the best fake plants for Betta fish since they are made from silk, and they have a unique anchor ball. Silk plants are safer for Betta fish since they don’t have any sharp edges that can tear their delicate fins.
Silk Plants also look more realistic and they move naturally in the water. These biOrb Plants also won’t easily lift out of the substrate since they have a weighted anchor ball. That makes these fake plants are well suited for a Betta tank since Betta Fish are notorious for trying to move plants around with their nose.
The biOrb Easy Decor Set (Buy Online) comes with everything you’ll need to decorate a Betta tank or bowl. This set includes an artificial maple tree, topiary balls, seashells, artificial moss balls, and pebbles.
Artificial Seaweed Water Plants (Buy Online) make it easy to fill up the background of a Betta Tank with vibrant colors. These artificial plants are made from PVC, and they come in three different colors Red, Green, and Purple. Each plant measures 2” L x 2” W x 12” H, and each package includes 10 plants.
Smarlin Tropical Plants (Buy Online) are excellent artificial plants for Betta fish since they have large leaves that a Betta can lounge on. These plants are made of plastic and they are anchored to a weighted base, so you won’t have to worry about them getting loose and floating all over your Betta fish tank. Each plant is 10-inches tall and about 5-inches wide, and they come in packs of two in a mix of vibrant tropical colors.
The CousDUoBe Betta Fish Leaf Pad (Buy Online) is the best fake plant for a Betta fish to rest on near the water’s surface. The larger leaf on this Betta hammock measures 2.36” x 1.77”, and the smaller leaf is 1.97” x 1.5”. Best of all, both leaves are connected to a strong suction cup that won’t slide around, or lose suction and fall.