I used to always have tons of silk plants in my bettas’ tanks and just loved going to pick them out at the store. I was lucky to have an abundant source at one of my local pet stores. I would always make sure the plants were well assembled and that they passed the “pantyhose test” where all of the edges were smooth to the touch and would not snag or harm a betta’s fins. Silk plants are great for a betta’s tank – they look nice, are easy to clean, and last for a while before they need to be replaced. I thought nothing would compare…that is until I decided to incorporate live plants into my tanks instead.
Never knowing much about the upkeep of live plants, I always assumed they were hard to maintain and required much time and effort. Additionally, I never would have guessed that plants such as Java Moss or Java Ferns could live and thrive in uncycled bowls with no filtration system of any sort. Both are very hardy plants and do well under the same conditions that a betta requires. These plants are great for a very beginner as they hardly require any care or maintenance. Basically they pretty much upkeep themselves.
Java Moss (Scientific Name: Vesicularia dubyana) & Java Fern (Scientific Name: Microsorum pteropus):
- Origin: Southeast Asia
- Easy care and maintenance
- Require low to medium light
- Temperature between 64-86 degrees Fahrenheit
- pH of 5.0-8.0
- Java Moss grows somewhat quickly and can become dense (Popular for use in fry tanks)
- Java Ferns grow at a reasonable pace
- Java Fern roots should not be planted in substrate! They are meant to be free-floating plants or you can gently secure them to driftwood or something of the sort in your tank.
Here is a picture of my previous betta Melvin with its live plants:
Live plants can sometimes be found locally or ordered off of the Internet. They should be bright green and healthy-looking. Make sure you properly quarantine and/or sterilize plants for a week or two before placing them in your betta’s tank and always purchase from a reliable source.
So, with a great offer to receive a starter of a few live plants :o) I started on my way to a new style of betta keeping. I removed all of the fake plants from my tanks and decided to see how my bettas adjusted to the change. The results were that they absolutely loved it and I was excited that they were able to experience a more natural living environment. Even though silk plants usually prove to be safe, I was no longer worried about my guys getting snagged on a sharp edge that I didn’t notice or rare, but possible, chemicals leaking into the water from the coating.
Live plants are a really beneficial source to add to your tank, especially Java Moss, as it naturally soaks up excess ammonia that becomes present in your betta’s water. So, not only do live plants look really attractive in your betta’s tank, but they are an extra measure to help keep your betta healthy.
I have found since I made the switch, my bettas are much more interactive with the plants. They’ll swim through the middle of a huge clump of Java Moss or hide beneath it to sleep. It’s really neat to see because unlike silk plants they will slightly sway or move in the water as your fish swims near or through them.
When it comes time to clean your tank, Java Moss or any live plant can easily be removed from the tank and rinsed clean if desired. Then, you simply plop it back into your betta’s clean water and you’re set to go. No scrubbing or examining of the plant for safety is required! In fact, I haven’t really had to do anything special to maintain my plants so far. Certainly, if you notice any browning of your live plants, this area should be removed but it is very easy to keep them healthy. A great thing about live plants though is that they keep growing so you’ll never run out of a supply after your initial investment!
If you’re looking for an added boost in appearance and an ammonia soak for your tank, you can’t go wrong with Java Moss or Java Ferns.