Bettas should, ideally, live in a bowl with 20 gallons of water as noted by the Humane Society of the United States. Many beginning fish owners cannot attain this ideal immediately and must keep their Bettas in smaller bowls. The Betta fish -- which grows to between 1 and 2 inches long -- can survive in small bowls provided they are kept in still water at room temperature. Adding live plants to your Betta's bowl provides your fish with a number of benefits.
Egeria densa "Anacharis"
Egeria densa "Anacharis" is commonly known as the Brazilian water weed. This plant is identifiable by long green stems with tender leaves that resemble pine boughs. Considered a beginner aquarium plant, the most intense care Anacharis plants require is pruning. When left unchecked, Anacharis plants grow to lengths of 6 feet or more -- far too large for a small Betta bowl -- but can be safely pruned to as small as 6 inches in height. Anacharis requires moderate lighting and can easily thrive in a Betta bowl that receives natural sunlight. The plant does best in water conditions between 59 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit -- roughly room temperature. Anacharis provides oxygen to the water and hinders algae growth -- two benefits for fish enthusiasts maintaining a simple Betta bowl setup. Anacharis does not require a substrate planting to grow -- it can grow planted or floating freely in the bowl.
Riccia fluitans, also known as crystalwort, is a floating plant that resembles a bright, spring-green moss. Riccia fluitans can be left to float within the Betta bowl or anchored to decorations within the setup. The latter is a desirable trait -- because Bettas need air to breathe, anchoring the plant to a piece of drift wood or ceramic décor piece means the space at the top of the bowl is left unobstructed. It is also possible to anchor Riccia to the bottom of the bowl to create an artificial lawn or turf. Riccia thrives between 59 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, or within room-temperature range. Left to grow naturally, Riccia grows into tennis-ball sized spheres, but can safely be pruned to the size of a golf ball. Riccia is adaptable to conditions ranging from low to bright light. Riccia feeds on the waste products created by your Betta fish, cycling out harmful chemicals in the water and using them for growth.
Vesicularia dubyana is also known as Java moss. Like the Anacharis and Riccia plants, it does not need to be planted in a gravel substrate to grow. Java moss, like the Riccia plant, grows in loose clumps but instead of floating, it naturally sinks to the bottom of the Betta bowl. Java moss grows best in temperatures not exceeding 82 degrees Fahrenheit, making it ideal for unheated Betta bowls. The plant thrives on nitrates and removes these harmful substances from your Betta's bowl. Java moss grows in clumps up to tennis ball sized, but can be divided by hand safely down to golf-ball sized clumps.
Your Betta breathes air. It needs a clear space at the top of the tank in order to survive. For this reason, peace lilies and pseudo-lilies sold as Betta vase toppers are not the ideal plants for a small Betta bowl. Bettas are carnivores. While Bettas will eat some plant matter, they need proper fish food in order to survive. Bettas cannot survive nibbling plants or plant roots alone. Plants do not replace the need for regular water changes. While plants help regulate the amount of waste and chemicals in the water, as well as oxygenating the tank, fresh water is crucial to the survival of your Betta.
- Humane Society of the United States: Fish Tanks
- "Caring for Betta Fish"; Marcus Song; 2006
- "Betta"; John H. Tullock; 2006
- "The Aquarium Fish Survival Manual"; Brian Ward; 1995
- "The Everything Aquarium Book"; Frank Indiviglio; 2006
- "A Practical Guide to Choosing Aquarium Plants"; Peter Hiscock; 2001
- Photo Credit fish in bowl image by Robert Calvillo from Fotolia.com