Plants for Fish Tanks: Fake or Live?

Finatics enjoys writing about animal care and is "owned" by a guinea pig, four hermit crabs, three African dwarf frogs, and a betta fish.

Live Plants vs. Fake Plants

There is a lot of debate on whether it's better to use live or fake plants in an aquarium. But they can also worsen the water quality if they die and decay. Fake plants are not as natural or realistic-looking, but they offer many benefits. Below are the pros and cons of artificial plants and live plants.

Sometimes the pros outweigh the cons for live plants.

Pros of Live Plants

  • During the day, they produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide.
  • They absorb nitrates to use as a natural fertilizer.
  • They are more natural-looking than fake plants.
  • Herbivorous animals snack on them.
  • They inhibit algae growth.

Cons of Live Plants

  • At night, they produce carbon dioxide and take in oxygen, so an airstone may be necessary.
  • They require some maintenance to keep in good shape.
  • They can be costly because of lighting, co2 equipment, and fertilizer.
  • If they decay, they can worsen water quality.
  • They can harbor parasites/pond snails.
  • They're not very easy to clean.
  • Your choices of substrates are limited with them.

Pros of Fake Plants

  • Some silk plants can be very realistic.
  • Almost no work is involved.
  • You can plant them in any substrate you want.
  • They don't take in oxygen at night, so you may not need an airstone.
  • They're easier to clean.
  • There's no risk of introducing parasites/pond snails.
  • They won't decay.
  • They're less costly (no equipment needed).

Cons of Fake Plants

  • They do not absorb nitrates.
  • They do not produce oxygen during the day.
  • They don't inhibit algae growth.
  • They are not as natural-looking.
  • They don't provide nutrients for plant-eaters.

Which Is Better?

When you weigh all the benefits and drawbacks of live and fake plants, neither one is better than the other. It depends on what you're looking for. Are you seeking a beautiful, but slightly extravagant planted tank or an artificially planted aquarium that is less expensive, but perhaps not as attractive? Maintaining a planted tank can be very rewarding, but I recommend not trying it out until you have experience in fish-keeping. Whatever you choose, have fun and good luck!

froglover on December 07, 2016:

frogs are great

finatics (author) on June 02, 2012:

@fishgirl, thank you for your comment! Live planted tanks can certainly be stunning.

fishgirl on September 24, 2011:

Having real plants in your tank, even the easiest of all plants can be really rewarding. I don't believe that this is a hobby you should be cutting corners in. If you're not convinced on real plants, google search Takashi Amano. He is the god of planted tanks. I understand that higher maintenance plants can cut you back budget wise but if you go for the really most basic of plants, you can still achieve beautiful results (anubias, java fern, mosses, crypts, etc).

finatics (author) on August 11, 2010:

Your welcome! I also think a combination of both works best, as you won't have to spent as much money and maintenance on a tank of only live plants, but it won't look as fake as a tank of artificial plants.

Chris Crow on August 10, 2010:

Thanks for the information here. I think when I get my aquarium set up, I may look into a combination of fake and real plants, but I do see how fake would be a little easier on the wallet.

The Best Plants For Betta Fish Tanks

Now that you have a better understanding on why you should pick each type of plant, it’s time to know what the best plants for betta fish tanks are! There are so many to choose from! Some of them are real, some fake. Some are submerged while others constantly float on the surface of the tank. Whatever you’re choice they’re all going to bring a lot of life and vibrancy to your tank, and they’re all excellent choices.

Best Submerged Plants For Bettas

There are two main types of live plants that you can put into your tank. Submerged plants and floating plants. Here are the best live plants for bettas that are submerged. They’re relatively easy to take care of and they’re not going to cause any harm to your betta. First up:

Java Fern

Java ferns are plants native to Southeast Asia. They can be grown in and out of the water and if you want to grow more you simply have to split their rhizome and plant it.

You should be aware that Java fern can grow quite big. When you let it grow fully it can grow 13 inches high and 6-8 inches wide. Because of this, it’s recommended that you don’t put it in a tank which is 10 gallons or smaller.

PH & Temp

Java ferns can survive in a pH that’s between 6-7 and they need a temperature between 68-82°F.


Unlike a lot of plants, java fern doesn’t need much lighting. In fact, it’s often better to grow them in the shade of other plants or in low light aquariums. If java fern receives too much light then it’s leaves may start to go translucent.


Instead of planting java fern into the substrate, you should tie it to decorations. Over time, it’s roots will latch on and it won’t need to be tied on anymore. If you plant your java ferns roots, then you’re going to end up suffocating them and they will begin to rot.

Java Moss

Java moss is one of the best plants for betta fish tanks and with good reason! It can literally survive in any conditions and end up thriving. In fact, people have said they’ve taken java moss out of their tank, let it dry out completely, only for it to start growing again once it returned to their tank!

Java moss is another plant that doesn’t need to have its roots buried, instead, it latches onto rocks, driftwood, and other decorations in your tank.

Java moss is great for carpeting your tank and you can latch it to almost anything.

PH & Temp

The ideal temperature for java moss is between 70-75 °F, but don’t let this deter you. Because java moss can survive at any temperature up to 86°F

pH wise you don’t even need to worry about java moss it can survive in pH between 5-8, which is an extremely wide range.


Another reason that java moss is great for betta tanks is that it can survive in low light and high-level light. If you let it grow in high lighting then it will be more compact, whereas in low light levels it will be darker and lankier.


Once again you’re not going to need to plant java moss, rather you’re going to need to anchor it to things in your tank and let it latch on. This is incredibly easy to do and your best bet is just tying it with fishing line.


Next up on the list is Hornwort. Hornwort grows all over the world, but you have to be careful with it because it is an invasive species. However, with a little bit of care, it’s going to look fantastic in your tank!

One thing to note is that hornwort is also going to require a little bit more care. If left, it can grow up to 10 feet in length which is very impressive! If you want to keep hornwort, then you’re going to need a large tank. A 15 gallon tank is a good starting size. The Fluval Flex 15 Gallon is a great choice.

You can also learn more about Hornwort in this article.

PH & Temp

Hornwort can survive in a wide variety of temperatures. In fact, as long as you’re keeping the tank between 59-86 ° F it’s going to grow just fine.

pH wise it will do well in anywhere between 6 – 7.5, but remember with bettas 7 is ideal.


If you do want to keep hornwort then it’s going to need a high light tank. Light is critical for your hornwort to grow well, and if you add it to a low light tank then it’s going to end up looking weak and pathetic.


If you plan on planting hornwort then you’re going to need to remove a big chunk of the bottom leaves. If you don’t do this then they’re going to fall off on their own and end up making a mess of your substrate.

However, remember you don’t necessarily have to plant hornwort because it can also float freely.


Next up is anacharis/elodea/water weeds. It originally came from certain parts of South America, however, due to its hardiness, you can find it all over America.

If you want to keep anacharis then because of its hardiness it’s incredibly easy to do! Here’s a full article explaining why anacharis is so great!

PH And Temp

The ideal temperature for Anacharis is between 70-78 ° F. And you may be thinking that the warm end of anacharis is the standard temperature for bettas. Well don’t worry, while the ideal temperature is between 70-78 ° F it can survive in temperatures between 60-82 ° F, so you have nothing to worry about!

When you’re keeping anacharis in your tank you are going to have to keep the pH levels as close to neutral as possible. However, if you’re looking after a betta the pH should be as close to neutral as possible anyway!


If you want to keep anacharis then you’re going to need medium light in the tank. Obviously bigger is better for plants, but if there’s too much then you could cause more algae to grow in the tank as well.


When planting anacharis you’re going to have to plant it quite deeply. Each stem should be buried 2 inches deep so it’s roots have plenty of room to start growing. Because of this, you should also plant anacharis plants an inch away from each other. Don’t worry about the gaps because the spacing actually adds to its appeal.


Anubias is another one of the best plants for betta fish tanks because of it’s relative ease to grow. It comes from Africa and it can grow either fully submerged or partially submerged. The most common type of anubias will grow 2-6 inches in height. It’s normally used as a background plant and kept at the bottom of the tank.

PH & Temp

If you plan on keeping anubias then you need to make sure you keep the water between 72-82 ° F. This is the ideal temperature to help it grow best. As well as the temperature you also need to make sure that the pH levels are between 6 – 7.5. A bettas parameter needs fall nicely in between this, so it shouldn’t be a problem.


Anubias isn’t going to need particularly strong lighting to survive, standard aquarium lighting will do. However, for the best growth, it’s better to use a stronger light. So if you want it to take longer to grow (less upkeep) then make sure you use a mid-level aquarium light!


And remember, if you plan on adding anubias to the tank you need to make sure you’re not burying the roots. Otherwise, they’re going to start rotting and the plant will quickly die. So, you can either let it float or tie it to something. (In most cases, even if it’s free floating it will still stay at the bottom of the tank.

Amazon Sword

If you have a larger tank then Amazon sword is definitely a great plant that you can choose. They are fairly large, growing 20 inches in length and make the perfect background plant, as well as give your betta a lot of places to hide.

Because of the large size Amazon Sword normally grows too, you shouldn’t add it to tanks smaller than 59 gallons.

PH & Temp

Amazon sword is quite hardy when it comes to it’s pH level and it can grow anywhere between a pH level of 6.5 – 7.5. However, some it has been known to survive in a pH level as low as 6!

And if you’re wondering what temperature Amazon sword needs then it’s going to thrive best in temperatures between 72-82 ° F. If you keep the temperature between this level and the lighting is good then you’re going to grow some beautiful Amazon Sword in your tank!


This is one of the reasons that not as many hobbyists keep Amazon Sword in their tank. If you plan on growing Amazon sword then it’s going to need strong lighting as well as a lot of light throughout the day.

You should have a strong light in the tank and keep it on for 8-12 hours to make sure the plant is getting all the light it needs.


When you’re planting Amazon sword you should plant it deep into the substrate where it will begin spreading its roots throughout the tank. However, make sure you’re not burying the crown underneath your substrate otherwise it will begin to die.

Betta Bulbs

Named after the fish that love them the most, betta bulbs are a great plant to make your tank look fantastic. Betta bulbs are generally a mix of different Aponogeton bulbs that can come from Africa, Asia, and Australasia.

In fact, they’ve been crossbred so much with each other, you normally end up getting a hybrid bulb.

Also, some people recommend only having betta bulbs in your tank for half a year and then storing them for the other half.

PH & Temp

Betta bulbs aren’t going to need any particular care when it comes to their pH and temperature needs. They only need a pH level between 6.5 – 7.5 and a temperature between 72-82 ° F. Both of which are going to be fine in a betta tank.


Your lighting needs are going to change for betta bulbs depending on the size of your tank. If you have a large tank then strong light will cause betta bulbs to grow rapidly. However, if you have a smaller tank then it may be better to use low lighting. This will limit how quickly betta bulbs grow so you don’t have to maintain them as often.


To plant betta bulbs you should bury the root about 2 inches under the surface of the substrate. This anchors it in place and also allows the roots to start spreading out.


Any plant that you’re going to pick will make your betta happy (as long as there aren’t any sharp parts. However, if you’re still having trouble deciding or taking all the information in, here are the main points.

  • Plants are great for betta tanks because they provide hiding places, make the tank feel more natural, and keep your betta entertained.
  • Live plants produce more oxygen and help remove ammonia, they also harbor beneficial bacteria, reduce algae problems and create a more natural environment.
  • However, they require maintenance, increase decaying matter in your tank, require different lighting, and consume more oxygen at night.
  • Fake plants require no maintenance or specific conditions, and they’re also easy to clean.
  • However, fake plants have a higher risk of hurting your betta, they make the tank feel more unnatural and they’re not going to oxygenate the tank.
  • Java fern is a great plant that needs a 10 gallon tank, pH between 6-7 and not much lighting. Don’t plant java fern, but tie it onto decorations.
  • Java moss is another great choice for any size tank, it can survive in a range of temperatures and pH. As well as this it doesn’t need any specific lighting and will latch onto anything in the tank.
  • Hornwort should be kept in tanks that are 15 gallons or bigger. It needs a temperature between 59-86 ° F and a pH between 6-7.5. It’s also going to need strong lighting and to be planted in your substrate.
  • Anacharis can also be kept in any tank and in temperatures between 60-82 ° F and in a pH as close to neutral as possible. It also needs medium light and to be planted deeply into the substrate.
  • Anubias is a great background plant that can be kept in any tank. You should keep the temperature between 72-82 ° F and a pH between 6 – 7.5. It doesn’t need strong lighting, however, make sure you don’t plant it.
  • If you have a big tank (59 gallons+) then Amazon Sword is a great choice. It’s hardy and can survive in pH levels between 6.5 – 7.5 and temperatures between 72-82 ° F. However, it does need strong lighting. To plant it, make sure it’s buried deep into the substrate of your tank.
  • And lastly, as you guess by their name, betta bulbs are another great choice for betta tanks. They can survive in small tanks and need conditions similar to bettas. That is a pH between 6.5 – 7.5 and a temperature between 72-82 ° F. When planting betta bulbs make sure you bury the roots about 2 inches beneath the substrate and remove them from your tank for half the year.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article about the best plants for betta fish tanks! Have a great day and be sure to check out the rest of the website.

Many aquarium hobbyists love Oscars because they are unique among freshwater aquarium fish species. Oscars are a type of cichlid and they grow large – up to 18 inches long. Not only are Oscars beautiful, but they have a lot of personality many aquarium hobbyists describe them as dogs in the body of a fish because they beg for food and seek attention from their owners. Although Oscars make wonderful pets, they do present some inherent challenges. The biggest obstacle with Oscars is keeping them from destroying your live plants.

Oscars and Live Plants

When you think about Oscars and the challenges they present for the freshwater aquarium hobbyist, there are several factors to consider. The main obstacle, of course, is related to the size of the species. These fish have the capacity to grow up to 18 inches long, though they tend to top out around 10 inches in captivity. The large size of this species necessitates a large aquarium – at least 55 gallons for a single Oscar, or 100 gallons for a pair. In addition to the tank size, you also need to think about tank requirements like temperature and water chemistry. Oscars prefer warm waters between 77 and 80 degrees with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5.

Cultivating the proper tank conditions for Oscars isn’t difficult, but you will come across some challenges if you try to keep live plants in the tank with your Oscars. Oscars don’t usually eat live plants – the challenge Oscars present is that they have a tendency to root through the substrate in their aquarium which can cause damage to the plant roots. Oscars tend to “rearrange” their tanks a lot, pushing tank decorations around and digging through substrate. Many aquarium plants are unable to tolerate this kind of treatment and they are likely to die if their roots are damaged.

If you do plan to keep live plants in your Oscar tank you need to be intentional about where you place them. If you have a sizable tank (about 150 gallons or more), your Oscar might leave part of the tank alone. Another option is to protect your live plants by surrounding them with large tank decorations that your Oscar will have a difficult time moving. For example, you could place your live plants in the corners of the tank and then protect the roots with large rocks or other decorations. This is not a fool-proof plan, but it may help you to keep your plants around a little longer.

Best Tank Decorations for Oscars

Though Oscars and live plants do not tend to do well together, there are certain decorations that are recommended for an Oscar tank. Large, flat rocks and rock caves can be great additions to the Oscar tank because your fish will have a hard time moving such large objects. Slate is a particularly good choice for the Oscar tank because it is flat – this will provide your Oscars with a surface on which to spawn, if breeding is an interest of yours. Large pieces of driftwood can also be added to the tank to give it a natural appearance. When using large tank decorations, just be careful to position them so that they will not injure your fish if they fall over. You should also avoid sharp points or rough edges that could hurt your Oscars if they try to push them around.

Keeping Oscars is challenging but it can be rewarding for the aquarium hobbyist as well. Because these fish can be such a challenge, it is even more important that you do your research before setting up your tank to be sure that everything will go well.

Java Fern

Considering angelfish feel at home in waters where there is plenty of cover from driftwood and leaves, Java Fern is an ideal plant to pair with both driftwood and angelfish. This slow growing plant can be attached to pieces of driftwood around the sides and towards the front of the tank. They can grow in a wide range of lighting and typically the brighter the lighting is, the darker green the leaves will turn.

The leaves are hardy and have a leathery appearance to them. They grow to around 13 inches tall and come in a few different varieties, such as narrow leaf and needle leaf. Both of these variants are ideal for keeping with angelfish due to their thin leaves, which this species of fish loves to swim in between. This plant shouldn’t be buried into the substrate you’ll need to attach it to something else such as an ornament, decoration, or piece of driftwood. Secure the roots using black cotton thread, and after a few weeks the roots should have attached themselves to the object.

Watch the video: Community aquarium Natural looking with Fake plants. Please watch in HD (July 2021).