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I bought my first Betta over 20 years ago, and if I am being honest, I kept him in a bowl on the counter in the kitchen. Since then I have learned a great deal, and now I keep my Bettas in much larger tanks.
One thing that hasn’t changed over the last 20 years is my belief that a Betta looks better and does better when it has some sort of decoration in its tank. It doesn’t matter if that decoration is rocks, a SpongeBob pineapple house, or fake plants.
In my experience, Betta fish are happy with either fake plants or live plants in their aquarium. I have never found them to have a preference for one over the other. Fake plants can be extremely useful in a Betta tank where live plants won’t grow, such as an open-top tank with no light.
Do Betta Fish Like Fake Plants?
Over the years I have tried countless different Betta setups. I have kept Bettas in small tanks and larger tanks, I have kept them alone and in a community setting with other fish, and I have kept them with both live and fake plants.
I can honestly say, my Bettas never show any preference for live plants over fake plants or vice-versa. To be fair, today there are some incredibly realistic-looking fake plants available (like these ones I purchased recently from Amazon).
Although realistic fake plants tend to be more expensive than basic fake plants, the extra money can be worth it in the long run.
Why Add Fake Plants To A Betta Tank?
There is no doubt that a Betta fish does better when it lives in an aquarium with decoration. I don’t think they care what those decorations are, they just like to be able to hide when the mood takes them rather than be exposed in a clear bowl of water all day long.
By adding fake plants you not only provide places for your Betta to hide and feel safe, but you also start to create a more ‘natural’ feel in your Betta tank.
In the wild, Bettas would be surrounded by vegetation all the time. Plants growing in their streams or pools, bits of plants floating through the water, and foliage dipping into the water from trees above. A Bettas natural habitat is a leafy place.
Although our Bettas have never seen the wild, deep down they have the need to hide on occasion.
Adding fake plants also provides enrichment and stimulation for your Betta. Betta fish are relatively intelligent (for a fish) and they will do better when they are stimulated on a regular basis. Adding fake plants creates a little interest to keep a Betta entertained.
Are Fake Plants Harmful To Betta Fish?
I have kept Bettas and scores of other fish in aquariums with fake plants over the years, and I have never seen any ill effects on my fish. The one thing I would say is to buy your fake plants from a reputable source because they MUST be fish safe.
Any plastic or silk fake plants which haven’t been designed specifically for a fish tank may leach paint, dye, or chemicals into your aquarium water which could kill your Betta.
Any fake plants marked as ‘fish safe’ will be made from materials designed to be fully submerged in water without degrading.
Should You Use Fake or Live Plants?
There are many reasons you might choose fake plants over real ones, or vice-versa.
Fake plants don’t require feeding or trimming and when they get algae growing on them you can rinse them under a tap and scrub them with a cloth to remove the algae. Fake plants also give you instant gratification because you don’t have to wait for them to grow.
Real plants on the other hand do need feeding and trimming, but you can often grow lots from a single plant. In the tank below, I grew every plant in the picture from a single plant. It took 4 years, but it was essentially free. To recreate the same tank in fake plants would cost a lot of money.
Another advantage real plants have over fake plants is that they help consume fish waste as they grow, keeping the water cleaner and sweeter for the Betta to live in.
Fake plants down consume fish waste, but then they don’t die either, meaning once you have bought fake plants they may last a lifetime.
The video below from Prime Time Aquatics looks at the pros and cons of live and fake plants.
My Final Thoughts on ‘Do Betta Fish Like Fake Plants?’
To be 100% honest, I don’t think Bettas care if the plants in their aquarium are live or fake or a mixture of both.
There are clear advantages and disadvantages to using fake plants, but at the end of the day, what matters is what works best for the fish keeper.
If you are going to use fake plants, always buy them from a reputable source and follow any instructions, just in case.