Toxic Plants for Betta Fish: Top 7 Poisonous Plants Betta Owners Must Avoid

Are you thinking of adding betta fishes to your collection? If yes, you must consider the water chemistry and the kind of plants in the aquarium. Plants contribute to the water chemistry and the overall health of the fish. 

Some plants help with water purification and serve as food and shade for the fish. However, there are toxic plants for betta fishes that might cause fish death. Some of them include Water Hemlock, Peace Lily, and Pothos.

These plants are poisonous to the betas as they secrete toxic substances into the water. This article discusses some of these toxic plants. We’ll also discuss why these plants harm your fish and some plants you should use instead. Learn more below.

Does Your Betta Fish Aquarium Need Plants?

Plants in artificial fish habitats are not merely for beautification. Aquatic plants are beneficial to your fishpond. They naturally purify the tank, providing a more natural ecosystem for your bettas. This will help you to reduce the rate at which you have to change the water in the pond. 

Does your betta fish aquarium need plants

Let’s consider some benefits of plants for water tanks containing betta fishes. 

5 Benefits of Plants to Fish Tanks

1. They Help with Water Filtration and Detoxification

Algae grow naturally in fishponds. Over time, if not checked, there’ll be an excess of such algal growths. This, in turn, makes the water unsafe for your bettas. 

Aquatic plants help to cleanse the water of toxins by feeding off nutrients needed for algae to grow. This helps limit the growth of these algae and reduces the frequency of replacing the water in the fish tank.

2. Improved Aesthetics

Very few things appear more appealing than a fish tank or jar containing beautiful water plants with colorful flowers. Water sprites and betta bulbs are some great betta fish plants that you can use to give your pond that much-desired natural look.

3. They Keep the Water’s pH Level in Check

The fish tank water’s nitrate level might increase without plants in a fish tank. If the nitrates level of the water is left unchecked, the resulting algal bloom will cause a crash in the water’s pH level. Plants are necessary to utilize these nitrates for their growth.

4. They Provide Shades

Betta fishes stay partially submerged in the water. This is necessary for them to use their auxiliary respiratory organs. However, they sometimes need shades against the scorching heat of the sun. 

Aquatic plants make the best covers and shades. In larger settings, fishes use these shades as nesting areas.

5. They Serve as Food

Fishes need food to grow, and plants are a significant source of food for them. But note that there are toxic plants for beta fish that may kill your pets. Bettas are also carnivores. So, they can feed on insects and insect larvae in their natural habitat.

Here’s a YouTube video for more information on this:

Are All Plants Harmful to Betta Fishes?

Not all plants are harmful to betta fishes, but some are. Generally, you must avoid plants with thorns or pricky parts as this could injure the betta fishes. Also, some plastic plants may contain chemicals harmful to your bettas. So, you must avoid them.

Are All Plants Harmful to Betta Fishes

Things to Look out For when Choosing Plants for Your Bettas’ Pond

  • First, plants with pointy leaves, thorns, or sharp edges can cause injuries to the body and fins of your bettas.
  • Only choose live aquatic plants that won’t decay and make the water chemistry toxic for your bettas.
  • Make sure the plants are not treated with chemicals that may be harmful to your bettas.
  • If you’re choosing plastic plants, pay extra attention to be sure they’re suitable for aquarium use. 
  • Avoid plants that may obstruct your bettas from occasionally breathing in atmospheric oxygen. Examples of such plants include semiaquatic plants such as water cabbage, mangroves, and water spinach. You should also avoid peace lilies. Their roots may also prevent your bettas from swimming around freely.

7 Toxic Plants for Betta Fish

Whether betta fishes are carnivores, there are many toxic plants for betta fish that you must avoid. Even if bettas don’t eat these plants, they may occasionally nibble at these plants out of curiosity. Also, some plants contain crystals of toxic calcium oxalate. Should your bettas decide to nibble at them, it will harm them.

Below are 7 toxic plants for beta fish that you must avoid. 

toxic Plants for Betta Fish Top 5 Poisonous Plants Betta Owners Must Avoid

1. Peace Lilies

These are popular plants that you can easily find in homes. However, they are toxic and shouldn’t be near your bettas or enter their aquarium. This is due to the high amount of calcium oxalate they contain.

Calcium oxalate crystals are harmful substances that negatively affect bettas respiratory and nervous systems. Also, the leaves of peace lilies prevent bettas from reaching the top of the water to get oxygen.

2. Hygrophila Balsamica

Hygrophila Balsamica is an Indian stem plant many fish owners use in their aquariums and ponds due to its rich green nature. But this plant has been labeled harmful. Its branches and leaves secrete toxic compounds into the water when submerged.

3. Water Lettuce

Due to its attractive leaves, water lettuce is a popular component of many aquariums and fish ponds. However, they contain some amount of saponins and calcium oxalate. Your bettas may nibble at the roots of this lettuce and suffer severe consequences.

Also, these plants’ leaves spread quickly and may cover the top of the aquarium in a very short time. This will reduce the amount of dissolved oxygen present in the water and also obstruct your bettas from accessing atmospheric oxygen.

4. Water Hemlock

Water hemlocks are shrub plants commonly found close to water bodies. These plants are toxic to your bettas because cicutoxin is mostly present in their stem. Cicutoxin is a stimulant compound that harms your bettas’ central nervous system. 

Common effects of the substance include unconsciousness, erratic pulses, cardiac arrest, and disorientation. Exposing your bettas to this substance will most likely result in death.

5. Lily of The Valley

This semiaquatic plant is common along lake and stream edges. Lily of the valley plants is also found close to the edge of ponds. These plants contain cardiac glycosides, which can cause severe health conditions to your bettas.

Common signs of cardiac glycoside ingestion are dizziness, heart failure, coma, and irregular pulse. Lily of the valley plants can also adversely affect other pets upon ingestion. As such, keep them away from your home.

6. Pothos

Pothos is not entirely unsafe for your bettas as they help remove nitrates from the water. However, you must avoid putting them in your aquarium if your betta fish is fond of nibbling at plant roots and stems.

This is due to the high amount of calcium oxalate they contain. Even though the roots of pothos contain a considerably low amount of this substance, they should still be avoided. Ingestion of small amounts of this substance can cause intestinal conditions in your betta fish.

7. Swamp Lily

This plant is common along river banks in southern areas of the U.S. They grow around marshes and swampy areas. Swamp lilies are harmful to betta fishes as all parts of the plant, including the leaves and roots, are poisonous. Upon ingestion, swamp lilies can cause intestinal discomfort to your betta fishes.

Watch this YouTube video to see some plants that shouldn’t go in your betta fish container. 

5 Non-Toxic Plants for Betta Fishes

Don’t discard the idea of beautifying your betta’s aquarium entirely because of some toxic plants. You can use other plants to make your bettas feel welcome in their new home. 

Below are 5 non-toxic plants for betta fishes, handpicked for you.

1. Anubias Nana

Anubias Nana is one of the best plants for your betta fishpond. They don’t grow too large and will likely fit in your jar for a while. Also, they have large, broad leaves that your bettas can perch on while they sleep at night. 

Moreover, you don’t have to worry much about sunlight, as this plant thrives well in low-light conditions. Lastly, Anubias Nana is not care-intensive.

2. Java Fern

Scientifically known as Microsorum Pteropus, these plants require minimal care to maintain them. They are betta-friendly and are suitable for different sizes of fish containers. 

There’s also a smaller variety that can only grow up to 5-inches in height. Also, they do well in low-light conditions.

3. Java Moss

Java moss is a popular choice among fish owners. These mosses are resilient and don’t require much attention. Also, they are aesthetically satisfying and do well in low-light conditions. The plant is versatile. It doesn’t need a substrate for attachment and can even float around.

4. Water Sprite

Water sprites are recommendable if you’re housing your bettas in large tanks. Putting this plant in smaller containers may cause certain concerns as they grow very quickly. The notable advantage of this plant is that it floats and does well under low-lighting conditions.

5. Anacharis

Another popular plant among fish owners is the anacharis. This green plant can absorb toxins from the water and helps to control the growth of algae in the pond. Also, you can either plant the anacharis or allow it to float freely. Lastly, it provides sufficient shade needed for your bettas to get some healthy sleep.


Betta fishes have beautiful fins that make them suitable in aquariums for indoor home adornment. When choosing plants for your aquarium, note the common toxic plants for betta fish and avoid them. Plants with sharp parts may cause injuries to your bettas and should be avoided.

Also, aquatic plants such as peace lilies and pothos contain calcium oxalate harmful to your bettas. Your betta fishes also need atmospheric oxygen. So, plants with leaves that cover the water surface and prevent your bettas from surfacing are a no-go.

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