Can you plant lucky bamboo in a betta tank? 

Lucky bamboo is a resilient plant and aquarists often ask themselves whether it is a suitable addition to their betta tank. And yes, it is safe to have lucky bamboo in a betta fish aquarium.

In this post, we will talk about the benefits of adding lucky bamboo to your betta tank and how to take care of your aquarium containing bamboo. We will also cover the lucky bamboo, the most common bamboo used in a fish set.

Can you plant lucky bamboo in a betta tank? 

Yes, lucky Bamboo is a beautiful plant that goes well with any Betta tank.  These plants are fairly easy to care for and they can live for a long time if their cultivation requirements. Lucky bamboo is not related to bamboo plants, so they are not toxic to your betta.

Lucky bamboo overview

Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) is not bamboo!  This type of tropical water lily is native to Cameroon in Central Africa but has long been incorporated into Asian culture. In China, lucky bamboo is also known as Dragon Tree, Ribbon Plant, or Money Tree. This plant is perennial and it can resist both dry spells and floodings.

True bamboo is in the same family as grass, wheat, and barley. It is toxic to your betta fish. The reason behind that is the fact that its roots are unable to grow when submerged. The roots decay which leads to ammonia spikes in your water poisoning your fish to death.

Lucky bamboo appearance

Lucky bamboo has a fleshy stem making them tolerant to wet environments. It sprouts leaves in shades of deep green to almost yellow from its side. This plant can grow up to 39 inches (100 cm) indoors and the leaves can have a length of 9 inches (23 cm). Although a slow grower, lucky bamboo grows according to the space given to the plant. In nature, it can grow up to 4 feet tall.

Ideal conditions to grow lucky bamboo in a tank

Lucky Bamboo is an easy plant to take care of. It can grow partially or fully submerged as long as certain requirements are met. These requirements are related to:

  • Tank size;
  • Water parameters;
  • Lighting;
  • Substrate.

Lucky bamboo tank Size

A five-gallon tank is enough to maintain water conditions and support a small cluster of shoots. Larger aquariums allow the lucky bamboo to grow beyond the tank’s height, which can be a nice feature of your aquarium.

Lucky bamboo water Parameters

Although lucky bamboo is not an aquatic plant, it can grow partially and fully submerged. To have it grow successfully, the water temperature must be between 59 to 80 F (15 to 26.7 °C), with a slightly acidic pH ranging from 6.0 to 6.5, and the water must be soft with a hardness of 0 to 8 dGH. This plant does not tolerate chlorine or fluorine in its water. Chlorine can cause root stress to lucky bamboo, slowing its growth and turning the leaves yellow. Fluoride is toxic to lucky bamboo.

Lighting

Lucky bamboo does best in low to moderate lighting. Excessive light can burn its leaves, consequently causing their discoloration. This bamboo can thrive in low exposure to light for a period of 10 to 12 hours a day.

Substrate

When you are planting lucky fish in an aquarium with fish and other organisms, it is important to add substrate to protect the roots and keep them safe.

Coarse gravel or loose pebbles is a good substrate for lucky bamboo. You can also use nutrient-rich aquatic soils, but make sure to avoid the roots not surrounded by compact soil which could lead to the creation of dead growth zones. 

Make sure the roots are planted in about 4 inches (10.16 cm) of the substrate so they anchor the bamboo fine.

The Benefits of adding lucky bamboo to a betta tank

Lucky Bamboo increases the water quality thus, preventing algae propagation when it uses fish’s waste, uneaten food, and other debris as fertilizers. They also can keep the nitrate levels stable in cycled betta tanks by absorbing them.

In a large tank, these plants can take part in a symbiotic relationship with the betta fish where the plants produce the oxygen utilized by the betta fish via photosynthesis and receive the necessary carbon source (CO2) from the betta’s respiration. 

Together with other aquatic plants, lucky bamboo helps to mimic a natural habitat for your betta and provides plenty of hiding spots. This provides a relaxing environment for your betta and will make them happier.

Putting lucky bamboo in the aquarium filter

Some aquarists find it aesthetically pleasing to have the lucky bamboo in the aquarium filter. It is a matter of taste and the lucky bamboo will still be effective if placed there. However, it may outgrow the filter’s space.

A more suitable place to allocate the lucky bamboo is inside the tank where the root system is in the substrate, displaying a more natural look in your bettas’ habitat.

Planting lucky bamboo in a betta fish tank

Lucky bamboo can grow either partially or fully submerged. If you decide to do partial submersion, try to keep the leaves and upper growth of the plant above the level of the water. A mature and tall specimen is ideal. You will then bury it into the substrate (4 inches or 10.16 cm) and fill the tank with water to one inch (2.54 cm) below the lowest leaves. 

If you choose to submerge your lucky bamboo completely, you must be attentive to the whole created environment. Although the leaves and stalks can grow well underwater, you must make sure that your plant is getting the required nutrients and that they have high oxygen levels and moderate to high CO2 levels. The oxygen levels can be sorted with air blades or a higher filter flow. You can raise carbon dioxide levels by using CO2 canisters or liquid-dosing them.

Placing your lucky bamboo in your betta aquarium

Here are some steps on how to place the lucky bamboo in your tank:

  • Get good- soil and sieve it to remove any rocks and plant debris.
  • Make a sandboard on your tank, covering all sides but the one you want to plant your lucky bamboo.
  • Fill 1 inch (2.54 cm) of the parts without sand with your topsoil, then cover the whole surface of the aquarium with another layer of sand. You can also level the sand with the help of a spatula if you want to.
  • Cut your bamboo stocks to the desired height and place the stalks in a small amount of water to allow new roots to grow.
  • When the lucky bamboo shows some roots, transfer them to the tank and make sure that the new growth remains above the water surface. 
  • If your plant will be submerged, always remove any rotten leaves and roots.
  • Position your 50-Watt pre-set heater and your filter system in the aquarium.
  • Fill the tank with dechlorinated water. Also, level your filter with water and add porous filter media if you would like to.
  • Place your lucky bamboo in the betta tank according to your taste. You can also add other plants and decorations to your tank.

The lucky bamboo must be thriving before releasing your betta in the new tank. Make sure the betta has acclimated for 20 or 30 minutes guaranteeing a successful release.

Trimming your lucky bamboo in a betta tank

Cut back any shoots that are too long, crooked, or unmanageable and remove rotten and unwanted leaves. However, it is not advised to cut them flush. Leave 1 or 2 inches of stem so regrowth can be denser.

Propagating your lucky bamboo in a betta aquarium 

You can trim a healthy shoot flush from its stalk and remove the leaves in the bottom section of the stem. Place the shoot in a separate, small container with dechlorinated water and care for it until it grows into an independent stalk.

How to address the lucky bamboo pests?

When growing your Lucky Bamboo, you must be attentive to a few pests that can attack them, such as fungal infections, mealybugs, and mites. At any sign of disease or if your plant looks different than what it should, immediately remove it from the tank.

Fungal infection (grey fuzz) is treated by leaving the stalks and leaves to dry completely. Mites (white webbings) don’t present any danger to lucky bamboo but they can affect other plants. Mealybugs are usually removed by hand. In the cases of mites and mealybugs, you can also apply rubbing alcohol, and let it evaporate for at least 24 hours before returning it to the tank. 

Don’t use dish soap or any type of soaps to ‘wash’ your lucky bamboo as they are toxic and can kill your fish.

The Lucky Bamboo should be removed from the tank. An application of rubbing alcohol can be used, but refrain from using dish soap as this is deadly to fish.

Cleaning your tank with lucky bamboo in it

Here are some tips to clean your tank with lucky bamboo:

  • Turn off the filter and heater.
  • Gently remove any algae that has grown on the walls of your tank by using a razor, scraper, or non-chemical sponge. Make sure the lucky bamboo and betta are not disturbed.
  • Perform a water change by siphoning about 30% to 75% of the water depending on the volume of your tank. 
  • Remove any dead plant matter and fish waste, and give a deep clean to the substrate. Be careful not to vacuum too much to not disturb the topsoil.
  • Slowly introduce fresh, dechlorinated water, turning back on the heater to reduce any temperature change.
  • Clean the front of your tank by using a cloth, and turn on the filters. The tank may take a few hours to settle

Having a clean tank will guarantee a safe and healthy environment for your betta which in turn will be a happy fish! 

Conclusion

Like many other tank plants, lucky bamboo provides natural hiding spots for your betta fish. It also enriches the atmosphere of your tank by giving off oxygen as a product of photosynthesis and absorbing nitrate present in the water as a fertilizer. 

Do you have some lucky bamboos in your betta aquarium? Are you thinking of adding this exotic plant to your tank? Tell us about your experiences growing lucky bamboo with your betta fish. And if you have any questions about this plant and want to know more, leave us a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!

Reference

Jeffrey, W. (2019). Lucky bamboo: Complete guide on how you can grow, care and trim lucky bamboo. Independently published, USA.

Srinivasan, M.  (2013) A complete manual on Ornamental Fish Culture. LAP Lambert Academic Publishing. Saarbrücken, Germany. 222 p.

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