Toxic Plants For Betta Fish: 7 Poisonous Aquatic Vegetation

toxic plants for betta fish
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Last Updated: October 15, 2023 by Flora Gibbins

Betta fish, also called Siamese Fighting Fish, are some of the most popular fish in the world, and for good reason. They’re charming, easy to care for, and come in a wide array of beautiful colors.

One of the must-haves in a betta tank is aquatic plants. In addition to helping detoxify the water, aquarium plants also provide hiding places for bettas and help to keep the tank looking natural and lively.

So, are all aquatic plants safe for betta fish?

Unfortunately, not all plants are safe for bettas. This article will discuss toxic plants for betta fish to avoid.

What Plants Are Poisonous to Betta Fish?

Saying that some aquatic plants are poisonous to betta fish implies that these fish eat plant matter, thus leading to poisoning.

However, bettas are not plant-eaters. In the wild, their diet consists mostly of small insects and larvae. They will nibble on plants from time to time, but this is more out of curiosity than hunger.

In the home betta aquarium, bettas will usually leave plants alone unless they’re starving or there’s nothing else to eat.

As such, you want to ensure that the plants in your betta tank do not contain compounds that might be toxic to bettas, such as poisonous calcium oxalate crystals, on the off chance that they do decide to nibble on them.

Toxic Plants for Bettas

While there are many safe plants for betta fish, there are also a few plants that are poisonous. Here are a few toxic plants for betta fish to avoid:

Peace Lilies

Peace Lilies

The peace lily is one of the most popular house plants. It’s easy to care for and has beautiful white flowers. Moreover, peace lily plants do an excellent job at absorbing toxins from the air.

While peace lilies are good for humans, they’re not so good for bettas. 

Peace lily roots contain toxic calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause irritation and swelling if ingested. In severe cases, ingestion of poisonous calcium oxalate crystals can lead to respiratory distress and death.

This is because the calcium oxalate crystals in the peace lily have been found to do a number on the fish’s central nervous system. As such, if you have a peace lily in your home, make sure it’s out of reach of your betta fish.

Factoid: Peace Lily isn’t what it seems to be! Learn more by reading our post, Peace Lily Betta Fish: Aquatic Plants To Complement Your Pet for more information.

Pothos (Devil’s Ivy)

Pothos (Devil's Ivy)

Pothos, also called Devil’s Ivy, is another uber-popular house plant. It’s often placed in offices and homes because it’s very easy to care for – it can even grow in water!

Pothos is also poisonous to bettas. The plant contains insoluble calcium oxalates, which can cause your fish to experience stomach irritation and swelling, in addition to wreaking havoc on the fish’s central nervous system.

Therefore, while pothos is a beautiful plant, it’s among the most toxic plants for betta fish.



Dieffenbachia, also known as dumb cane, is another common house plant. It’s prized for its large, glossy leaves and its ability to purify the air.

Sadly, dieffenbachia also makes the list of toxic plants for betta fish. The plant contains toxic calcium oxalate crystals, which can severe health consequences when ingested.

Hygrophila Balsamica

Hygrophila Balsamica

Hygrophila balsamica is a beautiful stem plant that many aquarists use to add some greenery to their aquascape, thanks to its finely feathered light green leaves.

Unfortunately, the shoots of this bog plant usually release toxins upon emersion, making the hygrophila balsamica toxic for all aquatic life.

Interestingly, this plant ceases to be toxic once it assumes its submersed form, making it safe for all aquatic life, including betta fish. Nevertheless, since most aquatic plant nurseries grow their plants underwater, it can be difficult to determine whether their Hygrophila balsamica would be safe for your betta tank.

Therefore, you would be better off avoiding this plant entirely.

Water Hemlock

Water Hemlock

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) describes the water hemlock plant as being “the most violently toxic plant in North America.” That should be more than enough to make you steer clear of this plant.

Water hemlock contains cicutoxin, a toxin that attacks the central nervous system directly causing seizures, convulsions, or even death!



Philodendron is a large genus of tropical plants that includes both climbing and non-climbing species.

Like dieffenbachia and pothos, philodendron plants contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. These can cause your betta fish to experience irritation, swelling, and difficulty breathing if ingested.

Water Lettuce

Water Lettuce

Water lettuce is a floating plant that’s often used in ponds and water gardens. The plant has long, broad leaves that resemble lettuce leaves. While eating water lettuce is safe for most fish, it’s not for betta fish.

The plant contains saponins, which are toxic to betta fish. Like calcium oxalate crystals, saponins can also cause severe health consequences when ingested.

Factoid: There are still other plants for betta not mentioned in this article. One of these is the Lucky Bamboo plant. Read about this in our post, Bamboo Betta Tank: A Not-So-Unlucky Plant For Happy Bettas.

What Plants are Safe for Betta Fish?

You will be glad to know that there are many betta-safe plants. Some of the best plants for betta tanks include:

Anacharis (Egeria densa)

Anacharis (Egeria densa)

Anacharis is one of the most popular aquatic plants in ponds and aquariums the world over. This beautiful plant sports a long, flowing stem with dark green leaves. Anacharis is not only safe for betta fish, but it’s also good for them!

The plant helps to oxygenate the water and provides a place for bettas to hide.

Anacharis is also known as Egeria densa or Brazilian waterweed.



Anubias is another excellent choice for those looking for live plants for their betta aquariums. The Anubias is renowned for its hardiness, making it ideal for beginners. This is because it can tolerate a wide range of water conditions.

What’s more, this plant grows and even thrives in low-light conditions, making it perfect for betta tanks.

Anubias plants are also safe for bettas to nibble on. So, if your betta fish love to eat plants, this is a great option. Anubias plants are available in a variety of sizes and shapes, so you’re sure to find one that’s perfect for your tank.

Java Fern (Microsorum pteropus)

Java Fern (Microsorum pteropus)

Java fern is another easy and safe plant for a betta tank. This plant is perfect for those who want to add a little bit of greenery to their tanks without having to worry about maintenance. Java fern is a very slow-growing plant; hence, it doesn’t need much attention.

It’s also quite tolerant of a wide range of water conditions ranging from soft water to even brackish water!

Java Moss

Java Moss

The Java moss is a type of aquatic moss that’s native to Southeast Asia. Like Java fern, it’s very easy to take care of and can tolerate a wide range of water conditions.

Java moss is perfect for a betta tank since it provides the fish with a place to hide and feel secure.

This carpeting plant is also great for breeding bettas since the fry can hide in the moss until they’re big enough to fend for themselves.

Marimo Moss Balls

Marimo Moss Balls

Marimo moss balls are a type of algae that forms into round, green balls. These unique-looking balls are native to Japan and Europe.

Marimo balls are excellent for betta fish tanks. This is because they help to keep the water clean and free of toxins. They also harbor beneficial bacteria that help to break down waste products in the water.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are all plants safe for betta fish?

While betta fish do not mind having vegetation in their tank, not all aquatic plants are safe for them. Bettas have been known to nibble on leaves, which can cause digestive problems. Make sure any plant you put in your betta tank is safe for them to eat.

Are peace lilies toxic to bettas?

Yes, peace lilies are among the most toxic plants for betta fish. The peace lily plant contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause a host of health issues if eaten by bettas.

Are pothos toxic to betta fish?

Yes. Like peace lilies, the pothos plant also falls under the toxic plants for betta fish category. This is because it contains substantial amounts of calcium oxalate.

Are fake plants harmful to betta fish?

No, fake plants are not harmful to betta fish. In fact, some of these plastic plants are actually made from materials (soft plastic) that are safe for bettas to eat!

However, it’s important to note that not all fake plants are created equal. Some have sharp edges that can injure your fish.

Can you place non-aquatic plants in a betta tank?

No, you should not place non-aquatic plants in a betta fish tank. This is because they are not meant to be submerged in water and will quickly rot and decay. This can cause the water in your tank to become polluted and toxic to your betta fish.


When choosing aquarium plants for betta fish, it’s important to select ones that are safe for bettas to eat. Some of the best plants for betta fish include Anacharis, hornwort, and Amazon sword.

Avoid putting any live plants in your betta tank that contain calcium oxalate crystals (such as peace lilies and pothos) as these can cause digestive problems if eaten by bettas. With a little bit of care and attention, you can create a beautiful and healthy environment for your betta fish that will be enjoyed for years to come.