How To Grow Betta Bulbs (Aponogeton Care & Requirements)

One of the easiest types of plants you can grow in your betta tank is aponogetons. In fact, they go so well with your betta that they’re even called betta bulbs! Keep reading to find out how to grow betta bulbs as well as the necessary care and requirements they need.

What Are Betta Bulbs?

Betta bulbs are a mix of aponogeton bulbs. It’s hard to narrow down what species of aponogeton betta bulbs are because you’ll normally buy them in mixed batches. On top of that, when they’re not in a mixed batch, they’re normally a hybrid of different aponogetons so it’s hard to know exactly what species you’re getting!

Aponogetons are a species of flowering plants which are often found in Asia, Africa, and Australasia. You can tell where you aponogeton comes from depending on how it grows.

If you notice one blooming stalk then it’s probably from Asia. However, if you notice multiple stems coming off one stalk then it’s probably from Africa!

Why Do Bettas Like Betta Bulbs?

There are a number of reasons betta bulbs are appreciated by bettas. Some of them are common to most plants you’ll add to your betta tank. However, some of them are unique to betta bulbs!

A Place For Bettas To Relax

Betta bulbs tend to grow dense thick leaves which make the perfect hiding place for your betta. If you plant enough betta bulbs in the back of your tank then they’re going to create the perfect hiding place for your betta.

And it’s not just a hiding place. Bettas often rest on the top of leaves in the wild and use them as a little bed. Aponogetons are also perfect for this!

Don’t forget that bettas are used to dense plants in their natural habitat as well, so aponogetons are going to imitate this.

They Need The Same Conditions

Just like bettas, aponogetons don’t like water current. In fact, betta bulbs are going to grow better in a tank with a very small amount of current running through it.

This means you’re not going to have to adapt the tank for your plant.

Absorb Betta Waste

If you put betta bulbs in a tank with high lighting levels then they’re going to grow extremely quickly. And the extreme growth you can expect from a betta bulb means that it’s going to need to absorb as much nutrients from the tank as possible.

Not only does this mean there will be fewer nitrates in the water, but it also prevents algae from growing in your tank as well.

(If you want to know more about algae check out these articles on brown algae and green algae and why they occur.)

Keeps The Tank Interesting

Did you know that bettas can become depressed? If you’ve spent a lot of time looking at your betta you’ll have realized he has a personality and a level of sentience that you didn’t notice before.

Because of this, you need to make sure that you’re keeping your tank interesting and engaging for him. One of the quickest ways bettas become depressed is when they get bored.

By adding a lot of plants like betta bulbs to your tank, it’s going to give your betta a whole jungle to explore and swim through, entertaining him for hours.

Aponogeton_undulatus

How To Grow Betta Bulbs

Growing betta bulbs is surprisingly easy. That’s another reason they make such good plants for your tank. Here’s a step by step guide on how to grow betta bulbs.

  1. Find the spot where you want to plant your bulbs. Normally they’re background plants, so near the back of your tank is a good place.
  2. Once you’ve found the spot you want, begin burying bulbs 2-3 inches apart. How many bulbs you plan on adding depends on how big your tank is. Remember betta bulbs grow quite large and quite rapidly, so if you only have a 5-gallon tank I’d only recommend adding 1 or 2 to the tank.
  3. When you’re planting your bulb you shouldn’t cover them completely. You only want to bury them enough to make sure they’ll stay in place.
  4. If your bulb has already started to sprout make sure that you’re burying the roots into the substrate.
  5. When your burying bulbs that haven’t sprouted then you leave the thinner end of the bulb out of the substrate (that’s where it’s going to sprout from).
  6. And lastly, if you’re not sure what end is the top end (the thinner end) then it’s okay to plant your betta bulb sideways.

Caring For Betta Bulbs

Once your betta bulbs are growing nicely, it’s also important that you give them adequate care. While they’re extremely beginner friendly, for you to get the most out of them you should make sure you’re caring for them properly.

pH, Temperature & Lighting

One of the most important things you can do is make sure the pH temperature and lighting in your tank are good for betta bulbs.

When it comes to pH, temperature, and lighting you’ll be pleased to know that betta bulbs don’t need any extra special care that your betta doesn’t.

pH wise you should try and keep the pH levels between 6.5 – 7.5. Bettas like a pH as close to 7 as possible so that falls nicely in between the two levels.

When it comes to the temperature a betta bulb can survive within 72 – 82°F. This is the optimal temperature for your betta bulbs to be healthy and happy. However, bettas require a more specific temperature. Your betta will need a temperature as close to 78°F as possible, however between 76 – 80 °F is fine.

Lighting

When it comes to lighting betta bulbs can survive in low-intensity light and high-intensity light. However, if you’re using high-intensity light you should be aware that betta bulbs grow extremely quickly.

Betta bulbs can grow to almost a meter in length so you’ll need to trim them often if you plan on using high-intensity light. (Don’t worry trimming them is easy.) That’s why I’d opt for a low-intensity light. While your betta bulb will still grow large over time, it’s going to take longer for it to occur.

What’s The Best Substrate For Betta Bulbs?

To give your betta bulbs the best chance of growing strong and healthy you should make sure you’ve provided them with the best ground to root themselves in. Substrate rich in nutrients and easy to dig roots into will be optimal for betta bulbs. Whereas a lack of nutrients and difficulty spreading roots will hinder the growth of Aponogetons.

The best substrate for betta bulbs is normally an aquarium soil that is rich in nutrients. However, if you don’t like the look of that then there are other substrates you can choose from!

When picking a substrate you should favor gravel over sand. Gravels less compact so it’s easier to bury a plant into as well as letting it spread its roots. However, the ideal substrate for plants is aquarium soil. But don’t worry if you don’t have that in your tank already.

If you’re using a substrate such as gravel then it won’t have much nutrients in it. So you’ll have to add fertilizer into your tank. Don’t feel overwhelmed by adding fertilizers, all you have to do is place a fertilizer tablet near the roots of your plants, where it will feed your plant for many months.

This is normally a better way of keeping plants alive rather than changing the substrate. Changing the substrate would remove a lot of the beneficial bacteria in your tank which often results in a huge ammonia spike.

Pruning Your Betta Bulbs

Because betta bulbs can grow rather rapidly you’re definitely going to have to prune them at some point. So when you prune them you should make sure you know what you’re doing.

When you need to prune the plant, you should follow the leaf you want to get rid of down the stem to the bulb. Once you’re at the bulb you should cut the stem as close to it as possible. This way you minimize the risk that the bulb will begin to rot in the tank, which is bad for your tank and gives off an incredibly foul odor.

Resting Your Betta Bulbs

Have you ever heard of resting plants before? If not, don’t worry. It’s what some fish keepers do with plants that aren’t meant to grow all year.

Some plants aren’t in water all year. When it’s rainy season they grow loads, but when it comes to the dry season they can spend many months out of water. Because of this, it’s believed you should rest betta bulbs for a few months of the year. Or to put it simply remove them from the tank.

One of the biggest reasons to do this is to give the nutrients in your tank time to grow back. Betta bulbs will consume a lot of nutrients, especially in tanks with high light intensity. Because of this, they can begin to starve themselves.

If you plan on resting your bulb you should remove it from your tank and remove all the leaves. Remember to cut as close to the bulb as possible. Once you’ve done this place it in damp sand or soil and wrap it in a plastic bag.

Then you just have to leave it for a few months (ideally 6) and then place it back in your tank and let it grow again!

However, remember this step isn’t necessary, but if you don’t plan on resting your bulbs you should make sure you’re adding fertiliser to your tank so they get enough nutrients.

Recap

Betta bulbs are a great choice of plant for any beginner plant owner. They’re incredibly easy to keep and the main thing you have to worry about is trimming them often. When you’re keeping betta bulbs remember:

  • When you’re growing them make sure the thinner end of the bulb sticks out of the substrate. This is the end that the plant will sprout from.
  • Don’t bury the bulb entirely in the substrate. Instead, just bury it enough that it will stay in place.
  • If you use a high-intensity light you will have to trim the bulb a lot more than if you use a low-intensity light.
  • If you’re using gravel or sand then you’ll have to use fertilizer to make sure your betta bulbs have enough nutrients to grow.
  • To prune your betta bulb, follow the leaf down the stem and then cut the stem as close to the bulb as possible.
  • Some plant keepers recommend resting your betta bulbs. To do this every few months, remove them from the tank and cut all the leaves off them. Place them in a bag of wet sand or soil and leave them for a couple of months.

If you have any more questions you can leave them in the comments below. Otherwise, have a great day!

Other Great Plants

  • Java Moss – One of my favorite types of plant to add to a betta tank is java moss. It can be used in a variety of different ways to add character and vibrancy to your tank, in a way other plants can’t!
  • Marimo Moss Balls – If you’re looking for a plant that requires even less effort then why not try marimo moss balls! They are next to effortless to look after, and bettas love them.
  • Hornwort – Hornwort is another unique plant and one that is going to be a slightly harder challenge. However, don’t let that put you off! Hornwort is still a relatively easy plant to look after and it goes great in betta tanks.

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