Having an aquarium means constantly looking for new ways to spruce up the setup.
Whether you decide to change or add new plants, introduce new aquatic life, or invest in new toys and fixtures for your fish’s entertainment—there are several factors you have to consider.
When it comes to live aquarium plants, one of the main concerns is whether they can thrive in an aquarium setup and if they are safe for your fish to be around.
Can Lucky Bamboo Grow in Aquarium with Fish?
Lucky bamboo is one plant that aquarium owners often hesitate to invest in.
The main concern is whether they’re appropriate for tanks and if they’re able to grow underwater—and the answer is yes.
You can keep lucky bamboo in your aquarium with fish.
These bamboo plants often raise controversy with regards to if you should let some leaves stay above the water or fully submerge the plant.
For most aquarium owners and fish enthusiasts, both of these options work effectively.
Here’s what you need to know about lucky bamboo and growing it in your aquarium.
True Bamboo Vs Lucky Bamboo – Which One to Use in Your Fish Tank?
There are two main kinds of bamboo that people consider when thinking of aquarium plant options.
True bamboo is not an aquatic plant—and therefore it does not do well in an underwater environment.
Another type of bamboo is the lucky bamboo-this bamboo is not an aquatic plant either—however, its structure and way of growing to allow it to survive in an aquarium.
Dracaena Sanderiana, or Lucky bamboo is gorgeous and makes your tank look like a mini forest—so it’s worth figuring out how you should set it up in your aquarium.
Unlike its counterpart, true bamboo, lucky bamboo doesn’t rot and decay in the tank.
A rotting true bamboo plant releases ammonia that can harm your fish, hence it is discouraged from being used in tanks.
However, lucky bamboo has been known to stay healthy and grow new shoots underwater.
How Do You Grow Lucky Bamboo in An Aquarium?
There are several steps required—as well as a bit of maintenance—if you want to grow lucky bamboo in your aquarium.
However, as we’ve mentioned above, the aesthetic appeal it brings to your aquarium can often compensate for the energy you invest—as well as make a fun environment for your fish to swim around in.
While many fish enthusiasts claim that you can only grow bamboo in the tank’s filter, this isn’t necessary.
Bamboo can survive if planted in the filter if you’re afraid of submerging it fully underwater. However, lucky bamboo can grow directly in the substrate as well.
Growing it in the filter will eventually lead to a lack of space for the plant to grow any further and can interfere with the filter’s system.
Growing Lucky Bamboo Fully Submerged Underwater
In order to grow lucky bamboo completely submerged, keep the following factors in mind:
Lucky bamboo requires a high among of carbon dioxide to survive underwater.
You can use fertilizer used for aquatic plants to provide it with an adequate supply of carbon dioxide.
However, more often than not, the waste produced from your fish provides a substantial amount of fertilizer for the plant, but sometimes, you may need additional sources.
When using fertilizer, make sure you don’t add too much to the tank.
Adding fertilizer irregularly and in high quantities can harm your fish.
You’ll know you’re adding just enough if your lucky bamboo starts growing new leaves and flourishing.
Be Careful How You Plant It
Making sure that you plant the bamboo deep into the substrate ensures that no lingering roots are visible to your fish.
The deeper you plant it, the fewer the chances are of the bamboo losing its hold in the water and becoming dislodged as well.
Whether you have a store-bought substrate for aquariums designed especially for live plants or you use your own homemade substrate—it should be at least 5-6 inches deep.
This way, you can plant the bamboo approximately 4 inches into the substrate, enough to help it stay stable and grow steadily.
There are two options for leaf placement. Some people prefer having the leaves stay out of the water, above the surface.
This depends on how you want your aquarium to look and doesn’t make a difference to the plant’s wellbeing.
Lucky bamboo can grow with its leaves under and above the water.
If possible, invest in a tank that’s several feet long as well as deep.
The longer a tank, the more surface area of the water—which means more oxygen availability for the lucky bamboo.
It also gives more space for your fish to swim and feed. Without enough oxygen, most aquatic plants cannot thrive.
Another way to increase your tank’s oxygen levels is by cycling out the water weekly because new water provides more oxygen. You can also use water stones.
Lucky bamboo grows in low light. Bright light or natural light entering directly into the tank can destroy the leaves.
You’ll know if you need to dim the lights in your tank if the bamboo leaves fade to yellow.
At most, you can have medium lighting—but remember, Lucky bamboo originally comes from a shady region where it grows beneath larger trees. It cannot flourish in bright light.
Lucky bamboo only grows in freshwater. The water must be distilled, filtered, and free of any contaminants and toxins.
It also needs to be deep, which is why you need a deep tank. Lucky bamboo cannot flourish in shallow aquarium water.
Benefits of Having Lucky Bamboo in Your Aquarium
If you’re still unsure of whether you want to invest in lucky bamboo, here are a few of its key benefits.
It Acts as a Natural Filter
Contrary to what most believe about bamboo and its toxicity to aquatic life, lucky bamboo actually helps your fish stay healthy.
If you ever overfeed your fish, are not regular in maintaining your tank, or do not clean out the water often, different harmful compounds can form in the aquarium.
The pollution your fish cause includes ammonia and nitrates—and a high, unfiltered level of these can kill aquatic life.
Your filter’s job is to convert these harmful waste compounds in the water to nitrites. Nitrites, however, are still harmful to your fish if present in large quantities.
Although this conversion is essential, sometimes your filter can use some help.
Lucky bamboo uses the nitrates in the water for its own self-repair and growth.
It absorbs the nitrates, hence reducing their levels in your tank and making the water cleaner and less toxin-free for your fish.
If you have especially high waste-producing fish, lucky bamboo can be a useful sidekick for your filter.
It Creates a Natural Shelter and Playground for Fish
Lucky bamboo has twisting and turning shoots that allow your smaller fish to swim through.
They can use this for their entertainment. They can also use the cover of the leaves, coupled with the narrow spaces for shelter and privacy.
These uniquely shaped plants don’t only add to your fish’s aquarium life—they also make your aquarium look peaceful and calm.
No matter where you place this setup, it creates a greener and more natural appeal than plastic plants.
What Happens if the Leaves Turn Yellow?
Yellowing bamboo leaves indicate a problem in your aquarium’s environment.
This does not necessarily mean that your plant is dead, but rather that certain adjustments need to be made in order for it to thrive again.
If you notice that your bamboo leaves are turning yellow, try changing the amount or type of fertilizer you are using.
Check the ammonia and nitrate levels in the water, the temperature of the tank, and whether there is too much light being directed at the plants.
Check the plant itself for any signs of disease or abnormal growth.
A dying plant must be saved as soon as possible or moved to another location until it is flourishing again to avoid any decayed matter affecting your fish.
You might also need to change the water, as a bamboo plant could by dying from contaminated water or water that lacks an adequate amount of oxygen.
This is why cycling your water weekly is so important.
What Kind of Fish Live Best with Lucky Bamboo?
Betas enjoy natural plants that allow them to swim through the growth, hide, and seek shelter.
They also produce an adequate amount of waste that provides Lucky Bamboo with the nutrients it needs to thrive.
This ensures a healthy partnership: the betas get a natural filter to clean up their waste and give them space to swim and play, while the plant gets a sufficient amount of fertilizer and carbon dioxide.
How Long Can Lucky Bamboo Survive in My Tank?
On average, a well-kept lucky bamboo plant should live for around two years in your aquarium.
With healthier substrate, such as soil, they can last longer.
Hopefully, you now have more clarity about the use of Lucky Bamboo in your aquarium.
If you choose the correct kind of bamboo and maintain the appropriate living conditions that this plant needs, you shouldn’t face any concerns.
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