Can You Put Bamboo In A Fish Tank? Answered

bamboo plant
A quick guide on the do's and dont's with adding bamboo in your fish tank, you need to be very careful here but there are some benefits if you add the right kind.

When it comes to what you can and cannot put in a fish tank, whether or not bamboo can be put in a fish tank is a really hot topic that is often debated. So, can you put bamboo in a fish tank?

The short answer is no, you cannot put normal bamboo in your fish tank as the roots and the plant as a whole will immediately begin to rot. However, lucky bamboo can be put in a fish tank at your own risk. Keep in mind that lucky bamboo really doesn’t have much to do with real bamboo at all.

Benefits of Bamboo In Fish Tank

an aquarium

Remember that here we are not talking about normal bamboo, but lucky bamboo, which can be put into fish tanks.

It does need to be done a certain way, but when done right, there can be some benefits associated with having some lucky bamboo in your fish tank.

1. Water Filtration

One thing which lucky bamboo is very good for is water filtration. Lucky bamboo has the ability to pull a whole lot of contaminants out of the water.

A good amount of lucky bamboo in a fish tank can make the water much cleaner, purer, and it can help reduce the load on your filtration unit.

What is cool to note is that nitrogenous substances such as ammonia make for great lucky bamboo fertilizer.

These plants thrive when there is ammonia around, as they eat it. Therefore, the same substances that are harmful to your fish are absorbed by lucky bamboo as food.

2. Oxygenation

Something else that lucky bamboo is quite good at is oxygenating the water. Lucky bamboo, when housed in the right conditions, will engage in plenty of photosynthesis for growth.

This process of photosynthesis absorbs carbon dioxide from the water and then releases oxygen.

Therefore, lucky bamboo can increase the level of dissolved oxygen in the water, thus allowing your fish to breathe easier.

Under the right circumstances, this can eliminate the need for an air stone and/or air pump.

3. Some Privacy

If you allow it to grow right and if you plant it properly, lucky bamboo will grow some fairly large leaves.

There are many fish out there which like to get some privacy, some cover from predators above, and some shade too.

The leaves of lucky bamboo make for great cover and privacy. It’s definitely not a deciding factor in terms of whether or not to put bamboo in the tank, but it’s still a big benefit, albeit a fairly minor benefit when compared to the others.

4. Potential Food Source

Although this is very rare, a select few fish may like the taste of the bamboo leaves. That said, having fish eat bamboo in any way is not something you will see often.

5. A Nice Look

Maybe one of the biggest benefits or reasons why people like adding lucky bamboo to an aquarium is quite simply because it looks nice.

The green stalks combined with the luscious leaves definitely spruce things up a bit.

How Do I Plant Bamboo In My Aquarium?

Ok, so just keep in mind that here we are talking about lucky bamboo. True bamboo should never ever be put in an aquarium.

True bamboo will just rot. Either way, let’s go through a quick tutorial of how to plant lucky bamboo in your aquarium.

Partially Submerged

One of the big areas of debate here is if lucky bamboo should be planted fully submerged or with its leaves above the water.

While this plant can be fully submerged (it is used to flooding), it may start to rot after a prolonged period of time.

You may not notice anything for a few months, but it is likely that it will eventually rot, particularly the leaves.

Therefore, it is recommended that you plant lucky bamboo with the leaves out of the water, so partially submerged.


For lucky bamboo, you do need to allow it to form a strong root system. Normal aquarium gravel is totally fine for planting this type of bamboo.

Just beware that you will need at least 2 inches of substrate in order to allow the lucky bamboo to form a strong root system.

Lucky bamboo, due to its shape, can be quite top heavy, and it therefore needs a really solid base to remain upright.

Clean Water

Lucky bamboo, although it is great at filtering the water, does need clean water to really thrive.

Therefore, water changes should be performed quite often, and your filter should be quite powerful too. The water needs to be well aerated and fairly clean.

Fertilizer & CO2

What is nice about lucky bamboo in aquariums is that your fish, through their waste, will actually feed the plants.

Lucky bamboo in an aquarium with a good amount of fish won’t need any additional fertilizer. Now, this type of bamboo does like having a good deal of carbon dioxide in the water.

You can consider adding CO2 to the water to help it grow better. That said, if you are fine with slow to moderate growth, then adding CO2 to the water is not 100% necessary.


What is interesting to note is that lucky bamboo does not need much light. It does best in shade or indirect sunlight.

If lucky bamboo is exposed to too much light, it can negatively impact its growth and cause the leaves to turn yellow.

How Long does Bamboo Last in Water?

Normal bamboo won’t last long in the water at all. Normal bamboo might last for a couple of weeks before it starts to rot.

First the roots will go, then the leaves, and then the stalks. If you plant normal bamboo in a fish tank, you’d be lucky to see it last a month.

In terms of lucky bamboo, if it is properly cared for, it can last for years and years. There are some accounts out there of well cared for lucky bamboo in aquariums last for 5 or more years, easily.

What Fish can Live with Bamboo?

Generally speaking, although true bamboo should never be in aquariums, lucky bamboo is just fine for most tanks. Most fish won’t eat it, it doesn’t harm the water, and in fact has many benefits.

Most fish can live just fine with a bit of lucky bamboo in the tank, as long as the bamboo does not rot.

Does Bamboo Kill Betta Fish?

No, bamboo does not kill betta fish. They do not eat it and it doesn’t negatively impact the water. There is absolutely no reason why a betta fish cannot have a couple of bamboo stalks in its tank.

Is Lucky Bamboo Poisonous to Fish?

No, lucky bamboo is not poisonous to fish. The only reason why it could potentially be harmful if it starts to rot in the water.

If it rots, it will cause ammonia spikes that will kill off your fish population within a short period of time.

However, if you follow all of the tips and rules we have provided you with today, lucky bamboo should be able to thrive in any aquarium.


The bottom line here is that if you take care of the lucky bamboo and you make sure that you meet all of the requirements, it can make for a beneficial and beautiful addition to any aquarium. Just remember to never put normal (true) bamboo in a fish tank!

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