The charm of lucky bamboo is irresistible for many aquarium owners and indeed this is a type of plant that looks really good in the back of your tank.
It is possible to use lucky bamboo in aquariums because this plant is actually very different from the traditional bamboo we know of and it won’t harm your fish if you set it up properly.
In fact, before planting lucky bamboo in your fish tank, you need to consider its specifics and learn the best way to grow bamboo underwater without damaging your aquarium environment.
What is lucky bamboo?
Lucky bamboo is the common name of a plant that is actually called Dracaena Sanderiana and has little to no relation with traditional bamboo, except that they look incredibly similar.
Bamboo and lucky bamboo are very different things. Growing bamboo in an aquarium is not possible, because it’s not an aquatic plant and therefore it won’t adapt to the new environment and it will quickly rot and die.
When bamboo starts decaying, it releases dangerous components inside the water such as ammonia, which is toxic for your fish.
Lucky bamboo is not an aquatic plant either, but it has adapted to survive floods and it has a better resistance in water than traditional bamboo. With proper care, it can survive in your tank for a long time and bring no harm to your fish.
Can you put lucky bamboo in a fish tank?
It’s possible to have a lucky bamboo plant in a fish tank and even though it is not among the most suited plants for freshwater aquariums, it can be good for your aquarium environment because its roots will collect all fish waste and turn it into nutrients for the plant.
There is an ongoing debate among hobbyists regarding the dos and don’ts of having a lucky bamboo plant in an aquarium, with some advising against the use of it and others claiming they managed to perfectly grow a lucky bamboo plant in their freshwater aquarium.
The truth is that lucky bamboo is not dangerous to your tank environment as long as the leaves remain out of the water. Even then, it’s not about preserving the fish environment, but rather the plant life. In fact, lucky bamboo absolutely cannot survive in your fish tank if its leaves are submerged.
You can find lucky bamboo in your local pet shop, but since it is very similar to normal bamboo, make sure to purchase the right type of plant, as to avoid putting your fish at risk.
Lucky bamboo in the aquarium filter.
Some hobbyists claim the solution to have lucky bamboo in a freshwater aquarium is to set the plant inside the filter.
This can actually be a good compromise if you’re worried about keeping non-aquatic plants near your fish.
The bamboo inside the filter will survive just fine having its roots deep in the water and its leaves outside of the filter.
Some aquarium owners even decide to keep several small filters along the back of the tank to fill each of them with plants.
However, this isn’t really needed because as mentioned earlier, lucky bamboo isn’t harmful to your fish. The roots of the plant will also soon outgrow the space available in the filter and it could cause you some trouble to keep it in order.
Not to mention, most people who decide to start growing lucky bamboo in their tank do so mainly because of aesthetic purposes. Keeping the plant in your filter will preserve its filtering properties, but will certainly not provide the aquarium decor you’re looking for.
How to put lucky bamboo in a fish tank.
Lucky bamboo grows fine even with just water; actually, your tank environment might just be the ideal place to grow this type of plant, given that it can feed voraciously on your fish waste.
With proper precautions and care, your lucky bamboo plant will grow luscious and strong and will help you keep your fish tank clean from impurities while also not harming the animals.
The first thing you need to do when you want to put a lucky bamboo in your fish tank is to trim the roots so the plant can grow new roots inside your tank.
Trimming your plant will be an important step throughout its whole life, not only for the roots but also for the sprouts.
They will keep growing while the stem of the bamboo remains the same and as they grow, they might become too heavy for the stem to support.
Also, trimming your lucky bamboo will make the roots and sprouts grow stronger than they were before.
Water and chemicals
Lucky bamboo can only be put in freshwater and it’s important that the water is distilled or filtered. To ensure that your plant grows properly, water should also be well-oxygenated and changed frequently to avoid stagnation.
Many aquarium owners use several chemicals to keep a healthy environment in their fish tank. However, not all of these additives are compatible with lucky bamboo and could potentially damage the plant. Make sure to check if the chemicals you’re using are of the harmful type for this kind of plant.
The fishes in your aquarium are very sensitive to light, and lucky bamboo even more. This plant comes from the forests of Cameroon and it’s used to be shielded by bigger plants with the typical broad leaves of the tropical forests, therefore living in the shadows.
That doesn’t mean it needs to live in the darkness, but direct light will be very harmful and will burn the leaves of this plant. Make sure it is only given filtered light or redirected light.
Your aquarium should be deep enough for the lucky bamboo to be fully submerged from its roots to the end of its stem, but shouldn’t be a depth that forces the sprouts to be underwater as well.
To grow this type of plant it’s necessary to have a thick substrate on the bottom of your tank to completely bury its roots even when they’re fully grown.
If the roots emerge from the substrate they might trick your fish into thinking they’re some kind of unusual snack, plus they would not be aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
Having the roots completely covered by the substrate will also help the plant stability in the long run.
This is a common complaint coming from those who don’t believe in the use of lucky bamboo in a fish tank.
It’s true that you won’t be able to fertilize the plant while it’s underwater but the thing is — you don’t need to. Lucky bamboo doesn’t need to be fertilized as long as it can feed on the nutrients in the water, which will turn into a natural fertilizer for it.
Some hobbyists manage to grow lucky bamboo more or less successfully even when completely submerged in water. Although it is strongly not recommended, if you want to try to grow lucky bamboo underwater, you’ll need to take extra care of the plant in order to keep it green and healthy.
As such, you will need to provide a regular amount of carbon dioxide. By doing so, you will also activate the process in which the plant converts carbon dioxide into oxygen, which will contribute to making your tank environment healthier.
Please note that lucky bamboo won’t convert carbon dioxide into oxygen when its leaves are above the water.
Common problems of lucky bamboo in aquariums
If there is something wrong with your lucky bamboo, the first sign will be the leaves turning yellow.
There may be different reasons behind the color change, including water chemicals, the leaves being submerged, strong lightning, wrong temperature, or diseases.
If the leaves happen to fall in the aquarium, it’s important to remove them immediately, because as they decompose they will release bacteria and other dangerous components into the water.
The good news is that when the leaves start to turn yellow it doesn’t necessarily mean the plant is already lost. There are many ways to save your lucky bamboo before it’s too late.
First of all, a water change might do the trick. Lucky bamboo needs freshwater and it should be at a proper temperature, not too hot and not too cold.
If your lucky bamboo starts turning yellow, go over this list again and check each voice to make sure you’re taking proper care of the plant.
Lucky bamboo and betta fish.
There is no documented risk related to having lucky bamboo in a betta tank. On the contrary, the two live very well together, because they come from the same tropical environment and require similar conditions to stay healthy.
A betta fish would never eat lucky bamboo and actually, he might find a good hiding spot in this type of plant, as you know this kind of fish loves privacy and being alone.
As long as you take proper care of your lucky bamboo, it won’t become a risk for your betta fish.
Is lucky bamboo safe for a fish tank?
Yes, lucky bamboo won’t harm your fish as long as you keep the leaves out of the water and you take proper care of the aquarium environment.
This plant doesn’t require much work, but it can be sensitive to some water chemicals and if not properly looked after could become dangerous for your fishes as well.
The most evident sign that there is a problem with your lucky bamboo comes from the leaves turning yellow, so as long as your plant is green and healthy it should be fine.
Lucky bamboo is a stunning decoration for your freshwater aquarium and it’s also a natural water filter, so there is no reason not to use it in your fish tank.