Can You Plant Bamboo in an Aquarium?

Anyone who has an aquarium will want to add plants to brighten up their tank. Many types are available, yet these all appear the same. To spice things up a little, there are many aquarium owners, who think about adding bamboo into their aquarium.

While this isn’t a plant, you often think about planting in an aquarium, it leaves the question.

Can you plant bamboo in an aquarium? The answer to this question has two parts. The first part is that True Bamboo, which is part of the sub-family of Bambusoideae isn’t an aquatic plant. If you introduce this into your aquarium, it will immediately begin rotting.

The second part of the answer offers a better solution. It is possible to grow Dracaena Sanderiana in your aquarium, or by its more common name Lucky Bamboo.

Here, we will look at Lucky Bamboo and you will learn how you can grow this in your aquarium successfully.

Difference Between True Bamboo and Lucky Bamboo

The most significant difference between the two is as soon as you introduce true bamboo into your tank water, it will rot and decay. Once it does this, it quickly becomes toxic to your fish as this breakdown releases ammonia into your aquarium.

With lucky bamboo, it appears the same as regular bamboo, but it is very different in the way it grows and acts inside your tank. Lucky bamboo can survive by being fully submerged, or partially submerged in water.

You may see many debates on the best way to add lucky bamboo to your aquarium, and they relate many of these to if you submerge the plant, or you leave the top of the plant outside the level of your water.

Benefits of Lucky Bamboo in Your Aquarium

Before you even consider planting any plants in your tank, you will need to understand that filtering your water is crucial for healthy fish, and for your aquarium.

Even if you have a good aquarium filter, you can still benefit from growing lucky bamboo, because this absorbs nitrites and helps prevent the accumulation of ammonia. One reason your tank benefits, is in fact the same reason lucky bamboo can thrive. The nitrogenous elements act like plant fertilizer.

Growing Lucky Bamboo in Aquariums

Like other aquarium plants, there are some simple things; you need to do to make sure your plants grow healthily.

One of the first things you need to do is make sure the roots are under the substrate, and you have a few pebbles around the base of the plant to stabilize it while in the water. Add to this the deeper you can plant your roots, the less chance they have of rising above your substrate and becoming a snack for curious fish.


Many tanks may only have a couple of inches of substrate, but if you can stretch to around four inches, then this will serve them better. While your lucky bamboo will thrive in these conditions, you can make it even more comfortable for them by using a soil substrate. Using these will deliver more nutrients to the roots of your bamboo.


Bamboo can benefit from the addition of carbon dioxide. In fact, any underwater plants can benefit from the inclusion of this. To introduce this into your aquarium, you can use a capful every other day, of a good aquarium plant supplement such as Seachem Flourish.


When you have plants growing underwater, you may not think they require oxygen to survive. However, all plants need oxygen. Plants carry out aerobic respiration, and this is where they convert sugars into energy by breaking them down to a usable state.

Long aquariums have a better rate of oxygenation because of the larger surface area. However, because you are also caring for your fish, this method won’t suffice alone, and you will be using aquarium filters and possible air stones.

Lighting Requirements

Another reason why lucky bamboo grows so well in aquariums is they don’t need too much light. Because they come from the tropical forests in Cameroon, they are used to growing in shaded areas with medium levels of light.

While this is easy to do with aquarium lights, you need to be aware what happens if the plant is exposed to direct sunlight, or lighting that is too strong.

The leaves of lucky bamboo can burn, and once they do, they begin to change from green to yellow. If you spot this quick enough, you may be able to save them, or if not, you will be better off pruning the yellow leaves before they die and fall to the bottom of your aquarium.

As long as you provide low to medium levels of lighting, your lucky bamboo will thrive, and there won’t be any chance of the leaves burning and dying.

Myths of Lucky Bamboo in Aquariums

It can be straightforward growing lucky bamboo in your aquarium, although you may see or hear many myths surrounding its growth.

Here are a few you can read and take on board and use them to your advantage as you try to grow some Lucky Bamboo in your tank.

  • Lucky Bamboo secretes toxins into an aquarium: This myth is busted and proven not to be true. Lucky bamboo isn’t part of the Dracaena family, so it won’t rot in water. You may read some individuals use bamboo sticks in their tanks.
  • What they often forget to mention is these are coated in a clear resin to prevent them rotting, and thus, they are not a living plant.
  • You can’t Fertilize Lucky Bamboo: Above, we saw you can use Seachem Flourish, although, this isn’t a requirement. The water in your aquarium is sufficient for healthy, lucky bamboo growth. When you have a correctly cycled aquarium, the beneficial bacteria will convert ammonia to nitrites. In addition, as we saw earlier, these are one thing; Lucky Bamboo loves to feed on.
  • Leaves need to be above the water: It isn’t a requirement for them to do so. Lucky Bamboo can grow submerged or partially submerged. They will emit oxygen better if they are above water, but there is no reason to grow it one way or the other.
  • Grow lucky bamboo in your filter: This is one myth that busts itself. You can do this, but there is no beneficial reason of doing so. One issue with this is your lucky bamboo roots may begin to grow out of your filter and cause other issues along the way.

Related Questions

How long can lucky bamboo survive in water? Once you grow lucky bamboo, you can find it lasts around one to two years depending on the conditions of your aquarium.

How fast will my lucky bamboo grow? Once your lucky bamboo has set its roots, you can expect it to grow about 19 inches in 6-months. In this time, there can be around ten or twelve steps of growth, with each taking around 2-weeks.

Will my Lucky Bamboo give off oxygen? If you have the leaves reaching from the top of your aquarium, then lucky bamboo will give off oxygen at night.Can I plant Lucky Bamboo with my Betta? You will find this is very safe. Even if your bamboo leaves are underwater, your betta won’t eat them. Lucky bamboo even fits in with the Asian theme of your fish.