Will my plant kill my fish?
September 22, 2008 8:36 AM   Subscribe

If I put a philodendron in a fish tank with a Beta, will Clint Eastwood Survive?

The fish is named Clint Eastwood. The philodendron is a piece of a larger plant that we're putting in water to get it to grow roots (I'm not even sure if this will work). Will this kill my fish?
posted by bobdylanforever to Pets & Animals (11 answers total)
While I know that Betas are hardy little fish, I also know that Philodendrons are poisonous to pets. I would then guess that if the tank was big enough to disperse the poison that might leach out of the cutting it shouldn't be a problem. OTOH, I would just put the cutting into a small juice glass of water and avoid the issue altogether. YMMV.
posted by LunaticFringe at 8:52 AM on September 22, 2008

Do you feel lucky?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:00 AM on September 22, 2008 [7 favorites]

Betas are tough, but I'm not sure if they're tough enough to surivive a poisonous plant chilling in their water supply.

Also, if you want to propagate your philodendron (that sounds kinda dirty), I'm not sure that sticking a piece in water will work. I'd recommend cutting (with a sterile knife) shoots from the base of the plant's stem and stick it in your potting soil of choice. This website has some pretty detailed instructions.
posted by jnaps at 9:12 AM on September 22, 2008

These people are cool with it.
posted by Science! at 9:14 AM on September 22, 2008

My brother grew a philodendron above his fishtank and things went fine. No need to do anything fancy with the philo to propagate it. They send out runners all the time. Just find a piece that looks like it has little roots coming out of it.
posted by electroboy at 9:36 AM on September 22, 2008

Generally, encouraging root growth requires air reaching roots as well as moistness. 50/50 peat moss and vermiculite (<$10 at Home Depot) will get you a great rooting medium that won't put your esteemed director at risk.
posted by cowbellemoo at 9:39 AM on September 22, 2008

Betta's in their natural habitat probably have to deal with a lot worse, but would probably be healthier in an aquarium with a low-flow filtration system, which will probably do a better job than the plants.

That said, my wife has a betta (it's her 3rd betta, his name is Gamma Betta. You can guess what the first 2 were named) Gamma is getting on 3 years old with a peace plant growing on the top of his jar with regular water changes and trimming of the plants roots. I think Clint will be fine, but there are easier ways of growing philodendron if that's your main intent.
posted by jrishel at 9:59 AM on September 22, 2008

The link Science! recommends also advocates plastic plants, which are a terrible idea for bettas because almost all plastic plants will shred their fragile fins. And then they suggest Chinese evergreens and peace water lilies (the dreaded betta-in-a-vase plant) instead of, uh, actual aquatic plants?

The two rules of thumb for plant decor in a betta's tank:

1) If you want artificial plants, always go with silk plants from the pet store (never from a crafts store).
2) If you want real plants, do your research and always make sure whatever you pick is aquatic, otherwise it will die and may take your fish with it. Whatever plant you pick needs to be optimized to the light and space conditions of your tank to grow properly.

So philodendron is out. If you still want a bit of green in with Clint and are new to aquatic plants, I would keep it simple and get a wad of java moss - sterilize it in a 1:10 bleach/water solution for, I dunno, twenty minutes, rise it in pre-treated water, and you are good to go. Java moss is slow-growing but needs almost no light and can grow anywhere, making it perfect for almost any betta tank.

In general, if you have any betta questions, there is no place better to get your answers than from the folks at the Ultimate Bettas forum. Stickied there is also the best betta caresheet I have ever found. Not that I don't think Clint's in good hands, but I actually refer to this page regularly as a refresher; it's just a good reference to read a few times and keep bookmarked.
posted by bettafish at 10:03 AM on September 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I have no useful information -- I'm just coming in to say that I'm just sleep-deprived enough that the over-the-fold phrasing of this question made me giggle insanely for a full minute.

That is all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:33 AM on September 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

EmpressCallipygos- I'm glad it made someone happy.
posted by bobdylanforever at 10:34 AM on September 22, 2008

I know from experience that Philodendron cordatum, the viny one with plain heart-shaped leaves roots quite happily in water. Just don't leave it in too long or it will start making aquatic roots instead of soil roots. Once the root stubs are about an inch long, put it in soil and keep the soil moist for a couple of weeks. Once it starts making new leaves, it's a happy plant and you can back off watering for a while.
There is great and fearful debate about whether or not it is okay to put plants in with betas. I probably wouldn't do it just to be on the safe side.
posted by leapfrog at 6:41 AM on September 23, 2008

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