Q: What is your opinion in having a large vase with bamboo in the center, covered by marbles with one well taken care of betta?

Question submitted by Mary, Yorktown Heights - New york

A: I guess maybe what I should do here is give my opinion about ANY plant/betta arrangements. Many of you have asked or enquired in the past, so here is my 411 on the matter. 

Before I go on a long tangent, I want to remind all of you who follow this column daily that this column reflects the opinion of the writer (me) and is not the Betta Bible. Meaning that if you ask 10 breeders the same questions, you are likely to get 10 different answers. Everyone has an opinion, everyone has a way of doing things. Although not everyone might be right, it is very conceivable that more than one way of doing things might work well. Hence what I am saying is that if you do not always agree with my opinions, don't freak, it is OK. At the same time, this is MY column so I am going to give MY two cents. What you do with it is up to you ;).

I am not per say AGAINST plant/betta types of arrangements, for as long as both plants needs and betta needs are duly met AND for as long as plant is compatible with betta. 

The major flaw of such arrangements is that they require more work, for you now have to care for BOTH betta AND plant. Should plant start deteriorating, it might rot and fowl the betta's water endangering its health. On the other hand, the betta dying will not hurt the plant (hey, that's plain NOT fair LOL). 

The big red flag with this plant/betta idea came from the fact that large money making companies figured they could capitalize on people's gullibility by claiming that if you did purchase a betta in a vase with a plant, you would never have to care for the betta, nor the plant. That the betta and the plant would care for each other... (Oh boy oh boy, some people are going to hell for this lie). Many people are too darn lazy to tie their own shoe laces so perhaps if that's the case they should consider not having pets. PETS NEED CARE. Yes, they do require a little effort, work and TLC. There is no such thing as a pet that cares for its own self. Likewise there is no such thing as not feeding a betta or changing its water regularly because it has a plant in it's bowl. This is plain Bowl-oni. ;).

So my friend, if you can provide a suitable environment for both your bamboo AND your betta, and if BOTH their needs are duly met, I say go for it.  

Is it OK to put a bamboo plant with a betta? I assume it is, but I am not sure because I have not personally ever tried it. Let's not take any chances with Mr. Betta's life and let's find out.


(Published the next day)

PART II : Although most of us have not tried putting bamboo plants with bettas, I did receive a few emails with info on this topic. First off I want to thank all the readers who participated and helped increase our betta knowledge by sharing theirs with us :). 
You guys rule!

Verdict: 4 people reported having tried it, or considered trying it and seriously checked into it. 

bullet3 people reported that they successfully kept bettas and bamboos together for over 6 months. This would suggest that bamboos are not poisonous to bettas. Two out of these three said the bettas were in jars, and one in a tank w/ filter setup.
bullet1 person said they have been growing bamboos for over 2 years now and also have bettas. She decided against putting the two together for the following reasons: A)- She said the bamboo roots seem to shed or produce a lot of waste. B)- She said the water needed for bamboo growth and health is radically different in its makeup than that needed for betta health. C)- She said that bamboo need some sunlight to grow and bettas should not have direct sun on their bowls (I concur). D)- she said bamboos would prefer to not have frequent water changes, while bettas on the other hand, NEED it. 
For all above reasons (all of which sound quite valid to me) she concluded that trying it would hurt either the bamboo or the bettas, and perhaps even BOTH.

My two cents at this point: If you still wanted to try it, I would OF COURSE favor the betta over the bamboo (sorry). So I would make sure water, light, water changes etc are optimal for betta health and happiness. If my bamboo likes it, great. If it doesn't, then Mr. Bamboo would be moved to other better quarters. In no case would I try to go halfway between betta needs and bamboo needs.