Anubias is one of the most popular aquarium plant species and a favorite for many beginners and more experienced aquarists. It doesn’t require any special care, grows well in low-light aquariums and has large, broad leaves that are appreciated by fish that prefer some extra hiding places. As an added bonus, it also comes in a dwarf version! Keep reading for more information about Anubias care and how to grow it in your own planted aquarium.
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Anubias is a great plant choice for setups without substrate. Like Java fern and contrary to most regular aquarium plants it absorbs nutrients through its leaves, and actually does better when the rhizome and roots are left exposed instead of buried. To keep your Anubias in place, just tie it to some driftwood or a porous rock type. This step by step guide explains how to do so if you’ve never kept either of these plants! Anubias has very strong roots and should fully attach to its surface within a few weeks. After a while, you may actually find it quite difficult to separate it.
If you don’t want to buy a separate piece of wood/rock or attach the plant yourself, you can also find pre-attached Anubias here.
Care & tankmates
As mentioned before, Anubias doesn’t require special care. It can thrive in a wide range of water values and although it will appreciate extras like Co2 and fertilizers, these are not necessary at all.
- When it comes to lighting, it’s actually best to avoid anything too strong, which can cause yellowing or algae growth! This means Anubias is a great choice for first time plant keepers, low-tech aquariums and setups with dark water or lots of floating plants that subdue the light.
- After planting your Anubias, there isn’t much else you need to do: just remove any dead leaves and prune where necessary. It will usually grow very slowly, but you should see new leaves appearing every few weeks. If you’re lucky, you may even find a little white flower growing above the surface after a while, as pictured on the right.
- If you don’t want to go through the hassle of waiting for these flowers and harvesting the seeds to propagate the plant, you can divide the rhizome once it has grown large enough. Both pieces should continue growing if they’re healthy and you can re-plant, sell or give away one of them.
- Because Anubias is such a hardy plant, it should be able to tolerate a salinity (salt grade) up to at least around 1.005. This makes it a great choice for low-end brackish aquarium setups for fish like mollies and Figure 8 puffers, which are commonly thought to be freshwater fish but actually prefer brackish conditions!
- When it comes to tankmates, Anubias is a very forgiving plant. Almost any fish and invertebrate should work: the broad leaves provide a great hiding place for shy fish and algae eating snails and shrimp will gladly graze on any algae growth that may occur. Even herbivorous fish like goldfish and cichlids that will usually gladly devour any plant matter shouldn’t pose any problems, as they seem to dislike the hardness of the leaves and tend to almost always leave it alone.
Problems with Anubias
Although you shouldn’t have much trouble growing Anubias, there are some commonly occuring problems with this plant you may run into. As mentioned before, it doesn’t appreciate very strong lighting. If too many leaves seem to be dying, yellowing or constantly getting covered in algae, try moving your Anubias to the shade of another plant or adding some floaters (if your other plants don’t mind subdued lighting).
If the entire plant seems to be dying off in the first few days or weeks after buying, you may have gotten an Anubias that was grown emersed (=above the water surface). Many aquarium plants can be grown both under water and above the surface in swamp-like conditions, but when you switch them from emersed to submersed they may temporarily have some trouble adapting and shed a lot of leaves. Luckily, this problem should usually fix itself! After the initial melt, new leaves should eventually start appearing.
Finding Anubias in your local pet- or aquarium store usually shouldn’t be too much of a problem, and you may also come across local aquarists who are willing to trade it for another plant, give it away for shipping cost or sell it for a low price.
You can also buy the more popular Anubias varieties as well as more “obscure” ones online!
Anubias barteri and its dwarf cousin Anubias barteri “nana” are the most common varieties. Other types include Anubias coffeefolia (creeping growth), hastifolia (arrowhead shaped leaves), congensis (very tall) and frazeri (elongated leaves).
If you have any more questions about growing and caring for Anubias or if you want to share your own experiences with this plant, be sure to leave a comment below!
Cover photo: Anubias barteri var nana.jpg