Anubias Plant Care
Table of Contents
The Anubias nana is a staple in most household aquariums owing to its bright and green appearance. It is a low maintenance aquatic plant that will spruce up your aquarium and make all tank mates feel more at home.
You can plant the Anubias nana in most freshwater aquariums with a minimum size of about 10 gallons. The plant Anubias nana will thrive as long as you provide it with the ideal environment, including the substrate. Keep reading to take a deep dive into its care requirements.
Unlike most aquatic plants that are native to parts of Asia, the Anubias nana originates from Africa (parts of Nigeria and Cameroon). It belongs to the Araceae family, a species of freshwater plants. The plant is also known as dwarf Anubias on account of its petite appearance.
It is a very resilient plant that can be grown in a variety of conditions. The plant can be partially or fully submerged, making it an excellent choice for paludariums. But it does more than just make your tank look colorful; the Anubias nana’s petite size makes it ideal for covering the substrate.
When placed correctly, the plant can provide habitats for bottom dwelling fish species such as catfish and loaches. The Anubias nana is also great at regulating the aquarium’s nitrate levels, pollutants, and even oxygenating the water.
Its leaves are a shade of deep green, adding some much needed color to your average freshwater aquarium. The plant grows to a maximum height of about 8 inches, but the actual size depends on the tank’s conditions. Because of their small size, the plants will only cover lower levels of the tank, leaving plenty of free space for fish to swim.
The plant doesn’t make its way to the surface of the water because each stem is planted into the substrate. Every leaf is covered in a cuticle which makes them extra resilient. The plant may, on occasion, bloom and produce a stunning white flower. The plant has a higher chance of blooming in a paludarium tank where it is only partially submerged.
This makes the aquarium a stunning statement piece in any room. The Anubias nana can be paired with the Anubias nana petite, a smaller variety of the Anubias. An Anubias nana petite will grow to about half the size of the nana.
Aquarium Setup for the Anubias Nana
The Anubias Nana is relatively easy to look after. In the wild, the Anubias nana grows along river banks in shallow water. Try to mimic these conditions as best as you can in your aquarium. Here are a few factors you need to consider when setting up the aquarium.
Aquarium Measurements and Dimensions
The exact measurements of the tank depend on the type of fish you keep. In general, the tank size should start at 10 gallons so that the plant has room to grow. Unlike the Anubias barteri, which can grow up to 18 inches in size, the Anubias nana barely reaches a height of four inches. This allows you to keep the tank a bit smaller, and with it, your overall investment.
Water Parameters for the Anubias Nana
The Anubias nana is known for thriving in a wide range of water parameters. The metric that matters most is temperature. This plant prefers warm temperature conditions at a range between 72°F and 78°F, but it has been known to survive colder temperatures. Going outside this temperature range won’t kill the Anubias nana, but it will certainly slow its growth rate.
At colder temperatures, the plant may become smaller, and its roots could shrink. For this purpose, you may invest in a heater to keep the water at the recommended temperature range.
The Anubias nana thrives if the water’s hardness is kept in the 3 to 8 KH range. You can keep the water’s pH value at around 6.5 to 7.8, with neutral being the best. The pH value should be dictated by the tank mates. So if the tank mates prefer a pH value of about 7.0, then you should keep the water at a pH of 7.0.
In case of a lower pH value, you may raise it with the help of dolomite gravel (for the substrate) or by adding some coral rock. Baking soda is a cost-effective remedy that can be used for quick results. Just a small amount of baking soda will be enough to raise the pH value, but you must do this regularly, or the pH value will revert to default settings.
A safer alternative is to use reverse osmosis to achieve the desired pH value.
The Anubias nana is not finicky when it comes to light requirements. It can grow in a variety of lighting conditions, from low light intensity to high light intensity. Like the pH value, you should choose the light intensity level based on the fish’s requirement.
Note that the light intensity is directly proportional to the growth rate of the Anubias plant. It will grow slowly if the light conditions are sub-optimal. At higher lighting levels, the plants will grow at an accelerated pace. However, they may also become susceptible to algae growth on the surfaces of the leaves.
Caution: Never use incandescent lamps for providing illumination to Anubias plants because it will most likely result in heat damage and burn their leaves. High intensity light sources can irreversibly damage the plant.
The Anubias nana can grow in soft and muddy substrates. This makes it easy for the roots to grow by absorbing nutrients from their surroundings. Perhaps more importantly, you don’t need to invest in an aqua soil for your Anubias nana. The best way to plant the Anubias is by burying its roots.
Try not to bury the rhizomes because they may rot and kill the plant. A popular alternative to burying the roots in the substrate is to attach the Anubias to driftwood and rocks.
This may be done with the help of a fishing line. Attach the plant Anubias nana to some driftwood and use the fishing line to gently plant it in place. Tying the roots to driftwood (and other decorations) will secure them in place and help them grow strong.
The driftwood method is a favorite among aquarium enthusiasts because it allows them to decorate their tanks.
A third way of planting Anubias nana plants is with the help of Super Glue, made of 100% cyanoacrylate. This super glue is perfectly compatible with freshwater tanks.
Apply a small amount of the super glue on the driftwood or rock that you’re attaching the plants to. Now press the rhizome onto the glue and keep it there until the glue sets. This will only take a few seconds.
Fertilizing Anubias Nana and Supplementing with CO2
The Anubias nana is a fast grower and doesn’t require supplementation to achieve peak growth. However, you can accelerate growth by adding CO2 to the tank. These plants are incredibly resilient and will grow even if you place them in a jar by a sunny window.
It is recommended to add some liquid fertilizer so that the plant can absorb some extra micronutrients. You only need to provide fertilizer every once a week to see results. Note that the Anubias nana can feed directly from the water column. This negates the need for a root tab fertilizer.
How You can Propagate Anubias Nana
Propagating the Anubias nana is relatively easy.
The plant uses rhizome division to propagate. This means that the stems fall to the substrate and grow into their own new plant. You can wait for the plant to do this naturally or use a pair of sterilized shears to do this yourself. We recommend pruning parts of the plant that have already been outgrown with many leaves.
Take cuttings from an outgrown plant and place them elsewhere on the substrate. The roots grow in about a few days and will produce a plant in no time. Note that each cutting should have a minimum of three leaves to allow photosynthesis. If you make too many cuttings, the plant will be stressed and struggle to achieve photosynthesis.
In the worst-case scenario, the plant may even die. You don’t need to provide the cutting with special conditions for propagation. That said, the plant grows best when it is provided with lots of nutrients, carbon dioxide, and light.
You may utilize fertilizers and carbon dioxide supplements to create faster growing conditions. Just make sure they create an imbalance in your tank that could upset other life forms elsewhere in the aquarium.
Managing Algae Growth
The Anubias nana is highly susceptible to algae growth. In fact, various algal species prefer to grow on Anubias leaves instead of tank walls. This may sound like a good way of keeping your tank clean of algae, but it’s not a long term solution. Over time, the algae will grow out of control and overtake everything in your tank.
This is why you need an algae prevention strategy. Here are a few tips to prevent algal growth on your Anubias nana:
- Plant the Anubias nana in a shaded area of the tank
- Prevent photoperiod by using a timer to deactivate the lights
- Regularly change the tank’s water to reduce the micronutrient content of the tank
If you have spotted algal growth on Anubias nana leaves, you should spot treat it using organic carbon. Seachem Flourish Excel is a well known brand that provides this solution.
A few applications of this substance will kill algae. For better results, make sure to turn off your filter while dosing with the Flourish Excel to prevent it from being washed off the Anubias nana.
Good Tank Mates for the Anubias Nana
The Anubias nana is compatible with most freshwater fish and plants. Just make sure not to plant too many of them or they will compete with each other for resources. Overcrowding will kill some of the plants that fail to absorb nutrients.
Since the Anubias nana is a small plant and populates the lower levels of the tank, you can add floating plants to create more interest.
Nearly all freshwater fish species are compatible with the Anubias nana, including most herbivorous fish. Bottom dwelling fish such as loaches and catfish are also compatible with the Anubias nana. They use the foliage as shelter to hide from predators.
Avoid using fish species that like to nibble on plant leaves. Make sure to do your research before introducing tank mates to the aquarium.
Here is a list of popular fish species for your Anubias nana:
- Zebra loaches
- Cory catfish
- Dwarf gourami
- Tetra fish
- Cherry barbs
- Yoyo loaches
Popular Anubias Species
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular Anubias species, starting with the Anubias Barteri.
The Anubias Barteri grows up to a height of nearly 12 inches in size and towers over most aquatic plants. It is used as a background plant in small aquariums.
Anubias Barteri var. nana
Also known as the Anubias nana, and the subject of this blog, the Anubias Barteri var. nana produces small foliage and is often used as a midground plant in smaller aquariums.
This plant has a unique appearance with ruffled leaves that may be bright or brown (like coffee beans). They grow up to six inches tall and are ideal as a background plant in smaller aquariums.
Anubias plants are susceptible to root rot. It is not known how root rot starts and how to stop it from spreading. But you can make sure that your Anubias nana isn’t suffering from other ailments.
Try to inspect if your Anubias nana is planted properly. For example, the rhizome of Anubias nana is a thick stem from which all its roots and leaves will grow. You should never cover up the rhizomes because they may rot.
Ensure that your Anubias nana has adapted to the new environment. It is not uncommon for some plants to struggle with a new environment. For example, when you put them in your tank at home, they must be used to getting completely submerged.
This causes some of the leaves to shrink and get smaller as they absorb nutrients from existing leaves, also known as melting.
Another reason why your Anubias nana is not growing properly is because it was damaged during shipping. Healthy rhizomes should produce new leaves in about two to three weeks after planting.
The first symptom of Anubias rot is leaf loss. The leaf gets disconnected from its stalk. Furthermore, the base of the leaf stalk will feel soggy with a bit of goo leaking out.
The biggest indicator of root rot is the health of the rhizome. A healthy rhizome looks green and should feel firm to the touch. A diseased rhizome will have a squishy texture with discolored spots that may look brown, yellow, black, or other unsightly colors. In advanced cases, the rhizome may give off a rotting smell.
The best way to deal with rhizome rot is to discard it. Use a pair of sterilized sharp scissors or scissors and remove all the damaged rhizomes. If you act quickly, you might be able to save your Anubias nana.
So there you have it, an in-depth look at Anubias Nana care for beginners. As long as you provide the correct temperature, nutrients, exposure to light, and compatible tank mates, your Anubias nana should thrive. Let us know how you grew your Anubias nana and how you dealt with common issues.