Anubias is probably one of the most kept aquarium plants in the hobby. They are one of the easiest aquatic plants you can own. The word “Anubias” is an entire genus of plants and not just one specific type. There are many different varieties of anubias that are slightly different in size and leaf appearance but they all share the same care and living environments.
In this article, we are focussing on providing the most accurate information about the Anubias genus so you can care for all variants of anubias.
Anubias plants are semi-aquatic flowering plants that can grow in and out of water. They are widely grown in the freshwater rivers and streams in tropical regions of western Africa. This region of Africa is usually warm and tropical with high humidity.
These small and medium size plants prefer to stay in shaded areas and will attach themselves to available objects in the water. It grows naturally on rocks, driftwoods, or any surface that it can anchor itself.
As mentioned above, there are many variants of Anubias and all are hardy plants that can tolerate all types of aquarium setups. Selecting a variant completely depends on the type of aquascape you want to create. However, most aquarists choose smaller Anubias plants to create leaves for driftwoods.
These hardy plants can grow in any lighting conditions which makes them a great beginner-friendly plant. However, there are some considerations you need to make if you want to keep this plant healthy for a long time.
Anubias plants consist of three main parts: leaves, rhizome (stem), and roots.
Leaves are very thick and hard when touched, almost it feels like touching plastic. Leaves are usually dark green in color and are popping directly out of the rhizome.
Rhizome has a lighter green color and will constantly grow and make new leaves. The rhizome is thick and hard and acts like the backbone of the plant. A healthy rhizome should look bright green with no patches of brown or yellow on it.
Anubia also grows tiny root-like structures that are the same color as the rhizome. These roots are used to hold on to objects and stay in place. The roots are not used for feeding. We will discuss more on this topic in the propagation and care sections of this article.
These plants occasionally produce a white flower that will last a few days before they release their spores. This is one of the ways they propagate in the wild.
All the different variants of Anubias have the same structure but at a different scale. Some anubias have large leaves and thick rhizomes but some others have tiny leaves and rhizomes that will only grow a few millimeters.
The most common type of Anubias in the aquarium hobby is Anubias barteri var. Nana. This variant is most famous for its hardiness and its solid green leaves.
Size & Growth Rate
Anubias plants are one of the most slow-growing plants you can own. They grow by lengthening their rhizomes or branching out new side rhizomes. The lighting and nutrients in the water column have a direct impact on the growth of Anubias.
Some varieties of Anubias plants will grow up to 25 inches and others stay small and only grow to about half an inch. Regardless of the type and size of the anubias, they will grow super slow and it can take months before they reach their max size.
Here are some variants of anubias and their max growth size:
- Narrow-leaf Anubias: 8 inches.
- Anubias Barteri var. barteri: 9 inches.
- Anubias Micro: 0.5 inches.
- Anubias Pinto: 3 inches.
Anubias plants are very easy to care for. These plants are well-known for their ability to grow in low-light conditions. They require nothing more than regular water changes and occasional trimming to thrive.
Since anubias is a very slow-growing plant, it’s very important to maintain a clean balanced tank to avoid algae growth on the leaves. Anubias are notorious for being algae magnates so it is important to have their shades to prevent algae growth on them.
Regular water changes will control nitrate levels in the tank and can prevent algae blooms in the tank. We also recommend adding algae-eating fish like bristlenose pleco or Oto cats to help you keep the anubias leaves clean and algae-free.
Anubias are not picky when it comes to tank size. They can live in tanks as small as 10 gallons. Anything smaller than this size may not be an ideal environment for this plant to live in. If you have a larger tank, we recommend having multiple anubias in your tank to make beautiful scenes.
Anubias can adapt and live in most aquarium environments. However, when the water parameters of your tank fall in between their ideal range they will grow natural beautiful green leaves.
They will also need moderate water circulation so the algae and debris don’t park on their leaves. The slow growth rate of anubias makes their leaves an easy-growing surface for different types of algae.
At the same time because of their slow growth rate they are not the best plants for cleaning the tank’s water. This is why you need to have other types of plants that can absorb fish waste and other toxins in the water.
While Anubias can live in a wide range of tank conditions but the ideal range for them is listed below:
- Temperature: 72 – 82 Degrees Fahrenheit
- PH: 5.5 – 8.0
- TDS: 90 – 200 PPM
Anubias can grow without CO2 in a tank environment. But if you want your anubias to grow slightly faster you can introduce CO2 to your aquarium.
Anubias can live in any lighting conditions. But they grow best in low to medium lighting conditions where light is not directly reaching the leaves. They can also grow in a tank that has a strong light if you place them in a shaded area. Direct and strong lighting can cause algae to grow on the leaves.
Anubias do not need planted substrate. They live on rocks and driftwoods and absorb nutrition from the leaves and not their roots. This is because these plants are water column feeders and absorb nutrients directly from the water column of the tank.
Planting & Placement
Anubias plants are easy to grow, sturdy, and durable plants that can make any tank 10 times more beautiful. You can place Anubias in the front or middle of your aquarium or even let them float in the water.
When you leave them floating in the tank they will eventually find an object and anchor themselves to it. However, most aquarists use the smaller types of anubias to create dramatic effects like having leaves on driftwoods. It is also easy to make tiny bonsai plants using anubias and smaller driftwoods.
If you want to attach anubias to other objects you can use Super Glue Gel. A tiny amount of Super glue gel is enough to attach anubias to something. The gel will quickly harden once it’s placed in the water and is safe for fish and anubias. After some time the plant will grow new roots and will hold on tight to the object.
Make sure not to cover the rhizome when placing your anubias as the plant will die if the rhizome can’t get light. Some newbies make the mistake of planting anubias in the substrate and covering the rhizome completely. Doing this will cause the plant to die after some time.
You can still plant Anubias in substrate if you want to. Just make sure that the rhizome is out of the substrate when planting it. If your anubias has long roots you can easily push the roots down in the substrate leaving the rhizome out. The plant will then grow longer roots to hold itself tighter.
Sometimes plants might come with few to no roots which make it hard to plant them in the substrate. If your plant has fewer or short roots and you still want to plant it in the substrate by attaching it to a small rock using super glue gel and then place the rock in the substrate.
Propagation can be done easily by cutting the rhizome into parts. When cutting the rhizome, each cutting should have at least 3-5 leaves so it can heal itself and continue to grow. You should use a sharp cutter or knife to cut off pieces of the rhizome. You can then attach the new cuttings onto driftwood or rock and place them back in the tank.
With enough nutrition, the new cutting will continue to grow and produce more leaves.
Maintenance & Fertilization
Anubias are low-maintenance plants that can be a great choice for low-tech low-maintenance tanks. They grow very slowly which means they need fewer nutrients. As long as you do your water changes and few fish are available in the tank you will not need to add fertilization to keep anubias alive.
Leaves may sometimes turn yellow or melt which is completely normal, this natural part of the plant’s life cycle. When you see dead leaves, simply remove the wilted leaf and the plant will continue to grow new leaves.
If you see this as a pattern and more and more of your plant’s leaves are dying then it might be a sign of nutrients and light imbalance. Simply add liquid fertilizers once a week and wait for the results. This should help your plant to grow new leaves and prevent leaf damage or death.
Different types of algae love to grow on anubias leaves! Which can cause the plant’s leaves to look ugly and even die. To avoid algae growth on leaves, try placing your plant in shaded areas as per our recommendation in the placement section of this article and find the right light and fertilization balance for your aquarium.
Using liquid carbons such as Seachem Flourish Excel is also a recommended way of fighting algae in your aquarium. Liquid carbon is safe for fish, shrimp, and plants; however, when adding liquid carbon to your aquarium it’s super important to read the usage direction on the bottle and use the right amount as it might hurt some plants or fish.
Anubias plant is one of the best aquatic plants to have in a community tank. This plant can live in harmony with different types of fish, including those that may not be very gentle with plants. Anubias hard leaves will help it to tolerate most nippy fish and many fish will not even bother disturbing it.
You can place Anubias in almost any tank with any type of fish or invertebrates. If you want to place this plant in with a nippy fish you will need to keep an eye on your plant for a few days to make sure your plant is not disturbed. If you notice your fish are going after the plant then a sign that you need to move the plant to a new tank.
With that being said, here are our top pics of ideal tank mates for Anubias:
- Bristlenose plecos
- L397 Pleco
- L333 pleco
- L46 Zebra Pleco
- Goldie Pleco
- Otocinclus algae eaters
- Cherry shrimp
- Vampire shrimp
- Bamboo Shrimp
- Apple snails
- Assassin Snail
- Betta fish
- Most types of aquarium plants
Anubias plants are great options to add some greenery to your aquarium. Even if you don’t have a high-tech planted tank this plant can be a focal point in your aquarium. They grow super slow and need minimum care so they are a great beginner plant for new aquarists.
This plant can act as leaves on driftwoods and make the illusion of a living tree in your tank. They will also create hiding spots for your fish and other tank inhabitants.