Buce Plants (Bucephalandra) are a genus of aquatic plants that are commonly known as Buce Plants by fishkeepers. These beautiful plants are highly sought-after aquatic plants that are often available in pet stores. The Bucephalandra species often look very similar but with slight differences in their leaf patterns and size. In an aquarium environment, the care requirements for all species in this genus are the same.
This guide will help you understand this genus of aquatic plants and how to care for them properly. We will cover all aspects of keeping Bucephalandra plants and will show you tips and tricks to properly house them in your tank.
Buce Plants originate from Southeast Asia and more specifically in Borneo, the third-largest island in the world. They are often found on the sides of fast-flowing streams and rivers where water remains clear and has moderate movement.
The Bucephalandra genus (Buce Plants) are flowering species that have hundreds of different types. But only a few types of them become available in pet stores and in low quantities. This is because the demand for this plant is high and they only grow natively in Borneo.
Despite being described by scientists in 1858, these plants are still new to the aquarium trade and not many people have kept them. With the rise of interest in this plant, the local traders have now traveled to the most remote parts of the island to collect this plant. As a result, new varieties of the Bucephalandra plant are still being discovered.
As said, Buce Plants grow natively on the island of Borneo, but nowadays many nurseries in North America and some countries in Europe are trying to produce this plant on a larger scale. So we might see this plant become more available in the near future.
Buce plants grow on the banks of the rivers so they can grow emersed and submerged. Similar to Anubias and Java ferns, the Bucephalandra also grows by creeping rhizomes. The leaves have a similar feel to an Anubias leaf but the shapes are different.
Depending on the type of Buce plant, the leaves might have sharp edges or very uneven edges. This makes the Bucephalandra look very different from other aquatic plants. The leaves grow directly from the rhizome and have an oval shape. Some variants develop slightly different shapes but they all fall under the general mold of the Bucephalandra which makes it easy to identify them.
The rhizome acts as a backbone for this plant and both leaves and the roots grow off it. The rhizome continuously grows and makes new leaves. A healthy rhizome should look fresh and have a brownish-green color. Some variants can also have yellowish or fully green rhizomes.
The roots of this plant are specially developed to anchor themselves to the objects like rocks and driftwood. The roots can also creep into the substrate but this is not very common as the substrate might cover their rhizome and cause the plant to die.
Probably the most distinctive characteristic of the Bucephalandra is the wavy edges and tiny white dots of their leaves. They also develop quite a few different colors on their leaves which makes them even more desirable. Different varieties will develop any of the green, blue, or dark violet shades.
Size & Growth Rate
Buce plants are slow-growing species. Same as other aquatic plants white rhizomes, Buce plants grow by lengthening their rhizomes. This is a slow process that causes the plant to grow a few leaves at a slower rate.
Bucephalandra plants grow more horizontally than vertically. The most common variations in the aquarium hobby will grow to 4 – 8 inches. This makes them a small type of plant that you can have in smaller tanks.
Buce Plant Care
Buce plants are very easy to care for. They are known to be low-light types of plants and demand very little attention from you. All you need to focus on is to make sure you are doing your water changes on time and on schedule.
Since Bucephalandra are slow-growing plants, algae can grow on their leaves. So you need to do your water changes on time and never feed too much food to your fish to avoid algae growth in the tank.
Regular water changes will keep your tank’s parameters and nitrates at a balanced level. This will prevent algae growth in the tank and give your plants enough nutrients to grow naturally.
Buce Plants can happily live in tanks as small as 5 gallons or more. They are not fussy when it comes to the size of the tank they want.
We, however, recommend having them in tanks that are at least 10 gallons or more. This is because small tanks can not create an ideal environment for this plant to live long-term. It is also easier to place multiple Bucephalandra next to each other and make a much nicer design if you have a larger tank.
Buce plants can adapt to most aquarium conditions. This makes them a beginner-friendly type of plant that most aquarists can own. However, they still need to have stable and clean water conditions. As long as your tank parameters are in the range Bucephalandra needs, your plants will thrive and flourish.
In the wild, these plants grow on the banks (sides) of fast-moving rivers. The water usually flows slower on the banks and rock and boulders create slow-moving areas. So ideally you will want to create the same moderate to slow-moving water conditions in your tank.
The ideal range of water parameters for Buce Plants are listed below:
- Temperature: 72 – 79 Degrees Fahrenheit
- PH: 5.5 – 8.0
- TDS: 30 – 200 PPM
Buce Plants do not need CO2. These plants are slow-growing species so the amount of carbon dioxide normally present in the tank can is just enough for their growth.
Injecting CO2 in the tank seems to help them grow slightly faster, but because they grow very slowly the difference is not that noticeable.
Buce Plants naturally live in low and medium lighting conditions. They can also tolerate strong lighting if you have the right environment for them. Having them in the shade is the ideal way of keeping this plant in an intense lighting environment.
If You have them under strong light they will show signs of stress which is an indication for you to either lower the light levels or move the plant to the shaded areas. Strong lighting can also cause algae growth on the leaves of your Bucephalandra.
A 4000k – 5000k spectrum light source is great for Buce plants. Unless you have other plants that need stronger lights. The light should be on for about 6 – 12 hours per day depending on the nutrient levels available in your aquarium.
Bucephalandra plants do not need planted substrate. They absorb nutrients from the water column and the roots are there to help the plant hold on to objects.
Planting & Placement
These plants are easy to grow and hardy species that can make your aquarium look much more beautiful. Because of their short height, you can place Bucephalandra in the foreground or midground of your aquarium.
This plant does not need to be planted in the substrate. You can attach the rhizomes using a fishing line or Super Glue Gel to driftwood or rocks in your tank. If you want, you can also plant it in the substrate but the rhizome has to be above the substrate so light can reach it. If you bury the rhizome of your Bucephalandra plants they will die.
Because this plant can grow above the water as well, you can attach it to driftwood near the surface of the tank where water evaporates and goes lower. If you have a paludarium, this plant can be a great addition.
In an aquarium setup, the best method of propagation for Bucephalandra plants is rhizome fragmentation. Once the rhizome grows enough, you can cut the rhizome into two or more pieces and each new cutting will grow to become a new independent plant.
When cutting the rhizome, make sure to use sharp scissors or cutters to make a quick and clean cut. Each cutting should have at least 3 to 5 leaves so it can grow and regenerate itself. The larger the cuttings the better it is for the plant. So avoid cutting too small of pieces as you are risking the plant’s life.
Over time and if you do not cut the rhizome, your Buce plant will shoot side rhizomes that you can easily cut to create new independent plants. This is the ideal way of propagating this plant but you have to be patient and wait for a longer period of time.
Maintenance, Fertilization & Algae Growth
Bucephalandra plants are low-maintenance plants and will not need trimming or pruning. They grow at a very slow rate that you can put them in your tank and forget about them. They are also very hardy plants that can adapt to living conditions in your tank no matter how harsh they might be. Of course, the tank has to be in the range this plant can tolerate.
The only two things that you need to focus on are algae control and regular water changes. Because of the slow growth rate of Bucephalandra plants algae can easily settle on their leaves and start growing. So as long as you keep your tank in good condition, you do not have to do anything specifically for your Buce plants.
If your tank environment is not in favor of this plant you can easily notice it as the plant will lose its coloration and the leaves might start to have holes in them or even completely rot. This usually happens if the lighting conditions are not great or the fertilizer is low in the water column of the tank.
To solve these issues, you can check if your light is too strong or too low. If you have other fast-growing plants you should add liquid fertilizer to your tank weekly or after water changes so your Bucephalandra can also have some food to eat.
If you face algae growth on the leaves of this plant you will need to first move your Buce plants to shaded areas of the tank. You can also use liquid carbons such as Seachem Flourish Excel to fight algae in your aquarium. Make sure to use it as it is instructed on the product and does not over use it as it can kill some sensitive plants.
Bucephalandra plants are amazing aquatic plants to keep in your community tank. Most fish and invertebrates will live in harmony with this plant. Because of its hard leaves, this plant can also tolerate smaller nippy fish like barbs and betta fish.
With that being said, here are our top pics of ideal tank mates for Bucephalandra (Buce Plants):
- Bristlenose plecos
- L397 Pleco
- L333 pleco
- L46 Zebra Pleco
- Gold Nugget Pleco
- Otocinclus algae eaters
- Cherry shrimp
- Vampire shrimp
- Bamboo Shrimp
- Apple snails
- Assassin Snail
- Betta fish
- Most types of aquarium plants
Buce plants are hardy and tough plants that can adapt to most tank conditions. They can be great foreground plants as they stay short and develop beautiful colorations. Their ease of care, as mentioned in the article, makes them a great plant for low-tech plant