If you’re looking for a solid and popular aquarium plant for your planted fish tank, the anacharis, a freshwateraquarium plant is a great option. They’re extremely popular among aquarists for a number of reasons, especially in low-tech, low-maintenance tanks.
They’re great for beginners and seasoned hobbyists alike and withstand a wide range of water conditions, meaning they pair well with many fish who need different parameters for a healthy life.
Let’s take a look at how to grow these beauties, where to find them, and what kind of needs they have to keep your tank looking gorgeous and green.
Quick Overview Facts on Anacharis
|Scientific Name:||Egeria densa|
|Other Names:||Brazilian Water Weed, Waterweed, Elodea, Anacharis Densa, Elodea Densa, Leafy Elodea, Brazilian Elodea, and Egeria|
|Lighting Needs:||Moderate light|
|Growth Rate:||Moderate to fast|
|Temperature Requirements:||68 – 75°F|
|pH Level:||6.0 – 8.0|
|KH:||2 – 20|
|Minimum Tank Size:||10 gallons|
|Maximum Plant Size:||23.5 inches in length and about 1 to 3 inches wide each stem|
Anacharis are sold in a range of stores under different names including anacharis, Egeria densa, and elodea densa.
The plants originated in Argentina, Southeast Brazil, and Uruguay. Now, they grow prolifically throughout NorthAmerica and South America (especially throughout the Amazon region) and other parts of the world. They’re perennial in nature, grow quickly in the wild, in both ponds and slow-moving bodies of water like canals, streams, and some rivers.
Uses and Benefits of Anacharis in an Aquarium
Anacharis plants are great for freshwater aquariums for a wide range of reasons. They’re visually appealing, adding some unique and colorful plant life for aesthetics, for starters.
The plants also provide your fish with plenty of shelter and hiding places, whether they’re shy fish species, fry, or it’s mating season.
Many fish also enjoy dining on anarcharis, including cichlids and goldfish. Apple snails and several other ominvores and herbivores find the flourishing plant a tasty meal between pellets.
Anacharis also help prevent algae blooms from forming since they absorb may of the nutrients algae requires to blossom. The plant also secretes a substance that prevents blue-green algae from forming.
The plant also functions as a filter by catching and holding debris floating around in aquariums, making then easier to clean.
The anacharis plant is gorgeous, made up of long green stems and small leaves covering nearly the full length of the stems. The shade of green in the plants varies from plant to plant as well as depending on the water conditions. They may be anything from grassy green to a dark, dense forest green.
In the wild, the plant grows up to 3 feet tall with thick stems and nodes from which the leaves sprout. Each node, whether wild or domestic, typically produces a whorl of 3 to 6 leaves, with most of the lowest whorls being on the lower end of that.
The leaves are oval or oblong in shape and usually grow between 0.4 and 1.6 inches long.
At the end of the branches, you’ll find dense clusters of leaves and in the summer, plants will produce a pale white flower with three petals. The flowers float on the surface of the water.
Whether you’re purchasing your anacharis for an aquarium or a pond from fish stores, there are some things to keep in mind.
First off, you want to make sure the plants you purchase are healthy looking. They should have sturdy green stems and plenty of green leaves. Avoid plants with yellowing stems or leaves entirely, as well as any with overly dark green leaves, brown or black leaves and stems. These indicate the plant is likely going to die soon and won’t survive a transplant.
The plant usually comes in bunches of 6 to 15 stems, around 6 to 8 inches long. They may or may not have roots, though, which is fine. The plant propagates by cuttings, so the lack of roots isn’t a reason for concern.
Typically, the plants come with rubber bands wrapped around the stems. Remove the bands as quickly as possible as they can damage the plant.
To determine how many plants you need, consider this:
Aquariums only need a bundle or two to fully populate the tank.
Ponds should have 1 bunch of 6 to 15 stems per square foot.
Tank Requirements for Anacharis
Anacharis care, overall, is relatively easy and blends well with many fish and invertebrate species making them an excellent choice for beginners. Though anacharis are easy to care for plants, thanks to their vast adaptability, they do have preferred parameters and setups.
The main challenge with the plant is not so much keeping it alive but keeping it from overtaking your fish tank.
The plant is suitable for any size aquarium, but it should be planned around with the quick and extensive growth rate in mind. And bonus: you can plant it or float it.
Ideal Water Temperature
Anacharis do well in a variety of temperatures, though they thrive between 72 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. They can survive in cooler environments, as well, though, meaning they do well with both tropical and coldwater fish such as goldfish and their appropriate tank mates.
pH and Hardness
Anacharis prefer water to be within the range of 6.0 and 8.0 pH. They’ll survive within other parameters, but for the best results, this is where they’ll thrive.
They also prefer water hardness between 2 and 20 gH. Thankfully, this wide range makes them appropriate for almost any level. The one challenge will be transferring the plant from soft water to hard water. Oddly, the other way around seems to be fine in most cases.
Anacharis are great for either ponds or fish tanks. The one exception is that they’re not suitable for nano tanks – they will overtake everything in there quickly. The plants should be in aquariums at least 10 gallons, though “bigger is better” is definitely true here.
Fertilizer and CO2
Anacharis do best in tanks without CO2 infusion. The plant also doesn’t require much in the way of supplements (fertilizer/plant food), but occasionally will appreciate a boost, especially if you’re looking for more growth.
Anacharis plants do best under moderate lighting. They need plenty of light to keep growing and thriving – low light is not an option. And if the lighting is too intense or lit for too long, the plants will actually grow green hair algae, especially on older stems and leaves near the surface of the water.
One nice thing about anacharis plants is that they can either be planted or function as floating plants in your aquarium or pond. They extract nutrients from both sediments and the water column.
The plants will grow much faster when planted, however, so if you’re looking to keep it “light” in your fish tank, plant them as floaters instead of into the substrate.
The plant can grow in almost any type of substrate. Ideally, though, they do best with gravel and sand.
Maintenance for Anacharis
With anacharis being so prolific, most of your care efforts will be put toward keeping the plant in hand within your aquarium or pond. This means you’ll need to do regular trimming and make sure the parameters are kept appropriate to avoid overgrowth.
The growth rate will heavily be influenced by the lighting – too much will boost the overgrowth and too little will kill the plant – and the nutrients found in the substrate in the fish tank. If you find you cannot combat the growth rate, reduce lighting a bit and see, first, if that helps.
If the lighting reduction doesn’t resolve the problem, consider turning your planted anacharis into floating plants after trimming and removing the excess growth from the tank.
Common Problems with Anacharis
There are a few common issues with anacharis plants you’ll need to look out for and take care of.
Sometimes, anacharis plants may wither in a few days after they’ve been added to a new aquarium. This usually happens because of a change of environment for the plant or errors during planting.
Introducing a new plant into different water chemistry can be the cause of the issue, which causes the plants to “melt” (wither) and shed old leaves due to stress.
Thankfully, this isn’t a huge issue in most cases. The plants will acclimate before too long and regain strength and vibrancy. Just be sure to keep the chemistry as stable as possible to prevent the melt from occurring again. Be sure to remove dead leaves that have fallen as well, as these can change the chemistry and cause other issues within the environment.
If you’re planning to plant instead of float, you should still let the anacharis float for a while before planting. Roots will come off as they float and then you’ll be able to plant them in the substrate and you won’t need to weigh them down.
Another potential problem that may arise with anacharis plants is dormancy. Basically, this means the plant just sits there in the fish tank – no growing, no dying, just existing.
When this happens, you likely have either nutrient or lighting issues. Start with lighting for 10 hours daily. Check for growth or change. If that doesn’t do it, increase the light intensity slowly.
At this stage, you should also consider planting floating anacharis. Add some fertilizer and trim the plant.
Finally, if the plant stops growing, but there’s tons of it, the anacharis has likely outgrown its space. Remove some of the plants if this appears to be the issue.
Because anacharis is a fast-growing plant, it may easily overrun the fish tank or pond, if not maintained properly. They may block out light, steal nutrients from other plants and otherwise disrupt life in your aquarium.
If the anacharis appears to have overgrown the tank, you should trim back the plants and completely remove some of the branches.
Finally, the other most common problem for anacharis plants is discoloration. This usually has to do with light levels in the aquarium. Properly lit anacharis should be vibrant green and growing well. If the plant is exhibiting pale green or yellow colors, it needs more light. If the leaves or stems are turning black or brown, it likely has too much light. Slowly adjust the light’s brightness accordingly to either increase or decrease.
It’s also important to conduct partial water changes weekly and check the water parameters to ensure the pH and other levels are where they belong.
How to Plant Anacharis
The first step for planting Anacharis is to carefully remove the rubber band from the base of the stems. This band acts to keep the plants together and make them look good while on display.
Next, It is important you remove the band before planting. If you do not remove them the stem below the rubber band can die and rot.
After the rubber band is removed, you need to separate the stems. Part of this step is making sure to inspect the stem bottoms for any obvious cracks. It is important to remove any damaged portions. This removal may require trimming, but you should not need to remove more than a half-inch.
When the stems are ready it is time to play the Anacharis. Each stem must be placed two inches into the aquarium’s substrate and around an inch apart. If you plant this plant too shallow you will end up with floating stems.
This plant works great as a background plant. When planting it is best to place the shorter stems in front of the larger ones due to growth potential. First, this plant will grow upwards towards the water surface and then begin to grow across the surface. As it branches across the surface it will sometimes start to curl back down creating a dense network of branches throughout your aquarium.
As the plant grows upward, it is building a delicate but complicated series of roots through the substrate.
Besides planting anacharis into the substrate of your aquarium, a second way of using them is by making them into floating Anacharis. After you have removed the rubber band and did all the needed stem trimming, just allow the plant to float in the water. Floating Anacharis grows much more rapidly than the Anacharis that is planted into the substrate. This is because the floating Anacharis has greater access to light.
It is strongly suspected that the reason this plant grows so rapidly in aquariums is that it is highly efficient at drawing nutrients from the water. This ability helps it beat out some forms of algae in the battle for nutrients and space inside the tank.
How to Trim Anacharis
The growth of the Anacharis is quick when it has the right conditions. The way to help your plant is to have stronger lights for more hours, giving it plant fertilizer and CO2 supplement. With the rapid growth, the stems will grow long and will have branches shoot off from the side. When this plant grows densely, it is a great way to provide cover for fish and aquarium shrimp that need a safe place to hide. If your Anacharis plant start to grows too thick it is possible to trim its stems to make more room inside your aquarium.
How to Propagate Anacharis
Anacharis care also involves its reproduction. This plant is a long stem that lacks a crown, tubers, or rhizome like other aquatic plants normally chosen for aquariums. Propagating this plant is easy because all it requires is cutting the stems and planting or allowing the cut portion to float. The most successful cuttings need to be at least five inches or more, and they should have plenty of healthy green leaves.