Anubias Guide for Beginners and Experts: Types, Care, Growing, Plant Profile

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Of all the aquatic plants you could keep in your aquarium, Anubias are some of the favorites with fishkeepers because they’re extremely easy to care for, grow easily, and are quite lovely to look at among your little swimmers.

Anubias are one of our top recommended live plant choices for anyone, beginner or pro.

They come in a wide range of sizes and styles and shades of green, and they’re really easy to plant and let grow, pretty much on their own. And bonus for those with a small aquarium, they even come in dwarf sizes.

Quick Overview Facts on Anubias

Found throughout regions in western Africa, Anubias barteri or Anubias Nana are a lovely green, hardy plant that is extremely hardy and nearly impossible to kill.

Thanks to this, it has become one of the most popular live plants for aquarists to cultivate in their freshwater aquariums around the world.

Anubias grow both submersed and partially submersed, which makes them a superbly easy plant to care for. They adapt easily to new environments, capable of handling a wide range of conditions within an aquarium.

They grow up to 16-inches in height at a slower rate than many other plants. They also grow upward, rather than outwards, though it depends on the variety.

Conveniently, many varieties of Anubias are available in pet stores, online plant and pet stores, and even some home goods stores throughout the country. The Anubias Nana flower resembles a peace lily.

Scientific Name Anubias barteri var. nana
Genus Anubias
Other names Dwarf anubias, Nana
Lighting Needs Low to Moderate
Growth rate Slow
Temperature Required 72-82 degrees F
pH Level 6.0-7.5
KH 3-10
Care Level Easy/Beginner+
Minimum tank size 10 gallons
Maximum plant size 16 inches for most species

About Anubias

There are many varieties of Anubias that you may want to consider growing in your aquarium. We’ll talk about these below, but the two most popular variety seem to be the Nana, a dwarf version of the plant that grows slowly.

Anubias are native to West Africa and make an easy addition to your aquarium environment. You can attach Anubias to porous rocks and Anubias on driftwood do well, too – we’ll teach you how to plant Anubias in aquarium.

Beyond that, Anubias aquarium plant care is extremely easy – almost non-existent.

Anubias are especially great for use in aquariums with 3D backgrounds, as they attach easily to walls and exhibits with unusual textures.

They’re great for camouflaging ugly parts in the aquarium, as well, because of this unique planting method.

These little plants do really well in low lights and no light aquarium environments, in water temperatures between 73 and 83-degrees Fahrenheit.

They’re also not super picky on pH balances, though they do prefer a neutral 7.0 for ultimate growth rates. But as long as their roots are wet, you can grow them in almost anything.

bright green anubias in aquarium

About the Types of Anubias

As mentioned above, there are a large number of Anubias species that may be found for your aquarium. They range from highly ornamental plants to more “common” looking Anubias types. They’re all pretty darn easy to care for with minimal requirements, but some are larger than others and may be slightly pickier on their environment than most of the species available.

Some of these easy-going plants include these most commonly available species:

  • Anubias Afzelli – A highly ornamental plant with lanceolate, sharpened, and elongated leaves. The rootstalk on this variety develops underground, so should be planted deeper than most anubias.
  • Anubias Barteri – The most common family of the Anubias used in planted aquariums. These don’t require any period in a greenhouse, which means they’re immediately ready for underwater growth. This species is very attractive for a long time and considered very “unpretentious” of the small-leaved kinds of Anubias.
  • Anubias Barteri “Coffefolia” – A specific member of the Barteri family, known for its unusual leaf shape, which resembles a coffee tree leaf. The leaves are large, wavy, and coarser than many other varieties.
  • Anubias gigantea – The name implies the reality – this is a much larger variety than most. This is the largest variety you’ll find in aquariums and should only be used in giant aquariums as they may have up to 30 leaves and can be 3 feet tall. These Anubias produce 1 to 2 new leaves per year and should be abruptly fully submerged.
  • Anubias Nangi – A hybrid species developed from the Nana and Gilletii varieties, this is another larger Anubias plant species. This is more commonly used in professional aquascapes rather than amateur tanks, thanks to the uniqueness.
  • Anubias Nana Petite – The Anubias Nana tank plants are the most common Anubias for aquariums. They are extremely easy to care for, beautiful, and easy to find. The petite variety is a smaller version of the common species and is especially great for smaller aquariums. The lush, dark leaves are incredibly lovely and inviting, as well, which make it all the more popular.
  • Anubias Lanceolata – This variety has the most variety in the leaf coloring, even among a single plant. Shades range from light lettuce green – like in iceberg lettuce – to a saturated, dark green.

Uses and Benefits of Anubias in an Aquarium

Anubias are a great plant for starting or modifying of a planted aquarium. They’re incredibly easy to plant and care for, so they are especially great for beginner aquarists and hobbyists looking for a low-key time and energy investment in a planted aquarium.

Depending on the species of Anubias you plant, you’ll find a variety of uses for them. For one, they help to oxygenate your aquarium – like all plants do – which can improve the overall health of the water and inhabitants of the fish tank.

You’ll also find that many varieties of Anubias are great for both decoration and for providing your cichlids, goldfish, crustaceans, and other invertebrates with shelter and hiding places.

The species will determine this value, however, as some grow vertically while others grow horizontally.

Anubias are also great for long-term planted aquarium keeping as herbivorous fish won’t eat them.

All plants help to give your aquarium natural filtration. Plants absorb and remove a lot of the fish waste, excess food, decaying materials, and sometimes even heavy metals.

They also help to provide beneficial bacteria with loads of surfaces to grow on beyond the filter system you install. You still do need to install a filtration system, but the plants do increase the effectiveness of these systems.

Anubias and other plants also give some more aesthetically pleasing aeration to the fish tank. As plants do on land, Anubias provide oxygen into the water while absorbing carbon dioxide.

This is done during photosynthesis, during which they also absorb light, nutrients, and the CO2, releasing oxygen as their byproduct. Fish need this oxygen in the water to breathe easier and have an overall healthy life.

You’ll also find that Anubias work as a natural algae repellent. Without good plants like these, you’re likely going to deal with algae growth repeatedly.  Plants, however, balance out the ecosystem of your aquarium, which prevents algae from growing as freely.

Finally, you’ll find that though fish don’t love eating the plants, shrimp and algae eating snails will hide among the leaves and graze on some of the algae growth on them.

anubias in planted tank

Tank Requirements for Anubias

Anubias are some of the easiest aquarium plants to care for. The reasons why are the very basic, easy to create environment that these aquatic plants require in their watery home.

Water Parameters

Anubias are pretty chill when it comes to what they require in the water parameters department. They technically do best in a neutral pH zone of 7.0, but they can grow in almost any pH parameter.

After 7.0, their prime range is between 6.5 and 7.8 pH. They also grow fine in either soft or acidic water.

Anubias also do best in warmer water between 72 and 78-degrees Fahrenheit.

But basically speaking about Anubias temperatures, they just need the water to be over 68-degrees and not too crazy hot. Which, well, if your water gets that hot, your fish aren’t going to be doing well, either.

Anubias also naturally grow in running water, but unless you’ve got the right water pump going on, your aquarium is a bit more stagnant than their natural environment – and that’s okay.

They’re fine to grow in still water. They also do well in brackish water as well.

Tank Size

Depending on the variety of your Anubias, they can do well in anything from a small to large aquarium.

The dwarf varieties are going to be best for small fish tanks, while some – the gigantea – can only be grown in massive tanks. Look for the specific specifications on whichever species you choose to understand what the precise needs for your plants are.

The primary thing to remember in light of the tank size is that most varieties of Anubias require planting in a minimum depth of 12-inches of water.

Most aquariums are going to be deeper than this anyway, but in case you’re thinking of adding some Anubias to a frog tank, you’ll want to know this.

Fertilizer and CO2

While your Anubias may, in some cases, appreciate some CO2 injection and fertilizer – nutrient – dosing, they don’t generally require these “extras” that some other plants might need. If they’re healthy and doing well, they’re generally going to remain doing so, with or without the added nutrients and carbon dioxide.

Lighting

Anubias do best in low or even no lighting settings. Since your aquarium needs some light, of course, we’re focusing on the low-light setups.

They also do well in medium to bright lights as well, so, honestly, there’s not much of an “ideal” to talk about, save, well, no direct sunlight in the aquarium.

Anubias may do best in shade, so be sure to plant them in areas of the aquarium that don’t get as much light. And if any of your tank is getting direct sunlight, you should move the aquarium away.

Aquariums should never be placed in direct sunlight, as this excess light may cause a lot of issues, such as overheating the water, encouraging algae growth, and other similar unhealthy issues.

If possible, use LED lights to create the right environment for these plants – and your fish. The colors, brightness, and many other aspects may more easily be controlled for creating that perfect for your miniature ecosystem lighting scheme.

Basic Care Guide for Anubias

As mentioned above, Anubias plant care is extremely easy. There are some things you can do to increase growth or improve health for plants that aren’t already flourishing, but generally speaking, Anubias are pretty much a plant and let grow sort of plant.

Anubias specifically thrive in low nutrient waters and in near darkness for long stretches of time. In fact, as long as you control the algae – though they can also actually help with this – you’re going to do very little to take care of these plants.

Make sure they remain in water that’s at least 12-inches deep at all times, and, if you like, you can occasionally dose with nutrient-rich fertilizers or some CO2 supplementation.

Remove dead leaves as they crop up, and do the occasional trim – we’ll talk about this below – while generally keeping the aquarium within the parameters that your compatible fish and other plants require.

Maintenance for Anubias

Anubias are a slow-growing species of aquatic plant. Because of this, along with its tendency to be a “relaxed” plant in regard to its environment, there’s really very little maintenance required after planting. I.e., Anubias Nana care is pretty darn easy.

Every now and then, you will need to trim the plants. Generally, this is when the stems get a little too long.

And as long as your Anubias have access to some light, remain in 12-inch+ deep water, they’re generally going to be fine without you doing anything more than keeping the aquarium clean with the standard water changes and adjustments that your fish require.

Common Problems with Anubias

Growing Anubias is pretty easy generally speaking, so there aren’t a lot of problems with them.

However, all plants are living things and that means there may be a few issues that crop up. If you find any of these issues, follow the simply instructions to care for the issue and you’ll probably see results in a fairly short time.

Yellowing Leaves or Intense Algae Growth

As mentioned multiple times, Anubias care little for bright lights. So, if you notice your Anubias starting to yellow or develop a significant algae growth, you’ve probably placed the plant poorly within the aquarium.

Try moving your Anubias into the shade of other plants or décor items, add some floaters to subdue the lighting, or just turn down the brightness on your lighting system if the other plants and fish allow for that adjustment.

Entire Plants Appearing to Die

If you find that your new Anubias seems to be completely dying off, it may be possible that they haven’t been transitioned properly.

These plants can grow either fully or partially underwater. But if you buy one that has been grown above water and now is suddenly submersed, it could easily be having issues adapting to the new environment.

After the initial melt – what appears to be the whole plant dying – new leaves should start forming eventually. Just keep an eye on the plants to make sure this is happening after a couple of weeks.

Seems Not to Be Growing

If you notice your Anubias aren’t growing, examine the number of plants you have and which types. Are they the type that grow up or outward? Are there too many? Anubias need some space to expand and growth healthy. You cannot grow a lot of them simultaneously in the same smaller aquarium.

If you have too many plants, spread them out into other water vessels or aquariums. This will help the plants to plump out and grow more beautifully.

Black Spots Forming

Most commonly seen on the petite Anubias, black spots may develop. If you notice these tiny little dots, don’t panic. They’re not signs of a dying plant. They are, however, algae called Black Beard Algae.

You can easily eliminate this algae within a matter of days by doing a few simple things.

  1. Treat with hydrogen peroxide
  2. Regulate phosphate in your aquarium water
  3. Introduce Black Beard Algae eaters
  4. Boost and inject CO2 into the aquarium water
  5. Use Seachem Flourish
  6. Use heat treatment

The link above provides a thorough description for how to follow through on all of these steps.

How to Plant Anubias Nana

Anubias are a pretty easy plant to position and plant within your aquarium.

Just grab some superglue, remove tags or other foreign objects from the plant, and find some porous surfaces on which to place the Anubias.

  1. Find the rhizome of the plant – this is the largest lateral part of the plant between the roots and leaves. Or locate a new growth of tiny bud-like leaves growing out of one end of the plant.
  2. Dry the plant roots with a paper towel.
  3. Then choose a spot on the rock where you’d like to adhere the plant. A crevice or dip is best.
  4. Spread a thin layer of the glue on the length of the rhizome. Make it slightly thick.
  5. Press the plant rhizome to the rock, with the roots vertically above the rock.
  6. Hold everything together for about one to two minutes.
  7. Repeat with other rhizomes.
  8. Place the rock and plant into the aquarium with water.

Be sure to finish the whole process per plant within 15 minutes to prevent the roots from drying out permanently.

Some people also choose to attach the plants using fishing line instead of superglue.

anubias and other plants in a fish tank

How to Trim Anubias

Trim your Anubias with care and thought to avoid causing damage to your plants.

  • Instead of trimming all the large leaves at once, aim for less than half. Let the plant settle into this trimming and see what happens.
  • Trim and remove all dead leaves, however, just not at once. Trim a few today, then wait a week to trim some more. Repeat until all dead leaves are gone.
  • Remove excess plantlets by simply “picking” them off. They come off easily and naturally, as this is how they propagate.

How to Propagate Anubias

As is the case with all rhizome plants like Anubias and Java Ferns, it’s pretty easy to propagate these plants – that is, grow more from the one you’ve got. There are two basic methods for how to grow Anubias from your existing plants.

Rhizome Division

The easiest way to multiple your Anubias is through rhizome division. Just cut or snap the rhizome to remove part of the plant. Voila. You’ve got two plants! Attach the two plants to porous surfaces and you’re good to go.

Anubias Plantlets

Anubias will propagate themselves naturally, as well. They grow these little plantlets on them which can be used to grow more Anubias.

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