anubias in planted tank

Anubias Aquarium Plants: Care Guide

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance and easy-to-care-for aquarium plant, the Anubias is a great option. You might actually be seeing Anubias trending a lot.

On In this care guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about keeping Anubias plants happy and healthy in your home aquarium. Let’s dive in!

Recommended Anubias Care Items:

What is an Anubias plant?

Anubias is a genus of aquatic plants that includes several different species, all of which are noted for their resilience and hardiness. The most popular type of Anubias is the Barteri variety, with thick rhizomes, strong root systems, and durable green leaves.

This group of shade-loving plants is named after the Egyptian god Anubis, lord of the underworld (plenty of shade there). The Anubias plant is native to tropical Africa, where it flourishes in rivers and streams.

Anubias are popular plants in the aquarium hobby. It is beautiful, hardy, and easy to grow. Depending on the type of Anubias, it can fit into your background, midground, or foreground in your aquarium. Some Anubias varieties can even be used as aquarium driftwood decorations! It is a flexible plant to include in your planted tank or aquascape.

Popular Types of Anubias

When shopping for Anubias plants, you’ll likely see a few different types available. The most popular type is the Barteri variety, with thick rhizomes and strong root systems. Other types include:

Anubias Barteri 

This is the most common family of the Anubias used in planted aquariums. This species doesn’t require time in a greenhouse, which means they’re immediately ready for underwater growth. As such, they’re an easy species to maintain.

Anubias Nana Petite

This is a smaller version of Anubias that is immensely popular because it is easy to grow. It is the most popular style of Anubias.

This species’ leaves grow only about half an inch long. Its small size makes it perfect for nano tanks. The small size also makes it a classic choice for foreground placement. Their leaves are typically a deep, dark green.

Anubias Nana Golden

Anubias Nana Golden is a larger, golden version of the Nana Petite Anubias. As the name suggests, it has lighter, gold-yellow coloration. It is also quite a bit bigger, with leaves reaching 5 inches in length. This size essentially disqualifies them for nano tanks but makes pop with a mid or background placement in a larger aquarium.

Anubias Gigantea 

You guessed it; this is a very large species. This is the largest variety possible for aquariums. Because of their sheer size, they’re only appropriate for giant aquariums. This species can grow up to 3 feet tall with 30 or more leaves.

Anubias Barteri Round (Golden Coin)

Golden Coin has rounder, coin-like leaves and longer stems than the Nana species of Anubias. They’re suitable for both mid and background placements in your tank but would overwhelm as a foreground placement with their long stems.

Anubias Nana Pinto

Anubias Nana Pinto is a man-made variety. It has beautiful white-green striated and spotted patterns that are unique to every leaf and plant. You’re getting a one-of-a-kind plant if you pick this variety!

This species needs more light than other Anubias. It is also a slower grower, meaning if you need a fast-growing plant, this Anubias is not the best option for you.

Anubias Nana Snow White

This is a new species to the market. As the name suggests, it is white in color, which is rare with aquatic plants. Snow White requires high lighting so make sure you have a proper lighting set-up if you’re lucky enough to purchase this species.

Are Anubias Plants Toxic to Fish?

No, Anubias plants are not toxic to fish. In fact, they are often recommended as safe tank mates for both fish and shrimp tanks.

There is a myth floating around the internet that if you cut the rhizome, the sap contains something that will poison the water. However, this is not true. We have propagated in both fish tanks and shrimp tanks with no issue.

Benefits of Anubias in an Aquarium

These plants are a great addition to any planted tank for a variety of reasons:

Good For Beginners

Anubias are a fantastic plant for starting or modifying a planted tank. They’re extremely simple to cultivate and keep, making them ideal for novices and hobbyists on a budget who wish to enjoy their tanks without the hustle of maintaining more difficult live plants.

Oxygenates Water

Your Anubias will help to oxygenate your aquarium. This will improve the overall health of the water and inhabitants of the fish tank.

Natural Filtration

Anubias provide natural filtration in your aquarium. Plants absorb and remove a lot of the fish waste, excess food, decaying materials, and sometimes even heavy metals. This helps the nitrogen cycle function more efficiently, which means a healthier tank.

They also provide beneficial bacteria with lots of surface area to grow. This is extra surface area beyond the filter system. The plants do increase the efficiency of these systems, but you will still need to install a filtration system.

Provides Natural Cover

Anubias are excellent at creating hiding spaces for your fish, shrimp, and invertebrates. Your tank inhabitants will appreciate all of the nooks and crannies this species creates. Make sure you understand if your plant is a vertical or horizontal grower when purchasing, as this will impact the type of coverage it provides.

Algae Reduction

Anubias function as a natural algae repellent. Plants maintain the ecosystem in your aquarium, which prevents algae from getting out of control.

Beautiful Aesthetics

Anubias are beautiful! They can be used in a versatile range of positions in your aquarium to build out your planted tank design. Their vibrant colors will dress up any tank.

Relatively Fish Proof

Anubias are a great choice for aquariums with fish prone to snacking on plants. They’re a hardy species and can withstand some munching here and there, and a lot of plant-eating fish tend to them alone, which means they will stay in pretty good condition.

Buying Anubias: What To Look For

These plants are typically sold in a few different ways:

  1. Sold as bare-root plants from the gravel in the store tank.
  2. Sold potted in a little plastic container
  3. Sold attached to things like a rock, driftwood, or another decoration

When making a purchase, look for plants with lush leaves, a thick rhizome, and a healthy set of roots. Avoid plants with cracked and broken leaves, or leaves with holes. Avoid plants with visible algae growth.

You’ll also want to pay strict attention to what species you’re purchasing so that you can provide the proper care.

Anubias Care  Guide

Anubias are an incredibly easy plant to take care of. They’re generally low-light plants that can grow in a wide range of conditions, which makes them ideal for both beginners and experienced aquarium enthusiasts.

Here is an overview of Anubias care to help your plants thrive:

Tank Size

Tank size will be dependent on the variety. Some species can thrive in nano tanks while others will need a giant aquarium to flourish. Pay attention to the specific species recommendations on whichever species you choose.

One thing to remember is that most varieties require a minimum depth of 12-inches of water in the tank. This likely won’t create any issues as most tanks are deeper than this, but if you’re considering a tiny bowl or small aquarium, this could create issues.

Water Parameters

Anubias are flexible in their water parameter requirements. They do best in a neutral pH zone of 7.0; however, they can easily adapt to water conditions from 6.5 to 7.8 pH.

As an aquatic plant native to Africa, they prefer warmer waters in the range of 72 to 78-degrees Fahrenheit.

You can use an aquarium water test kit and aquarium thermometer to stay on top of your water parameters.

In the wild, Anubias grow in moving water so they’ll appreciate a higher flow rate but can adapt to lower flow rates. An aquarium wavemaker can help increase water movement.

Lighting Requirements

Anubias thrive in low lighting. They can also tolerate medium to bright lights as well, so you’re pretty safe unless you have them continually baking in direct sunlight. They’re shade-loving plants so try to find pockets of shade so they can flourish.

As a general rule, aquariums should never be placed in direct sunlight. Direct sunlight will cause lots of problems including overheating and excessive algae growth. For a similar reason, lights should not be left on 24/7.

We love programmable LED lights to create the right environment. With this type of light, the colors, brightness, and many other aspects can be controlled for creating the perfect ecosystem.

Fertilizer and CO2

Your Anubias are generally low-maintenance plants. They will appreciate CO2 injection and fertilizer but they don’t require these. CO2 injections promote robust, algae-resistant plants that are faster growers.

Anubias Planting Methods

These plants are versatile. They can grow in gravel, planted tank substrate, or attached to rocks, driftwood, or decorations. They do best when planted in nutrient-rich substrate or when attached to porous rocks or driftwood. Our preference is using a planted tank substrate and it is a nutrient-dense opportunity for growth.

anubias plant in aquarium

There are also some species-specific nuances to planting. For example, for Anubias Barteri, it is important to not fully cover or bury the rhizome. The rhizome should be on top of the substrate so that you’re able to see it. This will avoid any rot or decay issues in this species.

Attaching Anubias to Hardscape

Anubias can be attached to hardscape using zip ties, string, or aquarium-safe glue. We typically use an aquarium-safe gel-type of superglue. All you have to do is add a small amount of glue onto the rhizome and press the plant against the hardscape for a few seconds until the bond forms. This process can be done underwater or very briefly out of the tank.

Can Anubias Grow Floating?

Anubias are masters of survival. They will be fine if they’re left floating for days or even months in a tank. The only caveat here would be to watch out for yellowing leaves if your lighting is too intense for them.

Anubias Propagation

Anubias are easy to propagate. The rhizome will often naturally sprout separate growth heads after some time. These can be cut from the main rhizome once they are large enough using a sharp blade or scissors.

Each piece will grow into a new plant. For example, a healthy rhizome of Anubias Barteri can be divided into 1-2 inch segments; each segment should have a couple of leaves.

Common Problems with Anubias

Despite being an extremely hard and easy to grow plant, Anubias are not without issues. Here are some of the most common problems we see:

Yellowing Leaves or Intense Algae Growth

Anubias don’t like bright lights. If you notice your leaves starting to yellow or develop significant algae growth, your plant is probably receiving too much light.

To solve this, move your Anubias into a shadier part of your tank, add some floaters to dapple the lighting, or turn down the intensity and length of your lighting.

Entire Plants Appearing to Die

If you just added a new plant to your tank and it appears to be dying, it may be struggling with the transition.

Anubias can grow fully or partially underwater. However, if your plant was previously above water and is now suddenly submersed, this could cause issues, otherwise known as melting.

After the initial melt, new leaves should start forming. However, your plant will look like it is dying for a long time. Keep an eye on the situation to make sure it turns the corner within a few weeks.

Not Growing Very Much

If your plants aren’t growing, you need to ask yourself some questions. Do your Anubias have enough space in the right direction for which your plant likes to grow? Anubias need a good amount space to expand. You can’t crowd them together in a small tank and expect good results.

Black Spots Forming

Black spots can develop on your plants. If you see black spots, you’ve got yourself a case of Black Beard Algae.

Good news! This type of algae can be easily eliminated in a few days. Follow the following steps to take care of this algae foe:

  1. Use hydrogen peroxide treatments
  2. Examine and regulate phosphate levels in your water
  3. Boost and inject CO2 into the aquarium water
  4. Use Seachem Flourish
  5. Use Heat

For future control, consider adding species that will feed on black beard algae. This Black Beard algae guide covers all of the basics.

Conclusion

Have you tried growing these plants in your aquarium? They are a great choice for anyone looking for an easy-to-keep, low-maintenance plant species. If you’re new to the hobby, or just looking for a hassle-free way to green up your tank, this species is the perfect option. If you’re looking for other aquatic freshwater plants, check out our Java Fern, Amazon Sword, and Java Moss guides too! Share your photos and experiences with us in the comments section below – we can’t wait to see them!

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