Anubias Care Guide: Mastering the Essentials for a Flourishing Aquarium

Anubias plants are a popular addition to many aquariums due to their hardiness and attractive visual appeal. These plants can thrive in a variety of aquatic environments and are compatible with a majority of aquatic life. In this article, we’ll explore the best practices for providing optimal care for your Anubias plants, ensuring they grow and flourish within your aquarium.

Anubias is a genus of aquatic plants commonly kept in aquariums. They prefer low to medium lighting and can grow in a wide range of water parameters. They attach easily to surfaces and can be propagated by division or cuttings. Regular fertilization and water changes are necessary for their growth. They can benefit from CO2 injection and nutrient-rich substrate, but can also grow in low-tech setups.

As a tropical freshwater plant native to West Africa, Anubias requires specific conditions to thrive. By understanding their natural habitat and tailoring your aquarium setup accordingly, you can provide the best environment for these beautiful plants to grow. With proper planting, maintenance, and awareness of possible issues, you’ll be well on your way to cultivating a thriving underwater oasis.

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Anubias Varieties

Anubias Barteri

Anubias Barteri is a hardy and versatile plant, originating from West Africa. It’s easy to grow, making it perfect for beginners. I remember when I first started my planted aquarium journey, Anubias Barteri was among the first plants I successfully grew.

Anubias Nana

Anubias Nana, also known as Anubias Barteri var. Nana, is a petite variety of Anubias that is perfect for small aquariums or for creating a dense, lush aquascape. Originating from Cameroon, this plant thrives in low light conditions and requires minimal maintenance.

Anubias Gigantea

As the name suggests, Anubias Gigantea is a large variety of Anubias that can reach over a foot in height. This plant is perfect for creating dramatic centerpieces in large aquariums. I once used Anubias Gigantea in a client’s aquarium, and it made an impressive focal point.

Anubias Coffeefolia

Anubias Coffeefolia is another interesting variety with its wavy, coffee-colored leaves. This plant adds a unique texture and appearance to any planted aquarium. It’s an eye-catching addition that I often recommend to elevate an aquascape.

Anubias Afzelii

Anubias Afzelii, originating from Sierra Leone, has elongated leaves that can grow up to 10 inches in length. It’s an excellent plant for filling in mid-ground and background spaces in larger aquariums. This plant has been a reliable and attractive addition in many of my aquascaping projects.

Anubias Heterophylla

Lastly, Anubias Heterophylla is a less common variety, but its beautiful and varied leaf shapes make it a visually interesting choice. In my experience, this species does well in both low and medium light levels, providing an interesting aesthetic to any planted aquarium.

Natural Habitat

Anubias plants can be found in Western Africa, primarily in countries that span Central and Western Africa. They thrive in the lush green areas surrounding rivers and streams.

My first encounter with the Anubias plant in its natural habitat happened during a wildlife expedition. There, I observed firsthand its beautiful foliage in rivers with gentle to moderate currents.

The plant adapts well to various water conditions in its natural habitat ranging from calm backwaters to moderately flowing streams. Anubias also can be found growing partially submerged or fully submerged, depending on the time of the year and water levels.

In summary, understanding the natural habitat of the Anubias plant in Western Africa helps us provide optimal care for it in our own homes and gardens.

Aquarium Setup

Substrate and Decorations

When setting up an aquarium for Anubias, the choice of substrate is important. Personally, I prefer using a nutrient-rich substrate to promote healthy plant growth. Anubias can also be tied to rocks or driftwood, allowing their roots to attach and absorb nutrients directly from the water.

It is essential to create a natural-looking habitat for the plants. Include decorations such as rocks, driftwood, and a variety of other aquatic plants. Remember to provide plenty of hiding spots for fish and other tank inhabitants.

Lighting and Temperature

Anubias plants thrive in low-to-moderate lighting conditions. Too much light can lead to algae growth on the leaves. A good rule of thumb is to provide about 1.5 to 2 watts of light per gallon of water in the aquarium.

The ideal temperature for Anubias ranges between 72°F and 82°F (22°C to 28°C). Adjusting the heater accordingly will help keep the plants healthy and encourage growth.

A well-designed aquarium setup with proper positioning of Anubias plants can often be achieved in tanks as small as 10 gallons. Make sure to consider the size and depth of the tank when choosing the location for your plants. Placing them at different depths can provide a visually appealing underwater landscape.

Planting Anubias

Plant Placement

Anubias plants are versatile and can be placed in various areas of an aquascape. I remember when I first started using Anubias, I wasn’t sure where to place them. Over time, I realized their beautiful leaves make them great for foreground and midground placement, as well as attaching them to hardscape elements like driftwood or rocks. You can even utilize them as a background plant if allowed to grow taller.

Rhizome and Root Care

Anubias plants have a horizontal rhizome from which the leaves and roots grow. It’s important to avoid burying the rhizome under the substrate, as it can rot and harm the plant. Instead, plant the roots firmly in the substrate while keeping the rhizome slightly above. When I struggled with my first Anubias plant, I attached it to a small rock with a piece of fishing line, and it thrived.

The roots of Anubias are strong and can easily anchor themselves in the substrate or on hardscape elements. Make sure to provide sufficient nutrients in the substrate and water column for healthy root growth. Regular root trimming is not necessary, but you can trim dead or decaying roots to maintain a clean and healthy aquascape environment.

Growth and Maintenance

Water Conditions

Anubias plants thrive in freshwater environments with stable water parameters. The recommended temperature range is 72-82°F (22-28°C), and a pH between 6.0-7.5 is suitable. Anubias is quite hardy and can easily adapt to various water conditions; however, it prefers soft to moderately hard water. The optimal KH should be between 3-8 dKH.

Nutrient Requirements

Although Anubias plants have a slow growth rate, they still require nutrients for proper development. I remember noticing a significant improvement in my Anubias plant when I started using a balanced liquid fertilizer. It’s essential to provide them with macro and micronutrients for healthy growth. Planting Anubias in nutrient-rich substrate and using root tabs can also enhance their growth.

Algae Control

Anubias plants are prone to algae growth due to their slow growth rate and large leaves, giving algae a perfect place to settle. To prevent algae growth on your Anubias, limit excessive light exposure and ensure proper tank maintenance. Introducing algae-eating inhabitants like Otocinclus catfish or Amano shrimp can also aid in controlling algae.

Trimming and Pruning

Despite their slow growth rate, Anubias plants may require occasional trimming and pruning. This allows you to maintain their size and shape while also promoting the growth of new leaves. When trimming, snip off older and yellowing leaves close to the base. Additionally, clipping the rhizome carefully can encourage new growth points.

Submersed and Emersed Growth

Anubias plants can grow both submersed and emersed. While they often adapt well to submerged environments, many hobbyists prefer emersed growth due to the reduced risk of algae outbreaks. I once transitioned my Anubias to an emersed setup, and it flourished. In an emersed setup, make sure the plant’s roots are well submerged while its leaves remain above the waterline.


Anubias plants are quite easy to propagate through a process called rhizome division. In my experience, this method had a high success rate and allowed me to grow more beautiful Anubias plants.

First, remove the Anubias plant from your aquarium or its pot, and make sure to gently clean off any debris on the plant. The rhizome, which is the horizontal stem that produces leaves and roots, needs to be cut carefully.

Using a sharp, sterilized pair of scissors or a knife, divide the rhizome into pieces. Each piece should have at least 3-4 healthy leaves and some roots attached. This ensures that the new plants will have a good start.

Once you’ve cut the rhizome, it’s time to plant the new divisions. Place them back into your aquarium or plant them in separate pots, making sure the rhizome is not buried too deep, as this can lead to rot. Instead, attach the cuttings to rocks or driftwood with fishing line or glue.

After a few weeks, you will begin to notice new leaves and roots forming on the divisions. I was thrilled when I observed this incredible growth on my own cuttings!

Remember to continue providing proper care to your newly propagated Anubias plants, such as maintaining ideal water conditions and proper lighting. With patience and dedication, you’ll have a lush and thriving underwater garden in no time.

Compatibility with Aquatic Life

Fish and Invertebrates

Anubias are great when paired with a variety of fish species and invertebrates. They provide ample shelter, especially for small fish like otos and certain types of cichlids.

I once had a group of otos that were particularly fond of cuddling among the Anubias leaves.

Avoid adding plant-eaters like goldfish or large cichlids, as they may damage the Anubias. Instead, team it up with small and peaceful fish that won’t pose a threat to the plant.

Invertebrates, such as shrimp and snails, can safely coexist with Anubias.

Plant Companions

Anubias make excellent companions for many aquatic plants due to their adaptability and low maintenance nature.

They are the perfect foreground plant, complementing taller or bushier plants in the background.

Pair them with other slow-growing freshwater plants such as Java Ferns and Cryptocoryne, allowing for a harmonious aquatic setup.

Additionally, Anubias can be combined with other flowering species, creating a captivating underwater garden with diverse colors and shapes.

Remember to provide sufficient space between Anubias and neighboring plants, ensuring that both receive adequate light and nutrients.

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Common Issues and Solutions

Algae: Algae can often be a problem on anubias plants. The slow growth and broad leaves make them an easy target. To reduce algae, keep the plant shaded and decrease the lighting period.

Maintenance: Anubias plants require minimal maintenance. Just trim off yellow or damaged leaves occasionally to encourage new growth. Regular tank cleaning is crucial, and providing a good water flow will help too.

I once had an anubias plant struggling with algae growth. By supplementing it with a few shaded spots, I noticed a significant reduction in algae and overall healthier leaves.

Hardy Nature: Anubias plants are quite hardy, making them excellent for beginners. They can adapt to various water conditions and thrive in low to moderate light environments.

Yellow Leaves: If your anubias leaves turn yellow, it could be due to insufficient nutrients. Fertilize the tank regularly with an appropriate aquarium plant fertilizer to resolve this issue.

Slow Growth: Anubias plants are known for their slow growth. This is an advantage in low-tech aquarium setups without CO2 supplementation. If faster growth is desired, consider using stronger lighting and CO2 injection.

Remember to provide a balanced environment for your anubias plants. A combination of appropriate lighting, nutrients, and water flow will ensure their survival and growth.

Product recommendations for Anubias:

Anubias Live Aquarium PlantYou can purchase Anubias as a live aquarium plant on Amazon.
Fluval Plant and Shrimp StratumThis substrate is specifically designed for planted aquariums and provides a nutrient-rich environment for Anubias.
Finnex Planted+ 24/7 LED Aquarium LightThis LED light provides a full spectrum of light for optimal plant growth, including Anubias.
CO2Art Pro-Elite RegulatorThis CO2 regulator helps to maintain the proper levels of carbon dioxide in your aquarium, which is important for healthy plant growth, including Anubias.
API Leaf ZoneThis liquid fertilizer is specifically designed for aquarium plants, including Anubias, and provides essential nutrients for healthy growth.
Seachem Flourish ExcelThis liquid carbon supplement provides a source of carbon for healthy plant growth, including Anubias.
Seachem Flourish TabsThese root tabs provide essential nutrients for root growth and can benefit Anubias.
Seachem PurigenThis product helps to remove organic waste from your aquarium water, which can be harmful to plants, including Anubias.
Clscea CO2 Natural Plant SystemThis system helps to maintain the proper levels of carbon dioxide in your aquarium, which is important for healthy plant growth, including Anubias.

Reference: Wikipedia.


Hi there! My name is Jacob, and I'm the founder of this Pet people blog that talks all about aquarium and fishkeeping. I've been passionate about fish and aquatic life since I was a kid, and I've spent countless hours learning about different species, their habitats, and how to create the perfect environment for them to thrive in.

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