Anubias Care: Planting, Lighting, Types And Propagation

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Anubias is one of the most popular aquarium plants for both aquarists and beginners. The Anubias are attractive, easy to find, and grows well. This plant will thrive in any aquarium, and if you are a beginner, don’t worry. They are easy to take care of.

Anubias does not require any special care and also grows well in low light aquariums. Furthermore, these plants have large, broad leaves that are loved by fish as it gives some extra hiding places. And, despite this, it also comes in a dwarf version.

There are various types of Anubias that will be discussed in this article.

What Are Anubias?

Among many aquarium plants, Anubias is one of my favorites. These plants are popular in the aquarium trade because they are extremely undemanding. They are highly attractive, notable for their green leaves and strong root structure.  Likewise, the Anubias is a versatile and nearly bulletproof group of flowering Arums. Besides this, they are native to tropical Central and West Africa.

Anubias prefer low light environments and naturally occurring partial shade among taller plants. I have mentioned the Best Low Light Aquarium Plants and Aquarium Plants’ Benefits in my next article. This results to slow growth as compared with other plants. This plant occasionally sends up a flower spike through the water column that fully matures once it breaks the surface.

Anubias are epiphytes, which means their roots are exposed rather than buried. Burying Anubias rhizomes is also the fastest way to kill one. Apart from this, they need to be attached to driftwood, rocks, and other rough surfaces. And, over time, Anubias will secure themselves to create accents to decorations.

Origin of Anubias

The Anubias got its name from the Egyptian God of Afterlife- Anubis. It is the genus of aquatic and semiaquatic flowering plants in the family Araceae. Likewise, the shady riverside habitat of these plants makes them natural complements to the mythology of Anubis. Here is the scientific classification of this plant:

Kingdom Plantae
Clade Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Order Alismatales
Family Araceae
Subfamily Aroideae
Tribe Anubiadeae
Genus Anubias

What Are The Features of Anubias?

As mentioned earlier, it is one of the easy growing aquatic plants. So what are the features that this plant possesses?

  • Anubias grows at different heights ranging from 5 cm to 100 cm.
  • It has a thick and dark green stem.
  • The flowers of Anubias has a whitish or cream-like appearance.
  • The structure of the leaf is thick and broad/ wide.
  • Similarly, the leaves are pointy/ elongated or heart-shaped, arrow-shaped or triangular.
  • The leaves are coarse and leathery. Also, it has lines running from the center to the edges.
  • Possess white roots that anchor the plant

Besides this, here is a quick chart that shows details about the Anubias plant:

Common Name Anubias
Family Name Araceae
Lighting Low to Medium
Difficulty Easy to care
Optimal pH 6.0 to 8.0
Optimal GH 2 to 15
Suitable Temperature 22 to 28 degree Celsius (72 to 82 degree Fahrenheit)
Substrate Not Needed
Growth Form Stem
Placement in the Tank Mostly foreground or midground and rarely background
Height It depends on the type of Anubias

from 5 cm to 100 cm (2 inches to 40 inches)

Co2 Not needed-Low
Propagation Cutting the Rhizome

Anubias Plantlets

Growth Rate Slow

Habitats of Anubias

Generally, these plants grow in flowing water and shady parts of marshes in Africa. You can easily spot this plant throughout the sections of Western Africa. It can be found as far as Bamako in Mali or Central Zaire.

Likewise, Anubias can grow in partially submersed and fully submerged as well. And like most coastal plants, they grow above the water. Being a flexible plant, it can be cultivated in terrariums. And it thrives under moist and humid conditions as well.

Types of Anubias

There are twelve types of Anubias that you can use in your aquarium. Let us check what differences they have by learning a little something about them.

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Anubias Coffeefolia

This species is a slow grower plant and requires low light. It has an average height and can be placed as a midground or background plant. This species possesses a wavy leaf and very dark coloration Since the leaves resemble the coffee plant so it is named “Coffeefolia”. Deep red can also be seen along the stem of this plant.

Coffeefolia is one of the larger types of Anubias that reach up to 12 inches in height. Also, it is an excellent fill plant for the shaded areas of the aqua space.

Anubias Congenis

This species of Anubias has a lush green color or more elongated shape of the leaf. It is a midground or foreground plant with a medium height of 6 inches or 15cm. Like others of its kind, it also requires low light and the growth of this plant is slow.

Anubias Barteri

One of the largest among this species of plant, it also needs medium lights to grow optimally. It grows partially and also fully submerged.

Thus, it is known to tolerate a range of lighting conditions. Likewise, the propagation of this species is through the rhizome or separating side shoots.

Anubias Frazeri

The peculiar feature of this kind is that Frazeri is grown from the combinations of species i.e. Barteri and Congenis. It is also best suited for midground placement and these hybrid species thrive under low to moderate lighting conditions.

When you look at their leaves, it consists of deep green pointed leaves and like other of its kind, it has slow and steady growth.

Anubias Longifolia

Longifolia is a long Anubias plant that can reach 25 cm or 10 inches in height. Thus it is best suited as a midground or foreground plant in an aquarium.

Likewise, it consists of elongated leaves like Congenis. And also, it requires mid lighting, and it equally slow in growth as other species.

Anubias Gracills

A good example of the triangular leaf structure of the Anubias plant is this species. It grows up to 20 cm to 30 cm (8 inches to 12 inches) in height.

So, Anubias Gracills is also a midground or background plant. Similar to other varieties, it also grows lowly and will be suitable in moderate lighting.

Anubias Bonsai

Like any other Anubias, it also needs low lighting and grows very slow. You can say this species is the smallest of all variety of the genus-Anubias. Thus, it should be used as a foreground plant in the tank due to its size.

Anubias Gigantea

You can anticipate its structure from its name that this species is of a large structure of its kind. The growth of the gigantea is slow and it also requires low lighting to grow. It can grow up to the height of 1 meter.

Thus, it can only be grown in a large aquarium and may have up to 30 leaves. Another thing you must consider is this plant must be fully submerged. Also, this species is from West Africa.

Anubias Nana

Anubias Nana is one of the beautiful species. Originated from West Africa, it is used for the decorations in the foreground due to its unique small size. And like every of its kind, this plant needs moderate lighting and is of slow growth.

Anubias Nana “Marina”

Marina is a sub-variety from the species “Anubias Nana”. It has reduced dimensions and a size of 5 cm to 10 cm (2 inches to 4 inches).

Thus, it is meant for aesthetical purposes in the foreground of your tank. Slow growth and low light are the basic features of this species. So, it requires in shaded areas.

Anubias Nana “Petite”

This plant must be grown on the driftwood or the rock. Planting in the substrate is not advisable unless you ensure that the rhizome is above the substrate to prevent it from rotting.

Anubias Nana “Round Leaf”

This species has a round-shaped leaf. It has a small structure, a maximum of 5 cm to 10 cm i.e., of 2 inches to 4 inches in height. So, this plant is more suitable for foreground placement in the tank. Its growth is slow and requires minimal lighting to survive.

Planting an Anubias

Anubias are easy to care for and grow. But how will you plant them? Well, planting an Anubias plant is simple and not too difficult. They are a great plant choice for setups without substrate. It can grow in aquarium gravel, aquarium substrate, attached to rocks, driftwood, or decorations.

Aquarium Decorations: What To and What Not To Add – Beginners Guide will give you an idea about the decor in your aquariums.

Attaching To Driftwood Or Rocks By Thread

To keep your Anubias in a proper place, you will have to tie it to some driftwood or porous rock type. The number one driftwood I have ever purchased is PIVBY Natural Aquarium Driftwood Assorted Branches Reptile Ornament for Fish Tank Decoration, which comes in a pack of 3.

Anubias have strong roots that help to attach fully to the surface within a few weeks. Also, this plant absorbs nutrients through leaves, and it actually does better when the rhizome is left exposed instead of buried.

Attaching Through Super Glue

So, if you need to plant an Anubias, grab a superglue, remove tags or any other foreign objects from the plants and find some porous surfaces on which you want to plant Anubias.

I would recommend Gorilla 7700108 20 Gram 2-pack Super Glue Gel, Clear personally.

  • Find the rhizome of your Anubias plant, which is present between the roots and leaves. Else, you can locate a new growth of tiny bud-like leaves.
  • Then dry the plant roots with a paper towel.
  • After this, choose a spot on the rock where you would like to stick the plant.
  • Spread a thin layer of the glue on the length of the rhizome and make it slightly thick.
  • Next, press the plant rhizome to the rock. During this, be sure that rots are vertically above the rock.
  • Then you hod for about a minute or two and repeat it with other rhizomes.
  • Finally, place the rock and the plant into the aquarium in the water.

Care, Tankmates, and Tank Size For the Anubias

Anubias planting aquarists is lucky that they do not need to take special care of their plant. After planting your Anubias, you need not do much to take care of them. You will have to remove the dead leaves and prune where necessary. The leaves of the plant grow at a slow rate so it shall take a week to see new leaves appear.

Likewise, it can thrive in a wide range of water values. Although it will appreciate extras like Co2 and fertilizers, these are not much necessary.


Talking about the tankmates, Anubias is a very forgiving plant. Invertebrate and any fish shall work with the Anubias plant.

With the presence of broad leaves, there will be a great hiding place for shy fish as well. They are compatible with most fish and tank inhabitants, such as shrimp and snails.

You can also keep this plant with goldfish, tetras, etc. And, when it comes to keeping with snails, you can keep them with certain varieties of snails that will not wat it. For instance, Ramshorn snails, Nerite snails, Malaysian Trumpet snails, etc.

Tank size

Despite the Anubias plants are small, they need a minimum tank size of 10 gallons. Some of the varieties of Anubias are very large.

So, for those species, you need to have a tank size of 20 gallons as well. Tetra Aquarium 20 Gallon Fish Tank Kit, Includes LED Lighting and Decor, would be the best choice for this type of plant. I have personally used it and found it to be attractive.

This helps to accommodate the plant as it can take a lot of space and make the tank stuffy for other inhabitants in the aquarium.

The dwarf’s plants are going to be good for small fish tanks, while gigantea can be grown in massive tanks. One most important thing you should consider is that Anubias require planting in a minimum depth of 12-inches of water.


What about the lighting requirement for your Anubias plant? So, when it comes to lightning, it is best to avoid anything too strong. This might cause yellowing or algae growth, as well. Thus, it does best in low light and even no light. However, since your aquarium needs some lights, so focus must be on low light as well.

Apart from this, your plant does good in shade. So, do place the aquarium in a place where sunlight is not directly reached. Direct sunlight shall cause a lot of issues such as overheating the water, encouraging algae growth, and another similar health issue.

You can also check the right environment via LED Lights. NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light, Fish Tank Light with Extendable Brackets, 48-Inch, 32 Watts is an adjustable light that is best for planted aquariums.

Since different varieties of Anubias require different lightening conditions, some require low light while some need medium light. Thus, based on these, I would suggest going with a moderate-low lighting condition (20 to 40 PAR) for the Anubias. It is more healthy and does not harm the plant as well.

Temperature, pH, and Hardness for Anubias

The ideal temperature for Anubias is close to 72 to 82 Degree Fahrenheit (22 to 28 Degree Celcius). In this temperature, they thrive their best.

Anubias are pretty chill when it comes to water parameters requirements. Basically, they do best in a neutral pH zone of 7.0.

When you look for the pH of the plant, 6.0 to 8.0 is the best. Any value drastically above this range can cause harm to your plant’s health. Likewise, to measure this with a pH testing kit is inexpensive and can be obtained from the stores that sell aquarium equipment.

API Aquarium Test Kit works best when it comes to checking the water parameters.

Also, Anubias can survive in a different range of water hardness levels. But, 2.15 GH (general hardness) and 3 to 8 KH (carbon hardness) is the ideal range for them.

Anubias Propagation

When your Anubias plant grows to a decent size, you want to cut them into two or more new plants. This is called an Anubias Propagation. However, it is not a difficult process.

Rhizome Division

Based on the Rhizome division, you will have to carefully cut the rhizome into two or more pieces using a sharp blade. However, while cutting, make sure that you leave at least three or four healthy leaves on each new section of the Rhizome. Moreover, do make sure that the roots are not damaged.

Now, plant the new pieces back in the substrate but do not bury the rhizome.

Anubias Plantlets

Anubias will also propagate themselves naturally as well. In this method, they grow the little plantlets on them. And, this can be used to grow more Anubias as well.

Problems with Anubias

Are there any problems while growing Anubias in your aquarium? Well, yes. Although you should not have much trouble in planting and growing, there is some common problem with this plant.

Algae Growth

Too many lights or too many nutrients in the tank water results in algae formation and the growth of algae. This can be detrimental to the health of your Anubias plants. The presence of algae chokes them and competes with it for the resources.

Now, to control this significantly, you must focus on the lighting. Decrease the intensity of light provided to the tank.

And secondly, avoid using too much fertilizer application or overfeeding your plants and even the aquatic inhabitants. Anf finally, it does change your water at regular intervals to reduce algae growth.

You can look for the best algae eaters for the freshwater aquarium as well as for getting rid of algae in the fish tank naturally.

Rotting of the Anubias Rhizome

To check the rot signs, pull out the rhizome up (take the plant out of the tank) and check every inch of the rhizome. If it is brownish or mushy in texture, then it is rotting.

So, cut every trace of the rotten tissue. However, be sure to cut until you are into clean and fresh green since even a trace of rot can affect a rhizome.

Slow Growth

Growing an Anubias needs a lot of patience. Te Anubias are slow-growing plants that grow 1 to 2 leaves in about 3 weeks or more.

So, without proper knowledge of these plants, an amateur aquarist might get worried and frustrated. Thus, you must have the patience to grow these plant as the does not grow fast like most of the aquatic plants.

Yellow Spots

One of the most common problems that you will face while growing an Anubias plant. It is often caused by a strong lightening.

If you see yellow spots on your Anubias leaves, move your plants to the shady arrears in the tank. Also, add some floats to subdue the light as well. Dosing the plant with supplements that contain irons helps to combat this problem.

Benefits Of Anubias In an Aquarium

  • Anubias is an undemanding plant. So, this plant makes a good option for beginners.
  • These plants help in oxygenating the water column.
  • Another benefit is that it proves an additional surface area for the beneficial bacteria.
  • It also provides shade or cover for the shrimp and fish. This can be a hiding place for them as well.
  • These plants beautify the aquarium with attractive green leaves.
  • Anubias plants are easy to plant and care for. Also, they are great for long-term planted aquarium keeping.
  • They also work as a natural algae repellant. So, it helps from stopping algae growth.

How To Trim Anubias?

Since Anubias are a slow-growing plant, so there is really very little maintenance required for them after planting. You will need to trim the plants when the stems get a bit long. So, trim your plant with care and thought to avoid causing damage to the plants.

  • Despite trimming all the large leaves at once, do aim for less than a half. This will help you to see how plants settle into trimming.
  • Remove all dead leaves but not at once. Trim a few today, then wait a week to trim the rest. Repeat it until the dead leaves are gone.
  • Also, remove excess plantlets by simply picking them. It is easy to do so, and also, this is how they propagate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Anubias Low Lights?

Yes, basically, Anubias are the low lights species. They are tolerant to low lights so, anchor them in the rocks, logs, or driftwood where the sunlight does not reach directly.

How Many Hours of Light Do Anubias Need?

Since Anubias are low lights plants, they require around 8 to 9 hours of light. 12 hours of lighting is somewhat algae prone. Also, if you have other kinds of lighting aside from incandescent lighting, then it is more suitable.

Can Anubias Grow Out of Water?

Generally, they grow under the water, i.e., submerged. Since they are semi-aquatic plants that are sold in aquarium shops for planting, they can grow with their leaves out of the water as well.

Why Do Anubias Leaves Have Algae On Them?

Anubias plant is a slow-growing plant. And their feather-like leaves are stable, i.e., and they do not move back and forth in the water much. This makes the leaves of this plant an ideal place for the growth of Algae.

To avoid this algae growth, it is a good idea to keep the pant in areas of a tank where there is shade.

Keeping them under cover of Brazilian Pennywort or Water Sprite provides them shade and protects them from algae growth as well. Moreover, it is also a good idea to keep them in areas where the water current is moderate.

Can They Grow In Cold Water?

Growth in cold water is also possible for the Anubias plants. But they need the nutrients, and light is a lower temperature. Despite this, these aquatic plants are happy in cold water, making them ideal for a Goldfish Tank.

Final Words

To sum up, Anubias is a perfect plant choice for beginners and hobbyists. If you are a beginner, then you would definitely love it. Likewise, caring for this plant is also easy. You just require minimal basic care.

Mostly, you will have to consider the lighting requirement of this plant. The tank size, tankmates, pH requirement, and temperatures are also other necessary components for growing your Anubias in the tank.

All in all, Anubias is a beautiful aquarium plant for beginners that makes the presence of your aquarium beautiful. The lush green leaves make your tank highly decorative as well.

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