How to Succeed with Anubias   

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LA
Anubias grown under water about a year old and two inches tall.

Bonsai Anubias.  Anubias grown underwater in low light grows low and slow.  We prefer these runt versions to the near bushes that some terrarium keepers grow.

LA
Paul grows anubias so well he brings us his extras in a five-gallon bucket.

Tough Plants.  We left these cast-offs from Paul in this bucket for four weeks before we got around to working on them.  Some of the leaves wilted and the water turned rank.  We just washed the slime off the rhizomes and started slashing.

LA
Anubias resembles a plastic plant that grows.

Strong Plant.  Paul Greene’s anubias flourishes in his terrarium -- not submerged under water.  This way his anubias get scads more light and never grow a patina of algae.  Paul uses some high power wattage over his terrarium.  He has to trim his anubias like we mow our lawns.  Since this slow-growing plant from Africa is fairly pricey, we take all his anubias we can get.  The 18 inchers won’t fit in our regular plant tanks.  Too large an anubias plant makes a very expensive mulch.  So we trim them back a bit and restart their little biological clocks.

LA
Anubias grows slow but rarely dies.  Chop the heck out of it.

Slow Growers when Submerged.  Anubias look good in aquaria but grow much slower underwater.  The larger species won’t even fit in most tanks when allowed to grow emersed -- not covered by water.  The fastest way to encourage their growth is to raise their leaves above your water level.  Anubias is a true bog plant -- in spite of their usual listing as aquarium plants.

LA
Anubias grows roots that grab onto gravel.

LA
Paul's anubias roots really, really grow into his gravel.

Good Root Systems.  Anubias will root onto wood or rough rocks.  But unlike African ferns, anubias will grow an extensive root system into your gravel.  Keep that rhizome above your gravel.  Anubias grows much better when the light hits its rhizome.  The best way to encourage growth is to anchor it to wood with a rubber band.  Some anubias fans insist the rhizomes rot when buried in the gravel.  We just find it slows their growth -- a lot.

Plecos Verboten.  Very few fish will snack on the tough leaves of anubias.  Still, lots of little plecos will eventually eat its leaves.  One large plecostomus will always knock it loose.  He may or may not eat it, but he will always knock it loose.  If you spent six months getting your anubias to root into your wood, you will want to avoid all plecos.

LA
Prune off those damaged leaves before jump starting this anubias starter plant.


Trim off the Defects.  Anubias grows so slowly you hate to snip off any leaves.  Do it anyway.  Damaged leaves will not repair themselves.  You want good-looking leaves not tattered or shredded leaves.  Pruning also encourages new leaf growth.

Some Dozen Species.  You can find at least 12 species of anubias from time to time.  Frankly, most look so similar that I’d hate to bet money on identifying a particular species.  (Paul says the same thing.)  We grow the same species and they look totally different.

Algae Problem?  You will probably want to avoid high powered lights on your underwater anubias.  Algae grow faster than this slow growing plant.  Apparently most algae has a problem getting a grip on the shiny leaves of the anubias.  Algae just slides right off if you rub it with your thumb (another way to get a green thumb?) and net it out with your regular fish net.  Perhaps not all algae species will slide off this easily but the ones I’ve encountered do.  For other light-reducing, algae-preventing tips refer to banana plants.

LA
Small anubias starts are much easier to work with than the biggies.

LA
We severely cropped the roots and leaves. We'll attach these to wood 05-01-94.

LA
Ta da.  Consider it done.

LA
Turned around, it doesn't look quite so weird.

LA
Two months later it looks much better.

LA
We'll compare growth rates with this five-leaved starter 05-01-04.

LA
Some other starter anubias with leaves out of the water.

LA
Another example starter.

Reproduction.  Most people increase their anubias herd by cutting up the rhizomes.  The bigger the rhizome piece the more energy stored in it.  Keep at least three leaves (ideally) on them to make sure they have enough chlorophyll to run their photosynthesis factories.  If you start with an anubias growing on a wood plug you’re already off to a good start.  Put the wood plug on your bogwood and the anubias will colonize your entire piece of bogwood.  The process will take time.  And it takes place faster above the water level.  Cover your tank to keep your humidity up.

LA
Paul just (05-02-04) brought this piece in.  It grew submerged, thus the algae.

LA
We surgeried it into eight starters and banded them onto wood.

LA
Here's one of the starters.  

LA
And here's the rest of them 05-01.

LA
Same plants 06-28.

LA
Same plants 10.06

LA
Anubias growing submerged (and smaller) in the gravel.  Snip off the defective leaves.

LA
Another brand new anubias attached to wood with rubber band 05-01-94.

LA
Paul's 38H terrarium avec anubias.

LA
We like the submerged shorties better.  Anubias will live with African cichlids.

Last Words.  Anubias plants are not for everyone.  Price could be one consideration.  They make an excellent show plant IF you have the time and dedication to grow them.  You guys with your CO2 injectors, airport landing lights, and slow drip fertilizers will find anubias right up your alley.  And so will the plant ignorers amongst you.  Anubias grows whether you encourage it or not.  LA. 

Some more pics...

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