Updated: January 19, 2022 - By: - Categories: Planted aquarium

Anubias are aquatic plants. They can grow submerged or emersed. They grow in streams, rivers and marshes in the tropical areas of Africa. These plants are a sight to behold. With their lush green color and beautifully shaped leaves, they are mostly displayed in the foreground and midground of planted aquariums. The species number is abundant enough to build a beautiful aquascape with only Anubias. However, as with all other plants there are certain conditions you have to take to ensure your Anubias stays in a healthy state.

Popular types of anubias for planted aquariums

Anubias barteri var. barteri – broad leaved Anubias

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Anubias barteri var. barteri or broad-leaved Anubias has longer stems, and the leaves are double the size. The leaves are elongated and are different from other varieties.

It is larger and an excellent choice for a background plant. In some cases, it can be used in the mid-ground too, depending on the aquarium layout.

It can reach an average height of around 12 inches at maturity. If it adapts to the environment, it is pretty robust, and growth is steady. So, newer aquariums might see slower growth and might need a tad bit more maintenance!

Anubias barteri var. nana – Anubias nana

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Anubias barteri var. Nana is commonly known as Anubias nana. This plant is moderately sized and has a green hue like all Anubias species.

It can look good with specimen plants like the Echinodorus species as these are large. It is a great plant to experiment with other species like the Anubias nana “Golden” as well to get that contrast out of the different colors of leaves.

The plant is ideal for placing in the foreground and mid-ground. This is perfect for filling up gaps or holes in the layout. Its leaves can grow up to 2-4 inches. It can thrive in both terrarium and aquariums setups

Anubias barteri var. nana ‘Petite’ – Anubias nana Petite

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Anubias nana ‘Petite’ is the smallest of the Anubias. The plant generally grows up to 1-3 inches with the leaves under 0.5 inches max. Anubias Petite has small thick-stemmed, dark green, and light green colored leaves. It is a very slow-growing and hardy plant for which it has been called a “growing plastic plant”.

Anubias Petite is becoming popular amongst the aquascaping crowd because of its small leaf and easy maintenance. Small to medium-sized aquariums are best for the plant to keep in. More apt in miniature landscapes in nano planted tanks.

Anubias nana ‘Golden’

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There is a shade of gold on the leaves of Anubias nana golden, which makes it slightly different and also distinct from the other varieties of Anubias plants. The leaves are light green and golden in color. Inside the aquarium, the color seems close to lime-green rather than dark green leaves of other Anubias species. It looks best when planted in the middle ground.

It has slower growth when compared to other species in the Anubias family. It is a very durable and versatile plant to start off the aquascaping journey.

Anubias barteri ‘Coin Leaves’

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Anubias barteri coin leaf or Anubias barteri gold coin leaf is yet another variant of Anubias barteri. This plant is of similar size to Anubias barteri nana. It has round heart-shaped leaves that are coin-like, thus the name.

The stem is long, and overall, the look of the plant is different from other varieties thanks to its circular nature. The leaf size of this variant is more or less close to a quarter.

It can easily grow in low to moderate lighting. Herbivorous animals do not affect Anubias barteri coin leaf.

Anubias barteri Coffeefolia

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Anubias barteri Coffeefolia can reach a height of up to 12 inches, the leaves being 3 inches long, and the rhizome can be 3-5 inches long. The ruffled textured and oval-shaped leaves make this species very unique under the Anubias genus.

In the early stage of growth, the leaves of Anubias Coffeefolia are brown in color. As Coffeefolia grows, the leaves change their color to green like most Anubias plants do.

Its leaves can live up to several years and can grow in large groups even if their growth is slow.

Anubias Gracilis


Among the Anubias genus, Anubias Gracilis is one of the most elegant species. It can thrive in various water parameters. Anubias Gracilis has long, triangle-shaped spade-like leaves that can grow up to 3-4 inches.
Anubias Gracilis needs to be kept in a large aquarium because of its size and preferably in the background. It can grow sideways under suitable water parameters.

The size of Anubias Gracilis tends to be smaller when kept submerged underwater.

Anubias barteri ‘Angustifolia’ – A. lanceolata

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Anubias barteri ‘Angustifolia’ hails from the Anubias genus. Anubias barteri Angustifolia has long and spear-shaped leaves, which is an add-on to its beauty.

The leaves are dark green, giving a nice contrast if placed with light green plants like the Anubias nana Golden. These leaves of Anubias barteri ‘Angustifolia’ can grow up to 6-7 inches or larger.

The most interesting part is that it can tolerate higher pH and hardness levels, making it a very hardy plant.

Anubias congensis (afzelii)

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Anubias Congensis has slender and sharp leaves which are green in color. Because of its easy maintenance, Anubias Congensis is getting popular among aquatic plant enthusiasts.

An interesting feature of this plant is its dark green, thick, and not so round-shaped leaves. The leaves are pointy, and that makes them very unique in the Anubias family.

This plant can grow up to 6-8 inches when submerged. This plant is very robust, easy to maintain, has large leaves, and has a very slow growth pace. However, it grows faster than Anubias barteri.

Anubias heterophylla

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Anubias heterophylla is another larger leaf variant of the Anubias genus. The leaves can reach up to 12 inches. Similar to other Anubias plants, is sturdy, very adaptable, and slow-growing. It can survive many water parameters. The plant is best placed in the background or midground in an aquarium.

How to care for Anubias

Many aquarium hobbyists consider Anubias as one of the easiest plants to maintain. It is not demanding at all and requires little light and nutrients. Follow these guidelines to ensure your Anubias receives the utmost care:

Optimum temperature, pH and nutrient levels are important factors. Do thorough research to find out which levels are the best according to the tank size and population of fish and other plants.

Anubias don’t fancy living in the limelight, they thrive better behind the scenes. Do not expose them to too much light. They might grow a tad faster but there is a dark side to too much light. Soon enough, algae will grow on the leaves and destroy your plant.

If you have substrate like gravel or sand on the floor of your fish tank, do not bury the roots, otherwise, the rhizome will rot and kill the entire plant. Instead, anchor it to a rock or driftwood and then place it on the substrate. The roots will soon anchor themselves around the rock.

Keep the tank clean to avoid the accumulation of pollutants. Besides harming the fish, these pollutants will affect the health of the plant.

Common diseases and treatment

Unfortunately, these aquarium beauties are susceptible to disease like any other plants. The most common symptoms are:

1. Rotting roots and a softened rhizome

A healthy rhizome is green and firm, whereas a diseased one becomes mushy and develops a white, yellow, brown, or black discoloration. If the disease is left to advance, a foul odor will soon emanate from the rotting rhizome.

Treatment: The best way to deal with this problem is to cut away the infected part of the rhizome. This gives the rest of the plant a chance to grow healthy.

2. Melting leaves

There are two major causes, one being that an infected rhizome will infect the stem and soon will reach the leaves and cause them to rot. Secondly, if your Anubias was grown emersed and then you submerge it, the leaves will start to rot and melt due to this sudden change in their environment.

Treatment: You can slightly tug at the infected leaves and pull them off the parent plant or cut them off at the base.

3. Algae growth

Algae grows on the plant when it is exposed to too much light. It is also caused by adding too much nutrients into the water.

Treatment: Reduce the amount of light or move it to a slightly shaded area in the tank. As for the nutrients, stop adding too much, give the plants only what they need.

More about algae control here: https://portlandaquarium.net/aquarium-algae-control/

Frequently asked questions

How to propagate Anubias?

Propagation is the process of creating new plants. In the case of Anubias, rhizome division method is used. Remove the plant from the water and pat it dry. Using a clean pair of scissors or a knife, cut off at the rhizome. Ensure that the cut pieces have at least three leaves and some roots. Do not divide the parent plant into too many pieces, otherwise, the poor plant will be left struggling to survive. Tie these pieces onto a rock or driftwood and return to the water.

Can Anubias grow out of water?

Absolutely yes. Anubias is a highly adaptable plant and will grow submerged, emersed, or out of water as long as you give it time to adapt to its new environment. If you are growing it completely out of water, make sure the roots are buried in a moist substrate while the rhizome remains visible.

How to grow Anubias fast

With only a few leaves to show each year, Anubias grows pretty slow. You can use these methods to accelerate its growth:

Does Anubias need CO2

Anubias is not a demanding plant at all. It does well even without adding carbon dioxide into the tank. The carbon dioxide breathed out by the fish is sufficient for it. It has however been observed that at high light and high CO2, Anubias grows fast as compared to medium light and high CO2.

How to attach Anubias to rock

Remove the plant from the water and pat it dry. Select a part of the rhizome and tie it to the rock using fishing thread or a rubber band. Don’t tie too tight. You can also stick it using superglue by applying the gel on the rhizome, sticking it onto the rock, and holding it for a few seconds. Return it into the water. The roots will soon anchor themselves around the rock.

Can Anubias grow in sand?

When you are using sand as a substrate, it is not advisable to bury the roots in the sand. Tie the rhizome onto a rock. This rock can then be placed on the sand.

How to trim Anubias

Since Anubias grows slowly, there is not much trimming involved. You only do it once in a while when you want to make it look neat.

If the roots have grown too long, trim them with a sharp knife to get a clean look. As for the leaves, watch out for older leaves and pull them off gently at the base. New ones will emerge after a while. In the case of old or overpopulated plants, the stem is cut at about two inches from the rhizome.

We enjoy keeping fish, and have for many years. We are trying to promote the hobby as much as possible. We want to see many others succeed in their fish keeping efforts and are committed to sharing our knowledge when we can.

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