Anubias Nana: The Complete Beginner’s Care Sheet

For a beginner the thought of keeping live aquatic plants can be quite daunting.

Most have specific care conditions that are required to keep them healthy.

Fortunately the Anubias Nana is known to be beginner friendly because of the wide range of freshwater conditions it can thrive in.

This semi-aquatic freshwater plant is equally stunning and easy to care for.

Although this plant can be expensive it will thrive in almost any tank.

Are you interested in adding Anubias Nana to your aquarium?

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about this plant…

Anubias Nana 101

Anubias Nana In Planted Tank

The Anubias Nana (Anubias barteri var. nana) is a popular tropical freshwater plant from the family, Araceae.

This plant is dark green with thick oval shaped leaves and a strong stem.

They are commonly used as in aquariums with lots of hardscape and grow best when attached to driftwood or porous rocks. This plant is known to be very durable and hardy and can even survive when kept with destructible, herbivorous fish species like Goldfish and Convict Cichlids.

Because of this they are considered beginner friendly and can grow either fully or partially submersed.

Most people will keep this plant either in the foreground or midground of the aquarium.

If this plant is too big then you can even find a petite variety which is often used as an alternative carpet plant because of their smaller size.

While the Anubias Nana makes a great addition to lots of aquariums, they are known to be quite expensive. Expect to pay at least $5 for a single bunch.

Benefits:

  • Anubias Nana can thrive in a wide variety of water parameters which means they can be kept in many different freshwater aquariums.
  • This plant is naturally hardy which makes it a great beginner plant. They are perfect for beginners who are looking for their first live plant.
  • Keeping this plant helps to improve the water quality within the aquarium. It will help keep the oxygen and nutrients in the water stable.
  • Goldfish and different species of Cichlids are known to be destructive neighbors to many different aquatic plants. Unlike most plants the Anubias Nana is Cichlid and Goldfish friendly. Although some fish may try to nibble at the plant, their thick structure helps to prevent any damage.
  • This plant’s leaves and solid structures can provide shelter for timid species who want to retreat and hide.

Anubias Nana Appearance

Anubias Nana With Other Plants

The Anubias Nana is a small light green plant.

They have large leaves that each grow to 2.5 inches long. These leaves are oval and tear-drop shaped, with visible veins when viewed from above. Just like the rest of the plant, these leaves are thick and durable.

This plant also has thick horizontal rhizomes that can grow up to 6 inches.

All Anubias plants are known to flower depending on the conditions.

The flowers have a creamy white spathe with a spadix in the center. This bloom is loved by aquarists because it will last for 1-2 months and even appears when the plant is fully submersed. Depending on the size of your Anubias plant they can even produce multiple flowers.

Size and Growth Rate

Anubias Nana grows to a maximum of 6 inches.

Their growth rate is very slow and you can expect 1 new leaf to appear from the rhizome shoots each month.

You can also find a smaller version of this plant which is known as the Anubias barteri var. nana petite. They typically only reach a height of 2.5 inches and are commonly used as carpet plants.

Different Uses and Placements

Anubias Nana is often placed in the foreground and/or midground of aquariums.

They belong to the same family as the common houseplant Philodendron, so they are often kept as the main plant within a hardscape aquarium.

This plant complements driftwood and rocks very well because they are epiphytes. Epiphytes means they will grow attached to another structure (like rocks). Growing them on top of rocks also helps to add depth and height (especially in a paludarium).

Unlike other aquatic plants Anubias Nana cannot be kept as a floating plant. It can also not be kept when buried in substrate. When buried in the substrate the rhizome and roots are prone to rot.

If you would like to use this plant as a carpet plant then you can use the petite variant which looks very similar but only reaches a maximum height of 2.5 inches.

Anubias Nana Care Sheet

Anubias Nana In Home Aquarium

Tank Requirements

Anubias Nana is a very hardy plant that can survive in a wide range of water parameters.

They require water temperature to be between 72-82°F but will do best when the water is kept around 77°F. Nana also prefers slightly acidic water so the pH should be kept between 6-7.5.

You should also aim for between 3-8 KH and 3-10 dGH.

This plant should be kept in at least a 10 gallon aquarium. If your aquarium is smaller than this then we recommend you keep the petite variant.

Light Requirements

This is not a very demanding plant when it comes to light requirements.

Anubias Nana prefers low lighting at less than 3 watts per gallon. However they can tolerate moderate lighting of 3-5 watts per gallon.

You should aim to give this plant between 8-9 hours of light each day.

Because they do not need lots of light a standard LED light fixture is perfect for this plant. The kelvin ratings of these LED light fixtures should be between 6500-7000K, which is generally best for most live plant aquariums.

Moderate to high lighting should be avoided because it can encourage algae to grow. Any light exposure higher than 10 hours will increase the chance of unwanted algal growth too. When algae grows on Anubias it can be very dangerous because it tries to cover the entire plant. This suffocates it and prevents it from accessing nutrients.

As a side note if you are struggling with algae in your tank then read Top 20 Algae Eaters.

If you have other plants in your tank that require moderate lighting then Anubias Nana can fit perfectly under the shade of other taller plants. Just make sure they are getting the required subdued lighting as they still need some light for photosynthesis and growth.

How To Plant

Unlike lots of other aquarium plants you should not fully plant Anubias Nana in the substrate because it will start to rot.

You should partially bury the roots and not the rhizome. The roots should be buried just enough to anchor them while leaving the rhizome fully exposed.

Any soft substrate will be suitable including: fine gravel, sand or aquarium soil. With fine gravel and sand, it will be best to add some root tabs to provide the plant with enough nutrients.

Just remember that planting this plant in substrate is known to make the growth of this slow plant even slower!

Instead of planting them you can attach it to any hardscape within the aquarium. This can be driftwood, rocks and even other décor.

This is the best way to plant them because it completely prevents rot.

You should position the plant against the décor and attach the roots using cotton thread or fishing line. Tie the roots to the driftwood/rock and place it within the tank.

Over time the roots will grow and secure the plant around the décor. Once the roots have grown you can remove the fishing line. The plant will continue to grow along the hardscape and will continue to grow out of the water column.

Care and Maintenance

Anubias Nana

Although this species grows very slowly it will still need some maintenance.

The majority of maintenance will involve trimming leaves and sometimes the roots. After a while the roots can grow a little wild from the rhizome so they will need cutting. Unlike other plants the main purpose of these roots is for anchorage so you should trim them down by only ~1 inch.

This is best done with a pair of clean scissors.

The leaves can be trimmed down as well. Cutting the leaves when they get to a large size will not produce a new leaf from the stump left but will encourage new leaves to grow at the rhizome tip.

As long as the rhizome remains healthy, and free of rot and algae, the plant will continue to flourish.

Due to the slow growth of this plant, trimming and maintenance will be down to preference but generally will be needed every 2 to 3 months.

There are not many fatal problems that can occur when caring for Anubias Nana except for Anubias rot.

Root tabs are helpful to encourage growth if you are using either a gravel or sand substrate.

Sometimes nutrient deficiency can cause the plant to turn yellow.

This is simply treated by cutting the dead/dying leaves off of the plant and testing the nutrient levels. Yellow discoloration is usually associated with an iron deficiency. Nutrients and supplementation of CO2 are generally not needed for this plant to thrive. However, the occasional supplementation of either will encourage more growth.

Compatibility and Tank Mates

Anubias Nana can be kept safely with lots of different fish species.

Because of the shelter they provide they are great for timid species such as Pygmy Corydoras, Dwarf Gouramis and Marbled Hatchetfish. They are also perfect for nocturnal species (such as Fire Eels) that prefer some shade during the day and are active during the night.

This plant also thrives with popular tropical freshwater fish like Cherry Barbs, Ember Tetras, Zebra Danios, Mollies and Guppies.

Bottom dwelling fish like Cory Catfish will also get along well with these plants. Anubias Nana will provide cover but also will let them enjoy feeding on the collected waste and debris.

Surprisingly they even make great additions to tanks with fish who have a reputation of being very destructive to live plants. This plant is compatible with Goldfish and Cichlids. Because of the hardy nature and leathery structure, they do very well with these species.

These plants are also safe from being uprooted because they will attach themselves to the hardscape of the aquarium.

In addition to fish, non-fish tank mates will also benefit from these plants. Their leaves and solid structure provide a surface for beneficial bacteria to grow which will encourage a feeding frenzy from popular shrimp species like the Amano and Ghost Shrimp.

Anubias Nana Propagation

This is a very easy plant to propagate.

To propagate this plant you will need to divide the rhizome (the rhizome is the thick horizontal structure that the leaves grow out from). To do this you will need aquascaping scissors.

Unlike other aquatic plants, the Anubias Nana is a very thick and sturdy plant, so do not worry about being gentle. You should cut the rhizome in two, while making sure that both rhizome pieces have a few leaves (2-4).

If you have a particularly large rhizome with a lot of roots you may need to trim the roots first. Trimming these roots will not damage the plant because their main function is more for wrapping around structures than for nutrient gathering.

After you have cut them you can attach the plant onto the hardscape in your aquarium. You can attach the plant with either glue, cotton thread or fishing line.

Anubias barteri var. nana

Common Problems With Anubias Nana

Anubias Rot: Although you can keep them planted in the substrate you run the risk of Anubias rot. Anubias rot occurs when the rhizome is covered over completely with substrate. This can be avoided by making sure that the rhizome is fully exposed and rested above the substrate. Only the roots can be buried with this plant.

Algal Growth: This is a common problem when Anubias Nana is kept in an aquarium with too much light. To avoid this keep light exposure time between 8-9 hours and do not exceed 10 hours each day. If you see any algae begin to grow, simply remove the dying/browning leaves and position the plant away from direct light.

Melt: Although this plant is very sturdy it can still melt. This is a common cycle that happens with most aquatic plants when they are first introduced to an aquarium. It is a shock response to the new water environment. They will normally adapt on their own and get healthy once they get used to their new environment. However, if you do not see any improvement it may be a nutrient problem (commonly involving phosphates and iron).

Overcrowding and Nutrient Competition: Anubias Nana is very beneficial for filtering through excess nutrients in the water column. However, having too many of these plants in a single aquarium can cause competition for nutrients. This will stop the plants from growing because they will be starved of nutrients. To avoid this it is best to only keep a single specimen for every 10 gallons of water.

FAQs About Anubias Nana

Does Anubias Nana Flower?

Anubias Nana is known to flower in fully and partially submersed conditions.

The flowers that bloom are a white/cream or pale green color that look like the peace lily houseplant.

Does Anubias Nana Need Soil?

No.

In fact it is not advised to grow this plant in soil because the rhizome is very susceptible to root rot.

Instead it is best to grow this plant on hardscape to completely prevent root rot.

Why Is Anubias Nana So Expensive?

This species is known for being expensive for a few reasons.

However the slow growth rate of this plant is the main reason for its price. It is expensive for farmers to grow this plant and therefore raises the value of the plant.

Should You Add Anubias Nana To Your Aquarium? (Summary)

Anubias Nana makes the perfect addition to almost every freshwater aquarium.

They are perfectly suited for beginners and can grow in either emersed or fully submersed conditions.

This beautiful semi-aquatic plant can be kept in a wide range of conditions and their light requirements are low.

Although there has been success with planting them in the substrate, it is best to keep them attached to hardscape décor. This helps avoid Anubias rot.

This is a plant that can tick many boxes.

It is hardy, beautiful and can be kept with lots of different tank mates.

Let us know in the comments section below if you keep Anubias Nana in your aquarium…

About David Thomas

David Thomas David has been keeping fish since he was a child. In his first tank he kept goldfish and since then he has kept over 30 different species. Now he has 4 separate tanks and his favorite is a 100 gallon freshwater tank with a school of Rasboras, Tetras and Loaches.

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