Anubias Congensis (Anubias heterophylla)

Anubias Congensis

Last updated on August 25th, 2022 at 08:13 am

Anubias Congensis, also known as Anubias heterophylla, is an easy to care for tropical plant that many hobbyists love to grow in their freshwater aquariums. The reason behind this popular choice of aquarium plants is that they can be very hardy and undemanding. It will also do very well in both low-light and high-light conditions, therefore making it suitable for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums.

They are robust and easy to grow aquatic plants native to East Africa that can thrive in just about any setting, from the most basic of setups to the most heavily-planted aquarium. Though it may not be as commonly kept as some other common aquarium plants, Anubias Congensis (Anubias heterophylla) care and maintenance aren’t especially difficult, even for beginners.

The care isn’t too difficult if you know what to look out for and what to avoid. If you already have Anubias Congensis in your tank, and it looks like it’s dying, the first thing you should do is check your water parameters to see if something in the tank has changed (chemicals or pH levels). If everything checks out okay, then these care tips will help get it back on track.

Origin and descriptions

Anubias Congensis

Anubias Congensis, or Anubias Congo, is an easily recognizable plant to aquarists because of its unique rhizome. It’s described as a stemless version of Anubias Barteri var. nana and has wide, wavy leaves with a short petiole that splits down one side. It’s so-named because it was discovered in 1998 by Dr. Rainer Stange, who was part of a German expedition to Africa.

Many years later, he named it after his home country. The Latin word congensis means from Congo, which obviously refers to where he found it. The word heterophylla simply means different leaved—which refers to both similarities and differences between Anubias congensis and Anubias barteri.

For example, both plants have distinctive keels on their leaf stems; however, those on Anubias congensis are much wider and more pronounced than those on other varieties of Anubias. These distinctively large keels also help give them their common name: Wide Leaf Anubias. The underside of Anubias congensis leaves contains white scales whereas Anubias barteri var. nana does not, but otherwise there are no major physical differences between these two varieties.

Species profile

Anubias Congensis

Anubias Congensis Anubias, a genus of flowering plants in the arum family, Araceae, comprises about 70 species of rhizomatous perennials native to tropical Africa and Madagascar. The plants can be identified by their large, thick, leathery leaves and upright rhizomes that have horizontal rootlets.

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A few popular aquarium varieties include Anubias barteri var. nana, which grows well attached to driftwood or rocks; Anubias afzelii, which is one of several aquarium anubiases commonly referred to as narrow-leaf; and Anubias barteri var. trifolia (also known as broadleaf), which has three distinct leaflets on each stem rather than two.

Native to warm climates across sub-Saharan Africa, where they grow under forest cover, Anubias species are now widely cultivated throughout Southeast Asia and parts of North America—notably Florida’s freshwater springs region—as ornamental houseplants. Some pet owners also keep them successfully in outdoor aquaria year-round or overwinter them indoors during the winter months.

Anubias congensis size

Anubias congensis plants grow like most Anubias species, which is to say slowly and under ideal conditions. The maximum Anubias congensis size is 7 inches (18 cm) tall with leaves ranging from 2 to 4 inches long and 0.5 inches wide. The flower spike of Anubias congensis, on average, is 4 inches long and grows during the summer months.

Anubias congensis tank size

The minimum recommended tank size of the Anubias congensis is 1o gallons (38 liters).

How to plant Anubias congensis

Anubias Congensis

Anubias Congensis is a fairly easy plant to propagate via rhizome cutting. To do so, use a sharp blade to make diagonal cuts on both sides of an Anubias Congensis rhizome (making sure not to cut into any buds or leaves).

While Anubias has very thick and stiff leaves, which is great when it comes to holding onto debris, it also means that there’s not a lot of room for error when cutting. Because they are heavy and sharp, you’ll need to keep your cuts clean and straight. One way to ensure that your cuts are clean is by using clippers or shears instead of scissors; sharp scissors tend to crush delicate plant tissue and leave behind jagged edges.

Then, place these cuttings in a container filled with water for about two weeks. Finally, drain and refill your container with fresh water once every week.

Repeat until you notice new growth. It should take about three months for new plants to sprout from your rhizomes. If necessary, you can also use stem tip cuttings, but they are usually less successful than using rhizomes because it’s harder to keep them alive while they’re still young—the further along they are in their life cycle when you attempt propagation, the more likely they will survive and grow into full-fledged plants.

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You could also try layering if that suits your fancy; however, it isn’t my favorite method as I find rhizome propagation easier and much quicker.

Anubias Congensis care

Anubias Congensis

Anubias Congensis is a hardy freshwater plant. It is tolerant of poor water conditions but prefers soft water with at least 1 ppm of dissolved CO2. Use a large container since it can grow up to 7 inches in height, provide strong lighting and fertilize sparingly for optimum growth. The leaves are used as hiding places by many types of fish and are an excellent addition to an aquarium planted community tank setup.

Anubias congensis light requirements

Anubias Congensis is a very versatile plant, it can be kept in low light aquariums, but will thrive best in high to moderate light aquariums. Do not expose Anubias Congensis to full sunlight as it will burn and die quickly. Aim for 2 watts per gallon of light if you’re keeping Anubias Congensis emersed, and 5-6 watts per gallon of light when you keep it submersed.

Anubias Congensis needs strong light to grow. Too much light will bleach out your Anubias leaves, too little and it may start turning brown or yellow. There is an optimum level for each plant and as long as you give them an even amount of lighting, they’ll be able to withstand varying amounts. This is also true for nutrients. Too little light will cause yellowing or white leaves which means nutrient deficiency but too much can lead to algae growth which locks up nutrients that would otherwise go toward plants growth.

Substrate/soil requirements

Anubias Congensis

Anubias Congensis grows best in a soft, slightly acidic substrate with a fine grain. We recommend using peat moss and rooting hormone powder for optimal results. Keep pH between 5.5 and 6.5 to prevent chlorosis of leaves which can lead to leaf death or plant death. A low-tech approach is also suitable, as long as you pay close attention to water conditions (pH and Hardness).

Anubias Congensis should be kept in a substrate of at least three inches of sand or finely-chopped gravel. While these plants will grow on wood and rocks, sand and gravel make it easier to keep anaerobic bacteria from forming.

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A layer of peat moss over top is also acceptable; whether you use sand, gravel, or peat moss as your substrate is entirely dependent upon personal preference; be sure that whatever you choose fits in with your aquarium’s overall aesthetic. Anubias Congensis requires excellent drainage so plan accordingly; submersing roots directly into the pebbles and sand can result in root rot if not properly attended to.

Keep it at least one inch above the substrate, otherwise, it can lead to root rot, which will cause irreversible damage to your Anubias congensis’s ability to grow, so beware! With that said, many aquarists keep their Anubias congensis submerged under gravel or sand.

It all depends on your personal preference; both methods work well if you choose correctly. The key to success for Anubias congensis is keeping temperatures just right; any more than 84 degrees and you risk burning your new purchase, while any less than 77 degrees will kill it permanently.


A general rule of thumb is to fertilize once a week with a weak solution of liquid fertilizer. A 4-1-1 ratio will work perfectly, as long as it is diluted so that it’s completely dissolved by water; overfeeding can lead to algae growth. However, do not fertilize more than once per week; if you notice your plant looking pale and unhealthy, then reduce the frequency or discontinue altogether. You may also wish to apply an iron supplement (with caution).

Anubias congensis temperature

This plant is from tropical Africa and therefore does best when kept in warm waters. Anything below 72 degrees Fahrenheit will be too cold for Anubias congensis and will lead to long-term damage. Temperatures between 77-84 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal, with 82 degrees as a general rule of thumb.

To avoid temperature fluctuations within your tank, place plants around the middle area of water columns where temperatures tend to remain stable.


Anubias need to stay wet, but not sopping wet; try to keep humidity levels at 50-70%. To keep it simple, place your Anubias in a bowl or tank with a few inches of water. You can also place small pebbles or marbles in a container with water and allow them to soak up some moisture. Also, be sure to mist plants frequently. If you notice leaves drying out, either add more water, move the plant somewhere with higher humidity, or trim away dead/dry leaves.


Anubias congensis has thick, sturdy leaves that can withstand low-to-medium light. Because of their density, you may need to trim them a few times a year. The easiest way to prune them is by cutting off faded sections with your shears and leaving behind healthy new growth. When pruning congensis, it’s best to do so in stages rather than all at once, as sudden pruning can shock your plant and cause it to lose its leaves.

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Growth rate

Anubias Congensis is a slow-growing plant, but it grows much faster in an aquarium than it does in its native habitat. For example, one study showed that Anubias Congensis produced leaves at a rate of 0.3 mm per day in their natural habitat and 0.83 mm per day under controlled aquarium conditions; both of these measurements indicate fairly slow growth rates compared to other types of aquatic plants.

USDA hardiness zones

They are hardy to zones 10-11 and can tolerate a wide range of water conditions, but prefers soft and acidic water with pH between 5.5 and 7.0 and dKH between 4 and 8.

Parasites and diseases

No matter how healthy and well-watered your Anubias Heterophylla plant is, there’s always a risk of pests and diseases ruining your chances for a thriving aquarium. If you’re worried about pests ruining your efforts to keep your Anubias Heterophylla in prime condition, it’s important to understand what types of pests may go after it.

Even though Anubias Congensis is a hardy plant, that doesn’t mean it’s immune to disease. Pests are one of its biggest enemies because they eat at its leaves and prevent it from photosynthesizing through sunlight. If you notice your Anubias has been affected by pests or diseases, treat it with a pesticide designed for plants in your tank. If left untreated, your plant will become sick and die over time.

The best way to prevent disease and parasites is good water quality. Fungus problems can usually be traced back to poor conditions such as low light, excess fertilizers, or decaying organic matter in your substrate. Keeping your tank clean and tidy, and performing regular water changes will help ensure that you have healthy fish for many years.