Anubias Nana (Anubias Barteri Var. Nana)

anubias nana

Anubias nana, also known as Anubias barteri var. nana, is an attractive aquatic plant native to Africa that thrives in both freshwater and brackish water, preferring medium lighting and low to moderate water flow levels. This plant is easy to grow and will reward you with its year-round bright green leaves and slow-growing but sturdy rhizome system.

Anubias nana is a native of the streams and waterways of West Africa. A member of the Anubias genus, this plant has been cultivated in water gardens since the time of the Ancient Egyptians, who valued it for its hardiness and ability to be shaped into various forms and sizes. Anubias nana can easily be kept in your aquarium or garden pond as long as it’s given proper care and maintenance.

Anubias barteri var. nana is a thick-stemmed and slow-growing perennial that can be used to decorate the foreground or background of an aquarium.

Let’s look at how to care for Anubias nana so you can enjoy it in your own aquarium!

Origin and descriptions

anubias nana

Anubias barteri var. nana originates from Cameroon, Western Africa, where it grows in slow-moving water. The plant is often confused with Anubias afzelii, which also has triangular leaves and grows to a similar size.

A few varieties are available in aquarium stores: var. nana ‘Congolensis’ has large leaves that are more uniform than other varieties; var. nana ‘Petite’ is much smaller than typical Anubias barteri var. nana, growing only 2-3 inches high and wide; both of these varieties have long linear leaf blades. Anubias species can be challenging for beginners due to their high maintenance requirements— it requires soft, slightly acidic water and prefers dim lighting conditions when young.

It is native to Central Africa and prefers a habitat between 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit (22-28 degrees C). The water should be kept on the soft side with a neutral pH, but it can adapt to varying conditions.

Species profile

anubias nana

Anubias barteri var. nana is a smaller variety of Anubias, from the Araceae family, that grows in a woody stem and can grow up to six inches tall. With slower growth than other species, it’s perfect for both beginner and expert aquarists alike.

Although some consider them beginner plants, these can be challenging because they require large amounts of iron. They are hardy and great additions to any setup! But how do you keep anubias nana healthy?  Let’s take a look at its requirements and care needs.

Anubias nana height

Although size can vary depending on the conditions of the tank, when fully grown, their maximum size will be around 8 inches (20 cm) in height.

Anubias nana tank size

The minimum recommended tank size to grow Anubias nana is 10 gallons (38 liters)

Anubias Nana propagation

anubias nana

Planting Anubias nana is made easy in several ways. The most popular method for propagating an Anubias nana is by dividing rhizome clumps into smaller pieces. The rhizome may also be divided from its caudex, which will result in a younger plant that can grow faster than older rhizomes.

The easiest way to divide an Anubias nana is to use a sharp knife and cut it directly between two leaves at least one centimeter (0.4 inches) away from where they join together with another leaf on either side. It’s best to do so right after trimming off any dead or damaged leaves so there are no signs of decay when making cuts into healthy rhizome tissue.

Making your divisions with clean surgical precision results in more successful propagation attempts. Once divisions have been made, place them in water within 12 hours to prevent desiccation, and watch out for fungal growth that could develop over time if not submerged properly.

In ideal conditions, young plants can send out roots as soon as 2 weeks after being removed from their mother plant; however, some plants take much longer before emerging new shoots.

When placing freshly divided plants into small pots or other containers you should consider adding a thin layer of sand first to help retain moisture and accelerate initial root development. Be careful not to bury the rhizome too deep since it will rot easily.

Anubias nana care

anubias nana

Anubias nana does best when kept in water with a relatively high amount of dissolved solids, which indicates higher water purity and thus a higher level of dissolved oxygen. Generally, somewhere between 1-2 degrees hardness is recommended.

Plants will typically double in size after a year, and some have reported gains of up to 1-inch per month. They do best when kept in an area with slightly soft water (6-15 dGH), bright light (2-3 watts per gallon or more), and moderate fertilization. Try not to overfeed, as it can cause your plants to lose their color.

This can be accomplished by either dosing your tank with RO/DI water or by supplementing your regular tap water with an external filter. Sufficient circulation is also essential to maintaining proper oxygen levels, so aim for at least 4x turnover per hour.

Light requirements

A big part of your anubias nana care is lighting. You’ll want to do your best to provide high light—at least 2 watts per gallon. To replicate natural conditions, grow your plant under full-spectrum lights, or at least with a combination (white and blue) fluorescent bulb. If you live in a cooler area, try not to let temperatures drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit as anubias nana prefers warmer temperatures than most other plants.

Though most anubias prefer shaded areas, they can tolerate levels of light that would kill most other plants. This is why a few species are good aquarium plants. The trick to successful anubias nana care is to give them as much light as possible without burning them—which requires a very fine balance on your part. If you want to keep your plant for more than a year or two, go ahead and invest in a fluorite-based bulb (found at any pet store).

These fish tank plants can be used both as foreground and background flora; they also do well when placed along hardscape features like rocks or driftwood.

Substrate/soil requirements

Anubias species do best in a substrate that holds enough moisture to keep them healthy but allows for good drainage (they will rot if allowed to sit in a soggy substrate). Some people prefer either sand or gravel, while others use a mixture of both.

Substrate should be comprised of either a mixture of 2 parts sand and 1 part clay-free gravel or 2 parts peat moss and 1 part clay-free or quartz gravel. Anubias nana will not tolerate a substrate with any amount of clay in it.

Since Anubias nana is sensitive to copper and other trace elements, it is recommended that you test your water before you begin to determine if additional supplements are needed. As far as soil pH goes, Anubias nana can thrive in water with a pH as low as 5.5 but does best between 6.0–7.0; keep in mind that some aquariums have very basic substrates, which can give you inaccurate readings on a liquid test kit!

Fertilizer

One option is to use a fertilizer specific to aquarium plants. A number of manufacturers make their own, but they all contain similar elements, such as iron and micronutrients. If you choose to go with a store-bought fertilizer (as most planted tank enthusiasts do), apply it according to package directions at least once every two weeks during periods when no new plants are being added and when there’s low light—the amount is usually proportionate to your aquarium’s size.

It’s also important to monitor nitrate levels regularly; excess amounts will harm aquatic life, especially anubias nana. You should be able to find an inexpensive testing kit at any local pet supply store or online; for best results, follow instructions carefully. It’s also crucial that your tank water is well-filtered; unsightly algae growth can quickly overtake aquatic plants if conditions aren’t right.

Temperature

The ideal temperature for anubias nana is between 72° and 78°F. Because they can grow roots in cold water, they can tolerate water temperatures as low as 40°F with no problems. In cooler water, they will still grow, but at a very slow rate. Keep your aquarium lights on for 10 to 12 hours per day during summer and reduce that to 6 to 8 hours during winter. Avoid fluorescent lighting. Use the light from metal halide bulbs or compact fluorescents instead.

Humidity

anubias nana

Like most plants, anubias nana needs some amount of humidity to grow properly. For terrestrial plants like anubias, that’s not always as easy as just misting your plant or running a humidifier. The best way to increase humidity for any plant is to run a humidifier in your home 24/7—but you can only run a humidifier so many hours per day (otherwise you risk mold), and that might not be enough time to get all those leaves wet.

The ideal humidity range is between 40-70%, and a good hygrometer will tell you exactly what your air’s relative humidity is. For plants like anubias, it’s best to shoot for somewhere between 50-80%. In dry climates, especially during colder months when windows aren’t open as often, homeowners should be sure to check on their plants and try not to let them dry out.

Pruning

Though anubias nana is a hardy plant, trimming may be required depending on your preferences. Cut away any brown or yellow leaves from lower portions of a stem, and pinch off excess roots to tidy up plants. If you are looking for taller growth, prune the upper portions of stems instead. When handling stems with leaves attached, remember to use sharp scissors and be gentle to avoid cutting into leaves—try not to remove more than a few centimeters at once.

The rhizome should also be pruned frequently to allow new shoots to develop. They should be replanted after each growth spurt to ensure they never outgrow their pots. When a plant is kept in a small pot, it will grow very slowly, but will otherwise remain healthy and vigorous.

Growth rate

Some species of anubias can grow faster than others, but they are all considered medium-to-slow growers that appreciate regular water changes and strong lighting. In optimal conditions, plants can double in size every six months or so. However, even under optimal conditions, Anubias won’t grow faster than a few inches per year.

Toxicity

Anubias nana is non-toxic. While I don’t recommend you eat it, there are no recorded cases of an animal or human experiencing ill effects from consumption. Even so, it may be a good idea to avoid eating any aquarium plants as they often accumulate pollutants and heavy metals which can lead to physical side effects.

Parasites and diseases

Depending on where you are located, many freshwater fish keepers have to worry about parasites, pathogens, and various diseases. Some common ailments affecting aquarium fish are ich (ick), a disease caused by a small parasite that invades their skin; velvet disease, which is caused by protozoan parasites that grow in their gills; and hole-in-the-head disease. Hole-in-the-head is a bacterial infection that causes ulcers on your fish’s head.

Despite their underwater affinities, anubias plants are not immune to land-based diseases or parasites. The smallest amount of contamination can lead to infections or infestations, which in turn can easily spread to other plants. If a white fungus appears on any part of your plant, you should immediately isolate it. Remove it completely and discard it so that it doesn’t infect other anubias plants.