very occasionally they just will not like a
move from emersed to submerged growth
or from one tank to another. In very poor,
dirty conditions they may also melt, as will
many plants. Fortunately, as long as some
of the rhizome is not squishy, it should be
able to rejuvenate and regrow leaves.
Anubias rhizomes are often initially tied to
wood or rocks in the aquarium. They will
eventually grow around or into the rocks or
wood, so the ties can eventually be removed
or will rot away on their own, depending on
what is used. The roots will eventually grow
down into the substrate. The rhizome itself
should not be planted in the substrate; if it
is the rhizome will rot, the leaves will float
to the top, and the plant will die. Anubias
don’t have to be tied down—just the roots
can grow into the substrate, though it’s
usually just easier to tie the plant down until
the roots can take hold. I have also seen
aquarists use Anubias in their breeder tanks
where they just let the plant float freely.
Anubias can be utilized in many aquariums
where other plants dare not tread. These
plants have rather tough leaves, so many
herbivorous fish leave these plants alone.
Several plants in the Arum family produce
calcium oxalate, which causes a stinging
sensation in the mouth, and Anubias may be
one of them.
The tough leaves of Anubias allow it to coexist with herbivorous fish that would make quick
meals out of most other plant varieties.
A. afzelii can sometimes be found for
sale, usually as a potted plant. They can
have red or brown color on the petiole (the
stem-like part of the leaf) and rhizome.
These plants are also recommended for
the paludarium. They grow naturally in
marsh areas. In the aquarium they are very
slow growing. Sometimes A. barteri var.
“angustifolia” may be sold as A. afzelii.
Many of the most commonly found
Anubias offered for the aquarium are
currently believed to be a variety of the
same species, A. barteri. These plants are
naturally occurring and were originally
described as different species. The Anubias
that are currently believed to belong to the
species barteri include the varieties “nana,”
“angustifolia,” “caladiifolia,” and “glabra.”
A. barteri was also described by Schott
in 1860 and named after Charles Barter, an
English botanist who had died in Nigeria
the year before. During an expedition,
Barter’s ship had hit rocks, and it wasn’t
until a year later that the survivors were
rescued and taken back to England. Barter
caught dysentery and died before then; he
was never able to return to his home.
A. barteri var. “nana” is probably the most
commonly found Anubias in pet stores and
the aquarium community. It’s a small plant
that is usually bright green in the aquarium
and blooms reasonably easily. There is a
cultivar called A. barteri var. “nana” (petite),
which has even smaller leaves. This is also a
reasonably hardy plant that is recommended
for aquariums of all sizes.
Tropical Fish Hobbyist www.tfhmagazine.com