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Anubias plants for beginners and hobbyists

©  , 2002.

Eugene Zagnitko is a high-skilled specialist in aquatic bio-systems area. He is an author of a number of original methods and techniques providing long-lasting, stable existing of closed water systems, mastered methods of breeding various difficult in rearing fish species. Keeping and propagation of aquatic plants is the area of his special interest. He elaborated different ways for adaptation of some marginal plants to be kept submerged, and an effective ferriferous fertilizer formula, offered a way of "black-beard" algae extirpation. He is also an expert in aquarium decoration, aquatic landscaping.

Part 1 - For beginners. Myths or in other words, what to buy in stores.

Very few aquarium plant hobbyists will walk past a beautiful, decorative, with glossy leaves, anubias plants. Caladifolia  make you think of the Bonsai tiny trees, the sharp, pointed upwards, leaf-blades of the "congensis", dwarf nana which remind you of a turtle shell mosaic, round leaves of the "ellipticus" stay apart from usual aquarium plant. Yet all of them belong to one genus of anubias.

The various kinds of anubias species, mentioned above, are not all of the ones that exist. They are pleasing to the eye, but still there’re rather rare aquarium inhabitancies. There are several reasons for that. First of all, anubias are not cheep. Second of all, even though they are a known species, you probably won't find much information. And, as usually happens in such cases, myths replace reliable information. For example, one myth tells they are extremely picky about their environment, or, even more, they cannot be cultivated in an aquarium at all. And they end up in seller’s aquarium by the confusion, or they try to find a moron to sell a terrestrial plant.

Let’s try to make some sense out of all that nonsense. So, the myth #1 states that anubias are terrestrial plants only and therefore aren't suitable to be grown submerged. Begin by saying that there are not many strictly aquatic plants, such as elodea, hornwort, najas, in our aquariums. Most of aquatic plants, including ludwigia, cabomba, swords, and many others plants we see every day in our fishtanks, are amphibious and can grow in both aquatic and non-aquatic habitats. Of course, some plants may feel uncomfortable in one of the two habitats. Anubias are amphibious plants too, some species feel perfectly fine underneath the water level and even bloom there, and some may only survive occasional flooding. There are some that can’t stand submerged conditions, and should be just planted in a greenhouse. The last type is usually only for professionals and collectors. What is left for us is to learn how to tell one type from another one, so you can avoid being that "moron".

Even if you are a beginner in aquarium hobby, you can easily recognize four main leaf blade shapes.

1. More or less round shape, sometimes elongated or heart-shaped.

2. Elongated: lance or elliptic.

3. Arrow-shaped: elongated main part, and at “ear-like” shaped base.

4. Triangular: simple triangular form or somewhat similar to the 3rd form, but without really pronounced “ears”.

 

I will tell you right off the bat that all almost plants of the first and second type, will feel great inside the aquarium. The arrow-shaped and triangular varieties unfortunately aren't suited for long term aquarium imprisonment, and can only survive in it for about two months, after which they must be placed in a greenhouse for reabilitation. This is a simplified approach to the matter, but, for sure, there are many interested in nice looking and unusual plants beginners, who aren’t ready to jump right into anubias systematic nuances yet. We’ll talk about these nuances later on. You may wish to pay attention to couple things when you determine, based on leaf shape, if plant can be kept submerged or not. Look at adult plants only, which already have developed specific leaf shape. Young arrow-leaved plants don’t develop “ears”. But it is quite hard to make the mistake, because this type of plants is quite rare, and will most unlikely be sold for another, more common and less expensive type. Second, lately you could see some hybrids on a base of the arrow-shaped plants are reaching the market. It is quite possible that they carry on the leaf form, while being able to live submerged underwater. The information right now is quite scarce about them, so all I will say is that you can safely, without worries keep plants with round or elongated leaves submerged.

Now, the myth number two: many anubias are sold right from a greenhouse and are not anywhere suited to be placed inside the aquarium right away, and must be gradually adapted in by slowly raising water level. This is not true. You can take suitable for submerged keeping anubias and plant them right away inside the aquarium; you don't even have to wait.

You might say that you have heard that anubias require some special substrate type, and are extremely picky to their habitat. This is myth number three. In reality, anubias are quite undemanding plants. They will grow in almost sterile, unfertilized substrate, or in old almost anaerobic substrate.

I must, however, mention that there are three disasters that might happen with anubias inside an aquarium.

1. They not only can survive in shadows, they even prefer shadow conditions. In extreme light (about one watt per liter or more) they develop highly deformed, strangely shaped leaves.

2. In the water that is too rich in organic material anubias leaves may develop holes in them, so you must look after the condition of the aquarium. This happens when you don't regularly "vacuum" the ground, or overfeed the fish, or a dirty filter, or even if you forgot to change the water for quite some time.

3. Rarely, seemingly healthy anubias may all of a sudden have its growing-point start to rot and than fall off. That usually happens when the quality of the habitat has changed fast to the worst. For example, this might occur if the temperature is increased dramatically over a short period of time. Also it might occur when the anubias plant is transferred from extremely fertilize-rich environment in to a very poor one. Usually the plant itself will not rot completely, the growing-point will be regenerated in a different place not far away from the original one. It is difficult to say about main reason of this disease. May be it is some kind of latent invasion. Also, it is quite possible that the plant develops immunity towards such things. Russian specialist from Moscow Alexander Rumyantsev says that he has encountered something like that during the extreme hot summer. It happened again the following summer, but this time, none of the plants had been damaged. The process of rotting happens when the temperature reaches 40 Celsius or even more inside the greenhouse.

Anubias are quite "thermo-resistant" inside the aquariums. I have noticed no problems up to 35 C in my aquarium; only on some leaves I could see white specs at 35 C. Only when it got to 37 C did some of the types of anubias had some of their leaves dying. Therefore, a reasonable question occurs: why don’t the professional growers keep them in their aquariums? The thing is, anubias grow in greenhouse conditions somewhat faster, and develop much larger forms, bloom much more often, and you will have the opportunity to gather the seeds from them. Let us not forget, there are no algae bothering them either. But in terrestrial conditions you have to keep proper humidity, mix the special soil that they will grow in, fertilize them. While in an aquarium, where the fertilization is produced by the fish, such great care isn’t required. And you want some plants for your aquarium, not greenhouse, right?

"So it turns out that anubias plants grow slowly?" Let’s call that a myth #4, it is somewhat true. "Slowly" is not exactly defined the same in every person's mind. If you are planning to feed some livestock with it, then yes, they will grow too slowly to be able to supply a constant source of food. Usually they let out a leaf in 10 - 14 days. Yes, I agree, this is not a record in plant kingdom. Even more, some of their other forms grow even slower. But if you are creating an aquarium with a decorative composition, than I plainly recommend anubias. The aquarium interior will remain almost unchanged for quite a while, giving you more time to enjoy it. This isn’t Dutch style tank with fast growing bunch plants, requiring trimming down every week.

Anubias slow nature makes them somewhat more expensive than other common plant. Don't get me wrong, the price isn’t determined by just plant “slowness”, but also by its beauty, and its rareness and uncommonness.

 

Another myth or misunderstanding: Many beginners assume that smaller plants cost significantly less than the bigger one. Maybe it is true for one species, however it's still questionable what is better: Grown in very comfortable conditions Barthii sword plant with compact, full of color rosette, or the same plant from a dark corner with few pale two feet long stalks and leaves. Yet you may not even dare to compare huge Amazon sword plant that you can buy at every LFS and very rare and extremely beautiful anubias "Cameroon". For these are two different things.

Slowly from myths we've come to the question how to plant anubias. We can note one more attractive feature; they don't require special rooting procedure. It's enough to place the plant on substrate and in time it will take roots by itself, before that getting nutrients directly from water. This undemanding plant can be used in different decorative environments. For example, you can attach the anubias to a driftwood using line and get a ready-to-go decorative element that looks like a submerged algae-covered log. You're better off using cotton thread than nylon line. Young anubias roots are clinging and attach themselves to the substrate or other objects.

 

With time cotton thread will rot away but the plant will be already fixed in its position. The nylon line can cut in growing plant rhizome. You can use Anubias plants to hide aquarium technical devices or back wall decoration. Using plastic mesh you can create "living wall" to mask filter, heater or any other device. If you use traditional method of growing on substrate make sure that thick rhizome won't be covered, only plant roots. The rhizome must be above substrate otherwise it can rot away.

In general, extremely wide variety of plant shapes and different heights allows to use them as front plant as well as background. You can use them as “ground-cover” creating nice-looking “meadow”. You can ask how to achieve it with such slow-growers. How long does it take? Well, first, aquarium hobby is not fast at all. Second, many anubias plants, dwarf species, in particular, can produce “branched” rhizomes. With time, you’ll have few shoots, each producing new leaves.

Speaking about anubias sizes. Keeping them in severe conditions without extra-luxuries slows their growing, allows getting smaller but fully developed leaves. If you have a plant that outgrew you fish tank you can perform a “surgery”. Cut all large leaves except last one with nearest growing point. New, following, leaves will be smaller. Or, you can make plant to grow smaller baby plant (see below). Or, you put plant in pot filled with composted pine needles. This significantly reduces plant growing rate and sizes. However, I’m not sure that this way is suitable for aquarium.

It’s time now to tell about plant propagation. It’s easy to understand that plant easily produce rhizome-shoots. Rhizome end has a growing point from which new leaves appear. Also, the rhizome has number of sleeping buds, which can start to develop when conditions are favorable, producing new growing points.

You can cut off or, even better, break off, a sprout when it has produced 3-5 leaves and own roots. Keeping few shoots on mother plant may results in its exhaustion and possible death. That doesn’t concern dwarf anubias nana that can grow well in multi-branched shape.

If plant doesn’t want to produce sprouts, you can, using sharp knife, cut few last inches of rhizome with leaves and growing point. Put rest of rhizome on substrate and with water level just above the rhizome.

 

 

 

Sometimes, even under water, anubias shots single arrow with flower resembles blooming calla. This is actually a spadix inflorescence with white spathe. Male flowers are on the top and female are at the bottom. Plant, grown in greenhouse, may produce seeds, but underwater flower – never.

Part 2 “What the heck is it?”

It’s a good time now when we speak about flower; start to speak about anubias genus systematic, which is based on flower structure. We will use term “flower” meaning inflorescence to satisfy botanical purists. One may ask “why flower?  Not leaves, not general habitus?” Well, few anubias species produce different forms making their identification difficult. One of them is called “heterophylla” meaning “variable leaves”. Kasselman in “Aquarium Plant Atlas” describes the plant: “Lance-shape to elliptical textured leaf, 10-38 cm long, 3-13 cm wide with sharply-pointed tip. Leaf base can be from pointed to round shaped or arrow-shaped. Leaf margin is entire of wavy”. Usually, aquarium hobbyist selects plants based on its size and leaf-shape. To his amazement, both small and narrow leaves plant and large plant, with wavy-margin leaves, belong to the same “heterophylla” species. In most cases, you don’t hear this word in aquarium store. Try to ask salesperson. Even in the Internet “homemade” systematic exists, where anubias with oval leaves and sharp-pointed tips called “congensis”. Some anubias afzelii have similar leaf shape. Therefore, it’s called “congensis”, also. Anubias barteri var. glabra has elongated leaf shape, too. However, this plant is too rare to be called “congensis”. As you can see, you need to know basics of modern anubias systematic to prevent yourself from getting lost in this knotted anubias world.

Dutch scientist Wim Crusio had developed modern anubias systematic using structure of plant flower and inflorescence. Anthers of neighboring male flowers grow together into union called synandrium. Crusio took into account that anthers position on synandrium differs from one species to other and this difference remains from one plant generation to the next. Spadix inflorescence size and spathe shape were used as additional characteristics. There is not much sense in detailed explaining of the revision key here. Not many beginners armed with microscope to investigate the only flower of their highly prized specimen. Plus, you have to get plant to bloom first. Moreover, there is no much reason in full citation of his descriptions – very often these descriptions are too wide and can not help to determine a given plant. It is better to list different species per Crusio revision giving very brief citation, in italics, and tell in details about available on the market species.

So, Crusio has singled out only 8 different forms of anubias plants.

 

  1. A. afzelii
     

    Has oblong-lanced or oblong-elliptic shaped leaves, 13 -35 cm long, 3 – 13 cm width with its length to width ratio (LWR) of 2.5 – 8. Tip is sharply pointed, leaf base is also pointed. Leaf stalk length is up to 20 cm. The plant reaches about 55 cm in height, but Crusio mentioned specimen, discovered in nature, with height about 1 m. Very large inflorescence with 5 – 12 cm spadix, significantly leaning out from relatively short spathe (good distinction from others, besides anubias gigantea – they have significantly shorter flower. We can find some rather different plants fit that wide description.

    These plants have lance-shaped leaves with different LWR value:


     

    1A. "Congensis". Plant reaches more than 50 cm. LWR equals to about 3. Leaves are smooth

    1B. “Lanceolata”. About the same size plant with narrower and relatively light colored leaves. LWR – 3.5-4. Older plants may exhibit wave leaves


     

    1C. "Rubescens” – similar to lanceolata. Young leaves are reddish in color. Adult leaves are darker and stiffer than lanceolata.

    1D. “Afzelli angustifolia”. Some times ago I bought a plant. The seller called it simple afzelii. The plant had even more narrow leaves with LWR of 6-8. Its height was about 40 cm. Young leaves were pink-brown in color. S. Bodyagin (well-known anubias grower in Russia) called this anubias “narrow-leaves afzelii”, or afzelli angustifolia (Site in Russian - http://anubias.narod.ru)

     


     

    Plants with elliptic leaves:

    1E “Ellepticus” – about 40 cm height. Leaves are wide-elliptic in shape, symmetrical in both directions, with slightly pointed tip and base.

    1F “Rotundipholia”- about 25 cm in height, looks like elipticus, but is more compact. Leave somewhat looks like a tear drop.

    Even though as you read all of the descriptions, you might think that they are extremely similar, you will find out, that in reality they are quite obvious.


    S. Bodagin has achieved their blooming and discovered that they bloom quite similar big flowers. Based on that discovery, and on the description made by Kasselman, he has come to a conclusion that they are all one type of anubias afzelii. So we can say that today, we have about 6 types of this species. But it is quite possible that they are not subtypes of afzelii, but hybrids with the same flower. But to find out, you must conduct self-fertilization for the plants for some generations. Only if they do not spring up anything different from the form of afzelii, you can say that they are just subtypes of afzelii anubias.

  2. A. heterophylla
     

    Leave plate about 10-38 cm in length, 3-13 cm in width, 2-6 times longer than wider, oval shaped – elliptical or stretched out, dull, and sometimes (rarely) bends in at the main and side veins, smooth sides, point is dull, petiole is about 3-66cm in length.

    From the description above, it is almost impossible to tell this anubias from lanceolate afzelii. Not many try anyways. Accordingly, you can purchase any of these anubias under the name of “congencis” or “lanceolate”. But they are extremely different when it comes to the flower. Flower of heterophylla is small compared to the size of the whole plant, and cannot in any way be compared to the mighty flower of afzelii.

     



     

    We have heterophylla plants presented in the following ways:

    2A. “Undulatus latifolia” (wavy-wide leaved), or in other words “undulatus wide leaved”- big plant, up to 40 cm in height. Leaves are sharp, LWR is about 3. Inside the aquarium it looses some of its beauty because it’s often trying to turn its leaves in to a tube. Gladly blooms underwater.

    2B. “Undulatus angustifolia” (wavy-thin leaved) or just “undulatus-thin leaved” is compact, when it comes to height, doesn’t reach above 15 cm. The leave looks as if it has a toothed edge. Grows somewhat worse underwater than the wide leaved types, but look much better from a decorative point of view.

     

     


    2C. “Spathulata” somewhat looks like wide leaved undulatus, but is smaller and wave of the leave is not that obvious. 

     

    2D “Pectinatus”- big anubias with somewhat wavy leaves, LWR 3.5 – 3. Looks like wide leaved undulatus, stands straight, but sometimes it gets a few “knees” on its leave stalk.


  3. A. gracilis
     

    Petiole up to 33cm, is greater than the leave about 1.5-2, 5 times. Leave plate is about 7-12 cm in length, 4-10 cm in width, at the base is not curving, looks like a heart, or an arrowhead. The length of the leave is close to being equal its width at the base.

    Unfortunately they do not grow in aquarium well. But there are rumors that some hobbyists have grown gracilis inside the aquariums for quite some time. In Moscow, right now you can find some different forms of this anubias, thanks to the imports from South-East Asia. Differences between these types are so insignificant that they might be hybrids. There is hope however that these hybrids will retain someday all of the quality from gracilis, and yet still be able to live underwater.



  4. A. gilletii
     

    Leave plate is slightly circle shaped, with dented base heart-shaped or arrow-head shaped, maximum width is slightly lower than the middle. Basically it’s an anubias with arrow shaped leaves. The leave blade sticks upward, and doesn’t curve around, even though it is not that hard as the leave plates of other anubias, and is lighter. Doesn’t grow well underwater, requires rehabilitation period in a greenhouse. Underwater leaves may not even have the side blades.



  5. A. hastifolia
     

    Petiole is 9-67cm in height, 1-2.5 times longer than the leave.

    Young ones usually grow lanceolate leaves, and they can live underwater for a little while. Adult plants do not survive insider the aquarium.



  6. A. gigantea. Hastifolia-monster. Petiole slightly less than the leave blade, about 2.5 times, up to 83 cm. The leave blade is arrow head shaped and lanceolate, 13-30cm in length, 5-14 in width. LWR 2-4. Doesn’t grow underwater, and anyways, it is a rare sight that you will be able to fit such a beast inside an aquarium
  7. A. pyinaertii
     

    Extremely rare exotic plant. Doesn’t exist in Russia as far as I know. Doesn’t exist in many places, for what reason, we do not know.

    Petiole is 10-45 cm and is somewhat 2.5 times shorter than the leave plate. The plate is arrow shaped, and somewhat heart shaped.  

    Do not shiver just yet, remember that Crusio did not form his reports based on the leaves, but the flowers. It is unknown how it will do underwater, but I suspect that they are not fit for it.


  8. A. barteri. Joy for an aquarium professional a.k.a. anubias freak, and obviously a nightmare for Crusio. A plant with completely different looks, and yet an identical flower. Crusio has bravely decided that they are subspecies, and singled out 5 variations:

    1. A. barteri var. nana
       

      A real sales hit. I think I won’t be mistaken when I’ll say that they are probably the type that is used in aquariums the most, for they are so unpretentious, that you will probably even have to work quite hard to kill them. It grows quite well and fast underwater, even blooms at a submerged state. Looks quite decorative, when there aren’t many other exotic decorative plants. Petiole is a little longer than half of the leave blade, or even the same length, up to 5 cm. Leave blade is oval-elliptic. Sharp or round bladed, up to 6 cm in length and 2.8 cm in width. Even before that, nana was widely used as a small, yet not the smallest plant. But lately, due to random mutations, or just special selelection, you can even find a smaller variation of them.

      Nana "wrinkled leaf" – more compact in an aquarium, at optimal lighting leaves reach up to 3.5cm, but sometimes even less. Leave shape varies from oval shaped, all the way to triangular-circular shaped. The height altogether reaches up to about 3.5-4 cm.
      Nana "bonsai" even smaller than “wrinkled leaf” leaves are somewhat oval shaped, and about 0.5-2cm in length. Extremely rare at this moment.
      Nana "variegated" size wise is somewhere in between the two above, leaves are oval shaped and sharp. Was noticed not that long ago, not much information is found on it.

      Unfortunately these forms are not found everywhere and therefore cost quite a lot. All of them are not very picky when it comes to lighting, in poor lighting they won’t die, just will let smaller leaves out. These young nana plants can mask themselves as another more rare type in poor conditions, but when they reach the aquarium of a good hobbyist, they become greater, and sometimes cause disappointment.
    2. A. barteri var. caladifolia
       

      is nice, also, or entirely different reason. This big plant with circle-stretched out shape of leaves located almost at the right angle to the petiole. Grows quite well inside an aquarium, leaves can reach up to 10-12 cm in length, gladly blooms. This one however does not grow outwards, but vertically. At its base there are some small sprouts, ready to take the trip upwards. After it grows out of the aquarium, you can break off the part that is above the water and plant it beside the main plant, while the sprouts will grow towards the surface once again.

      Petiole sometimes is 2 times the length of the leave plate, 10-54cm. Leave plate is oval-elliptic, sharp, 10-23 cm in length, 5-14 in width. LWR is about 1.5-2.5


    3. A. barteri var. barteri
       

      Resembles at the same time the two previous anubias plants. Its size and leaf shape are somewhere in the middle between nana and caladifolia, yet closer to caladifolia, even it doesn’t have “ear-like” pattern cut at the leaf base.

      Stalk length is equal or larger up to 1.5 times than the leaf length, and reaches 6-23 cm. Leaf blade has oval-lance shape with sharply pointed tip, 7-23 cm in length and 4-11 cm in width. LWR equals to about 2.5, usually less than 2. Uneven, heart-shaped base.


    4. A. barteri var. angustifolia
       

      Resembles narrow-leaved afzelii variation, however, it’s more compact, reaching not more than 20 cm in height. Very stiff leaves, probably, the stiffest leaves among all anubias plants, growing very close to each other on the rhizome. Sprouts are very close to the mother plant, also. This results in very dense, nice looking green shrub formed by narrow leaves. That makes ideal decoration for the middle of aquarium.

      Leaf stalk length equals to 4-32 cm, varies from 0.5 to 1 of blade length. Leaf blade has narrow, oblong lance shape. LWR is 5-9. Leaf is 8-18 cm in length and up to 3.5 cm in width.

      This plant grows slower than nana or caladifolia; therefore it’s more expensive and rare. Sometimes last bit of leaf tip becomes black. This is a symptom of too much light (which is more probable) or too much dissolved organics in water.


    5. Barteri var. glabra – is a very rare plant. According to the description, the plant resembles lance-shaped forms of young afzelii or heterophylla and it’s practically impossible to tell them apart. Plants sold under the name of glabra are rather expensive and buying them is risky because of probability to get afzelii... It’s possible that this anubias was imported into Russia 15-20 year ago under the name of anubias minima. Later its track was lost. Leaf stalk is approximately 1.5 times larger than leaf blade and ranges from 3 to 35 cm. Leaf is entire or wavy, oblong or oval-elliptic, 6-12 cm in length and 1.5-9 cm in width .LWR is about 2-4. Tip is rounded or sharply-pointed. Of course, it would be interesting to have one more compact lance-shaped anubias, but now it is difficult to say something confidently.

       

    And, finally, few words about hybrids or not yet defined forms:
  • Coffeefolia or coffeafolia
     

    - the name speaks for itself. Its leaves have coffee-like wavy shape.

    Very decorative compact plant with elongated oval shaped leaves without any sharp tips and cuts. Leaves are narrow and very stiff. Young leaves have reddish-brown color. This plant is rather common in the US.

    Arguments regarding its systematic are still going on. Crusio rejected to include the plant into his revision, but many authorities these days consider the plant as one more variety of a. barteri. More information can be found in 8th issue of the “Modern aquarium” magazine (in Russian) at (www.aquaria.ru/news/vestnik/v08.pdf)



  • "Cameroon"
     

    is rather rare, very decorative, and small plant. Dark-green wavy leaf with pointed base narrows at the tip. Stalk is one and a half times shorter than leaf. Leaf is 12 cm length and 4 cm width. Sharp leaf tip gently curves down and total plant height is 15 cm or less.

    These plants look very attractive near the base of large lance-shaped anubias like “congensis”, emphasizing similar, but pointed upward large leaves.

     


  • "Long life" – (probably, wrong from long leaf)
     

    This is large, rather rare, up to half a meter in height, plant with elliptical, sharply pointed, corrugated leaves. Submerged grows very slow. Ideal background plant.


  • “Rigidus”. This is very large, up to half a meter or substantially larger. Broad, smooth leaves are lance-shaped. Similar to “congensis” with stiffer leaves with protrude midrib. There are gray-blue circles or rings on adult leaves. Usually kept in greenhouse due to large size.
  • "Gabon"
     

    interesting anubias with almost round or diamond-shaped sharp pointed leaves. S. Bodyagin studied plant flower and couldn’t place the plant in the systematic, assuming its hybrid origin. This plant, most likely, the only round-leaved anubias doesn’t grow well underwater.


  • "Frazeri" -
     

    common in the US plant. Most likely, this is a hybrid form, with grayish-green, lance-shaped leaves. Similar to a. Afzelii “lanceolate”


  • "Heteroclita"
     

    Mysterious plant with light-green, smooth, oval-shaped, elongated, gently curving upward, sometimes wavy leaves. A. Tarasov reports that in ideal greenhouse condition leaves become darker and may develop small cuts near the base. Small plant slightly higher than nana. Leaves are 8 cm in length and 3 cm in width. S. Judakov expresses doubts about this plant genus. Is anubias or not at all? He told the amusing story about this plant appearing in Russia. Long time ago they received the package, containing this and many other plants. They somehow managed to loose the list of the names of plants during “celebration” on the fact. During the Soviet times it was very difficult to contact persons abroad, so they couldn’t call the sender. After brainstorming they were able to recover some information. Somebody recalled that this plant was named anubias Heteraclita.

    A while later it was established that the name belongs to absolutely different plant - bolbitis heteroclita fern. However, the hobbyists started to use that name. As far as I know, up today nobody could achieve its blooming, so it’s impossible to determine its genus.

Anubias quite easily interbreed amongst themselves, and at the present time experiments are being carried out to produce new decorative forms with divided leaves which will be able to live submerged. Selectionists always protocol their work. From time to time, these new plants fall into the hands of a hobbyist, and sometimes, they forget the information concerning the origins of his new plant. With time, they propagate and get distributed amongst different people, without any knowledge or information about where and how they have come to be what they are. As a result of that, the market and the aquariums get plagued with undefined anubias hybrids. Where they have come from, and their nature is completely unknown. These hybrids can and will sometimes be sold under the name of a pure species, and afterwards will be propagated, and instead of suspected results, they will receive a big mess. I’d like to ask the owners of such hybrids to clearly remember the information about their origins, and with later distribution, share this information with the new owner.

Anubias plants by themselves can decorate almost any aquarium, including the “extreme” ones. Even though they react quite nicely to carbon dioxide fertilization, their high adaptation skills allow them to adapt to water with wide range of hydro-chemical parameters. Their ability to grow in shady conditions allows you to use them to decorate the corners or low layers of aquarium. Impassable jungles of caladifolia roots provide shelter for small catfish and loach fish. Their heat resistance certainly should attract the attention of discus-keepers. The leaves and the petioles on which they are located are rigid enough to withstand the pressure of cichlids. Their ability to grow on rocks and driftwood, allows you to use them in such hostile environment of “diggers”. If you choose to experiment with arrow-shaped or triangular forms, even with that choice you have the freedom for creativity. Terrestrial plants have such a perk that allows them to live in an environment with excessive concentration of carbon dioxide. Though the concentration of carbon dioxide in water is about 3 times lower than in air, but the diffusion rate, and the availability of it, is a couple of thousand times lower. According to that, you should provide to such demanding plants as arrow-shaped anubias additional quantity of carbon dioxide.

A couple of tips: Slow near-bottom flow may substantially increase the rate of carbon dioxide diffusion. At pH=4 carbon dioxide is in a water as a solved gas, while at pH=8.5 almost all transform in to bicarbonate, from which, anubias extract carbon ineffectively. But please, do not consider this as an offer to keep your plants in acid! Interim acidity levels provide interim carbon dioxide to bicarbonate ratio, reaching the equilibrium point at pH=6.3.

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