Anubias Nana – A Complete Guide – Care, Diet, Facts

Anubias nana are a favorite among aquarium enthusiasts because of their hardiness and beauty.

These plants can be placed into almost any aquarium and require very little care and maintenance.

They are slow growing, but their leaves and flowers last for long periods of time.

Anubias nana can live happily in a freshwater tank with fish. Their thick leaves and stems make it hard for fish to nibble at them, so they don’t typically suffer any damage.

They make wonderful centerpieces in tanks, whether attached to a piece of driftwood or sprawling across the substrate.




Anubias nana is the smallest of the anubias beteri species. It is part of the araceae family.

It originates from the western regions of Africa and was first described in 1899.

The Anubias Nana can be found in wet forest areas and along waterway banks.

It was named after Anubis, the god of the afterlife.

The scientific name for the Anubias nana is Anubias barteri var. nana

There are eight recognized species of Anubias. In addition to those, there are five varieties of the Anubias barteri, which are the primary species found in aquariums. The five varieties are: A. barteri var. angustifolia, A. barteri var. glabra, A. barteri var caladiifolia, A. barteri var. barteri, and A. barteri var. nana.

In addition to those varieties, the other Anubias species are: A. gilletii, A. afzelii, A. gigantean, A. gracilis, A. heterophyllai, A. hasifolia, and A. pnaertii.


Today, these beautiful plants are found across the world in aquariums and paludariums. People of all different experience levels choose these plants as additions to their aquariums.

About Anubias Nana

Anubias nana have thick, dark green, short-stemmed leaves. They are so thick and strong that they almost feel like leather. Every leaf is slender and covered with a narrow cuticle that strengthens and fortifies the plant.

The underside of the leaf is a lighter green than the top. The leaf’s veins are clearly visible.

Individual anubias nana leaves can last for years, but they take quite a while to grow.

This plant species has some of the smallest and most compact leaves in the anubias genus. They grow to be 3 to 5 inches wide and 2 to 6 inches tall. They are the smallest of the anubias baerti species.

Occasionally the plant will flower when it is fully or almost fully submerged in water. These beautiful white flowers will last for several months. The flower looks similar to a calla lily flower.

Benefits of Anubias Nana

This hardy and durable plant will not only make your tank look more beautiful, but it will support the health of the overall tank.

They will help to control levels of nitrates in the tank, which can be harmful to your fish. They will also remove pollutants in the water and provide more oxygen. This will also help any fish that you have in the tank.

They will also make your fish very happy because they provide good hiding spaces.

They are a good alternative to fake plants in your fish tank because they provide benefits to your fish but are practically like plastic, so fish aren’t able to chew into them.

What to Look for When Buying Anubias Nana Plants

Often, these plants are sold as bare root plants where they are taken straight from the gravel they were growing in. They are also sold potted in little plastic containers.

They may also be bought attached to driftwood or rocks for a higher price.

Look for plants that have healthy looking lush green leaves, a thick rhizome and roots that look healthy.

Don’t buy a plant that has holes, breaks or cracks in the leaves. Also, check that there’s no algae growing on the plant.

Look at the color of the plant, make sure it is dark green and doesn’t have any patches of yellow or brown on it. If the color has dulled to more of a light green, it may not be a healthy plant.

It is very important to check the health of a plant before purchasing it. If it is diseased it can affect the whole chemistry of the tank, potentially harming other plants or fish. You don’t want to get the plant home only for it to die soon after so be sure to examine it thoroughly.

Placement in The Tank

When planting an anubias nana, you want to put it in a spot where it can get sufficient light so that the leaves can photosynthesize. Without proper light, the plant will die. It is a beautiful plant, so you might want to have it as a centerpiece in your tank.

Be careful not to give the tank too much light as it will lead to algae growth, which can be detrimental to the health of the plant and the entire tank. It is also very difficult to remove from the plant.

The anubias nana won’t live for long if you have it floating in the tank, so you need to attach it to something. It needs to have space to grow and spread it’s roots.

There are a number of ways you can plant an anubias nana:

  1. In Substrate

If you are planting it, use a soft substrate such as fine-grained gravel or coarse sand. Smaller substrates won’t help with anchoring the roots and larger substrates collect too much debris. Be sure to not bury the rhizome under the substrate as it can cause it to rot and die.

  1. Attached to Driftwood or Rocks

This is the more popular way of planting the anubias nana. You can use cotton thread or fishing line to tie the roots around the rock or driftwood. Be careful to not damage the plant in the process. Leave the tie there until the roots are well attached. Cotton thread will dissolve over time and won’t disturb the tank set up. There is no need to bury the roots.

The plant will creep horizontally in a single direction and grow very slowly. It is a good idea to add a substrate fertilizer to promote further growth. Be sure to give the plant plenty of space to spread out.

Anubias Nana Needs

Anubias nana can live in most tank conditions, making them great for beginners.

They like moderate to low light, and a temperature of about 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

They need a pH of 6.0 to 7.5, and a hardness of 3-10 dGH.

More light will make the anubias nana grow faster, but it will make the plant grow more compact. It will also make it more succeptable to algae growth which can be very difficult to remove.

Using CO2 will also promote faster growth in your plant.

You can trim back your plant regularly to keep it healthy, to promote new growth and to propagate. Use a clean knife or scissors and cut the section with the least leaves. Be sure to always disinfect any tools you use to cut your plant back. You don’t want any harmful chemicals getting into the tank and harming your fish or plants.


Anubias Nana are notoriously slow growers. They produce about one leaf a month.

You can cut mature rhizomes from the parent plant and either divide them along the dormant buds, or place the entire rhizome in water and divide once smaller plants have developed.

Be sure to propagate cuttings that have 3 leaves or more so that the new plant can photosynthesize.

Contrary to what people used to think, you can also cultivate anubias from seeds.

You can use CO2 and additional lighting to speed up growth but watch out for algae growth on the leaves.

The plant cuttings will start producing roots in just a few days.

Tank Mates

Fish love this plant because it creates a great hiding space.

It is an ideal plant for species of fish that are known to nibble on, or uproot plants as they are extremely tough and almost indestructible.

Most herbivore fish won’t bother the anubias nana because they don’t like the taste. The leathery thick leaves are even pretty much indestructible for even the most persistent fish such as goldfish.

Some good options are zebra loaches, guppies and tetras.

Most freshwater fish will be fine with anubias nana since they have the same tank requirements.


Anubias nana are a wonderful plant for aquarium enthusiasts, whether you’re a beginner or an expert. They are easy to care for and make a beautiful addition to any tank. They have very little requirements to as long as you give them clean water, a nice soft substrate, enough space to grow and good light, they will be very happy.

As with anything you enter into your tank, make sure you monitor your plant closely to check that it is healthy and thriving.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Prevent Algae Growth on Anubias Nana?

Algae will grow when there are too many nutrients, too much light or too much of both in the tank. Because this is a slow growing plant, it is a good idea to put a faster growing plant in the same tank so that there are no excess nutrients for algae to feed on. Fast growing floating plants such as duckweed and dwarf lettuce are great choices.

How Do I Know If My Tank Is Suitable for Anubias Nana?

Most freshwater tanks are basically ideal for this plant. As long as you give the plant plenty of space to spread out and grow, clean water within its parameters, soft substrate and plenty of light, it will be fine. They are hardy plants so you are unlikely to run into any issues.

How Many Hours of Light Do Anubias Nana Need?

They need about 8 to 9 hours. Any more than that and they could become prone to algae. They can deal with low light and 1-2 wattage per gallon of light would be fine for them.


Do Anubias Nana Need CO2?


They don’t need it but it is helpful if you want them to grow more quickly.


Will Adding CO2 Reduce Algae?


Yes, CO2 will reduce excess O2 available for algae. Just be sure that there is enough O2 for your fish and plants, while little excess for algae.


What Is the Minimum Tank Size for An Anubias Nana?


There is no real minimum tank size for this plant, a 10 gallon is probably a good starting size for them to thrive in. But they can thrive in tanks of all sizes. They are slow growers to it would take them a long time to outgrow a tank. In a bigger tank, they can really spread out.


How Can You Tell If Your Anubias Nana Is Healthy?

The plant should be dark green. If it pale green or has yellow and brown patches, then it is not healthy. The leaves should have a strong stem, if the plant is drooping or wilting then the stem may not be able to support the weight, which tells you it is not healthy.


Can Anubias Nana Grow Above Water?

This plant is usually grown fully submerged in water, but it can actually do better emerged, with the leaves out of the water.

Why Is My Anubias Nana Melting?

There is a type of bacteria that effects anubias which causes it to rot and melt. It starts from the oldest end of the plant. Try cleaning or changing the water to remove any bacteria.

Is It Safe to Glue My Anubias To Driftwood?

As long as you use an aquarium safe glue, it is safe to use glue on your anubias. However, often you can get away with just tying it with cotton string or fishing line. The anubias will eventually be naturally stuck onto the surface, so there will is no real need for glue.

How Long Will It Take for My Anubias To Attach to A Surface?

It usually takes just a few weeks for the plant to latch on. Once it is attached, you can remove any string that you used to tie it there.


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