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anubias nana care guide

Anubias Nana Guide

If you’re looking for an aquatic plant to beautify your aquarium, the Anubias nana is one of the most popular options. This bright, vibrant plant looks great and doesn’t require much maintenance.   

Read our Anubias care guide to learn more about how to care for this low-maintenance aquatic plant varietal, then stock up on fish deals and freshwater fish food to round out your new water ecosystem.

You can plant an Anubias freshwater plant in habitats as big as 10 gallons. With a bit of patience and some substrate, you can help keep your new plant thriving. Not only can a leafy green addition make your aquarium more colorful, but many fish thrive in an environment that more closely matches their natural habitat—and that includes plants that help oxygenate the water. 

Your aquarium’s Anubias nana comes from the Araceae family. It’s a bright green plant that can survive in an aquarium much as it does in the wild. And it grows strong without a lot of hands-on care, making it quite popular among aquatic pet parents. The average maximum height for the Anubias nana is 7.5 to 8 inches. You’ll notice that your new aqua plant grows pretty slowly, which means it often doesn’t need a lot of lighting. 

If you want more than one Anubias water plant in your aquarium, it is fairly simple to propagate this water plant on your own. 


The average Anubias nana size is about 8 inches tall at full height—similar to the average Anubias congensis height. Most Anubias varietals are much larger, with some growing as tall as 20 inches. This varietal can be a great option for an average-sized aquarium due to its smaller size. You can also choose a dwarf Anubias—which will top out at about 5 inches tall—or an Anubias nana narrow leaf, which has a more slender leaf structure.

Anubias nana features bright green leaves that grow in clumps. The stems are dark green, and the leaves on the plant have pronounced diagonal lines. You may notice your Anubias bloom a white flower in some cases, but most plants will never flower. 

Plant care

You’ll want to start with an Anubias nana plant that has already sprouted and begun growing. Key indicators of a good candidate for your aquascape can include bright green leaves, absence of rips or damage to leaves and strong stems that don’t allow the leaves to droop. It’s typically easier to keep a stoutly growing plant growing than nurture a sick plant back to health in a new habitat. 

This species can be planted in substrate— keep in mind that you don’t want to bury Anubias roots too deep, or the plant could die. Instead, choose a substrate with sand or rocks—fertilizer is optional—that gives the roots room to grow. You may see the plant roots growing around rocks or driftwood over time, which is normal. 

Your Anubias freshwater plant can be placed just about anywhere in your aquarium. They are often used as foreground plants, but since they don’t need a lot of light, you can also put your new plant in the background. 

When it comes to ideal aquarium conditions, an Anubias aquatic plant should be kept in water between 72- to 82-degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a water heater to regulate water temperature as necessary. An ideal pH level is between 6 to 7.5, typically considered neutral.

How to plant Anubias Nana

Adding an Anubias nana to your aquarium usually takes just a few minutes. Cut off any damaged or brown leaves before planting, then create a space for the plant in the substrate. Take care with the rhizome—the mass of roots beneath a new plant. If you bury the rhizome too deep, you could end up killing your new plant. 

If your aquatic plant is struggling to stay upright, you may use fishing wire to tie the plant’s stalk to the bottom of the habitat until the roots take hold. This is usually preferable to burying the base deeper.

Maintenance and care 

Anubias nana care is usually pretty minimal. Make sure the water in your aquarium stays clean and pH neutral. Periodically check to ensure that your Anubias’s temperature is between 72- and 82-degrees Fahrenheit. Vacuum out all debris and fish waste often and conduct periodic water changes to help remove harmful chemicals. Many habitats can require a full or partial water change every several weeks. 

Test the water once per month to ensure the pH level is appropriate for your plant and pets. Standard aquarium maintenance should allow you to keep your Anubias nana thriving for a long time. 

You will want to clip your plant periodically. When the stems get too long—especially if the leaves start drooping—it may be time to trim a few pieces from the plant. You also want to clip off any browning or damaged leaves as soon as possible to allow healthier leaves to absorb nutrients. 

Common problems

The main threats to the health of an Anubias fish tank plant are algae and light, as too much of either can cause your plant to decline quickly. These elements tend to suffocate your aquatic plant and should be mitigated in your aquarium. 

This species tends to stimulate an increase in algae because it grows so slowly. The large, sturdy leaves also provide prime real estate for algae to thrive. If you notice any algae build-up in your habitat or on your plant, changing the water can help. Algae-eating fish species can also keep this threat at bay. Be careful not to add too many nutrients to the water, as this can also promote algae growth. 

If it seems like your aquarium’s Abubias nana is getting too much light, consider moving it to a new location in the habitat. A shady spot can help ensure your plant doesn’t get too much sun, as the Anubias nana’s light requirements are typically low. Plus, plants in the shade don’t tend to have as much algae growth.


Anubias nana is one of the easiest live plants to propagate. They propagate by way of rhizome division, and there are a few ways you can accomplish this. 

Some plants will naturally shed stems, which find their way to the substrate and grow their own plant. You can also use sterile scissors to clip a few mature stems and plant them in the substrate nearby. Just be sure you’re clipping from a thriving, mature plant that can recover. Each stem you cut should have at least three to four leaves. 

Once a stem is cut for Anubias propagation, it usually only takes a few days for the new plant to start growing its roots. You can also cut stems and give them away to a friend who wants an Anubias nana plant in their aquarium.

Aquarium mates and compatibility

It can be pretty hard to kill an Anubias nana, so it can be paired with just about any other living creature in your aquarium—as long as they thrive in similar water and lighting conditions. 

This plant may not be compatible with species that need a lot of light around the clock. If your other plant life is very nutrient-dependent, your Anubias freshwater plant may begin to cause excess algae growth. 

If you notice a fish nibbling on the leaves of your Anubias nana, clip off damaged leaves as soon as possible. 

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FAQs About Anubias Nana

Yes, this innocuous plant is generally harmless to freshwater fish. In fact, many aquatic pets enjoy its large, stable leaves. It can provide a great hiding place for betta fish and other species who like a place to feel more secure.

Anubias nana can be planted in a sand or rock substrate—but they don’t need it. This plant will attach to just about anything, and its roots can also connect to driftwood or rocks. However, many aquatic pet parents find substrate to be an easy way to keep the plant rooted. Just make sure the rhizome is not buried too deep.

No. this water plant feeds via the water column. Root feeder plants usually require a unique fertilized substrate to provide nutrients through their bottom roots. However, an aquarium Anubias nana can thrive with or without a substrate since it gains its nutrients from the water.

The Anubias nana can be a wonderful aquarium plant option. For aquarium enthusiasts, it’s a low-maintenance option that grows fairly easily. For fish, the plant can offer a shady retreat from other fish and well-lit areas of the habitat. Aquatic plants are also beneficial in that they help remove chemicals harmful to your plants from the water. You can put the plant almost anywhere in the aquarium, making it a useful piece of décor. Anubias nana naturally propagates easily so that you can get a lot of coverage from a single plant.

An Anubias nana will typically not survive long as a floating plant. It is meant to be a planted species, as leaving it floating can expose the plant to too much light. However, some pet parents have had sporadic luck keeping their Anubias water plant hovering in their aquarium—usually in low-light settings and with extreme care. If you don’t have the time to monitor and adjust your aquatic plants regularly, the roots of this plant can secure to either substrate or decorations—so you have plenty of options for where to place it.

Yes. In addition to moderate light and clean water, an Anubias nana plant will require CO² to survive. In most cases, this plant can live on the CO² that your aquarium’s fish naturally expel. If your habitat does not have a lot of fish, the water may not have enough CO² for your Anubias to thrive. You can correct this by adding supplements to the water—just pay careful attention to the balance of chemicals in your habitat, so it doesn’t adversely affect other plant or aquatic life.

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