Anubias Nana Care Guide and Planting

Anubias nana in aquarium

Anubias Nana

Anubias nana is a must-have for freshwater planted aquariums.

These aquatic plants are resilient to a wide range of conditions and require little maintenance.

Its short stature and broad leaves make it perfect for a foreground plant, while also providing cover for bottom dwelling fish and aquatic creatures.

Background Information:

The scientific name of Anubias nana is Anubias barteri varietal nana (this plant is actually one of many different varieties of Anubias barteri).

The plant and its relatives are native to tropical central and western Africa where they grow along the banks of shaded rivers.

As a result, it survives both above and below the water line in aquariums.

They grow up to 7 inches (18 centimeters) tall. Its leaves can reach a length of 7-8 inches (18-20 centimeters) when fully grown.

Anubias grow extremely slowly, sprouting 2-6 leaves per year. Each leaf may take months to reach its maximum size.

Fun Facts About Anubias Nana:

Anubias get their name from Anubis, the Egyptian god of the afterlife.

The plants thrive along shady river beds of tropical Africa that mimic the underworld in ancient Egyptian culture.

They also have a habit of appearing to “die-off” when moved to a new environment, only for them to sprout new leaves and seemingly come back to life.

Other names for Anubias nana include the dwarf Anubias and “Nana”.

Temperature and pH Levels

Similar to other aquarium plants, Anubias nana needs heated aquariums to grow.

Aim for temperatures between 74°F to 82°F (23°C to 28°C), however, they will survive in slightly cooler or warmer conditions. (It should be noted that colder water will make this plant grow even slower than it does naturally).

Additionally, Anubias nana requires a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. Adding more live plants to aquariums will help concentration the pH to around 7.

Avoid using pH stabilizers that may injure live plants.

Aquatic plants do best in soft water without heavy minerals or chemicals.

Always test for water hardness and give aquatic plants the softest water possible by using plant-safe conditioners and sources.

Lighting Requirements

Anubias nana thrive in low to moderate lighting. They are adaptable, so most standard aquarium lights will work.

Aim to provide 6 – 8 hours of direct light each day. However, this species can adjust to handle up to 12 hours of light.

As for light specifications, a general rule for anubias is to use 1 – 3 watts per gallon of aquarium water.

Standard aquarium tube lights, LEDs, and fluorescent lights are all viable options for Anubias nana.

Similar to most other freshwater aquatic plants, a temperature color range of 5000K to 7000K works best.

Planting Depth

Because this variety can reach a height of up to 7 inches (18 centimeters), its recommended  to plant it at least 8 inches below the water line.

This will ensure that the plant remains entirely underwater, although they can grow above the water without an issue.

Also, they can easily be planted a couple feet below the waterline, which makes them a great choice for large aquariums or ponds in semi-tropical locations.

If choosing to plant Anubias outdoors, make sure it is not considered invasive in your area.

Anubias Nana CO2 Requirements

Anubias, like other plants, need carbon dioxide to undergo photosynthesis and survive. Thankfully, Carbon dioxide (CO2) is denser than water and naturally absorbs into aquariums.

Anubias nana will survive without any additional CO2 supplementation.

However, adding CO2 helps to speed up its slow growth rate and develop fuller leaves.

If adding CO2 to an aquarium, be careful not to add too much. Too much carbon dioxide can cause animals to suffocate from a lack of oxygen or may cause dangerous swings in pH.

Here Are Some Ways to Increase CO2 Levels in Aquariums:


Buying CO2 injection kits or dissolvable tablets at pet stores is a great way to put carbon dioxide into tanks.

Simply follow the product’s instructions to add a consistent supply into an aquarium.

However, some downsides are that some injection kits can be expensive or break easily.

For these reasons, CO2 tablets are a little more convenient.

Simply drop them into the water whenever its time to feed your aquatic critters or after a water change.

Increase Water Surface Area:

Increasing the amount of water exposed to air makes it easier for more CO2 to dissolve. Simply remove the top of the aquarium to allow more air to flow over the top of the water.

Another option is to use a shallow container or aquarium. The more water exposed to the air the better.

If an Anubias nana begins to grow out of the water, don’t panic. The plant will pull carbon dioxide directly from the air.

However, increased water surface area won’t always result in extremely high CO2 concentrations. The best option is to always use chemicals or injection kits to provide proper and consistent carbon dioxide levels.

How to Plant Anubias Nana

Anubias nana on trellis

Avoid planting Anubias nana directly in soil, sand, clay, or peat substrates.

Planting directly into a thick substrate increases the risk of the rhizome and roots rotting.

However, if soil, sand, clay, or peat is the only substrate available in your aquarium, take care to ensure that the rhizome is not covered by the substrate.

A much more safe option is to attach Anubias to solid decorations, rocks, or driftwood. After a few weeks or months, the roots of the plant will attach to the object ts planted on.

The root may even spread to the surrounding substrate.

If the plant doesn’t stay attached to its rock or driftwood, a dab of fish-safe super glue or a bit of fishing line can help keep it in place.

Often times lodging Anubias nana between rocks or sticks will hold it in place until it grows a strong root system.

On the other hand, Anubias nana can be directly planted in gravel substrates as long as there isn’t any other substrate above it.

Also, like most store-bought aquatic plants, Anubias nana is grown emersed or in a gel. As a result, the plant will often have a difficult time transitioning to fully underwater life. 

A few leaves will most likely fall off sometime after the transplant. Even if all of the leaves are shed, do not panic! As long as the root system and rhizome remain intact, the plant will eventually sprout new leaves. 

Additional Anubias Nana Care Tips

Anubias varieties prefer moderate water currents.

Power or sponge filters help create surface disruption and water currents, which aid in distributing nutrients to plants.

Additionally, water movement slows algae growth and pulls more CO2 into the water to promote healthier plants.

However, too much current may uproot plants, and too little will cause their broad leave to become overrun with algae.

Consider using fertilizers.

Aquatic plants, like land plants, benefit from fertilizers to help them survive and thrive. Store-bought capsules and liquid fertilizers can help boost plant health and growth.

Always make sure fertilizers are fish-safe and use them in the correct amounts listed. Failure to do so may result in the death of fish and aquarium plants. does a great job of listing and explaining how to use a variety of aquatic fertilizers.

Anubias will not survive in saltwater. 

Anubias as a whole cannot survive in high salt environments.

The plant tolerates low levels of aquarium salt used to treat fish diseases, however, it struggles to survive in brackish water.

Saltwater will cause the plant to rot over time.

Anubias prefer mid to low-light environments.

If your aquarium doesn’t have lights or is a self contained ecosphere, a few hours of direct sunlight is usually enough for these plants to grow.

Carefully monitor the health of your Anubias to see if this method works for you.

Melting (Dying) Leaves and Reproduction

Anubias loses leaves for a wide range of reasons, but they almost always come back. Transplanting, excessive light, or lack of nutrients are all sources of leaf loss.

Eventually, new leaves emerge from the rhizome every couple of weeks. After many months, new stems with new leaves will grow as well.

Eventually, the shoots will grow large enough to be cut away.  Then, the cuttings can be grown into independent plants.

Visit Sun Spot Nursery to find more spotlights and plant care guides.

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