Bettas love to hide in the shady areas of the large-leaved Anubias plant. Anubias provide great shelter and a beautiful landscape.
This plant is very common in many tanks and easy to care for by beginners. Anubias Nana, also known as Dwarf Anubia, is especially well-suited for small tanks like Betta ones. Read more about why Anubias is a great tank mate for your Betta.
What is Anubias Nana?
Anubias Nana is a lush flowering plant, usually growing alongside riverbanks in tropical central and western Africa. In the wild, it rarely grows entirely submerged. Instead, it can be found immersed rooting on logs or large roots. Because of its thick, leather-looking leaves, Anubias has been described as “the plastic plant that grows”.
This plant has wide, pointed leaves in a dark green shade, which usually grow out of a rhizome in low clumps. The center vein is visible, with diagonal lines running from the center to the leaf edge. Don’t be fooled by the delicate-looking leaves! They are covered in a special cuticle that protects them and makes them super durable.
The rhizome extends and develops further leaves and roots that will attach to anything they can find. If you feel the plant may take over your tank, just cut out the extra length and attach the new plants to another spot, see later how to do this.
When partially submerged, there is a chance that Anubias will grow flowers. Still, it may flower even fully submerged. In 2 – 3 months, your tank may display a beautiful soft white flower, which looks a bit like a lily.
There are many Anubias types, and the dwarf Anubias will be the best for a Betta tank due to its reduced size. Other variations are: Anubias barteri, Anubias gigantea, Anubias gilletti, Anubias gracilis, etc.
Anubias Nana will thrive in many living conditions, making it a suitable aquarium plant for patient beginners. No water parameter, in particular, will kill it, but they do have slight effects on its growth and development.
It will do quite well in low light (less than 1W/gal), as well as strong (over 4 W/gal), but medium to low light will be the best choice (about 2-3 W/gal). Standard lighting (natural OR artificial) will be enough for Anubias. Still, more intense light will enable faster growth. Be careful, though, as this will also allow algae to grow. As for your Betta, strong lights may stress it and weaken its immune system.
Anubias prefer slightly acidic to neutral water, with pH between 5.5 – 7.5, and temperature between 72-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Bettas prefer temperatures between 76 – 80 degrees, so it is best to keep the tank temperature around 78 degrees to please both species.
Water hardness should generally be well kept under control by a stable pH. As long as pH is normal, the hardness will be just fine. Both Bettas and Anubias will tolerate a wide range of water hardness but will do best between 3 – 8 KH.
The substrate has to be well fertilized. Use 1-2 mm coarse sand or 2-3 mm gravel. A thinner substrate won’t help with anchoring the roots, and larger ones would collect a lot of debris. Alternatively, Anubias will thrive with no substrate at all. Just keep it well attached to wood, rocks or pieces of decoration.
Anubias are easily propagated even by beginners. You just need to cut off a piece of the rhizome of the desired length and attach it to its rooting surface. You can experiment with using only roots or roots with some leaves.
Attaching Anubias Nana on rough rocks or pieces of driftwood is the best option, as it will thrive as soon as light reaches its root system. Although it will develop its root system below the substrate, burying the roots will slow its growth or may even make it rot, just like with Java Fern
Tie the roots around the rock or driftwood using a piece of dark thread, rubber band, zip tie or fishing line, and leave them there until you notice the roots are well attached. You may want to remove the rubber band, as it usually looks out of place. You may use cotton thread, as it will dissolve over time by itself.
As in their natural environment, Anubias usually live partially submerged. Allowing it to grow a few leaves above the water surface will give it a natural feel and look nice. This setup makes it suitable for smaller tanks, where it won’t have room to spread inside the tank.
Due to their large leaves, they make good mid-ground plants, but can also be used in the foreground of large aquariums if trimmed constantly.
Anubias in Betta tank. Benefits
- Provides good hiding places and shade: Bettas love to have alone time. They don’t school, so staying close to other fish may be stressful.
- Provides a safe place to rest: the dense foliage provides a lot of safety, so your Betta can rest as long as it needs. Good rest means a healthier immune system and a lot fewer health problems;
- Hides other fish: Anubias will hide your Bettas tank mates and protect them should your Betta become stressed and aggressive.
- It provides oxygen for the water column and an additional surface for beneficial bacteria to grow.
- Anubias is a hardy and undemanding plant, making it a great plant for beginner aquarists.
Common Anubias health problems
Although Anubias tolerate a wide range of lighting, strong lighting may cause yellow spots. Dim the light a little or move the plant to a shady area. You may try adding iron supplements.
Brownish, mushy, rhizomes are indeed rotting! But don’t worry. Just cut off the damaged tissue until you get into green, fresh one, and attach the new plant where you want it to grow. Watch out for any trace of rot, as it can spread and continue to affect the rhizome.
Anubias are slow-growers. A regular, established plant will shoot about 1 – 2 leaves in about 3 weeks or more.
You can help it by turning the light up and adding a good-quality fertilizer. Be careful about too much light as this will also enable algae growth. Too much fertilizer will have the same effect
Anubia Care Guide FAQ
Should I fertilize Anubias?
Anubias are hardy plants that do well with or without fertilization. Some aquarists argue that if the plant doesn’t show yellow spots or stops growing, fertilizer is not needed.
In my opinion, some little fertilizer from time to time will be helpful. The plant responds well to liquid fertilizers and CO2 supplementation. Choose one high in iron and manganese to keep the leaves green.
How do you propagate Anubias?
This aquarium plant will propagate naturally by developing small tips from existing rhizomes. To separate a tip, cut a rhizome section with a few already-grown healthy leaves using a sharp knife, razor blade or pair of scissors. Then replant it anywhere you want.
Plants allowed to grow immersed will produce seeds, which are another way of propagating the Anubias.
Why is it growing so slow?
Although it thrives fully submerged in tanks, this is not how we find Anubias in the wild. It will grow submerged but at a slower pace.
Will my fish eat Anubias?
Most herbivore fish will not find it tasty. Its thick, leather-like leaves are almost indestructible even by goldfish or cichlids. It can even be placed in larger terrariums with patches of water.
Bettas will try to nibble on the Anubia leaves but eventually leave it alone.
Please quarantine any new plant before adding it to your tank! They may bring in parasites like snails, dragonfly, damsefly nymphs, etc.
Anubias is an excellent plant for your Betta tank, as it allows your fish to hide and rest safely and provides shady swimming areas. It is very easy to care for and thrives in many conditions. You can place it in tanks as small as 3.5 gallons, but will also develop beautifully in larger ones. Plus they are very affordable.
In addition, Anubias make an amazing tank mate for your Betta, so if you were wondering which plant to choose for it, this one is great to start with.
If you want to learn more about Betta’s behavior, advice, and tips, please visit our collection of Betta Tips Articles.
About the author
Hi, I am Laura. I just love fish and pets in general.
I have researched aquariums extensively, I have worked in a pet store, counseling customers about the best pet products to buy, and I am also the owner of two cats.
You can find the articles I wrote here