Anubias is a genus of aquatic and semi-aquatic flowering plants in the family Araceae, native to tropical central and western Africa. They primarily grow in rivers and streams, but can also be found in marshes. They are characterized by broad, thick, dark leaves that come in many different forms. The genus was revised in 1979 and since then its nomenclature has been stable. Species can be determined by using mostly characteristics of the inflorescence. Because of the often shady places where the plants grow, the genus was named after the Egyptian god Anubis, the god of the afterlife. The genus was first described in 1857 by Heinrich Wilhelm Schott, with A. afzelii as its type species.
Anubias, most notably the varying forms of A. barteri, are commonly used in aquariums, usually attached to rocks or bogwood. In contrast to most plants, Anubias generally prefer subdued lighting and can also produce flowers underwater. In the aquarium they should be placed in shaded areas, otherwise algae will develop on the leaves.
Anubias are considered by many aquarists some of the easiest plants to maintain, since their light and nutrient requirements are very low and also because herbivorous fish will not eat it (with a few exceptions). This is why Anubias are some of the few plants which can be used in aquariums with African cichlids and goldfishes.
Reproduction in artificial environments can be accomplished by stolon division or from side shoots. The stolon must always be above the substrate in order to survive, otherwise it will rot and the plant dies. It is also possible to propagate Anubias by seed.
The natural growth rate of all species in this genus is rather slow. Usually, they produce a leaf every 3 weeks, or even slower. And while they were once thought to be among the few plants that do not respond to CO2 addition, hobbyists have seen great results and improved growth with CO2 and high light intensity.
The most commonly available species of this genus is Anubias barteri Schott, which is very polymorphic and is subdivided into several varieties. The biggest representatives of the genus are Anubias gigantea Chevalier ex Hutchinson and Anubias heterophylla Engler. Their leaf-stems can grow up to 83 cm, with leaves 40 cm long and 14 cm broad with lateral lobes up to 28 cm long and 10 cm broad. The smallest representative is Anubias barteri var. nana (Engler) Crusio, with a height up to 10 cm and with leaves up to 6 cm long and 3 cm broad.
Anubias can be grown emersed (above water). For this reason they may be used in paludariums.
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