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Anubias - great plants for the cichlid aquarium that produce flowers no bee can reach! [/TD]
by Frank Mueller (fmueller)

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The little Anubias plant you see in the photo below with a medium leaf size I bought early in 2008 at an auction. I remember bidding quite a bit of money for it - over $10 - but it was a nice, healthy plant that was rooted on a red lava rock. Unfortunately I had to discard the rock, since it did not fit in with the aquascaping of the tank that would become the plant's new home. However, the plant did very well wedged between two pieces of sandstone that formed a cave.

Plant Leaf Leaf vegetable Terrestrial plant Grass

Anubias shortly after planting (left) and with first flower (right).

The tank housed a colony of 24 tropheus 'Bemba Orange Flame' at the time, and I learned that Anubias plants seem to be particularly well suited for tropheus tanks. My tropheus didn't eat any part of the plant, but kept it beautifully cleaned of algae. Algae growth on the leafs can be a problem with Anubias in tanks that don't have the cleaning services of tropheus or similar algae grazing fish, and excessive algae growth on the leafs can limit the capacity for light uptake by Anubias plants. However, if this is observed, it is usually better to cut down on lighting than to increase it, since algae generally have a much greater demand for light than Anubias. If you cut down on light, the algae will likely die off, and the Anubias will thrive in the subdued light. It is because of these low light requirements that Anubias were named after Anubis, the ancient Egyptian god of the dead.

My Anubias plant liked its environment so much that it pretty quickly produced a flower, and the second flower opened up before the first one had even finished blooming. The first flower of this Anubias plant in my 125G tropheus tank, only a few months after purchasing it. I've had the plant for well over two years now, and it seems to consistently maintain four to eight flowers at all times. These flowers last for a very long time - months - and are fascinating in that they are completely submerged.

I am a cichlid keeper at heart, and although I keep plants in nearly all of my tanks, if in doubt my tanks are set up so that the conditions are ideal for the fish, not for the plants. For this reason, I haven't had too many plants flower in my tanks, but whenever that happened, they used to grow a stem that would lift the flower up above the water level. I was intrigued by the fully submerged flowers of Anubias plants, and wondered if that was normal, and if there was any point in a plant creating a flower that stays under water where no bee will ever have a chance to pollinate it.

Plant Botany Terrestrial plant Grass Leaf vegetable

The same Anubias plant as above, about two years after planting. It consistently maintains around four to eight flowers.

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