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


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Questions posed on several online forums yielded no information beyond that submerged flowers seem common with Anubias. A Google search for 'submerged pollination' finally led to a short Wikipedia entry (Hydrophily - Wikipedia), explaining that pollination under water is indeed possible and called hydrophily. It is actually not just pollination under water, but pollination by water, and occurs in aquatic plants which release their seeds directly into the water. Pollen can either be distributed on the surface of the water or beneath it. Surface pollination is considered to be a transitional phase between pollination by wind and true hydrophily. Since submerged flowers in Anubias seem common, this would appear to suggest that Anubias should be capable of true submerged hydrophily!

The Wikipedia article on pollination (Pollination - Wikipedia) explains just how rare hydrophily is. The vast majority of all pollination (about 80%) is mediated by organisms. This means it is done by bees, other insects, or animals like humming birds and fruit bats. Pollination mediated by organisms is called biotic pollination. All other pollination is called abiotic, and it is mediated by either wind or water. Pollination by wind is called anemophily and is fairly common in grasses and conifers. It accounts for 19.6 % of all pollination. That leaves only a tiny 0.4% of pollination to water, but thanks to Anubias plants, we have a chance to observe this rare phenomenon in our cichlid tanks!

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Pollination by water (hydrophily) accounts for only 0.4% of all pollination!

Hopefully this article will make you curious enough about Anubias plants that next time you see a nice one in a store or at an auction, you will pick it up. If you do, just wedge it between two rocks in your tank with the roots well out of the substrate. Chances are the plant will thrive even in a fairly dark tank with cichlids that eat plants and love to dig through the substrate. If you are lucky, it might even produce a flower for you that no bee can ever reach!
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