Anubias Nana Petite Ulitmate Growing Guide 2022 (growing, feeding & propagating)

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Anubias Nana Petite is a low-growing, dark green plant that is especially loved by aquascapers thanks to its habit of only growing a few inches high. This stunning plant is widely believed to be a mutation of the Anubias barteri. It technically goes under the name Anubias barteri var. nana, although it is generally sold under the more common name Anubias Nana or Anubias Nana Petite.

Anubias Nana Petite is a very slow-growing plant that is happiest growing in low light conditions and it will even grow in the shadow of larger, more vigorous plants.

This popular plant is suitable both for those who are beginners in the world of plant growing and those with more experience in aquascaping.

Overview of Anubias Nana Petite

It is now widely agreed that Anubias Nana Petite is a mutation of the slightly larger Anubias Barteri. The first specimens of Anubias Nana Petite were grown at the Oriental Aquarium Plant Nursery in Singapore.

The smaller leaf structure of Anubias Nana Petite is loved by novice and professional aquascapers alike. This plant is often used to give contrast against lighter, larger-leaved plants. The slow-growing nature of this plant makes it an ideal choice for those setting up complex aquascapes that require low-maintenance plants.

Anubias Nana Petite is a rhizome plant that, much like Java Fern, should be grown attached to rocks or pieces of wood rather than planted directly into the aquarium substrate. Unusually, Anubias Nana Petite is happy to grow in low light and even under shade created by other, large plants.

CO2 injection is not essential to grow Anubias Nana Petite, although the addition of liquid fertilizer does make a difference to the rate of growth.

Anubias Nana Petite Characteristics

Common Name:Anubias nana Petite
Scientific Name:Anubias barteri var. nana
Care Level:Easy
Growth Rate:Slow
Light Level:Low
C02 Level:Low
Tank Location:Foreground or midground
Temperature:72°F – 82°F (22.5°C – 27.5°C)
Color:Dark green
Propagation Method:Rhizome division
Maximum Height:4″ (10cm)
Minimum Tank Size:10-gallons (38 liters)

Anubias Nana Petite General Description

Anubias Nana Petite is a slow-growing, hardy plant that is often used as a foreground or midground plant in aquascapes. This plant grows small, dark green leaves that have a glossy appearance. Only growing to around 4″ (10cm) tall, this plant makes an ideal choice for those setting up nano tanks or small Red Cherry Shrimp tanks.

The green rhizome stems of Anubias Nana Petite are best tied to a rock or piece of aquarium wood. Once in place, the Anubias will creep along, very slowly, eventually covering whatever it is tied to. The rhizome of Anubias Nana Petite requires constant water circulation, and it will rot and die if planted directly into the substrate.

The leaves of this plant are tough, meaning they are unlikely to be eaten by fish. Even some of the known plant destroyers won’t touch Anubias Nana Petite. I currently grow Anubias Nana Petite in a number of tanks in my fish room, and even the Fantail Goldfish leave this plant along.

Ideal Conditions for Anubias Nana Petite

Anubias Nana Petite is a really easy-going plant that is happy to grow in just about any aquarium set up it is placed in. It does not require any special lighting or any CO2 injection and it doesn’t even need a special substrate. It also isn’t especially fussy about what pH the water is or whether or not it is growing in soft or hard water.

Anubias Nana Petite is essentially a bulletproof plant, making it an ideal choice for those who are newer to aquascaping.

Although Anubias Nana Petite is not an especially demanding plant, I have listed its ideal growing conditions below.


According to a number of different sources, Anubias Nana Petite likes its water temperature to be in the region of 72°F to 82°F (22.5°C to 27.5°C). I would agree that is a good range, although, in my experience, it is also happy growing in water that is slightly cooler.

I currently have Anubias Nana Petite growing in a tank with a group of Fantail Goldfish, and the water is nearer to 64°F (17.5°C). As far as I can see the Anubias is happy and it certainly seems to be growing well.

This plant is so hardy I would not be surprised if it grew in water that was cooler still. I don’t currently have Anubias Nana Petite growing in my warmer Discus tanks, but I have heard reports it can go as warm as 84°F (29°C).


To say Anubias Nana Petite isn’t worried about lighting levels would be an understatement. I wouldn’t be surprised if it grew in the dark!

Anubias Nana Petite is the ultimate low light plant. It is famed for its ability to grow even when shaded by other plants. Most of the aquariums in my fish room run the Fluval Aquasky light, which grows Anubias superbly. On some of my tanks, I have either shop lights or low-energy CFL bulbs, and the Anubias grows well in those tanks too.

I suspect, providing you are giving your Anubias at least some light, it will grow.


Much like another rhizome plant, Java Fern, Anubias Nana Petite does not require any substrate to grow. In fact, it needs the water to circulate around its rhizome continually and it will rot and die if planted in the substrate.

Anubias Nana Petite grows by attaching its roots to rocks or pieces of aquarium wood. In our aquariums, we are best to tie the Anubias to something using a small piece of fishing line or twine.

CO2 Injection

CO2 injection is the practice of adding CO2 gas to your aquarium water with the resulting dissolved gas making your plants grow faster and stronger.

I currently have Anubias Nana Petite growing in several aquariums in my fish room that have CO2 injection and in others that do not have CO2 injection. I have not been able to tell any difference between the way these plants grow in the two different setups. Anubias Nana Petite does not need CO2 injection to grow.

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How to Grow Anubias Nana Petite

Under the heading how to grow Anubias Nana Petite? I could just write ‘add water, will grow’!

Anubias Nana Petite is an extremely undemanding aquarium plant to grow. Providing you don’t bury the rhizome in the substrate it will grow for you.

The best way I have found to grow Anubias Nana Petite is to attach it to a rock, a piece of aquarium wood, or some other decoration within the tank. By tying some fishing line or a small piece of twine around the Anubias and the rock, the Anubias will be held in place until their own roots get a grip.

I often use a plastic zip tie to attach Anubias Nana Petite to a rock. Zip ties last forever, and once the Anubias grows it will hide the zip tie.

To fasten the Anubias Nana Petite to rock, take a small section of the plant and place it onto a rock or piece of aquarium wood. Take care not to squash any roots or damage the rhizome. Pass a zip tie or piece of fishing line through the plant and around whatever you are fastening the plant to. Tighten the zip tie or tie a knot in the fishing line. Make sure it is sufficiently tight to hold the Anubias in place without crushing or damaging the rhizome.

If I am trying to cover a larger rock or piece of wood I will typically break up the Anubias Nana Petite and tie several small pieces of it to the decor, spreading it out a little to cover as much as possible. In time the Anubias will grow and then cover the entire thing it is tied to.

Fertilizing Anubias Nana Petite

Anubias Nana Petite is a water column feeder. It takes in 100% of the nutrients it needs directly from the water circulating around it. As such it is important that we add liquid fertilizer to our Anubias aquarium.

If we want our Anubias Nana Petite to grow strong and lush, it is important we give it the nutrients it needs to grow. As the Anubias is not in the substrate, and so can’t draw any nutrients from the dirt and detritus that builds up in the substrate, we need to add nutrients in the form of liquid fertilizer.

I have found Easy Green, which is made by Aquarium Co-op to be the easier fertilizer to use in my Anubias tanks. You just add a few squirts each week and your plants will absorb all the goodness they need.

Anubias Nana Petite Maintenance

Anubias Nana Petite really doesn’t require a lot of day-to-day maintenance. It is one of the easiest plants you’ll ever grow.

Occasionally a leaf or two may turn yellow or brown, which may indicate a lack of nutrients in the water. If it is just one or two leaves, remove them when you do your weekly water changes. If it is more than a few leaves, check out the problems section below.

If your Anubias Nana Petite is really happy and growing well, it may need trimming back to keep it under control. To trim Annubias Nana Petite, you can just pull a section off using your fingers, or cut the rhizome using sharp scissors. The section you cut off will grow into a new plant if you allow it to. See more on propagation below.

In my experience, Anubias Nana Petite only needs trimming once or maybe twice a year.

Propagating Anubias Nana Petite

Anubias Nana Petite is a really easy plant to propagate. Because it is so easy it is a plant I often recommend fishkeepers grow and sell it for a profit.

To propagate Anubias Nana Petite, simply take a piece of the plant and either pull it part using your fingers and thumbs or cut the rhizome with a pair of scissors. Either way, the plant comes apart really easily, and each section of the plant you have will grow into a new plant, almost no matter how small it is.

When I propagate my Anubias Nana Petite I tend to cut the rhizome up into 1″ to 2″ (2.5cm to 5cm) pieces and tie them all along the length of a piece of bogwood. I place the wood into an aquarium and let the Anubias grow for 6 to 8 weeks, then I cut the Anubias off the bogwood and secure it in its new location in a display tank.

Does Anubias Nana Petite Flower?

Anubias Nana Petite does flower, even underwater, although sadly it seems to be a very rare occurrence. I have dozens of Anubias Nana Petite in my fish room, and I’ve never seen any of them flower.

If you are lucky enough to have a specimen that flowers, then you will probably see a small yellow or white flower begin to emerge from the rhizome. At first, it may look like a yellow or white leaf, but a flower will eventually develop.

What Other Plants Can Live With Anubias Nana Petite?

If you are planning on building an aquascape that will include Anubias Nana Petite you might be wondering what other plants can grow in the same tank as the Anubias.

In my experience, just about every other plant we grow in the hobby will work well with Anubias Nana Petite. The Anubias is so undemanding it won’t care what other plants it is grown with, even if they are larger, faster-growing plants.

In my own fish room I have Anubias Nana Petite growing in tanks with each of the following plants;

One of my favorite aquascapes has a wall of Amazon Swords along the back of the tank, with Anubias Nana Petite growing on a large piece of wood in front of the Amazon Swords and a carpet of Monte Carlo running along the front of the tank.

The contrast between the three different leaf shapes and colors is amazing.

What Fish Can Live With Anubias Nana Petite?

I think it is fair to say that just about every fish that might be classed as a community fish can live in a tank where Anubias Nana Petite is growing. In my own fish room, I keep lots of Tetras in tanks with the Anubias as well as Gouramis and Bettas.

Some of the fish in my Anubias Nana Petite tanks include;

As well as lots of different fish species, I also keep lots of shrimp and snails in with my Anubias Nana. Shrimp and snails help keep the Anubias Nana Petite clear of algae and they eat any food and detritus that falls in between the plant leaves. Red Cherry Shrimp and Amano Shrimp are two of my favorite shrimp species.

What Fish To Avoid With Anubias Nana Petite?

Whilst this is a fairly hardy plant if it is kept with some of the more boisterous fish, its rhizomes can be easily damaged. Common Goldfish will pick at it and large South American Cichlids like Oscars, Green Terrors, and Dovii will cause it to break up.

Benefits of Growing Anubias Nana Petite

I firmly believe there are major benefits to growing live aquarium plants in our fish tanks.

Firstly, live aquarium plants just enhance any tank they are grown in. Although there is nothing natural about our fish tanks and the fish we keep together in them, adding live plants seems to create a natural feel.

Secondly, as discussed above, live plants consume nutrients directly from the water column, and these nutrients include ammonia and nitrates. When our fish go to the bathroom, their waste is high in ammonia, which is toxic to the fish. By growing live plants in the aquarium with our fish, the plants help keep the water cleaner and healthier for the fish.

The third, and in my opinion best benefit of growing live aquatic plants like Anubias Nana Petite is the plants’ ability to provide hiding places for baby fish. I breed a lot of fish, and there is no doubt survival rates are much higher when there are live plants in the tank.

Common Problems Growing Anubias Nana Petite

Although Anubias Nana Petite is a hardy plant, it can still have its problems.


The most common problem Anubias Nana Petite sufferers from is algae. Because this plant is so slow-growing, its leaves provide the perfect place for algae to form, especially when kept in a high light setup.

Fortunately, the answer to this problem is simply adding algae eaters. Red Cherry Shrimp are great algae eaters as are Amano Shrimp. Siamese Algae Eaters are another great fish for keeping algae at bay.

Alternatively, if you do not wish to add algae eaters to your setup, consider growing another plant located to overshadow your Anubias Nana Petite. If you can put the Anubias in shade, then algae are less like to grow on it.

Yellowing Leaves

Occasionally an odd Anubias leaf will turn yellow. If it is just one leaf here and one there it is probably nothing to worry about. Over time individual leaves will die off. If however, a number of leaves are beginning to turn yellow, it may be a sign the Anubias Nana Petite is lacking nutrients

The answer here will be to increase the amount of liquid fertilizer being added to the aquarium. Yellowing leaves is almost always an indicator of a lack of nutrients.

Where to Buy Anubias Nana Petite?

Anubias Nana Petite is not a plant that every local fish store will stock. It can sometimes be slightly harder to track down and you may have to order some from an online vendor.

I have had good luck using is an online plant specialist that has a wide selection of plants for sale. I have found their quality to be really good and whenever I have ordered plants they have arrived really quickly.

In Conclusion

Anubias Nana Petite is a smashing plant to add to an aquascape. The small, glossy leaves contrast amazingly against some of the larger and more decorative plants.

Anubias Nana Petite is an incredibly easy plant to grow, providing you follow the two basic rules. 1, never plant Anubias Nana Petite in the gravel because it will die, and 2, make sure you provide the plant with ample liquid fertilizer.

About the Author

I’ve been keeping, breeding, and showing tropical fish for nearly 30 years. Over that time I’ve done it all! I’ve had great success and I’ve made some really foolish mistakes (like the time I bought an Asain Walking Catfish). Read more…
Richard James

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