Sunday, December 20, 2009

How to grow Anubias at home (several advices)

It’s well known that Anubias are riverside plants. But only some species can grow up well in aquarium; for example A. afzelii, A. barteri and some specimen of A. heterophylla. Though even these species grow up better in an emergent condition: they do it quickly, the leaves become larger, and more than that such plants blossom more often and so on. In the botanic garden’s greenhouses Anubias are grown up without water, meanwhile a damp peat or soil can be used as a ground. Such method also gives good results, the Anubias’ leaves grow very quickly. So as there is not so much water the leaves become firmer and harder than in aquarium. But this method is not suitable for small home greenhouses, because it’s difficult to fit out good ventilation in such a small volume and as the result the substratum can rot. That’s why it’s more suitable to keep Anubias in the emergent conditions, in such way it’s possible to avoid some undesirable anaerobic processes due to the water circulation and water changes. Besides there is an opportunity to proportion mineral fertilizers and distribute them properly. So the fancier of the aquatic fauna will like such method too, because in this way he can keep both, Anubias and aquatic animals, together.

An aquarium with a law water level can be used as a greenhouse. But it’s very difficult to maintain such aquariums. Theoretically we need some type of terrarium with side doors and leak proof bottom. In contrast to the “true” terrarium, there is no need in vent holes in such greenhouses for Anubias, as it would be very problematically to reach necessary air humidity (more than 90%).

It’s better to use luminous tube lamps with a warm white light for lighting and these lamps should be fixed on the outside of the greenhouse in order to avoid leaf scorch. The water level 5-15 cm. is enough for the growth of the most Anubias’ species. The pump is to place in water for the circulation. It’s better to keep Anubias in small plastic flower pots. The usage of the pots simplifies the attendance of the plants and their replantation etc. I often use the packing from foodstuff, for example plastic yoghurt cups. It’s necessary to make small holes in the side of the cup for water cycle. The upper edge of the cup should be under the water and only for a little it can emerge upon the surface. Common pebbles or small clay pellets can be used as a substratum. Every fancier has his own opinion concerning the question which additives (clay, ash, peat etc.) should be added to the soil. I’ve checked several variants of such mixtures and I didn’t notice any striking differences from the pure pebbles. We should follow only one rule - add the additive no more as 1/3 from total amount of the substratum, otherwise there would be asescence (rotting) of the soil or further mortality of the plant. Very often the usage of the peat, in order to soften the water and decrease its’ hardness, is unreasonably: due to the regular water changes the effect is thus null. Mineral fertilizers should be added in water for Anubias’ full nutrition. It can be done in different ways. For example you can use some fertilizers for house plants. But sometimes they aren’t well balanced, so in this way they don’t supply the needs of Anubias. And very often there is an oversupply with one element and that can lead to the plant’s disease. This problem can be solved by regular water changes. The usage of alive hydrobionts is another way to supply Anubias with necessary nutrition. It can be as snails, so as different fishes. They will consume food and excrete the waste products, which are necessary for Anubias. More than that snails are very important for aquariums, they eat obsolescent leaves or the other part of the plants. Though this method has also some disadvantages. For example, if there are any aquatic organisms, so it’s impossible to use chemical substances in order to fight with pests and diseases.

The temperature in greenhouse should be 22-26ºС. The direct sun should be avoided. Of course sometimes this natural lightening is useful for Anubias’ vital functions, but often it can lead to the air’s overheating, especially in summer. Anubias don’t like overheating (above 30 ºС) and vice versa overcooling (below 20 ºС).

That’s all. Practically there are no difficulties in growing such plants at home greenhouse. It’s not as complicated as the violet’s cultivation ( Saintpaulia ionantha ) on the window sill.

The author of this note: Dmitry Loginov.

The author used info from the next Web pages:

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Translated from Russian by Julia Niklyaeva and Alexander Grigorov

Photos: Dmitry Loginov and Valentina Romanova.

© Dmitry Loginov

© Alexander Grigorov

Monday, December 7, 2009

What does Anubias sp. Frazeri hide from us?

For the last decades this Anubias became a customary attribute of many American pet shops. But at the same time there is a little information concerning this plant. Also it’s not clear, what place does Anubias sp. Frazeri take in the Anubias’ systematization. It’s also difficult for me to write this plant’s name correctly, whether as a breed or as a trade name. I couldn’t find any document about the registration of the breed Anubias ‘Frazeri’. So according to the diverse information I made a decision to add prefix “sp”, which means not fixed species.

There are some suppositions that this plant was named after the famous selectionist Edwin Frazer, who worked in Australia. It’s possible that Anubias sp. Frazeri is only a hybrid, which was created by Frazeri or by somebody else. I got to know about this Anubias 3 years ago. I received a parcel from one American online store and there was a little Anubias’ tiller with lanceolate leaves, reminiscent of A. barteri var. glabra or A. afzelii. In a half a year I was surprised to see, that there were small but distinct ears on the leaf at the base of lamina. Further cultivation showed that depending on conditions the laminae of this Anubias is very changeable. Even grown up plants have different leaf forms, from heart-shaped to auriculate. When at first time I saw these small ears I remembered the book by A. Engler “Das Pflanzenreich” and his A. auriculata Engler. Even now I think that Anubias sp. Frazeri can be a modern prototype of the A. auriculata.

For more assurance I needed the inflorescence of Anubias sp. Frazeri. In Internet I found only one photo, which was made by American fancier of the plants Cesar A. Castillo, but the quality of the picture wasn’t enough to scrutinize the structure of the male flower on cops. Later, my own plant made me happy with several inflorescences, which are similar with A. hastifolia according to their structure. In his revision W. Crusio had referred A. auriculata to this Anubias. The colour of the inflorescence was also changeable as the leaves. I saw the inflorescence with an outside reddish spatha, pink stigmas and stamens. Synandria consist of 4-6 adnate stamens. Thecae are situated on the edge or sometimes on one side of synandria. As the modern Anubias species’ identification criteria are quite wide and vague, so Anubias sp. Frazeri can be referred to A. hastifolia.

By semi aquatic cultivation Anubias sp. Frazeri is not a pretentious plant and it grows up quickly. The leaves are situated on the rhizome wide apart from each other and that’s why in short time this Anubias can embrace on a large area in florarium or paludarium.

The author of this note: Dmitry Loginov.

The author used info from the next Web pages: and

Translated from Russian by Julia Niklyaeva and Alexander Grigorov

Photos: Dmitry Loginov and Cesar A. Castillo.

Picture: page 8. Engler A. Anubiadeae. – Das Pflanzenreich. – Leipzig, 1915.

© Dmitry Loginov

© Alexander Grigorov

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Algae in aquarium

One of the main aquarians’ problems is the plague of the lowest flora’s representatives. The fanciers of the slow-growing plants (e.g. Anubias) suffer the most. Sometimes they should wait many weeks when a new leaf will appear and study all phases of its’ development. But at the same time for several days algae can spoil the aspect of fanciers’ plants, which have been growing for years. At our forum there is a lot of information concerning the fighting with these undesirable “newcomers” and I try to sum it up.

First of all we should mention that there are a lot of types of algae. And the main cause of their appearance is the disturbance of biological balance, so it depends on thousand different factors: beginning with the composition and quantity of the aquatic animals and insects, flora, light intensity and so on. Sometimes algae can be the first sign of the aquarium’s “ripening” – drawing near to this notorious equilibrium. But generally you should look closely at appearance of the new guests and take necessary measures. I won’t stop at advices on how to create a planted tank and right away I come to the question: “What should we do if Anubias were attacked by the algae?” The representatives of the genus Compsopogon are the most dangerous for this plant. Usually people call them “black brush algae”. On the Anubias’ leaf they appear as black points or brushes and we can find them at the margin of the leaf. It’s very difficult to remove these weeds mechanically, only with leaf’s tissue or with the whole leaf, but many aquarians can’t do this. The simple way out is the usage of the biological methods. For example, you can get shrimps of the genus Caridina or snails - Theodoxus, Clithon or Neretina - and they will mop up the algae. But we can’t use them in all cases, e.g. for African Cichlids, because these shrimps and snails can be eaten by these fish. The usage of the larger “algae eaters”, e.g. Crossocheilus siamensis is less efficient. Also the rumor, that the best method is Anubias’ transfer from submerged into a semi-submerged conditions, only delude people. First of all, Compsopogon doesn’t disappear from the leaves, it only dries on their tissue and very often it grows well in a semi submerged condition due to the high humidity. So take into consideration all aforesaid, we can say that the chemical methods of fighting with algae could be used and are nowadays widespread.

In Russia the usage of cheap household chemicals, which contain sodium hypochlorite, became very popular. Short-term washing out (30-60 sec.) of the Anubias’ leaves with this water solution leads to the dying-off of the “black brush”. More than that the tissue of the leaves are protected with the well-formed cuticle, that’s why they can’t be damaged. In this connection we should avoid any contacts between hypochlorite and roots or growing points of the plant. After treatment leaves should be well washed under running water. The oxidized parts of the algae will flake from the leaves in aquarium in 2-3 days after treatment and become delicacies for many fishes, e.g. for callichthyid catfishes. In conclusion it stands to mention that you should handle all household chemicals only in accordance with safety instructions on the package.

The authors of this note: Dmitry Loginov.

The author used infos from the next Web pages:


Translated from Russian by Julia Niklyaeva and Alexander Grigorov

Photos: Eugeniy Tochenov, Alexander Grigorov and Vladislav Elbakyan.

© Dmitry Loginov

© Alexander Grigorov

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The first mention of Anubias in scientific literature

Attention! This posting - exept of Schott's notice - is a fiction and should be accepted ONLY as author's subjective vision of reality.

In 1857 Henry Shott, the court gardener and botanist of the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I, received a parcel from Sweden. The sender was Elias Magnus Fries, the director of the museum and university’s botanic garden in Uppsala. In a wooden box among other various plants and their descriptions was a little wilted plant, which had been traveled several thousands kilometers to Vienna. There was a list of the plants in the covering note, but in front of this specimen was a dash. Fries commented that this plant was a part of Adam Afzelius’ collection and Uppsala University bought this collection from Afzelius’ relatives after his death. The aged Fries wasn’t interested in African “inheritance” of Afzelius, mushrooms were always his scientific ardour. As he knew that the Austrian liked the flora of the Dark Continent, he sent several plants to him. In his turn H. Shott didn’t think a lot and gave the novice of the Aracea family an imposing name – “Anubias”, in honor of the ancient Egyptian God of the dead, Anubis. On 27 November 1757 Shott sent a short note “Essays about the Arum family”- (in German “Aroideen-Skizzen”) about the new genus to the “Wiener Botanisches Wochenblatt”. So the first mention about the most popular Aquarian plant had appeared in scientific literature. Here is the whole article.

Essays about the Arum family

Henry Shott

Only one plant should deserve our special attention among the plant which Afzelius had collected in Sierra Leone. It’s very difficult to ascertain, whether this plant grows on the ground or trees, because the specimen is deficient. But only leaf and its rib, wrapped veil of the cop show us that it is a new genus and the further study of the flower proves that. We think that we haven’t any right to conceal from the scientific community this interesting specimen from the less known corner of the Earth and that’s why we sent a description of this plant’s peculiarities with the most visible specific traits, for that we thank the honorable Elias Fries.

A n u b i a s. Spatha cylindrice-voluta, lamina hiante. Spadix spatham excedens, ubique organis tectus, inferne ovaries, medio synondrodiis, reliqua parte synandriis apicem (inflorescentiae) versus imperfectis obsitus. Ovaria bilocularia, loculamentis multiovulatis, ovulis e medio axeos exertis, longule-funiculatis, hemianatropis, micropyle tholispectante. Stylus brevissimus. Stigmaconvexo-diseoideum, Synandria truncata, loculis quam connective brevioribus. Synandrodia synandriis similia.

Anubias Afzelii. Peliolus 5--6 pollicaris, lenuis, ultra medium vaginatus, apice in geniculum longulum transiens. Lamina fol. elongato-lanceolata, peliolo multo-longior, inferne cuneala, el ima basi abrupte cure geniculo juncta, apice longe-acuminala, venis arcualo-patentibus, creberrimis, approximatis, hinc inde confluenlibus, pseudoneuris in ipso margine 2-bus, venulis tran

sversis, copiosissimis, approximatissimis, tenuissimis in strucla. Pedunculus 9-10 pollices lonqus

, tenuis. Spatha bipollicaris, apice repentiaocontracta, apiculata. Spadix tenuis, spatham 6ta parte superans breviter-stipitalus. Habit. in Sierra-Leone (Afzelius).

Schönbrunn, 27 November 1857

The author of this note: Alexander Grigorov.

The author used infos from the next Web page.

Translated from Russian by Julia Niklyaeva and Alexander Grigorov

Photos: Dmitry Loginov

© Alexander Grigorov

© Dmitry Loginov

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Anubias gilletii – the pearl of the home greenhouse

In my opinion Anubias gilletii is one of the most beautiful representatives of its genus. The laminae of this plant have a tribolate structure and are grown up horizontally to the surface on the long (up to 60 cm), graceful petioles. The rhizome is up to 1 cm in a cross section. The petioles are situated on it very closely to each other and are grown up to the light source. This picture looks like a beautiful bunch of cut flowers in vase. Small prickles on the petioles are looked like roses’ prickles. More than that Anubias gilletii has riotous flowering practically during the whole year. On my plant I could observe up to 7 inflorescences at the same time. Like most of the large anubias, the length of the flower stock is substantially smaller as the length of the petioles, so the flower ripens under the canapy.

If we looked at Anubias gilletii with the eye of a taxonomist here is also everything quite, calm and beautiful. Perhaps it’s a unique case among large Anubias species , which doesn’t give rise to doubt in a generic denomination. We can find only one species of this plant on the post-Soviet territory, this species I described above. Practically there is no information about this anubias in Internet. There are photos from the botanic garden in Lyons (France), but the leaf form of the depicted Anubias gilletii is quite differ from ours. So due to riotous flowering we could get to know the structure of the inflorescence in detail. Particularly the photos which were made by S. Gerasimov show that thekas are situated on synandria’ edges, which consist of 3-5 adnate stamens. The same structure of the inflorescence’s male part is described in W. Crusio’s revision. But in our case the quantity of the female flowers is more – up to 60 (in revision 20-30). More than that W. Crusio described that his specimens of Anubias gilletii had stolons. But we haven’t yet seen such laterals of this plant and of other Anubias species too. Though, I think that such differences are insignificant, which we can attribute to the lack of the information, concerning this West African plant.

There are not so many negative qualities of Anubias gilletii. For example, the growth in a submersed condition isn’t so good . But we can see some cases, when this plant has been cultivated in aquarium during a year. Besides in spite of the fact, that Anubias gilletii has riotous and regular flowering at home greenhouse, it’s very difficult to achieve the aging of pollen. Due to the high air humidity (about 98%), which is arisen in small aquaria or paludaria; there is the fast rotting and decomposition of the male part cop’s tissue.

The author of this note: Dmitry Loginov.

The author used information from the next Web page

Translated from Russian by Julia Niklyaeva and Alexander Grigorov

Photos: Sergey Gerasimov, Dmitry Loginov and Valentina Romanova.

© Dmitry Loginov
© Alexander Grigorov

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Wim Crusio: "The only reason why I chose to distinguish 5 varieties in A. barteri was purely pragmatic" (an "Amazonas"-Interview) – Part II

“Amazonas”: Recently we have discussed a morphological feature, that is not presented in your revision. In this сonnection we would like to ask one more question: One of the distinguishing morphological features of Lagenandra genus is the involute vernation, in which both margins on opposing sides of the leaf are rolled up. All Anubia have the convolute vernation, it means the leaf is rolled from one margin. But leaves of different species are rolled up in different ways (clockwise or counterclockwise). What determines the direction of leaves' rolling up? Is this feature stable within this species?

Wim Crusio: Well, I have to admit that I never looked at this! I don't know whether this feature is stable within species. In general, very few plant species (and even rather few animal species) are lateralized, so I would not be surprised if this feature would be determined more or less randomly for each individual clone. In culture, species may appear to be less variable than they are in reality, because we may see many different plants, but they probably belong to only a few clones.

“Amazonas”: What do you think is the place of the plant under the trade name "Anubias coffeefolia" in the taxonomy of Anubias? Is it a new species or an artificially grown hybrid?

Wim Crusio: I have never seen the plant alive, only on photos. I think it is one of the many variants of A. barteri. I have seen many collections of this species from the wild and it is extremely polymorphic.

“Amazonas”: Among all species of Anubia only Anubias barteri var. nana is successfully grown being fully submersed. This feature is passed on to all interspecific hybrids of this Anubias. In this сonnection there are some suppositions about the existence of a certain gene responsible for this feature (an ability to grow being submerged into the water for a long time). What do you think about it?

Wim Crusio: As a geneticist, I strongly doubt that one single gene could be responsible for such a complex character as being able to live submerged. As far as I know, A. heterophylla has been kept submerged with success, too, as is the case with most (or even all) varieties of A. barteri.

“Amazonas”: To what species would you refer this Anubias (On the picture you can see a mature Anubias more than 2 years of age)? What do you think is the reason for Anubia leafstocks sometimes having unusual (reddish-brown or red) colouring?

Wim Crusio: This looks like either A. barteri var. angustifolia or a very narrow-leafed form of A. afzelii. You will have to compare the size of the inflorescence with the dimensions given in my revision. It is almost certainly the first one, though.

“Amazonas”: Anubia-fanciers noticed that the spatha of Anubias barteri subspecies can have a slightly lowered or volute end. your revision says that you cultivated many of Anubias genus. Have you faced such differences? What might it depend on? On conditions of plants growing? Or on the physiology of a particular plant?

A: Аnubias barteri var. caladiifolia with a slightly lowered end of the spatha, the first day of blooming. B: Anubias barteri var. nana: this is not the first day of blooming, but one can see that the spatha is not full volute.

Wim Crusio: To find out what causes these differences, one would need to breed these plants under different conditions and perhaps also produce crosses between them.

“Amazonas”: Some of us (Anubia-fanciers from Russia, Ukraine and Moldova) keep Anubias sp. Gabon. Do you know this plant?

The pictures of it are here

Wim Crusio: This is a form of A. barteri. Probably var. barteri.

“Amazonas”: Taxonomy is a relative science. As far as I know, modern taxonomists try to avoid such notions as "variety" and "subspecies", using only the notion "species". What do you think about it, taking into consideration the Anubias barteri case?

Wim Crusio:I agree with that completely. As I wrote in my revision, the borders that I drew between the different varieties are rather arbitrary. Somebody else would perhaps have drawn them differently or distinguished more (or fewer) varieties. It's a bit like distinguishing between tall and short people, they are extremes of the normal distribution, but within a given population, you can find the whole range from short to tall.

“Amazonas”: All the pistils of Anubias gracilis we have seen bevor were reddish-pink. Can the color be the key to the specification of the genus?

Wim Crusio: Perhaps. But A. gracilis appears to be very rare and it is very well possible that all plants in cultivation stem from the same clone. I have seen reddish-pink pistils also in A. hastifolia, I think. At this point, I actually have big problems drawing the border between barteri and gracilis...

“Amazonas”: What question was the most interesting or maybe difficult for you?

Wim Crusio: The most difficult question was the one about whether I still keep aquaria, because it made me feel nostalgic and I really would like to have some free time again to devote to this wonderful hobby!

Interview: Alexander Grigorov.

Photo: Sergey Gerasimov, Dmitry Loginov and Konstantin Ilyin.

© Alexander Grigorov