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