Anubias barteri var. nana 'Petite' ('Bonsai')

Aquarium suitability: yes
Usage: Epiphyte (growing on hardscape), Cichlid proof plant, Midground, Nano tanks, Foreground, group
Difficulty: very easy
Growth: slow
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Where to buy?
Range and localities: 

unclear, probably Cameroon, or selected from cultivated plants

Height: 3 - 6 cm
Width: 5 - 20 cm

Availability [?]: 
  • frequently available commercially
  • frequently available from other aquarists

Habit, plant type:

  • rhizome or creeping stem
  • epiphyte or epilith
Botanical name [?]: Anúbias bárteri var. nána (Engler) Crusio

Major group (unranked): Seed plants: Flowering plants (Angiosperms)
Order: Alismatales
Family: Araceae
Genus: Anubias


The smallest Anubias variety in the trade can be found under two names: Anubias barteri var. nana 'Petite' and 'Bonsai'. Its origins are very much in the dark: according to information given by Dennerle around the year 1997, the plant originates from Cameroun, according to the Tropica plant catalogue, this variety is based on a mutation that occured in the plant nursery "Oriental Aquaria" in Singapore (Kasselmann 2010). Whereas it is almost identical to Anubias barteri var. nana, its small size and slower growth is often given as a reason for higher prices.

Contrary to the opinion of some dealers the leaf blade of 'Petite' respectively 'Bonsai' may grow larger than 1 cm. However, it stays smaller than its ancestral form, Anubias barteri var. nana, anyway. Like the latter, 'Petite' is very hardy and has been called "growing plastic plant". It can be furtherly discerned from a common A. barteri var. nana by its rather upward-growing rhizome and the overall more compact, rosulate growth; the light to medium green, ovate leaves that can remain on the plant for several years are characteristically bent downwards. A fully grown plant may show:
-Leaf blade length approx. 2.5-3 cm,
-Leaf width approx. 1.3-1.6 cm,
-Leaf stalk length approx. 2-2.5 cm.

"Petite-Nana" is not very picky regarding light intensity and grows under very low light of 0.25 watts per litre or even below as well as under strong light of 1 watt per litre or over.
It grows without the addition of CO2, however, carbon dioxide fertilisation is quite beneficial for its growth, as well as a substrate fertiliser or a substrate rich in nutrients, as is removing old leaves.
In the aquarium, this variety never seems to flower, differently from the original A. barteri var. nana, however, according to the "Plantfinder" ( high phosphate concentrations (1.5-2 mg/l) may make the plant flower independently of its overall health or other environmental conditions. These phosphate levels, combined with a good iron and micronutrient supply help prevent problems with green spot algae when the plants grow under strong light. Another possibility of keeping these algae in check is replanting the Anubias to a shaded area.
For propagation, just cut the rhizome in two or more pieces (depending on plant size).

This plant is very suitable to accentuate the middleground of a nano or a small aquascape. Place further to the front in larger tanks. Like any other Anubias species it may be planted in the ground, however, make sure you do not cover the rhizome with substrate to prevent it from rot. "Petite-Nana" will attach its roots to rocks or driftwood to which it can be fastened with a nylon thread in the beginning, or it may simply be stuck between rocks.

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