Care Guide for Bucephalandra – a Colorful Alternative to Anubias

Care Guide for Bucephalandra – A Colorful Alternative to Anubias

When it comes to beginner-friendly aquarium plants, most people think of anubias or java fern. Bucephalandra might be a better choice if you are looking for something more unusual. This lovely plant has unusual, iridescent leaves, does well in low lighting, and is perfect for nano aquariums. However, they tend to cost more than anubias and are very slow growing compared to other aquatic plants. Continue reading to learn more about this beautiful bucephalandra.


What is Bucephalandra, exactly?

Bucephalandra (or “buce” for short) is a genus of rheophyte plants that grows along the banks of fast-moving streams in Borneo. They can be found emersed (or above the water) during dry seasons and submerged (or beneath the water) during rainy seasons. Many bumble plants have long, oblong leaves that have wavy edges. However, some varieties are more round, have thinner edges or have straighter edges. Some varieties have red, purple, or blue tints. Some species may have tiny white dots on their leaves. Others also have an iridescent sheen which changes with the light. Your buce may produce white or pink flowers if it is healthy.

Bucephalandra “Green Wavy”

What kinds of buce exist? At the moment, there are over 30 species. But, there are hundreds more common names on the market, including green wavy (brown), brownie blue, brown pearl, black pearl and mini coin), dark skeleton-king (Godzilla), deep purple, and deep violet. Aquarium Co-Op is a farm-raised company that sells bucephalandra.

Why is bucephalandra so expensive? They are relatively new to the aquarium hobby and therefore are in high demand among fishkeepers. They are also slower growing than other species. As plant farms gradually increase their stock, the price will hopefully decrease over time.

What size can bucephalandra grow? Some species creep horizontally, reaching 2-4 inches (5-10cm) high. Others grow straight up to 7-10 inches (18-25cm). Different types of buce have leaves ranging from 0.5-4 inches (1-10 cm) long. Most aquascapers use bucephalandra to decorate the foreground and middle of the aquarium.

Are bucephalandras difficult to grow? Because they are tolerant to low light and do not require a lot fertilizer or CO2 injection, they can also grow without substrate. That being said, they tend to grow very slowly and can be prone to algae growth. We like to grow our buce in the shaded parts of our aquariums and use algae eaters to keep their leaves clean.

Buce can be purchased in many colors such as green, purple, red and blue

How to Plant Bucephalandra

The rhizome is similar to anubias. It’s a thick, stout-like stem or trunk that grows both roots and leaves. Rhizome plants don’t require substrate. They can be inserted between cracks in rocks or firmly attached to decorations using super glue gel or sewing thread. You should not glue the rhizome too heavily. Otherwise, it could become damaged. For more details, read our post on using super glue to attach plants.

If you decide to plant the plant, make sure that the rhizome remains exposed. First, push the plant deeply into the sand or gravel so the roots and rhizome are buried. Gently pull the plant upwards so that the rhizome and roots are exposed.

Finally, you have the option of leaving the bucephalandra in the plastic basket with rock wool. You can feed the plant by inserting the root tab into the rock wool. This will allow it to reach the roots. Place the whole pot in an Easy Planter decoration. It will look like the buce is growing out of rock. The planter allows you to easily move the buce whenever you desire and keeps fish from digging up your plants.

Why are my bucephalandra leaves melting? Many plant farms have their plants emersed. This means that if your new buce becomes suddenly submerged in water, some of its leaves could melt. Nutrients are primarily stored in the rhizome, so do not throw it away. Keep the rhizome in good health and you will see new shoots. These will turn into roots and leaves. For more information on melting plants, see our full article.

Bucephalandras emerging in the wild

Bucephalandra Care

Similar to anubias, java fern, and broom plants, they can withstand a range of temperatures from 70-82degF (221-28degC), and pHs from 6-8. They can also grow in low to medium lighting, but as mentioned before, higher lighting may invite algae problems because of their slow growth. While adding CO2 gas is not necessary, it can help to speed up growth. Because of their native habitat in fast-moving rivers, bucephalandra have developed very strong roots, so they will do well in fish tanks with high flow once established.

Does bucephalandra need fertilizer? Like most rhizome plants, they consume most of their nutrients from the water column and therefore would benefit from an all-in-one liquid fertilizer like Easy Green.

Does bucephalandra grow without water? To keep their roots moist, you can grow them with moss.

Wine Red Caridina Shrimp on a Forest of Buce

How to Propagate Bucephalandra

In the wild, buce usually produce flowers above the water that have special odors to attracts pollinators. Successful fertilization results in fruit with seeds that drop into the water and spread to different areas. In an aquarium setting, the easiest way to propagate buce is by cutting the rhizome into two pieces with a pair of clean, sharp scissors. Try to find natural bends in the rhizome, where the plant has begun to form separate clumps of foliage. Then attach the new piece to a rock or driftwood as detailed previously, and it will continue growing as a second plant.

Buce flowers are beautiful underwater but don’t produce seeds

If you have never kept bucephalandra before, save up your money to get this rare jewel for your planted aquarium. These plants are attractive to both novice and experienced aquascapers. You can order your buce plant today from our extensive selection.