Can Anubias Grow Out Of Water? Explained

Jaime Douglas
Jaime Douglas

Writer at The Aquarium Keeper

Anubias is an amazing plant, that is widely popular in the fishkeeping hobby. Probably being the most available plant, anubias is a favorite in high-tech and low-tech aquariums. It is a column feeding plant, or in other words, you do not need to plant anubias for it to fully thrive in your aquarium. But can anubias grow out of water? Is it versatile and sophisticated enough to explore the surroundings besides the aquatic world? Read this short article to find out!

Table of Contents

Difference Between Submerged And Emersed Growth

Before getting into whether anubias can grow out of water or not, it is important to understand the difference between submerged and emersed plant growth. These terms are widely used in the aquarium hobby since some plants can only grow submerged or emersed, while the most popular species have the ability to grow both ways.

large anubias plants in an aquarium

Emersed growth means that a specific plant can grow out of water. Most aquarium plants in our hobby have the ability to venture out and explore the surface. An even cooler thing is that most aquatic plant sellers grow aquatic plants while keeping them partially out of the water! Emersed growth is a more appropriate way of growing plants for retail purposes, since they tend to grow faster, and can be easier to take care of.

Submerged growth is simply a method of plant keeping when a certain plant is fully underwater. Most aquarium plants in our tanks are growing submerged, and some can start growing out of the water if the setup and conditions are right. Most aquatic species have the capabilities to grow out of the water and become partially emersed.

Can Anubias Grow Out of Water?

Moving on, anubias can easily grow out of the water, or in other words, grow emersed. This plant is highly versatile and can tolerate different water parameters or even different water conditions. Even though this plant can grow emersed, it is not a very popular method in aquariums. Anubias is mainly used in the midground section of the aquarium, where it can cover gaps and wedges between rocks and other decorations. Anubias also look amazing in the foreground part of the tank, where it can create a contrast with the most popular aquarium carpet plants, which are bright green in color, while anubias is dark green.

It is simply unpractical to grow anubias emersed in larger tanks because attaching it very close to the light is not that appealing in terms of appearance. On the other hand, if this plant is being kept in a very small aquarium, that is short in height, there is a good chance that anubias can grow out of water.

How Does Anubias Grow in The Wild?

Anubias is native to western and central Asia and does best in tropical climates. These species can be found in ponds, lakes, rivers, and swamps. Anubias is a very hardy plant, and mainly grows near the edges of the water source, anchoring itself with roots to rocks, and substrate. In most cases, this plant gets all the nutrients from the substrate.

There is an important reason, why anubias can grow submerged and emersed. Since it is native to western and central Asia, anubias plants experience multiple floods per year, in which these species become fully submerged. Over the years, anubias plants learned how to adapt to the surroundings, and can do perfectly fine being fully submerged during a flood.

Does Anubias Need to be Planted in Substrate?

Moving on, there are multiple ways how an anubias plant can be grown in an aquarium, similar to other popular aquarium plants, like bucephalandra or java fern. The most common way is attachment to decorations, driftwood, or rocks. These species are mainly used as filling plants, to cover up larger gaps, and to make the appearance of an aquarium better.

a lot of different anubias plants covering aquarium substrate

When it comes to planting, anubias can also be planted into the substrate, if the rhizome part of the plant is not buried. You can simply stick the roots into the substrate while making sure the rhizome part is above the substrate. The roots of anubias plants play two different roles in their existence. The first one is keeping the plant in one place since anubias does best while staying stationary and not floating around everywhere. The second reason why roots are important is that it is a way for anubias to absorb nutrients.

Guidelines on How to Grow Anubias Out of Water

Moving on, growing anubias partially emersed is not hard, but takes some extra guidelines to do successfully. There are multiple reasons, why growing anubias emersed is a cool experiment to try. The first reason is that anubias grow faster emersed, so you might want to set up an anubias farm, and sell your plant species locally. The second reason is that an emersed anubias looks different from an anubias, that is growing submerged. Emersed anubias plant can look amazing in an aquarium setup!

Tank or Container

Firstly, you would need to decide, where you would grow anubias out of water. Some people make anubias farms in small plastic containers, but you can also grow anubias emersed in shorter or smaller aquariums if you are planning on creating a fish tank with inhabitants. The key to growing anubias emersed is humidity. As I mentioned before, these species enjoy tropical climates, which means your desired tank or container needs to have a lot of humidity.

There are a lot of ways humidity can be created in an aquarium or a container. One way is simply having a lid. Lots of aquariums are sold with plastic or glass lids. You can also simply use plastic cling film to replicate a lid. If you are choosing a container, a simple plastic cover would do the trick. 

It is also important to have some sort of ventilation in the aquarium or lid. You can simply cut some ventilation holes in a plastic lid, or drill a few holes in a glass. Ventilation is essential in this case since it significantly reduces the chances of mold in your tank.


If you are making an anubias farm, any nutrient-rich substrate or even dirt can be enough to grow anubias. If you are planning to grow anubias out of water in an aquarium setup, dirt is not an option, since it is way too messy for an aquarium. A nutrient-rich substrate is a better option. Liquid fertilizer is also not a good idea when anubias is growing emersed, because all the nutrients are being absorbed through the roots. You will need to plant your anubias, whether it is an anubias plant, or it is an aquarium setup.


When it comes to lighting, anubias is not a needy plant, and can literally do well in low-lightning setups. There can be some bad instances, where there is too much light in an aquarium, because anubias is a slow-growing plant, and algae can cover the leaves of the plant.

If you are planning on making an anubias farm, you can simply place the container where there is sunlight. Natural sunlight is enough for this plant to grow. If it is an aquarium setup, you will definitely need a basic aquarium light, because other plants and aquatic creatures need lightning to thrive.


Maintaining anubias, which is growing out of water is very easy and simple. If you are making an anubias farm, be sure to spray your anubias leaves with some water every 1-2 days to keep them moist. Plant leaves should already be somewhat wet from the humidity. If it is an aquarium, you can simply do the same and spray water, to keep your anubias leaves wet.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Can Anubias be Out of Water?

Anubias can’t be completely out of water for a very long time. This plant needs water to survive, and if you need to take it completely out of the water, be sure to do it only for about 30 minutes. You can occasionally dip anubias back into the water or spray it to keep it moist.

Can Anubias Grow Floating?

Anubias can survive floating for some time, but they certainly would not thrive. These species need to be planted or attached to something, in order to fully grow.

Writer's Thoughts

In conclusion, anubias is an amazing plant, that can definitely grow out of water. The capabilities of these species are truly outstanding, which makes them one of the most popular plants in the fishkeeping hobby.

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