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 is a unique alternative. This beautiful plant is unique and iridescent, can withstand low light, and is great for nano aquariums. However, they tend to cost more than anubias and are very slow growing compared to other aquatic plants. Continue reading for more information about bucephalandra.
What is Bucephalandra, exactly?
Bucephalandra is a genus that includes rheophyte plants. It grows along the banks fast-moving streams of Borneo. They are emersed (or above) in the dry season, and submerged (or below) during the wet season. Many bumble plants have long, wavy leaves. However, some varieties are rounder, have thinner edges or have straight edges. The foliage greatly varies from light to dark greens, and certain varieties come with red, purple, or bluish 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 are the different types of buce? Currently, more than 30 species have been identified, but there are hundreds of different common names available on the market – such as green wavy, brownie blue, black pearl, mini coin, dark skeleton king, Godzilla, and deep purple. Aquarium Co-Op sells only farm-raised bucephalandra to help stop overharvesting in wild.
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 steadily increase their stock, the prices will hopefully drop over time.
What size can bucephalandra grow? Some species creep horizontally, reaching 2-4 inches (5-10cm) high. Others grow straight up to 7-10cm (18-25cm). Different varieties of buce can have leaves that are between 0.5-4 inches (1-10 cm) and different lengths. Most aquascapers enjoy using bucephalandra in the foreground or middle of the aquarium, or they attach them to hardscape.
Is bucephalandra hard to grow? Buce are considered easy to care for because they can live in low lighting, do not need a lot of fertilizer or CO2 injection, and can grow without any substrate. That being said, they tend to grow very slowly and can be prone to algae growth. Our buce prefer to be grown in the shaded areas of our aquariums. We use algae eaters to keep their leaves clear.
Buce is available in many colors, including green, purple and red.
How to Plant Bucephalandra
Similar to anubias and Java ferns, buce plants also have a “rhizome”, which is a thick, branched stem or trunk that grows both roots and leaves. Rhizome plants don’t require substrate. It is easy to attach them to your decor with super glue gel or sewing thread. Be careful not smother the rhizome with too much glue or else it may suffer. For more details, read our post on using super glue to attach plants.
If you do wish to put the plant in the ground, the key is to make sure the rhizome is not covered up. To ensure that the roots and rhizome of the plant are well buried, you need to push it into the gravel or sand. Next, gently pull the plant up until the rhizome and roots are exposed.
The final option is to place the bucephalandra into a plastic basket filled 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. Then drop the whole pot into an Easy Planter decoration, which makes the buce look like it is growing out of a 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 grow their plants emersed. This means that if your new buce becomes suddenly submerged in water, some of its leaves could melt to adjust to the new environment. Nutrients are primarily stored in the rhizome, so do not throw it away. If the rhizome is healthy, you can leave it in your aquarium. It will grow new shoots and eventually become roots. Our full article contains more information on melting plants.
Bucephalandra grows in the wild
The care requirements for a Buce plant are similar to those of anubias or java fern. They can tolerate temperatures between 70-82degF (22-248degC) as well as pH levels 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 it is not required, adding CO2 gas can help 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 use fertilizer? Most rhizome plants get their nutrients from the water column. Easy Green is an all-in one liquid fertilizer that would work well for them.
Can bucephalandra be grown without water? Absolutely. You can add them to a terrarium or paludarium with lots of water and high humidity. You can also grow them together with moss to help keep their roots moist at all times.
Wine-red Caridina shrimp in a forest
How to Propagate Bucephalandra
In the wild, buce usually produce flowers above the water that have special odors to attracts pollinators. The fruit that is successfully fertilized will have seeds that drop into water and then spread to other 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. Look for natural bends within the rhizome to determine if the plant has formed separate clumps of leaves. Attach the new piece to a rock, or driftwood. It will continue growing as a second one.
Buce flowers that are grown underwater are beautiful, but they do not produce any seeds
Bucephalandra can be a great addition to your planted aquarium if you haven’t tried it before. They have an elegant beauty that is irresistible to both beginners and experienced aquascapers. Get yours today by browsing our selection of buce and other plants.