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Anacharis - Requirements in aquariums

Brief Description

This page is a detailed guide on growing Anacharis in fish tanks; In case you cannot find answer on your question below, use a form at the bottom of this page to ask and we'll gladly answer! Sharing experiences and tips is also welcome!

Anacharis must be one of the most popular aquatic plants available on the market. There is a lot of debate as to the name of this plant; there are various common names such as Brazilian waterweed, elodea, and recently is has been classified as being Egeria Densa.

This must be one of the most versatile plants available to buy on the market, and definitely one of the most popular for new fish keepers to have their first attempt at keeping live plants. However, if it is not given the right conditions, it can just as easily melt down, like all other plant life.

Anacharis is native to North and South America, where it can grow abundantly, in some areas it is even classed as an invasive plant. As it is so abundant, this reflects on the price, it is one of the cheapest plants to buy, another good reason for its popularity.

It grows long stems, these will reach from the substrate right up to the surface, it has even been known to reach a height of 3 feet. The colouration of the leaves can vary from light green to a rich dark green, thickly protruding from each stem.

According to the water temperature that it is kept in, if the stems are not planted in the substrate, they will float at different levels; this is more noticeable when kept in outdoor ponds, not very often observed in aquariums. This is due to the photosynthesis that takes place in the plant when it gets the correct lighting; it is used in ponds as an oxygenating plant, probably one of the best plants for this purpose.

As this plant is so versatile, some keepers will purchase it by the bunch with a lead weight attached, and then just place it in the tank, it can be placed in the tank loose and allowed to float on the surface. My preference is to buy a bunch, and then remove the lead weight; the stems can then be separated and planted in the substrate individually. A group of six stems, planted 2 inches apart, makes a good effect, and to me looks more natural. A lot of fish keepers use this plant to disguise their tank heaters and filter pipes. It can also provide a safe haven for newly hatched fish fry if left floating on the surface. Two watts per gallon of water is the recommended lighting required for this plant, but if too much lighting is offered, the leaves will turn yellow and the plant will die off.

As with all tank or pond plants Anacharis will feed of the CO2 in the water, nitrates and phosphates will be consumed, this will improve the water quality greatly. In theory this should reduce the amount of water changes required in the tank, however the plants will grow at a greater rate when they have first been planted if the water changes are still done on a regular basis. The nutrients are consumed though the leaves but if the stems are planted in the substrate, roots will develop, these in turn will feed on fish waste and detritus from the substrate. Algal growth will be suppressed with the inclusion of Anacharis but once established, regular pruning will be required to keep it in check.

Propagation is very straight forward, simply take cuttings from the mother plant and then plant these to create yet another bunch of plant. Fertilisers need to be added to the tank water to get the best growth results, along with a good CO2 system and lighting.

In ponds, this plant is valued more for its oxygenating prowess, many pond keepers swear by it.

There are some drawbacks with Anacharis though, algae eating fish will greedily destroy your plant, it is regarded as a tasty meal by them, snails will do the same, some fish keepers will add it to the tank so that the fish are fed while they are away for periods of time, even some bacteria will thrive on Anacharis if it is chopped down finely. Infusoria is a prime example of this. Plecos and catfish will also love feeding from this plant, so if you do end up with lots of cuttings what a better way of using them than by feeding your fish.

Anacharis will spend all its life underwater but if the plant is really happy where it is growing small flowers will appear above the water line. The flowers will be white or a pale purple and these will be sent out from the main stems by means of a thin delicate stem. Different plants will either have male or female flowers, so to produce seeds they will need to be cross pollinated. This can be achieved by using a small paint brush rubbed across all of the flowers or by the natural way if the plants are in a pond, let the insects do the work.

If pollination has taken place the seeds that are produced will need to be submerged to ripen properly, but I have yet to meet anyone who has gone to the extent of trying this, the plants are cheap enough to buy as stems.

A close relative to Anacharis is Elodea Nuttallii, the main difference between the two is the size of the leaves, in the Nuttallii the leaves are smaller and narrower, whereas in the Anacharis the leaves appear on the stems as dense whorls, there are three leaves per whorl.

Any pond or tank keepers must always bear in mind that this is an invasive plant. If the tank has been pruned back the cuttings, if not required for further planting should be placed in a bag and disposed of carefully. Never throw the cuttings into waterways, natural ponds or streams; it will eventually take over all of the original plant life, destroying the natural habitat created.

Always supply this plant with the correct requirements for growth, it is classed as a hardy plant, but if not looked after properly, it can melt down in a matter of weeks.


Due to merging with related pages, the following question and answer were moved here on March 25th 2011. You're welcome to submit your own questions at the bottom of this page too, however ensure that they're unique and not yet answered on this page, please.

  • Where can I buy anacharis?

    Answer: This plant should be able to be found at a local fish retailer, if they do not have any in stock they can probably get it if requested.

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