Anubias gracilis
Anubias gracilis in LECA
Anubias gracilis
Anubias gracilis in rockwool

I have tried many plants with emersed growth on the Shrimphaus river over the years, mostly without success, but one of the few that has made a go of it is Anubias gracilis.

Not much seems known about Anubias gracilis

It has a pretty name:  ‘gracilis’ is Latin for slender and ‘anubias‘ is Latin for cloud, so ‘slender cloud’.  There doesn’t seem to be a lot known about Anubias gracilis in the wild.  There is a reference from 1979 (see page 28) and some vendor info from Tropica.  The naturalist Carel Jongkind has contributed a few photos from some observations in Liberia.  Wikipedia has almost nothing to say on the topic.  Kew accepts the name Anubias gracilis as a legitimate species.

Anubias gracilis can survive under conditions of normal indoor room humidity

Most aquatic aquarium plants either grow underwater altogether or under very humid tropical conditions prone to flooding.  Particularly in winter, low indoor humidity is a very stern test for these types of plants where indoor central heating dries the air.  Often the humidity around the Shrimphaus falls below 50% – very different from tropical jungle conditions.  Anubias coffeefolia has some reports (here and here) of being able to withstand typical indoor humidity but for me, the Anubias coffeefolia gradually lost that battle with all the leaves eventually crisping up from the outsides in.

Semi-hydroponics Anubias gracilis

The rhizome can rot if kept wet in the open air so I’ve tried several different ways to keep the roots underwater with the rhizome mostly dry.  One way is simply bare-root with the plant up on some type of inert support structure.  Mostly that works, but it’s not the prettiest.  Instead I now grow the A. gracilis in a semi-hydroponics setup in lightweight expanded clay aggregate (LECA).  That seems to work reasonably well and has a neat look to it.

Long-term Anubias gracilis emersed survival

Over this last winter the gracilis was down to three leaves and there were signs these were struggling as well with the tips slowly drying out.  Just when I thought this was the plant finally checking out, however, it sprouted a brand new leaf!  Maybe this is a harbinger of spring now that we’re into late March.  For sure the days are getting longer now so there will be at least a little more light.  Other changes are the new heating system in the Shrimphaus where perhaps the gracilis enjoys having warmer roots.  To be sure, the slightly higher water temperature has also increased the evaporation rate noticeably, so there may be a slightly higher humidity microclimate for the gracilis.  Additionally, the nearby Riccardia chamedryfolia might also be putting a little more moisture locally into the air nearby.  The other piece that changed is that I have started supplementing the iron content of the Shrimphaus water with Fe-EDDHSA and whilst there weren’t obvious signs of iron deficiency previously I suppose you never know whether a combination of smaller things adds up to be noticeable difference.

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