Planting Anubias barteri nana ‘Pinto’

Filed under “I know I’m going to regret this”, even though the Anubias nana ‘Snow White’ was a disaster, I’m still enamoured of the concept of a white(ish) plant adding some colour contrast.  I’ve been kicking around the “only partially white” Anubias nana ‘Pinto’ option, and when I saw they were down to their last pot at Aqua Essentials, I impulsively pulled the trigger and picked it up.

As may be common practice, there were two distinct plants in the single rockwool pot.  Sourced from Dennerle, the ‘Pinto’ varietal similar to both the pinto horse and pinto bean is primarily white, but speckled with another colour, in this case green.  Interestingly, there were several sproutings of leaves along the length of the rhizome, with leaves at the base nearly completely green, progressing to more primarily white farther along.  Conceivably, having at least a few leaves properly able to provide photosynthesis may support the more decorative rather than functional whiter leaves at the top.  The ‘Snow White’ varietal didn’t have this option with no green aspect to any of the leaves at all.

As with the other epiphytes, I planted the ‘Pinto’ by simply wedging it into cracks/crevasses in the “mountain” sculpture.  These plants came with an impressive root structure so I’m hoping they’ll grab on successfully.  I was originally looking for Anubias nana ‘Pangolino’ which would have considerably smaller completely green leaves, but that was impossible to source in the UK, and although I was initially concerned the ‘Pinto’ leaves looked out of proportion relative to the nano-scape size of the Fireplace Aquarium, now that it’s planted I’m starting to appreciate the look – if you get a showy plant, let it be showy!

Securing ephiphyes with fishing line

Anubias barteri nana 'Pinto' attached to hardscape
Secured with monofilament line

Two days later and the Pinto on the right was waving around pretty good from the water current and when I looked closer there was a zebra thorn snail up against the base of the Pinto using its shell to pry the plant out of its niche.  I don’t think this is intentional behaviour, just something I’ve seen them do before when plants aren’t wedged in really well.  This wasn’t a problem with the Bucephalandra caterina, but it definitely was with the Anubias nana ‘Snow White’… maybe the snails like messing with Anubias? 

I reset the Pintos but a few days later the one on the right had worked loose again, likely because it’s right in the main current coming off the powerhead.  Time for stronger measures.

The usual advice when planting epiphytes is to secure them to hardscape by either tying them down with thread or using aquatic glue to fix them in place until their root systems can grab on.  I’ve been resisting that because I expected it would be difficult to reach into the tank and sort that all out.  I gave it a go though and it wasn’t nearly as tricky as I thought it was going to be.  I did a major water change to get the water levels down so to not have to work underwater, then looped some monofilament fishing line across both of the Pinto plants.  The mountain sculpture has lots of convenient hooks and crags for holding the line in place.  This should give the Pintos a fair chance.

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