Anacharis is one of the most popular aquarium plants out there, and for good reason. It’s hardy, easy to care for, and looks amazing!
This guide will teach you everything you need to know about Anacharis care, and explain why you should consider adding it to your aquarium.
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Anacharis (Egeria densa) is a widely popular plant readily available for hobbyists to adorn their tanks. You might see it as Waterweed, Elodea, Egeria, or the Brazilian waterweed. Whatever you call it, this plant has a lot to offer and is considered a beginner-friendly option for aquarists of any skill level.
The aquatic plant grows throughout North and South America. However, it’s most prevalent in its native region of Southeast Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina. There, it grows in ponds, slow-moving streams, and other bodies of water.
Anacharis is surprisingly adaptable, thriving in the warm waters of its natural habitat and even cooler environments farther north. As a result, it’s considered by many to be a quintessential freshwater aquatic plant that’s easy to care for while adding a bit of life to any tank.
The Benefits Of Having It In Your Tank
There are many reasons why you might want to plant Anacharis in your aquarium. The first is pure aesthetic appeal.
These plants pack a big punch. Whether you plant them sporadically or create a dense forest of underwater greenery, they add tons of natural beauty to the tank. But that’s not all.
The plants also serve as shelter for your fish. In dense bunches, they can help tiny fish fry survive. In any other setup, the plant becomes a hiding spot for shy fish, shrimp, and any other vulnerable tank inhabitant.
Anacharis plants can also become a valuable dietary source for some of your fish and inverts. Cichlids, Goldfish, and snails are particularly fond of showing down on stray leaves.
Finally, Anacharis can improve overall water quality. Plants, in general, will take full advantage of the waste your fish produce. The Anacharis absorbs any organic debris, keeping the water much cleaner.
Furthermore, plants help oxygenate the water and stabilize pH levels. Thanks to how easy Anacharis is to grow and care for, it’s one of the most accessible ways to take advantage of these benefits.
Anacharis is a unique plant. Rather than featuring long blades or lancet-style leaves, it’s a tall plant that’s all stem.
Author Note: Whorls of about four to six leaves sprout from the stem, creating a distinct look. The leaves are on the smaller side, but they’re flat and durable.
Generally, you’ll find Anacharis bunched together with a rubber band. Look closely, and you should see tiny whispy roots. The roots will continue to grow whether you anchor the plant in the substrate or let it float.
The roots aren’t the most durable, but they do a fine job collecting nutrients and keeping the plant secure.
A healthy Anacharis will have a striking green color. Dark green or black indicates that the plan is decaying.
Size & Growth Rate
Generally, Anacharis is a mere six to eight inches long at the store. But make no mistake, it can grow much longer.
In the wild, Anacharis plants are known to grow up to three feet long! Most people aren’t going to experience that in an aquarium setting, but it will grow to the waterline.
Anacharis grows relatively quickly. Of course, the exact growth rate will depend on water conditions, fertilizer use, and lighting. Generally, plants in brighter conditions and longer daylight hours will grow much faster.
Author Note: The unique thing about this aquatic plant is that it doesn’t stop growing to match its habitat. It will reach up to the light and keep going. Most will bow back down, creating an archway of greenery.
That means this plant species requires regular pruning to keep it tidy and manageable.
If you don’t have a ton of experience caring for aquatic plants, you’re in luck. Anacharis is one of the most adaptable cultivars available.
It can live in a wide range of conditions and is considered foolproof! For this reason, it’s an excellent beginner-friendly choice. Like most plants, it does have its preferences.
To ensure that your Anacharis thrives, here are some care guidelines you need to follow.
Technically speaking, you can keep Anacharis in any tank. As long as there is plenty of water and room to grow, the plant should have no problem adapting. Many nurseries start plants in aquariums holding as little as five gallons!
That said, most recommend using a tank with at least 10 or 15 gallons of volume. The bigger you go, the better!
The Anacharis plant is a fast grower. While it doesn’t produce runners, it can sprout side stems that increase density. Pair that with the penchant to grow long, and having a larger tank can help you appreciate the beauty this plant offers.
For the best results, try a vertically oriented aquarium with a much taller water column!
Here’s where Anarcharis shines most. This tropical plant does best in warm waters that simulate the conditions in South and Central America, but it has no issue adapting to other parameters.
For example, the ideal temperatures are standard for tropical plants. However, Anacharis is known to do just fine in temperatures as low as 60 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 82 degrees.
It’s a versatile and hardy plant that you don’t have to stress over. It should be fine as long as you stick with the following parameters.
- Water temperature: Around 72 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal
- pH levels: 6.5 to 7.5 (Aim for neutral)
- Water hardness: 3 to 8 kDH
Lighting is a must for any aquatic plant. While they do live underwater, plants will search for light and often grow towards it.
Author Note: Anacharis does best in moderate lighting. Around 2 watts of light per gallon of volume is ideal.
Anything lower, and your plant might experience a few issues. Its growth could slow to a snail’s pace. Alternatively, it might die due altogether.
Depending on your tank setup, your Anacharis may do well with slightly more powerful lights, but you should err on the side of caution.
Too much light can lead to hair algae growth, ruining the tank’s water conditions. The problem can get serious towards the waterline, so you must be extra careful about not overdoing the lighting situation.
Compared to other plants, the roots of Anacharis are delicate. They’re not as resilient as other popular aquatic plant species. As a result, a high-quality substrate that facilitates growth and anchoring is crucial.
You have two main options here. The first is nutrient-rich plant substrate.
This material is similar in consistency to standard gardening soil. However, it’s formulated for aquarium use. Typically, it has all the nutrients your plants need to get established and continue growing.
The second option is simple aquarium gravel. You don’t have to get anything super fine. Standard rock-style gravel works well to secure the delicate roots.
If you want to go the extra mile, you can consider combining these two substrates. Many experienced aquarists will implement a thick layer of the nutrient-rich plant substrate. Then, they’ll apply a thinner layer of gravel on top.
The gravel keeps the soil contained while preventing fish and other tank inhabitants from accessing it.
You’ll need at least two inches of substrate. Because the Anacharis doesn’t have expansive roots, you must anchor it deep into the substrate to keep it secure.
How To Plant It
Planting Anacharis is a straightforward process, which is partially why caring for this plant is so simple. As mentioned earlier, most stores sell the plant as a bundle of stems held together by rubber bands.
Don’t forget to remove the rubber bands. That should be the first thing you do! Planting it with those tight bands could damage the Anacharis over time. The stems below the band will eventually die and decompose, killing the rest of the plant in the process.
Gently cut the rubber band and separate the individual stems. Inspect the plant closely and look out for cracks or damaged sections. If necessary, trim those bits away to encourage healthy growth.
When the stems are ready, insert the stems in the substrate. Make sure to bury each one at least two inches deep. If you don’t go deep enough, the Anacharis could dislodge and float.
Technically, Anacharis can thrive as a floating plant. But, it’s best to anchor it securely.
The plant’s roots will spread into a complex network of thread-like growths. Over time, the root system will get extensive, holding the plant down very well. But until then, keep an eye on it to ensure it stays secure.
Where should you plant your Anacharis?
This plant does well as a background plant. Because of its vertically oriented growth pattern, planting it in the front will eventually block your view. Focus on the back of the tank and consider planting shorter Anacharis in front of longer ones.
Over time, the plant will grow into a dense forest your tank inhabitants will love!
Trimming & Pruning
You will need to trim and prune your Anacharis at some point. It’s inevitable with a plant that prioritizes its energy to grow tall.
Eventually, the Anacharis will reach the water’s surface. Don’t worry, the plant’s stem usually isn’t strong enough to keep growing into the air. Even if it could, it wouldn’t survive long due to its need for water.
The plant will bow back down and continue growing. To avoid having curls of Anacharis, you need to trim it.
Luckily, that’s a pretty easy process. All you have to do to trim Anacharis is cut the stem. It’s best to cut above a whorl of leaves. However, the plant does a fine job of healing regardless of where you cut.
When it comes to pruning, your job is even easier.
Anacharis doesn’t require pruning. You may notice more foliage towards the middle of the stem or at the top. However, it’s never enough to warrant pruning.
Author Note: You can cut off any side-shooting stems, but most aquarists choose to keep them because they add density.
Anacharis does well with most freshwater aquarium fish. It’s a tall plant, so it can benefit all species in the water column!
The best tank mates include species that enjoy the same warm waters. That means tropical fish and species from Central and South America do fine.
Generally, Tetras and Cory Catfish are the most popular tank mates. Popular types of Tetras like the Neon Tetra and Black Skirt Tetra adore this plant. They’re small enough to use zip through the foliage and have fun in a dense clump of Anacharis.
Shrimp love the plant, too. Cherry shrimp are a popular addition. They will use the leaves in many ways. Not only will they eat any algae or plant detritus that accumulates on them, but the shrimp will also hide from would-be predators among the plant leaves.
The same goes for snails and other delicate inhabitants.
The only types of fish to avoid are known plant-eaters. Cichlids and most types of Goldfish are the worst offenders.
Anacharis is simply too delicate for these fish. They can easily uproot the plant and destroy its leaves.
Propagating Anacharis couldn’t be easier.
This plant doesn’t produce rhizomes, tubers, or even plantlets. Its roots don’t create runners either. The only thing it does make is side-growing stems and more height.
From a maintenance standpoint, its growth pattern and reproduction cycle make it a breeze to contain. So, how can you propagate it?
All you have to do is cut the stem. The cut portion will develop roots!
You can use cuttings you made from pruning. Alternatively, you can remove side stems and use those. Either way, just plant the stem the same way you did initially, and it should grow.
Ideally, the propagated stem should be five inches or more. Anything less than that, and it might struggle to get established.
Anacharis is a fantastic plant to add to just about any aquarium. As long as you have the space for it, including this species can benefit your tank in a number of ways.
We hope you consider getting this plant. Caring for it is a piece of cake, so just go for it!