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, however, is an alternative. This plant is very suitable for nano-aquariums because of its unusual and iridescent leaves. It also thrives in low lighting. They are slower growing than other aquatic plants and tend to be more expensive than anubias. Keep reading to learn all about the beautiful bucephalandra.
What is Bucephalandra, exactly?
Bucephalandra is a genus that includes rheophyte plants. It grows along the banks fast-moving streams of Borneo. They grow emersed (or above water) during the dry season and submersed (or below water) during the rainy season. Buce plants often have oblong leaves with wavy edges, but some types are more circular in shape, skinner in width, or have straight edges. Some varieties have red, purple, or blue tints. You may be able to see small white dots and a iridescent sheen on some species. If your buce is thriving, it may even produce a white or pink flower for your enjoyment.
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 does not sell wild-raised bucephalandra. This is to prevent overharvesting.
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 gradually increase their stock, the price will hopefully decrease 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 types of buce have leaves ranging from 0.5-4 inches (1-10 cm) long. Most aquascapers enjoy using bucephalandra in the foreground or middle of the aquarium, or they attach them to hardscape.
Can bucephalandra be difficult to grow? They can survive in low light, don’t need much fertilizer, or CO2 injections, and can grow with no substrate. They can grow slowly and are susceptible to algae growth. We like to grow our buce in the shaded parts of our aquariums and use algae eaters to keep their leaves clean.
Buce is available in many colors, including green, purple and red.
How to Plant Bucephalandra
Buce plants, like anubias or java ferns, have a Rhizome. This is a thick stem that produces roots and leaves. Rhizome plants are great because they don’t need to be planted in soil. You can easily wedge them between a crack in a rock or more firmly attach them to decor using sewing thread or super glue gel. Be careful not smother the rhizome with too much glue or else it may suffer. You can read more about super glue for attaching plants.
If you decide to plant the plant, make sure that the rhizome remains exposed. To ensure that the roots and rhizome of the plant are well buried, you need to push it into the gravel or sand. Then gently pull the plant upwards until the rhizome is completely exposed but the roots are still in the substrate.
The final option is to place the bucephalandra into a plastic basket filled with rock wool. Insert a root tab in the rock wool to feed the plant. Place the whole pot in an Easy Planter decoration. It will look like the buce is growing from 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. The rhizome is where nutrients are stored, so don’t throw it out. If the rhizome is healthy, you can leave it in your aquarium. It will grow new shoots and eventually become roots. See our complete article for more information about melting plants.
Bucephalandra growing emersed in the wild
Similar to anubias, java fern, and broom plants, they can withstand a range of temperatures (70-82degF/21-28degC) with a pH of 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. Although it is not necessary to add CO2 gas, it can speed up their 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. They can be grown together with moss to keep their roots moist.
Wine Red Caridina Shrimp on a Forest of Buce
How to Propagate Bucephalandra
In the wild, buce usually produce flowers above the water that have special odors to attracts pollinators. Fruits that are fertilized successfully will drop seeds into the water and then spread to different locations. 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. You should look for natural bends in your rhizome where the plant is beginning to form separate clumps. Then attach the new piece to a rock or driftwood as detailed previously, and it will continue growing as a second plant.
Buce flowers are beautiful underwater but don’t produce seeds
Bucephalandra can be a great addition to your planted aquarium if you haven’t tried it before. These plants are attractive to both novice and experienced aquascapers. Check out our selection of buce plants to order your own today.