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. But if you’re looking for something a little more unique, try bucephalandra. 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. Continue reading for more information about bucephalandra.
What is Bucephalandra?
Bucephalandra, or “buce”, is a genus rheophyte plant that grows along the banks and streams of Borneo’s fast-moving rivers. They can be found emersed (or above the water) during dry seasons and submerged (or beneath the water) during rainy seasons. Many bumble plants have long, wavy leaves. However, some varieties are rounder, have thinner edges 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 kinds of buce exist? At the moment, more than 30 species are known. But, there are hundreds of common names on the market, including green wavy (brown), brownie blue, black pearl and mini coin), dark skeleton-king, Godzilla and deep purple. (Note: To help prevent overharvesting in the wild, we at Aquarium Co-Op only sell farm-raised bucephalandra on our website.)
Why is bucephalandra so expensive? They are relatively new to the aquarium hobby and therefore are in high demand among fishkeepers. Additionally, they grow slower 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). There are many types of buce, with leaves that range from 0.5-4 inches (1-10cm) in length. Aquascapers love to use bucephalandra as a background or middle-ground feature in their aquariums. They also attach them to hardscape.
Is bucephalandra hard to grow? Buce are considered easy to care for because they can live in low lighting, do not need a lot of fertilizer or CO2 injection, and can grow without any substrate. They can grow slowly and are susceptible to algae growth. Our buce prefer to be grown in the shaded areas of our aquariums. We use algae eaters to keep their leaves clear.
Buce can be purchased in many colors such as green, purple, red and blue
How to Plant Bucephalandra
Like anubias and java fern, buce plants have a rhizome, which is like a thick stem or trunk that sprouts both leaves and roots. The great thing about rhizome plants is that they do not need to be planted in substrate. It is easy to attach them to your decor with super glue gel or sewing thread. The rhizome should not be ensconced in too much glue. See our article on super glue used to attach plants for more information.
If you do wish to put the plant in the ground, the key is to make sure the rhizome is not covered up. Push the plant into the gravel or sand until the roots and the rhizome are fully buried. Then gently pull the plant upwards until the rhizome is completely exposed but the roots are still in the substrate.
Finally, you have the option of leaving the bucephalandra in the plastic basket 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. Nutrients are primarily stored in the rhizome, so do not throw it away. If the rhizome is healthy, you can leave it in your aquarium. It will grow new shoots and eventually become roots. For more information on melting plants, see our full article.
Bucephalandra grows 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. Although they can grow in low- to medium light, algae problems may occur due to their slow growth. While adding CO2 gas is not necessary, it can help to speed up 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 survive without water? It is possible for bucephalandra to grow from water. To keep their roots moist, you can grow them with moss.
Wine red Caridina shrimp on a forest of buce
How to Propagate Bucephalandra
Buce often grows flowers in the wild that are higher than the water and have special odors that attract pollinators. Successful fertilization results in fruit with seeds that drop into the water and spread to different areas. The easiest way to propagate buce in an aquarium is to cut the rhizome in two with a pair sharp, clean scissors. Try to find natural bends in the rhizome, where the plant has begun to form separate clumps of foliage. Attach the new piece to a rock, or driftwood. It will continue growing as a second one.
Buce flowers grown underwater are beautiful but do not produce seeds
If you have never kept bucephalandra before, save up your money to get this rare jewel for your planted aquarium. Both novice and experienced aquascapers will find them attractive due to their elegant appearance. You can order your buce plant today from our extensive selection.