The Anacharis is a live aquatic plant that is loved for its lush leaves, long stem, and easy maintenance requirements. As you read on, you’ll find out that there is more to the Anacharis than meets the eye.

Its simple features and multiple uses in an aquarium setup make it perfect for any new hobbyist and any type of aquarium setup.

In this article, our experts will teach you all about the Anacharis’ appearance, environment requirements, functions, and even proper propagation methods!

What Makes the Anacharis Awesome?

What planted aquarium hobbyists now recognize as the Anacharis was originally named Elodea densa by the scientific community. Currently, the plant’s official scientific name is Egeria densa, though some aquarists may also refer to it by its misnomer: the Anacharis Elodea. Whatever it is called, the Anacharis has some distinct physical features that can help you identify it with ease.

Before you learn more about the Anacharis and the numerous benefits it brings to the aquarium that hosts it, you should get to know its common biostatistics. Below is a table you can use as a quick reference for the Anacharis.

Class Magnoliopsida
Order Alismatales
Family Hydrocharitaceae
Height Up to 3 feet or 36 inches
Color Bright to Deep Green
Aquarium Position Background
Care Difficulty Easy; recommended for beginners

The Anacharis is a fast-growing plant. If you don’t trim it every so often, it could easily overcrowd your aquarium. However, beginner aquarists still love the Anacharis because it can easily thrive in different water conditions. Aside from their natural hardiness, the Anacharis can also serve as both food and shelter for some fish species. Add to that their amazing capabilities as a natural tank oxygenator and you have a true all-in-one aquarium flora!

Physical Appearance

Most hobbyists will describe the Anacharis as a long, snaking plant that has numerous leaves. This is because the Anacharis is a perennial plant. That is, a plant that is able to keep its leaves all year long. The Anacharis originated in the regions of Southeast Brazil and Argentina. There, it grew tall and proud in ponds, lakes, and other slow-moving bodies of water.

Its main stem is deep green, while its whorls of leaves are a brighter shade of green. The Anacharis leaves are usually clustered all along the main stem in groups of three to six. This is what gives the Anacharis its consistently lush appearance. The new whorls of leaves grow from nodes that are directly connected to the main stem.

Further down the stem is a group of fine, hair-like roots. The roots are often white in color, though they can also be a pale yellow depending on the water conditions that the plant has grown in. While the Anacharis is more known for its foliage, it also produces pale white flowers that float to the surface of the water in summer.

Anacharis Care

Now that you know more about the Anacharis and what makes it the perfect beginner aquarium plant, you can delve deeper into how to care for these beautiful plants. In this section, our experts will walk you through how to select healthy Anacharis, how to prepare your aquarium for these plants, and even give you tips on basic Anacharis care.

– Selecting the Perfect Anacharis

When it comes to choosing aquarium plants, you can tell a lot by the plant’s physical appearance. You should choose Anacharis plants that have healthy, strong stems. This is especially important if you want to propagate your Anacharis later on. Avoid limp, pale, or spotted stems as these are usually indicators of nutrient deficiencies in the plants.

Be sure to check the leaves of the Anacharis you want to take home as well. Your plant’s leaves should be thick, numerous, and evenly green — no matter how high up or low on the stem you see them. Even coloring and thick leaves are quite accurate indicators of a healthy plant that is efficient at making its own food while oxygenating the water around it.

Furthermore, mature Anacharis plants will have stringy white roots protruding from the base of their stems; check the roots to make sure that they are neither limp nor discolored.

Here’s an additional tip: grasp any leaf whorl of your chosen Anacharis and pull it gently. The leaves should not fall off; instead, they should remain securely attached to the stem. Remember: weak leaves make for a weak Anacharis plant in the long run.

– Plant and Aquarium Preparation

Once you have brought home a few stems of the beautiful Anacharis plants, you’ll want to give them a thorough rinsing. Keep them partially submerged in an isolation tank or spare container for at least 24 hours. Use this time to observe the plants for any pests or problems you might have missed while you were in the shop.

Furthermore, you can use your plant’s isolation period as the perfect time to prepare the ideal Anacharis aquarium. While the Anacharis is certainly a hardy plant that is capable of adapting to various water conditions, you will have the most success in tending and propagating this plant if you provide it with water parameters that mimic the original Anacharis habitat.

Below is a reference table you can use as a guide when you adjust your aquarium water for your Anacharis.

Temperature 72 to 78 °F; 22 to 25 °C
Light Level Moderate to high brightness
pH Level 6.0 – 8.0
Water Hardness 2 to 20 GH
Substrate Aquarium gravel; can also be grown as a floating plant
Fertilizer/Chemical Additives Substrate and CO2 fertilizers are required for warm freshwater tanks; no fertilizers required for colder tanks
Tank Size 10 to 20 gallons

Best Tank Mates

You should also pay attention to the aquatic creatures that will share their home with your new Anacharis. Again, while this plant is extremely adaptable, its young shoots are still vulnerable to aggressive aquarium inhabitants.

You want to give your Anacharis enough time to grow and spread throughout your aquarium before the fish or other members of the aquarium decide to take bites out of this edible plant. That said, here are our experts’ top-recommended tank mates for the Anacharis:

1. Tetra Fish

Most Tetras will thrive in aquariums with a planted Anacharis. These fish love hiding in the numerous leaves of the plant and are often too small to damage even the youngest Anacharis stems.

2. Betta Fish

Bettas, similarly to Tetras, will also benefit from the shade and shelter that the Anacharis can naturally provide. In addition, Bettas that are shy or feel threatened usually find comfort by hiding behind the Anacharis’ lush offshoots. Bettas do not feed on Anacharis, which means that both your fish and plant can grow to their respective maximum size in peace.

3. Corydoras Catfish

A quiet and peaceful bottomfeeder, the Corydoras Catfish is almost always recommended for planted tanks where the Anacharis is included. This type of catfish won’t bother young Anacharis stems, and will probably ignore the plant’s presence entirely. It can, however, use the Anacharis as shelter if necessary.

4. Cherry Shrimp

One of the more overlooked tank mates for the Anacharis is the Cherry Shrimp. These shrimps are small enough that they will appreciate the Anacharis’ leaves and stems as a shield from harsh lighting or as places of shelter when they need to hide. The rich red of the Cherry Shrimp also makes for a pleasing contrast against the Anacharis’ bright or deep green shades.

If there are recommended tank mates for the Anacharis, there are also fish that you should avoid pairing your new plant with for as long as possible. Goldfish and cichlids, for example, love to eat Anacharis leaves. These fish will bite and nip young shoots if they become bored or hungry. Avoid planting Anacharis in aquariums with these fish, unless you specifically want to use the plant as a supplement to your fish’s diet.

Basic Care Tips

There are a few other things you should know when it comes to caring for an Anacharis plant in your aquarium. Here is a list of the most useful tips that our experts often share with beginners who have chosen the Anacharis as their first aquatic flora.

– Use Fertilizers When Necessary

As mentioned in the previous section, Anacharis plants that are grown in tropical or warm aquariums will need assistance from chemical or organic fertilizers. On the other hand, Anacharis that are planted in cold water tanks are more likely to thrive on their own.

You can certainly keep Anacharis in tropical tanks without fertilizers, but they will grow at a slower pace and you might notice that their leaves unfurl to be a paler green.

As such, it would be in your plant’s best interest if you added CO2 and substrate fertilizers once a week. This will help your growing Anacharis absorb more of the nutrients it needs to grow and adapt to the closed ecosystem you have established in your aquarium.

Be sure to use only the highest quality fertilizers that are available in your area to ensure a healthy and steady growth rate for your Anacharis.

– Control the Amount of Light Your Anacharis Receives

Anacharis is a plant that needs several hours of exposure to light. If your aquarium is situated in a dark room, consider investing in LED lights that run the length of your fish tank. This should help you easily provide light for your Anacharis as well as control the brightness of the light and duration of the exposure.

On the other hand, if your aquarium is positioned in a room that is naturally bright and is constantly exposed to sunlight, you might want to invest in aquarium shades. You can also opt to make simple light shades for your fish tank. The Anacharis will grow well in aquariums that have four to five hours of exposure to moderate light.

Light exposure that is too intense or prolonged can lead to an algae overgrowth in your aquarium. This will make it more difficult for your Anacharis to filter the water and feed from the available fish waste.

– Make a Habit Out of Pruning and Trimming Your Anacharis

The last care tip is something that most beginner aquarists take for granted. Under ideal water conditions, the Anacharis grows quicker than novice fishkeepers anticipate. This sometimes results in an overcrowded aquarium that is healthy for neither the fish nor the plant itself.

Be sure to trim your Anacharis at least once every two weeks or whenever necessary. This should help the plant learn how much space it is allowed to take up in the tank, and it should also give other plants and fish enough room to grow.

Likewise, make time for pruning your Anacharis as well. This will help your plant grow lusher and healthier in time. Prune or remove dead leaves, sick roots, and even sections of the stem that you think are not as healthy as the rest.

How to Plant Anacharis

Planting Anacharis is an easy task to accomplish. You simply need to decide whether you want to grow your plant in the substrate or allow it to spread as a floating Anacharis. Below are some pointers to help you plant your Anacharis using two different methods.

– Planting the Anacharis in Substrate

This method is suitable for aquariums in which the Anacharis will be placed in the background. For this method, you should use fine gravel that has been enhanced with your preferred substrate fertilizer.

Remove the leaves from the bottom two or three inches of your Anacharis stem. Then, dig a small hole that is one to three inches deep. Plant the bare portion of your Anacharis stem in that hole, and cover it lightly with the excess substrate. Be sure that the stem is secure and deep enough in the substrate to encourage the growth of Anacharis roots and to prevent it from suddenly floating to the surface.

– Floating Anacharis Plants

This method for growing Anacharis is perhaps the easiest one known to the fishkeeping hobby.

All you have to do is trim the stems of your Anacharis, and then let them float to the surface of your aquarium. Some aquarists use a mesh cover or lid for tanks that have floating Anacharis. This prevents any unwanted insects or creatures from resting on the Anacharis, and it also serves as a partial shade against light sources.

Remember that floating Anacharis plants tend to grow faster than planted Anacharis because of increased exposure to light.

Propagating Anacharis

Another reason why novice aquarists love the Anacharis is that it is super easy to propagate. This means that even those who are relatively new to the fishkeeping hobby can use homegrown Anacharis shoots as gifts for their hobbyist friends, or as the initial flora in any new tank setup they might be planning.

To propagate your Anacharis properly, all you need to do is follow the steps listed below:

1. Choose the Healthiest Anacharis in Your Aquarium

The plant you choose must be free of illness and should have grown robustly since you first planted it in your aquarium. It should have stems that are strong, evenly colored, and spread at least 10 to 15 inches in length.

2. Cut a Portion of Your Chosen Anacharis

Using plant scissors, make a diagonal cut on your chosen Anacharis stem. The cuttings you remove should be at least 5 inches in length each. This will give the best chance of adapting to the water and thriving as an independent plant.

Repeat these steps for the remaining Anacharis plants that you want to propagate. Then, it’s all a matter of following the procedure for planting Anacharis that was detailed in the previous section. You can also plant these cuttings in a separate tank to better monitor their growth or prepare them to be used as a food supplement for your fish, as giveaways to friends and family, or as additions to your newer aquarium setups later on.

Concluding Words

We certainly covered a lot of topics about the humble Egeria densa. You now know the most important facts about the Anacharis and the basics of caring for this beloved aquarium plant. Here’s a quick recap of the key discussion points from this article:

  • The Anacharis — formerly called the Elodea densa — is a freshwater plant that is native to Southeast Brazil and Argentina.
  • This plant is extremely easy to care for and has been the novice aquarist’s plant of choice for the longest time.
  • The Anacharis can adapt to various water conditions, but it thrives best in aquariums that can mimic the environmental parameters of its natural habitat.
  • Growing Anacharis in an aquarium is simple; provide it enough light, fertilizers, and be mindful in choosing its tank mates.
  • You can propagate the Anacharis with ease by cutting 5-inch sections from a healthy plant, and replanting them in a separate tank if possible.

With this knowledge, you can try your hand out at growing and propagating Anacharis in your home aquarium setup. You will surely come to understand why this plant is so favored in the fishkeeping hobby, and why many aquarists prefer having it around in their fish tanks.

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