Bucephalandra

bucephalandra
Credits to Jucielen Pereira

The Bucephalandra is a relatively new plant in the aquarium world. It’s a low light plant and is very easy to care for. There are quite a few types of bucephalandra such as the bucephalandra red mini among others, each with their own unique color, size and shape. There are more than 30 species of buce plant, another name (easier to pronounce name) for the bucephalandra.

The Bucephalandra is part of Araceae which is a family of monocotyledonous flowering plants. They are indigenous to more tropical waters and found in rivers and streams of Borneo. Their root systems are strong and have developed over time to resist the fast-flowing waters. They lock themselves tightly into the hardscape and have become a very resilient species.

Information Chart
Care Level:
Easy
Average Size:
10 inches
Family:
Araceae
Minimum Tank Size:
N/A
Temperature:
71-82.5 °F (21.5-28 °C)
Water Conditions:
pH 6-7.5
Placement:

On hard substrate in low lighting

Appearance

bucephalandra
As said, these aquarium plants come in many species each with their own coloring, size and shape . They are quite diverse and can grow in and out of water. They are very exotic-looking with bluish-green leaves and undersides with white, red or yellow spots. Buce plants have far-reaching roots that seem to take over the bottom of the aquarium and at full size, they grow to be about 10 inches or so.

However, it’s worth it to note that the bucephalandra is a very very slow growing plant, so reaching the maximum size of 10 inches could take a while. The bucephalandra is not only known as one of the most beautiful aquatic plants because of their leaves, but also their flowers as well. From time to time, the bucephalandra blooms little white or pink flowers.

bucephalandra

Most species of the bucephalandra have green leaves, although some have other coloration mixed in. Depending on the type you buy, many species of this plant are not very brightly colored. Usually, the newer leaves emerge with bright coloration but begin to fade as the leaves age. A trick to make sure it seems like the leaves are always vivid is to grow them in clumps.

To do this, you need sufficient nutrients, lighting and CO2. What’s amazing about the color of these plants is they appear to be iridescent. This means they sort of shimmer and reflect colors of the rainbow at different angles.

They can be emersed or submersed and can switch between the two all year round. The difference mainly between the two is that submersed plants tend to be brighter in color.

Some of the recognized types of bucephalandra include: Brownie Brown, Wavy Green, Titan, Godzilla, Hades, Theia green, Deep blue, Red min, Velvet, Dark wave, Brownie Purple, Super Blue, and Brownie firebird.

Natural Habitat

The bucephalandra is a hardy plant that is easy to care for because they can tolerate extreme climates. This is why they are a wonderful plant to keep in your aquarium. However, they are mostly found in tropical waters in rainforests near Borneo. Where is Buce plant located? They are mostly found in streams and rivers around Indonesia.

Tank Requirements

We said the bucephalandra is an easy plant to take care of, so let’s take a closer look at what they require in order to thrive in aquariums. We mentioned that they need to be planted with hard substrate. Think about adding rocks and larger tank liner substrate such as gravel into the aquarium. Their roots system is far-reaching, which is why they need larger and heavier additions to the tank to support themselves.

Contrary to what a lot of people associate with plants, the bucephalandra isn’t very suitable with soil. They need larger substrate to grasp and anchor themselves. They are the type of plants to meander their roots through crevices and holes, which means the more porous the rocks and driftwood are, the better.

They are generally a low light plant, so if you have the bucephalandra in your tank for decorative purposes, there isn’t much they need. Placing them in a low light aquarium away from bright light will do. However, the lack of sufficient lighting will contribute to their slow growth.

If you want brighter coloration that accentuates the unique leaves and perhaps the flowers, then placing them in medium to high light locations would accelerate their growth and coloring.

The bucephalandra only needs sufficient lighting to survive. If you want to grow them quickly and in large bunches, then you would need to add CO2 or other nutrients to boost their growth.

Make sure the water is well filtered and clear. The flow should be slow and steady to match its natural environment in Indonesia. You must also keep your tank very very clean. There must not be a lot of algae buildup if any at all since the bucephalandra is very vulnerable to it.

You need to prune them, clean the tank regularly and switch out the water to rid it of any organic debris. The fish species sharing the aquarium with this plant needs to be clean as well. By clean we mean species that don’t make messes and leave leftovers in the tank.

Cleaner fish and other algae-eating tank cleaners such as small crustaceans and snails can help maintain the tank for the bucephalandra.

Planting

Bucephalandra
All you need to do is to attach the rhizomes to hard surfaces such as rocks or driftwood. You just need to make sure the roots are properly secured, then the plant will do the rest on its own. They growth rate is slow but they do show a few new leaves every week.

Due to them being a reophyte, the bucephalandra can be planted in aquariums, terrariums and even paludariums.

Propagation

Again, the bucephalandra is easy to care for. They grow along the rhizome without much help from you. You can trim the plantlets and place them on rocks or other parts of the hardscape and watch them reattach themselves and grow into new plants.

Availability

They are relatively new plants to the aquarium trade but have quickly gained traction and increased their popularity over the past few years. They should be available in most stores depending on the species and type. There are many types of bucephalandra, and it’s amazing how they vary in price.

For example, the bucephalandra sp. Green Wavy is very cheap, but the Biblis Blue Sky can cost a lot more. If you find that your fish store lacks choices, the best place to purchase a new bucephalandra is actually from the Internet. Make sure you do your due diligence before you buy.

Growing Bucephalandra

How do you grow bucephalandra? Much like other organisms on this planet, bucephalandras need adequate free space to grow. Depending on where your plants were sourced, they may arrive in large clumps. Many aquarists feel that separating these clumps into the individual plants will damage them. However, if you do separate them for planting in the aquarium or out, it will allow them to grow at a much faster pace.

When you are separating them, make sure you prune the bucephalandra as well. You can identify the older dying leaves by the coloration. If they seem dull or are very faded, you can go ahead and cut them off. Clear off any of the debris and place the readied plants onto the rocks and wood surfaces then they will do the rest themselves.

There are some tips and tricks for faster growth. Fertilizing aquarium plants is a possibility with the right tools and adding CO2 is imperative to their growth as well. Adding CO2 via a CO2 compressor and make sure your tank is always maintained within the suggested pH levels (6.5-7).

The bucephalandra also requires macro and micronutrients just like we do. There are tons of aquatic plant fertilizers you can look into for your buce. As for the color, keep in mind that the lighting is key. Since they aren’t very sensitive to any sort of light, you can place them near windows (if your fish allow it) for them to grow faster and more beautifully. The color of the leaves doesn’t change depending on the species but the spots on the underside do.

Sometimes you will find red, white or yellow spots and these cute embellishments are a direct result of photosynthesis. So you can postulate that more light equals more color variations and brighter hues.

Problems with Bucephalandra Growth

They are easy to care for species, but there are still factors you need to pay attention to in the aquarium in order to achieve a high growth rate.

When you initially place an emersed plant into the aquarium, you may see some melting of the leaves as it gets accustomed to tank life. As long as the plant doesn’t rot, all you need to do is to remove those leaves and wait for your bucephalandra to regain balance in the water.

If you add a submersed bucephalandra to the aquarium, that still doesn’t guarantee there won’t be a transition period. Due to changes in the water, lighting and surroundings, your bucephalandra might lose all its leaves. Although they are hardy, this species does not like changes and fluctuations in the water. Think of them shedding their leaves as some type of protest.

As long as you make sure there is nothing else wrong, such as rot, then chances are your bucephalandra will bounce back within a week or two.

If your bucephalandra is having growth issues, such as dull and washed out coloration or barely any growth, then you need to take a look at the lighting. The exotic coloration of red, blue, green, white and so on is the reason why aquarists love this species so much. In order to help it reach its full potential, you may need to move it to an area with more light.

Even after your bucephalandras have become accustomed to the tank, there is still a chance they may shed their leaves again. You will see this if there are any noticeable changes in the water condition. Another thing is that although they are tough, they recover slower than other species when they are damaged.

The average recovery period for buces can range from several weeks to several months. Keeping them safe and healthy is the key to their prosperity.

Uses

The bucephalandra doesn’t possess any world-changing properties or capabilities, just their beauty. Because of their strong root system and their ability to “hang on” they have been a new addition to the tank that many aquarists can appreciate. They are mainly used to beautify your aquarium and hold the substrate together.

Price

The bucephalandra is considered quite an expensive plant. This could be due to their exotic nature and origins and being fairly new to the aquarium world. We believe that over time when we learn more about these mysterious plants and their species, they will also become more affordable.

Conclusion

If your aquarium doesn’t see much debris or algae buildup, the bucephalandra is a beautiful addition to the tank that can really brighten things up. Of course, since they are found in warmer waters, you need to keep that in mind when deciding if they suit your fish. They hand on tightly to hardscapes around the tank and may not go well with fish species that like to dig and burrow.

Their amazing colors and exotic appearance are what give them that air of mystery that aquarists love. What makes them wonderful is their ability to adapt to different environments as long as the water quality doesn’t fluctuate. Even growing new plants is as easy as removing them, placing them and securing them in their new habitat. If you are lucky, the bucephalandra might even bloom their coveted pink and white flowers from time to time to create a wonderland in your tank.

They are slow-growing and can be expensive, but with the right amount of care and patience, the bucephalandra is worth every penny and every effort.

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