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Anubias ‘petite’: creating an underwater nano terrarium

Anubias barteri var. nana 'Petite'

Lately I’ve been bitten by the terrarium bug and looking to build one as a companion to my 60l planted tank.

While terrariums with ferns and cacti can be pretty and relatively easy to care for, they are a contained micro-environment and still need some degree of upkeep, namely:

  • Misting it well to ensure high humidity levels
  • But not overdoing it (especially with unfiltered water), which can lead to fungi/rotting plants
  • Trimming and re-scaping where needed (if you don’t want your terrarium to end resembling a jar of green spaghetti)
  • Brushing the side of your terrarium periodically with a wet toothbrush to remove dirt and watermarks
  • (and the list goes on)

Okay I digress, but the point is that terrariums are not simply ‘set and forget’ mini-ecosystems that you can just leave alone.

In the search for the perfect, ultra-low maintenance terrarium somehow my inspiration went underwater (in the form of my 60-liter planted tank).

Anubias barteri var. ‘Petite’ – one of the first plants I bought – is the dime-sized variant of the popular Anubias species, which hails from the streams and marshes of tropical central and western Africa.

With its broad, thick and lush green leaves, Anubias is an aquarium favorite, also renowned for its easy maintenance, hardy nature and low-light dwellings – its genus is named after the Egyptian god Anubis, the god of the afterlife (little wonder).

Long story short, I decided to try a solo scape of the petite version of Anubias nana, upcycling a glass Nutella jar I had lying around, which provides rather interesting magnified view.


Prepping this was really easy. I firstly washed and sterilised the Nutella jar with hot water to remove any traces of oil slick.

Rinsing the soil with hot water is also important to kill any algae spores (it’ll cook ’em) and remove any floating particles that would otherwise form a powder like layer. (Note: Sudo’s sand is really top-notch out of the packet and I didn’t see any resulting particles, but I do this as a precaution)

The Anubias ‘petite’ itself already came tied to a nicely shaped lava stone, so there was no need for further work except to brush the leaves and stone with a soft, damp toothbrush to remove any slime.

Final steps – fill sand to desired height and top up with water, then submerge the Anubias ‘nana’. Got to love that clean, minimalist look đź‘Ť

Update (6 months): I’ve been really pleased with this nano underwater terrarium. Other than the monthly water change and dropping in a speck (yes, literally one) of Hikari micro pellets for nutrients, it has been fuss-free – was a surprise to see how much it’s grown.

Let me know what you think!

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