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  • Writer's pictureJoe Williams

Bucephalandra Care Guide

Updated: Mar 30

Bucephalandra is a rare and beautiful plant originating in the river and waterfall systems on the island of Borneo.

	This is an epiphyte plant and it is relatively slow growing when compared to things like moss or stem plants. This also means that it is lower maintenance in the sense that it does not need to be trimmed as often.

	Buce grows very well when attached or anchored to something such as rock, cholla, wood or ledges/tables. It is a wonderful plant that can be grown submerged and emersed. This means it can be grown in aquariums, terrariums, paludariums or vivariums. (I have even had them growing new leaves in plastic bags being misted regularly.

Emersed – meaning the leaves and the rhizome in this case also will be above the water line. This would typically be in a terrarium, paludarium or vivarium.

Submerged – meaning the plant would be completely underwater while growing. This would be in an aquarium or underwater in a pond, river or lake.

Converting Bucephalandra from Emersed to Submerged State

	Myself (and many other sellers, collectors or hobbyists) purchase bucephalandra in both emersed and submerged forms. It converts to submerged rather easily and there are some extra steps I take to make this more succesful.

1. Rinse new emersed plant under running water to remove anything damaged, slimey or dying.

2. Trim any leaves with large rips or tears, these are likely to die immediately when converted and pollute your water.

3. Place on a moist paper towel inside of a container like a plastic bin (you could even use a ziploc bag) that can be plastic wrapped or otherwise sealed. Spray heavily with distilled water. It should be under indirect light during this.

4. While in the container heavily misting once or twice a day with aquarium water and then covering it back up after.

5. Tie, glue or otherwise attach the bucephalandra to a ledge, table, wood, stone or lay right on top of the soil while keeping the rhizome above the soil.

6. Place in an area where it will receive bright indirect light, shaded by tall plants or floating plants is ideal. 

	You may still lose some leaves here and there but these steps give the best success when converting emersed plants into an aquarium to be submerged.

Caring for Submerged Bucephalandra

	Bucephalandra is becoming much more common (although still relatively rare) in the aquarium hobby. It is easy to care for when done so the right way.

	Bucephalandra prefers cool waters with flow and a good biological cycle. Softer water is better but I have never had issues growing buce in 4kh/8gh and 200 tds. Many people even grow in 800+ TDS water that would be considered "hard".

When submerging buce, either from another tank or from emersed state, it is important to do so in a tank that is already cycled. Being a slow growing plant means it can be susceptible to algae growth or rot until it get comfortable and starts growing in it's new environment. A strong biological ecosystem will help any death or dying matter to be consumed and converted within the system fast.

	Bucephalandra originates in river and waterfall systems and because of this, it is better adapted to grow strong in flowing water. In large tanks, I like to use a small wavemaker but in 10 or 20 gallon tanks, 1-2 sponge filters running at a high flow is plenty of movement.

Caring for Emersed Bucephalandra

	Emersed buce prefers light to humidity and light air flow is definitely a plus. Bright, indirect light is ideal and it should be sprayed with distilled or RO water about once a week. But, this will vary on many factors such as humidity of surrounding environment, strength of light etc. 

	If the soil at the bottom looks dry or the leaves look dry/droop down, spray it with a small mist. If any leaves have develop holes or dry/fall off, this is ok. Just remove them using the tweezers. 

Bucephalandra is a fun and rewarding, low maintenance, plant that can be grown in a variety of ways.

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