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How to Plant Anubias or Java Fern on Rocks 

Anubias and Java Fern are two excellent freshwater plant options for low light tanks. Unlike most freshwater plants, they can go in aquariums that feature African Cichlids or Goldfish. These two plant species are easy to care for and not demanding at all. You can leave them in the pot, attach them to driftwood, or, like we’re doing here in this week's blog, plant them on aquarium rocks. They’re the hardiest and easiest to work with.

If you prefer a video format of this tutorial, watch the video at the bottom!

Gathering Your Supplies


You'll need:

  • Anubias or Java Fern that is about 3” – 4” tall and potted.
  • Texas holey rock, or any aquarium rock with structure.
  • Super Glue Gel

It’s best if you have small plants that are about 3” – 4” high in their small black plastic pots. The Texas holey rocks are around 5” – 7” long. They’re excellent for Cichlid and Goldfish aquariums because they balance the pH and the hardness. You could also use lava rocks, Okho stone, smooth river rocks, or any other porous-type rock. Besides rocks, plastic castles or stones could be used. Just make sure it’s weighted to stay in place.

To attach, you could use thread, fishing line, or a rubber band to tie. These aren’t ideal. The best thing is to use super glue gel, found at a hardware store. The gel isn’t super runny. You want to use original super glue, not another type of glue. Make sure it has cyanoacrylate, which is a liquid acrylic and the key ingredient. It creates an acrylic bond between the plant and the rock. You are more than welcome to use gloves to prevent your hands from sticking together.

Let’s get started.


Step by Step: Gluing the Plants to the Rocks

  1. Open the super glue gel by puncturing the top with the screw-on cap.
  2. Prepare the plant. Remove the tag and gently but firmly take it out of the pot.
  3. Remove as much of the plant rock wool, which is the cotton-like material surrounding the roots. Try and get down to the bare roots. You can remove it with very gently running water, too. Clean the roots with your hands. Anubias are just one plant in a pot. But with Java ferns, you might find two or three separate plants in one pot.
  4. Locate the rhizome of the anubias, which is the largest lateral part of the plant between the leaves and the roots. You can also locate the new growth of tiny bud-like leaves growing out of one end of the plant. More leaves grow out of the rhizome. This rhizome part supports the plant. If you want to plant it in gravel instead, don’t cover the rhizome.
  5. Find the best part of the rock to place your plant. A natural crevice or dip works well. 
  6. Dry the plant roots by dabbing them on a paper towel or hand towel.
  7. Spread a thin layer of glue on the rock the length of the rhizome and slightly thick. The super glue gel is great because it stays in place and doesn’t run down the sides of the rocks.
  8. Press the plant rhizome and roots vertically above the rock and hold them together for about a minute or two. Eventually, all these roots are going to grab onto the rock and hold the plant.
  9. Find the next rock and the next plant to do this with, and just repeat. Try to do these within about 10-15 minutes because these are water plants that dry out quickly.
  10. When they’re all dry, place them in your tank. They will continue to grow and give you that jungle look over time!

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