Talk about Bucephalandra

  • Skill Level : Beginner, very hearty and easy to grow
  • Light Requirement : Low indirect and grows better in shade
  • Growth : Slow growing rhizome plant
  • Temperature : 74° - 82° is commonly recommended
  • Propagation : Dividing or cutting rhizome
  • Co2 : Unnecessary but speeds up growth

Buce is an epiphyte that should be attached to hardscape like rocks and driftwood. The rhizome should never be covered by substrate but the roots can be planted. Brief History : With hundreds of varieties that differentiate in colour, leaf shape and size. Bucephalandra, or Buce as it's commonly known, is quickly becoming the most sought after plant in the aquarium hobby.

Being endemic to Borneo island, this rare genus of plant belongs to the Araceae family which can actually flower underwater. Sharing a lot of the same attributes as Anubias, Buce has similar if not identical needs for optimal growth and is one of the easiest plants to keep. Like most rhizome plants, Bucephalandra is typically very slow growing and does not require a lot of light to thrive.

Indigenous to tropical climates and humid conditions this plant can be found growing across the rock faces of waterfalls and river banks throughout Borneo's rainforest. In the wild, Bucephalandra spends the majority of time growing in moist, damp and shaded areas but converts to fully aquatic life during the rainy season. Because of this dramatic change, Buce is commonly known to melt it's old growth and can take a long time to adjust to it's new environment. As long as the rhizome is intact the plant will grow new foliage that can be characterized by it's speckled metallic sheen and sought after for its unique leaf structures and colour patterns. With an abundance of variation these plants have grown in popularity with aquarists at every level.

As epiphytes, Aquascapers will attach them to their hardscapes as they'll root to rock and wood surfaces but also make great foreground plants that will form a mat over time. Even as a new hobbiest, these hearty plants are an attractive choice for any beginner. It has all the qualities you look for in a plant but unfortunately that comes at a price. Being endemic to Borneo means it's restricted to that island and has not been documented to grow anywhere else in the world. Deforestation, habitat destruction and most specifically illegal harvesting have taken their toll and many species are already thought to be extinct.


Although rather new to the aquarium scene, Bucephalandra has gained so much popularity over the last 15 years that some wild specimens have been illegally poached beyond repair and possibly extinct without ever being scientifically described. The good news is because of its popularity, some argue the aquarium trade can help maintain these species if farmed responsibly which in turn could drive down the value of poaching them from their natural habits.

The aquarium hobby has already been credited for maintaining several aquatic species that are no longer be found in wild populations so why not plants? Do your part and ensure that your bucephalandra comes from a responsibly farmed source and help ensure its survival for future generations.




Source: Write by Guy Moreau for Sousleau aquarium

Back to blog