Amazon sword (Echinodorus grisebachii) would be a great addition to most freshwater planted aquariums. Being versatile and easy to plant, grow, and maintain, you can’t go wrong.
So, we’ve provided you with this beginner-appropriate Amazon Sword plant care guide that will tell you all you need to know about the plant, from A to Z.
Quick Stats Care Overview
- Scientific Name: Echinodorus grisebachii/ Echinodorus amazonicus
- Family: Alismataceae
- Order: Alismatales
- Genus: Echinodorus
- Care Level: Easy
- Growth Rate: Moderate
- Maximum Size: 20 Inches (50 centimeters)
- Water Conditions: 60.8-82.4°F (20-27°C), 6.5-7.5 pH, 8-15 dGH
- Lighting: Moderate to strong
- Propagation: Vegetative; Runners
- Tank Placement: Mid-ground
Origins: What Is Amazon Sword?
The Amazon Sword plant is a freshwater aquatic plant that can grow when partially or fully submerged in water. It originates in countries around the Amazon River basin, such as Cuba, Brazil, and Bolivia.
It’s sold in stores nowadays for placement in aquariums and ponds. The “Amazon Sword” label could belong to either one of two species; Echinodorus grisebachii or Echinodorus amazonicus.
The two species basically look the same, with minor differences in the width of the leaves, where the Echinodorus amazonicus has narrower ones.
Generally, the plant has a substantial, lightly-colored root and short stem with dark green pointed leaves, resembling a sword point, hence the name Amazon Sword. The leaves measure 16 inches (40 cm) on average, but they can reach 20 inches and even larger in their natural habitat under the best of circumstances.
Caring for Amazon Sword In Your Aquarium
You only have to look for a tank that’s tall enough to encompass the plant. Try to get a tank that’s 16 inches or taller so that the plant stays submerged in the water and grows tall and healthy.
That’s usually possible in a 10-gallon tank, but it’s preferable to go with a 20-gallon one.
- Temperature: A temperature similar to that of tropical waters is preferred from 60.8 to 82.4°F. (ideally from 68 to 75°F)
- pH: The closer to neutral, the better, so stay in the 6.5–7.5 range. (can go as low as 6)
- dGH: Slightly to moderately hard water is preferred because any softer and the plant may get mineral deficiencies, so stay in the 8-15 range.
The Amazon Sword plant requires moderate to strong lighting that lasts for about 10-12 hours a day to mimic the lighting conditions it’s exposed to in its natural habitat. This is to ensure the best nourishment and growth.
It’s best achieved by LED, CFL, or Fluorescent Tube lighting, which would supply about 3 watts per gallon. A simple filament light is also acceptable if those above are hard to acquire.
Take care that the plant doesn’t receive too much light, or else algae growth becomes more difficult to handle.
Substrate & Fertilizers
An appropriate substrate is crucial for the growth of the plant. Its normal habitat has a rich and nutritious substrate that allows the plant to grow to its considerable size. So, you need to replicate this substrate in your tank.
Be very careful to lay out a layer that’s at least 2.5 inches of a nutrient-loaded, loose substrate with either a small-gravel or large-sand grain size. While the plant can take root in a finer substrate, it’s more likely to be uprooted by large fish before it can properly establish itself.
As for fertilizers, the Amazon Sword plant could use regular doses of fertilizers rich in iron. They’re best delivered about once a week after you’ve changed your tank water. Interestingly enough, the plant doesn’t require extra doses of carbon dioxide that other plants typically need to grow successfully.
Luckily, an Amazon Sword plant doesn’t require much fuss or muss. It typically grows well on its own without any help or interference.
All you need to do to trim the ends if they’re too sharp and can hurt your tank inhabitants. You can also trim the leaves if you find them growing outside the confines of your tank or filling up the space available for your fish. However, this shouldn’t happen, providing you’ve got a suitably sized tank.
Another thing to mind is changing about 20% of the tank’s water weekly. That’s because the plant can’t grow in murky and dirty water full of toxins and food wastes. So, don’t forget to do it.
Suitable lighting, water quality, and nutrition are essential for the plant’s growth, and adequate aeration may expedite the growth rate. Just be mindful of any algae spread on the plant, and don’t attempt to wipe it as the leaves may break in the process.
If your plant starts to rot, change color, or lose its form, it may be suffering from a lack or shortage of any of the aforementioned requirements. Make sure to check them all, and you can add weekly supplements to the plant until it can fight off its illness.
How To Plant Amazon Sword?
There isn’t much to planting an Amazon Sword plant. You simply dig a hole in the center of your tank that’s deep enough to bury the whole root but leave the stem of the baby plant exposed. This ensures that the plant has enough space to fully extend its leaves and roots, as both can get quite large and extensive.
How to Propagate Amazon Sword?
The propagation of an Amazon Sword Plant is quite simple. The plant’s main stem develops multiple offshoots, called runners, every 3-4 inches. These runners then grow into small plants -that can sometimes be a little yellowish- having their own tiny roots and stems.
Once the roots increase in size and number, the new plants can be cut and placed in their new home, whether it’s the same tank or a new one.
If it’s a new tank, then try to match the original one’s conditions, especially the substrate, as the new plant may struggle to grow in a new environment. Also, keep it totally submerged and supply it with additional nutrients for faster and healthier growth.
How to Use Amazon Sword in an Aquarium?
An Amazon Sword plant is usually placed mid-ground, aka at the center of the tank, where it acts as a statement piece around which the rest of your tank components are set up, whether they’re other plants, caves, rocks, etc.
It can also be placed in the background with others of its kind, where the bushy leaves grow and intermingle, giving rise to a jungle-like effect.
No matter how or where you place it, it offers multiple benefits. Other than its appearance, it acts as a source of nutrition and a hideout for fish.
It also rids the water or harmful nitrates and toxins, keeping the water clean. You can even hide a heater or filter tube behind its leaves, making your tank more esthetically pleasing.
Tank Mates for Amazon Sword
There are numerous options suitable as a tank mate for this plant, whether it’s aquatic creatures like fish or different plant types.
As for fish, you should choose fish with a mild temperament that won’t roughen up your plant and damage their leaves. Guppies, Gouramis, Platies, Tetras, and Angelfish are some of the suitable choices. On the other hand, steer clear of Oscars, Goldfish, large cichlids, and in particular, Plecos.
If you don’t want your plant to be riddled with bite marks, then you could choose bottom-dwellers like shrimps and snails. They’ll leave your plant intact and eat the algae on it instead.
In case you want other plants, then go for plants from the same species, such as the Echinodorus cordifolius or Echinodorus palifolius plants.
Growth Rate & Algae Control
As we briefly mentioned, algae is a common issue encountered with this plant due to its love of light and slow growth rate.
To combat this problem, you should make sure that your water conditions are without fault, and you could also incorporate some algae eaters in your tank. These include various types of snails and shrimps, as well as the Otocinclus Catfish.
Amazon Sword Leaves Turning Yellow, Cracking, & Tearing
Due to the delicate nature of the plant, it’s quite common to find its leaves yellowing, cracking, and even tearing.
However, there are a few things you can do to prevent or fix these problems. If your newly planted Amazon Sword leaves start turning yellow and dying, simply trim the dead leaves, and new healthy leaves will grow once the plant has acclimated to the tank.
On the other hand, if an already established plant starts yellowing, then this is due to poor water conditions or a lack of nutrients. So, clean your water and readjust its parameters. Also, add an iron-rich fertilizer or root tabs for extra measure.
Unfortunately, the plant can’t repair its cracked or torn leaves, so the best thing you can do is cut the damaged leaves off. This allows the plant to redirect its energy towards maintaining healthy leaves and growing new ones.
Amazon Sword Right For Your Tank?
With minimal care, the Amazon Sword plant can grow to be a beautiful addition to your tank. It’s appropriate for community fish tanks and very easy to plant and propagate.
As long as you maintain its water condition, provide it with sufficient nutrients, and remove any rotting/broken leaves, it’ll continue to thrive and flourish for years to come.