Micro Sword (Lilaeopsis brasiliensis) Plant Care for Freshwater Aquariums

Micro sword plants are a perfect choice for any aquarist who wants carpeting plants in their tank, but doesn’t want the fuss which comes with most types.

In this guide, I’ll teach you how to plant, grow, and care for micro sword so it flourishes in your freshwater aquarium.

Micro Sword Plant Quick Care Stats

  • Scientific Name: Lilaeopsis brasiliensis
  • Family: Apiaceae
  • Order: Apiales
  • Genus: Lilaeopsis 
  • Care Level: easy
  • Growth Rate: slow at first, faster growth once established
  • Maximum Size: 3-5 inches (7.5-13 centimeters)
  • Water Conditions: pH range of 6.5-7.5, temperature 70°-82°F (21°-28°C) 
  • Lighting: medium to high
  • Propagation: cutting or division
  • Tank Placement: foreground

Overview: Micro Sword (Lilaeopsis brasiliensis)

Micro sword is a relatively easy to grow plant that, given the right conditions, will grow into a thick mat that covers the substrate. In its natural form, it looks like tufts of spindly grass with sword-shaped blades.

I love the look of micro sword plants. It’s a really pretty bright green and the stems twist slightly as they grow up, kind of like flames or seaweed. It can be kept trimmed, which will make it look like a golf course green growing along the substrate.

It is a good introductory carpeting plant. It’s not as delicate and fussy as something like dwarf baby tears, but it does require high lighting if you want it to grow into a thick carpet.

Caring for Micro Sword In Aquarium

Tank Requirements

Micro sword will do best in a tank that is 10 gallons (39 liters) or larger.

Water Parameters

  • Temperature: 70°-82°F (21°-28°C)
  • pH: 6.5-7.5
  • dGH: 0-15

Lighting Conditions

Micro sword needs medium to high (PAR 50-80) lighting. But, if you want it to grow into a thick carpet, you’ll need more intense lighting.

For an in-depth comparison of plant lighting, please, see our article, here.

Substrate & Fertilizers

Micro sword plants need A LOT of fertilization. It is a heavy root feeder that will do best with a nutrient rich substrate, like an aquasoil, clay-based planted substrate or capped dirt.

Even with a good substrate, micro sword plants will need to be dosed with liquid fertilizers frequently. Adding root tabs is also a good idea when the plant is first added to the tank, but they can be hard to bury in the substrate once the micro sword has become well established.

Maintenance & Trimming

Maintaining micro sword plants is not difficult. When it’s first added to an aquarium, it can take quite a while for it to establish itself and start to grow. But, once it does start to spread, it can do so rather quickly.

If you like its natural form, you can just leave it alone. But, if you want it to look like an underwater lawn, you’ll need to trim it fairly frequently.

To trim it, I would suggest a pair of long-handled plant scissors. Just snip the top of the plants off. The trimmings will float to the surface of the water, and you can scoop them out of the tank with a small net.

Micro sword puts out runners across the top of the substrate that form new plants. If you want the plant to spread more, keeping it trimmed will encourage it to branch out more. 

Conversely, if you want to keep it in one area of the aquarium, you’ll need to snip the runners off and discard them.

How to Plant Micro Sword

Micro sword is sold in clumps. Simply break the clump apart into smaller pieces, with groupings of at least two or three stems and bury the roots in the soil. 

I would highly recommend using a pair of long, bent plant forceps. These let you easily push the roots down into the substrate.

I’ve been using the ones that came in this kit for several years now, and I love them. 

Luxiv Aquarium Aquascape Tools Kit, 6 in 1 A Aquatic Plant Aquascaping Tool Stainless Steel Tweezers Scissors Spatula for Aquarium Tank Clean Aquascape Tools with Fishing Net, 80P PH Paper
Luxiv Aquarium Aquascape Tools Kit, 6 in 1 A Aquatic Plant Aquascaping Tool Stainless Steel Tweezers Scissors Spatula for Aquarium Tank Clean Aquascape Tools with Fishing Net, 80P PH Paper

    Last update on 2024-04-12 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    How to Propagate Micro Sword Plants

    The easiest way to propagate micro sword plants is by cutting off runners. Every few inches along the runner, you’ll find a baby plant, complete with roots and leaves.

    You can simply snip the runner off on either side of each baby plant, and then just bury the roots in the substrate.

    If you wish, you can also dig up clumps of adult micro sword plants and pull them apart. Just make sure that each piece has leaves and roots.

    How to Use Micro Sword in Aquarium

    This plant is best suited to the foreground of a tank. If you try to plant it behind anything, it will just be blocked from view.

    And what a shame that would be!

    I love how this plant looks, whether it’s trimmed to look like a lawn or if it’s left in its slightly more messy natural form.

    And beyond looks, micro sword plants make a great breeding substrate for egg scattering fish, like danios and tetras. 

    Tank Mates for Micro Sword Plant

    Micro sword plants can be kept with most aquarium livestock. It is especially great for providing cover for fry and shrimplets if you don’t trim it.

    The only tank mates to avoid with this plant are fish that will tear it up. Goldfish, large cichlids and/or large plecos will rip up micro sword plants and eat them. 

    Is a Micro Sword Plant Right for You?

    I think that micro sword plants are a great choice for aquarists that want an easy to maintain carpet plant in their tank. 

    Most carpeting plants are very fussy, require high light levels and CO2. By comparison, micro sword is much, much easier.

    Micro sword does require at least medium lighting and a nutrient rich substrate.  This is not a good choice for tanks with gravel or sand.

    If you want a grass-like plant that will grow in gravel, check out dwarf sag.

    I hope you find this article helpful.

    I wish you and your fish the very best!

    Katherine Morgan
    Katherine Morgan

    Hey, there! I'm Katherine from Northwest Florida. An aquarium specialist, I've kept tanks for over two decades, enjoy experimenting with low-tech planted setups and an avid South American cichlid enthusiast.

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