Amazon Sword Plant – Care, Growth, Propagation & More
The Amazon Sword Plant is a common aquatic plant in aquariums. It originates from the Amazon River, and it is appreciated for its lush green leaves. Numerous varieties are sold under the label “Amazon Sword Plant” with slight differences.
The Echinodorus bleheri variety, for example, has broader leaves when compared to those of the Echinodorus amazonicus.
Although the variations can be overwhelming to differentiate and choose from, they generally require the same parameters and care regimens.
Amazon Sword Appearance & Requirements
The Amazon Sword plant is named for its leaves that look like sword blades. The leaves begin to widen out close to the base, attain optimal thickness as they approach the center, and narrow down towards the top.
The plant’s leaves nearly reach 16 inches or 40 cm but will generally average at 14 inches. It has a short stem from which the leaves extend via thin scapes. The leaves represent most of the Amazon plant’s length, with the plant itself growing to 15 to 16 inches.
The Amazon Sword is ideal for larger aquariums, and it is recommended to keep them in 30-gallon tanks and above. It grows slowly but the leaves can overrun your tank if left unchecked and leave insufficient room for your fish.
Your aquarium should be at least 16 inches high to avoid limiting the plant’s growth.
If you are looking for a beautiful background plant, the Amazon Sword is an excellent candidate. Its green leaves are a lovely sight, particularly against a neutral background.
If left to be, the plant will form a rich green jungle that mimics the underwater world. Note that the plant will exhibit its dark green color only in pristine water conditions.
The Amazon Plant has gained a reputation for being hardy, but it still requires some specific water parameters. The optimal temperature ranges from 70 to 82 °F.
The plant prefers a neutral PH but will survive in a broader range of 6.5 to 7.5. Water hardness should additionally be kept between 3 to 8 dKH.
The plant thrives in moderate to intense lighting. It demands around 10 to 12 hours of full-spectrum light daily. For the best results, ensure that your lighting system delivers 2 to 4 watts of lighting per gallon.
Best Substrate for Planting Amazon Sword
The Amazon Sword Plant needs to be anchored in a substrate as it is a root feeder. It will primarily root well in loose-grained substrates like small-grain gravel, but it will also anchor in sand as well.
The roots need to be well-developed if you want to plant it in sand to avoid fish from uprooting it.
If you would instead use a specialty planting substrate, you can opt for the Seachem Flourite Black Clay Gravel. This specially fracted porous clay gravel substrate is designed for an aquarium with plants.
Its black color will create an appealing contrast with the green color of the Amazon Plant leaves and create a stunning underwater effect.
You can rest easy while using the substrate because it will not affect the PH of the water.
Amazon Sword Compatibility
In its natural habitat, the Amazon Sword lives close to numerous aquatic animals. It will, therefore, thrive in most community aquariums with fish like tetras, guppies, mollies, gouramis, platies, and angelfish.
Most aquarists avoid keeping the plant with fish that are notorious for uprooting and feeding on plants. These include large cichlids like Oscars, Goldfish, plecos, and goldfish.
Plecos are particularly bad tankmates as they like to tear the top layer of the plant off and possibly kill it. Goldfish and the Amazon Sword Plant also share different temperature requirements in addition to the fish grazing on its attractive leaves.
The problem with large cichlids is that they uproot and move the plant across the tank, which will end up killing it.
How to Propagate the Amazon Sword Plant?
It is easy and straightforward to propagate the Amazon Sword. The plant will typically shoot out a long maternal stem from which runners or plantlets will develop. It is easy to tell apart a runner from the other stems as it is firmer and looks different.
Over time, the runners develop root systems and leaves, and it will be time to remove them and plant them in another place. It is advisable to trim the plantlets from the end first to encourage the daughter plants to thrive.
Before planting them on their own, remove any damaged leaves and trim the ends of the roots to boost growth.
It is easier to plant the plantlets in the same tank with the mother plants because the shoots adapt to the environment reasonably early. If you move them to another container, ensure you replicate the setting of the primary aquarium.
The plantlets should be secured to the substrate by using small rocks. It is typical for young Sword plants to appear yellowish, and you should supply them with additional Co2 and other nutrients.
Do Amazon Swords Require Fertilizer?
Amazon Swords require additional nutrients for the appropriate development. When deciding on the method to deliver these nutrients, you need to consider the characteristics of the aquatic plant. Since they are root feeders, they absorb minerals through the roots, which are buried in the substrate.
Injecting nutrients into the water tank for your Amazon Swords will largely be ineffective. Root tabs are recommended for the plant since they are inherently buried in the substrate and are packed with essential nutrients. These root tabs from Aquarium Pharmaceuticals will nourish your plant with iron to promote its lush growth.
How to Maintain the Amazon Sword Plant?
The Amazon Sword is favorably hardy, which means that it does not demand a lot of maintenance. But like all other aquatic plants, a level of keen tending will boost healthy growth.
Trimming is not necessary, but you can do away with unwanted shoots during propagation. The plant will keep expanding in your aquarium, and you can either ensure it has ample space or trim it down regularly. You should also cut out damaged and torn leaves, especially if you keep fish that nibble at it.
The plant will also thrive whether you give it CO2 or not, although adding CO2 is recommended for most aquatic plants.
Amazon Sword Disease & Deficiencies
The Amazon Sword is vulnerable to several conditions and illnesses, including:
If you notice the leaves of the Amazon Sword becoming yellow, it could be a deficiency of iron, potassium, or magnesium. As pointed out above, the plant is a root feeder, and liquid fertilizers may not work well with them. Root tabs packed with iron are especially crucial for newly-grown leaves.
The yellowing of mature leaves mostly indicates potassium deficiency. In this case, you should also determine the nitrogen levels of your tank and ensure they have not fallen below 10 ppm.
The leaves of the Amazon Sword will commonly wrinkle if they are not getting enough potassium. When dealing with curled leaves, ensure the root tabs you get list potassium as a macro-nutrient. New leaves will also appear wrinkled if they have a calcium-deficiency.
Aquarists will typically use additives to increase the water hardness and boost the levels of calcium. You should also source for root tabs with boron as a micron-nutrient since it promotes the health of the leaves.
If you observe rotting roots in your Amazon Sword, it may be an indication of a phosphorous-deficiency. Most aquatic plants need this macronutrient, and you can buy root tabs to deal with the problem.
Rotting roots can also result from burying the plant too deep in the substrate. Ideally, only the roots of the Amazon Sword should be beneath the substrate.
Most aquarists make the mistake of burying the crown as well, which is the part where roots become the stem.
Algal Growth on Leaves
The leaves of the Amazon Sword are vulnerable to algae growth because the plant grows slowly and has an affinity for strong light for many hours. Do not scrape off the algae as you can easily damage the leaves.
Instead, include aquatic animals that feed on algae like the Otocinclus Catfish, Nerite Snails, and the Red Cherry Shrimp. You can also curb the invasion of algae by maintaining suitable water conditions in the aquarium. Invest in a good filtration system, and do regular water changes for the excellent health of the plants and fish.
Brown Leaf Tips and Veins
The leaves of the Amazon Sword can have brown veins if they are not getting enough magnesium. Most root tabs will, however, have this micronutrient.
It is also common for new leaves to have brown leaves, but they will gradually become green. Once you observe the whole leaf becomes brown, cut it out because it will release nitrates when it dies off.
Does Amazon Sword Produce Flowers?
Yes, the Amazon Sword will sometimes produce runners with flowers in the right conditions. These runners will typically grow towards the surface, and the flowers will gradually grow new plants.
The long and lush leaves of the Amazon Sword Plant make it perfect for most aquariums. It is regarded as an easy plant because of the minimal level of maintenance needed.
The plant will also fit as a background plant in most community aquariums with popular species like guppies, tetras, mollies, and platies.
Be aware that large cichlids and goldfish will graze on the plant’s leaves.