How to Grow Amazon Sword in Your Fish Tank
By Eddie Waithaka @aquariawise
Amazon sword plant is a rosette species that is popular for planted aquarium. Its simple, majestic beauty and minimal care requirement make it a perfect choice for most aquascapes.
The plant is also resilient and easy-to-start in loosely packed gravel or sand.
However, Amazon sword can grow up to 18 inches tall and require a big tank, hight-lights, CO2, and fertilization, which is not easy for beginner planted tank owners.
For that reason, this article will take you through everything you need to know before you establish Amazon swords in your fish tank.
We’ll look at:
- Light requirement
- Substrate: Sand and Gravel
- Care: Trimming and more
How to Plant Amazon Sword Plant in Aquarium
Amazon sword is quite resilient, so planting it in a fish tank should not be hard. It will grow in an aquarium substrate, though not floating or attached to driftwood or lava rocks, like aquatic moss.
— Start your Amazon sword in a loosely packed substrate, such as sand or fine gravel, ensuring the roots get enough space to spread because the plant can grow to 12 to 18 inches high, which means the roots travel deep and wide.
— Larger substrates with more spaces between each granule, like Fluorite, will reduce compaction and anaerobic conditions and are best to start root feeders, like Amazon swords.
— Amazon sword is large aquarium plant species with broad, tall leaves, so plant it in a large fish tank. If you want it in a small 5 to 20-gallon, trim your plant regularly to keep it from overtaking your aquarium.
— Assuming the primary purpose for planting your Amazon sword is to beautify your tank, place the plant at the back of the aquarium where it’s best suited (unless you have longer plants). Having it mid-tank or foreground will create a visual obstacle, although it might be an ideal mid-plant in a lightly planted tank for skittish fish and critters to hide.
— Once you are done planting your Amazon sword, add phosphorus and Iron-rich fertilizer to maintain healthy growth, and remember to use a rich substrate at the planting stage, moderate light, and CO2 (high tech).
— Amazon swords love iron in the water column but like it better when fed through the roots. Plant them with chelated iron because it is easier for plants to absorb than regular Fe.
— Because Amazon swords are heavy root feeders, use root tabs (fertilizer) in the substrate once every week to nourish your seedling. Add them two inches from the base of the plant, one on each side.
— You can also use water column fertilizer (Excel daily. Iron and comprehensive every other day), especially if you have other plants in the tank.
— Please note that the immersed leaves on your Amazon sword plants will die off in a week or two, then submerged leaves will emerge. Proper fertilization, CO2, and light is advised.
— Your Amazon plants may be demanding and grow slowly, depending on the species you have. For instance, Echinodorous Bleheri grows like a weed, while Echinodorous Aflemi can take a long time to establish.
To dispel any doubt or confusion…
…amazon swords are root feeders that will only grow in a substrate (not floating or on rocks and wood). You also do not need to dry-start your plants (like mosses: Monte Carlo and Java Moss). They will grow submerged (although emersed leaves must melt to give way for submerged foliage).
Your Amazon sword will start slowly at the back with little effect, but once established, it will tower over mid-ground and foreground plants to create a third plant level.
How to Propagate Amazon Sword Plant
Mature Amazon swords produce by shooting a single long stem with runners where a baby plant forms every 3 to 4 inches. To propagate you only have to remove the plantlets and start them in a rich substrate.
If you have a large Amazon sword plant and want to spread it out in your fish tank, send out a short runner in the substrate a few inches from the original plant. The runner will grow tiny roots and a small crown close to the surface. It will then develop a stem, and a few leaves will follow and eventually grow into a plantlet, with the runner still attached to the original plant.
After your propagate has grown several leaves and sturdy roots, snip the platelets from the runner and place it where you want them.
You can also wait for the runners to develop mini plants without sending them out on the substrate. Let the plantlet develop a crown, stems, and roots before you snip them. Clip the furthest plants on the runners with a bit or roots (attached to the cutting) and plant it with the crown above the ground and roots semi-exposed.
You should have 3 to 4 baby plants growing off the runners, between 3 and 4 inches apart.
Use a knife or scissors to snip the baby plants or twist them off with your hand below the crown.
Amazon sword runners look like stems but grow crowns, leaves, and roots along their length that later develop into mini plants.
The crown will be between the stem and roots and looks like a white bulb.
You can trim the first roots that develop to encourage new growth, then plant the baby in the substrate with the crown and a few roots exposed.
Please note is Amazon sword is not like other rhizome aquarium plants like Anubias where you split the rhizome into two parts and replant them.
Amazon sword plants might take a while before runners start producing new baby plants, which is normal, so you may need to be quite patient.
Amazon Sword Plant Light Requirement
Amazon Sword Plants need 2 to 3 watts of light per gallon of water in the aquarium (3 to 4 WPG for high growth). The ideal PAR value is between 30 and 40 micromoles per square meter per second (µmol/m²/s) for moderate growth and between 40 and 50 µmol/m²/s for high growth.
Allow your plants 8 to 10 hours of light daily, taking to account of light from the sun if your aquarium is near a window or in a adequately lit room.
Amazon Sword Plants can also grow in low-light (< 2 WPG, below 30 PAR), low-tech conditions. However, their growth rate may be slower, and the leaves may become elongated and thinner than usual.
Low light conditions will also limit the amount of CO2 and fertilizer you can dose your Amazon sword plants because they need more light to synthesize these nutrients and boost their growth.
Flourescent T5 aquarium light will offer adequate lighting for your plants, but LED full-spectrum between 6000 and 7000 K will do much better.
Ensure the light is evenly distributed across your fish tank to promote an even growth of all your Amazon sword plants. Raise your aquarium light if you notice dead spots (plants) towards the edges (corners) of the tank.
A Finnex stringray light will work in a low-tech 10 to 20-gallon tank planted with Amazon sword, but for larger tanks, I advice using a Fluval 3.0-planted LED, Fluval Aquasky Light or Hygger aquarium plant light.
Nicrew or Beamworks Vivio full spectrum lights are decent alternatives for your Amazon sword planted tank as well.
Amazon Sword Plant Temperature Range
Amazon sword plant is a tropical aquatic plant. It can tolerate a temperature range anywhere from 72° F to 82 ° F (22° C to 28° C), but I found out it grows best at 75° F to 78 ° F (25° C to 27° C) in a freshwater water aquarium.
Your Amazon sword plant growth will slow down if your water temperature is too low and wilt and drop when the temperature is too high.
It’s also important to note that sudden temperature changes, such as drafts or rapid fluctuations, can affect Amazon swords’ health. Therefore, it’s best to maintain a stable temperature range in your aquarium and avoid exposing the plant to extreme temperature changes.
While Amazon Sword plant can tolerate slight fluctuations in temperature, you should not keep it in cold water below 68°F (20°C). Tropical plants in cold tanks often have stunted growth and develop yellow foliage.
In addition to lighting, your Amazon sword also require nutrients in the tank water and substrate especially in a heavily planted aquarium.
The plant will draw most of the nutrients from the water, particularly nitrates and phosphates, while a rich substrate will help to maintain healthy growth.
On the other hand, supplementation will feed the plant with nutrients that are not present in the water like Iron.
Therefore, fertilize Amazon sword regularly with a root tab or put down a layer of fluorite sand or laterite under your substrate.
When choosing a substrate initially, go with a loose, rich option and remember to Amazon sword has a strong root system which requires a large amount of substrate to develop effectively.
A brilliant hack that some aquarist use is to place two layers of substrate in the tank. The bottom layer is usually a rich and fine base that can support root development. While the layer on top, mostly gravel, anchor the plants and improve the aesthetics of the aquarium floor.
As far as water parameters in your planted aquarium go, Amazon sword is fairly adaptable meaning there is nothing much to worry about.
The plant prefers a temperature range between 72°F and 82°F with the ideal ph range anywhere from 6.5 to 7.5.
Testing your tank water every week is also quite important to ensure all parameters are stable.
To maintain the tank in proper conditions, you’ll need a strong filtration system in place and perform 10 percent water changes every week or 25 percent after every other week.
Amazon Sword Tankmates
Amazon sword plant is generally a good choice for a community fish tank especially one with calm fish that won’t damage plant parts.
However, the plant is quite hardy and will handle a reasonable number of aggressive species though not as rough as Oscars, Jack Dempsey, and large cichlids.
Fish that snack on live plants are not the best in tanks planted with Amazon sword especially when planted as a decorative element in your tank.
Add Amazon sword in aquariums with fish that love heavily planted tanks like betta and gouramis. The numerous leaves also provide great cover for small fish trying to avoid bullies and young fry in danger of being consumed.
On top of that, Amazon sword does well with or without other plant companions. However, due to its large size and the possibility of outgrowing its designated space, you should consider putting it with smaller aquarium plants.
Amazon Sword Overview
Echinodorus grisebachii or Echinodorus Amazonius commonly called Amazon sword plant is native to Cuba, Central America, and South America as far South as Brazil and Bolivia.
The plant can grow submerged up to the leaves, which are lancelot or narrowly oval. However, stores sell different varieties under the same Amazon sword plants name which includes Echinodorus Bleheri which has broad leaves.
Moreover, beware the name Amazon sword may also be used to refer to similar aquatic plants that differ slightly from true amazon sword.
By and large, true plants of this species have short rhizomes, numerous lance-shaped leaves that are pale to dark-green with sharply pointed tips and short stems.
It also an amphibious plant that will grow either partially or fully submerged.
Amazon sword makes a great focal point if used singly, but when grown with other aquarium plants, it’s used to create an interesting aquarium background.
Hope you enjoy your planted fish tank.