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Amazon Sword
Amazon sword

Amazon Sword Care Sheet

Overview 

Whether you’re setting up a new freshwater aquarium or looking to enhance your current one, Amazon sword plants are a popular choice for adding lush greenery to underwater aquascapes. Officially known as Echinodorus grisebachii or Echinodorus amazonicus, the Amazon sword offers vibrant green color and height for your aquarium—sometimes growing up to 16 inches tall.

Dive into the deep end with us to explore this beautiful aquatic plant and all its details—from appearance and care needs to propagation and more.

Appearance 

The brighter, the better, and Amazon swords certainly deliver. Characterized by their colorful green, lush leaves, these plants can make a wonderful addition to your aquarium.

There are a few types of Amazon swords, and they differ slightly in appearance. The classic E. grisebachii or E. amazonicus variety has relatively long, narrow, pointed leaves with thin stems that grow vertically from the root. They can grow up to 16 inches tall with the right water conditions and make an excellent focal piece for your aquarium.

Other varieties of Amazon sword plants—like the Echinodorus bleheri—have broader leaves. The leaves also make up most of the plant’s height; these varieties grow up to 14 inches. In general, all sword plants get their name from the way their leaves resemble the long, thin blades of swords.

Healthy Amazon sword leaves will have a rich, vibrant color that ranges from light to slightly dark green. However, if you notice your sword plant leaves turning brown, red, yellow or clear, it’s a sign your plant requires attention. Continue reading to learn about Amazon sword care needs.

Amazon sword plant care

Known for being a relatively easy aquatic plant to care for, Amazon sword plants are robust. They can grow in a variety of environments, either partially or fully submerged—provided you follow a few basic guidelines.

The minimum aquarium size for an Amazon sword to grow is 10 gallons, but it might need constant trimming so it doesn’t outgrow the space. If you want your sword to reach its full potential, then the sky is the limit on aquarium size—between 20 and 30 gallons is typically a great starting point. Your plant will be able to grow vertically without overcrowding any of your aquatic life.

To help your sword plant thrive, keep your aquarium temperature between 68 and 82°F. Complete water changes regularly, ideally changing 10–25% of the aquarium’s water every two to four weeks.

Another important part of Amazon sword care is maintaining a steady pH level . It’s normal for the pH to deviate slightly, but keeping it within the range of 6.5–7.5 is ideal. If you can, maintain your aquarium water at a hardness between 3 and 8 KH.

While the roots of Amazon sword plants are robust, pervasive growers, setting them up with loose plant substrate encourages the roots to grow and create a solid foundation throughout the substrate. You can use standard gravel and sand substrates or specialized plant substrates that are rich in nutrients to support your plant’s growth. Pour your substrate across the bottom of your aquarium at least 2.5 inches deep.

Next in your habitat setup will be the lighting. As many plant parents know, getting the right light conditions for your plants will greatly impact their long-term health. Provide around 10–12 hours a day of full-spectrum lighting to help keep your Amazon Sword healthy. If your lighting conditions aren’t quite right, you’ll soon see signs in your plant that something’s wrong. Too much or too low of light can lead to algae growth on the leaves or discoloration.

How to plant an Amazon sword 

If you’re wondering how to grow Amazon sword aquarium plants, the process is fairly simple. Before you plant your Amazon sword, inspect it for discolored leaves and remove any that are not bright green or have scratches or tears in them. Once you’ve filled your habitat with at least 2.5 inches of substrate, choose the spot for your plant and dig a small hole with your fingers. Amazon swords can make a wonderful centerpiece for any aquarium, so planting it in the center of your enclosure can be ideal. Place your plant’s roots in the substrate and make sure they are anchored well but leave the root’s crown exposed and visible above the substrate.

Amazon Sword Maintenance and Care 

To support the long-term health of your Amazon sword plant, maintain optimal aquarium and water conditions mentioned above. These include: 

  • Minimum habitat size of 10 gallons 
  • Aquarium temperature between 68 and 82°F 
  • Change 10–25% of aquarium water every two to four weeks 
  • Maintain pH levels between 6.5 and 7.5
  • Water hardness between 3 and 8 KH 
  • 2.5 inches of substrate
  • 10–12 hours of full-spectrum lighting per day

Trimming your sword plant may be necessary to avoid overwhelming the aquatic life and other plants in the habitat. Also consider aquarium plant supplements to further support your Amazon sword’s health.

Common problems 

While hardy Amazon swords can grow in a variety of conditions, they’re not immune to issues. The good news is that the plant will show signs that something is wrong, allowing you to fix the problem and restore your plant’s health.

If you notice any signs of dying or decaying leaves, it’s recommended to trim them off right at the stem to help stimulate and direct regrowth . Yellowing leaves can be a sign that aquarium conditions aren’t right. Your habitat may need more nutrients, or there may be concerns with your lighting. Be careful not to mistake young leaves—characterized by a lighter green—for yellowing leaves. Young leaves will grow and deepen in color as they mature.

If your plant’s leaves start turning brown, red or clear, trim off the discolored leaves without disturbing the rest of the plant and consider some potential solutions. Brown or red leaves can signify that your plant isn’t getting enough light, and their discoloration reveals its inability to conduct adequate photosynthesis.

Too much light or light that is too intense can cause an overgrowth of algae, but poor aquarium conditions can also encourage algae. Because of the Amazon sword’s lighting requirements, it’s recommended to test and improve your water conditions before reducing light levels. You can try changing 10–25% of the aquarium water every two to four weeks, along with vacuuming the substrate and cleaning algae from the walls and décor. If you notice frequent, excessive algae growth, you can also look into CO2 aquarium kits. Some potential aquarium mates can also help regulate algae growth, including Amano shrimp, nerite snails and otocinclus catfish.

Amazon sword propagation 

Propagation is the process of natural reproduction, where the Amazon sword develops small blossoms sprouting from its long stems. First, you must allow your original sword plant to grow a strong foundation of roots and develop new leaves independently. In optimal aquarium settings, long maternal stems will rise from the center of your plant. These stems may initially look like leaves, but the branch will remain thin and stem-like—even if it grows as long as the tallest leaves.

At this point, tiny sword blossoms should start to crop up at nodes on the maternal stem. Allow these blossoms to develop some roots before splitting them off. Remove the small offshoots from the stem and plant elsewhere in your substrate. If you’re moving the plantlets to another aquarium, be sure the new environment is similar, from substrate to water parameters, because new shoots from the parent plant can struggle to adjust to new environments.

Aquarium mates and compatibility

Whether you’re a beginner fish parent or a seasoned aquarist, viewing each part of your aquarium as part of the whole underwater ecosystem helps lead to making better choices and fostering a healthy, thriving ecosystem full of life.

If you’ve already planted an Amazon sword in your habitat—or you’re considering which plants would work with your aquarium setup—here are some ideas for good mates: 

Species to avoid if you have Amazon sword in your aquarium: 

FAQs about Amazon Swords

Amazon sword plants typically grow to about 15–16 inches. It’s recommended to have at least 10–12 inches of growth space above the substrate to give your sword plant plenty of room to grow.

These aquatic plants typically need about 10–12 hours of full-spectrum light every day. While they are resilient and can grow in a variety of conditions, proper lighting is usually paramount to Amazon swords’ ability to reach their full potential. Check out our aquarium lighting solutions to get set up.

Yes, the Amazon sword plant is known for being relatively easy to grow. It’s considered one of the easiest aquarium plants to maintain for beginners and experienced aquarists alike.

Sword plants are normally resilient and can grow in a variety of substrates with the proper care and water conditions. Amazon swords will usually take root in gravel or sand substrates. You can also choose a specialized aquarium plant substrate enhanced with nutrients and minerals to encourage further growth.