The Complete Guide to Amazon Sword Care

Amazon sword (scientific name Echinodorus grisebachii or Echinodorus amazonicus) is one of the most popular aquarium plants. It is undemanding, good looking and grows fast – this is all both beginner and experienced aquarists need. We’ll tell you how to cultivate Amazon sword properly, how to care about it and grow it. Let us mention right away, that there are some issues with classification of this plant kind.

Plant Origin and Habitat in the wild

The Amazon sword (Echinodorus grisebachii) is a popular and beautiful aquatic plant that is native to the Amazon River basin in South America. It belongs to the family Alismataceae and is known for its lush and vibrant green leaves, making it a sought-after choice for aquarium enthusiasts.

This Amazon sword species even has two Latin names. Its first and classical name Echinodorus grisebachii ‘Bleherae’ the plant got from the name of a German plant biologist August Heinrich Rudolf Grisebach. Echinodorus amazonicus – most common name.

It is challenging to classify Amazon sword species for just one reason – they perfectly intersect and every day many hybrids appear. If you search for Amazon sword on Amazon.com, you will see completely different plants referred to as Echinodorus grisebachii. This isn’t a big problem, since their requirements for growing conditions are more or less the same.

Geographical range: the plant was discovered in Cuba. Later, in 1955 this species was found in Central America. When studying herbarium materials it was determined that expansion of this plant species is much wider, than it was considered and it looks like Echinodorus grisebachii is encountered in tropical Central and South America. Except Cuba the plant can be found in Costa Rica, Colombia, Surinam and Brazil.

FamilyAlismataceae
Scientific NameEchinodorus grisebachii; Echinodorus amazonicus; Echinodorus bleheri
Common NamesAmazon sword, Sword plant,
OriginBrazil, South America
PlacementMid ground or Background Plant
Maximum Sizeup to 16 Inches
Care LevelEasy
Growth RateModerate
PropagationVegetative; runners
Feed TypeRoot Feeder
CO2 RequirementNo
LightingMild to moderate
Flow RateLow
Temperature Range60.8-82.4°F
pH Range6.5 – 7.5
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Description

The Amazon sword typically has long, sword-shaped leaves that can grow to be around 20-30 centimeters (8-12 inches) in length, depending on the specific variety and occupy quite large area. However, you can keep Amazon sword in a rather small tank as well. The leaves are typically dark green, sometimes with reddish undertones, and have prominent veins running through them. The plant also develops a robust root system, which helps it anchor firmly in the substrate.

The plant grows uniformly all the year round.

It has incredible blooming – not too dark and not too bright green, but just the right lively green color that can make any tank look natural and bright. It also looks good when thickly planted and if you put it as a single plant, the astonishing structure of the bush with ‘weeping’ tips of its leaves is clearly seen.

Difficulties in keeping

The Amazon sword is very undemanding in terms of water hardness and its pH. Amazon sword requires nutrientious and well silted up substrate.

Amazon sword can be recommended to beginner aquarists as a very enduring and undemanding plant in terms of growing conditions. It perfectly prepares the tank for more demanding plants and takes active part in cycle of matter by maintaining biological balance in the tank.

The growth rate of Amazon sword can vary depending on various factors such as lighting, water conditions, nutrient availability, and care. On average, Amazon swords tend to have a moderate growth rate.

Under optimal conditions with sufficient lighting, nutrient-rich substrate, and regular fertilization, Amazon swords can grow about 1-2 inches (2.5-5 centimeters) per month. This growth rate may vary, and some varieties of Amazon swords may grow slightly faster or slower than others.

Care and keeping in a tank

Can amazon sword grow out of water?

Yes, Amazon sword have the ability to grow both submerged underwater and emersed out of the water. In their natural habitat, they often experience seasonal variations in water levels, allowing them to adapt to different conditions.

When grown emersed, the Amazon sword will develop leaves that are slightly different from those grown submerged. Emersed leaves tend to be narrower, longer, and have a more elongated shape compared to the broader submerged leaves. The coloration of the emersed leaves can also vary, sometimes displaying reddish or bronzy hues.

When transitioning from emersed to submerged growth or vice versa, Amazon swords may undergo some adjustments and changes in leaf structure. It’s important to note that the plant may experience a temporary period of adjustment when transitioning to a new environment, but it should adapt and continue to grow.

Water temperature

This Amazon sword species is good for any tank. Water temperature suitable for the plant may vary within 21 – 28 °C. The ideal water temperature for Amazon swords falls within the range of 24-28°C. This temperature range provides optimal conditions for their growth and overall health. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t keep this plant in a tank with cold water permanently.

Water parameters

Water hardness may also vary over a wide range. Unlike most of Echinodorus species this representative of the kind successfully grows both in slightly acidic and alkaline water. The pH should be maintained between 6.5 and 7.5, with a slightly acidic pH around 6.8 being preferable.

They can tolerate a range of water hardness, but a general guideline is to keep the hardness between 6 to 10 KH for optimal growth. However, they can adapt to harder or softer water conditions to some extent.

It prefers fresh regularly renewed water.

Lighting

Amazon sword is not demanding in terms of illumination as well. It can stand long-term shadowing, but at that its leaves become paler colored. Type of lighting isn’t of high importance for the plant. It’s important to ensure a good light spectrum that includes both red and blue light for proper photosynthesis.

It can be quite ok with having just natural light, if the tank is located near the side wall close to the window. LED or luminescence lamp will perfectly do as a source of artificial light. You can keep Amazon sword at low level of lighting, but the plant develops better at brighter illumination. Light day duration should be about 8 hours.

Substrate

Does amazon sword need substrate?

All Amazon sword species prefer nutritious and well silted substrate. These plants have very strong root system, which requires large amount of substrate to develop effectively. That’s why thickness of the substrate where Amazon sword grows should be at least 7 cm.

Type of the substrate doesn’t have significant impact on the plant growth rate. It is more important, that the substrate has enough of nutrients.

Nutrients

As a rule the plant doesn’t require any special mineral feed. Provided with good growing conditions, when the plant grows fast, but it has a lot of rivals, it may come short of iron and potassium. When the plant is short of iron, its leaves get yellow and its new leaves grow deformed.

When there is lack of potassium in the tank water, holes appear in the leaves, especially in the old ones.

CO2

While not mandatory, supplementing CO2 in a planted aquarium can promote faster and healthier growth of Amazon swords.

Water flow

WModerate water flow is generally suitable for Amazon swords. Avoid excessive water movement, as it may uproot or damage the plants. Adequate circulation helps in distributing nutrients and preventing the buildup of detritus around the plant.

How to plant amazon sword

We should mention the rules of Amazon sword planting. The thing is, that in nursery garden the plants are grown in so called dry form, i.e. in their emersed form, which is more cost effective.

Amazon sword easily transforms into its submerged form, however you should follow some rules, which will ease the adaptation process for the plant.

First, you should trim the plant roots with scissors approximately up to 2 cm long, they will rot off anyway and the new ones will develop in the substrate. Don’t plant it too deep.

You will see a white zone at the bush base and it has to be buried, while the green part of the bush should be left above the substrate.

When the plant starts growing and new leaves appear, you can remove the old ones. Once one new leave develops completely, cut off 1-2 old ones. Continue doing so till you gradually remove all the old leaves, since Amazon sword will shed them off anyway.

But if you cut them all off at once, it will severely weaken the plant. So, these are all simple rules you need to follow.

How to trim amazon sword

Trimming an Echinodorus is a straightforward process. Regular pruning helps maintain the plant’s health, control its size, and encourage new growth. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to trim an Amazon sword:

  1. Prepare your tools: Gather a pair of clean and sharp scissors or pruning shears.
  2. Identify the leaves to trim: Observe the Amazon sword plant and identify any older or damaged leaves, as well as any leaves that have become too long and are obstructing the overall aesthetic of the aquarium.
  3. Choose the appropriate leaves to trim: It’s best to trim the leaves closest to the base of the plant. Select leaves that are not fully developed, healthy, and have a bad coloration. Avoid trimming too many leaves at once, as it can shock the plant. It’s generally recommended to remove no more than one-third of the total leaves at a time.
  4. Trim the leaves: Using the scissors, carefully cut the selected leaves near the base, as close to the substrate as possible. Make clean, precise cuts to avoid damaging the remaining parts of the plant. You can also trim any damaged or decaying portions of the leaves if necessary.
  5. Dispose of the trimmed leaves: Remove the trimmed leaves from the aquarium to prevent them from decomposing and affecting water quality. You can discard them in a compost bin or waste bin.
  6. Monitor the plant: After trimming, closely observe the plant for a few days to ensure it recovers well from the pruning. New growth should start emerging relatively soon.

Propagation

In a tank Amazon sword uses almost only vegetative reproduction. Under water the plant shoots flower-bearing stems with runners and lots of new young plants grow on them, they grow horizontally along the substrate. After their leaves form a rosette and their root system appears, you can separate them and plant on a new place. Ensure that each new plantlet has a sufficient root system to ensure successful establishment.

Sources:

  1. https://tropica.com/en/plants/plantdetails/Echinodorusgrisebachii’Bleherae'(071)/4512
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echinodorus_grisebachii
  3. https://www.tfhmagazine.com/articles/aquatic-plants/echinodorus-grisebachii