Amazon Sword plants are probably one of the most recognizable plants, and certainly one of the most popular plants in the freshwater fishkeeping hobby. Amazon Sword plants have been in the hobby for 50 years or more, and their popularity has barely wained.
Amazon Sword plants are beautiful, architectural, and incredibly hardy, making them an ideal plant for those who are new to aquatic plants.
As I sit and look around my fish room, I think I have more Amazon Sword plants in my tanks than any other plant.
Overview of Amazon Sword
The Amazon Sword plant is a fairly large growing, broad-leaved plant that can be found in the wild growing naturally from Central America down to Bolivia.
Amazon Sword is often recommended as a plant for beginners due to its hardy nature. It will live in just about any water parameters it is given, and it will grow well, even without additional fertilizer being added to the water column.
The leaves of Amazon Swords are a bright green color and it develops a very strong root system that anchors into the substrate well, making it suitable even for more boisterous fish.
Amazon Sword Plant Characteristics
|Common Name:||Amazon Sword Plant|
|Scientific Name:||Echinodorus grisebachii|
|Origins:||Central America, Cuba, and Northern South America|
|Light Level:||Low to moderate|
|Temperature:||62°F – 82°F (16°C – 27.5°C)|
|Maximum Height:||20″ (50cm)|
|Minimum Tank Size:||20-gallons (76 liters)|
Amazon Sword Plant Origins
There are many different plants that have given the name Amazon Sword. However, when most fish keepers refer to the plant Amazon Sword, they are in fact referring to Echinodorus grisebachii.
Many local fish stores will also often also sell Echinodorus amazonicus which has the common name Narrow Leafed Amazon Sword Plant. Luckily, care requirements for both plants are almost identical, so it doesn’t matter too much which plant you buy under the name Amazon Sword.
Amazon Swords plant are native to Cuba, Central America, and parts of Northern South America, often growing as far south as Bolivia.
Amazon Sword General Description
The Amazon Sword plant is generally undemanding. It grows to as tall as perhaps 20″ (50cm) in the right conditions, but will still grow tall even when conditions are sub-optimum.
Although Amazon Sword plants have been kept in aquariums for decades, it has become increasingly popular with the rise of aquascaping over the last 5 to 10 years. The tall, broad leaves make the perfect backdrop to tanks the world over.
This plant is not fussy about whether its water is hard or soft, or what the pH might be. It also tolerates a wide range of temperatures, meaning it can be used in any number of setups. In my own fish room, you will find Amazon Sword plants in tanks ranging from Fancy Goldfish, which are kept at around 62°F (16°C) to Discus who have their water nearer 82°F (25.5°C).
Amazon Swords have strong roots which run deep into the substrate in search of nutrients. These plants are hungry and consume root tabs like they are candy.
All the leaves on an Amazon Sword plant grow from the base, which is essentially a short, stocky stem. As the leaves grow up and out they form a bushy, dense plant. As the common name suggests, the board leaves take on a rough sword-like shape, going from narrow at the base, to wide in the middle before tapering off again towards the tip.
Ideal Tank Conditions for Amazon Sword Plants
As mentioned above, the Amazon Sword is an undemanding plant that grows well almost no matter what water parameters they find themselves growing in. With that said, Amazon Swords do of course have their preferred water conditions.
Amazon Sword plants can tolerate a wide range of water temperatures. Generally speaking, provided the aquarium water is somewhere between 62°F and 82°F (16°C and 27.5°C) the plant will grow well. It is one of the few plants that can be grown in Discus and German Blue Ram tanks when the temperature is really cranked up.
When it comes to lighting, again the Amazon Sword is relatively unfussy. Providing it is given a half-decent aquarium light, this plant will grow well. In my experience, the Fluval Aquasky delivers the perfect amount of light and makes Amazon Swords grow really well.
One of the few parts of an aquarium setup that does matter to Amazon Sword plants is the substrate. These plants set down long, strong roots that run deep down into the substrate in search of nutrients. Amazon Swords are hungry feeders.
Over the years I have grown Amazon Sword plants in gravel, sand, and Fluval Stratum. Essentially, whatever substrate you choose to grow Amazon Sword plants in, make sure it is deep and use plenty of root tabs (like these ones from Seachem)
I like to have my substrate a minimum of 3″ (7.5cm) deep in the areas where I plan to grow Amazon Swords.
Amazon Sword Plant Maintenance
Truth be told, Amazon Sword Plants do not require a great deal of maintenance. Providing they have sufficient nutrients at their roots, they will grow away, often for years at a time, without any assistance from the fish keeper.
Occasionally, a leaf may turn yellow and need removing, but Amazon Sword plants don’t need any trimming to speak of.
When Amazon Sword plants are really happy, they will throw out a baby plant on a runner. Once the new plant starts to show roots it can be cut from the mother plant and planted into the substrate. All being well the new plant will quickly grow away and establish itself.
Fertilizing Amazon Sword Plants
As discussed already, Amazon Sword plants are root feeders. In fact, they take up the majority of their nutrients through their roots and very few nutrients through their leaves and stems.
The best way I have found to fertilize Amazon Swords is by using root tabs. Root tabs are small capsules that are placed in the substrate near root feeding plants like Amazon Swords. Over time the capsule dissolves and releases the fertilizer directly where the plants need it.
Unlike liquid fertilizers that are added to the water column, root tabs should have little to no effect on your water parameters.
Through many years of testing, I have found that Flourish Root Tabs, which are made by Seachem, give me the best results when used with Amazon Sword plants.
I usually place 2 or 3 root tabs around the base of each Amazon Sword. Depending on the size of the sword plant, the root tabs usually need replacing every 3 or 4 months.
Propagating Amazon Sword Plants
Amazon Sword Plants multiply by sending out runners with small, baby plants attached to them. When the plants send out a runner, it initially looks like a thin stem with a small leaf on the end, but it does eventually grow into a new plant.
There is no way to actively propagate Amazon Swords, you have to wait until the plant is ready to throw out a runner with a baby plant on it.
Growing Amazon Swords under a good light and making sure there are plenty of root tabs around the base will help get the plant into the best shape possible, but it is still a waiting game. When the Amazon Sword is ready it will send the runner out.
It is important not to cut off the new plant too soon. Always wait until roots begin to appear, then the plantlet can be cut off and replanted.
Which Fish Can Amazon Swords Be Housed With?
Amazon Sword plants are so hardy and versatile that they can be housed with pretty much any fish in the hobby. Over the years I have kept them with Fancy Goldfish, Oscars, Discus, and of course many different Tetras as well as Guppies, Mollies, and Swordtails.
Other fish that do well when kept in tanks with Amazon Sword plants include;
One fish to be aware of that should never be kept with Amazon Sword plants are Bristlenose Plecos. Bristlenose Plecos will destroy Amazon Sword plants by eating them. I have witnessed a single Bristlenose Pleco reduce a large Amazon Sword plant to almost a stump overnight.
Where to Buy Amazon Sword Plants?
Amazon Swords plants are available to buy at pretty much any local fish store that sells plants. It is an extremely common plant that can be purchased the world over.
If you do not have a good local fish store, take a look at the WetPlants.com website. I have always found their plants to be really high quality, and their customer service is excellent.
I believe Amazon Swords are one of those plants that fit into almost any aquarium setup. Their broad, bright green leaves add height and structure to every tank they grow in. Whether you have a single specimen in the corner of your tank or an entire wall of them across the back of your aquarium, Amazon Sword plants always look stunning.