Brazilian Micro Sword Ultimate Growing Guide 2022 (growing, feeding & propagating)

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Brazilian Micro Sword is a small, slow-growing plant that originates from South America. The thin, dark green leaves only grow to a couple of inches high, giving rise to the plant’s common name, Micro Sword.

Brazilian Micro Sword is one of the easiest carpeting plants to grow as it does not require CO2 injection and is happy to grow under low light levels.

This plant is often recommended for beginners, but should not be overlooked by those with a little more experience in aquascaping.

Overview of Brazilian Micro Sword

Brazilian Micro Sword or Lilaeopsis Brasiliensis to give it its scientific name, is a small, creeping plant that is loved by aquascapers thanks to its ability to create a green carpet of thin leaves, even when grown under low lighting.

In the wild, Brazilian Micro Sword can be found growing in slow-flowing rivers as well as ponds and marshes throughout much of Southeastern Brazil as well as parts of Paraguay.

Brazilian Micro Sword will thrive in aquariums that do not have high light or CO2 injection. Its thin, short sword-like leaves grow to around 3″ (7.5cm) tall. This plant will grow well even when grown in cooler water aquariums.

Brazilian Micro Sword Characteristics

Common Name:Brazilian Micro Sword, Micro Sword
Scientific Name:Lilaeopsis brasiliensis
Origins:Southeastern Brazil & Paraguay
Care Level:Easy
Growth Rate:Slow
Light Level:Low
C02 Level:Low
Tank Location:Foreground
Temperature:64°F – 82°F (17.5°C – 27.5°C)
Color:Dark green
Propagation Method:Runners
Maximum Height:3″ (7.5cm)
Minimum Tank Size:10-gallons (38 liters)

Last update on 2024-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Brazilian Micro Sword General Description

Brazilian Micro Sword is a slow-growing plant that is usually placed in the foreground of an aquascape. The thin leaves measure about 1/8″ (3mm) wide and grow to around 3″ (7.5cm) tall. Although slow-growing, Brazilian Micro Sword makes a lush green carpet given enough time and nutrients.

In my experience, Brazilian Micro Sword grows best when planted in either gravel or Fluval Stratum. I have found it does not grow well in a sand substrate.

Brazilian Micro Sword spreads throughout a tank by sending runners out from the main plant. These runners creep through the substrate, popping new plants up every few inches.

This plant is well known for being happy to grow in cooler temperatures, making it ideal for an unheated aquarium housing small fish like White Cloud Mountain Minnows or Variatus Platies.

Image Courtesy: Tropica Plants

Ideal Growing Conditions for Brazilian Micro Sword

Brazilian Micro Sword is a really easy-going plant that does not have any special requirements in order for it to grow well. Providing the extremes of temperature, pH and hardness are avoided, Brazilian Micro Sword will generally be happy. It can even grow in slightly salty brackish tanks.

Brazilian Micro Sword is an extremely forgiving plant which is why it is so often recommended to new aquarium plant growers.

Although it is not a demanding plant, Brazilian Micro Sword does have its preferred growing conditions.


In my experience of growing this plant, the ideal temperature is between 64°F and 82°F (17.5°C and 27.5°C), although I suspect it could grow in water colder even than that.

In my fish room, I currently have two unheated tanks, both growing Brazilian Micro Sword. One tank has a large colony of White Cloud Mountain Minnows and the other has some Sticklebacks. Both tanks probably only hit 64°F (17.5°C) on a good day, and the temperature probably drops lower than that regularly.


Unusually for a carpeting plant, Brazilian Micro Sword is happy to grow even under low light conditions. I have most of my Brazilian Micro Sword growing under Fluval Aquasky lights which are considered moderate lights.

When grown under high lights, Brazilian MIcro Sword does tend to attract a lot of algae thanks to its slow-growing nature.

If grown in high light tanks, care should be taken to either include well-known algae eaters or plant larger plants around the Micro Sword to create some shade.


Brazilian Micro Sword is not a fussy plant when it comes to the substrate, although fine sand should probably be avoided as it seems to enclose the roots too much, which leads to the plant rotting off and dying.

This plant wants to spread by sending out runners, so if gravel is used, the grain size should not be too large otherwise the runners will fail to spread.

CO2 Injection

As mentioned above, Brazilian Micro Sword does not need CO2 injection to grow. It will grow just fine without it. However, studies have shown that it does grow slightly quicker, and certainly, lusher when it is grown with CO2 injected into the aquarium water.

How to Plant Brazilian Micro Sword?

Brazilian Micro Sword is sold by local fish stores around the world. Usually, it is purchased in small pots that contain rock wool. The rock wool is in the pot to give the roots of the plant something to grow in until it reaches its final aquarium.

To plant Brazilian Micro Sword, first, remove the plant from the pot and gently break apart the rock wool. Typically the plant in the pot is actually made up of several small plants that have been bunched together. Carefully take each of the little plants out of the rock wall, taking care not to damage them.

Once all the rock wool has been removed the individual plants can be planted into the aquarium substrate. I find using a pair of aquascaping tweezers is the easiest way as, when I plant using my fingers, I tend to make a hole that is too big and the little plants just float out of the substrate.

Within a few weeks, the Brazilian Micro Sword should start to show signs of new growth.

Fertilizing Brazilian Micro Sword

Brazilian Micro Sword is not an especially greedy feeder. Slower growing plants don’t tend to be. However, to achieve a dense, deep green carpet of Micro Sword you will need to add some fertilizer. There are essentially two different forms of fertilizer to use for this plant. You can use either, but in my experience Micro Sword grows best with both.

Liquid Fertilizer

One way plants take in nutrients is through their leaves and stems. Whilst Brazilian Micro Sword does not have much in the way of a stem, it does have lots of leaves.

Adding a liquid fertilizer weekly will give this plant a massive boost. There is no doubt you can visibly see the difference between plants that receive liquid fertilizer compared to those that don’t.

I have found Easy Green from Aquarium Co-op is the best liquid fertilizer on the market. All you need do is add a few squirts each week and leave the plants to grow.

Root Tabs

Unlike a liquid fertilizer that has to be added weekly, root tabs are small capsules of fertilizer that are placed in the gravel where they slowly dissolve, releasing nutrients where the plants’ roots can take them in.

I have tried many different root tabs over the years and Flourish Root Tabs from Seachem have given me the best results. With my Brazilian Micro Sword, I just add a few root tabs into the gravel every few months.

Root tabs are a super-easy way to get nutrients exactly where the plants need them.

Brazilian Micro Sword Maintenance

Brazilian Micro Sword does not really need a great deal of day-to-day maintenance. In fact, it is extremely low maintenance.

The only real maintenance I have to carry out with my Micro Sword is occasionally having to trim it, and that is rare. If you are growing Brazilian MIcro Sword in a high-end aquascape with CO2 injection then you would perhaps have to trim it more often.

Sometimes an individual blade or two may turn yellow, and you could remove them, but I haven’t ever really found this to be a problem.

Propagating Brazilian Micro Sword

One of the benefits of growing Brazilian Micro Sword is it basically propagates itself. Micro Sword sends runners out under the substrate. These runners develop into new plants.

Once the new plants are established they, in turn, send out runners. This continues until the Brazilian Micro Sword has covered the substrate.

Occasionally you might want to take a small clump of Micro Sword and divide it up to cover a larger area. Whilst this isn’t technically propagating, it is a way to take a small patch and make it cover a larger area.

  • To divide Brazilian Micro Sword, take a small clump from the substrate.
  • Carefully wash any remaining substrate from the root in a small bowl of water.
  • Slowly and carefully pull the plants apart, taking care not to pull too many roots off the individual plants
  • Once the clump is split into as many plants as you need, replant each one individually, ideally using aquascaping tweezers

What Other Plants Can Live With Brazilian Micro Sword

In my experience of growing Brazilian Micro Sword, there aren’t many plants it can’t be grown with. Although Brazilian Micro Sword can grow in lower light conditions, it doesn’t want to be shaded out, so I would avoid growing larger, bushy plants directly over it, but with some careful planning, any other plant will probably work well.

In my fish room right now I have the following plants growing in tanks with Brazilian MIcro Sword;

One of my favorite ways to use Brazilian Micro Sword is as a thick carpet across the front of the tank with a wall of green growing behind it, either using Amazon Swords or Vallisneria as the backdrop.

What Fish Can Live With Brazilian Micro Sword?

Although Brazilian Micro Sword is a hardy plant, care should be taken to select the right fish. Any fish that enjoy digging in the substrate should be avoided as they will dig up the Micro Sword, leading to its demise.

I like to keep lots of smaller fish in the tanks where I have Brazilian Mirco Sword growing. Tetras, Rasboras, and some of the Barbs are my go-to fish.

At present I have the following in tanks with the Micro Sword;

As well as fish, I also keep a lot of shrimp with my Brazilian Micro Sword. Shrimp are great at removing all those uneaten pieces of food that fall deep into the Micro Sword.

I tend to keep both Red Cherry Shrimp and Amano Shrimp. Both of these species of shrimp are also good at keeping the algae at bay.

What Fish To Avoid With Brazilian Micro Sword

As mentioned above, fish that dig should not be kept with Brazilian Micro Sword. Any member of the Geophagus family should be avoided as they continually turn the substrate over looking for food (Geophagus: from the Greek geo, meaning ‘earth’, and phagos, meaning ‘ to eat’).

Both Common and Fancy Goldfish should also not be kept with Brazilian Micro Sword as both species will quickly pull the Micro Sword up and eat it, as will Tinfoil Barbs.

Larger South American Cichlids, including Oscars, should be kept out of the Brazilian Micro Sword tank too as they will destroy almost any plants they are kept with.

Benefits of Growing Brazilian Micro Sword

I am a massive advocate for growing ANY live plants in aquariums. The benefits far outweigh the effort required to grow the plants.

Live plants not only enhance an aquarium and give it that natural feel, but they also absorb some of the waste fish give off.

When a fish goes to the bathroom, its waste is high in ammonia, and ammonia is actually highly toxic to fish.

As live aquarium plants grow, they absorb some of that ammonia, making the water cleaner and safer for the fish. In fact, if you grow enough live plants in a tank, and keep your fish stocking levels low, you can actually use live plants instead of an aquarium filter.

Brazilian Micro Sword offers an added benefit. If you keep shrimp like Red Cherry Shrimp in an aquarium with fish, the fish will naturally pick many of the baby shrimp off. By growing a thick carpet of Brazilian Micro Sword you give the baby shrimp somewhere to hide, increasing the chances of them surviving to adulthood. The same is true for baby fish.

Common Problems Growing Brazilian Micro Sword

Over the years I have had very few problems growing Brazilian Micro Sword. The only real place I have suffered is with algae. On occasions I have grown Brazilian Micro Sword in high light setups, the leaves of the Micro Sword do tend to grow algae. This is in part due to their slow-growing nature.

I have found the solution to this problem is twofold. Firstly, by growing slightly bushier plants above I could reduce the amount of light getting to the Micro Sword, and secondly by adding some well-known algae eaters they kept on top of the problem for me.

Brazilian Micro Sword is a relatively undemanding plant that seems to suffer from very few problems.

Where to Buy Brazilian Micro Sword?

Brazilian Micro Sword is a fairly common plant that should be available in most local fish stores. If your local store has a good plant selection they will almost certainly either have it in stock or be able to order it for you.

If you can not get Brazilian Micro Sword from a local store, I would suggest giving a try. They have a great selection and I have always found their service to be very good.

Last update on 2024-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Brazilian Micro Sword Frequently Asked Questions

Does Brazilian Micro Sword need CO2?

Whilst Brazilian Micro Sword does grow faster and lusher with CO2 injection, CO2 is not required for Brazilian Mirco Sword to grow.

How tall does Brazilian Micro Sword grow?

In my experience, Brazilian Micro Sword will not exceed 3″ (7.5cm) tall

How fast does Brazilian Micro Sword grow?

Brazilian Micro Sword is not a fast-growing plant, although once established the rate of growth does increase. Typically Brazilian Micro Sword will grow an inch or two per month, reaching full height after around month 3.

Can you trim Brazilian Micro Sword?

Yes, Brazilian Micro Sword can be trimmed. In high-end aquascapes, Brazilian Micro Sword is routinely trimmed to create a thick, low-level carpet.

In Conclusion

Brazilian Micro Sword is a fantastic little plant and is an ideal choice for those who are trying carpeting for the first time. Although slow-growing, Brazilian Micro Sword creates few problems for the fish keeper and requires little in the way of routine maintenance.

Providing Brazilian Micro Sword is giving some light and regular fertilizer it will grow well in pretty much any fish tank.

About the Author

I’ve been keeping, breeding, and showing tropical fish for nearly 30 years. Over that time I’ve done it all! I’ve had great success and I’ve made some really foolish mistakes (like the time I bought an Asain Walking Catfish). Read more…
Richard James

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