The Amazon Sword (Echinodorus Bleheri) is a very popular aquarium plant originating from the Amazon River Basin, as its name already suggests. Amazon Sword is usually a generic name for a few different species, of which Echinodorus Bleheri and Echinodorus Amazonicus are the most common.
Although their features are slightly different, they have basically the same needs and requirements.
This plant is very commonly found in pet stores all around the world and a very popular beginner plant, as it is very easy to care for and not very fussy.
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This tropical plant will do best in a tank larger than 20 gallons, as it can grow up to 24 inches high. Water pH should be between 6.5-7.5 and temperature between 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit. It will accept soft to moderately hard water, so you can plant it in many tanks.
As this is a very tall plant, deep tanks are preferred over wide, shallow ones, although the Amazon Sword will also live well partially submerged.
Provide 10-12 hours of moderate light per day, at around 3 watts per gallon; you can use a specialty plant bulb or fluorescent tube, as well as a high quality LED. Always be careful with the amount of light, as too much will allow for algae growth or even “burns” on the leaves.
Planting your Amazon Sword
Plant the Amazon Sword in small grain gravel or ideally in a specialty planting substrate. The substrate should be quite loose to allow for easy rooting, but it will still root in sand as well.
Be very careful while planting it in sand, as it will be very easy for large fish to uproot it if roots are not well developed.
The Amazon Sword will make an excellent background plant or a nice centerpiece for large tanks, as it grows high and wide. Avoid planting it in small tanks (under 20 gallons) or trimming the leaves constantly to avoid it from overgrowing in the tank and leaving too little swimming space for the fish.
In the wild, this plant can be found growing partially submerged. If you plan on keeping it that way, keep in mind that for optimal growth the water level should always be above the leaf blades.
Care for your Amazon Sword
Fertilize the water column after the weekly water changes to keep the plant healthy and bright green. Iron is the most important nutrient, as well as CO2 root tabs. Unlike many plants, the Amazon Sword will still thrive and grow well even without the CO2 supplementation.
Constantly check for and trim torn or damaged leaves, as they won’t recover. This way the plant may redirect its energy to healthy extremities and look good as well.
Algae are a common problem for this plant, as it lives in warm, tropical water. Whenever you notice algae growth on the leaves, gently wipe them down to allow the plant to receive all the light and nutrients it can absorb.
Strong lighting will also encourage algae growth, so be careful not to provide too much.
The Amazon Sword propagates by growing a single stem with adventitious runners about 3-4 inches from one another. These runners will grow like a smaller plant, developing their own roots.
When fully developed with strong roots, the plant can be cut apart from the mother stem and replanted in the substrate.
Before replanting, roots should be trimmed at the ends to encourage faster growth. As this plant will grow very strong extensive roots, make sure you provide enough substrate depth to support the future grown-up plant.
This plant can be kept together with other contrasting ones, as it will form a nice background to the tank. It is a good place for spawning fish to lay their eggs or for smaller fish to hide from larger, more aggressive fish that may harass them.
Avoid large, destructive fish like Plecos, Oscars, Texas Cichlids, or Jack Dempseys, as they can dig up or tear down the stems. Goldfish will constantly try to pull them out and graze on them as on any narrow-leaved plant, so only place these two species together if you want to feed your Goldfish some salad.
Replace your artificial plants with the hardy Amazon Sword to provide your tank with a natural filter and relieve the mechanical one of some extra load. The broad leaves also provide some extra privacy to shy fish as well.