Amazon Sword Care: Lighting, Substrate, Benefits, Problems

Amazon sword is one of the best choices for a community fish, and also they have been around since the dawn of fish keeping. These plants can be kept in a variety of containers, such as aquariums. Also, the Amazon Sword plant is a common choice for a freshwater aquarium. They are versatile and hardy plants used for decorating the background of the plant’s tanks.

Amazon Sword plant is a member of the family, Alismataceae, or water plantains. Looking much deeper, they can be grouped into the genus Echinodorous. Likewise, there are varieties and species of Amazon Sword plants, but they all share vibrant, green leaves and are partially submerged in water. Echinodorus grisebachii (syn. Echinodoris bleherae or Echinodorus bleheri) and Echinodorus amazonicus are two examples of Amazon Sword. Despite the species, these plants are easy to take care of. They grow very fast, and their roots are quite strong, making it a good choice for caring for a new plant.

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Introduction To Amazon Sword Plant

This Amazon Swords Plant is suitable for beginners as they require minimal care and can survive in all kinds of tanks (low tech to high tech tanks). Also, Amazon Sword makes a great background plant.

When planted alone, this can be an eye-catching plant, and its lush green leaves stand out in the dark background. Moreover, when planted with other of their kind, they create the thick green forest-like effect.

Here are quick notes about Amazon Sword Plant:

Common Name Amazon Sword Plant
Scientific Name Echinodorus genus
Difficulty Easy
Lighting Medium
Optimal pH 6.0 pH to 8.0 pH
Optimal GH 2 GH to 12 GH
Temperature 22 to 27 degree Celsius
Substrate Required
Growth Rate Medium or Moderate
Placement in Tank Background
Height Up to 30 cm to 50 cm
Fertilizers Low
Propagation Through adventitious plantlets or splitting at the crown
CO2 Low

Origin of Amazon Sword Plant

When you go back to the origin of the Amazon Sword plant, the Amazon River Basin of South America is the native place. Along with it, the Central and South American countries and the Caribbean are also their places of origin.

Amazon Sword Plant has its scientific name Echinodorus grisebachii from the Greek words “echius” meaning rough husk, and “doros” meaning leathern bottle. Also, the names of German plant biologists- August Heinrich Grisebach and Heiko Bleher. The scientific classification of this plant are as under:

Kingdom Plantae
Clade Tracheophytes
Clade Angiosperms
Order Alismatales
Family Alismataceae
Genus Echinodorus
Species Ehinodorus grisebachii, Echinodorus bleheri

Natural Habitat

They usually do not grow in the dark, murky water. Instead, they usually grow in matchy areas, bogs, or in the shallow areas of ponds with tons of bright light. Also, these plants usually do not wholly submerge in water like you shall expect to see.

Likewise, some Amazon swords do not grow anywhere near the Amazons- or even in South America depending on the species.

However, they can be found in Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, or in some states such as Florida, South Dakota, and Illinois.

What Are The Tank Requirement and Water Parameters For Amazon Sword?

Here are the things to consider when you grow the Amazon Sword in your aquarium setting. Besides, these things will help your aquarium look lively.

Tank Size

A comfortable tank is a must for the better growth of the plant. The required tank size for this species is a minimum of 10 gallons (equivalent to 40 liters). This very fact makes it hard to use in nano tanks.

For a better experience, 20 gallons (equivalent to 80 liters) or more will do good. They will take large areas in the tank since they grow fast. If you are looking for the appropriate tank, I would suggest Tetra Aquarium 20 Gallon Fish Tank Kit, Includes LED Lighting and Decor. This particular tank has the best features for the fish keeping enthusiast.

You can also check our article on How To Setup A 20-Gallon Fish Tank: Livestock and Equipment List for better understanding.

Water Type, Temperature, Hardness, and pH

These Amazon Sword do not have a good tolerance to saltwater as they are generally found in soft water conditions.

Despite this, they do have the capacity to tolerate a water hardness between 3 and 8 dKH. They can also live in cold water as low as 60 degrees Fahrenheit and lower. But, this does affect the plant and slow the growth down considerably.

The optimal water temperature condition for this plant is between 22 to 27 degrees celsius. And the optimal pH level should be between 6.0 to 8.0. However, this plant can easily adapt to almost any pH.

Lighting For Amazon Sword

Amazon swords do better with intense lighting. However, they will survive with moderate to low lights. The brighter the lights, the faster they grow and greener they shall be. Under moderate to low light conditions, they will start to turn dark green.

Though the brighter light potentially inviting the algae to move in, so for the safe side, I would suggest an adjustable light. This can keep things balanced.

Swords are typically a low light plant species and can grow very well in low light conditions. Moreover, it does well even in poorly lit aquariums as the broad leaves grow up towards the light. Around 20 to 30 PAR with full-spectrum lighting (5000 and 7000k) is a good amount of lighting with 8 to 10 hours.

Suggested Lights

Planting Amazon Sword Plant

Planting Amazon Swords is not a difficult task. It is similar to planting all other roots plants. You can use a pair of aquascaping tweezers to hold the plant by its roots. Then place it firmly and into the substrate make sure that you keep the crown ( where the roots of the Amazon Swords meet the stem) just at the soil line.


Since the Amazon Swords get very large, it is necessary to ensure the substrate is packed firmly around the roots to prevent it from floating.

Fertilizer And Root Tabs

Floating the amazon sword is not a good option. However, they can live without a substrate, but not for a longer time. You need to fertilize the water column heavily to ensure that they get enough nutrients. Likewise, if you do not want to plant them in a substrate, then it would be good to use a pot and fertilizer with the roots tabs.

Also, do note that if you are planting a new Amazon Sword plant, remove some of the leaves. This will help the plant to save more energy to acclimate and use for the new growth.

Species of Amazon Sword

When you look for the species of Amazon Swords, there are tons of them. The most popular Amazon Swords are Echinodorus bleherae that has tall, broad leaves reaching the surface of the tank, and Echinodorus amazonicus, which is identical to bleherae but has narrower leaves. Here is the list of some popular Amazon Swords plant types used in the tank:

  • Echinodorus bleherae,
  • Echinodorus aquartica,
  • Echinodorus barthii,
  • Echinodorus cordifolius fluitans,
  • Echinodorus ozelot,
  • Echinodorus palaefolius,
  • Echinodorus red diamond,
  • Echinodorus reni,
  • Echinodorus rose.

Substrate Options in Amazon Plant

There are several options for the type of substrate to use. The main options for the substrate are as under:


One of the great substrate options for Amazon Sword plantation is gravel. Gravel can keep the plant down and not floating in your tank. However, the flaws of gravel are that it does not have any nutrients, and since they are heavy root feeders so you will need to add some root tabs to ensure that it gets the nutrients, it needs to grow.

12 Pounds River Rock Stones, Natural Decorative Polished Mixed Pebbles Gravel, Outdoor Decorative Stones for Plant Aquariums, Landscaping, Vase Fillers is a good option for gravel. These are natural and look good with a fair price for an adequate amount.


Sand is also another good option, but like gravel, your plant will not anchor down to the ground firmly. Apart from this, when it comes to nutrients, and is the worst option, so you will have to be careful and use the root tabs consistently to ensure that your plant gets what it needs.

Since the Amazon Sword does not do good with the saltwater, Carib Sea ACS05840 Super Naturals Crystal River Sand for Aquarium, 5-Pound will be good for your aquarium.

Aqua Soil

You can also place this plant inside the pots in the tank. Similarly, this plant can be kept inside the pot as long as you have a pit that allows for the plant’s growth.

The roots are very large and can quickly outgrow a pot if it is not large enough. Likewise, keeping in the pots allow you to use a dirted substrate as well as fertilizers like Ozmocote plus.

Propagation of Amazon Sword Plant

Propagating the Amazon Sword plant is simple. They reproduce by sending off runners with new baby plants on them that will start to grow roots of their own. Likewise, they can be replanted in your substrate as well.

Then, chop off the maternal stem close to the bottom of your Amazon Sword Plant. Then clip off the sword’s plantlets and then replant them.

During the propagation, sometimes, they can split the crown into two plants. If there are fully developed distinct rosettes of leaves, then the plant is ready. Hence you can then split the plant. But, it takes a lot of time for the plant to propagate in this way.

Propagation Through Stem Cuttings

  • First, select the plant that is fully grown and that produces a good amount of fresh foliage that is capable of propagation.
  • Then, wait long enough that the parent plant has grown a few runners or younger stems. Let it be at least 3 inches in length.
  • Use the lean scissors and remove the newer stem towards the bottom of the base. The individual that you choose should always be among the older foliage.
  • Do look at the platelets on these stem cuttings and do not bury them in the substrate unless they develop the first set of roots on them.
  • Once you notice the roots, you can then bury them into the substrate and treat them as a mature adult.

Trimming Amazon Sword Plant

Trimming the Amazon Sword plant is very important. You must trim them regularly as it helps to create new leaves.

Besides this, taller leaves block the sunlight, and this can cause problems. So, you will need to trim your Amazon Sword plant regularly to allow new growth to occur.

Likewise, trimming is equally important to remove old, diseased, and dying leaves to ensure all the plant nutrients and energy goes into creating new healthy leaves.

Maintenance And Care of Amazon Sword Plant

Caring for and maintenance of the Amazon Sword plant is a must. The maintenance of this plant is not a difficult task. If they start to get algae, then brush their leaves gently with a soft toothbrush.

Also, you can dose substrate fertilizers and make sure that the plant does not get uprooted. Do consider these simple points for caring for your Amazon Sword Plants:

  • Check your tank water at certain intervals. A drastic change in your tank water chemistry or quantity can kill off the aquatic species in the tank.
  • Trim your plant from time to time so that it does not cover the light for other plants and inhabitants since this plant is tall so it shall grow up and out of the tank if proper care is not taken.
  • Furthermore, try to remove the dead leaves from the plant to maintain good hygiene in your aquarium.
  • Low light or medium-light is preferable, and around 10 to 12 hours of lighting is appropriate per day for the proper growth and health of the plant.
  • Iron-rich fertilizer or a regular dose of plant fertilizer is encouraged. Also, the addition of pressurized Co2 and root tabs will benefit these plants. A good fertilizer that will not harm your fish is Thrive+ Aquarium Plant Fertilizer.
  • For good health, do check for the algae growth on the plants. After that, wipe them off with a clean cloth during water changes and also introduce algae-eating species to devour the algae filaments. You can also learn how to get rid of algae in a fish tank naturally?

Plant and Fertilizer

Roots are the major part of absorbing the nutrients. Amazon Swords are heavy root feeders, so you need to provide nutrients at the very root level.

For this, you can use several methods such as root tabs or substrate additive so that your plant gets what it needs.

Similarly, you can also use a nutrient-rich substrate that I made for aquatic plants like Fluval stratum or ADA Amazonia. Lastly, you can also dose a liquid fertilizer to make your water column is nutrient-rich.

Do amazon Sword Needs Co2?

The presence of Co2 does benefit the plant that you are growing. However, in the absence of the Co2, it does not affect the Amazon Swords. In addition to Co2, there are about 13 nutrients that are needed for plants to grow healthy.

What Are The Benefits Of The Amazon Sword Plant?

The Amazon Sword is a great option for the fishkeeping world. Not only is it easy to work with, but it also proves to be a visual treat for the viewers. It will have various benefits in the fishkeeping world like:


With the jungle aquascape, these beautiful plants can make amazing focal points. In most aquariums, Amazon Swords are used as a centerpiece. They tend to spread vertically as well as in a horizontal way.


Amazon Swords plant provides shelter for the shy fish and also for the shrimps. They also act as hiding spots.

Removal Of Excess Nutrients

To eliminate excess nutrients and nitrates from the tank, Amazon Swords Plants play a crucial role. These plants need lots of nutrients to grow.

Check out our article on “Obesity in Aquarium Fish: Are You Overfeeding Your Fish?”.


These plants also help for oxygenating the water column. Plants take in the CO2 and give out oxygen to survive. So, the tank has oxygen in the optimum amount.

For more information, learn how to maintain the oxygen level in the aquarium.

Amazon Sword Plant Problem

Here is a list of few problems that your Amazon Sword shall face. These are small problems that you can solve easily.

Melting Or Transparent Foliage

Amazon swords generally have bright leaves. However, something happens to these plants that make them see-through, which is known as “melting”.

One of the biggest issues that Amazon Swords face is they melt and die. To avoid it, do check your lights, fertilizers, and your planting technique.

And, even if all those are in a good state, do check the water chemistry. Having unstable water chemistry might also lead to this problem. So, make sure that you monitor the chemistry regularly if it is a relatively new tank. A water testing kit is appropriate to monitor such chemistry, such as API Aquarium Test Kit.

However, there is no way to avoid melting. The reason behind this is due to a deficiency of carbon dioxide or an excessive amount of light.

Yellowing Leaves

The major concern of yellowing leaves might be due to deficiency of iron, nitrogen, or potassium. If the newly grown leaves are yellow, then this is due to a deficiency of iron.

And, if the older leaves are turning yellow, then it might be due to nitrogen or potassium deficiency. Generally, the aquatic plants are root feeders or water column feeders. Your Amazon Sword is a heavy root feeder, and they absorb their minerals and other necessary nutrients using their roots, which are buried in the substrate of the fish tank.

So, you will need root tabs to provide the necessary nutrients to your Amazon Swords. If the Amazon Swords are turning yellow, then use root tablets that provide them with Potassium. Similarly, your nitrogen in the fish tank should not fall below 10 parts per million (ppm).

Seachem Flourish Tabs Growth Supplement – Aquatic Plant Stimulant 40 ct would be the best root tab for the Amazon sword in your aquarium.

Wrinkling of Foliage

Wrinkling of the older leaves is also a deficiency of potassium. This can easily be treated by feeding some root tabs near the roots of the Amazon Sword in the substrate.

Likewise, if this happens in the new leaves, then it is the outcome of calcium deficiency., this can result in the water’s hardness. Moreover, a boron deficiency can exhibit similar symptoms to calcium deficiency. It also produces leaves that are wrinkled and bent.

Hole-Filled Leaves

There are two major reasons why Amazon Sword has holes. The first is that the fish munch on the leaves.

These holes are not perfectly circular as one caused by a deficiency. Secondly, it is the deficiency of potassium. These holes become larger over time and are accompanied by the curling of leaves.

Rotting Roots

Rotting roots can results when the plant is buried too deep. The hole in the substrate must be enough to bury the roots. Also, the crown should be at the substrate’s surface, as burying the crown can make the plant rot.

Another reason for the rotting is the phosphorous deficiency as well. It is one of the essential nutrients needed by the Amazon Sword. The deficiency of phosphorous also results in the growth of the spot algae in the fish tank.

Slow Growth

Another main problem that you shall face while growing this plant is slow growth. Since this plant is slow-growing, so you must be more patient while growing this plant.

If your plant is floating, then anchoring it is the best option for better growth. And, apart from it, if the lights and the nutrients seem sufficient, then it is a better option to wait for it. All in all, a good anchor or a good root system will help your plant for better growth.

It is also seen that the Amazon Sword plant that thrives in another place does not grow in the fish tank. Instead of growing, they start to decay or even start to grow sometimes. For this, you can place a few well-rounded root tabs in the substrate. The absence of carbon dioxide or insufficient light can also result in slow growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Grow Amazon Swords Without Substrate?

Well, the Amazon Swords have huge root structures, so you will require a substate. However, you can grow your Amazon Swords in a pot or vessel if you want a bare bottom tank. And, this is the closest you are going to get.

You will require something in the range of 3 inches wide and 3 inches deep, at least to pull off successfully. However, a larger one would is better. Thus, all in all, the presence of the substrate would be better.

Can I Grow Amazon Swords With Low Lighting?

Sure, Amazon Swords does not require a high amount of light. Medium lighting would be best for them. They will turn a deep green instead of bright green color, and you shall likely struggle to get any good growth out of them in meager light conditions.

Are Amazon Swords Hardy?

This plant is very easy to care for and grow. The Amazon Sword is a very hardy plant, though. Besides that, they are a good choice for the beginner and also for the experienced one. A peculiar feature of this plant is that even after being neglected for years, they come back strong from nothing more than just the roots.

How Big Do Amazon Swords Get?

Amazon Swords grow very quickly. They will grow quickly up to the height between 20-50 cm or 8 inches to 20 inch high.

The Lifespan of Amazon Sword- How Long Do They Live?

The average lifespan of the Amazon Sword plant is about 1.5 to 3 years. However, the sword plant’s lifespan can be increased by regular doses of fertilizers, which are high in iron, root tabs, and regular water changes.

Final Words

Amazon Swords Plant is a beautiful plant for aquascaping. Besides, they are a bright green rosette plant and widely used for decorating the background of the tanks. Similarly, they are undemanding and straightforward to grow, as well.

Thus, these plants are suitable for newbies and experts as well. Also, it is a common choice for freshwater aquarists as they are adaptable and can survive in a lot of different conditions.

Likewise, substrate fertilizers and root tabs are additives for these plants and affect the growth of the Amazon Sword. With proper care and conditioning, the Amazon Swords are not difficult to plant and flourish.

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