Amazon Sword Care Guide: Planting, Tank Mates, Tank Conditions & More

Most home aquariums can benefit from the addition of live plants. Not only do they help keep your tank looking attractive, but they also oxygenate your water and provide a healthier living environment for your tank inhabitants.

There are quite a few plants to choose from when it comes to planting your home aquarium. One of the most popular chosen is the Amazon sword.

Close up of amazon sword plant in an aquarium
‘Driftwood and Amazon Sword’ by Pete Brown on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

If you’re looking for a beautiful, hardy, and beginner-friendly plant for your tank, take a look at the Amazon sword. It’s rich coloring and bountiful leaves can create a gorgeous backdrop for your fish and aquarium.

If you’ve been considering adding this attractive plant to your home aquarium, this article is for you. Here, we’ll go over the basics of Amazon sword care, including the preferred conditions, water parameters, and regular maintenance. Don’t miss the interesting facts section toward the end!

Overview and Statistics

In the following table, we’ve outlined the basics of the Amazon sword plant and its needs.

CharacteristicDetails
Common name(s):Amazon sword
Scientific Name(s):Echinodorus amazonicus
Family:Alismataceae
Origin:South America
Color Form:Green
Maximum Size:20 inches
Growth Rate:Moderate to fast
Care Level:Moderate
Water Conditions:Freshwater, 72-82° F, KH 3-8, Ph 6.5-7.5
Lighting:Moderate
Minimum Tank Size:20 gallons
Supplements:Iron-rich fertilizer
Placement:Background
Propagation:Peduncles
Tank mates / Compatibility:For use with many different kinds of fish, including community tanks. While hardy, it may be damaged by especially vigorous fish like cichlids and Oscars.

The Amazon sword makes an attractive addition to your tank. It can be used singly to work as a focal piece, or use several as a background alongside other plants.

Native to South America and occurring naturally in lakes, rivers, and wet grounds near the Amazon River, it is a popular choice for hobbyists. This is a hardy species that can do well in a variety of tank setups. Now predominantly farm-grown, they are readily available and easy to find.

It prefers some waterflow, as it’s originated from slow-moving water sources. Naturally growing in shallow waters (and in fact, able to grow partially submerged) It requires a moderate amount of light.

There are several different varieties of the Amazon sword. Some of these varieties are annuals, while others are perennial. This plant is easily propagated and grows especially well in large tank settings.

Appearance

The Amazon sword boasts lush, vibrant green leaves. Used alone, it’s a stunning centerpiece that sets off well against a black background. When used with other foliage, they can help to create a thick background of greenery, ideal for tank inhabitants.

The Amazon sword is a crowned plant that can grow partially submerged as well as completely submerged in water. The leaves are numerous and grow readily.

Several different varieties are available. Some have broad leaves, while others are thin-leaved. When they bloom, they produce a small white flower on a long square stem. Fortunately, flowering is not required for this rhizome to reproduce.

Placement

They can get quite large and overcrowd other nearby plants. For this reason, it’s best to place it toward the back of the tank and away from other plants.

You will want to use a nutrient-rich and deep bed of substrate for planting your Amazon swords. While they are capable of rooting in a more shallow substrate, this will leave them vulnerable to uprooting. At the same time, you will need to take care not to plant them too deeply, as they can be susceptible to rot.

If your Amazon sword is especially comfortable in your tank, you may need to remove new shoots to keep the population in check. The root systems of the new offshoots can quickly run rampant in the confines of your tank.

Why Plant Amazon Swords in Your Tank?

Wondering about the benefits of adding Amazon swords to your tank? There are several great reasons to try them.

They are relatively easy to care for and quite hardy. They do well with a variety of fish and can even be munched on by hungry plant eaters.

They are a striking addition to your aquarium. They’ll provide great coverage for fish who need to hide, serve as a fresh oxygen source, and provide a gorgeous backdrop for your fish, bringing a genuine bit of nature inside your home.

Tank Requirements and Preferred Conditions

To provide the best Amazon sword care, you’ll want to make sure you set up your tank with favorable conditions.

Minimum Size Tank

They do best in large tanks. You should not place them in tanks of less than 20 gallons. If you intend to plant more than one, you will need to have an even larger tank.

These plants can grow to be quite tall. Because of this, deeper tanks are a better home for Amazon swords than longer, more shallow, tanks—be aware that not all 20-gallon tanks are created equal.

Water Type and Parameters

They are a freshwater species. Coming from a tropical climate, it will do best in warmer waters, with temperatures between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

That being said, they are hardy enough that it can be planted in cold water tanks as well. It is not, however, suitable for use in very cold water and should not be placed in outdoor ponds.

The ideal KH level for the Amazon sword falls between 3 and 8. The pH level should be between 6.5 and 7.5 for optimal health.

Lighting Requirements

They require a moderate amount of light. In the wild, you can expect to find these plants growing near the surface of the water, as their light needs are higher than some other species.

For optimal conditions, aim to provide it with 10 to 12 hours of light daily. Plan on providing two watts of light per gallon of water. This will leave you with flourishing, healthy plants. Your tank, your plants, and your fish will thank you.

Substrate Requirements

They need a rich and heavy base to grow in. They need a significant amount of iron and leach it from their substrate. Specialty planting substrates work best for them.

They naturally grow in sand-based substrates in the wild. Sand and small-grain gravels can also be used with success.

Amazon Sword Growth Rate

In a traditional tank, you can expect your Amazon sword to grow slowly, but steadily.

They have the potential to grow quite large, especially if they are happy in your aquarium. Be mindful of overcrowding in your tank. If necessary, remove new shoots to avoid nutrient deficiencies and inadequate space.

Caring for Your Amazon Sword

Amazon sword care is straightforward, but there are some things you can do to make sure your plant grows and thrives.

Nourishment

These plants are heavy root feeders and need to have access to a quality substrate. You can expect to need to supplement them occasionally with iron. This can be achieved with fertilizers, found in both liquid and tablet forms.

When choosing your iron supplement, make sure to select a product that’s made for aquarium use. This will help protect your fish population. Adding your supplement after your weekly water changes will help keep your plants looking their best.

Maintaining Good Health

When monitoring the health of your plants, it’s important to know that damaged leaves will not recover. It’s in their best interests to trim away any leaves that have become torn or show curling. This will allow the plant to invest its energy in new, healthy growth, instead of expending energy on an impossible task.

The Amazon sword comes from a tropical environment. The warm weather and water can encourage algae growth. Algae can prevent your plants from soaking up the nutrients and light it needs to survive. As part of your tank maintenance routine, wipe down the leaves on a regular basis to remove any accumulating algae.

Your Amazon swords should be a vibrant, healthy green. If you notice any yellowing, shriveling, or spotting, they need additional attention. While this is likely linked to supplementation, it may also be related to not having access to enough light.

Buying Advice

Amazon swords are readily available for purchase and can be picked up at your local fish supplier. When buying your plant, choose only those with robust, healthy leaves and their trademark dramatic coloring. Avoid any that seem withered or anemic in coloring.

They can be ordered through an online source if they aren’t available to purchase locally. However, don’t buy them online if the temperature is very hot or very cold, they’re not likely to survive the transportation.

When it comes to price, they should only set you back just a few dollars. Once your plant has rooted and made itself comfortable, you’re likely to have them reproduce for you, so you won;t have to replenish and replace them.

Remember that they will grow to be quite large. Don’t plan on filling your space with young seedlings. Place just a few and allow them plenty of space to grow and fill the tank.

How to Add Amazon Sword Plants to Your Tank

The initial planting is incredibly important. While they are a strong and hardy plant, they are also quite vulnerable directly after planting, while they’re trying to establish their roots.

Your planting site will depend on what role you plan to have your Amazon sword play in your tank. They can make an impressive focal piece. If this is your plan, choose a location in the middle of the tank.

They also make a great background plant. If this is how you intend to use them, place it toward the back wall of your aquarium. This will leave you the front portion of the tank for additional plants. Such a setup can provide significant depth and visual interest, as well as some variety for your fish.

For best results when planting your Amazon sword, choose a loose substrate that the roots can easily make their way through. You will also want to make sure the substrate is quite deep to support the plant as it grows adequately. It can grow to be quite large, so having a place for the root system to grow is essential.

Directly after planting, it’s best to let the plants set up shop without being disturbed, especially by aggressive fish. They may easily be dislodged and unrooted at this point.

If you feel your fish population may endanger the new plants, you might want to separate them from the newly planted Amazon swords until they’re well-established.

Your Amazon sword may exhibit shock-like behavior after first planting. If you discover any yellowing of the leaves, trim them back. This will allow them to send productive energy elsewhere and leave you with a healthier foliage.

It may be tempting to let damaged leaves be, but they are not able to heal themselves. In the interest of your tank and plant, go ahead and remove any damaged or dead leaves as part of your care routine.

Tank Mates and Compatibility

The Amazon sword does well on its own and also planted with other species. Due to its large size and the possibility of outgrowing its designated space, you should avoid putting them with other large varieties.

The numerous leaves provide great coverage for small fish to avoid being harassed, and young fry in danger of being consumed. While they are generally hardy, they can be damaged by large or particularly aggressive fish.

Oscars, cichlids, and plecos are generally not a good fit for this plant. While you may keep goldfish with them, you should be prepared for the goldfish to snack on the leaves.

It isn’t a problem if your fish are eating your Amazon sword, as long as you’re looking to plant a food source for your fish. It may be an issue, however, if you’re planting them as a decorative element in your tank and they keep disappearing!

Propagation and Reproduction

They reproduce by sending out runner shoots. These shoots will set up shop three to four inches from the originating plant. Once there, the root system will begin to develop. Once this happens, you can cut away your new plant from the old.

You can move this young plant to a new location or allow it to remain where it is, depending on the tankscape you have in mind. Trimming the roots when you replant will help encourage new growth.

Amazon swords are also capable of flowering and reproducing via fertilization of the flower. Though it’s possible you’ll have this happen, they more readily reproduce by using shoots.

Interesting Facts About the Amazon Sword

  • They aren’t only great for aquariums, they can be a fantastic addition to terrariums and ripariums as well.
  • A single plant can have up to 30 leaves.
  • They are frequently grown out of the water when being commercially produced.
  • They can be kept in both tropical tanks and cold water tanks.

Summary

The Amazon sword is an easy plant to incorporate into your aquarium—even if you’re new to keeping a tank with live plants. Their generous leaves and vibrant color can create a dramatic backdrop both you and your fish can enjoy.

With a large and deep enough tank, a substantial substrate for proper root development, and access to light, your Amazon sword plant is likely to thrive. If you’ve been looking for a great introductory plant you can continue to scape around for years, this one is certainly worth looking at.

Have you used Amazon swords in your tank? Did you love them or hate them? What did you find worked the best for your tank and plants? We’d love to hear about your experiences, especially if it can help others with their home aquariums, so please do leave us a comment below.

Happy fish keeping!

Wendy Kathryn

Hi, I'm Wendy, the owner and creator of this website, an experienced fish keeper and avid student of the art since 2010. My aim is to help beginners avoid the many possible mistakes when getting started in this wonderful hobby.

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