Amazon Sword Plant Care Guide – Planting, Growing, and Propagation

Amazon Sword Plant (Echinodorus genus)

Amazon Sword Plant (Echinodorus genus) is a versatile and hardy plant used in decorating the background of planted tanks. It is very popular among hobbyists because of its long lifespan, hardiness, and ability to withstand a wide range of water temperature conditions/parameters.

Amazon Sword Plant is suitable even for beginner aquarists. This plant requires minimal care and can survive in all kinds of tanks (low-tech tanks to high-tech tanks).

Keep reading for more information on the Amazon Sword Plant: a detailed care guide, and how you can plant it in an aquarium.

Amazon Sword Plant – check out the price on Amazon

Quick Notes about Amazon Sword Plant

Common Name Amazon Sword Plant
Scientific Name
Echinodorus genus
Difficulty Easy
Lighting Medium 
Optimal pH 6.0 – 8.0
Optimal GH 2 – 12
Optimal Temperature 22 – 27 °C (72 – 82 °F)
Substrate Needed
Growth Rate Moderate
Placement in Tank
Height up to 30 – 50 cm (~12 – 23 inches)
Not needed to low
CO2 Not needed to low
Propagation Through adventitious plantlets or splitting at the crown

Origin of Amazon Sword Plant

Amazon Sword Plant is native to the Amazon River Basin in South America, this plant can also be found in Central & South American countries (Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, Nicaragua) and in the Caribbean (Cuba).

The whole Echinodorus genus can be regarded as Amazon Sword Plant. Although many aquarists refer to Echinodorus bleheri and Echinodorus grisebachii (or Echinodorus amazonicus) as the true Amazon Sword Plants. The main difference is that the leaves of Echinodorus bleheri species are a little bit wider than Echinodorus grisebachii.

Amazon Sword Plant got its scientific name Echinodorus grisebachii from the Greek words “echius” – rough husk, and “doros” – leathern bottle and also the names of a German plant biologists – August Heinrich Grisebach and Heiko Bleher. This plant can be scientifically classified as follows:

Amazon Sword Plant (Echinodorus genus) tallKingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Order: Alismatales
Family: Alismataceae
Genus: Echinodorus
Species: Echinodorus grisebachii, Echinodorus bleheri

Note: At the moment there are almost 30 species of genus Echinodorus.

Habitat & Ecology of Amazon Sword Plant

This plant is dominant in the Amazon River Basin, it can also be found dwelling in freshwater rivers, lakes, and ponds in tropical regions of Central & South America.

Description of Amazon Sword Plant

Amazon Sword Plant (Echinodorus genus) hugeAmazon Sword Plant has a short stem with visibly long and broad green leaves. These leaves extend from the roots on shrill scapes and can reach about 30 – 60 cm (~12 – 23 inches) in size, the leaf blades are lanceolate or narrowly oval.

Echinodorus grisebachii develops a large, conspicuous rosette with many leaves, a single plant can consist of 1 – 20 leaf whorls. This sturdy plant is called ‘Amazon Sword Plant’ because they are native to the Amazon River and the leaves have a striking resemblance with pointed sword blades.

In good water conditions, you should expect your Sword Plant to have a slightly dark green color. Well-growing submersed plants sprout 1 to 2 new leaves per week and often develop long flower stalks with adventitious plantlets.

Tank Requirements and Water Parameters

Amazon Sword Plant thrives well when it is provided with optimal water conditions and a suitable tank environment. Let’s get down to the details:

Tank size:

The required tank size for this durable species is a minimum of 10 gallons (~40 liters). Thereby, it makes it hard to use in nano tanks.

A 20-gallon (~80 liters) tank or more will be better because of the large nature and mass of this plant species. They will grow fast and take up a large amount of surface area in the tank after a while.

Water type, Temperature, Hardness, and pH:

Water Temperature: The optimal water temperature condition suitable for the Amazon Sword Plant is between 22 – 27 °C (72 – 82 °F).

pH: The optimal pH level should be between the range of 6.0 – 8.0, this is best for the plant. Nonetheless, the plant can easily adapt to almost any pH as long as extremes are avoided.

Hardness: Amazon Sword Plant can tolerate hard and soft water equally. However, a water hardness level of 2 – 12 dGH is recommended.


Amazon Sword Plant should be provided with medium lighting, I would say that they will need at least 20 – 30 PAR with full-spectrum lighting (5000 and 7000k). Lighting duration per day should be between 8 – 10 hours if you do not use CO2.

This plant can survive even in a low-light environment. However, the growth rate will be slow and the leaves will become darker in color.

Related article:


It is a known fact that plants are natural filters; however, a mechanical filter will help reduce the load of filtration effort from the plants. Ensure you keep a normal filtration system in the tank so that it can help wash out pollutants out of the tank water.


This plant grows best in a loosely packed substrate or a good alternative like Aquarium gravel. The chosen substrate should have a depth of 2.5 – 3 inches (6 – 8 cm) at the base of the tank.

The reason for this is that the Amazon Sword Plant’s roots will grow to be quite large and extensive, growing deep and wide in the tank. Therefore, having enough substrate depth will help to accommodate this plant and ensure that it stays rooted properly.

ADA Amazonia soil, Caribsea Eco-Complete Aquasoil, Seachem Flourite Black Sand, etc. are excellent choices and they are rich in essential nutrients.

Related article:

If you have sand or gravel, it is still possible to keep Amazon Sword Plant. However, you will have to use root tabs to provide the necessary nutrients to the plant.

Note: Amazon Sword Plants are heavy root-feeders. They can out-compete plants around them and choke them out, eventually. Sometimes people just leave them in ornament pots to prevent this from happening.


CO2 and fertilizer application: Amazon Sword Plant does not require CO2 for healthy growth. However, adding them will significantly increase the growth rate. Fertilizer application also depends on the tank setup. For example, if your substrate is rich with minerals, it can be enough.

In other cases, the plant will not perform too well in tanks without fertilizer application. So, you will have to add some from time to time to maintain a normal growth rate and overall good health.

Iron and potassium supplements will help it maintain its appealing green coloration and healthy leaf structure, while the additional pressurized CO2 dosing will ensure it grows fast and wider.

Important: If you keep shrimp in the tank with the Amazon Sword Plant, I would highly recommend reading my articles:

CO2 in a Planted Tank Guide
CO2 in a Shrimp Tank

How Copper Affects Dwarf Shrimp
Shrimp Safe Plant Fertilizers
The point is that a high level of CO2 and Copper (most fertilizers contain copper) is extremely dangerous to the shrimp.  

Planting Amazon Sword Plant

Amazon Sword Plant is suitable for planting in the background of the tank as it helps give it an all-round great look with its thick foliage. Once you have purchased a good specimen from the pet store, the next step is planting it properly in the tank.

You can plant the Amazon Sword by rooting it in the substrate. To root the plant in the substrate, scoop out a small hole that is wide enough to cover the root of the plant and place the plant in it.

Note: Bear in mind that the hole should be deep enough so one can see the crown of the plant on the soil line. It is important to make sure you have not buried the crown too deeply in the substrate. It has to be above the substrate or it can rot.

After successfully setting the plant in the dug hole, fill up the planted region back with the substrate so that it can help hold it in place and prevent it from floating up to the surface.

Since Amazon Sword Plant requires a great deal of nutrients, the application of extra nutrients in the form of root tabs will be well appreciated.

Tip: If you are planting a newly bought Amazon Sword Plant, you might want to remove some of the leaves. The point is that most plants are usually emersed growth from the nursery. It means those leaves will die off anyway. However, by cutting them down, the plants save more energy to acclimate and use it into new growth.

Read more in my article “10 Tips For Rooted Aquarium Plants“.

Propagation of Amazon Sword Plant

Propagation of this species is easy. Amazon Sword plant propagates through adventitious plantlets. Here, the main Amazon Sword Plant will shoot out a really long maternal stem on which plantlets will start to appear.

After a while, the plantlets will develop their own roots and a couple of leaves. At this point, once you notice no more growth, your duty is to cut off the plantlets and cultivate them in the tank and growth continues.

Tip: Chop off the maternal stem as close as to the bottom of the plant as possible. Next, clip off the sword’s plantlets and replant them.

Note: A lot of people let the newly separated plant float in the tank for a day or two before planting. It gives the new plant time to save some energy.

Sometimes Amazon Sword plants can split at the crown into two plants. If there are fully developed distinct rosettes of leaves, it is a sign that the plant is ready and you can split the plant. However, it takes a lot of time for the plant to propagate this way. Basically, it is pretty rare.

Trimming Amazon Sword Plant

Systematically remove too big, damaged, transparent (pale), yellowing, or brown leaves. You need to find where the leaf goes all the way down to the base and trim it down close to the root as possible.

Do not trim all leaves even if you think that there is some kind of problems with them. It can shock and kill the plant. So only trim when there are existing leaves coming up.

Maintenance and Care of Amazon Sword Plant

Like other freshwater plants, Amazon Sword Plant also requires proper care and maintenance for healthy growth and development. Let’s have a look at some care pointers:

  • Trim the plants from time to time to prevent it from covering the whole tank and depriving some inhabitants from getting enough light and nutrients. The plant is a tall species, therefore it can grow all the way up and out of the tank if adequate care is not taken.
  • Remove dead or dying (thin) leaves from the plant, this is essential in maintaining good hygiene in the tank.
  • Check the tank water regularly, a drastic change in water chemistry or quality can kill off aquatic species in the tank.
  • The recommended lighting is medium, and the duration should be between 10-12 hours per day for optimal growth and good health of the plant.
  • Regular dosing of plant fertilizer and iron-rich fertilizer should be encouraged, Amazon Sword Plant will also benefit from the addition of pressurized CO2 and root tabs.
  • Check for algae growth on the plants, you can try to wipe them off the leaves with a clean cloth during water changes. You can equally introduce algae-eating aquatic species to devour the algae filaments.

Amazon Sword Plant (Echinodorus genus) in aquascape

Benefits of Amazon Sword Plant:

Aquascape: These beautiful plants can make amazing focal points in the tank for jungle aquascape. In some aquariums, Amazon swords are used as a centerpiece, because they tend to spread horizontally as well as vertically.

Foraging place: Acts as a buffet of biofilm, which is an ideal first food for newly hatched fry and shrimplets.

Shelter: Amazon Sword plant provides shelter and hiding spots for shy fish and shrimp.

Removal of excess nutrientsAmazon Sword plant helps to eliminate excess nutrients and nitrates from the tank water. As it grows, the plant needs lots of nutrients.

Oxygenation: Helps in oxygenating the water column.

Prevents gas pockets: Amazon Sword plant has a massive root system, it will help to break up anaerobic pockets in the substrate. Note: Hydrogen sulfide pockets (H2S, the gas smells like rotten eggs) can kill your fish or shrimp.

Tank Equipment for Aquascapes and Plants (Amazon build list, links)

LightFinnex Planted+
Canister FilterFluval External Filter
Air PumpTetra Whisper
HeaterEheim Jager Aquarium Thermostat
SubstrateADA Aqua soil
Lily PipesJARDLI Glass Lily Pipe Outflow
CO2 RegulatorCO2 Regulator with Solenoid 110V-Mini Dual Gauge Display Bubble Counter
Trimming toolsStainless Steel Aquatic Plants Aquascaping Tools Set
Test KitAPI Freshwater Master Test

Problems associated with Amazon Sword Plant

Amazon Sword Plant (Echinodorus genus) problemsLeaves turning yellow: Most times leaves turning yellow is a symptom of iron deficiency in plants. To combat this condition, look for plant fertilizers containing soluble iron and dose adequately. The Amazon Sword plant will also appreciate root tabs and additional CO2. Equally, providing the plants with potassium will help reduce the formation of holes in the leaves.

Melting: It is often considered normal for Amazon Sword Plant leaves to die off (shed) after being added to the tank. At this point, trim off the dead or dying leaves from the base of the plant. When the plant has fully adjusted to its new home, it will sprout new leaves.

Outgrowth: It can take months or even years but Amazon Sword Plant will outgrow almost everything in the tank. It can have a negative effect on other plants. Therefore, you need to control its growth.

Relocation: If someday, you decide to relocate the old Amazon Sword Plant, it can turn into a nightmare. Once the plants settle in, they form huge roots that can uproot half of your tank! Therefore, as I said before, some aquarists do not plant them but keep them in separate pots.

Leaves turning brown: The plant can turn brown when some parts of it rise above the water. It requires high humidity. So, cover the tank to prevent dryness in plants growing above the water.

Leaf burn: It can happen if you are using high light in a shallow tank. Amazon Sword plants really prefer tall tanks to have some kind of separation between the light and the plant itself.

Algae Growth on Leaves: The leaves of Amazon Sword Plant are highly susceptible to algae growth especially when there are excessive lighting and adverse aquarium water conditions. This is why regular water changes are advised, and you should always get rid of organic matter and waste in the tank to prevent it from building up because it promotes the growth of algae filaments on the leaves of plants.

You can also wipe off algae from the leaves, do this gently to prevent the leaves from damaging.

If your tank setup allows, you can equally introduce algae-eating species into the tank to help combat the condition, for example, Amano shrimp, Nerite snail, and Otocinclus Catfish. They are great algae eaters. Together they will do a phenomenal job.

For more information, you can read “Types of Algae. Best Algae Eating Team”.

Amazon Sword Plant and Tankmates

Before planting Amazon Swords in the tank, you need to be knowledgeable about other compatible plants and animal species that can co-exist peacefully with it.

For compatible plants, you can plant Amazon Sword together with, for example, Anubias Nana, Anachris, Java fern, and Water wisteria. You need to pick plants, which will not compete with Amazon Sword for the nutrients in the substrate and can live in its shade or floaters.

For animal species, you can cultivate Amazon Sword Plant in a tank inhabiting the following species:

Fish species to avoid: Goldfish, Oscars, Plecos, Jack Dempsey. These aforementioned species can damage the plant leaves easily regardless of its hardy nature.

Buying Amazon Sword Plant

Amazon Sword Plant is a popular aquarium plant species hence its wide availability in aquarium stores. You can get a sizeable pot of this amazing plant species for $5-$10, of course, larger specimens will cost more (up to $20).

When buying this plant, look for those with long healthy green leaves. They should be free from holes, cuts, or brown/yellow spots. Also, you should know that buying plants with a healthy-looking robust stem and root structure is a huge plus in ensuring their survival.

Note: Do not panic if the plant dropped all of its leaves after putting them in the tank. It needs time to acclimate. Sometimes it can take a few weeks before Amazon Sword Plant becomes ready to grow new ones. Unless, if you see that the crown becomes mushy, then it is often too late already.

Quarantine Amazon Sword Plant

Do not forget to quarantine the Amazon Sword Plant before putting it into your aquarium!

  • The plant can have parasites, pests like snails, or even predators (dragonfly, damsefly nymphs, etc.).
  • It could also be treated with chemicals (pesticides) to remove parasites, snails, etc. However, these chemicals are extremely poisonous to fish, shrimp, and other invertebrates.

To find out more, read my articles:  

How to Remove Snails from a Shrimp Tank.
How to Quarantine and Disinfect Aquarium Plants.
Pesticides in Shrimp Tanks. Plants Quarantine.

In Conclusion

Amazon Sword Plant is a bright green rosette plant famous for its use in aquascaping, it is widely used to decorate the background of tanks and create artistic focal points in the tank. It is undemanding and easy to grow, therefore it is suitable for newbies and experts in the hobby.

Amazon Sword Plant is also durable and can live for 2 years if properly taken care of, it can also thrive in a wide variety of tanks (community tanks, low-tech tanks, high-tech tanks, Betta tanks, Discus tanks, shrimp tanks, etc.). These plants can be great assets to the planted aquariums.

Amazon Sword Plant – check out the price on Amazon

2 thoughts on “Amazon Sword Plant Care Guide – Planting, Growing, and Propagation

  1. Michael,

    I have five Amazon Sword plants as background plants in my 120-gallon tank. They grew from 5″ stock that I bought at Petsmart. The plants are currently about 8″ tall and have a nice dark green color. There is some green spot algae on the leaves but not too bad. I have diode lighting (white, red, and blue) and have the lights on for 8 hours per day. When the lights are on, I dose CO2. Total hardness is about 50 ppm. The pH is 6.2.

    Occasionally, I dose iron, potassium, phosphate, nitrate, and trace elements. There are a moderate number of fish in the tank and some Nerite snails.

    Lately, however, growth has almost stopped, any new growth is pale and stunted, and large holes have appeared in the leaves.

    What’s going on? I would appreciate any advice you can offer.


    1. Hi John Lang,
      My first assumption would be that your plants may be lacking potassium. Often, when this happens, holes start appearing in the leaves.
      However, since you mention adding both micro and macro elements, it’s likely that an imbalance has developed over time in your aquarium.
      How frequently do you perform water changes, and what percentage of the water do you replace each time?
      I would start with addressing this, and then consider changing the fertilizer you’re using.
      Best regards,

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