Echinodorus for everyone. Debunking myths
Echinodorus, also known as Amazon sword plant, is among the most popular aquarium plants because of its ability to adapt to certain tank conditions. Undeniable attractiveness of these plants lies in diversity of their colors and shapes. Swords can be planted as foreground, mid-ground and background plants. They have leaves in many different shapes—e.g., linear, lanceolate, elliptic, ovate, cordate. Echinodorus occurs in variety of colors, starting with pale green, dark green, red, and brown. Their color can be homogeneous or they can have ocelotic-like spots on their surface. Some strains of the plant are able to propagate themselves using asexual reproduction. Other species reproduce through flowers, through the process of pollination and the production of seeds. Rhizomes, too, are important reproductive structures. Choosing plants, we should follow a simple rule—young plants are generally better. Mother plants are big and decorative. They can—but don’t have to—adapt to new environmental conditions and proceed a fertile phase, producing a great amount of rhizomes on which other plants will grow. They, themselves, can actually die. Young swords adapt very quickly to new tank conditions. What we have to know is that these plants are not being fully dipped during their raising. It could result in a slow death of leaves which could last until new leaves appear (the so-called floating leaves). Swords should be planted in sand. We use a large grain substrate, 3-7 mm in size, as a sealing substrate. Aquarium’s minimum temperature is 60°F; it should not by any lower. Sword plants prefer temperatures higher than 68°F, and the water hardness in the range of 5-10 dGH. Lighting is sufficiently bright when it reaches 3-5 wpg. The pH of water should be neutral or slightly alkaline (6,8-7,6); it can’t be lower than 6,3 because plants may die. Lighing should not be used for any longer than 10-12 hours—otherwise plants will not grow correctly. Nutrient-rich substrate and water, long hours of lighting or prevalance of red color in the light spectrum may cause that Echinodorus will start to overgrow the tank its located in. Growing carpet plants one should pay attention to stronger lighting. If plants grow one new leaf every one or two weeks, it means they’re feeling good in our tank. Sword plants prefer CO2-rich water.
To summarize, Echinodorus likes:
- large grain substrate, 3-7 mm in size, often cleaned;
- regular water changes;
- minimal or average fertilization;
- lights that aren’t used for any longer than 10-12 hours, prevalence of blue color;
- water temperature higher than 68°F, pH of water higher than 6,3;
- soft-to-hard water which is CO2-rich.
If you follow these rules, you’ll be satisfied with your Sword plants.