Amazon Sword | How To Grow | Care | Propagate & Keep

Anyone who has ever owned an aquarium and kept Tropical Fish will have heard of the popular Amazon Sword aquarium plant.

You may be surprised to know that there are a number of different species of Amazonian Plants but some are more common or popular than others. Echinodorus bleheri, which has broad leaves. is one of the most popular aquarium plants which sells in its millions each year.

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Let us take a closer look at this beautiful aquarium plant in more detail.

Species Profile

Common NamesAmazon Sword
Size18-20 inch max
Water Conditions72-82° F, KH 3-8, pH 6.5-7.5
CO2 & Plant FoodNot needed. However, plant food has its benefits
Care LevelEasy-Moderate


Amazon Sword plants are native to Central America, Cuba, and South America as far south as Brazil.

As you can imagine from the name, many species are found in the region of the Amazon River. This popular aquarium plant can now be found in many countries due to humans introducing it to non-native areas.

Amazon Sword (Echinodorus bleheri) is now widely cultivated on farms around the world which reduces the impact on its native species population.

Description And Appearance

This genus comes in many different species and varieties, however, they all have very similar shapes and colors. Amazon Sword (Echinodorus bleheri) is a rosette plant, light green in color with wide leaves, whilst Echinodorus amazonicus has narrower leaves.

This incredibly popular aquarium plant is used in the aquarium fully submerged but it can be partially submerged and will still thrive.

Some species have a wider leaf span than others. The wider leaves can be affected by excessive algae growth forming on the leaves as well as larger catfish nipping and even resting on the wide leaves. This can cause damage and result in the plant dying back.

For a complete Guide on the most popular Aquatic Plants for the home aquarium, read our latest post 21 Popular Aquatic Plants for the Home Aquarium.

amazon sword


Due to the overall size of this aquarium plant, it is recommended that you use it in the background or mid-ground if you have a very large or deep aquarium.

Amazon Swords will need a large enough space in between each plant to allow it to fully develop and grow. It is capable of growing leaf blades up to 24 inches (60cm) long and developing a strong and large root base.

Thanks to its large busy appearance and strong leaves and stems, it is often used to hide unsightly equipment like powerheads, filters, and intake pipes.


Amazon Swords are propagated by division or adventitious plantlets. It’s an easy-to-grow and propagate aquarium plant, hence its popularity in the hobby.

Once the plant is established and settled into its new home, you will see a single long stem with runners shooting every few inches. About every 3-4 inches or so, a new small plant will form, which is where you can propagate the plant from.

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This will happen naturally if allowed to do so or they can be removed from the main stem and planted on their own. Ensure the new plants are fully submerged as new plants are more susceptible to changes in aquarium conditions.

You are advised to increase supplementary nutrients and even C02 levels during the early stages of propagation.

We use API Leaf Zone Plant Food during the early stages of aquarium plant propagation.

amazon sword flower
Beautiful small white flower of Creeping Burhead or Echinodorus Cordifolius

Care Guide

It’s not unusual to see signs of your Amazon Sword plant leaves dying off soon after being added to a tank. This is a normal reaction to a new home so don’t worry too much.

Just simply trim the dead or dying leaves at the bottom of the stem and allow the new leaves to grow. Once done, they often grow back bigger and stronger than before.

Adequate lighting as with all aquarium plants is needed. You should ensure they receive 11-12 hours of lighting per day. No special lighting is required with this plant, just sufficient lighting hours.

It’s worth noting that too much lighting for this plant can result in the burning of the leaves. Moderate lighting is just fine.

Amazon Swords are perfect for most community aquariums, however, some fish do love to eat the leaves, resulting in damage.

Goldfish and some larger cichlids like Tiger Oscars, Firemouth Cichlids, and others are often found digging them up and destroying their stems and root systems.

Plecostomus’ are known to damage the leaves. Smaller sucker catfish often sit on the leaves and cause holes and dark spots to appear on the leaves. If this happens you must remove the damaged leaves from the base of the stem before they start to decay and cause issues with your water conditions.

There are tools you can use to remove the dead leaves if you don’t want to use your hands. Read our Complete aquarium planting tools guide here! It’s packed with helpful information on planting a freshwater aquarium.

New leaves grow out from the center of the plant which can push out older more mature leaves and cause them to turn yellow or even die. Newer leaves appear lighter in color when they first start to grow, then turn darker green as the leaves grow and start to mature with age.

Remove any older leaves that look lighter in color before they start to rot.


The most common substrate in a home aquarium is gravel. This is perfectly fine for Amazon Swords as long as the depth of the gravel is at least 2-3 inches. Amazon Swords have a long and penetrating root system which needs to be completely covered.

Aquarium substrate serves many purposes, not least to hold your aquarium plants to the bottom of your aquarium. Plants will not root to glass.

You can place aquarium plants in pots filled with fibers to allow the roots to take hold. Although this has a limited lifespan before the plants outgrow their pots: They will need to be transferred into some form of aquarium substrate.

Types of substrates perfect for Amazon Swords

Aquarium Gravel

Aquarium gravel is different from gravel used in gardens and the building sector. It comes in multiple sizes and colors which gives you lots of options to decorate your aquarium. Fine gravel is better for plant roots to take hold into.

Aquarium gravel is sold to most people thanks to its simplicity and is easy to use and clean.

Plant Soil-Substrates

For the serious plant grower, you can use a purpose-made plant soil. This type of substrate is most suitable for planted aquariums. It is packed with extra nutrients that will help your plants grow.

It is tightly packed and once wet will form a solid consistency which is just like the soil in your garden. Perfect for aquarium plants to take firm hold within. Once wet, the soil will not float away. Some types of plant-soil are designed to sit underneath aquarium gravel as an extra level for the roots. So both forms of the substrate are used together, soil and gravel.

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Marbles are often sold and used by beginners or first aquariums. Once you start to get a liking for aquarium plants, you will want to change from marbles as a substrate to something more suited for plant growth.

Marbles are rounded and smooth which form large gaps between each one. This is not a suitable area for roots to grow and take hold.

Yes, they look pretty but they are no good for plant growth.

Sand and Clay

There are two types of sand. Coral sand which is more suited to Saltwater aquariums and Freshwater sand.

Freshwater sand is similar to the substrate found at the edge of the river in the Amazon Basin where Amazon Swords come from. This type of sand has been designed for planted aquariums and not only looks pretty but it’s packed with essential nutrients to help your plant roots establish quicker. The fine and tightly packed substrate helps the plant’s roots to take hold easily and not float away when first planted.

Coral sand is only for selected aquariums. Coral sand will alter the pH level in your aquarium. This substrate is made of calcium carbonate which will make your water more alkaline. Which makes coral sand a possible contender for aquariums that have fish which prefer water with higher pH levels.

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Amazon Sword F.A.Q

  • What’s the best pH levels: pH 6.5 – 7.5 It can be as low as 6.2 but it’s recommended to be in the region of 6.5 – 7.5
  • Suitable water temperature: 71 – 82 Degrees Fahrenheit which is most community tropical fish aquariums.
  • Amazon Sword lighting requirements: Moderate lighting 11 – 12 hours per day.
  • Amazon Sword nutrients and plant foods: Once a week, supply plant food and for specialist aquascaping aquariums use C02
  • Amazon Sword maximum size: 20-24 Inches. The average Amazon Sword plant is 15-18 Inches
  • Do Amazon Swords flower? : Yes, they can flower for those that grow above water levels. The flowers are very attractive and white in color.
  • Amazon Sword lifespan: 2-4 Years. It is commonly said that Amazon Swords live for 2-4 years, however, I have had one and still do to this day that’s 8 years old.

Conclusion: Amazon Sword Aquarium Plant

It’s hard to go into a pet store or aquatic shop and not see an Amazon Sword plant either for sale or on display. Sold in their millions each year, we for one, are glad that this plant is now farmed and not taken from the wild.

The huge numbers sold each year would put a strain on the ecosystem from where they have been removed.

There are many sizes, shapes, and species of Amazon Sword to choose from; all of which are easy to grow, propagate and plant successfully in a home aquarium.