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Rip 05-04-2011 10:26 PM

runner on my sword?
on 04/15, i added some plants to my new 29 gallon that i had just set up. one of them was this sword plant, which i'm not sure of the exact species. well it's recently grown some kind of stem, which i never noticed when it was new, so i don't think it had even appeared yet. this leafless stem grew straight up, and is now to the surface, while the highest leaves on the plant are about six inches below the surface still. and now the stem has started producing small leaves about every 3-4 inches, similar to how a pygmy chain sword does. although on the chain sword, the runner is horizontal along the substrate. is this also a runner, comparable to the chain sword feature? i'm still fairly new to the planted aquarium, and this is the first time i've seen this, and i was hoping to gain some more information about this. attached are some pics...

Eshnon 05-05-2011 12:40 AM

Wow!!! O_O
:-D That is one hell of a sword plant!!! And yes.. from what I've read that will produce a flower.. or maybe a few baby plants.. Congratulations. Your plant is healthy, VERY healthy.

jeaninel 05-05-2011 01:13 AM

It will produce a baby plant at the end of the stem. I snip mine off after they get quite a few leaves and roots at the end and replant them.

Byron 05-05-2011 11:29 AM

That is a very healthy looking sword, the species is Echinodorus bleherae. You can read more about this in our profile, just click on the shaded name to see it.

This stem is called the inflorescence, from the fact that the flowers are produced along it. But not submersed. As noted in our profile, these plants are amphibious bog plants, spending half the year emersed (above water in the air, roots in water like a marsh) and half submersed (during the flood season). They flower during the emersed period of growth. They adapt very well to submersed cultivation, and when grown permanently submersed as in the aquarium flowers are very rarely produced [I have had it occur with Echinodorus major]. Instead, adventitious plants or daughter plants will form at each node. All those "bud" spots are nodes, and you can already see the beginnings of leaves from each. Left alone, these will develop into plantlets.

As jeaninel said, you can remove them and start a new plant, once they have some roots and several leaves. Or you can leave them, which can make an interesting addition to the aquascape.

This is where liquid fertilizer is important; as those roots develop, they will assimilate nutrients from the water, not the host plant, and swords are heavy feeders.


Rip 05-05-2011 03:53 PM

thx for the information everyone. when i first bought some plants, i bought two amazon swords in tubes from Petco, and actually still have both in my 55 gallon, and they look nothing like this sword, which you said is also an amazon sword.

Byron 05-05-2011 04:31 PM


Originally Posted by Rip (Post 666132)
thx for the information everyone. when i first bought some plants, i bought two amazon swords in tubes from Petco, and actually still have both in my 55 gallon, and they look nothing like this sword, which you said is also an amazon sword.

First, "amazon sword" can refer to many different species. In fact, in older literature, the whole Echinodorus genus (and there are between 30 and over 60 species, depending upon whose classification you use--this also is explained in our profiles of each species;-)) is termed "amazon swordplants," something of a misnomer since most of them do not occur within the Amazon River.

Second, all species can alter their leaf appearance. I mentioned these are amphibious bog plants. The leaves grown during the submersed phase are very different from those in the emersed phase. Aquatic leaves have a much different role to lay for the plant than terrestrial leaves. The latter tend to be sturdier, thicker and "tougher" because they have to stand up in air, conserve water, and nutrient exchange is different. Aquatic leaves have support from the water so they tend to be weaker (just remove a plant from your aquarium and you will see the leaves all fall down, they have no support in air), thinner because they do not have to conserve water and water and nutrients pass through the thinner cell membranes more easily.

When you buy sword plants, they are usually the emersed form, because nurseries find it much easier, quicker and less expensive to grow them emersed. Once submersed, after a period varying from a couple weeks to longer, the emersed leaves will yellow and die, while the new growth from the centre of the crown will be the submersed aquatic form of leaves. I can see this on your plant in the photos. The newer inner leaves are much longer in the blade, whereas the outer leaves have shorter but wider blades on much longer petioles (stem). Those outer leaves will eventually die, sooner or later.

Can you post a photo of the other "sword" plants?

Rip 05-05-2011 07:06 PM

here's a pic of each of the "tube amazon swords" that i bought at Petco like 3 months ago. they haven't grown that well. i've cut alot of leaves off of them since i've had them.

and then here's another sword that i got from PetSmart a few months ago. it's probably grown 10-15 new leaves since i've had it, but i've also cut off several yellowing leaves from it. i also don't know for sure what kind this sword it, but i've alwayz kind of thought it was a Melon Sword, just based on how it looks, and new leaves are reddish. there's a frozen jug of water in the first pic.

and then here's another sword, from PetSmart. it's new leaves are whitish pink

then i also have 3 micro swords, and 2 pygmy chain swords in this tank. none of them grew that well, and in fact, the pygmies have almost completely died, with almost all the leaves yellow or brown. i recently added some Seachem fertilizer tabs in the gravel to see if that could save them. i might see some new leaves on one of them, but i'm not sure. but i can definitely see some growth on a few of the micro swords, with some runners starting to form.

i have a pygmy chain sword that's flourished in my 10 gallon tank, with all those new plants on that runner i showed you a few weeks back. but i haven't gotten them to take off in this 55 gallon tank. it's probably a lighting issue, i don't know.

Rip 05-05-2011 07:33 PM

and here's a few more pics of the sword from the first post, the one that this thread is about. these pics are from 04-17, a few days after i bought them and put them into the tank. these just show that the stem was not present when i bought the plant, unlike the inflorescence that was present on the pygmy chain swords when i bought them. so what i'm saying is this stem grew after it became submersed.

Byron 05-05-2011 08:04 PM

Easy to answer on the face of it; none of those new photos are the same species as the first photo which is Echinodorus bleherae, the most "common" of the sword plants. So that explains the difference in appearance. As I said previously, many stores would just call all of these "amazon sword plants."

Differentiating species is sometimes difficult without the flowers; this holds for swords, crypts, and many other genera. The two leaf forms in swords is sometimes easy on the surface, but each species can appear differently due to different light and nutrients in different aquaria, and some even grow differently in the same aquarium. The pygmy chain sword is well known for the latter. But I have E. bleherae that grow one way in my 115g and appear slightly different in other tanks. And some of the latter are adventitious plants from the parent plant in the 115g, so I know they are the same species.

To your plants. First two photos appear to be the wide leaf form of Helanthium tenellum, what used to be considered (and most sources still do) as Echinodorus tenellus. This is one species where the common name is perhaps more useful, pygmy chain sword. I wrote an article on this plant/group of plants in our Freshwater articles section, here is the direct link:
so I won't go into all that again. One easy way to tell this group is that they propagate by true substrate runners and the Echinodorus swords do not [going from memory here, but I think I'm correct]. The majority of leaves in the photos are the emersed form. I can't make out the new growth.

Photos 3 and 4 are Echinodorus osiris. Submersed leaf form. Very intense lighting produces reddish-brown leaves [this is why new growth appears this colour], otherwise it will be pale to dark green, depending upon light intensity and nutrients. I have a plant in my 70g that remains shorter but has light green leaves. Sometimes the leaves of this plant can be quite horizontal. See our profile for more info and photos.

Photo 5 I believe is Echinodorus grandiflorus. Rataj insists this species is E. argentinensis, but most other authors to my knowledge consider it E. grandiflorus. There are two subspecies, and this one is E. grandiflorus grandiflorus, the other is E. grandiflorus aureus. It is the only species to have such divergence between emersed and submersed leaves, completely different, as you can see in your photo. The outer emersed leaves are ovid, the submersed are narrow elliptic.

The "micro sword" could be the narrow leaf form of Helanthium tenellum, or (more likely) Lilaeopsis brasiliensis. The latter has quite slow growth, the former fast.

Let's see if we can solve your pygmy sword problems. This is a 55g. What is the light (be specific)? And what nutrients/fertilizers are in or go into this tank?


Rip 05-05-2011 08:22 PM

i have one 48 inch tube Eclipse Natural Daylight 40 watt T10. it doesn't state what the kelvin rating is on the bulb, or on the box. but you told me before that the Elcipse Natural Daylight bulb is thought to be around 6500k. and for about the past 5 days i've been putting a second light fixture over the hood opening on the left side, above the pygmies. that's a 18 inch 15 watt T8 6500k from Lowe's. and about 4 days ago, i added the Seachem Fertilizer tablets that go under the gravel. i think i added 5 of them to the tank, each of them close to a sword plant.

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