Re: Dwarf Amazon swordplants

> From: Jeff Shell <jbs98 at calc_vet.uga.edu>
> I've got 4 dwarf amazons in a 30 gal, with various numbers of other 
> plants like cryptocorne, rotala, cabomba, and java moss. Most of the 
> plants are growing really, except for the swords. They are not dying, 
> however, it appears as though they have not grown at all in the two 
> months that they have been in the tank. Filtration is an undergravel 
> filter one 100gph powerhead and one of those kinds of filters that 
> hangs over the back of the tank. There are about 15 small fish in the 
> tank. pH stays around 8.0 and the temp is 72-76.
> Are there any suggestions for improving the amazons' growth. I read 
> about the homemade yeast and sugar CO2, which I may add.

The pH of 8 is not optimal for plant growth. You should reduce your
water hardness if it is hard to an acceptable level and use CO2
injection. Target 15 ppm CO2 and 6.8 pH; that's the ideal compromise
for most plants and is fine for many kinds of fish.

Echinodorus amazonicus need enough room to develop into large plants
and it may take a while for the leaves to reach a beautiful long size.
It tends to dominate any but large tanks. You may need a deeper 
substrate. We also don't know much about your lighting levels or
if you use any micro nutrient supplements.

Echinodorus grow new leaves from the center of the rosette so it's
possible that it is growing new ones but you might not be noticing
them since the growth rate is probably slow.

With only 15 small fish (which would be tetra sized not gourami sized)
you could probably do away with filtration altogether. I prefer to
keep a trickle filter going of the type you have to provide a little
mechanical filtration. With enough plants and adequate light, you
won't need biological filtration to control ammonia; the plants will
consume it and be thankful.

If you wanted to get really large E. amazonicus, you should remove
the undergravel filter and start with a fairly rich soil substrate
covered with a layer of gravel. Don't gravel wash with a soil or
fine clay substrate. It's ok to vacuum up loose mulm but some people
prefer to leave that lie on the bottom. You will need adequate plants
and lighting but that should not be a surprise. 50-60 watts of FL
lighting should be enough if you stick with Crypts, swords and
Java moss. I think Rotala would do better with stronger light and
Cabomba is supposed to require intense light.

If you have a soil substrate and do regular water changes you might
be ok without micro-nutrient supplements if you water supply has
enough in it. It would be wise to supplement with a chellated 
Fe & mineral supplement since even soil cannot supply enough
nutrients in a root bound tank with time. You could probably get
results that made you happy without tearing the tank down; it's
up to you what you'd be satisfied with.