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Large Swords

Ken Guin wrote:

>Recently, most of my Amazon Swords have started generating leaves that are
>much too tall for my 110 gallon (20 inches tall) tank.  Up until now, the
>Swords, which are about a year old, have remained compact and just tall
>enough for the tank.  


>Other than the Swords reaching maturity, I cannot think of any other
>variables that would cause the leaves to grow so tall.  Has anyone come up
>with a method of pruning or any other approach to overcome such a problem.
>I guess I could take them out and replant with some of their offspring, but
>that seems a little drastic.

It sounds to me that the species of Echinodorus that you have (in all
likelihood, E. bleheri) is simply too big for your tank.  Many swords grow
somewhat larger than the "size range" quoted in ID manuals under very good
growth conditions.  I stopped using E. bleheri because a single plant would
fill 1/3 of a 70G tank or 1/2 of a 55 inside a year.  

There are other swords that stay smaller, and would be a better bet for
replanting than simply to replace the adult plants with offspring.  E.
amazonicus stays smaller, as do some of the new cultivars like 'Oriental',
'Rose' and 'Ozelot'.

There is really no way to "prune" the height of a sword, although you can
somewhat control its girth by judicious removal of the outer leaves.  The
only way to control the height is to change conditions to limit growth.
This is usually best accomplished by reducing light and/or CO2.  If you
reduce other nutrients, you may get deformed or unhealthy growth.  The
problem with this approach is that it will affect most of the plants in the
tank, not just the swords.  Only you can make the decision whether that is
an approach you want to take.

Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Association