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Re: "topping" Amazon Swords

Bill Terburg writes:

> The amazon sword plants in our 100 gallon tank have grown so robustly
>  that the we recently decided to "top" them.  The leaves had grown out of
>  the water filling over half of the hood and were cutting off much of the
>  light to the lower growing plants and causing the Oak hood to warp.  We
>  cut the leaves off just above the water line, leaving the stalks which
>  we like as part of the look of the tank.  We filled a 5 gallon bucket
>  over half full with leaves.  Has anyone had a similar experience?  Will
>  "topping" do long term damage to the plants?<snip> 

<snip>  We would appreciate anyone with information on the effects of
>  to respond.

I saw a similar post yesterday or the day before.  I have had only one
experience with Amazon sword "topping".  About twenty years ago, I had onethat
filled the center of my 55-gallon angelfish tank quite nicely.  The tank had a
plain gravel substrate over pads of peat, which used to be sold quite
commonly, over an undergravel filter.  With a combination of flourescents and
incandescents that came with the old metal frame tanks, it grew to within an
inch of the surface, and filled out over six or eight months quite nicely.

One day I spotted some very cool-looking Columbian ramshorn snails at the LFS.
Really nice ones.  Big ones with really nice brown and white striping.  So I
took a couple home.  The next morning, one leaf of my sword had "come loose"
at the base of the plant.  And then another one every day for well over aweek,
before I figured out that the snails were "mowing" the leaves off at the base.
By then I had only two or three leaves left on it.  I moved the snails to
tanks with no plants in them, and left the sword to recover.

The swordplant did regain new leaves.  These new leaves were the same length
as the old ones, but they had stems less than 1/2 inch long.  As a result, I
had a very short plant with no stems, just lots of big leaves.  It looked
healthy enough, it just never did regain its "stature".

Bob Dixon