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Re: "topping" Amazon Swords

Bill Terburg <terburg at familychest_com> wrote: 
> 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?  The tank is illuminated by
> 2-40 watt shop light bulbs and 2-40 watt grow lux bulbs,  the substrate
> is medium sand blast grit, and the plants are fertilized by spot feeding
> via the Plantguild pellet system , no undergravel heating is provided. 
> We would appreciate anyone with information on the effects of "topping"
> to respond.

Ho Ho Ho!!

I know you have been working with the clay fertilizer pellet system,
Bill, and this is a typical example of how Sword plants respond to
substrate fertilization when they have adequate water circulation,
light, CO2 and minerals (K, Mg, Ca) in the water!! I avoid feeding Sword
plants because of the difficulties one of these monsters can pose in an
aquarium crammed with a dozen other species. They just take over.

For cropping, I snip off the outer leaves as close to the base as
possible. There's not much that can be done with the length of the
leaves but you can at least limit the area that they take over. Once a
leaf has been damaged or snipped, it tends to rot progressively. If you
leave the stems in place, they look a little odd but are easier to pull
off in a few weeks after they start to die. It's difficult to pull the
stems off initially without damaging the roots or risking pulling the
plant up. Deep substrates make this less likely but the roots can be
massive. I cut them with a small pair of folding scissors or pinch them
off with my finger nails if I can manage it.