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A couple years ago I bought a few (5, I think) plants that the local store
called "pygmy chain swords". I assumed that the plant was E. tenellus and
the fish store guy agreed. (He might have agreed if I thought they were
Martian snoot grass.) The plants were apparently in an emersed-grown
form. They were about 2 1/2 inches high and their leaves were straight and
consisted of an indistinct petiole and a lanceolate blade. The blades
were only about 4 millimeters across and slightly shorter than the
Their new submersed-grown leaves were strap-like, recurved and initially
about as long as the original leaves - 2 to 3 inches - with a small but
distinct midrib running the length of each leaf. Once the first plants got
established they started sending runners out and spread very rapidly. At
the same time, the plants started putting on longer leaves and soon they
got over 10 inches long and reached the water surface in a 20 gallon
At that point I decided they weren't very "pygmy" and gave away most of
the batch. The ones I didn't give away got stuck into a low light tank
with no CO2 where they promptly wasted away. I got a couple out before
they disappeared completely and now have colonies of these plants in a
couple other tanks.
But I don't know what they are. I concluded that they got too big to be
E. tenellus. Looking for other possible identities I came up with
Sagittaria subulata, E. quadricostata, E. latifolius and E. angustifolius.
As near as I can tell there is no easy distinction between these plants.
Does anyone know how to tell them apart, or have any suggestion what mine
In addition to the details above, I can add that the plant when grown
under fairly dim light tends to stay small, with leaves no wider than 3 or
4 mm wide and about 3 inches long. Under brighter light they grow longer
leaves and under some conditions the leaves also get up to 6 or 7 mm wide.