So while picking up dog food today I, of course, took a look at the aquatics section while I was there. I decided to get Sharkfin a live plant for his tank and went for the ones in the tubes since Petco's prices really aren't bad for those; I got him a larger Anubius, which I know aren't fast growers or big ammonia users, but he's on frequent water changes anyways and I thought he might like it. I also grabbed a sword plant, not remembering what I had read about those, figuring I could return it if necessary (I was using a 10% coupon, so wanted to take advantage of that).
As the title says, it's labeled as an Argentine Sword, and it looks just about identical to the stickied care guide thread's picture for an Amazon Sword. I bought an 8" one since it was only $2 more than the 4", but from what I'm reading I may need to return this...
What I'm wondering is whether I might be able to make it work though. The largest tanks I have at the moment are the girls' large Kritter Keepers; my larger tanks (two 10-gallons and a 30-gallon cube) are on hold at the moment as we're trying to move. I'd like to give some Ghost Shrimp a shot, so looking at my options I'm thinking, if I give this a shot, I'll pick up some laterite and some sand and do 1" of laterite and about 2" of the sand in one of the girls' tanks and leave the lids partially off if necessary (and I've been toying with the idea of getting some glass cut to use as canopies for them).
Current expectations is that we would be looking at moving around late June-early July, so do you more experienced folks think this might work out? Should I just return this plant instead? Exchange for a 4"?
Swords don't grow too quickly so as long as your plant is in water you will be fine. As you can see, they do really well in just that gel the come in for short periods of time. They are very hardy plants and require low amounts of light.
Echinodorus argentinensis will get very large, it is one of the larger sword varieties.
I have Echinodorus amazonicus in my own tank pictured below, tt's a 20 gallon tall for reference. They grow fairly quickly, the plants in the photo are 3 months old and were bought at a size of ~4" and have since tippled in height.
Something to keep in mind though, the plants sold in the tubes are grown emersed, which means above water. They do that for two reasons, the biggest being they grown much faster in air than they do under water. The second is you don't have to worry about aquatic snails in the air. However, once you submerge it the plant will kill off the emersed form leaves and start to grow new submerged form leaves. So don't get worried if you see the old leaves start to yellow at the tip and the yellowing grows down to the base. That's normal, just cut those leaves off once the yellowing reaches the crown (base of the plant).
You do not need a special (expensive) substrate, the tank below uses the standard epoxy coated gravel you find in pet/fish stores. However, swords are heavy root feeders so a liquid fertilizer once a week is likely needed, and root tabs are greatly appreciated by swords.
I guess my primary concern was their rate of growth and if it'd be a mistake to put this large of a sword in a roughly 3-gallon Kritter Keeper. If I'm able to set up the 30-gallon after the move it'd be going into there for sure -- I don't have a canopy for it or anything so I could let it grow out of the tank if need be (because I had read already, as you pointed out Geomancer, that this species is one of the larger ones).
I had read about the emersed leaves either dying off or, according to some sources, simply not growing as the submerged leaves started to come in -- either way it was recommended to remove them at different points depending on what the plant was doing.
I had been working on doing some research yesterday about them (ended up having to do swords in general), and because they're heavy root feeders and do best with iron is why I was thinking of doing an inch of laterite (as recommended) over the root tabs. The tabs I could find contained copper and I wanted to give the shrimp the best chance possible in surviving (by not knowingly adding something to the tank that would kill them). I also have a bottle of liquid ferts that I could use as well.
I'm still not entirely sure though if this is feasible, or if I should return the sword.
A 30 gallon is the same height as my 20 gallon, it is 16 3/4 inches tall from the outside, so with glass, substrate, and not filling it to the brim you'll probably be a bit short. However, you can always trim leaves that reach the surface, it will just grow new leaves. You'll quickly encounter problems in a 3 gallon kritter keeper though.
As for Iron, both root tabs and Flourish Comprehensive contain sufficient Iron to grow the plants, but you can still use an enriched substrate if you want. It just costs more money.
With Copper there is nothing to worry about. The amount of copper is very small and will not harm inverts. Many have them in their tanks and use Flourish with no ill effects, I myself have Ghost Shrimp, Mystery Snail, and Malaysian Trumpet Snails in my tanks. Copper is an essential nutrient to plant growth, but it may be worth seeing how much is in your tap water, this should be in your towns water quality report. Flourish contains 0.0001% copper which is one ten thousandths of a percent.
The 30-gallon cube I have is a little bit taller than that, but same idea I suppose. I understood it that they could be allowed to grow up out of the water as well though, which was why I was thinking perhaps the cube without a canopy (or with a partial canopy) might work out. Did you mean problems with the sword growing up out of the water with the Kritter Keeper? Or other problems?
Another reason I liked the laterite base over root tabs was that I figured it would just be easier, especially not having to remember to put a root tab in every...however often. Seemed to me, also, that over the long run it might even out price-wise. Maybe I'm wrong, but I like the idea of laterite over the root tabs. As for the Flourish Comprehensive, I do already have liquid ferts (which do have iron, but not copper), but given that they're more root feeders I didn't think the liquid ferts would be enough.
I had understood it to avoid copper period with shrimp, which was why I looked around for liquid ferts without copper, though if people have found from experience that it's more the level of copper then I'll, of course, defer to experience. According to my town's water quality report the city water contains 580ppb, which from what I could find would be equivalent to 0.000058%.
Where we'll be moving to, however, has well water...I want to say that I've seen a copper test kit at work, but I'm not positive if that is what it was (I know it was something to do with copper though).
Yes, if you do the enriched substrate you will not have to use root tabs. The Flourish ones are every 2-3 months, you would need 1 per sword plant placed about an inch or so from the crown. It's all personal preference really, and of course cost. Like I'm setting up a 125 gallon aquarium and using an enriched substrate would cost me a couple hundred dollars, while regular old play sand will cost me $20. In addition fish selection can be a factor, substrates like Flourite and Eco-Complete are rough/sharp and not a good choice for substrate fish like loaches or cory catfish.
Iron is only 1 of 17 nutrients plants need to grow, these nutrients need to be in a balance. Plants will photosynthesize all out until one of those 17 nutrients runs out, then it will stop. If it is lacking in one of those nutrients over time you'll start to see the effects in the leaves, like yellow spots or brown spots, or holes. Most people recommend the Flourish because it has all those nutrients in the correct proportions, but I'm sure there are other brands out there.
For the kritter keeper, I was thinking more of the fact that swords not only grown up, but they get wide too, they'll grow a lot of leaves. Mine came with 3 or 4 leaves all going straight up, and as you can see from my photo they've grown many more leaves and they get pretty wide at the top.
The leafs growing up above the surface isn't really a problem depending on the look you are going for. With some plants, you'll end up with the entire leaf portion out of water, and under water all you will have are the stems. It is much easier for plants to obtain CO2 from the air than the water. I don't have experience with your particular species of sword to say what it will do though.
Ooh, yea, 125-gallons would definitely be costly if done with enriched substrate. I've been looking around to see if laterite can be bought in bulk (kind of like top soil) but, so far...no luck. Which is a shame. I can certainly see the benefits of the tabs, even if I do prefer the idea of laterite, and after looking into it a little bit more I'm seeing how the 55oz. boxes of laterite are good for 55-gallons (http://www.aquarticles.com/articles/..._Laterite.html).
I do know that I can't go with Flourite or Eco-Complete as far as iron-enriched substrates go because at least in the 30-gallon I know I want to do Kuhlis and/or Cories. Now I'm kind of liking the idea of allowing a sword to grow up and out of the water/tank with that cube...I might just mix the laterite with the top soil I planned to use under my gravel/sand and perhaps even add a layer of peat like the above article mentions. Haha, I feel like this is a big science experiment or something.
Ah, that was my concern...getting wider and overtaking the tank. So now I have to decide what to do with this sword...whether to return it, exchange for a 4", or I guess even try keeping it emersed and submerse it later...
Yea, unfortunately it seems not many people have experience with this particular species if an online search is anything to go by. Most of what I'm finding is profiles (when using Yahoo -- Google doesn't really even give that).
Seriously though, I've really been appreciating your help with this.