Why Your Amazon Sword Is Turning Brown And How To Fix It!

The most common causes of Amazon sword turning brown is due to lighting problems, insufficient nutrients, water parameters, disease, damage, problems with substrate, and an overcrowded tank.

Amazon sword plants are popular freshwater aquarium plants known for their lush, bright green leaves that add beauty and color to any aquatic environment. However, sometimes aquarists may notice their Amazon sword plant’s leaves turning brown, causing concern and sparking a search for the cause and a solution to this issue.

There are several possible reasons behind the Amazon sword turning brown, including a lack of nutrients such as potassium, iron, and calcium, changes in the tank environment, and or something eating the plant. By understanding these potential causes, one can take the necessary steps to prevent further browning and ensure that their Amazon sword plant remains healthy and vibrant as it contributes to the overall aesthetic of the aquarium.

Key Takeaways

  • Nutrient deficiencies, such as potassium, iron, and calcium, can lead to Amazon sword leaves turning brown.
  • Ensuring proper water parameters and providing necessary nutrients can prevent browning in new growth.
  • Regular maintenance, such as removing brown leaves and monitoring nutrient levels, will help keep Amazon sword plants healthy and vibrant.

Understanding Amazon Sword Plant

amazon sword turning brown

The Amazon Sword (Echinodorus grisebachii) is a popular species of aquatic plants, known for its large, broad leaves that vary in color from green to brown. Native to South America, these plants are often found both emersed and submersed in various water conditions, making them suitable for many types of freshwater aquariums.

Amazon Swords are considered low-maintenance and easy-to-care-for aquarium plants. Their ability to absorb nutrients through their roots makes them beneficial to the overall health and balance of the tank. Keeping this plant in optimal condition requires a proper understanding of its needs and preferences.

As an adaptable species, Amazon Swords can grow both emersed (above water) and submersed (underwater), but they tend to display more vibrant colors and growth patterns when fully submerged. The plant’s broad leaves provide an excellent shelter for fish and can contribute to the stability of the aquarium’s ecosystem. These leaves can change color over time, which might be an indication of the plant’s health.

To ensure a healthy Amazon Sword plant, it is essential to provide it with nutrient-rich substrate in the aquarium. Good water circulation and sufficient lighting levels allow the plant to manifest its full potential, but sudden changes in water parameters should be avoided. Regular pruning and maintenance can keep the plant in good shape and allow it to continue benefitting the rest of the aquarium inhabitants.

In summary, the Amazon Sword is a versatile and robust aquarium plant, offering both beauty and functionality to a wide range of aquatic environments. Proper care, attention to its needs, and regular maintenance can ensure a long and healthy lifespan for this attractive addition to your aquarium.

Why Your Amazon Sword Is Turning Brown!

Amazon sword leaves turning brown

There are a large number of potential reasons that your Amazon sword plant may turn brown but here are the more common ones that we see people have issues with time and time again.

Lighting Issues

Improper lighting can lead to your Amazon Sword turning brown. The plants may not receive adequate light if the aquarium is placed in a low light area.

Furthermore, some aquarium plants are more sensitive to excessive or the wrong spectrum lighting. To ensure proper lighting, consider using an LED light designed for freshwater aquariums and make sure the lights are on for a reasonable duration, typically 10-12 hours per day.

Insufficient Nutrients

A primary cause for Amazon Swords turning brown is nutrient deficiency. Plants require a balanced supply of nutrients like iron, potassium, and carbon to grow healthily. A lack of potassium or iron can cause leaf discoloration. A depleted source of carbon can also stress the plant, leading to browning.

To fix this, root tabs or liquid fertilizers such as Seachem Flourish can be used. Furthermore, the regular use of Seachem Prime in water changes can aid in providing essential minerals.

Water Parameters

An imbalance in water parameters such as ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH levels can stress plants, leading to browning Amazon Swords. Regular water changes and regular testing of KH, GH, and temperature will help maintain ideal water conditions.

Soft water with a lower hardness level is recommended for Amazon Swords due to the bioavailability of minerals. The older the plant gets the more sensitive it can be to browning too.

Ideal water conditions for Amazon Swords include:

  • Temperature: 72-82°F
  • pH: 6.5-7.5
  • KH: 3-8
  • GH: 8-12


Plant diseases can cause Amazon Sword leaves to turn brown. For example, algae can grow on the leaves, and if a brown slimy substance can be wiped off the leaves, this is likely the issue. Algae infestations can result from excessive lighting or poor water quality. Reducing lighting duration and performing water changes can help control algae growth.

There are a number of other diseases that can effect your Amazon sword plant too with each having their own cause and cure. Most diseases are obvious though helping you workout that this is the problem.


Physical damage or trauma to the plant can cause browning leaves. This can happen during the handling or transport of plants as well as when they are uprooted by goldfish and other fish in the tank. Inspect plants for signs of damage and trim away affected leaves to encourage new growth.

Problems With Substrate

The substrate you use in your aquarium plays a crucial role in the health and growth of Amazon Swords. Ensure that the gravel or substrate used is conducive to root development and does not hinder the absorption of nutrients. Root tabs can be used to supply nutrients directly to roots if the substrate is not well-suited for plant growth.


An overcrowded tank might negatively impact the health of your Amazon Sword and cause the leaves to turn brown. Overcrowding can limit the amount of light and nutrients available to the plants. In such cases, proper pruning and space management will be beneficial for the overall health of all aquarium plants.

An infographic going over 6 Reasons Your Amazon Sword Plant Is Turning Brown!

Preventing Browning in New Growth

Thriving Amazon sword plant

There are a number of different things that you are able to do for your Amazon sword plant to reduce the chances of its leaves browning again in the future. In most cases, there is no need to implement all of the suggestions below but trying to take advantage of as many as possible is usually a good idea.

Proper Placement

Selecting a proper location in the freshwater aquarium for the Amazon Sword is crucial as this species thrives under specific lighting conditions. For optimal growth and to avoid new leaves turning brown, provide moderate to strong light for 10-12 hours per day.

Regular Maintenance

Regularly monitoring the water quality parameters such as ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels is necessary. Conducting partial water changes at least twice a month will help to maintain a healthy environment, benefiting the growth of Amazon Swords. Moreover, it is essential to clean the aquarium substrate from time to time, as it ensures the plant’s roots remain healthy.

Healthy Water Conditions

Amazon Swords prefer soft water with a slightly acidic to neutral pH (6.5-7.5). Maintaining a stable water temperature between 72-82°F is also vital for their survival. Monitor the water hardness (KH) and ensure it is within the recommended range of 3-8 dKH. Providing minerals such as calcium and magnesium contributes to the overall water hardness, thus creating favorable water conditions for the plant’s growth.

Nutrient Supplementation

Since Amazon Swords are root feeders, they absorb most of their nutrients through their roots. Consequently, incorporating nutrient-rich substrates or using root tabs with a balanced mix of nutrients, including iron, can significantly improve the plant’s health.

Additionally, providing a liquid fertilizer such as Seachem Flourish can further enhance the nutrient availability. If CO2 injection is considered necessary, make sure to strike a balance so as not to harm the fish or the plants.

Applying Seachem Prime or a similar water conditioner during water changes can help to neutralize harmful compounds, further improving water quality.

Dealing With Nutrient And Mineral Deficiencies

Healthy amazon sword plant

In dealing with nutrient and mineral deficiencies, it is essential to identify the specific deficiency your Amazon Sword plant is experiencing. Two common deficiencies include iron and calcium.

Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency is often characterized by pale, brown or yellowing leaves. Amazon Sword plants can suffer from this deficiency, leading to brown spots on the leaves. To treat iron deficiency, make sure your aquarium water contains adequate levels of iron by using an appropriate iron-rich fertilizer or root tab. Here are some steps to address iron deficiency issues:

  1. Add a suitable iron-based fertilizer to the water column according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Insert root tabs containing iron near the base of the plant to provide a direct source of this vital nutrient.
  3. Monitor the new growth carefully, as signs of improvement will show in newly sprouted leaves.
  4. Maintain a balanced level of key nutrients and minerals, including magnesium which aids in the plant’s ability to absorb iron effectively.

Calcium Deficiency

Calcium deficiency is another critical nutrient deficiency that can affect Amazon Sword plants. It may cause twisted or malformed leaves, slow growth, and general weakening of the plant. To address calcium deficiency, follow these guidelines:

  1. Test the aquarium water to determine if the calcium levels are adequate.
  2. If the calcium levels are found to be low, consider adding a calcium supplement to the water.
  3. Use a balanced fertilizer containing calcium to support a healthy plant system.
  4. Ensure that the right pH level is maintained in the aquarium, as higher pH levels will inhibit calcium absorption.
  5. Gradually increase calcium levels to avoid sudden or drastic changes in water chemistry, which could potentially harm your Amazon Sword plant and the aquarium ecosystem as a whole.

By addressing these nutrient and mineral deficiencies, one can significantly increase the overall health and growth of Amazon Sword plants, ensuring vibrant coloration and robust growth. Taking these steps should help your Amazon Sword maintain a beautiful and visually compelling addition to your aquarium landscape.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are several reasons why the leaves of your Amazon sword plant may be turning brown. The most common reason is a lack of nutrition, specifically deficiencies in Potassium, Iron, and Calcium. Additionally, inadequate lighting, poor water conditions, and algae growth can also contribute to the browning of the leaves.

To fix browning Amazon sword leaves, begin by addressing the potential causes. Ensure that your plant is receiving adequate lighting and consider adding a nutrient-rich substrate or liquid fertilizer to provide the essential nutrients. Regularly test your aquarium water to maintain the recommended pH range of 6.5-7.5 and appropriate levels of other parameters such as ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.

Browning leaves on an Amazon sword plant are not necessarily a sign of the plant dying but can be an indication of an underlying issue. It’s essential to address the potential causes and monitor the plant’s health. If new growth appears healthy, it’s likely that the plant is recovering, but if browning continues or worsens, further action may be required.

A deficiency in Potassium and Iron is often the primary cause of brown leaves in Amazon sword plants. A lack of Potassium can cause leaves to change color, while Iron deficiency can lead to chlorosis, a yellowing of the leaves. If you observe holes forming in the leaves, this may indicate a Calcium deficiency. To prevent nutrient deficiencies, ensure your aquarium has a nutrient-rich substrate and consider supplementing with liquid fertilizer as needed.

Similar Posts