View Full Version : Java Fern vs. Swords?

12-01-2007, 03:03 AM
I know the Java fern is a hearty plant and can deal easily with low light. Swords require a little more care...

I want something which look like these in my new tank. What I want to know is what each looks like in a tank. Looking around the Java appears to be a shorter plant, while the sword can get quite large. My tank is a 20 long, only 12 inches high (30 cm). I'm also looking for the one which I can have a few and it won't overtake with it's size (creating shade etc...)

What can you suggest on experience? Personal pics definitely welcome!

12-01-2007, 04:23 AM
Rich, here's a month-old photo of my 20H with an Amazon sword at the center and the java fern slightly to the right. I've had the sword about 3 months - it's grown more out than up. I think I only had about 6 or 7 leaves originally - they are the darker external leaves. The new leaves grew in longer and paler than the original ones. I don't do anything in particular for the plants. The light is the one that came with the tank - don't know what the wattage is but I'm sure it's pretty low - so I'm happy with the way the plant grew.

I bought the java fern small and have only had it 1.5 months. I'm pretty sure they can grow larger, but it seems to be progressing slowly. Mine recently started to show signs of growing child plants. I think the leaves on the fern are particularly pretty - they have an intricate design to them when looked at closely. I will probably get another java fern to replace that white ribbon plant on the lower left. White ribbon is sold as aquatic, but isn't. It's already started turning brown, unfortunately. My other plants are plastic.

Hope that helps.

12-01-2007, 05:14 AM
Hmmm that adds a twist, but the java is still young. Your tank is higher than mine too so that could add another twist. I like the look of your Amazon Sword. The java Fern seems to take on a "twisted" look.

Lady Hobbs
12-01-2007, 06:21 AM
Swords will not grow well in low light tanks. They need med to high light.

12-01-2007, 06:23 AM
Swords will not grow well in low light tanks. They need med to high light.

I've heard the same with Cabomba, and it was proved incosistant. Are you getting this from experience or from what you read? Just asking....

12-01-2007, 06:50 AM
We know from personal experience that swords do not grow good in low light. We have had 4 sword plants die off before we realized not enough light. Now we currently have about 2.5 wpg and our swords are doing fine now. That and we have since added fluorite.

12-01-2007, 06:40 PM
I bought the sword because I was having trouble with my cycle and thought I could transplant some bacteria with it, so I wasn't particularly concerned about how well it would grow. Still, it's survived a coat of fuzz algae, a 10% bleach solution, and a couple of hungry tetras and it's 2-3x as big as when I bought it. But as mentioned, mine is growing out - I think it's supposed to grow upward, or at least I've seen amazon swords much taller than mine with long stems and broad leaves whereas mine is growing long narrow leaves with short stems, so maybe that's the difference between it growing "well" and just growing?

12-01-2007, 07:17 PM
There are lots of Swordplants on the market, some of them can become real monsters, others stay very tiny, they really resembla grass on a well mowed meadow.

So you just have to take a good look around and/or google a bit, so it wont be THAT big problem to find exactly the plant you need for your tank.

By the way, I would recommend the "Echinodorus bleheri", max. height about 30 cm.

Aah befor I forget, Swords not only need good light, but also good fertilisation. (clay balls are perfect for them)

12-01-2007, 07:36 PM
I don't know what spp. of sword I have...but I've had it for years growing with reg. incand. lights...and whatever light it gets from the windows...it's a bright location (just because we have big windows)...also have the java fern in that tank, also doing very well...

So both are thriving under low light...and so is the plant formerly known as Elodea...I always forget the new name...:22:

12-01-2007, 07:41 PM
you can always tie a java fern up high on some wood in your tank to give it the appearance of being big.

Lady Hobbs
12-01-2007, 08:51 PM
I had my swords die 3 times before I upgraded my lights. That's my experience. I still don't have killer lights but I do have over 2 watts per gallon of 6700K spectrum.

Also to add: all experiences are different, I think. Depends on the variety of swords as Andrea mentioned but also the subtrate used, how much fertilizers were given, etc. Swords like iron pellets both at the root and in the water column. They're iron hogs!