Echinodorus tenellus
 Pygmy Chain Sword


Background History

Echinodorus tenellus is an ideal carpeting foreground plant popularized by Japanese aquascaper, Takashi Amano.  Echinodorus tenellus is a natural bog and marsh plant that inhabits the areas northern areas of South America and into North America. It has become a favorite of hobbyists not only because of its easy to cultivate, but also because its tendency to grow red tips under high intensities of light.

Echinodorus tenellus is commonly referred to as Pygmy Chain Sword, and should not be confused with Sagittaria subulata (Dwarf sagittaria).

Growth Characteristics

Echinodorus tenellus is composed of bright green leaves that can span to a width and height of 2-4 inches (5-10 cm).  This plant requires moderate light to grow at its maximum potential. Under these lighting conditions, and carbon dioxide injection, Echinodorus tenellus spread through runners across the aquarium floor.  The growth is typically compact, with a moderate growth rate.  Under high light conditions, the tips of the leaves will exhibit a red coloration.

Micronutrients and a healthy substrate bed will allow the plant to grow readily.  Iron increases the red characteristics.

Propagation is through splitting the runner chains.  

Aquascaping Potential

Initially, Echinodorus tenellus should be planted in small groups of plantlets, spread evenly 2 inches apart, across the foreground of the aquarium.  With a moderate growth rate, Echinodorus tenellus will an aquarium foreground in little time. 

This plant is often paired with other foreground species such as Riccia fluitans, Glossostigma elatinoides, and Hemianthus callitrichoides.  Aquascapers will allow the plant’s runners to grow interconnected with these foreground plants to achieve a blending effect.

Plant Profile
Scientific Name: Echinodorus tenellus
Common Name: Pygmy Chain Sword
Difficulty: Easy
CO2 Requirements: Moderate
Lighting Requirements: Medium
Plant Arrangement: Foreground
Growth Rate: Moderate
Family: Alismataceae
Genus: Echinodorus
Origin: North and South America
Plant Type: Rosette
Water Hardness: Medium (GH = 9-13 dH)