Name: Echinodorus portoalegrensis
Origin: Southern Brazil
We have this plant at the moment. When I first brought it home, it was in perfect health and looked really nice, but then it begain to make holes in some leaves, the snails in the tank got to it, and other leaves broke off. But now, 2 months later, the plant is fighting back. Its new leaves have red vains on the back, and its roots are outgrowing the little pot it was sold in, so we will take it out and plant it in the gravel. The snails have not touched the new leaves, so it looks like it is going to grow into a strong plant now that it has established its new roots. I highly recommend this attractive, fast growing, medium sized plant, which looks good as a single plant at the front of the tank.
I purchased my Porto Alegre Sword plant at a small pet store that advertised it as a suitable plant for my micro tank (20 L) where the entire setup is scaled down to appear to be a larger aquascape. When I brought it home, most of the leaves were bright red to pale green. As the plant matured, it grew to be as tall as 25 cm and as wide as 30 cm. I was worried at first that it would keep growing, but it has really filled in nicely. The leaves grow darker with age, however, I have found that increasing the level of chelated iron in the tank has helped retain the beautiful scarlet of the new leaves until they are at least half as large as the fully developed ones. As a note, I would warn anyone who tries to change the iron levels too much, as it lead to a booster crop of black algae in the weeks that followed my first and only overdose (no fish were harmed).
The root network is extensive, however, the plant is hardy and takes well to being moved around in the fine gravel. My fish are mostly small (less than 2 cm) and really love the cover that the leaves offer. They are like big canopies that shade the leaves of more delicate plants below in the substrate. At one point a tiny snail came home on a new plant and since has burrowed into the center of the plant, nibbling tiny holes in the new shoots; as a result, some of the leaves emerge with small, healed holes near the tips. Lastly, when moving this plant, I found that the leaves will migrate around the center stalk towards the light, then the individual stems become frozen if in that position for more than a day; what ends up happening is the leaves can appear to be at really awkward angles, making planning a good tool when moving this plant around.
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