What to grow...
Amazon sword plants, Echinodorus sp., have bold, blade shaped leaves and grow into an impressive rosette of foliage given time. Many varieties can get quite big (60cm/24in) high, but if you have the space there are few aquatic plants that are more impressive. While they will do best in a nutrient rich substrate, they are tough enough to get by in just sand or gravel, with perhaps the occasional feed via a ‘root tab’ type fertiliser.
For those with smaller tanks, dwarf varieties are available as well as forms with more colourful leaves if plain green isn’t for you. Once established they spread via runners and can pop up all over your tank floor giving a natural look. Like many aquatic plants they tend to be grown commercially with only the roots in water, so can die back once submerged in your tank; give them time and they’ll soon sprout new leaves and recover. Be aware that vegetarian fish species will find their leaves a tasty treat.
Echinodorus sp. ‘Barthii’ is one for larger tanks.