Anubias vs Amazon Sword: Which Is Best?

Posted by on 08/01/2023

Both Anubias and Amazon Swords make for beginner-friendly aquarium plants, but there are subtle differences hobbyists should be aware of. In this post, we'll compare both Anubias and Amazon Swords so that you can make an informed decision when purchasing your next aquatic plant.


When aquarium hobbyists refer to Anubias, they are often referring to a particular species - Anubias barteri. However, there are over 12 different Anubias species, with more variations being discovered almost every year. 

These flowering plants are native to western Africa and have earned a reputation for being some of the easiest-to-care-for aquatic plants.

Anubias are slow-growing, rhizome-based plants, whose roots should not be buried. Instead, the roots of the plant should be exposed and should either wrap around a hardscape like driftwood, or be glued to a stone, such as a seiryu stone. Compared to an Amazon Sword, the Anubias plant is much smaller in size, and will only grow to be about 3-5 inches in height.

Image of Anubias
An Anubias plant flowering

Amazon Swords

Similar to Anubias, the name Amazon Sword is attributed to plants that fall under the Echinodorus genus. Hailing from the central United States to as far south as Argentina, over 40 different plants comprise the Echinodorus genus. 

In the aquarium hobby, similar to Anubias Barteri, when people refer to an Amazon Sword, they're typically referring to Echinodorus grisebachi

This plant makes for an excellent background plant and can be planted directly in the aquarium substrate. The plant is typically a slow-grower, but when exposed to an environment with ample amounts of CO2 and high light, can grow quite quickly.

With an appearance resembling the Java Fern, the Amazon Sword makes for an excellent beginner plant.

Image of an Amazon Sword
Amazon swords have narrow, vertically-growing leaves

Best for Low Light Aquariums

Light intensity can be measured in PAR, and for aquariums with a par reading between 10-30, you can't go wrong with Anubias. Unless you've gone out of your way to purchase a high-intensity light fixture, most aquarium kits are bundled with a light fixture that would put you in low-light territory, making Anubias an excellent option.

We've even grown this plant from sunlight in north-facing windows without any issues. The plant will sprout offshoots every few weeks, making propagation a breeze. 

Best for High Light Aquariums

If you have a powerful aquarium light, don't pass on the Amazon Sword. Its long, blade-like leaves will show off their best light-green coloration under bright lighting. Provided ample nutrients and a near-constant supply of CO2, this plant can grow quickly, and when propagated, can look fantastic as an aquarium background plant.

Our Takeaway

If you're new to planted aquariums, go with Anubias. If you struggle to keep this plant alive, you can easily trim off damaged leaves, and the plant will continue to grow. Due to Amazon Sword's larger leaves, any damage from nutrient deficiency will be much more visually-apparent, and the entire leaf will need to be pruned. For this reason, we recommend Amazon swords for those who have had at least some experience in caring for aquatic plants.

Image of Miles Harrison

Miles Harrison

With over a decade of aquarium experience, Miles can be found writing about saltwater and freshwater aquariums. When he’s not writing about fish, you can find him going for a run or building websites, such as this one!