Care Level: Moderately Difficult
Water Conditions: 6.8-7.5, and Soft to Moderately Hard
Lighting Requirements: High
Temperature: 70 to 83 F (21-28 C)
Maximum Size: 3 Inches (7.5 cm)
The Brazilian micro sword (Lilaeopsis brasiliensis) is a short-stemmed plant, that can be grown as a carpet in an aquarium. It is found throughout much of Brazil, and it grows both fully submersed and partially submersed on the banks of rivers and streams.
It will grow to a maximum size of 3 inches (7.5 cm) in a home aquarium, and will form a dense and impressive carpet if it is provided the right mix of CO2, nutrients and lighting. This can be a somewhat difficult plant to grow, and should only be attempted by aquarists who have some experience with aquatic plants.
Brazilian micro sword is primarily used in the foreground of an aquarium, and should only be grown planted in a nutrient rich substrate. I would strongly recommend using Flourite the premium substrate for aquariums, which provides essential nutrients to plant roots.
If you have any hope of this plant growing well in your aquarium, you will have to provide it with excellent lighting. It should be provided with T5 or T8 fluorescent lights, although some people have reported success with newer LED lights. You really should aim for a minimum of 3 watts per gallon, and any light provided should be direct light. With that being said, it can still be grown in shade, though its growth will be severely restricted.
This plant also requires the regular addition of fertilizers to the aquarium, and it should have nitrate, phosphate and micro-nutrients added to the water column. At the very least, I would recommend using Seachem Flourish Excel to help with the growth of your Lilaeopsis brasiliensis.
To really experience proper growth with the Brazilian micro sword, you will need to supplement the CO2 in your aquarium. For lush and steady growth, you have to strike a balance between current, dissolved CO2 and the depth of the aquarium to ensure that this plant can properly utilize the CO2
Brazilian micrco sword propagates from runners, and the runners can be pinched off, or allowed to spread on their own. If allowed to propagate on its own, it will form a much desired carpet effect in the substrate of the aquarium, and can provide a truly spectacular aquascape.
Brazilian micro swords are compatible with most species of community fish, though it will suffer if it is kept with any large digging cichlids. Most large, herbivore fish should also be avoided, though most plecos can co-exist with this plant.
How to Form a Carpet
The main goal when introducing Brazilian micro sword is usually to form a carpet. The easiest way to form a carpet it to insert the plants in a diagonal rows across the substrate of the aquarium, so that it almost resembles a chess board. This allows each plant to spread into the open spaces, and within a few months you will have a dense and shaggy carpet.