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Plant Deterioration - Diagnosis & Suggestions?

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Online fcmf

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Plant deterioration - diagnosis & suggestions?
« on: July 30, 2017, 05:30:02 PM »
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Here is my new Echinodorus Harbich which arrived on Friday. Already, its thick green leaves have deteriorated - holes in some and brown marks on others. I have recently starting dosing Seachem Flourish fortnightly and indeed dosed it on Friday given that I was putting in several new plants. I'm beginning to think my year-long plant-keeping skills are going in reverse. Any advice/suggestions?

Edited to add: also adding a pic of all my empty plant pots ie 16 killed plants in my first year of plant-keeping.  :-[

Offline Matt

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Re: Plant deterioration - diagnosis & suggestions?
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2017, 06:02:58 PM »
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See https://forums.thinkfish.co.uk/fish-tank-plant-advice/useful-plant-diagnosis-charts/
And http://www.seachem.com/flourish.php

It looks like a potassium defficiency to me but I'm only going off what I can see on the bottom most image on the charts and the fact that flourish doesn't contain any.

Offline TrenchyLs

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Re: Plant deterioration - diagnosis & suggestions?
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2017, 06:07:17 PM »
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Not a plant expert at all, stuff seems to grow in my tank more by luck than judgement!

Looking at some pictures on line I'd say that those leaves are the emersed form and will die off naturally as the plant transitions to its submersed foliage.

Especially since you said "arrived" so I'm guessing it came through the post rather than out of a tank at your LFS.

Offline Sue

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Re: Plant deterioration - diagnosis & suggestions?
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2017, 06:52:29 PM »
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Seachem Flourish (with nothing else in the name) contains trace minerals, also called micronutrients. Potassium is a macronutrient - it is the K in NPK - and can be dosed separately.

I don't know much about plants except the few I grow, but I do know that a lot of plants go funny (melt) when first put in a tank, particularly crypts. And that as Trenchy says, a lot are grown out of water and lose their leaves when put into water - but they do grow new leaves.

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Plant deterioration - diagnosis & suggestions?
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2017, 07:29:00 PM »
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It is common for plants grown emersed to drop a few leaves when submerged. I tend to cut off the brown leaves. They soon grow new ones.  :)

Online fcmf

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Re: Plant deterioration - diagnosis & suggestions?
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2017, 08:30:50 PM »
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THIS POST, AND THE 6 POSTS WHICH FOLLOW IT, HAVE BEEN MOVED FROM "REJUVENATING NEGLECTED TANK" THREAD AND MERGED INTO THIS THREAD.  C:-)

Add the plant fertiliser the day after a water change. The dechlorinator will contain a chemical to bind metals so it is better not to add both at the same time.
Wondering if this is where I'm going wrong too. :vcross: Change of regime from this week onwards.

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Plant deterioration - diagnosis & suggestions?
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2017, 08:46:06 PM »
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@fcmf did you also say that you ordered the plants online? Did you get them from Aquarium Gardens? They grow their plants emerged, and it's not uncommon for leaves to die off when the plants are fully submerged, which may also be why plants from LFS do a bit better, because they are submerged at the store.
The other advice I picked up when I went to the talk by George Farmer, he said smaller amounts of fertiliser daily works better. I tend to add liquid fertiliser and liquid carbon daily (when I remember), which although can be a bit time consuming with a lot of tanks, seems to keep things more stable. A couple of fertiliser tabs work wonders as well.

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Re: Plant deterioration - diagnosis & suggestions?
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2017, 09:45:29 PM »
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Yes, @Littlefish - that's exactly where I got them from. That's all very interesting - thanks.

The last batch did particularly badly, and some from the previous batch didn't do very well either, so I e-mailed them to seek advice and have had a helpful reply, including that very point about a small amount of fertiliser daily. Although I've only recently got the Seachem Flourish, and it doesn't contain the macro nutrients given the presence of fish and fish food for NKP, they recommend an all-in-one product called TNC Complete which contains macro and micro nutrients, as well as carbon/CO2. I seem to recollect a risk with CO2 overdosing to the potential detriment of the fish - is this a risk with all CO2/carbon products? Would fertiliser tabs be of any use when my plants are either tied to wood or kept in their plastic pots (due to only having sand as a substrate)?



Offline Sue

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Re: Plant deterioration - diagnosis & suggestions?
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2017, 09:55:01 PM »
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Root tabs are only used with plants that are rooted in the substrate. You need liquid fertliser for those plants growing on decor.

All 'liquid CO2' contain glutaraldehyde or something similar. It is this that can kill fish and plants if overdosed. Since I discovered what they containedvI stopped using them though lots of people swear by them. But if you have only slow growing low light plants like me CO2 in any form is not necessary. It's the high tech plants requiring strong light that need added CO2. Apparently, the micro-orgnisms that live in the substrate make enough CO2 for low tech plants.

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Plant deterioration - diagnosis & suggestions?
« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2017, 10:04:37 PM »
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I agree with Sue with regards to slow growing plants not needing carbon.
For a few of my more heavily planted tanks, and especially those with bigger/taller plants, I generally go with around 1/7th of the liquid fertiliser daily, along with probably less than the required amount of liquid carbon. I'm aware of the issues with liquid carbon, and tend to err on the side of caution with that. So far so good with my gang.
With your plants in pots, do they still have the rockwool around them?

Offline Sue

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Re: Plant deterioration - diagnosis & suggestions?
« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2017, 10:11:39 PM »
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I'd missed that comment about the pots.

You can plant in sand, lots of people do very successfully. If you keep them in pots, they need to be planted in something, along the lines of growing garden plants in containers. Though no garden compost in a fish tank  ;)

Online fcmf

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Re: Plant deterioration - diagnosis & suggestions?
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2017, 07:23:46 PM »
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With your plants in pots, do they still have the rockwool around them?
Yes, I keep them as they come ie still in their rockwool.

You can plant in sand, lots of people do very successfully. If you keep them in pots, they need to be planted in something, along the lines of growing garden plants in containers. Though no garden compost in a fish tank  ;)
I have enough trouble trying to get the plant pots to stay upright, that I think any attempt to have the plants staying upright in the sand is going to fail. Is keeping them in their rockwool alright or ought I to be transferring them into something else?

Offline Sue

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Re: Plant deterioration - diagnosis & suggestions?
« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2017, 08:21:55 PM »
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I'm not a plant expert by any means but I think you are supposed to remove the rockwool. I usually pick the last bits out very carefully under water in the sink.

I would listen to the plant experts if they say differently, but could you place some decor over the roots? Or use a wide, shallow dish to put the plants in, but use gravel rather than sand in the dish?

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Plant deterioration - diagnosis & suggestions?
« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2017, 09:31:22 PM »
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I was wondering if removing the rockwool, and putting the plant back in the pot with some gravel, might give the roots more room and allow more water flow & more nutrients to the roots.
I've got amazon swords in the axolotl tank which I've attached to decor, rather than planted, because the axolotls kept digging & moving the plants when they were in the substrate. I don't know if it's worth trying that with your plants, it probably depends on how delicate your plants are.

Offline Matt

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Re: Plant deterioration - diagnosis & suggestions?
« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2017, 01:49:15 PM »
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I would remove the rock wool as you say - no nutrients for the roots to feed on here.  Planting in either gravel pots or sand equally good.  Ideal particle size 2-3mm so your likely to be one side or the other with these.  The plants needs nutrients as I mentioned earlier... I'd recommend root tabs.

A good tip for planting in sand is to take a milk bottle top, cut a cross through with a knife and push the roots through.  This means that it now has a support much like a fake plant to keep it in place in the sand.

Online fcmf

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Re: Plant deterioration - diagnosis & suggestions?
« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2017, 04:28:19 PM »
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Thanks, all - very helpful. I think I have sufficient supplies to make this do-able (once I get some root tabs).

In terms of the macro-nutrients, is this a moment of wishful thinking* impairing my thoughts or might the addition of more fish (and thus fish food) actually help the situation further?
[*following having noticed some tempting ember tetras recently]

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Plant deterioration - diagnosis & suggestions?
« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2017, 06:32:03 PM »
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@fcmf perhaps they sell root tabs at the same place as the ember tetras  ;)

Online fcmf

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Re: Plant deterioration - diagnosis & suggestions?
« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2017, 07:07:08 PM »
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True...  :D  The only issue is that, with what is realistically a water volume of 45 litres (decor and lower waterline taken into account) and oversized filter, 8 ember tetras (realistic minimum) would push the stocking limit to 100% which is too close for comfort; while some folk could get away with this, would be just my luck that there'd be a power cut or that one of the two filters would malfunction.

Offline marquismirage

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Re: Plant deterioration - diagnosis & suggestions?
« Reply #18 on: August 12, 2017, 07:43:18 PM »
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I use the lead plant weights to keep floaters down.

Offline Matt

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Re: Plant deterioration - diagnosis & suggestions?
« Reply #19 on: August 13, 2017, 02:58:36 AM »
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I would say you could consider the ember tetras once the plants are growing well as they we'll boost "filtration".  You are right that more fish and more food equals more macro nutrients. You might also wish to consider dosing micro nutrients to get the plants going.

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Re: Plant deterioration - diagnosis & suggestions?
« Reply #20 on: August 18, 2017, 09:44:59 PM »
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Root tabs now 'in situ'. Let's hope this results in the boost the plants require!

Offline marquismirage

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Re: Plant deterioration - diagnosis & suggestions?
« Reply #21 on: August 20, 2017, 04:45:22 AM »
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Most plants don't require macro nutrients if you've setup the tank with a decent substrate.  The echinodorus harbich is considered a 'red' plant and will greatly benefit from high lighting and micro nutrients, especially iron, as new leaves will be red before they turn green.  In my experience larger echinodorus varities take longer to establish and are slow growing.  The emersed form has rounder/hairier leaves while the submerged form has much narrower leaves.  If your plant was grown emersed it will take a few months to fully transition.

Offline Sue

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Re: Plant deterioration - diagnosis & suggestions?
« Reply #22 on: August 20, 2017, 10:40:59 AM »
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The plant experts will correct me if I'm wrong but my understanding is that a tank fully stocked with fish will produce enough nitrogen in the form of ammonia for the plants. Fish food contains potassium and phosphorus, the other two macronutrients, and this will feed the plants either directly from uneaten fish food or the fish excreting the excess in the food just like we do.
Uneaten fish food, fish poo, bits of dead plant etc end up in the substrate as we know from when we clean it during a water change. Bacteria in the substrate break this muck down and produce carbon dioxide, which is why adding CO2 is unnecessary for all but hi-tech tanks. Those people with a lot of plants rooted in gravel rarely clean the gravel because of the roots getting in the way and their tanks come to no harm from this.
[But those with few or no live plants do need to hoover up the muck in the gravel/on the sand  :) ]

I have even learned recently that you shouldn't clean up the dead spots under decor as that's where some anaerobic bacteria live.

Online fcmf

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Re: Plant deterioration - diagnosis & suggestions?
« Reply #23 on: August 20, 2017, 11:51:50 AM »
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Thanks, both.

The echinodorus harbich is considered a 'red' plant and will greatly benefit from high lighting and micro nutrients, especially iron, as new leaves will be red before they turn green.
Thanks. Perhaps there are red strains of this plant but mine - what's left of it - is this http://www.aquariumgardens.co.uk/echinodorus-harbich-907-p.asp one and, when the leaves have turned brown, they've died.


Offline marquismirage

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Re: Plant deterioration - diagnosis & suggestions?
« Reply #24 on: August 20, 2017, 02:45:29 PM »
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The plant experts will correct me if I'm wrong but my understanding is...

I'm not a plant expert but I've successfully grown a variety now and what you're saying is correct except the tank doesn't need to be fully stocked as a single fish of around 4 cm with food can provide enough for multiple plants.  I've seen tanks that have no filter at all and the plants and a few fish are kept in balance.  Amazing to see but beyond me at the moment.  With my fully stocked tanks and lots of plants I clean the exposed substrate once a week during water changes as the mess still builds up but the eco system keeps the water quality going for that week.  I could probably go for longer on a couple of tanks but why risk it.

CO2 will speed up a plants growth but is not vital.  If you're trying to get a complete aquascape garden in six months then CO2 will do it.  However, if you want to reduce constant plant trimming leave the extra CO2 out.  I've scrapped the CO2 system I was using on the Amazon tank and the plants are doing great.

@fcmf Looks like you have an emersed form so even if the plant looks to have completely died have patience with it and new leaves will grow.  This strain looks to have been produced from the original echinodorus harbich strain so even if it doesn't go red it's still in its genetic makeup to make good use of iron.

Offline Sue

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Re: Plant deterioration - diagnosis & suggestions?
« Reply #25 on: August 20, 2017, 02:56:03 PM »
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The problem with using CO2 in any form is that you have to make sure that lighting (intensity, wavelength & duration) and fertliser are in balance. Adding CO2 to tanks with slow growing plants, low intensity lighting and little to no fertliser will do nothing for plants, and may even encourage algae. Conversely, tanks with fast growing plants, high intensity lighting and lots of added fertliser won't do well without added CO2.

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