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Unhealthy Looking Plants

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Offline Baz

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Unhealthy looking Plants
« on: June 15, 2017, 02:58:23 PM »
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Hi,

Below are the plants I have in my aquarium, They all have a "brown" colouration to the leaves and some with holes in the leaves with some "yellowing". I presume that the "brown" colour is a consequence of algae (diatoms)? The plants are planted in Tetra Complete with a fine gravel topping, I have been feeding with "Flora Grow" and using liquid Co2. The plants do show signs of "new green growth" but very soon turn to the "brown" colour? What am I doing wrong. The aquarium is approximately 4 months old, fully cycled. Water parameters show 0 ammo, 0 nitrite, 0 - 5 nitrate (difficult to determine) and phosphate at 0.25 - 1ppm.

Bacopa amplexicaulis (Giant bacopa)
Cryptocoryne wendtii green
Echinodorus grisebachii Tropica
Hygrophila guanensis
Hygrophila mini
Staurogyne repens 

Offline Matt

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Re: Unhealthy looking Plants
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2017, 08:43:34 PM »
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Diatoms do like nitrates - why do you say this is difficult to determine?  Also poor circulation, do you think either might bw an issue?

I know your after whats causing it but... have you considered shrimp snails or otocinclus?  They will all be very effective at controlling diatoms.  You'll always have them.. Just not in the same quantity as you do now if we can find the root cause for you.

I would cut back on dosing ferts for a while.

Final thought... how deep is your gravel?

Offline Baz

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Re: Unhealthy looking Plants
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2017, 10:31:29 PM »
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Matt,

Substrate is about 3 - 4cm and the gravel topping about the same. I have 4 Amano shrimp and one Nerite Snail.

The reason I say that determining the nitrate level is difficult, is because the resultant colour of the API Master Test shows a "yellow colour" the same / similar to the colour chart indicating no or very little nitrate! I have thought about getting a couple of Oto's but did not want to add more fish to the aquarium at this time.

Offline Sue

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Re: Unhealthy looking Plants
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2017, 09:09:32 AM »
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While it is possible to have little or no nitrate, the reason is often because the test was not done properly. So can I check that you shook bottle 2 very hard for at least 30 seconds (longer is better) before adding it to the test tube, and that you shook the tube very hard for 1 minute before starting the 5 minute wait. The shaking is necessary to get accurate results because one of the reagents settles out on the bottom of the bottle and you have to get it back into the liquid.

Offline Baz

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Re: Unhealthy looking Plants
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2017, 09:30:16 AM »
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Sue,

I shook both bottles for well over a minute, I even stirred bottle #2 with a clean stainless steel rod to make sure it was fully mixed. I have not added any further fertilizer, just liquid Co2. I will be doing 30% water change Saturday to which I shall start to add Seachem Flourish at the recommended dosage to see if things improve. Would root tabs be of any benefit as well? As I said previously, new growth is evident but the new leaves very soon turn a "brown colour"? I forgot to mention that I have also had / got what I presume to be "green hair algae" only on the rear of the aquarium glass, if left to grow it appears to "wave" in the water movement?

Offline Sue

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Re: Unhealthy looking Plants
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2017, 09:41:47 AM »
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In that case, you have low nitrate  :) You'd be surprised how many people don't shake the bottle.
As a final check to make sure the tester isn't faulty, you could try testing your tap water then look at the water quality report on your water company's website. They should list nitrate in that. Their figure should be similar to your tap water test.


I have live plants but none of the ones in your list. Mine are slow growing plants that grow on decor. I use Seachem Flourish, but less than the bottle says because of the nature of my plants.
I have heard of people with very low tank nitrate having to add nitrate for the plants, but I know very little about doing this properly - it is only in the last couple of years that I have managed to keep plants alive.

Offline Baz

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Re: Unhealthy looking Plants
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2017, 02:24:24 PM »
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Sue,

Local water report (Oxfordshire) indicates 50ppm, when I test the tap water the colour of the test is "dark red" indicating that the level is well above 50ppm, but at least it shows my test kit is measuring something. There is a lot discussion elsewhere on other forums as to the accuracy of the API and indeed other nitrate test kits but, in the absence of anything else other than "laboratory equipment" what else is there? As I said, when the tank water is checked it is "yellow" indicating zero or very little nitrate? I too would like to know how / what to add to the water to at least see a change of colour to the test to indicate at least a possible 10 - 20ppm of nitrate.

Offline Sue

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Re: Unhealthy looking Plants
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2017, 03:05:43 PM »
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If your tester shows dark red for tap water, it is definitely working!
It is interesting that you have such a difference between tank and tap water. Every time you do a water change, you will be adding nitrate to it. I know that plants can reduce nitrate but I was under the impression that they didn't remove that much. The nitrates that you add with every water change must be going somewhere  ???

Just to check - you do use pure tap water for water changes, you don't mix RO or anything?
You list several plants, would you call the tank lightly, middling or heavily stocked with plants?


Offline Baz

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Re: Unhealthy looking Plants
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2017, 03:34:54 PM »
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Sue,

Because I have what I think is a high nitrate level in the tap water I have a Nitrate filter for it which I mix with RO/DI water at around 30% (3lts Ro / 7lts filtered tap) and relied on the "fish waste" etc to give the nitrates? I would say that the tank is moderately planted (approx. 110lts actual water volume). Do you think I could slowly introduce unfiltered tap water to the RO/DI water at the same ratio or maybe 50/50?

Offline Sue

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Re: Unhealthy looking Plants
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2017, 03:45:29 PM »
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That explains the low nitrate in the tank  :)

A bit of nitrate is good for plants, but they also use ammonia as food; they actually prefer ammonia over nitrate as fertiliser. [A few months ago I turned my filter off and only realised  I hadn't turned it back on 24 hours later. Even though I only have slow growing plants, though I do have the floating water sprite, my ammonia was zero after 24 hours with no filter. The only explanation is the bacteria on the tank's surfaces and the plants]

It might be an idea to add a small amount of untreated tap water as long as your nitrate level stays below 10 ppm. But don't make any big changes, a series of small ones allows the fish to acclimatise after each small change.

Offline Dominika

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Re: Unhealthy looking Plants
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2017, 03:48:31 PM »
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Hi Baz,

How long do you have your lights on? Algae might also suggest too long a lighting period.

Offline Baz

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Re: Unhealthy looking Plants
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2017, 04:13:23 PM »
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Dominika,

I did have the lights on for 3 hours in the morning then of until 4pm until 10pm. I have changed this since yesterday to only come on at 3pm and off at 11pm, so 8 hours now. The lighting I have is the Fluval Aquasky 25W model.

Offline Dominika

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Re: Unhealthy looking Plants
« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2017, 06:24:21 PM »
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8 hours should be ok now. You can then adjust for longer/shorter photo periods if needed to see what works best for your plants.

I also think Sue's advice about water changes is great. I did some frequent small water changes recently (for unrelated reasons) and my plants really shot up, even though I stopped fertilising for a couple of weeks.

If you have a relatively new substrate I wouldn't add any root tabs since there should be enough nutrients in the soil.

Sometimes it's difficult to determine the cause of what's wrong with plants. It could be too many nutrients and not enough light and CO2 or any combination thereof.

I'd see how the new water change scheme combined with the 8 hours of light work in the next 2 weeks or so. If these don't work, I'd try to lowering your fertiliser dose a bit.

The trick is to find the right balance between the amount of light, fertilising and CO2. Without CO2 injection (like in my tank too) your CO2 will be mainly coming from the air so that's your most limiting factor (liquid carbon helps, but can't replace CO2). The other two elements will need to be balanced to CO2.

Offline Baz

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Re: Unhealthy looking Plants
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2017, 07:38:40 PM »
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Dominika,

I had planned to start using Seachem Flourish and Seachem Excel liquid Co2 following the recommendations on the bottles this weekend after the water change and asses the situation after two weeks. Then if there is no "step change" hthen I will think about the water changes.

Offline Sue

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Re: Unhealthy looking Plants
« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2017, 07:47:57 PM »
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You could start by next time a water change is due, use about 10% plain tap water added to your nitrate filter/RO mixture. That should be enough to give the plants some nitrate fertiliser without pushing the nitrate level up too high and stress the fish.
If you do this, measure the tank nitrate to make sure it is less than 10.

Offline marquismirage

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Re: Unhealthy looking Plants
« Reply #15 on: June 18, 2017, 06:19:00 PM »
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Holes with yellow edges is usually potassium deficiency.  The brown is a sign that some of the leaf is dying.  Given what I've read in this thread it's due to nitrogen deficiency (you've gone too far the other way).  I'd assume you've had the plants for a while and dosing the recommended amount of ferts.  Now the plants have grown the recommended amount of ferts is no longer enough and it's time to up the dosage.

Offline Baz

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Re: Unhealthy looking Plants
« Reply #16 on: June 18, 2017, 06:51:40 PM »
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Hi,

30% (35lts) water change today (110ltr volume tank). Added 3 litres of unfiltered tap water (conditioner added). Started use of Seachem Flourish along with "liquid Co2". Will dose again tomorrow with Flourish and Co2. Out of the country from Monday back on Friday so will ask the wife to continue with the dosing of Co2 and Seachem.

Offline daveyng

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Re: Unhealthy looking Plants
« Reply #17 on: June 22, 2017, 11:36:10 PM »
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Until about a month ago I performed water changes with local tap water (nitrate 34-38 ppm).
I now use a nitrate reduction filter and create a 50/50 mix with tap water reducing the nitrate level to approximately 20 ppm. I made this decision to benefit the livestock.
The plants have always flourished in my tank and I did not want to deplete the level of nitrate drastically as it may cause problems.
I have always performed small daily water changes approximating to around 50% of the volume of the tank (270 l) per week.
I do use CO2 injection and dose with Easycarbo as well. Ferts are Profito and Ferro dosed daily.
Plants are still flourishing at the 20 ppm level.

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