Plants Melted in Established Tank

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calebringabell

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I am writing to you all in hopes that I can calm my anxiety as to why my established tank that was flourishing suddenly melted. Sand 40 gallon. No CO2. Liquid fertilizers (flourish w/o excel)
The main melted culprits (plants) include:
  • corkscrew valisneria (would detach from roots, death from "top" portion of plant)
  • ludwigia repens (this plant flourish pretty heavily leading up to the death, lower portion of the stem would always seem to be "weak" maybe covered in algae too, death always seemed to be at the stem nearest to roots)
  • bacopa (always had weak lower leaves and just never really blossomed but it would grow at least, death seemed to be at the stem closest to root)
  • wisteria (absolute jungle of this in a corner, grew well, death seemed to be at the base stem closest to the root)
  • amazon sword (became transparent and ragged brownish edges)
  • anubias (had a tip that was curling and yellowing)
  • java fern (started becoming transparent, holey, and yellow, maybe spotting)
I go to college and so my father takes care of the feeding of my fish. I have told him how much to feed. Before I came to college I noticed that my cycle reset, so I tried my best to take care of the nitrates. They were a bit high before I went to college but I did do a large water change. (could high nitrates kill them?)

Next thing I am worried about and have talked extensively about on Facebook group; it had been a while since I fed root feeders with my DIY osmocote capsules. I don't know how often I should place new ones to be honest. My guess would be 3 months? Well, anyway I replaced capsules and made sure they had more nutrients. I use sand so I know that they should be getting good nutrients in the soil.

Ok, next worry... these mainly seemed to be stem plants. So I made sure that should be dosing more flourish. JUST flourish, not excel. Truly, don't know why my corkscrew val would have melted... Anyway, my next confession is that I stopped doing it for a while. I am sure that definitely did not help this entire situation. Is every two week dosing of 3ml in a 40 gallon enough? That's what I am doing at this point.

The last clue is that I did dose my tank with peroxide for black beard algae... which is now gone, but I am wondering if my plants didn't like it at all....?

My 10 gallon had similar issues with ludiwigia but everything else was fine...

If you want more information, please ask. I really want to get to the bottom of this situation.
 
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FishGirl38

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Were the plants doing great and then started to decline?
Or did they never really take?

Have you considered maybe lighting is a factor? What kind/brand light are you using on this tank?

It sounds like you've got a good amount of fertilizers going - so I'm not sure it's that...

So, plants need 2 main things to thrive, nutrients and light.

The specific light that helps plants grow is red, blue, and green wavelength light. (measured in nm) - blue and red being the most important, and red being the hardest to get (it doesn't penetrate the water as far down - isn't as strong).

If you have an LED - I would think it SHOULD be totally adequate for the type of plants you have/had (medium light, medium nutrients). But if the plants still aren't doing well under a 'bright' light, it could be that the light is giving off more white and yellow wavelength light (which is great for algae, not so helpful for the plants.). Instead of the needed blues, reds, and greens.

If you have a fluorescent lamp, there are numerous bulbs that should be adequate as well. About fluorescent bulbs, if you were to purchase a 'plant bulb' it may shine a dull purple-y color (won't be too bright)...but...think about it - purple = red and blue. And that is why it's so dull. :).

So, Is the tank taller? The taller the tank, the stronger a light you will need because the strength of the light dilutes as it gets farther down through the water. I'll use swords as an example because they're a high nutrient, high light needing plant. If you put a light on a 10G tank with a sword in it. and you put the same light (just longer) on a 55G tank - the 10G (12in high) sword will likely grow/do a little better than the sword in the 55G (24in high).

As far as nutrients go (it sounds like you have plenty), the 3 most important nutrients are the macros - nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. If you look on the back of your flourish bottle, you should see these three nutrients, and ideally, they should be in the highest concentrations. NOW, a lot of fertilizers don't focus on the first two because they're usually already present in your aquarium naturally. You mention if nitrate could have killed them? just the opposite actually. Plants will take in some of your nitrate waste from the tank - it's a macro nutrient for them (the worse thing that can happen with too much nitrate (in F.W.) is a bad algae outbreak - because there is SO much waste, that it's enough to feed the plants AND the algae too - you mention BBA, were your phosphates high? in the past when I've dealt with BBA, I correlated the growth to phosphate levels - phosphate was high with BBA, once phosphate was low, BBA stopped growing). Additionally, phosphorus often gets into our tanks from fish food breaking down. SO...the last macronutrient that is left is potassium. Potassium doesn't get into our tanks naturally, we have to manually add it. Usually, yellowing leaves, plants growing with holes in the leaves, etc is usually a potassium deficiency - it could be other micronutrient deficiencies too...BUT because potassium is a macro nutrient (plants need more of it) and because it's only added in your ferts, usually if there is a problem with plant growth that'd be the first trouble shooting remedy to try. (after the lighting, of course).

IF these are NEW plants - they're going to melt and it has nothing to do with your tank being new or established. It's actually got more to do with the transfer between the store and your home tank and it's totally normal. The plant you bought was used to the nutrients/light levels that was in the store tanks. When you move them from that condition into your home tank (that likely has a DIFFERENT condition - not necessarily bad or good, just different) - the plants will need to account and adjust to this. If this is the case, You'd want to leave them be until you notice new growth (and if the light and fertilizers are good, than this will occur). Whether that new growth looks awesome, or stunted and yellow. From that point, you'd remove the dead area's on the plants and nurture the new growth until you have a healthy plant thats growing and propagating.

Peroxide:
It can harm plants if kept at too high a dilution for too long - but if the fish are fine, I wouldn't think the 'concentration is high' enough to cause the melting of all of your plants.

I would personally try adding potassium to the tank (seachem sells 'Potassium') to see if that doesn't help them bounce back? If they're not totally gone yet. If it's not Potassium, and you have a good host of micro's in the tank (and it SEEMS like you do?), than my next guess would be the lighting? Or, maybe, the lighting V.S. the tank height if it's a taller tank?
 
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Pfrozen

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plants melt in sudden parameter changes... if you stopped dosing liquid ferts AND root tabs for awhile that could result in a big enough swing in something or other... for example thrive will up my nitrates quite a bit... if you've been consistent in the past your water probably had a certain chemistry and it changed too fast when you stopped
 
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calebringabell

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FishGirl38 said:
Were the plants doing great and then started to decline?
Or did they never really take?

Have you considered maybe lighting is a factor? What kind/brand light are you using on this tank?

It sounds like you've got a good amount of fertilizers going - so I'm not sure it's that...

So, plants need 2 main things to thrive, nutrients and light.

The specific light that helps plants grow is red, blue, and green wavelength light. (measured in nm) - blue and red being the most important, and red being the hardest to get (it doesn't penetrate the water as far down - isn't as strong).

If you have an LED - I would think it SHOULD be totally adequate for the type of plants you have/had (medium light, medium nutrients). But if the plants still aren't doing well under a 'bright' light, it could be that the light is giving off more white and yellow wavelength light (which is great for algae, not so helpful for the plants.). Instead of the needed blues, reds, and greens.

If you have a fluorescent lamp, there are numerous bulbs that should be adequate as well. About fluorescent bulbs, if you were to purchase a 'plant bulb' it may shine a dull purple-y color (won't be too bright)...but...think about it - purple = red and blue. And that is why it's so dull. :).

So, Is the tank taller? The taller the tank, the stronger a light you will need because the strength of the light dilutes as it gets farther down through the water. I'll use swords as an example because they're a high nutrient, high light needing plant. If you put a light on a 10G tank with a sword in it. and you put the same light (just longer) on a 55G tank - the 10G (12in high) sword will likely grow/do a little better than the sword in the 55G (24in high).

As far as nutrients go (it sounds like you have plenty), the 3 most important nutrients are the macros - nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. If you look on the back of your flourish bottle, you should see these three nutrients, and ideally, they should be in the highest concentrations. NOW, a lot of fertilizers don't focus on the first two because they're usually already present in your aquarium naturally. You mention if nitrate could have killed them? just the opposite actually. Plants will take in some of your nitrate waste from the tank - it's a macro nutrient for them (the worse thing that can happen with too much nitrate (in F.W.) is a bad algae outbreak - because there is SO much waste, that it's enough to feed the plants AND the algae too - you mention BBA, were your phosphates high? in the past when I've dealt with BBA, I correlated the growth to phosphate levels - phosphate was high with BBA, once phosphate was low, BBA stopped growing). Additionally, phosphorus often gets into our tanks from fish food breaking down. SO...the last macronutrient that is left is potassium. Potassium doesn't get into our tanks naturally, we have to manually add it. Usually, yellowing leaves, plants growing with holes in the leaves, etc is usually a potassium deficiency - it could be other micronutrient deficiencies too...BUT because potassium is a macro nutrient (plants need more of it) and because it's only added in your ferts, usually if there is a problem with plant growth that'd be the first trouble shooting remedy to try. (after the lighting, of course).

IF these are NEW plants - they're going to melt and it has nothing to do with your tank being new or established. It's actually got more to do with the transfer between the store and your home tank and it's totally normal. The plant you bought was used to the nutrients/light levels that was in the store tanks. When you move them from that condition into your home tank (that likely has a DIFFERENT condition - not necessarily bad or good, just different) - the plants will need to account and adjust to this. If this is the case, You'd want to leave them be until you notice new growth (and if the light and fertilizers are good, than this will occur). Whether that new growth looks awesome, or stunted and yellow. From that point, you'd remove the dead area's on the plants and nurture the new growth until you have a healthy plant thats growing and propagating.

Peroxide:
It can harm plants if kept at too high a dilution for too long - but if the fish are fine, I wouldn't think the 'concentration is high' enough to cause the melting of all of your plants.

I would personally try adding potassium to the tank (seachem sells 'Potassium') to see if that doesn't help them bounce back? If they're not totally gone yet. If it's not Potassium, and you have a good host of micro's in the tank (and it SEEMS like you do?), than my next guess would be the lighting? Or, maybe, the lighting V.S. the tank height if it's a taller tank?
I thank you so much for responding to me with your knowledge. I will try to fill in some gaps and hope for the best. The tank is a 40 gallon breeder with these lights on it, I have two of these. I don't think lighting is an issue, but you could check for me if you wish.

As for new plants, no. They were all thriving sooooo well and then when I came back from college they melted back.

I will look into a potassium supplement and see how that fares for my tank. I replaced my DIY roottabs with some new ones... or didn't replace rather than just put new ones in on top of old ones haha.

Pfrozen said:
plants melt in sudden parameter changes... if you stopped dosing liquid ferts AND root tabs for awhile that could result in a big enough swing in something or other... for example thrive will up my nitrates quite a bit... if you've been consistent in the past your water probably had a certain chemistry and it changed too fast when you stopped
Thank you for responding! That does make sense and I hope for the sake of my tank that I am okay to redo my consistency. It has been a learning curve for sure!
 
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FishGirl38

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I hadn't considered what Pfrozen mentioned but they were probably closer to the cause on this, and it's likely that continuing with your regular scheduled dosing would then be enough to sustain what you already once had. In that case, it makes sense that the plants used up all the nutrients and then didn't have enough to keep growing like normal. :). I use flourish and I keep seachem potassium on hand when I start to notice things looking weak, and iron on hand for my crypts/melons (to keep them browny red). but they're usually not necessary (as you've already found previously) I wish you luck with replanting (or bringing your plants back to . life. :)). they're resilient little things. x).
 
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BnT_Fish

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FishGirl38 said:
I hadn't considered what Pfrozen mentioned but they were probably closer to the cause on this, and it's likely that continuing with your regular scheduled dosing would then be enough to sustain what you already once had. In that case, it makes sense that the plants used up all the nutrients and then didn't have enough to keep growing like normal. :). I use flourish and I keep seachem potassium on hand when I start to notice things looking weak, and iron on hand for my crypts/melons (to keep them browny red). but they're usually not necessary (as you've already found previously) I wish you luck with replanting (or bringing your plants back to . life. :)). they're resilient little things. x).
Are you sure the tank has fully cycled again? This really sounds like ammonia burn. If it's not ammonia burn, it's a light or nutrient deficiency, though not likely since you mentioned you're doing supplements. As for root tab replacement, every 3 to 6 months. I definitely encourage people to use soil substrates though. In my own personal experience you'll get 3-5 years out of soil from your own back yard. Just bake it first to kill parasites and bacteria.
 
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wishuponafish

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It's possible your tap water changed, some places switch water sources seasonally.

Sudden changes can indeed cause melting, I added a sponge filter to a tank that previously had no airstone/filter and all my big flourishing crypts melted to nothingness overnight, presumably from the change in dissolved CO2.
 
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calebringabell

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FishGirl38 said:
I hadn't considered what Pfrozen mentioned but they were probably closer to the cause on this, and it's likely that continuing with your regular scheduled dosing would then be enough to sustain what you already once had. In that case, it makes sense that the plants used up all the nutrients and then didn't have enough to keep growing like normal. :). I use flourish and I keep seachem potassium on hand when I start to notice things looking weak, and iron on hand for my crypts/melons (to keep them browny red). but they're usually not necessary (as you've already found previously) I wish you luck with replanting (or bringing your plants back to . life. :)). they're resilient little things. x).
heyyy, update... my amazon sword is slowly but surely dying with ragged yellowing. i even put new tabs in the sand
 
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calebringabell

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BnT_Fish said:
Are you sure the tank has fully cycled again? This really sounds like ammonia burn. If it's not ammonia burn, it's a light or nutrient deficiency, though not likely since you mentioned you're doing supplements. As for root tab replacement, every 3 to 6 months. I definitely encourage people to use soil substrates though. In my own personal experience you'll get 3-5 years out of soil from your own back yard. Just bake it first to kill parasites and bacteria.
thank you for your reply. my ammonia was definitley fine. again, only nitrates were higher. redoing my sand at this point is rather not a feasible option.

wishuponafish said:
It's possible your tap water changed, some places switch water sources seasonally.

Sudden changes can indeed cause melting, I added a sponge filter to a tank that previously had no airstone/filter and all my big flourishing crypts melted to nothingness overnight, presumably from the change in dissolved CO2.
that’s interesting... the only problem is that my 10 gallon plants are not all melted back yet so i can’t say it’s that exactly.

also do sponge filters help with co2?
 
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wishuponafish

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calebringabell said:
also do sponge filters help with co2?
In the sense that an airstone/sponge filter will dissolve oxygen back into the water from the atmosphere as your fish deplete it, the same happens for CO2. But if you're injecting CO2, the bubbling will cause it to escape into the atmosphere as the CO2 concentrations try to sort of "equalize".
 
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