Plants dying in a "newly setup" aquarium - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 60 (permalink) Old 09-14-2019, 12:02 PM Thread Starter
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Angry Plants dying in a "newly setup" aquarium

Hi everyone,

I'm new to this forum and this is my first post here.

I have a 2 month old 16G/60Litre semi planted tank and this is my first tank, the plants in the tank are not doing well and I need some advice on how I can get my plants to be healthy.

I've been using a "macro nutrient" solution made by my local fish store and didn't have much success with this, initially I though that this might be due to this being a new tank. After the initial 3 or 4 weeks also, the leaves were turning brown slowly. Seachem is one of the few Internationally recognized products I have available in India and I have ordered Seachem Comprehensive to begin with.

Following are some pictures of my tank and the details of the fish and plants.











Aquarium test results:

Ph - 7.4, Amonia - 0 ppm, Nitrites - 0 ppm, Nitrates - 0 ppm

I've been doing the test twice a week using the API Master test kit and getting the same results with a 25% weekly water change.

I'm using tap water with a dechlorinator made by the local store.

Aquarium details:

Gravel bottom and lighting is on for around 10 hours a day

Fish and snails:

4 Harlequin Rasboras
4 Neon Rainbow Tetras
4 Black Phantom Tetras
4 Glow Tetras
4 Purple Chelas
2 Rummy Nose Tetras
2 Panda Cory
1 Sterbai Cory
1 Guppy
1 Ottocinclus
1 Zebra Nerite snail

Plants:

Dwarf sag
Giant sag
Amazon swords
Wisteria
And a couple of other plants I cannot identify

I know this is not a small post, but eagerly waiting for some responses on this.

Thank you,
Karthik
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post #2 of 60 (permalink) Old 09-15-2019, 10:30 PM
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Gravel only substrates not good for plants

I don't see the pictures, but I'll take your word that the plants aren't doing well.

Not surprising. Gravel substrates cause the slow death of aquarium plants. If you want a low-tech setup and decent plant growth, you have to have a soil underlayer.

Fertilizing the water isn't good enough. Even if it provides plants with what they need, you're also providing algae with what it needs. And algae is far more adept than plants in taking up water nutrients. With soil, you provide rooted plants with a reservoir of nutrients that algae cannot tap into.

Moreover, some nutrients (e.g., iron, manganese) require the anaerobic environment that soil provides in order for plants to take them up. Plants can't take up iron from the water, because the iron is all oxygenated. Then, you have the decomposition of soil organic matter that provides precious CO2.

All this and more is provided by soil. Clean gravel provides nothing for plants. People complain about the problems and mess of using soil, but those problems pale in comparison with trying to grow plants in a gravel substrate.
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post #3 of 60 (permalink) Old 09-15-2019, 10:37 PM
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If you have 0 nitrates, there's nothing for the plants to use. That's quite a lot of fish though, so I'm surprised nitrates are nonexistent, especially if plants aren't doing well... how big are they? Is the tank quite densely planted? A picture would be very helpful if you can get one
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post #4 of 60 (permalink) Old 09-15-2019, 11:17 PM
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Originally Posted by karthikt85 View Post
Hi everyone,

I'm new to this forum and this is my first post here.

I have a 2 month old 16G/60Litre semi planted tank and this is my first tank, the plants in the tank are not doing well and I need some advice on how I can get my plants to be healthy.

I've been using a "macro nutrient" solution made by my local fish store and didn't have much success with this, initially I though that this might be due to this being a new tank. After the initial 3 or 4 weeks also, the leaves were turning brown slowly. Seachem is one of the few Internationally recognized products I have available in India and I have ordered Seachem Comprehensive to begin with.

Following are some pictures of my tank and the details of the fish and plants.

[IMG]httpws://imgur.com/Wj0DANx[/IMG]









Aquarium test results:

Ph - 7.4, Amonia - 0 ppm, Nitrites - 0 ppm, Nitrates - 0 ppm

I've been doing the test twice a week using the API Master test kit and getting the same results with a 25% weekly water change.

I'm using tap water with a dechlorinator made by the local store.

Aquarium details:

Gravel bottom and lighting is on for around 10 hours a day

Fish and snails:

4 Harlequin Rasboras
4 Neon Rainbow Tetras
4 Black Phantom Tetras
4 Glow Tetras
4 Purple Chelas
2 Rummy Nose Tetras
2 Panda Cory
1 Sterbai Cory
1 Guppy
1 Ottocinclus
1 Zebra Nerite snail

Plants:

Dwarf sag
Giant sag
Amazon swords
Wisteria
And a couple of other plants I cannot identify

I know this is not a small post, but eagerly waiting for some responses on this.

Thank you,
Karthik
Not sure why pics not showing up.


Your swords were grown with leaves out of water, spoon shaped, once you submerge plant those will die off and be replaced with leaves that look more like this. That’s just what naturally happens when a plant transitions from emergent growth to submerged. Looks like what is happening to hygropila difformis as well. I would cut your light back to about 6 hrs a day or put a dimmer on it and bring it down to about 60-70% intensity until plants transitioning is done.


The hygrophila corymbosa in that pic is showing signs of complete lack of micro (trace) elements, if your fish store had a macro solution they probably would have had a micro solution as well. You only got half of the ferts you need to grow plants. Seachem comp should take care of that. Your macro is probably just NPK, you also need iron, Ca, Mg, zinc, over a dozen elements to make a complete fert. With amount of fish you have most of the NPK you need will come from fish food/waste, which is why they separate those macro and micro, so you can adjust them for you specific tanks needs. Your tank has very undemanding, easy plants so you should only be dosing probably at 1/3-1/2 of the recommend rate until tank turns around and growth accelerates.

Amount of light and amount of nutrients needs to be in balance with the tanks needs. To much light and/or to much fert while your plants are transitioning/stagnant growth will just get you a bunch of algae. But at same time you don’t want any fert element to be in complete depletion (see yellowing/chlorosis of corymbosa leaves) it looks like the one plant that’s trying to grow but it’s showing a complete lack of iron and other trace elements.

And as I stated above during transitioning and while your tank is completely deficient in micro nutrient you need to cut your hrs or dim your lights. Your just going to grow algae and quicken the death of your plants if you don’t.
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post #5 of 60 (permalink) Old 09-15-2019, 11:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Diana Walstad View Post
Plants can't take up iron from the water
Are you sure about this???

I've been measuring Fe consumption in the water column for quite some time.
And also confirmed it is not reacting with PO4.
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post #6 of 60 (permalink) Old 09-16-2019, 01:14 AM
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I have grown plants in many tanks with just gravel substrate . I used root tabs and liquid ferts . The biggest problem I ever had was trying to keep plants in the gravel till they rooted . Others expieriences may vary . I agree with DaveKS , follow his advice and see what happens . Just remember that nothing happens fast in this hobby .
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post #7 of 60 (permalink) Old 09-16-2019, 06:41 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Diana Walstad View Post
I don't see the pictures, but I'll take your word that the plants aren't doing well.

Not surprising. Gravel substrates cause the slow death of aquarium plants. If you want a low-tech setup and decent plant growth, you have to have a soil underlayer.

Fertilizing the water isn't good enough. Even if it provides plants with what they need, you're also providing algae with what it needs. And algae is far more adept than plants in taking up water nutrients. With soil, you provide rooted plants with a reservoir of nutrients that algae cannot tap into.

Moreover, some nutrients (e.g., iron, manganese) require the anaerobic environment that soil provides in order for plants to take them up. Plants can't take up iron from the water, because the iron is all oxygenated. Then, you have the decomposition of soil organic matter that provides precious CO2.

All this and more is provided by soil. Clean gravel provides nothing for plants. People complain about the problems and mess of using soil, but those problems pale in comparison with trying to grow plants in a gravel substrate.
My Local store had most of their tanks with gravel bottom and they assured me that the plants would grow fine in this as well, initially I wanted a tank with some kind of planted tank substrate with a gravel top. Anyways, I don't want to tear this down now, and will try for few more months before throwing in the towel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by germanblueramlover View Post
If you have 0 nitrates, there's nothing for the plants to use. That's quite a lot of fish though, so I'm surprised nitrates are nonexistent, especially if plants aren't doing well... how big are they? Is the tank quite densely planted? A picture would be very helpful if you can get one
I would say that I have a medium planted tank and not a fully planted tank, even I'm not sure why the nitrates keep reading 0 and the plants are dying. I'm planning to add around 4 corys and a couple of rummy nose in the tank as it seems a bit empty now, hopefully this might bring up the nitrates a little bit and help the plants.

Adding the image links below, hope this should give some perspective.

https://imgur.com/Wj0DANx

https://imgur.com/wPjzB1Z

https://imgur.com/JPrAxMd

https://imgur.com/Ym7t4IP

https://imgur.com/6siJgxk

Bump:
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveKS View Post
Not sure why pics not showing up.


Your swords were grown with leaves out of water, spoon shaped, once you submerge plant those will die off and be replaced with leaves that look more like this. Thatís just what naturally happens when a plant transitions from emergent growth to submerged. Looks like what is happening to hygropila difformis as well. I would cut your light back to about 6 hrs a day or put a dimmer on it and bring it down to about 60-70% intensity until plants transitioning is done.


The hygrophila corymbosa in that pic is showing signs of complete lack of micro (trace) elements, if your fish store had a macro solution they probably would have had a micro solution as well. You only got half of the ferts you need to grow plants. Seachem comp should take care of that. Your macro is probably just NPK, you also need iron, Ca, Mg, zinc, over a dozen elements to make a complete fert. With amount of fish you have most of the NPK you need will come from fish food/waste, which is why they separate those macro and micro, so you can adjust them for you specific tanks needs. Your tank has very undemanding, easy plants so you should only be dosing probably at 1/3-1/2 of the recommend rate until tank turns around and growth accelerates.

Amount of light and amount of nutrients needs to be in balance with the tanks needs. To much light and/or to much fert while your plants are transitioning/stagnant growth will just get you a bunch of algae. But at same time you donít want any fert element to be in complete depletion (see yellowing/chlorosis of corymbosa leaves) it looks like the one plant thatís trying to grow but itís showing a complete lack of iron and other trace elements.

And as I stated above during transitioning and while your tank is completely deficient in micro nutrient you need to cut your hrs or dim your lights. Your just going to grow algae and quicken the death of your plants if you donít.
I'm guessing the're amazon swords based on the shape, but to be honest, I'm not completely sure that they are the amazon swords.

Unfortunately this is a all in one unit aquarium and I do not have the option to dim the light intensity, surely I'll reduce the lighting period now that I've started dosing Flourish Comprehensive.

If we see any improvements using Flourish Comprehensive, I'll go ahead and order the Flourish Iron and Flourish Trace, does that sound like a good plan?

Bump:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leeatl View Post
I have grown plants in many tanks with just gravel substrate . I used root tabs and liquid ferts . The biggest problem I ever had was trying to keep plants in the gravel till they rooted . Others expieriences may vary . I agree with DaveKS , follow his advice and see what happens . Just remember that nothing happens fast in this hobby .
Sure, I agree and I hope I'll stay with this hobby for the long run

Cheers!!!

Last edited by Darkblade48; 09-17-2019 at 11:47 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #8 of 60 (permalink) Old 09-16-2019, 08:31 PM
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Fluorish complete will probably get everything you need. They sell the additional iron and trace so you can add more if needed, with your easy undemanding plants you probably won’t need it. Start with adding .5ml fluorish every other day (twice a week) then once plant growth turns around you can probably move up to .75-1ml twice a week. Watch for excess algae growth and back off dosing if it starts. Watch that sprig of corymbosa and you’ll see color of growth go from that pale sickly yellow to a nice rich med green color. This change does not happen in 2days, will probably be 1-2wk so don’t go overboard on dosing if it doesn’t happen immediately.

You also need to get your nitrates up to probably 5-10ppm and keep them there with your NPK (macro) solution. Does this macro solution come with any analysis of chemicals in it? It would probably be good to get a phosphate test kit so you can monitor those as well. You want them to be at about .5-1ppm. I really can’t advise you on how much to add of your macro since I don’t know it’s breakdown or recommended dosing rate.

Fluorish......

Total Nitrogen (N) 0.007%
Available Phosphate (P2O5) 0.01%
Soluble Potash (K2O) 0.37%
Calcium (Ca) 0.14%
Magnesium (Mg) 0.11%
Sulfur (S) 0.2773%
Boron (B) 0.009%
Chlorine (Cl) 1.15%
Cobalt (Co) 0.0004%
Copper (Cu) 0.0001%
Iron (Fe) 0.32%
Manganese (Mn) 0.0118%
Molybdenum (Mo) 0.0009%
Sodium (Na) 0.13%
Zinc (Zn) 0.0007%

Last edited by DaveKS; 09-17-2019 at 12:24 AM. Reason: Typo
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post #9 of 60 (permalink) Old 09-16-2019, 08:42 PM
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Are you sure about this???

I've been measuring Fe consumption in the water column for quite some time.
And also confirmed it is not reacting with PO4.
Good point. I was going to talk about chelated iron, but then I didn't want to get side-tracked.

I'm not sure what you mean by Fe consumption? Iron could be removed from water either by plant uptake or precipitation out of the water as iron oxides.

Exception to my earlier post: Plants can take chelated iron up from the water. Most trace element fertilizers contain chelators (e.g., EDTA). Another exception would be tank water that contains a lot of humic acids, which are natural chelators.

However, in nature and low-tech aquariums without the dosing of micro-nutrient fertilizers, the oxidized iron present in the water is not readily available for plant uptake.

Indeed, I've started adding a micronutrient fertilizer to keep my floating plants, which don't have access to substrate iron, from slowly disappearing from my tanks. The floaters "green up" as a result and have been doing very well.

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post #10 of 60 (permalink) Old 09-17-2019, 01:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Diana Walstad View Post
Gravel substrates cause the slow death of aquarium plants. If you want a low-tech setup and decent plant growth, you have to have a soil underlayer.

Fertilizing the water isn't good enough. Even if it provides plants with what they need, you're also providing algae with what it needs. And algae is far more adept than plants in taking up water nutrients. With soil, you provide rooted plants with a reservoir of nutrients that algae cannot tap into.

Moreover, some nutrients (e.g., iron, manganese) require the anaerobic environment that soil provides in order for plants to take them up. Plants can't take up iron from the water, because the iron is all oxygenated.
Strange, because there are beautiful planted aquariums with gravel substrates.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana Walstad View Post
Exception to my earlier post: Plants can take chelated iron up from the water. Most trace element fertilizers contain chelators (e.g., EDTA). Another exception would be tank water that contains a lot of humic acids, which are natural chelators.

However, in nature and low-tech aquariums without the dosing of micro-nutrient fertilizers, the oxidized iron present in the water is not readily available for plant uptake.

Indeed, I've started adding a micronutrient fertilizer to keep my floating plants, which don't have access to substrate iron, from slowly disappearing from my tanks. The floaters "green up" as a result and have been doing very well.
ADA Amano aquariums have lots of unrooted plants and also plants growing above the substrate and dosing oxidized iron(III) oxide Fe2O3. How do the plants survive?




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post #11 of 60 (permalink) Old 09-17-2019, 03:35 AM
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I do not think @Diana Walstad is insisting that there is only one path in keeping aquariums.
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Last edited by Streetwise; 09-17-2019 at 05:30 AM. Reason: Details
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post #12 of 60 (permalink) Old 09-17-2019, 05:46 AM
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...Not surprising. Gravel substrates cause the slow death of aquarium plants. If you want a low-tech setup and decent plant growth, you have to have a soil underlayer.
Blanket statements like this will always be met with a stiff rebuke since they are not based in any real sense of reality. There are so many way to run a low-tech setup without soil that it really isn't even debatable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana Walstad View Post
Fertilizing the water isn't good enough. Even if it provides plants with what they need, you're also providing algae with what it needs. And algae is far more adept than plants in taking up water nutrients. With soil, you provide rooted plants with a reservoir of nutrients that algae cannot tap into.
I have never found algae to be able to use the inorganic salts we dose into the water column. On the other hand soil-based setups are quickly over-run with algae when using too much light or when the substrate gets disturbed due to the levels of organic decomposing material that is released.


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post #13 of 60 (permalink) Old 09-17-2019, 06:27 AM
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@karthikt85 I would agree with @DaveKS the plants are grown emerged in the farms and when we start submerged growth they will slow down and take time to adapt.
Swords are extremely hardy plants. You should trim down the browning leaves and this should help the plant in focus on new leaf growth.
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post #14 of 60 (permalink) Old 09-17-2019, 07:36 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DaveKS View Post
Fluorish complete will probably get everything you need. They sell the additional iron and trace so you can add more if needed, with your easy undemanding plants you probably wonít need it. Start with adding .5ml fluorish every other day (twice a week) then once plant growth turns around you can probably move up to .75-1ml twice a week. Watch for excess algae growth and back off dosing if it starts. Watch that sprig of corymbosa and youíll see color of growth go from that pale sickly yellow to a nice rich med green color. This change does not happen in 2days, will probably be 1-2wk so donít go overboard on dosing if it doesnít happen immediately.

You also need to get your nitrates up to probably 5-10ppm and keep them there with your NPK (macro) solution. Does this macro solution come with any analysis of chemicals in it? It would probably be good to get a phosphate test kit so you can monitor those as well. You want them to be at about .5-1ppm. I really canít advise you on how much to add of your macro since I donít know itís breakdown or recommended dosing rate.

Fluorish......

Total Nitrogen (N) 0.007%
Available Phosphate (P2O5) 0.01%
Soluble Potash (K2O) 0.37%
Calcium (Ca) 0.14%
Magnesium (Mg) 0.11%
Sulfur (S) 0.2773%
Boron (B) 0.009%
Chlorine (Cl) 1.15%
Cobalt (Co) 0.0004%
Copper (Cu) 0.0001%
Iron (Fe) 0.32%
Manganese (Mn) 0.0118%
Molybdenum (Mo) 0.0009%
Sodium (Na) 0.13%
Zinc (Zn) 0.0007%
Sure, I'll dose every alternate day until the growth picks up.

Unfortunately, the LFS macro solution is just a plain bottle and no list of contents are available, may be I should switch to some other brand so we know what we're adding in the aquarium.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by sudhirr View Post
@karthikt85 I would agree with @DaveKS the plants are grown emerged in the farms and when we start submerged growth they will slow down and take time to adapt.
Swords are extremely hardy plants. You should trim down the browning leaves and this should help the plant in focus on new leaf growth.
Ok, I'll trim down the brown parts...

One question, if this is an issue of the plants being grown in emerged form, shouldn't they have melted back long ago, these plants have been in the aquarium for more than 2 months.

Cheers!!!
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post #15 of 60 (permalink) Old 09-17-2019, 11:33 AM
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I'd advise against getting more fish; your tank is already very well stocked.
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