Problems with Stem & High-Growth Plants (Photos) - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-31-2019, 11:44 PM Thread Starter
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Problems with Stem & High-Growth Plants (Photos)

Hello,

I am hoping someone can look at my attached photos and let me know what I need to improve. I am having a very difficult time getting any of my higher growth plants to stay healthy and maintain existing leaves. They grow well, but older leaves quickly die. Slower plants like Anubias and Bucephalandra appear fine. The plants I am having issues with are:

Amazon Sword: Growing well, but leaves tend to deteriorate once they mature (picture attached)
Ludwigia & Water Wisteria: Both are growing very quickly but within a week the leaves appear to develop dark lines then die off. My plants can not maintain more then two to three bunches of leaves as a time and I end up having a long stem with sad looking leaves up top. (picture attached)
Anacharis: Grows very well but leaves quickly turn brown after a few days and then it gets attacked by diatoms and literally dissolves.

My tank is 5G and I perform 50% water changes once a week. I dose Nilocg Thrive once a week as directed and Excel once a day as directed. I do not use CO2. I have a Finnex 24/7 which I run at full power for three hours and the tank receives about 2-3 hours of moderate indirect sunlight. I have very mild green spot algae on my glass but not enough to really notice.

I believe my issues plant issues are caused by a nutrient issue, but I can not narrow it down. The deficiency charts I have looked at on line do not describe the issue I have with the Ludwigia and Water Wisteria. I have tried dosing Thrive more times during the week to up the nutrients, but this has resulted in my Nitrate's measuring between 80 - 120, so I am guessing I do not have a Nitrate issue. Normally Nitrates in my tank are at 40 and Ammonia/Nitrite are at zero. Water is on the harder side with a 7.5 - 8 PH.

Can anyone with good knowledge here point me to the right direction.

Thank you
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Last edited by somail; 08-31-2019 at 11:59 PM. Reason: Posted before ready
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 12:53 AM
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Hi @somail,

Welcome to TPT!

What I can see from the pictures you provided it the leaves are exhibiting marginal chlorosis (yellowing along the leaf margins) which progresses into necrosis (dead tissue). Marginal chlorosis and tissue necrosis can be caused by deficiencies or excesses of several different nutrients; the most common being potassium.

What size tank do you have?

What are you dosing for nutrients? How much? How often?

Can you provide any of the following water parameters for me please?

pH -

dKH -

dGH -

Nitrates (ppm of NO3) -

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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 03:25 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the welcome. Here are my tank and water stats:

Size: 5 Gal
Temp: 78.5
PH: 8.0
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 40 ppm
KH: 8/ 143 ppm
GH: 9/ 161 ppm
Substrate: Generic gravel from the local pet store
Water Conditioner: Seachem Prime

Fertilizer is Thrive all-in-one from Nilocg. I dose 1.5ml one time a week. I recently up it to every other day, but as I said in my original post it caused a very large spike in my Nitrates level.
I also dose Seachem Flourish Excel everyday per the instructions.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 04:34 AM
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If it’s any help I only does .5ml per week of thrive in my 7gal tank. Use half gallon milk jug, add thrive to that and then just use that to top off for evaporation and feed plants everyday at same time I feed fish.

Standard thrive dosing is for high light CO2 tanks, you need to cut that down to 1/3-1/2 strength for low light/non CO2 tanks and split that up into daily dosing.

I’d change water and get nitrates down to 10ppm nitrate and 1ppm phosphate and keep them there. Thats one parameter you haven’t given also is phosphate level ???
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 06:06 AM
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Hi @somail,

I am guessing with a high pH and a relatively high dKH that you likely have a lot of calcium in your water. High calcium levels can effect the uptake of potassium by plants. The marginal chlorosis, necrosis on the older leaves, coupled with the total loss of older leaves on stems points to a potassium deficiency. If it were me I would first try just dosing some 'extra' potassium (Seachem Flourish Potassium 3 times per week per the instructions on the bottle) and see if the stems retain their leaves longer. Any leaves already showing marginal chlorosis or necrosis will not improve. Watch new leaves as they mature for improvement. If the new leaves still develop the marginal chlorosis, necrosis, and leaf loss after a month of dosing the additional potassium then I would get a calcium test kit a verify if excess calcium is present. If it is then you may need to use a mix of RO/DI water plus your tap water to get a lower calcium level. Hope this helps! -Roy

Quote:
D. Leaf chlorosis is not the dominant symptom. Symptoms appear on older leaves at base of plant.

2. Necrotic spots develop on older leaves

a. Margins of older leaves become chlorotic and then burn, or small chlorotic spots progressing to necrosis appear scattered on old leaf blades. Calcium excess impedes uptake of potassium cations.... potassium deficiency

Potassium deficiency symptoms first appear on the recently matured leaves of the plant (not on the young, immature leaves at the growing point). In some plants, the first sign of potassium deficiency is a white specking or freckling of the leaf blades. With time, the symptoms become more pronounced on the older leaves , and they become mottled or yellowish between the veins and scorched at the margins. These progress inward until the entire leaf blade is scorched. If sodium cations are present and taken up in place of K+1, leaf flecking (necrotic spots scattered on leaf surface) and reduced growth occur. Potassium is phloem retranslocated from old leaves to new growth.

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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 08:29 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks of the help both of you. Unfortunately I do not have anything to measure calcium, potassium or phosphorous.

I will begin to split up my Thrive dosing more evenly and that will hopefully help regulate the Nitrates better. I have also ordered some Flourish Potassium and will try that for a month.

Would it be a good idea to start dosing extra Phosphorus as well, or does the high PH/dKH only affect Potassium uptake?

Is there a good all-in-one testing kit for these Macro nutrients?

Thanks
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-02-2019, 12:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by somail View Post
Would it be a good idea to start dosing extra Phosphorus as well, or does the high PH/dKH only affect Potassium uptake?

Is there a good all-in-one testing kit for these Macro nutrients?
Hi @somail,

Excessive zinc or excessive manganese can effect the uptake of phosphorus; it is highly unlikely to occur.

I am not aware of a good "all-in-one" test for macro nutrients.

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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-03-2019, 04:51 AM
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Quote:
I am not aware of a good "all-in-one" test for macro nutrients.
This lab test will measure 33 elements in the water down to parts per billion:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

It is a mail in test you only get one test in the box. Take the sample just before the water change.

If you are short a plant nutrient it will have a measured value close to zero.Don't be surprised by high chlorine levels. This test cannot distinguish between free chlorine and chloride Salts. Tap water will have harmless chloride salts. but after being treated by a dechlorinator should have little to no free chlorine which is toxic.

Last edited by Surf; 09-03-2019 at 04:56 AM. Reason: edits
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-03-2019, 04:40 PM
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“Ludwigia & Water Wisteria: Both are growing very quickly but within a week the leaves appear to develop dark lines then die off. My plants can not maintain more then two to three bunches of leaves as a time and I end up having a long stem with sad looking leaves up top.”

Classic symptom of nitrate toxicity.

The symptoms of nutrient toxicity can look exactly like the symptoms of deficiency. All this can be attributed to nutrient lock out caused by overdosing. As I said before your overdosing your tank with 3x more thrive than you need.

Your tank is not a high tech tank, which seems like where you got all these practices your trying to apply to your tank.

None of your plants listed require that high of light, that light on a little 5gal tank you should probably run at 40-50% intensity, 60% max.

Excel is not CO2 and will never be same as injecting real CO2, quit treating your tank like these high tech CO2 injected tanks you read about. You will never need that amount of dosing or that amount of light unless your willing to invest in a real CO2 system.

You will also not need 50% water changes. 20-25% will be fine. 50% water changes are for people doing high light, high CO2 and EI dosing.

Basically you’ve read yourself into a corner and are applying a bunch of theories to tank which has nothing to do with your tank.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-03-2019, 09:00 PM
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Hi @somail,

I don't believe you have 'nitrogen toxicity'. Nitrogen has an adverse effect on very few other nutrients. Based on your comment "Ludwigia & Water Wisteria: Both are growing very quickly but within a week the leaves appear to develop dark lines then die off. " The likely hood of a nitrogen issue is slim.

Quote:
Nitrogen Toxicity. Problem: Dark green leaves, shiny leaves, clawing, weak stems, and overall slow growth

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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-03-2019, 11:46 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the responses Surf and Dave KS.

It does seem like things are getting worse the harder I try. I will cut back the dosing and see what happens. That combined with the potassium (issues were occurring prior to Thrive overdosing) may fix everything. I really like your idea of pre-mixing the Thrive and delivering it throughout the week when you top off the tank. I will likely do this with distilled water so I can maintain a slightly lower PH and dKH in the tank.

Thanks again for the help.
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-04-2019, 01:26 AM
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I have to agree with roy. If you look on line at pictures of "Nitrogen Toxicity" The symptoms are similar if not identical to various deficiencies. If you have a deficiency of of a micro or secondary macro nutrient (Ca, Mg, S, Cl) one of the first symptoms you see is high nitrogen and or phosphate levels. And in my experience correcting the deficiency often results in a drop in nitrogen and phosphate levels.

Pictures of clawing I have seen look a lot like calcium deficiency. having a long stem with only a few leaves on top is commonly caused by a magnesium deficiency.

Additionally the commonly cited solutions to nitrogen toxicity is less fertilizer, more frequent water changes. Both have been tried before and frequently they don't work or don't work well. Also I have seen even higher nitrogen levels than listed here with normal growth. A few years ago there was a lot of discussion about micro toxicity on this forum. Many thought there problems were related to EDTA used in CSM+B. However now there is substantial evidence that nutrient omissions in fertilizers and a poor nutrient ballance in the fertilizers is frequently the cause of problems. Some people now make there own micro fertilizer instead of using a purchased mix.
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-04-2019, 05:50 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Surf & Roy. I'll keep that in mind so i do not overreact with the elevated Nitrates I have right now. I'll stay the course with the Potassium and monitor the Nitrate levels. I will probably know within a few weeks if the issue has been fixed.
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-11-2019, 04:18 AM Thread Starter
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Hi,

I wanted to give an update on this topic. Unfortunately, I continue to have the problem originally described in my first post. During the last month I have been using a 50/50 tap/distilled water combination to keep the GH and KH at around 6 and my PH is stable at 7.5. I have been dosing Thrive and extra Seachem potassium per the bottles' instructions and my plants continue to suffer. Most notably, my more delicate plants (Water Wisteria & Ludwiga) continue to have the dark lines develop on them, then die. See the attached photo.

Since I have tried a lot things and multiple forums have been unable to ID this issue, is there a chance this is not a deficiency? Could this be physical damage caused by a fish in my tank. I do have a Chinese Algae Eater, who likes to rest on my leaves and I do see him eating "off" of them throughout the day. Despite their reputation he has been an amazing algae eater. I have also never seen him leave an actual mark or hole on a leaf.

So assuming this is not a deficiency, is the damage in the picture consistent with fish damage? If so, when a leaf suffers this type of damage does that traditionally mean the leaf is going to die off? If it is fish damage, I am surprised how fast the leaves degrade even if there is a tiny line/slash.

Thanks for the help.
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-11-2019, 02:56 PM
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When I first set up my 30 gallon tank I had a couple Siamese algae eaters and they zoomed around my tank for a couple days sucking every leaf clean, however on several plants I realized a pattern of marks I believed to have been from them sucking on the leaves to feed on whatever was there. I dont know the name of the plant this occured to but it seemed a bit more fragile than others, but all plants in my tank had those little mouth marks from the Siamese Algae Rater fish. I removed them and the plants recovered in time. Never seen amything like it since.
The marks on your leaves look similar, like a physical stress on the plant like folding a leaf and them bending it back into place.
At the time it seemed obvious to me the cause and through observation it seemed as though they were really hard on my plants, however I could be wrong. This is just my experience and I haven't had them since. I've since taken a liking to various snails and shrimp.

Cordially,

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