Plants dying...what changed? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-21-2014, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
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Plants dying...what changed?

We have a 10g planted tank with the following -

1 amazon sword
1 hornwort
1 ludwigia
1 mossball
3 platys (2 adult, 1 fry)
3 cardinal tetras
2 nerite snails
1 horned nerite snail
4 glass shrimp

Our tank is about 6 months old and everything has been growing and happy up until a couple weeks ago. We had one platy give birth and die about 1 week later. All other inhabitants of the tank looked and acted fine, and still do. Last week I started to notice that the leaves of our amazon sword have started turning to lace and is losing some of it's color. At the same time our ludwigia started losing it's leaves to the point that the only thing left on the stems are tiny baby leaves, which are now yellow.

I've tested our water several times since the platy died, and none of the numbers have changed since the community was happy and healthy. Off the top of my head, here's what they are:

ammonia - 0ppm
nitirite - 0ppm
pH - 7.8
nitrate - 80ppm (I know this is high, but it hasn't changed. Our tap water is ~80ppm straight out of the tap)

As far as parameters for the plants, we have not fertilized and don't use an air stone or CO2 additives. We have 2 - 10W Coralife Mini Compact Fluorescent 50/50 bulbs for light from above.

Can anyone think of causes for our plants to be going downhill based on this info? I'd hate to lose the happy community we have set up.

Edit -
Substrate - small pebble (smaller than pea size approximately)
Feeding - 1x/day in the evening
Water change schedule - 1x/week, ~50%, with gravel vac.

Last edited by HotBacon; 02-21-2014 at 11:36 PM. Reason: added additional info
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-21-2014, 03:39 PM
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All the way down on this list, well at least half way there is Osmocote+ capsules.
Damage will not be repaired. Just look for the new growth and after it's well established
then you can cut off older parts that aren't doing well. The sword leaves which are older are doing that no doubt. As the new ones come in just cut the older ones off.
This is after a couple of weeks after you use the Osmocote+.
I don't know what that light is intended for but the all white bulbs will help the plants better.
You might go to that pet shop where you got the fish from and see if they will test their water. That level of nitrates should have killed a horse and are illegal in public water. Joking about the horse but not the legal part.
But if they have the same reading(and if their in the same city they would likely)
then the fish are used to it already. But it may be the reason for the fish dieing at birth.
With that few of plants you only need to put one tab by each plant. A tank that size shoud not have more than 4 or 5 of them.
All or most of the Ludwigia may be too far gone. There may be something else wrong here but the pants not having nutrients doesn't help matters. Those capsules are complete ferts instead of only being one or two nutrients as most store bough liquid ferts are.

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Last edited by Raymond S.; 02-21-2014 at 03:58 PM. Reason: All or most of...
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-21-2014, 04:02 PM
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Assuming no type of recent contamination in your tank then the only thing that appears out of whack is the nitrate. Here is some info on it;

Nitrate is the least harmful of the three, but it can still have fatal consequences. 95% of the aquariums I test have at least a little bit of nitrates in them, and it's usually an unavoidable problem in most non-planted freshwater aquariums. While most people consider nitrate harmless except in larger quantities, the truth is that even in concentrations higher than 30ppm nitrate can cause an inhibition of growth and development, cause nervous system damage and degradation (through the inhibition of vitamin B12 uptake, a crucial part of proper nervous system function), and cause general overall stress for aquatic animals. Nitrate has secondary ramifications in that it can be used as a food for algae, which in epidemic proportions can cause major issues with water quality and chemistry. Algal blooms can also lead to water anoxia (a lack of oxygen in the water).

Unlike ammonia and nitrite, nitrate is not converted in most home freshwater aquarium systems into another substance. The most reliable (and easiest) way to lower nitrate levels in your aquarium is to do a simple water change. Chemical filtration methods are available to strip nitrates from the water, but these don't revitalize the ion balance of the water like a water change will.

Symptoms of nitrate poisoning

Nitrate poisoning is a little sneakier than ammonia or nitrite poisoning, as outward symptoms may not present themselves until the latter stages of the poisoning process. General listlessness, lack of feeding reflex, erratic swimming and behaviors, and overall poor health are all signs of nitrate poisoning; generally if these are noticed, your fish has suffered at least a little permanent damage. Your only recourse is to quickly rectify the nitrate issue and hope for the best.

Here's the good news: unless you are cycling a new tank, you won't generally see the first two unless something drastic has gone wrong with your aquarium. Having a good set of test kits on hand capable of testing these three compounds (in addition to pH, hardness, and alkalinity) is never a bad idea, and a water test should always be your first course of action when presented with an unknown problem. Having accurate numbers to present to us here also helps us help you. Learn the nitrogen cycle, learn how to properly maintain your tank, and with any luck The Big Three should never rear their ugly heads past the cycle process.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-21-2014, 04:14 PM
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Additional info: Use the Osmocoate+ very sparingly. If overdone they can raise the nitrates. For example if the sword and the Ludwigia are next to each other you only need one capsule between them.
Here is a suggestion for you if you can have a 5g bucket outside where it gets sunlight you can put declorinated water in it and grow some floating Hortworth in it also. Then the Hortworth will use some of the nitrate for ferts and it will be lower when you use it
for the water change.

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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-21-2014, 04:35 PM
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We really need to see a few close up decent photos to be sure of what is going on. You can upload them to a picture site like flickr, photobucket, or even your gmail photo album and link the pictures here. To add the photos to your post you paste the link into this text [img]www.LinkInHere.jpg[/img].

Quote:
Originally Posted by HotBacon View Post
Our tank is about 6 months old and everything has been growing and happy up until a couple weeks ago. We had one platy give birth and die about 1 week later. All other inhabitants of the tank looked and acted fine, and still do. Last week I started to notice that the leaves of our amazon sword have started turning to lace and is losing some of it's color. At the same time our ludwigia started losing it's leaves to the point that the only thing left on the stems are tiny baby leaves, which are now yellow.
This wouldn't happen to be around the time you added a pleco would it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by HotBacon View Post
We have 2 - 10W Coralife Mini Compact Fluorescent 50/50 bulbs for light from above.
50/50 bulbs are not suitable for freshwater plants. The actinic part provides no usable light for plants. Better to switch the bulbs out for 6500 or 6700 ones. The plants may be suffering from not enough light. Need a photo to be sure.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-21-2014, 06:52 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raymond S. View Post
Additional info: Use the Osmocoate+ very sparingly. If overdone they can raise the nitrates. For example if the sword and the Ludwigia are next to each other you only need one capsule between them.
Here is a suggestion for you if you can have a 5g bucket outside where it gets sunlight you can put declorinated water in it and grow some floating Hortworth in it also. Then the Hortworth will use some of the nitrate for ferts and it will be lower when you use it
for the water change.
I'm glad you mentioned this, as it was one of my worries. I'm already doing weekly 50% water changes (albeit with tap water and not RO), and nitrates are still way up there. So I'd hate to try to fertilize for my plants and actually introduce more nitrates.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zapins View Post
We really need to see a few close up decent photos to be sure of what is going on.
I'll try to get some pics uploaded this weekend.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zapins View Post
This wouldn't happen to be around the time you added a pleco would it?
We have no plecos in the tank, and supposedly the nerite snails won't snack on the plants. The platys and cardinals pay no attention to the plants aside from using them for cover.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zapins View Post
50/50 bulbs are not suitable for freshwater plants. The actinic part provides no usable light for plants. The plants may be suffering from not enough light. Need a photo to be sure.
I'd be surprised if the bulbs were an issue. The plants struggled when I first put them in the tank. After I switched the bulbs that came with the hood with the 50/50 bulbs, the plants started to thrive...perked up, started growing like crazy, etc.

Last edited by HotBacon; 02-21-2014 at 06:54 PM. Reason: added info
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-21-2014, 10:32 PM Thread Starter
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Overall tank setup. Hornwort is usually attached sunk in substrate, but floated up yesterday...haven't fixed it yet.

Shot of ludwigia with amazon sword in the background.
Shot of amazon sword.

Last edited by HotBacon; 02-21-2014 at 10:33 PM. Reason: added captions
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-22-2014, 03:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HotBacon View Post
We have no plecos in the tank, and supposedly the nerite snails won't snack on the plants. The platys and cardinals pay no attention to the plants aside from using them for cover.
Usually nerites will not bother plants much, but they can and do damage plants. The holes on your plants are nerite damage.

Here is another plant that nerites ate to pieces:



Quote:
Originally Posted by HotBacon View Post
I'd be surprised if the bulbs were an issue. The plants struggled when I first put them in the tank. After I switched the bulbs that came with the hood with the 50/50 bulbs, the plants started to thrive...perked up, started growing like crazy, etc.
Not saying you can't grow plants with a 50/50 bulb, just telling you that your plants can't use 50% of the light the bulbs provide. 50/50 bulbs are specifically made for saltwater systems for algae and coral which can use this wavelength. You have 10 watts of usable light above your tank due to the non-actinic part of the bulb. If you want to give your plants the most light your fixture can provide you should get two bulbs that are around 6500 K

Here is a link to a discussion about 50/50 bulbs for freshwater plants if you are interested:
http://www.myfishtank.net/forum/aqua...50-plants.html

From the pictures you uploaded, if we ignore the holes as symptoms (nerite damage), then we see older leaves are going pale and show signs of necrosis along the edges and tips of the sword plant. This can be one of two things, a nitrate deficiency or a phosphate deficiency, they both look fairly similar. Nitrate deficient plants generally tend to grow progressively smaller new leaves which the sword in the 3rd photo seems to be doing. This is strange because you say your nitrates are at 80+ ppm. Phosphate deficiency shows similar older growth necrosis around the edges/sometimes the tip of the leaf and normal sized new growth. So, the signs your plants are showing are a little ambiguous.

The Ludwigia in the front has some small new leaves and some dead growing tips along with slightly damaged older growth. This also looks more like nitrate deficiency than phosphate deficiency.

I'd take a sample of your tank and your tap water to a local fish store and ask them to test it for you just in case your nitrate test kit is off.

If the results are the same, then you'll need to add some phosphates and see if the plants respond.

Also, remove the nerites if you want them to stop gnawing holes in all the leaves. People claim they don't hurt healthy plants, so perhaps that is true and they are just eating the plants because they are suffering from a deficiency, but I have my doubts. There are many species of nerite snails and they can't all be totally benign.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-22-2014, 01:04 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you very much for your help Zapins. I plan to take a water sample to our fish store today.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-22-2014, 10:35 PM Thread Starter
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We took a water sample to our local fish shop, and it turns out our API Master Test Kit is off. They measured the nitrates to be 0 and I had them look at phosphates as well, which were also 0.

So I guess I'm back to a possible nitrate deficiency for our plants? Osmocote + addition?

Thanks again Zapins and Raymond S. Your help is greatly appreciated.

Last edited by HotBacon; 02-22-2014 at 10:35 PM. Reason: typo
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-22-2014, 10:44 PM
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I suggested that as a starting point towards recovery of the situation. After what you just said about the results from the Local Pet Shop it looks as though it may be all that you need. That would be the easiest/cheapest way to do it was te reason that I suggested it. But other than quantity it is not adjustable so in time you may want to investigate links on here which sell fully adjustable type ferts(dry) that you would be able to taylor to your tank. I believe that at least two of the three on here sell individual nutrients as well as "packages" of dry ferts by the pound/half pound.

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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-23-2014, 05:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HotBacon View Post
We took a water sample to our local fish shop, and it turns out our API Master Test Kit is off. They measured the nitrates to be 0 and I had them look at phosphates as well, which were also 0.

So I guess I'm back to a possible nitrate deficiency for our plants? Osmocote + addition?
That is good news indeed. I kept thinking that the striking nitrate deficiency symptoms I saw in the plants didn't make sense with the high nitrate readings, glad it was just a faulty test. Definitely need a nitrogen source, I suggest potassium nitrate from http://www.aquariumfertilizer.com/in...ditU=1&Regit=2 or [Ebay Link Removed] or as Raymond suggests from members on this forum.

For phosphorous you can use mono potassium phosphate also from the site above or from [Ebay Link Removed]

I suppose the Osmocote tabs will also work, I just dislike relying on tabs since you don't have as much control over them as you do with dry fertilizers which are cheaper and also easy to use.
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-23-2014, 01:46 PM
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Zapins that is one of the three links that I have and have been wanting to ask a question to someone who already uses their fert.
That Micro Macro package... does it give you the nutrients seperately so you can adjust them or is it just one pack of Macros and one of Micros ?
I can't think of a better time to ask it either as it will benefit Hotbacon as well as me and who ever is watching this thread.
Here are the other two links just in case.
http://greenleafaquariums.com/aquarium-fertilizer.html
And on this one you might check out the "liquid ferts" that he has a set of
Seems adjstable by virtue of you adding more of one kind to it.
But he has the dry by nutrient also.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...393&highlight=

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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-25-2014, 08:04 PM
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Hey Raymond, I just got back from a little trip.

When I buy from aquariumfertilizer I buy the fertilizers individually, I do not buy the Macro Micro Nutrient Mix. I believe that mix has been premade with all fertilizers in one and does not give you the ability to dose individual fertilizers.

I've seen a few other people buy from greenleafaquariums but they don't seem to sell all the fertilizers I like to use or have around so I've never bought from them.
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-25-2014, 08:55 PM
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Thanks, I'm no where near running out, but bought most of mine from e-bay as
I could get smaller quantities there and since I wasn't sure of which kind I would end up using permanently(from not having used individual ferts before) I wanted smaller than 1lb bags of them. I only have two ten g tanks on lower but same ferts as EI.
And no CO2 of any kind in one of them so how long to use up a lb when you only use 1/4 tsp per week ?
But when I replace them as they run out I do want the lb bags so I needed to know if those were individual or lumped together in Micro/Macro.
I'll feel like I know which works for me by then. Example is the K2SO4 I was told I could skip that one but doesn't look that way to me yet. And the MGSO4 I wasn't sure I wanted but now use a light dose of it so maybe by when I run out I'll know for sure.
In the ten g which has no CO2/Excel the regular baby tears are pearling fairly well.
I know it's hard to see pearling but this is a pix.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/pi...ictureid=52546

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