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Hello Everyone,

Last year I attempted a planted tank in a 10g aquarium. I thought I had done everything right: I had plant/shrimp substrate, a strong planted tank light, a CO2 system, liquid fertilizer, and root tabs.

I had bought a few of those bulbs you can buy in a pack from Petco, as well as some live plants from a LFS. They started off swimmingly (pun intended) and my Lilly was sending out several lily pads everyday and my sword plant was vibrant green and stretched out throughout the tank. My aquarium was looking very green and luscious for awhile, perhaps a month or more, but suddenly they began deteriorating really quickly. Black speckles were appearing on some of the plants (tried looking this up, but couldn’t find anything that looked like what my plants had), the plants were losing their vibrant green color, and, most importantly, they all started “dissolving”. The leaves were becoming thin and see-through: touching them would tear them. They looked like they were MELTING, but this was happening even to the bulbs that had been grown in water from the start. The live plants also were bought submerged under water.

I thought it was a fertilization issue, so I was pumping liquid fertilizer into the tank every week (an all-in-one fertilizer from Aquarium Co-op) and when that was yielding me no results, I also began supplementing with root tabs. I thought maybe I was leaving the light on too high of a brightness, as well, perhaps causing the plants to use up their nutrients quicker, so I set a timer that kept the light on high brightness for about 7 hours a day.

Eventually, after a couple of months of me trying to fix it, the only thing that was really growing in my tank was some algae so I tossed all of the plants out and switched the substrate to an all gravel one for my betta as the tank at that point looked quite awful.

Planted tanks are what got me serious about the aquarium hobby, so I’m disappointed that it didn’t work out. I want to try again with a 5.5g tank that will be a plants-only tank (no animals) but I hope someone can give me some insight on what went wrong. Thank you!
 

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I'm sorry to hear about that utter catastrophe. I have no idea about the black speckles, but what frequency water changes were you doing, and were you dosing CO2?
 

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Not to discourage you... but little mistakes in small aquariums can have a huge impact!

So, what changed when everything went awry? That is a retorical question because if you knew the answer you probably wouldn't be asking the question here.

I would encourage you to take a scientific approach to your new tank. Keep a log of the tank parameters in a log book. Temperature, PH, Ammonia ppm, Nitrites ppm, Nitrates ppm, lighting period, CO2 dosing, when water changes are done, how dechlorinization was accomplished, what are you dosing and when etc. You need a log because you need to know the parameters of the tank when everything is going well so when trouble happens you can see what has changed. Without a base set of data you have nothing to compare the parameters to when problems arise. The more parameters you can monitor the better you can detect changes and identify problems.

Minimize changes to your new tank as much as possible. Plants acclimatize to their surroundings. When you make a change the plants have to reclimatize to those changes. It is human nature (atleast my nature) when things are going well to try to tweak things so they go even better. Resist this urge! Develope a maintence routine and stick to it. Log what you do. Let the tank be and let it balance itself instead of making constant changes.

In my experience it takes six months to a year for a planted tank to really come to a balance. Patients is the key to success!
 
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