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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well I read lots of books and tons of stuff online including this site, and have still managed to create a complete failure of my first tank. 29g, 65w cf, hard water, good substrate, dosed with excel. Mix of large healthy ($$) "easy" plants including crytps, anubias, java fern, etc. Within 24 hours the plants started to droop, now only 1 week later they have turned yellow or black and have basically completely disintegrated, creating a rotting mess on the floor of the tank. I did not expect miracles, but I expected most things to to at least make it through the first week! Helpful advisors have guessed nutrient deficiency, but they're planted in mostly flourite, with a nice dose of flourish excel... what possible deficiency could there be that could cause a plant to give up within 24 hrs????? Any possible explanations gratefully accepted. At this point I need to tear it all down and start over from scratch... but I don't know what to do differently in setting it back up again! Help. Thanks much.
Marc
 

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Where did you get your plants?

In my experience (this past week tearing down both my tanks) my crypts didn't handle being transplanted well. I have not had a fern or Anubia show the same reaction, though. Maybe it has something to do with your water.

That is a little out of my realm, but I'm sure someone else has an idea about KH/GH etc...
 

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Excel is organic carbon only, hence it has no other nutrients. I don't think a deficiency would happen that fast, especially among such slow growing plants.

Crypts tend to melt if something changes. As for the Anubias and java fern, I don't know. They could have been grown emersed, but I don't think they would die that fast.

Are the java fern and anubias dying too? I thought anubias were indestructible... I almost killed mine when I tried to grow it emersed, though it could have just been changing forms... Leaves fell off, turn yellow, get spots on them... etc...

My last theory is there is something toxic in the water...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
OK, here's some pics. Anubias leaves turning different colors. Crypts melting into a puddle. You get the idea. Water: 7.6pH, 4.5KH, 9.5GH. Same out of the tap as in the tank. Java ferns have turned dark grey. Oh, also dosed with Leaf Zone, which the guy at the fish store recommended. For substrate, I have a little potting soil and sand in the bottom inch, then an inch or two of flourite, then 1.5 inches of fine gravel. I would hate to run out and buy all new plants and have the same thing happen all over again. Aaaargh!
 

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Normal for crypts to melt when moved, they come back if the roots are still good. It looks like you may have the roots of your anubias "planted" in the gravel. You can't bury the rhizome or it will melt, anubias should be attached to wood or rocks, roots and rhizome should not be in the gravel. Java fern likes nitrates and you don't appear to be dosing any macro or micro ferts.
 

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Is it "potting" soil or is it "top" soil?

My understanding is that potting soil has organics that decay and release H2S.

I recently had to tear down my 50G and 10G because I was getting major gas pockets using mineralized top soil. It turns out that my top soil may have actually had some fertilizers.

I recommend you pull up a plant or two and check their roots. My roots were black and rotten after the gas pockets began to form. They will have a very foul smell. Also, try to push down on the substrate to see if you have any bubbles being released.

I haven't seen any mention of fish and did not see any in the pics, are you currently housing fish in this tank?


Here is the journal in case you want to see the details:
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/t...93867-devinwolfes-50g-tear-down-progress.html
 

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That does not look like the result of a buried rhyzome, or nutrient deficiencies, not when it happens in 24 hours. A little crypt melt I could see, but that's about it. Java fern definitely doesn't melt in 24 hours under nontoxic conditions. I can't see why organic buildup of H2S would reach toxicity so quickly either; that sort of thing should be a slow wasting as well.

How much excel are you dosing? How often? Do you have any fauna in the aquarium? Can you list everything you put into the aquarium regularly?

Go pull a big water change, do two in a row for that matter. Don't add anything besides dechlorinator, leafzone and food. Pull out all the dead plant material, and clip off wasting leaves with some SHARP scissors. Non serated fly tying micotips are good, tissue scissors are better.

Leafzone is not worth the cost; it's giving you K+ and Fe for the price that TPN+ would almost completely take care of your tank. Better yet, go get your self some K2SO4, KNO3, KH2PO4 and CSM+B. CaCl2 and MgSO4.7H2O might also be considerations depending on how your tap water pours. DIY will cost you 1/10th the price in the long run.

-Philosophos
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for these really good comments. Here is a little more clarification, on the points made above, along with a few more questions:

Substrate: I used a few cups of potting soil mixed with sand in the bottom layer. Not Miracle Grow soil or anything like that. Just regular potting soil. i compared the labels, and it had only a fraction of the nutrients compared to the fertilized soil - just a trace N-P-K. I figured this would be fine since I used so little, and some nutrients would be good. Used Flourite and gravel above.

Ferts: The tank has only been set up 1 week. I dosed with Leaf Zone and Flourish Excel. Given the flourite substrate, is more necessary? If so, is there a good full-spectrum fertilizer that would take care of things? The thought of having to monitor and dose separately for every individual nutrient (as I fear is being suggested by Philosophus) is making me reconsider this whole idea of having a planted tank. Is there a way to have a fertile substrate that minimizes the need for regular supplemental fertilizing? People on this board seem to use such a wide variety of products... laterite, flourite, eco-complete, aqua-soil, etc... though I know the composition of these is different, I find it hard to judge which is "best", or has the broadest rnage of nutrients.

Planting methods: With the anubias, I thought I was doing well to keep the rhizome exposed. I did not know the rootlets shouldn't be buried either. Is that really true? For the other plants, frankly I found it way more difficult to plant things than I imagined it would be. It was hard to see what I was doing, and things kept floating back up. In the end I was worried I had actually planted some things too deep. Though it does not usually seem to be done this way, would it ever be wise to plant before adding the water?

Fauna: nope, not yet. new tank. trying to get the plants established and the tank cycled first.

I really appreciate everyone's help. I would hate to learn I did stuff wrong, but I am determined to try to get it right.
- Marc
 

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Could you have overdosed the excel? I know it can melt some plants. Crypts melt if you look at them wrong... but the anubias and ferns are more resistant. It could be that the water parameters were completely different and they shocked from the change.
 

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I would hate to learn I did stuff wrong, but I am determined to try to get it right.
- Marc
Marc,

:proud: With an attitude like this, I am positive that you are going to do very well with planted tanks! Welcome to the forum. A lot of the crypts look like they are going through crypt melt. They will come back as long as the roots aren't mushy. As long as your rhizome on the anubias aren't buried as you say, it will adjust. I have one anchored in my 10 gallon with rocks and it is growing fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Well it's been a couple months, and I thought I'd update what's been happening in the tank. After an immediate and near complete meltdown in which almost all the plants died within the first two days, almost everything came back. :) The crypts rebounded beautifully, and sprouted new growth from the roots - now about 6" tall only 2 mos later. the java ferns came back from the roots, slow and steady. Swords growing very slowly, but looking good. I also added some hygro, which is fabulous and rampant. However, some plants were never heard from again.... the Val completely disintegrated and never came back, and, oddly, the anubias, which turned black and had to be thrown out. Since then I have thrown in some anacharis, which seems happy, java moss, which keeps growing and growing, and hornwort, which (oddly) just falls apart and dies. Overall, I'm pretty happy, and thinking about srtarting a second tank. I'll post a pic this weekend in case anyone is interested. (oh, specs.....: 29g, hard water, 65w fc, DIY Co2, too many fish, throw in some liquid fertz every so often when I think of it).
 

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This is fantastic! I am very interested in seeing updated pictures and I am sure that they would be beneficial to others. Congratulations on the turn around. Happy growing!
 

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Patience certainly sucks, but comes in handy when starting a new tank. Congrats on the rebound!
 
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