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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I didn't realize Excel could damage plants like my corkscrew val. I've been battling hair algae and green spot algae so I was dosing Excel once a week. However, my vals kept getting worse. The ends would get ratty, and growth appears to be stunted, when initially when I first got them they were very green, healthy, and growing tall pretty fast.

I wanted to ask, if I stop dosing Excel altogether, will the plants recover? I do a 50% water change every week and just did my last one yesterday (no Excel added).

My tank is 20 gallon long tank, CO2 infused, ferts dosed daily, and heavily planted. I've noticed some of my hydrocotyle tripartita is a bit spotty (small holes) in some of the leaves but new growth looks fine. The corkscrew val seems to be suffering the most, though.
 

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Corkscrew specifically will adapt if you keep dosing Excel. The existing growth will slowly melt away, its toast. But while this is happening new leaves will sprout up that are adapted to it. This new growth will look great be fine with it going forward.

This assumes they were healthy and somewhat established to begin with
 

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I had the same issue with Val and Excell. The ends would disintegrate but it was not my experience that it would adapt, even after many months. It is true that the new growth will look good for a while but in time the tips would begin to disintegrate. I eventually pulled it all out as it also grows so fast by runners that it became a weed and decreased water flow. I moved to another plant for my background. I have mostly stopped using Excell for treating algae, using it only occasionally for spot treating. Long term I have had better results by being more careful with not overfeeding, increasing my CO2, and making sure that water can circulate freely in all areas.

I should also mentioned a mostly overlooked issue that it is important to remove disintegrating plant matter as, like overfeeding, it will raise unwanted nutrients in your tank. By using Excell I was unwittingly making my problem with BBA worse, or at least not helping. I now pull out old, deteriorating growth as soon as I see it. My tank has very little algae and looks much better.
 

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I ran my previous tank on excel but for I took the jump to co2. In that tank I had egeria which is supposedly sensitive to excel. I had good luck starting with a very low dose and ramping up to eventually a pretty significant overdose. The slow ramp seemed to let the egeria adapt without melting.

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Simply put, Excel is an algicide tool for slowing algae globally or at higher concentrations locally like you would use Hydrogen Peroxide. It is extremely toxic to soft fast growing plants like Anacharas which turns bright green and then melts completely even at the lowest dose. In my experience with a huge population of Val was that Excel created so much damage that it was not worth salvaging (what a mess!). I ended up replacing it with water sprite which is almost indestructible and very resistant to any algae growing on it. I use it in my refugiums to remove excess nutrients from fish waste and dying plants. The easiest way to control hair algae, especially Staghorn algae is by adjusting down your light by gradually reducing hours or dimming until it disappears.

Using complete fertilizers in in tanks that contain fish can result in over dosing in PO4 because there is a lot of PO4 in most fish foods. Staghorn in particular seems to like PO4. Test PO4 levels to see if they are higher than the kit says they should be. Do more frequent water changes or add more plants to bring it down. Plants need PO4 so only take action if it is higher than it should be. PO4 removers will knock down staghorn but are a tool like Excel to fix a one time issues and should not be used on a regular basis as both are artificial short term fixes that will upset the natural balance in the tank. For me balancing the biosphere in my tanks is the best thing about this hobby. Enjoy!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
I haven't had much issue with staghorn algae like I used to; now it's basically hair algae and green spot algae I'm dealing with.

It's really a shame about the corkscrew val, it looked so cool. I have a few healthy leaves but then the ends begin melting, even though I haven't dosed Excel in a week and a half. I guess I'll have to pull it out.

I don't plan on dosing Excel anymore, I'm hoping my tank in general can recover. Most the plants aren't as bad off as the val, but I want to be sure it doesn't get worse. Are there any suggestions for background replacements? At this point I have three different background spots to fill in, out of the five that are there. I was using corkscrew vals in the corners. Now it's blank-blank (something orange or red)-dwarf sag (center)-water wisteria-blank.

I'm also fine to replace the alternanthera reineckii mini, it used to be great but now the tops get greenish. I'm not sure if it's the coloring or green spot algae. The leaves don't look like they're rotting but it's just not that great a color.

I don't want to repeat any plants I already have in my tank, I've already got:

 

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Hey Ryan,
If you eliminate the excel you can put new Corkscrew Val back in after a couple more water changes. Leaves do not heal so keep removing the damaged ones and concentrate on growing new ones. There are a lot of great people in this forum that can help you zero in on the CO2, light and fertilizers. From the drawing your tank looks more like a plant only tank. I am sure if you posted a picture of the plants you are having problems with that there are people that would recognize the issues and help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I do have some driftwood (the gray parts). I think it's just the val I've been having issues with; I do a water change once a week so I'll wait a few more weeks to see if the new val stays good.

I know my CO2 is as far up as I can turn it without the fish reacting. I do need to make a small tweak to my fertilizers but I have that all calculated out too.
 
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