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The first 3-4 weeks, dry start method seemed to work really well. Growth was noticeable week over week and seemed healthy. During that period, I spritzed the leaves until everything was damp each morning when the lights came on. I kept the aquarium wrapped air tight with saran wrap.

And then the leaves started to brown, growth seemed to slow, and some leaves were yellowing. I became paranoid about mold growth maintaining such high humidity, so I started leaving about 5% of the aquarium uncovered to provide some airflow, and started monitoring humidity, which hovers around 60-72% (low enough to reduce the risk of humidity, ideally < 65% based on my limited research).

After a week of that, and limited progress, I added about a gallon of water to the tank to thoroughly wet the substrate and provide water directly to the roots, which have grown to about 3cm at this point. I stopped spritzing with water entirely, in favor of allowing the roots and stable humidity to do the work.

Things keep getting brown, and I've confirmed with weekly photos that carpeting has basically stopped. I plan to resume daily spritzing for the next week.

Any other suggestions on how to turn things around?

Lighting period this whole time has been 12 hours under a Finnex Ray 2 in an ADA 60p. Soil is ADA Amazonia.

Animated GIF of the growth over past 5 weeks ( https://imgur.com/a/YOD75 ):

 

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Discussion Starter #4
Any suggestions? The condition has only gotten worse over the past week, and I'm pretty confident there's no mold, so I'm back to maintaining high humidity going forward (90%+).

Latest photo before upping the humidity:

 

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I would recommend using as high a humidity as you can obtain. And everyday take the saran wrap off and blow onto the substrate/plants.
You said you where keeping it air tight, but when you do the dry start you still need gas exchange.
If you want you can add water I recommend keeping the water line at least 1-2 cm below the top of your substrate.
Also what substrate are you using, does it contain nutrients?
 

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id prob say flood the tank if it's getting too out of control. dwarf baby tears grows like a beast. like a foam covering your tank and swallowing your rocks.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I would recommend using as high a humidity as you can obtain.
It's measuring 99% today, up from the ~65% I was targeting before.

And everyday take the saran wrap off and blow onto the substrate/plants.
I'm taking the saran wrap off for about 15 minutes each morning when I mist.

If you want you can add water I recommend keeping the water line at least 1-2 cm below the top of your substrate.
I had a water table in there for the past month or so, but just added enough to get to that 1cm mark or so, at least at the lowest point in the substrate.

Also what substrate are you using, does it contain nutrients?
The soil is ADA Amazonia powder.

id prob say flood the tank if it's getting too out of control
That's what I was thinking. It's at least rooted really well, so I think the dry start has accomplished the most critical challenge already.
 

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It's measuring 99% today, up from the ~65% I was targeting before.



I'm taking the saran wrap off for about 15 minutes each morning when I mist.



I had a water table in there for the past month or so, but just added enough to get to that 1cm mark or so, at least at the lowest point in the substrate.



The soil is ADA Amazonia powder.



That's what I was thinking. It's at least rooted really well, so I think the dry start has accomplished the most critical challenge already.
If you where only targeting 65% before I would think that might be your issue. I have done a lot of emersed setups for crypts, baby tears, and s. Repens and I found that 85%+ humidity was ideal. As long as you also provide proper gas exchange each day.

Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Growth has definitely improved! Thanks for the tips, everyone.

The past week or so has been 100% humidity, 12 hours of lighting, 15 minutes of daily air circulation (otherwise sealed with plastic wrap), and heavy spritzing with water once a day.

There's still plenty of lingering die-off, but a lot more new growth is dark green, with far fewer yellowing leaves. The lowest part of the tank (closest to the water table) is the bottom left of this pic, and you can see that's where the growth is the best.

 

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Looks awesome, glad to see it is working for you.
Just curious is there a reason you are only running lighting for 12 hours? I say only, because for the DSM you can essentially run lighting 24/7.
A while ago I ran a lot of s. repens setups with 19hr a day lighting (had it near a window that got decent light for 5 hours a day so I had the light off for this period).

If you want you can run it more, its not necessary just faster.
 
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