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Is This What Happened?

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First off attached picture.



I came into work this morning and saw this on some my Anubias. From what I gather the leaf die off is from too little carbon.

Last week I treated my tank for BGA with some Erythromycin. About halfway through the treatment I noticed my Nitrates and Phosphates going up. I assumed that it was BGA die off. Ammonia and Nitrites stayed at 0. Did a water change and left for the weekend.

So upon seeing what you see in the above picture I do a full testing work up and nitrates are just under 40 ppm, phosphates are at 2 ppm, Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0. With it being a 3 day weekend I didn't dose any Excel for 3 days. The tank has endured such long breaks before without any trouble.

I did a WC, dosed Excel, and clipped out the bad leaves.

So is my thinking right? Did my tank get super charged with dying bacteria, the tank ran out of Carbon, and the leaves tanked?
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From what I gather the leaf die off is from too little carbon.
This is definitely not a carbon deficiency.

All nutrients have different levels of mobility within the plant. Plants are able to remove and transport some nutrients out of old tissue to new tissue, these are called mobile nutrients. In the same way, plants are unable to remove certain nutrients from existing structures, these nutrients are called the immobile nutrients. Carbon is an immobile nutrient which means plants cannot remove carbon from old tissues. This in turn means that old leaves will show no damage from a carbon deficiency at all. In your photo you can see damage on some older and on some newer leaves. This damage is inconsistent with carbon deficiency.

Furthermore, anubias is one of the species that can use carbonates in the water column as a source of CO2 when aqueous CO2 is absent. This process, called biogenic decalcification, leaves a telltale white crust of deposited calcium on the leaves which is not present in the photo above. You can see an example of CO2 deficiency in anubias here: http://deficiencyfinder.com/?page_id=440

This pattern of damage where the new and old growth are both damaged and have necrotic patches is much more consistent with a toxicity of some kind, or possibly a temperature issue or various other forms of damage. Perhaps it is related to the medications you dosed last week. Perhaps it is the excel you dosed. Excel can damage plants if used incorrectly. How did you dose excel and how much? Here is an example of (extreme) excel toxicity/damage in anubias: http://deficiencyfinder.com/?page_id=946

So is my thinking right? Did my tank get super charged with dying bacteria, the tank ran out of Carbon, and the leaves tanked?
Good line of thinking but not the case. The opposite would be true since decomposition also releases a lot of CO2 gas into the water column. Also, if you still have fish alive in the tank you know there was enough oxygen in the water. If there was enough oxygen there was a minimum concentration of CO2 in the water from the atmosphere which is plenty enough to keep plants like anubias alive and growing well, though not growing quickly.

Any chance of a few more photos of the damaged leaves or did you remove them all?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'll toss out the Excel as I haven't changed the dosage or usage since January. Use .3 ml (3 gallon tank) per day and just put the drops in front of the output from the pump.

Interesting on the carbon being non mobile. Learn something new every day. There's no calcification on the plants so I guess I can toss that off the list.

Looking at the deficiency website you provided the best I can come up with is a potassium deficiency. I add potassium as part of the weekly WC but only up to 2ppm as I have no way of testing for it. Haven't had any pin holes so didn't think I was deficient.

One item of note. The damaged parts of the leaves were transparent and if you touched them they fell apart.

Item of note part 2. This is only on the plant that is closest to the surface. Close as in 1 inch from the surface and 3 inches from the light (Fluval Spec 3 stock). The other Anubias around the tank look great. The rhizome on the affected plant is green and strong.

I removed most of the affected leaves as they were just falling apart. There are a few leaves where there's a discoloration or hole in the middle of the leaf. Perhaps the epically damaged leaves were late state potassium deficiency and I wasn't around for the early stages. Or some unknown by product of BGA cure.

Final question. How is a tank supposed to smell? Almost since inception my tank smelled fishy. Not bad, just like fish. Now that I'm done with antibiotics the tank doesn't smell like anything. I didn't think much of it.
 

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I'll toss out the Excel as I haven't changed the dosage or usage since January. Use .3 ml (3 gallon tank) per day and just put the drops in front of the output from the pump.
As you say, probably not the excel in this case.

Looking at the deficiency website you provided the best I can come up with is a potassium deficiency. I add potassium as part of the weekly WC but only up to 2ppm as I have no way of testing for it. Haven't had any pin holes so didn't think I was deficient.
It isn't potassium deficiency. Potassium is mobile, so as plants pull potassium out of old leaves, only the old leaves will show pinholes. New leaves are unaffected. Your plants have new and old growth damage which rules out deficiencies altogether.

This is early potassium deficiency. It can happen fairly quickly in stem plants, but for anubias it takes several weeks-months of no K addition to develop. The spots on the leaves also persist for a long time before opening up into holes. See http://deficiencyfinder.com/?page_id=592 for more info.


Since only the anubias at the top of the tank are damaged, then perhaps the damage is from drying out? When doing your last water change did you leave the anubias out of water for longer than usual? The damage in the photos is consistent with the plants partially drying out at some point in the recent past.

Final question. How is a tank supposed to smell? Almost since inception my tank smelled fishy. Not bad, just like fish. Now that I'm done with antibiotics the tank doesn't smell like anything. I didn't think much of it.
Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) has a distinct odor to it. The antibiotic treatment you did last week most likely killed the algae and removed the source of the smell.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Ok round 3. How about hydrogen peroxide damage?

But first I guess when I did my last water change I did have those leaves exposed longer than normal. Maybe 10 minutes.

Ok how about hydrogen peroxide damage? In my efforts to rid myself of the BGA I added a few drops of hydrogen peroxide on the driftwood in the tank. In the course of applying I'm sure some of it got on the plant. Also I'm sure that when I refilled the tank this play would have been in the sphere of influence of the H2O2.

In case I wasn't clear I applied the H2O2 while the plant was out of water.

Do we have a winner?
 

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Ahh well then. Yes, applying peroxide or excel out of the water directly to leaves is definitely something that could damage the leaves like that. Drying out in the air, peroxide damage, or a combination of both. I think we have narrowed it down to the most likely culprits :)
 
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