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Java not Jivin

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For 30 years I did the plastic thing. I've got a green thumb but apparently it's not a bit aquatic. I've successfully manage to kill almost all the plants they say are excellent for beginners. And one of my tanks even the moss balls turned brown in spots. Today I'm writing to ask for help with my java ferns. These are probably too far gone to save but I'm hoping to prevent the same problem in the future. They are in a 5.5 gallon, good parameters 78° treated with prime and stress coat. In the tank are root tabs for the Crypts. I've got Flourish comprehensive and Excel but I seldom use either. Lights on about 5 to 6 hours. Betta and nerite in tank. the rhizomes are wired to a little log not buried. They've been in there about eight months and did well until about a month ago.
. Today I noticed this black stuff on the back of the second fern.
. Since I can't seem to manage the plants in any of these tanks on my own I'm asking for help. Thanks

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