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S. Repens losing all its leaves suddenly

831 Views 6 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  leaf
I originally posted this on another forum, so I'll paste what I wrote there with the dates.

"So a couple days ago, all my s repens in my tank dropped like half their leaves. All my other plants look great, and the s repens has been growing and propagating awesomely in the tank for the past 7 or so months. I use Flourish Excel Seachem 3 times a week, everything is planted in Fluval aquasoil, I have Seachem Flourish Tabs in as well. No CO2. Tank is about 77 F, I do weekly 20% water changes. Pic attached from just before this started happening so you can see all the plants looking good. No new livestock recently.

Recent changes that may have effected something:
-We had a local cold snap, and the water in the tank dipped to around 74.5 F
- The tiger lotus has been in about a month
-I recently reduced my light hours from 12 to 9 to combat algae
-The root tabs are a recent addition, been in about two weeks

You can't really see in the picture since it doesn't show the whole tank, but I have a ton of s repens along the front in various states of maturity. All of them are dropping leaves but don't have any browning or yellowing. I'm not sure what the issue is. For reference even the patch where I just put a root tab a couple weeks ago had the same reaction.
I can get more specs if needed, and I'll take a picture of the s repens later as well."

Reply from someone:
"Excel is not a plant food. You need to feed your plants with a proper water column supplement. I use the Seachem line. There are six that I use: Excel, Iron, Potassium, Advance, Trace, and their root tabs.

I prefer this over the all in one supplements as it allows you to dial in the supplements to the plants needs rather than throwing everything at once at them. Also you want to use the organic and inorganic on separate days. As I understand it there is a conflict between the two. You can not do this with an all in one.

Just my two cents worth."

"I was afraid that might be the case. I know that excel doesn't have good macros, but I was hoping with the root tabs I'd be good to use up the bottle before getting Aquarium Co-Op's Easy Green. Any ideas what nutrient I might be missing that would make it suddenly drop leaves? All my other plants are still doing great and growing quickly.

The s repens ended up losing the rest of their leaves a couple days after I posted this. They look like this now. :("


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S repens is known to do that sort of melt back for unknown reasons. I think if you were to do a search on the forum you will likely find a few example postings. I myself have had it melt back for no apparent reason in a small tank of mine. Give it a week and you will likely see leaves growing back. Pruning some of the stems might also induce some growth as well. I think (just a guess on my part) its just the plants way of adjusting to some change in the tank. If you were to pull the roots up and have a look I bet they would be healthy and white still.

Also Fluorish Excel is not really a fertilizer and is marketed as a liquid carbon source but really is more commonly used as an algaecide in the hobby. I dont think it is really that great a source of carbon. From what I have heard over the years, it has been known to have an affect on certain sensitive plants such as Vals and even sometimes crypts.

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Agree with all above, I think it's a melt back. happened to some of mine. I just left them though, they started to grow but much slower and smaller. I don't do nearly as much ferts for water coloumn though. Mostly root tabs, and every so often after a water change will add one of 2 types of ferts that I have. Iron and Monopotassium Phosphate. I have trimmed the tips off these same stems and put them in other tanks and they started to grow amazingly. Personal, theory is mine needed higher light. and do better with a little more attention to the water column ferts.


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Yep, I'm a newbie so can't give my personal views but someone with a lot of experience just told me to stop with Excel because a) it does not feed plants and b) can harm them if the tank is not mature/ stabilized/ plants haven't had a chance to settle in really well. For all in one fertilizer I use Thrive and honestly most of my guys seem to be, well.. thriving.

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Some updates since its been a while and I decided to get some more s repens and try again.

Improvements since my last attempt:
-Use Aquarium Co-op's Easy Green All-in-One Fertilizer x2 a week
-Use seachem's potassium and iron x2 a week
-Upgraded to a Hygger 22w light set to its 12 hour dawn-dusk cycle

Still have aquasoil capped with sand and use Flourish root tabs every few months.

I bought some more s repens stems at the end of June. They slowly started losing leaves. 1 month in half were gone, not long after they were completely bare. They never recovered. Around 2 weeks ago I tried trimming back the bare stems as a last ditch effort and that caused them to completely melt away.

I have no idea what's killing them but not effecting my other plants. This is the only plant I haven't been able to keep alive in this tank. Here's a list of other plants in there:
java fern, anubias nana, amazon sword, tiger lotus, duckweed, tiger frogbit, hygrophila siamensis, ludwigia palustris 'triple red', hydrocotyle verticillata, rotala rotundifolia, pearlweed, java moss, fissidens fontanus, dwarf hairgrass, leopard val

Any advice would be appreciated since I'm considering getting a 3rd round of stems to see if I can finally keep them alive. One of my favorite plants ever so I'm disappointed I keep killing them.

Here's a picture from about a month ago. Leafless stems in the bottom left area might be hard to see, but you can see my other plants doing well.
Water Plant Vertebrate Organism Pet supply

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224 Posts
it helps to have a high tech tank to slow melt and eventually acclimate to water conditions. I think sometimes the plants we buy are too terrestrial in form and most of the conversion happens in our homes. Once acclimated to your water its just like any other stem plant but until then, it can be particularly frustrating to keep.
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