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I've observed something a little odd I've had since starting this hobby. When a plant is currently melting and becoming mush, other plants (even of other species) start to exhibit necrosis if they come in close contact with the dying plant. This seems to occur with Java ferns most often for me.

At first I would think it has something to do with sharing the same water in the tank, so a lack of nutrients would affect both or all plants in the tank similarly. But, it has often been the case that the melting would occur only around the dying plant and not the rest of the tank. I also notice it occurs most often when a plant has had mechanical damage from shipping. EG: newly planted stem turns translucent and dies from shipping and the plant near it which the dying plant is touching starts to show some signs of melting.

Once I remove the dead/dying plant the other plant(s) starts to recover. So my thought would be some kind of hormone/toxin that the dying plant releases causes faster decay in itself and in turn causes decay in plants it comes into contact with. This doesn't explain why there can be plant detritus all over the tank making contact with lots of other plants without causing the same symptoms of plants melting. As I mentioned it usually occurs with new plants acclimating to the tank.

Has anyone seen the same thing happen? Am I just finding weirder and weirder reasons why my plants should be dying? Or is this the reason why people tell you to trim the dying portions of plants? The necrosis in one section turning into apoptosis of another section, even another plant?
 

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I would think any toxin released would quickly dilute to a uniform concentration throughout the tank.

Of course, if you were touching the rotting portion, or within a very small distance you would get a higher concentration.
 

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I would think any toxin released would quickly dilute to a uniform concentration throughout the tank.
Agreed.

IME, only certain plants melt when moved and even then it's not consistent behavior. I rarely have plants melt from shipping either. I see melting the most in plants that are converting from partially to submerged growth. I also notice melting when a plant isn't providing with adequate nutrients, light, and CO2.
 
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