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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Golden nesaea - stunting
I've had some golden nesaea in my tank for probably a year. For most of that time, it has languished with withered leaves, not really dying but not really living either. By giving it some more light and staying on top of fertilizing/maintenance, I've gotten it to grow at a decent pace. However, its leaves are still terribly stunted. The new growth is twisted but at least has a nice color, while old leaves quickly waste away. I added a DIY Osmocote root tab about a week ago, but it hasn't been long enough to see if that helped.
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Ludwigia sp. - stunting
I've also got some Ludwigia (repens red maybe?) that's been in the tank for several months doing even worse. I'm not sure it's growing at all, it refuses to root, and almost all leaves are dying and covered in algae.
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Ammania gracilis - stunting
Lastly, I added some Ammania gracilis a few weeks ago. Its new growth is twisted and curvy (almost looks shriveled).
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Limnophila sp. - stunting
At the same time, I added some... Limnophila indica? Can't recall exactly, but something with delicate green leaves like that. Anyway, it quickly started growing all twisty, and it's quickly turning brown and/or getting covered in algae. It's also not really rooting.
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Incidentally, all of these plants are in the same area of the tank. However, I think that was just be subconsciously putting all the ugly stuff together when I rescaped the tank a week or two ago.

Plants that are doing well
At the same time as those previous two plants I added another Ludwigia (can't recall the species; really need to start paying attention to my impulse buys at the LFS) and some AR variegated. This Ludwigia is doing great, with rich, deep red leaves. While it's getting some algae, the AR's new growth looks decent and at least not stunted.
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IMG_20210716_134805.jpg



Everything else in the tank is also doing great:
  • Anubias barteri (seriously, this thing is gigantic... not really sure what to do with it)
  • Anubias afzelii (also enormous)
  • Anubias frazer I think?
  • Anubias petite
  • Dwarf chain sword
  • Dwarf hairgrass
  • Giant baby tears
  • Hygro pinnatifida
  • Hygro araguaia
  • Hygro kompakt
  • Java fern
  • Limno hippuridoides (this one has been looking a little yellow/grey lately)
  • Riccia (I'd categorize this one as doing "okay", but it's constantly being broken into a million pieces)
  • Tiger lotus
  • Val vesuvius
  • Marsilea (also doing just "okay")
  • Various crypts
Tank/Light/Filter
It's a 64 gallon (48x18x18) with a Fluval 3.0 that's on 12hrs a day but only peaks at max brightness (i.e. 6hrs of ramp up, 6hrs of ramp down). Good amount of water flow with a Fluval FX4. I just redid the tank with Kwikrete PFS; prior to that it had BDBS.

CO2/Ferts
CO2 injection comes on a few hours before the lights, and by midday the drop checker is yellow-green with fish hanging out toward the surface but not gasping. I dose EI with 1/2tsp* KNO3 and 1/8tsp KH2PO4 on M/W/F, 1/8tsp CSM+B and 1/32tsp DTPA 11% iron on T/R/Sat, and a 50% WC on Sunday. After the water change, I add 1tsp GH booster. I was recently dosing 5mL Excel daily to combat some BBA, and that did not seem to make a difference for stunted plants.
*This past week I've cut back to 1/4tsp KNO3 after noticing nitrate levels around 40ppm. Fish don't seem to mind 40ppm, but the LFS guarantee requires 30ppm or less.

Water Parameters
Off-gassed pH is 7ish, KH is 2-3°, and GH was 3-4° back when I was testing it a year or so ago. Water temp is 78°F.


While I'd be fine throwing the Ludwigia and Limnophila in the trash, I'd like to hang onto the gracilis and I really want to make the golden nesaea work. Any suggestions?
 

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I'm not familiar with Kwikrete PFS but perhaps the plants are reacting to the new substrate? When did the changes to the affected plants start to appear?....was it around the time you swapped substrates?

If that's a no and everything else has been constant what about your source water?....any seasonal variations?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It's fine silica sand (too fine, in fact). However, the golden nesaea stunted for over a year on the previous substrate, and the ludwigia for several months. Everything else appears just as healthy with the new sand as with the prior.

I'm not aware of changes to water supply, nor have I noticed substantial changes to tested tank water parameters.

These plants have never done well, so I don't think any changes like that are to blame.
 

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Got it. I keep Ammannia Senegalensis and it's a touchy plant like your gracillis and nesaea, and prone to stunting on whim....my substrate is flourite black

As an experiment you may consider putting the affected plants in a small container of bdbs and see if they perk up
 

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Any thoughts on what keeps it from stunting?
Lol I wish I knew! As of late I've been lowering K and raising Mg when dosing for a better balance of Ca-Mg-K and I think that's helped; it also helps I use RO water and keep KH at 1.3

Why would returning to BDBS help it?
It's not clear to me in your posts if the affected plants started going south around the time you swapped substrates or not - if so then you may try the bdbs, if not then ignore
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
To reiterate/clarify, I have had this issue for over a year, whereas I only rescaped the tank and replaced the substrate a few weeks ago.

I've recently noticed my Limnophila hippuridoides turning yellow instead of its usual vibrant green. This, together with the pinholes I've observed in my Anubias and Java fern, makes me suspect a potassium deficiency. The yellowing leaves could be a nitrogen deficiency, but as previously mentioned I have no shortage of nitrates. Since I can't dose more KNO3 without raising nitrates (obviously), I'll have to get some K2SO4 and see if adding potassium makes a difference.
 

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In low tech? Ammania is not worth it. It starts well from healthy cuttings..and then after a few weeks,dives. Starts with wrinkled growth,then leaves fall off of now bare stems..and no coming back from that.
Looks great in Dutch tanks lit and gassed to the max.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
This is a high tech tank. Not crazy PAR, but EI dosing and as much CO2 as I can give without gassing my fish.
 

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do you have hard water? specifiaclly kh?
ammania like good co2, very lean ferts and very softwater preferably 0kh. they promptly stunt and die without that.
also, ludwigia mini super red. I've had issues with it in my hard tap water, once in 0kh no issues at all. it's often labeled as an easy plant but not in my experience atleast.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Nope, about 2° KH. Maybe I'll skip the GH booster for the next few water changes to see if that makes a difference. I thought I'd read elsewhere that people have gotten them to grow well in hard water, but I could be mistaken.
 

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Nope, about 2° KH. Maybe I'll skip the GH booster for the next few water changes to see if that makes a difference. I thought I'd read elsewhere that people have gotten them to grow well in hard water, but I could be mistaken.
Three things stand out to me --

1) Ammanias, like most lythracaea, prefer nutrient rich substrates and lean to moderate dosing (like APT Zero/APT Complete levels). My guess would be that they do not like the EI levels paired with the inert substrate.
2) You are using a drop checker to measure your CO2 saturation. While drop checkers can be decent to check a if a specific area of the tank is getting CO2, measuring your PH drop from degassed right before injection starts to 1-3 hours into the CO2 being injected and aiming for the 1 point drop in PH is really the only good way to make sure you're getting the right amount of CO2. Drop checkers are not totally reliable.
3) Your lighting is pretty low on your tank honestly. On my 40 breeder (36x18x18), to get adequate coverage and hit mid-level lighting I needed 2 Fluval 3.0s. You might not be giving the plants enough light, especially since you're dosing EI, which may be oversaturating the water column with nutrients without sufficient light to drive uptake.

I recently upgraded to a Chihiros WRGB2, which has such a better light spectrum and more PAR output than the Fluval 3.0s it's crazy. The Chihiros WRGB2 for my tank was also cheaper than the combined price of the two Fluval 3.0s, so if you do upgrade your lighting on that tank I would highly suggest getting either a NilocG light, a Chihiros WRBG2, a Twinstar, or an SBReef Freshwater LED light.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Three things stand out to me --

1) Ammanias, like most lythracaea, prefer nutrient rich substrates and lean to moderate dosing (like APT Zero/APT Complete levels). My guess would be that they do not like the EI levels paired with the inert substrate.
2) You are using a drop checker to measure your CO2 saturation. While drop checkers can be decent to check a if a specific area of the tank is getting CO2, measuring your PH drop from degassed right before injection starts to 1-3 hours into the CO2 being injected and aiming for the 1 point drop in PH is really the only good way to make sure you're getting the right amount of CO2. Drop checkers are not totally reliable.
3) Your lighting is pretty low on your tank honestly. On my 40 breeder (36x18x18), to get adequate coverage and hit mid-level lighting I needed 2 Fluval 3.0s. You might not be giving the plants enough light, especially since you're dosing EI, which may be oversaturating the water column with nutrients without sufficient light to drive uptake.

I recently upgraded to a Chihiros WRGB2, which has such a better light spectrum and more PAR output than the Fluval 3.0s it's crazy. The Chihiros WRGB2 for my tank was also cheaper than the combined price of the two Fluval 3.0s, so if you do upgrade your lighting on that tank I would highly suggest getting either a NilocG light, a Chihiros WRBG2, a Twinstar, or an SBReef Freshwater LED light.
Very interesting, thanks!

I put DIY root tabs under all negatively affected plants, and it didn't seem to help. AFAIK, there is little difference between inert + root tabs and something like aquasoil. I'd like to stick with EI though, so I'll have to either work around that or throw in the towel.

I wouldn't say I'm using the drop checker to measure CO2 - I mostly use it to eyeball how CO2 fluctuates throughout the day, whereas I monitor fish behavior to determine how much CO2 I inject. I agree that measuring pH would be more rigorous than the drop checker. Isn't pH drop a function of both CO2 concentration and buffering capacity, though?

Boy, I was thinking that too much light was causing algae on leaves. It never occurred to me that too little light could be the cause by preventing nutrient uptake. What photoperiod did you run on your 40? I'm currently running pretty long: on at 9am ramping to 100% intensity by 3pm and back off at 9pm. Roughly equivalent to 7.5 hours at 100% intensity. Or do I need more peak intensity and the same/less duration?

I noticed that the new growth up near the surface appeared more crinkly than the new growth on the shorter shoots down by the substrate. Not very conclusive, but I would expect the opposite if the plant wanted more light.

I've heard a lot of good things about the Chihiros lights. As it just so happens, I'm in the process of building some DIY pendants. I should have those running in a week or two, so hopefully those help. I've also thrown some of the nesaea into a 20 long with the 40W Beamswork DA FSPEC on it. No CO2 injection, so I'm not too hopeful, but we'll see.
 

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Very interesting, thanks!

I put DIY root tabs under all negatively affected plants, and it didn't seem to help. AFAIK, there is little difference between inert + root tabs and something like aquasoil. I'd like to stick with EI though, so I'll have to either work around that or throw in the towel.

I wouldn't say I'm using the drop checker to measure CO2 - I mostly use it to eyeball how CO2 fluctuates throughout the day, whereas I monitor fish behavior to determine how much CO2 I inject. I agree that measuring pH would be more rigorous than the drop checker. Isn't pH drop a function of both CO2 concentration and buffering capacity, though?

Boy, I was thinking that too much light was causing algae on leaves. It never occurred to me that too little light could be the cause by preventing nutrient uptake. What photoperiod did you run on your 40? I'm currently running pretty long: on at 9am ramping to 100% intensity by 3pm and back off at 9pm. Roughly equivalent to 7.5 hours at 100% intensity. Or do I need more peak intensity and the same/less duration?

I noticed that the new growth up near the surface appeared more crinkly than the new growth on the shorter shoots down by the substrate. Not very conclusive, but I would expect the opposite if the plant wanted more light.

I've heard a lot of good things about the Chihiros lights. As it just so happens, I'm in the process of building some DIY pendants. I should have those running in a week or two, so hopefully those help. I've also thrown some of the nesaea into a 20 long with the 40W Beamswork DA FSPEC on it. No CO2 injection, so I'm not too hopeful, but we'll see.
Of course! Glad to help in any way I can.

There is definitely a difference between aqua soil and inert + root tabs. The difference has to do with the CEC of the substrate, which refers to how well a substrate can bind things to it like macro and micro nutrients for the plants to utilize. Soil has a high CEC, whereas most inert substrates have none or significantly less CEC depending on the type of inert substrate used. The fact that the soil can bind nutrients in it for the plants can really help with sensitive species such as a lot of lythraceae, as lythraceae specifically seem to prefer to intake their nutrients from their roots and roots are better at regulating the appropriate nutrient uptake. See this thread for more details: Rotala Kill Tank. Also see this source for more info on inert vs active substrates: Complete planted aquarium substrate guide.

Good to hear you aren't solely relying on the drop checker, and that you are also monitoring your fishes stress levels. I would highly suggest also measuring CO2 with a PH meter and going for the 1-1.2pt in PH drop. While PH is a function of CO2 concentration and buffering capacity, measuring the PH right before your CO2 comes on and at peak saturation (after 1-3 hours of injection) is the best way to measure CO2 levels and avoids confounding results such as buffering capacity etc. See this source for more information on why this works: The wrong way to read the pH/KH chart..

I would highly suggest only going for 10 hours max of actual lighting. What I would do on my tank with my Fluval 3.0s is have the light come on at like 2% at 6:30am just for viewing pleasure and stay that way until I want my actual lighting period to begin. My actual lighting I would run both of the lights at 70-80%. I personally only wanted 6 hours of lighting to give myself some wiggle room with algae and also because I like to control the growth rate a bit. You could also do 30 minutes of ramp up and ramp down on either end if you want. I personally wouldn't run more than 8 hours of actual lighting (not including the 30 minute ramp ups or super low viewing pleasure levels) on EI or a high tech tank in general unless you are in a time crunch for a competition and/or are extremely experienced because the growth rate is going to be crazy and you put yourself at a greater risk for algae to get out of control quickly.
 
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