Help with brown spots on plant
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Help with brown spots on plant

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Help with brown spots on plant
Old 10-11-2011, 03:40 PM   #1
 
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Help with brown spots on plant

Hi, I was hoping I could get some guidance on what may be an issue with my amazon sword plant (at least I'm pretty sure that is what it is). I have had it for about a month, and I have read that some of the original leaves may brown, but I just want to make sure that there isn't anything else amiss. Non of the other plants in my tank have this issue.
For lighting I have a 24" Floramax T8 17 watt bulb in a 38 GL tank. The plant gets about 12hrs of light a day. I also use Nutrafin Plant Gro once a week.
I appreciate any tips you can give.

<edit> I realized after posting that the image is sideways. I assure you the plant isn't planted on its side :)
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Old 10-11-2011, 05:18 PM   #2
 
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Originally Posted by saint fu View Post
Hi, I was hoping I could get some guidance on what may be an issue with my amazon sword plant (at least I'm pretty sure that is what it is). I have had it for about a month, and I have read that some of the original leaves may brown, but I just want to make sure that there isn't anything else amiss. Non of the other plants in my tank have this issue.
For lighting I have a 24" Floramax T8 17 watt bulb in a 38 GL tank. The plant gets about 12hrs of light a day. I also use Nutrafin Plant Gro once a week.
I appreciate any tips you can give.

<edit> I realized after posting that the image is sideways. I assure you the plant isn't planted on its side :)

I cant offer much help but I have tried 5 times to keep amazon swords and they all wither away, with the same brown spots and yellowing. I have t8's 40 watt lighting, used 12 hr per day also, I use substrate tablets and column fertilizers ; ferrous iron, potassium (which is meant to help with yellowing leaves and brown spots, and trace elements - all from the seachem brand). What is your water- hard/soft alkaline/acidic?

My water is soft acidic, i would also be interested if anyone has any pearls of wisdom!

From your photo the leaves look quite slender- i could be wrong but looks like Echinodorus Peruensis (Amazon Red) to me :)

Last edited by low05011487; 10-11-2011 at 05:23 PM..
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Old 10-11-2011, 06:16 PM   #3
 
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I have had the same issue for the past several months, and only with one species, Echinodorus bleherae which is what I suspect the sword in the photo may be. I've maintained this species for many years, and have seen such spots only rarely--until this past year, when all the plants in the 115g developed this and quickly.

The issue of water softness raised by low05011487 may be significant. My water is very soft, near zero GH and KH, and thus very acidic. Saint fu, do you know your hardness and pH?

It is related to nutrients, of that I am certain. I added magnesium sulfate (magensium and sulphur) and it seemed to slow it. Low's mention of using all those individual nutrients would have been next on my list, but that doesn't seem to have solved it for Low. Magnesium does raise hardness, so this tends to suggest that hardness is part of the issue. Back in the 1990's I had dolomite in the filter and in thinking back this issue never arose; dolomite is calcium and magnesium, the two principal minerals for hardness. Diana Walstad has written about metal toxicity in swords when maintained in very soft water.

We should be able to work this out. I'm intrigued now. Anyone else with this issue?

Byron.

Last edited by Byron; 10-11-2011 at 06:42 PM..
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Old 10-12-2011, 12:52 PM   #4
 
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I have had the same issue for the past several months, and only with one species, Echinodorus bleherae which is what I suspect the sword in the photo may be.?

Byron.

I think you are right with it being a bleherae Byron, their are so many species and many look so alike! I gave up on swords for my angelfish tank and used anubais and valisneria instead, but I may have to try again if we can figure this out!
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Old 10-12-2011, 02:06 PM   #5
 
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I think you are right with it being a bleherae Byron, their are so many species and many look so alike! I gave up on swords for my angelfish tank and used anubais and valisneria instead, but I may have to try again if we can figure this out!
With soft acidic water I would expect Vallisneria to not do well. It certainly requires hard water in order to assimilate all nutrients. In soft water for me it sort of grows, but outer leaves regularly pale, become transparent and rot. And in consulting the experts the soft water is why.

When I have a moment I intend to check into this with Diana Walstad for more info. Must get my water changes done first.
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Old 10-13-2011, 02:08 PM   #6
 
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i guess my follow up question would be, should I trip off the brown spots or just let them be?
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Old 10-13-2011, 05:27 PM   #7
 
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You can cut the leaves with spots off, for purely aesthetical reasons and provided there are sufficient healthy leaves. Or you can leave them, as the leaf itself is still healthy. The plant can use the stored nutrients elsewhere.

I think I have discovered the issue with the sword plants: metal toxicity, particularly iron, caused by very soft [< 4 dGH] water. I'll try to explain by summarizing what Diana Walstad writes in her book.

The micro-nutrients iron, copper, zinc, nickel and manganese are also heavy metals. These are considered toxic because they bind to organic molecules within organisms. All cell membranes (plant and animal) have a phospholipid bilayer that is stabilized by calcium. Heavy metals can displace the desired calcium and disrupt cell membrane structure and function.

Water hardness is determined by primarily calcium, second magnesium, and then minimally by some other minerals. Calcium competes with heavy metals for uptake by the cells of organisms. But when calcium is unavailable, the heavy metals have no competition. The brown blotches on the leaves of sword plants are deposits of excess iron taken up by the plant.

My own experience supports this explanation. My tap water is <1 d GH and KH, which means that the pH will lower quickly. For more than 15 years, I have kept a small amount of dolomite, about 2-3 tablespoons, in a mesh bag in my canister filters on the tanks that house the sword plants. Dolomite is calcium and magnesium, the two principal minerals of water hardness, aqnd these are slowly released into the water column. [Years ago I used dolomite in my tank for livebearers to maintain a pH in the high 7's, with tap water that was again very soft with a pH below 6]. I didn't measure GH and KH back in those days, but the pH in these tanks remained constant at 6.2-6.4, presumably due to the buffering capacity of the dolomite.

During the past couple of years, the pH has lowered below 6. It seems probable that the dolomite is now exhausted. At the same time, the large swords began developing the brown blotches. There is too little calcium and magnesium in Flourish Comprehensive to address this deficiency. Now, if I can just find some dolomite...

Byron.

Last edited by Byron; 10-13-2011 at 05:30 PM..
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Old 10-14-2011, 12:37 PM   #8
 
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i tested my water and the general hardness was around 30pp, and the PH was between 6.5 and 7.0 before i go to the store, can you recommend anything to help the hardness? I've also read that I shouldn't add the PH balancer stuff. Any suggestions for that as well? Thanks!
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Old 10-15-2011, 10:44 AM   #9
 
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i tested my water and the general hardness was around 30pp, and the PH was between 6.5 and 7.0 before i go to the store, can you recommend anything to help the hardness? I've also read that I shouldn't add the PH balancer stuff. Any suggestions for that as well? Thanks!
Here again the softness is the issue. 30ppm is about 1.6 dGH, close to mine.

As I mentioned, the cheapest and safest method is to use dolomite gravel. It only takes a small amount in the filter. One doesn't want to up the hardness too much, as we have soft water fish, but raising it to 4 or 5 dGH would solve this; it did for me when I had it. And the dolomite lasts for years.

The substances one can buy, like Seachem's Equilibrium, will work, but they are very expensive. I have used it. You need to add it every water change to maintain the stable GH/KH. And depending upon how many tanks you have, it can get very expensive.

Another method is a combination. Crushed coral gravel placed in the filter, plus Epsom Salts (pure). I will resort to this if I can't find dolomite. I've never used the coral so I've no idea what volume might be required. I have used Epsom Salts [this is simply magnesium and sulfur] and found that 1 level teaspoon raised the hardness by 1 dGH for every 30 gallons. This was starting at 1 dGH in the tap/tank water. It might be higher in slightly harder water to start with. This lacks the calcium though which is essential, so using crushed coral will provide that too. This method is not very expensive, though I do not know how much or how long the coral lasts.

Byron.
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Old 10-17-2011, 12:12 AM   #10
 
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With soft acidic water I would expect Vallisneria to not do well. It certainly requires hard water in order to assimilate all nutrients. In soft water for me it sort of grows, but outer leaves regularly pale, become transparent and rot. And in consulting the experts the soft water is why.

When I have a moment I intend to check into this with Diana Walstad for more info. Must get my water changes done first.
The vallisneria gigantea I have at the moment is doing so-so, It doesnt look splendid or full and vibrant, but it's passable Im just going to keep replacing it, I order the plants online from a retailer in the UK when they have surplus plants and its very cheap, my angels love it!

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My own experience supports this explanation. My tap water is <1 d GH and KH, which means that the pH will lower quickly. For more than 15 years, I have kept a small amount of dolomite, about 2-3 tablespoons, in a mesh bag in my canister filters on the tanks that house the sword plants. Dolomite is calcium and magnesium, the two principal minerals of water hardness, aqnd these are slowly released into the water column. [Years ago I used dolomite in my tank for livebearers to maintain a pH in the high 7's, with tap water that was again very soft with a pH below 6]. I didn't measure GH and KH back in those days, but the pH in these tanks remained constant at 6.2-6.4, presumably due to the buffering capacity of the dolomite.

During the past couple of years, the pH has lowered below 6. It seems probable that the dolomite is now exhausted. At the same time, the large swords began developing the brown blotches. There is too little calcium and magnesium in Flourish Comprehensive to address this deficiency. Now, if I can just find some dolomite...

Byron.
Thanks for this Byron, youve managed to solve two problems for me! As I could not increase the PH and hardness for my livebearers, so I am now too on the look out for Dolomite to help with this and the amazon swords. Much appreciated
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