Questions on Java Fern and Anubias Health
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Questions on Java Fern and Anubias Health

This is a discussion on Questions on Java Fern and Anubias Health within the Beginner Planted Aquarium forums, part of the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium category; --> Firstly, I cannot keep Java Fern alive. I have tried several different varieties and all have suffered the same fate. I have always tried ...

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Questions on Java Fern and Anubias Health
Old 11-27-2012, 03:11 PM   #1
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Questions on Java Fern and Anubias Health

Firstly, I cannot keep Java Fern alive.
I have tried several different varieties and all have suffered the same fate.
I have always tried to mount them to a piece of decor, either bogwood or a stone, never in the substrate.
They look great for a week or two, then they start to develop dark brown spots.
Then the snails eat the brown spots, which results in quite lacy looking leaves.
Eventually what's left of the leaves drops off, or is consumed by the snails.
This leaves me with a rhizome and roots tied to a piece of decor.
To be fair, several of these rhizomes look to be in quite good health, they're a lovely glowing green color

Secondly, several of my Anubias seem to be developing patches of a bark-like substance.
They all appear quite healthy, I do believe they are all putting out new leaves fairly regularly.
Just curious if this is normal as I haven't seen it mentioned by anyone else.

I dose twice a week with Flourish Comprehensive and have a single 24" 6500K bulb over my 30g tank.
There is some floating hornwort, but it doesn't provide that much shade.
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Old 11-27-2012, 04:56 PM   #2
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On the Java Fern, it could be a nutrient issue or it may be brush algae. From what you've told us, I am assuming it is not algae, which you would easily see as tufts or fuzzy growth. So as a nutrient issue it may be nitrogen deficiency which appears as black blotches [you said dark brown, perhaps they are more black?], or it could be a calcium deficiency.

Aquatic plants assimilate nitrogen as ammonium primarily, and this comes from ammonia released by fish respiration and the breakdown of organics by bacteria in the substrate. Normally there is sufficient of this to satisfy slow-growing plants like Java Fern. It can be added as a supplement, and there is some in Flourish Comprehensive which should be sufficient in a low-tech (natural) system. Let's check the natural ammonia/ammonium: How many and what general type of fish are in this tank? How often do you do partial water changes, and how much of the tank volume? And do you vacuum the substrate, and if yes, to what extent?

What is the GH of the tap water? This impacts the calcium issue, so we should cover this off too.

To the Anubias, can you post a photo of the bark-like area? I'm a bit puzzled. In too bright a light (for this species) it is prone to brush algae, but that shouldn't be an issue with your light, so I'd like to see this.

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Old 11-27-2012, 05:25 PM   #3
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The tank houses:
1 male Betta Splendens
8 Bronze Corys
4 Panda Corys

My water parameters are:
Mg 8.33 mg/L
Ca 29.7 mg/L
Na 8.52 mg/L
S04 31.2 mg/L
Cl 9.50 mg/L
Total Hardness: 104 mg/L
Total Alkalinity: 76 mg/L
Carbonate Alkalinity: 0 mg/L
Bicarbonate Alkalinity: 76 mg/L
Non-Carbonate Hardness: 28 mg/L
pH in pH units: 7.76

You helped me figure out the GH at one point, but I can't for the life of me remember what it was/is.

Here are a couple of photos of the "Bark"

If the second one you can see that the plant is virtually encased in the stuff.

Here is an overall shot of the tank for comparative purposes:

I suppose that the spots on the java fern are closer to black than brown, I guess that I just think brown when it comes to unhealthy plants.
The only algae I have is green filamentous stuff that grows on the Java Moss on the bogwood to the right of center in the photo.
It seems to be fading with the waning of the summer sun.

I do weekly waterchanges, somewhere around 30%
I don't really touch the substrate other than in the open feeding area just to the left of center in the photos, and then it's really more of a hover over than a deep clean.
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Old 11-27-2012, 05:56 PM   #4
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Anubias is fine, that is the plant.

The GH is around 5-6 dGH from those numbers, which while minimal should be adequate for the plants, and in the photos I see no evidence of calcium deficiencies. I now keep my tanks around 5-6 dGH and my calcium issues are gone.

Now that I've seen the entire tank, with some quite nice healthy plant growth BTW, my suggestion would be to forget about Java Fern. If this is a nitrogen issue, the other plants are certainly not being affected, and it can be risky to start rocking the boat for one plant. Nutrients are needed in proportion to each other, and from what I see in the photos the plants are doing well.

JF is a bit tricky for me. It does well, or it doesn't. I take the advice so many planted tank authors give, and that is to try various plants recognizing that not all of them can live together for whatever reason, and as things develop stay with those that do well and forget those that don't. Here again, fiddling with water chemistry to solve a slight problem could upset the applecart.

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Old 11-27-2012, 09:14 PM   #5
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Thanks, I've learned a lot from this site regarding plant and tank maintenance.

I was kind of thinking that I might get a couple more anubias to replace the Java Ferns that are currently dying and calling it a day with plants for this tank.

Nice to know about the bark stuff, I didn't think it was anything, but thought I'd ask.
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