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Plants turning brown
I have some plants in a 10 gallon tank with gravel substrate and fluorescent lighting, and they seem to be turning brown. I'm not putting any fertilizers in the tank, just the water conditioner. I have the lights on for 8 hours a day, on a timer, and only one fish. The pH is 7.6 and the temp is 77F. Any input as to why this is happening and whether or not I can reverse the effect, or it'll reverse itself in time, would be great. Thanks!
I have multiple Amazon Swords, a few Anacharis, and one Java Fern.
I'm really inexperienced but the sword looks like it might need some fertilizer. Is it growing? I would think the whole tank needs a liquid fertilizer, but swords in addition can benifit from a substrate fertilizer like Flourish Tabs because of their significant root system. They say to plant a tab deep right next to the plant. I personally angle them in towards the roots. I hope others confirm this diagnosis. I'm sure there are other possibilities too, so wait for other more experienced opinions.
What's that last plant? I'm not sure that it's aquatic.
Do you know the strength of your light? It may be time to buy a new bulb if it's really old.
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The Amazon Swords would benefit from fertilizer. I'm currently using a comprehensive liquid fertilizer but, I'm thinking of trying the tablets also. If you have a small fish population, fertilizer is pretty much a necessity for plants. Moderate lighting seems like it would work for your plants. A full spectrum plant tube or a daylight tube would be good.
Well, there could be a few things going on here, so I'll list them all.
1) The Amazon Swords. Are these new? How did you buy them (bare root, in a pot, in a tube from Petsmart/Petco)?
A lot of times these plants are grown out of the water in a hydroponics setup, and these plants form completely different leaves when out of water. When fully submerged, the plant will transsition from the above water leaves (emersed form) to the under water leaves (submerged form). The browning usually goes from the tip of the leave, down to the crown and this is because some of the nutrients in the plants are mobile and can move between leaves. Once the browning gets down to the stem, you just cut it off and remove the now completely dead leaf (you can cut it sooner if you don't like how it looks, but you might as well let the plant take the nutrients first).
2) The Anacharis. This is a stem plant, and unless you have bright lighting it is very common for the bottom of the stems to go bear. The plant will only keep leaves on the top portion because that is where the light is and it will only want to keep the leaves that are giving it the most benefit.
Usually people will put decorations (like driftwood) or other shorter plants in front of stem plants to hide the bare stems.
3) In the third picture I don't know what that is, it is not Java Fern which you listed at the top of your post. Do you know it's name?
Some other questions for you are what kind of Flourescent light do you have? There should be some numbers printed on the bulb, usually a four digit number with a K (for example 6500K). There should also be some more (like F15T8) if you could give us those that can tell us what kind it is if you do not know. Lastly, how old is the tube itself.
You will need to add fertalizer, at a minimum a liquid fertalizer. Most people recommend Flourish Comprehensive. For a 10 gallon tank, even the smallest bottle of this will last you years so it isn't a big investment. However, since you need so little each week using a medicine dropper or syring will make it easier to do the correct dose (about 0.8 mL once per week). The Amazon Swords are heavy root feeders, and would each greatly love to have a root tab also. They are solid chunks of fertalizer you push under the substrate next to each plant and they last a couple months, Seachem also makes these under the Flourish name.
Thanks for the input. The bulb is two weeks old and an Aqueon 15W T8 18" fluorescent. The first and last plants pictured came in tubes from PetCo, the last was called a Java Fern, and the middle plant I got at a local fish store from one of their tanks.
I put API root tabs under the gravel two weeks ago, but they seem to have dissolved completely. The liquid fertilizer isn't going to harm the fish or tank?
Definitely the first fertilizer that one has to use is liquid. Most tanks are not likely to be adequate in the area of nutrients for plants, especially if they are relatively fast-growing as some of these (swords, stem plants) are. Nutrients occur in the tap water (the "hard" minerals like calcium and magnesium especially) and from fish foods (that end up as waste in the substrate) but depending upon fish load, feeding and GH of the water some or all of the nutrients may be insufficient. Plants also take up some nutrients via the leaves, and some plants use their leaves as much or more than roots.
Liquid fertilizer will not harm the fish, provided it is not way overdosed. You want a good complete one (containing all necessary nutrients of which there are 17). I use Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement. Another is Brightwell Aquatics' FlorinMulti. Both are basically providing the same nutrients and in proportion to each other for the benefit of the plants. Once or twice a week dose is all that is required. If you can't find these locally, you can order online (probably less expensive online). Make sure you get exactly the named products, as both manufacturers make several different products under the respective names Flourish and Florin.
What is the GH (general hardness) of the tap water? You can ascertain this fro the water supply people, they probably have a website. This will allow us to suggest additional fertilizers if needed.
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