Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Silverthorne 03-09-2010 12:11 PM

Yellowing on older leaves edges
As the title describes!

All my plants are healthy and green except for this plant!

I think it's a root feeder, the LFS had it potted in fiberglass with no fertilizer and it was doing great!
It has however sprouted allot of new leaves but the aren't taking shape like the more mature leaves.

I dose once a week with liquid fertilizer, and have a timed 8hr lighting schedule!

Any advice?

redchigh 03-09-2010 12:54 PM

The plant in the center? Can't really see any yellowing in the pic...

If it is a root feeder, then a liquid fert will not be enough for it. It needs nutrients in the root zone.

You'll probably need to go buy some root sticks and force them into the gravel near the plant.

Can't really base it's appearence at the LFS- they might have just put it in their tank.

Also, a change in the leaf form might be normal- many plants are grown emersed in greenhouses... their leaves may go through a transformation upon being submerged.

sorry can't be more help unless I know the species.

(Might also want to up your lights to 10hrs per day... Assuming you have quality flourescent or compact flourescent light)

Byron 03-09-2010 03:02 PM

The plant is a species of Echinodorus but I can't tell which one from the photo. As the new leaves grow it will be more obvious.

As redchigh mentioned, plants are often grown emersed by nurseries because it is faster and thus less expensive to rear the plant to the selling stage. This works with bog or marsh plants, of which most (though not all) species of Echinodorus (swords) are. The emersed form of the leaf is sometimes vastly different from the submersed in shape and texture; this is because the emersed leaves are in air and have to prevent/reduce water evaporation and the exchange of gasses is different from what occurs underwater. Submersed leaves will be thinner to allow easier assimilation of nutrients and gas exchange. The assimilation of CO2 is a large part of this; as I mention in the section on Filtration in Part 3 of the 4-part sticky series at the head of this section, CO2 assimilation is four times slower under water, so the plant grows different leaves to aid in this.

As for the yellow, when emersed-raised plants are placed submersed, the emersed leaves usually yellow and die; once yellowing begins, they can be removed at the base (crown). They will not recover. Provided new growth is emerging from the crown, as it is on this plant, the plant is fine. This case of yellowing is not a sign of nutrient deficiency, but on the new emersed leaves, any such yellowing would be indicative of some nutrient deficiency.


Silverthorne 03-10-2010 11:43 AM

Thanks allot!

I've also heard that a plant will use more nutrients trying to save a dying leaf and it should be severed.(As you mentioned Byron)
It sounds logic, is there much truth in this?

Byron 03-10-2010 12:20 PM


Originally Posted by Silverthorne (Post 341758)
Thanks allot!

I've also heard that a plant will use more nutrients trying to save a dying leaf and it should be severed.(As you mentioned Byron)
It sounds logic, is there much truth in this?

That is a new one on me. Whenever I remove a yellowing leaf, I invariably find the base of the stem where is arises from the crown is brown (dead) which means no nutrients can pass up and down between the leaf and the plant roots; portions of the leaf itself will still be green. I don't see how in this circumstance the plant could be wasting energy on the dying leaf when there is no connection.

My reason for removing yellowing leaves is simply one of cleaning up before it rots. And it looks nicer to see green leaves. And, such yellowing leaves always attract brush algae, so early removal is another trick in keeping brush algae at bay. In fact, I can tell a leaf is dying more from the brush algae than any yellowing; I have frequently removed leaves having more (not a lot, just more) brush algae and invariably the stem is dead at the base, showing the leaf is beginning to die. I don't know which comes first, the dying leaf attracting the algae or the algae initiating the dying of the leaf.


Silverthorne 03-11-2010 12:18 PM

Sorry, my post wasn't clear.

I meant the leaf should be REMOVED if yellowing occurs and that the plant will use nutrients trying to recover the leaf if not removed.

My stem bases are still firm and green, so I envision the connection is still to the leaf!

Thanks for bearing with me!

Byron 03-11-2010 12:55 PM

I've never seen this. When I spot yellowing leaves on swords, I remove the leaf and the base is always partially or completely brown.

As long as the leaf has green areas, and the stem is sound and whole, the leaf is still photosynthesizing. For instance, sometimes an excess of iron can cause brown blotches on leaves; the leaves remain besically green and the stem is complete; the leaf is still alive and doing its job. Or in another case I've experienced, an overdose of magnesium caused tiny holes in the sword leaves; they remained basically green and stems were whole for months. As new leaves (which had no holes) grew in, I gradually removed the older leaves to tidy up the plant, but each leaf stem was always whole.

I've no knowledge as to whether in these cases the plant is wasting nutrients or energy, but as the plants survive and grow fine, I wouldn't worry about it. Yellowing leaves can be caused by several things, and a little spot of yellow I don;t fuss over, but when it begins to expand, I remove it, and as I said the stems are always partially gone.

Silverthorne 03-27-2010 02:51 PM

hey Byron thanks for the advice. I've clipped off the browning leaves. New leaves are doing well.

One question. I have got new leaves sprouting on all my plants. How does one measure growth rate to know if it's slow or not. No scientific theory I'm sure, but just a guideline. My plants are all green and healthy. No ammonia, nitrite and nitrate @ 2.5ppm. Growth seems slow to me!

Normal phsycology treatment would probably be the cure ;-)

Byron 03-27-2010 03:04 PM

I've not done comparative studies (with the same species of plants under varying conditions) to ascertain growth rates. If the plants in my tanks are green (those that are green, which is most), sending out new leaves at some point, and in the case of swords, flower stalks once or twice a year, I'm content that the plants are obviously healthy and growing. I've no wish to make them grow faster, they are doing their job in balance with the nutrients and light.

Plants do go through growth spurts at various times of the year, that much is obvious to me. For instance, the Echinodorus bleherae in both my Amazonian setups suddenly sent out 2-3 flower spikes per plant in Dec/Jan. Something presumably natural within the plants apparently triggered this. Right now these same plants are showing considerably more new leaf growth. I have previously noticed over a period of several years that plants go through such periods of slightly faster growth or reproduction.


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