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GregV 09-05-2007 02:17 PM

Java Fern Problems/Questions
Hey People

I have alot of java fern in a newly established tank, but it seems.. like its wilting in my 35 gallon tank. (36x12.5x18) :cry:

The leaves also look almost as if they have chemical burns or something on them and are a redish brown colour, some other ferns in the tank seem to be fine but still are kinda drooping.

The tank has be doseed with liquid fertilizer, Cycle for helping to move the fish cycle along, and a CO2 pump has been installed.

I have three suspisions on whats going on I wonder if people can confirm.

1) maybe I got to hasty and the water i put in didnt get properly treated.. could rements of chlorine in the water do this?

2) my light fixture broke, i couldnt replace it for about 3 days. and maybe the new fixture has to be upgraded, its runing 2 20 watt lightbulbs.

3) bad movement/transplanting in my tank, this is my first attempt at live plants, so possibly i made a mistake? or possily the fern isnt in the tank right? (most of it is anchored/rooted to rocks and driftwood so im not sure if thats the problem.

my next question is, is there anything i can do to fix it? im going to buy tablet fertilzer asap, but other then that is there anything else that can be done?

jsm11482 09-05-2007 02:38 PM

Do the leaves look like they are becoming see-thru or simply rotting, leaving just the skeleton of the leaf? If so it might be a deficiency in iron. What is the fertilizer you are using? Try Seachem Flourish: It provides all kinds of supplements for your plants. Good luck!

GregV 09-05-2007 03:00 PM

seems more like rotting then anything, could this mean the plant is improperly planted?

jsm11482 09-05-2007 03:29 PM

Doubt it is the way it's planted. You didn't say what ferts you are using.

jones57742 09-05-2007 03:49 PM


This is a new one for me but I will set forth some information which may be applicable.

As the chlorophyll in leaves due to leaf death decays the green color fades and is replaced by carotenoids which are typically the oranges and reds.

IMHO the principle sources of this decay

1) could be lack of adequate lighting as a very, very general rule of thumb is 3Watts/Gallon or

2) the bulbs in your lighting are emitting a high percentage of green light with respect of the percentage of white light or daylight light.

3) plants utilize trace minerals.

a) Some of the trace the minerals are what I refer to as catalytic minerals.
These catalytic minerals cause the biochemical reactions in the plants to be much faster than if the minerals were not present.

b) Some of the trace minerals (such as iron which was mentioned and has the greatest percentage of trace minerals necessary) are directly used for biochemical reactions in the plants.
As indicated earlier these trace minerals are present in Excel .


In this post I did not get into healthy plants which are typically red but which turn green when under stress as I do not believe that this discourse is applicable.

GregV 09-05-2007 04:29 PM


Thanks a bunch. I figred my lighting may be to weak as it is only 1.4 wats a gallon, so when i get payed I may switch that fixture out.

BUT i do also know that java fern is a low light plant, and It had been growing very well in this tank in the same type of lighthing previous to the move. (a friend who was moving gave it to me.)

I have 2 fertilizers right now, they both came with the tank. they are probably not the best.

1) Leaf zone by aqurium phamisuticals
2) plant grow by nutrafin

along with a 30 gal CO2 pump.

jones57742 09-05-2007 05:34 PM



Originally Posted by GregV
Thanks a bunch. I figred my lighting may be to weak as it is only 1.4 wats a gallon

I said 3W/G to "get you into IMHO" the correct mode.
I believe that java fern will exhibit growth at 2W/G based on the 18" depth of you tank
I do not believe that the java fern which you have should be dying at 1.4W/Gal (but who knows and hence a lighting upgrade).


Originally Posted by GregV
and It had been growing very well in this tank in the same type of lighthing previous to the move. (a friend who was moving gave it to me.)

The "devil may be in the definition"!
When I "think about "same type of lighting" I think about incandescent, VHO, Compact, etc.
When I "think about lighting" I am contemplating wattage of the fixture, the distribution of lighting in the tank and the spectrum which is emitted by the bulb(s).


Originally Posted by GregV
1) Leaf zone by aqurium phamisuticals
2) plant grow by nutrafin

I will never, never use any liquid fertilizer other than Excel in my main aquarium.
Via the use of an offbreed fertilizer many months ago (which I was experimenting with for a "Member Submitted Article") I was successfull in killing 2 Gold Nuggets and 2 Queens as well as making 2 other Gold Nuggets, 2 Queens, 7 sterbai, and 5 yoyo's very, very sick.


fish_4_all 09-05-2007 07:46 PM

Please look at THIS page to see what your lighting level is for your tank. If you are within 10% of low light, Java fern should grow without a problem. If you go anything above moderate lighting then seriously consider either getting Excel and dosing regularly or getting CO2 for your tank as lighting above this level can quickly lead to very bad algae problems.

I have seen java fern in tanks with as little as .5 w/g all the way up to 10 w/g and all that was really different was the growth rates. Very healthy specimens in all tanks.

GregV 09-05-2007 08:02 PM

I have 2 20 watt t-8s so acording to the scale its a little above the low light level for a tank my height, i am definatly going to change fertilizers, but is there any reason why the plants would rot at this stage?

fish_4_all 09-06-2007 09:54 AM

Well there is another possibility that we all missed. Is the rhizome, the main part where the leaves come out, buried in the substrate? This could and probably will cause them to rot as the rhizome needs to be above the gravel/substrate tied to something. Normally considered a bog plant, java fern will die if the rhizome is burried. Some driftwood, a rock or anythng can be used. Simply take some really light fishing line or some cotton thread and lightly tie the rhizome to something. When the roots grab ahold of whatever it is you can remove the tie down material.

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