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Hello! I have been maintaining a 10 gallon aquarium for about a year now. The substrate is mostly gravel with some sand in the front for looks. It was initially stocked with a betta fish and a pair of nerite snails after cycling. I've kept it heated at 74F. I've been using a sponge filter hooked up to an air pump for low current filtration suitable to a betta, while also oxygenating the water. I've also been using an overhead, adjustable LED light. I hooked it to a timer and had it set to light up for 6 hours a day.

In the first batch of plants, I had a pair of java fern starts, an anubias start (can't remember the specific species) and a marimo moss ball. The plants initially thrived and were exhibiting new growth for the first four or five months. But afterwards the java ferns began to turn spotty and brown. Some leaves on the anubias began to yellow and also had brown spots. I have experience gardening with terrestrial plants and I know yellowing is usually a sign of iron deficiency. I also assumed the amount of stock in the aquarium wasn't producing enough waste to adequately feed them. I bought a liquid fertilizer and began dosing the aquarium but it was too late. I lost all the plants except for the moss ball. The fact that I decimated a batch of what I was assured were 'foolproof' beginner plants wasn't reassuring!

I suspect the plants might have also been receiving too much light? I did some research beforehand and purchased a light with the wattage that I read would provide the low light conditions java fern and anubias plants require. (Something about a certain amount of wattage per gallon of water, I can't recall the exact formula.) But based on what I've seen I now believe this to be incorrect.

For round two, I purchased a bundle of myriophyllum and some micro sword, which prefer moderate and high lighting conditions respectively. I also added a few shrimp to the aquarium at this time in an effort to increase the bioload and hopefully feed the plants better. I also had an unexpected addition in the form of a kuhli loach which was hiding inside the plastic pot the micro sword came in!

I kept the light at 6 hours a day and continued to dose the tank with fertilizer after weekly water changes. The myriophyllum grew well enough for the first few months. It even grew long enough I could trim it and start a secondary bunch. But after a few months it once again began to turn brown and shed all its needle-like leaves. The micro sword didn't turn brown like the others did, but it stopped spreading. I suspect the shrimp were eating it.

I am unsure what to do next. I read about plants 'melting' when they were first introduced to a new tank, but I never had this happen after the initial transfer. I much prefer live plants to fake ones, but aside from the moss ball everything has been dying off after a few months, even with fertilizer dosage. I don't think I'm over planting, as I've seen aquariums thrive with much more plants? Is the heat a factor? Could the warmer water be killing them? Am I not dosing enough fertilizer? I have been following the instructions for the size of my aquarium, but I did not increase the dosage as the plants grew. I was worried about making the fish sick. And even with the new growth, the tank was not densely planted.

Before I make an attempt at a third batch of plants, I will be purchasing a better LED light with adjustable lighting. If anyone had recommendations for hearty beginner plants and how to care for them, it would be much appreciated! As things stand, I am considering making another attempt at the java ferns and anubias. I liked the look of them, and I'm hoping they'll fare better with the adjustable light, and fertilizer doses from the start.
 

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Did you use nutrient rich gravel? Plants always die without it! Happened to me a few times in the beginning. I recommend starting even simpler with some floating duckweed. you won't need the gravel for that, you will never run out, you WILL have to remove some because it grows to fast, but it looks very pretty!
 

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Did you use nutrient rich gravel? Plants always die without it! Happened to me a few times in the beginning. I recommend starting even simpler with some floating duckweed. you won't need the gravel for that, you will never run out, you WILL have to remove some because it grows to fast, but it looks very pretty!
I actually did use fertilized substrate for the first batch! However, I later read that all the plants I selected were rhizome feeders, which needed to be above the substrate. I had some buyer's remorse about it because it lead me to believe they wouldn't need it. I didn't bother for the second batch because the myriophyllum were stem feeders. Most the info I saw said they were fine to just float on the surface of the water. Though I weighted one end because I wanted a traditional, 'growing out of the ground' look.

And I have an ABUNDANCE of duckweed! A few bits of it hitched a ride on the myriophyllum. I kept scooping it out because I didn't want them competing too much for nutrients. It's made cleaning and water changes quite a hassle. Once the myriophyllum died off I allowed it to spread, so I had something green in there at least. I've removed just about all of it now as I plan to try grabbing some more plants and I want to make sure they won't get starved out by the duckweed. I still see some floating around in there, so I'm sure they'll continue to propagate through the coming months.
 

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One thing I learned about live plants is if they we're planted straight in the substrate you shouldn't move them just let them sit there for their roots to establish because once they we're pulled out the time for them to melt and grow back will reset. For the potted plants that are also the thing to do except you can move them around the tank since they are not directly planted in the substrate.
 

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One thing I learned about live plants is if they we're planted straight in the substrate you shouldn't move them just let them sit there for their roots to establish because once they we're pulled out the time for them to melt and grow back will reset. For the potted plants that are also the thing to do except you can move them around the tank since they are not directly planted in the substrate.
Except for the Micro Sword, all the plants I've tried have been rhizome or water column feeders, and I was advised to not plant them within the actual substrate and instead attach them to rocks or driftwood. The Micro Sword is also the only one which didn't go through a sort of melting phase. I just think the shrimp ate it up. The tips of the leaves had a jagged edge, like what you'll see on grass blades after you mow your lawn. My nerite snails kept bulldozing them out of the substrate as well. So I don't think I'll be trying a ground cover plant as long as I have them in there.
 

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Thats great advice! I have been having a little plant issue myself lately can you please answer it if possible?
 

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Thats great advice! I have been having a little plant issue myself lately can you please answer it if possible?
I'll give it a look, but I'm fairly new to the hobby and I've been having trouble with plants, so I don't know how much help I'd be!
 
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