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Phil B.

My plants just aren't thriving

68 posts in this topic

Hi all. Got a problem with my Java ferns and just don't know where to turn.

 

I've had a couple small Java ferns going on eight months now and they just don't seem to grow, or else they lose leaves as fast as new ones form. They develop black spots and just start to decay and break apart. Meanwhile I have an Anubias plant that's growing slowing, rather slowly, as well as a moss ball, and a Pothos growing on the side of the tank. All seem to to be doing reasonably well except for the Java's. I also see a lot of loose leaves floating aroiund the tank where the base of the leaf has turned black and died.

My Nitrates tend to stay low, usually around 15 ppm due to frequest water changes. I also tested for Phosphates as part of my diatom fighting plan and its practically zero.

I currently have two  Finnex Stingray for lighting, and just this weekend started dosing with Flourish Excel, regular Flourish, and an Iron supplement.

I've also been fighting Diatoms in my tank which may be part of the problem.


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Edited by Phil B.

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Java fern is a slow grower, but I think you know that.  What they like is fertilizer, a little co2 and current.  The fact that you just got Excel and Flourish and an Iron supplement should help  a lot.  If you place the java fern by the outflow or a bubbler, you should be golden.

 

As for the Anubias and Moss ball, they have slow growth too, but should benefit from the ferts as well.

 

What plant(s) are the "loose leaves floating aroiund the tank" from? 

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The loose leaves are from the two Java ferns on the left side, which are both also underneath the output from my aquaclear 70. The bases of the leaves seem to have died, but the leaves themselves are okay. For now I'll keep up the fertilizer and hope for the best. Wouldn't picking up a potassium supplement be worth it as well?

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I agree with Acro.  The ferts and the excel should help.  It would also clean all of the diatoms weekly or get a BN Pleco (if you have room).  You don't want them competing with your plants for nutrients.

Edited by Jared

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Now this has worked well for me.

1st of all my Java Fern "grabbed" a BUNCH of small to medium sizes rocks from the bottom of the tank & is perfectly attached! (Can easily be moved from place to place too!

 

Now & then if the leaves start to look unruly I take it to the table for a good clipping! Placed on a towel I clip out any leaves that just don't look pretty. I follow the stem & clip it as close to the roots as possible. The base is as wide as my hand (fingers spread) It is well established! (Heck, now that I am looking at it it can use a little trimming....Gotta Go!! :teehee

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Give them time. As long as they are alive feel blessed.

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 For now I'll keep up the fertilizer and hope for the best. Wouldn't picking up a potassium supplement be worth it as well?

You've got some other great replies.  If it was me, I'd just wait two or three months and see how things go, before looking into more ferts.  I doubt the plants will mind if you want to run a potassium supplement, but you might not need it.

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My java fern doesn't do as well as my water sprite and wisteria either. Weird!

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Although a tad frazzled, the leaves actually look quite good. There don't look to be any noticeable signs of nutrient deficiencies like yellowing or pinholes. Loss of leaves can be signs of a phosphate deficiency, but they typically look darker than yours.

I would forgo the potassium supplement for now, but it won't harm anything if you choose to get some.

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My javas appreciated it when I increased the gh/kh (well it was quite low)

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My javas appreciated it when I increased the gh/kh (well it was quite low)

That might be my issue. My GH and KH are both incredibly low and my Java ferns aren't happy campers.

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I was told by the owner of Green Leaf Aquarium that Anubias like calcium. I was having an Anubias problem at the time and nonexistent gh. Since then I've been using a GH booster and ferts. The Anubias problem has gone away. I can't totally contribute it to increasing the calcium in the water, because I started adding ferts at the same time. In any case, the Anubias are thriving.

Java fern are not Anubias, but it maybe worth trying to boost your gh.

Also, the tank lights are on for about 6 hours a day.

Edited by LisaCGold

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Thanks. Perhaps I'll give it a try. I got the Java Ferns because they were supposed to be easy to care for. They were my first plants. I find that I don't like them compared to my other plants, so if these don't make it... Likely I'll just give up on them.

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I will mention that the pet store Javas I got had similar symptoms & mostly died off (except for some baby plants I stuck on a new rock), whereas the ones I got from an online aquarium plants supplier (PAC) have always been healthy & thriving. I have mine directly under my AC outflow, & by my powerhead, & not directly under the light, but sort of set to the back of the tank. Light is a Marineland LED that I run (mumble mumble about 10-12 hours) long periods, but it's a little light & a big deep tank. I don't think Javas like bright light, they don't do well in my betta tank that has more light. KH is 107.4 & GH is 340.1, nitrates run around 20. 

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I will mention that the pet store Javas I got had similar symptoms & mostly died off (except for some baby plants I stuck on a new rock), whereas the ones I got from an online aquarium plants supplier (PAC) have always been healthy & thriving. I have mine directly under my AC outflow, & by my powerhead, & not directly under the light, but sort of set to the back of the tank. Light is a Marineland LED that I run (mumble mumble about 10-12 hours) long periods, but it's a little light & a big deep tank. I don't think Javas like bright light, they don't do well in my betta tank that has more light. KH is 107.4 & GH is 340.1, nitrates run around 20.

I would say this is more of a ferts/co2 issue. I have narrow leaf java happily growing in my high tech (in shaded and full sun) positions, but the full sun java certainly does better—better colouration, denser growth, bigger leaves and less keikis (baby plants). Although java ferns are particularly easy to grow and will adapt to most environments, they are quite co2 hungry. For example, those oily tips where new growth forms will go away in a tank that has enough co2 available it is unsafe for livestock.

Edited by dan in aus

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So is there any way to add more CO2 without having to mess with tanks, valves, and hoses?

Not much seems to have changed despite the fertilizers. Still having the rub the brown film off my leaves every few days. Still lots of dark spots,  and black and brown coating on the leaves with no sign of new growth. This is especially aggravating since years ago when I lived not far for here I ended up with a whole tank of Java Fern all started from a single cutting I brought with me when I moved cross-country.

 

I guess the biggest problem is with the ribbon tipped Java. All those small delicate leaf tips are very difficult the rub the diatoms off.  I'm also concerned about the lack of real root growth.

On the plus side, the Anubias put out a new leaf over the weekend. So its growing at least.

What about lighting? I've read in some sources that low light can promote brown algae. Currently I have a pair of Finnex Stigray 48 inch LED lights. 
http://www.amazon.com/Finnex-Stingray-Aquarium-Light-30-Inch/dp/B00NAFQ6CI/ref=sr_1_1?s=pet-supplies&ie=UTF8&qid=1461201959&sr=1-1&keywords=stingray+light
It would be painful, but I guess I could buy something more powerful. But those prices hurt.

And finally, I'm running a bag of Phosguard in one of my filters, hoping that by removing any Phosphates it would help kill off the algae. When I tested last week, phosphates were barely existant. Could that be part of the problem?

 

 

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Not injected co2, but liquid co2 (Flourish Excel) is a good substitute in low light and is fuss free. Really Java fern will be fine without, my co2 comment was merely in regards to them not liking high light.

Plants can be slow to respond, particularly slower growing ferns. Give it some more time. Hopefully new growth will come in more and more healthy -- that's usually what happens with me anyway. You can help the plant out by removing any damaged or severely algae covered leaves. This should also stimulate new growth. Root growth should also happen in time. Unfortunately it's just a waiting game at this stage.

No need to buy more lights, your current ones are more than plenty; keep those pennies tucked away. :) Those of us in the planted tank community that use EI fertilisers usually dose phosphates to some extent. I've never worried about them causing algae, the plants use them. Unless your phosphates are insanely high, I wouldn't worry about using Phosguard.

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If you have any floating plants handy (something like duckweed or frogbit), they'll respond to any imbalances much faster than the ferns and anubias will. One of the research botanists on a plant forum I'm on uses floaters as an indication for when to fertilise. He runs his tanks deliberately nutrient lean and only fertilises them when his floaters start to yellow or grow strangely.

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Thanks for the advice Dan. No floated, though I do have a pothos plant growing out of a mesh basket that's doing quite well.

I think I'm going to pull the Phosguard. Since if the test is to be believed, phosphate doesn't seem to be a problem.

Edited by Phil B.

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My Java Ferns are doing pretty badly. Several leaves have just yellowed and I found them floating around the tank. Very spotty and absolutely no growth. I really do believe my low KH and GH are beating them up. My rooted plants, especially my Wisteria are really doing great... Boo Boo notwithstanding.

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I haven't measured my KH/GH, we do have a problem with caclium deposits. So I'm assuming that means one or the other is probably high.

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My Java Ferns are doing pretty badly. Several leaves have just yellowed and I found them floating around the tank. Very spotty and absolutely no growth. I really do believe my low KH and GH are beating them up. My rooted plants, especially my Wisteria are really doing great... Boo Boo notwithstanding.

 

It could be a problem, but there are also plenty of planted tankers out there that would disagree and are capable of growing things in low KH/GH—low KH has its own implications for livestock (i.e. greater chance for pH fluctuations). Yellowing is typically a sign of a potassium deficiency, which is possible if your GH is low as your plants probably aren't taking in enough of the minerals (things like potassium, magnesium, calcium, etc) found in higher GH water.

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The pH is stable. I raise KH with baking soda, but the water naturally has very low KH. I do nothing for GH, it stays very low.

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I'm going to butt in on this thread too Phil :hide

I'm using equilibrium to increase my Gh, I'm not sure if this is the usual route...it's quite expensive so I'm open to alternatives if there are any??

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I'd love to know what to use, too. My Java Ferns aren't going to make it and I don't really like Java Fern anyway, but increased GH would benefit the fish and other plants too.

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