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Alternanthera reineckii Problems


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My 16 gallon is doing well. Val is growing like crazy, Buce is going strong, but the Alternanthera reineckii is melting. A lot of leaves on the surface after coming home from vacation over the weekend. Lots of diatoms (I have a light 50% for 6 hours a day). Should I lower light times and brightness? I can't put in some shrimp and/or otos for about a week so it shouldn't be a problem to keep a couple Ramshorn snails in and a couple pond snails, right? Parameters are all taken care of; 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 20 nitrate.

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AR is one of the most dramatic aquatic plants, I swear. If your tank is new, then just be patient. It will usually work itself out. It'll just whine and cry about it the whole time lol. My AR looked absolutely awful for nearly two months before it finally started looking decent. Also, AR does tend to just drop leaves every now and again. I constantly have to pick little pink leaves out of my pond, where I have about 40 stems. 

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I forgot to answer the part about the shrimp and snails, whoops 😅 

Some amanos and ramshorns might be a good idea to clean up the algae and further establish the tank. You could reduce lighting, but if you're going to put a cleanup crew in, you actually probably want to be making a little algae so they have a reliable food source. Diatoms usually stop happening when the plants are fully established. 

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I’ve had ok luck with AR. I’ve had some for about two months now. It grew fast at first but then got leggy and the bottom leaves started to melt. It’s now been trimmed and is starting to grow again. The new growth looks healthy. 

Edited by Patrick_G
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Hey @Tyler LaZerte,

I noticed in one of your other posts that your AR look to be bunch plants. My experience with AR in a bunch has not been very positive- months without any growth to speak of besides some air roots. It doesn't like being transplanted and is reported to have a really tough road when propagated from cuttings. I won't say that it's a lost cause, just that whatever it's going to do, it's going to do it slowly. I lost patience with mine and started over with tissue cultures to great success. I'm no tissue culture snob, just an anecdote for consideration.

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AR is one of those plants marketed as easy and it's anything but. It requires an aqua soil and CO2 along with good strong light to do well. My advice, try it for a bit longer, but get rid of it sooner than later. If the leaves continue to randomly melt; you are allowing an ammonia source into the tank and it's going to be a source for algae. I would recommend Hygrophila corymbosa compact, It's not red, but grows similar and does well in low tech tanks. If you are looking for red or deep bronze colors that stay small, I would also recommend Crypts. There is a Crypt for every color need and placement!

"Sometimes, it's just best to invite those who enjoy the soup you are serving", AR is a picky eater!

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@Mmiller2001 I’ve been growing AR in my porch pond without co2 and quite frankly without consistent temperatures, too. The pond is dirted and I use ferts, but other than that I do basically nothing with it and it grows quite well. I’ve also had successful propagations of it, it’s just a more dramatic plant than most. I don’t think I’d be so negative about AR when it’s such a popular plant in the hobby. It may be frustrating to be patient for two months while it gets established, but I wouldn’t say it’s a difficult plant or that it has to have co2 to grow well. 

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I’m going to agree with @Nirvanaquaticson this. I’m growing it low tech with a cheap light and it’s performing pretty much ad expected with some melt and long leggy nodes but healthy new growth. 
Mine are Tropica brand potted specimens that cost slightly more than average and were bright pink and healthy in the store’s holding tank. 

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70401EDF-707E-47E9-949E-05342E2BCA93.jpeg.4093ca4667c4ea0cd7c233c3a4cf071f.jpeg

Underwater shot of the “AR forest” in my pond. They’re a little leggy at the top, but that’s because the past week has been dark and stormy here in North Texas and they don’t have any sort of supplementary lighting. I should also note that there are two different sources in here: Tropica tissue culture and co-op potted stems. The potted stems have always been leggy, no matter how much light they’re getting. 

183C2E68-0BF5-4CB8-B30B-22E56774054C.jpeg.1cf80d28e4e69101074d459fb35447b7.jpeg

This is in my brand new 11.3g AIO (very tannic from driftwood at the moment) and these are cuttings that I planted a bit less than a week ago. 

As you can see, these plants aren’t necessarily “difficult” I prefer to think of them like badly behaved children that throw tantrums 😅 they whine and cry a lot about changes to their routine, but they’re very resilient and usually bounce back and end up happy in the end. 

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I agree it’s a little unruly! For some reason it’s the only plant in my tank that has Black Beard Algae. It think it might have come pre seeded with the BBA, but I’ve trimmed the affected leaves and I’m crossing my fingers. 

Edited by Patrick_G
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