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Jungle val stealing nutrients from other plants?!

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I hope someone can give me some insight on this: I have a well established 29 gal community tank where every plant EXCEPT the jungle val is just... eh, sort of doing ok (Dwarf tiger lily, java fern, dwarf sag, crypts, anubias, ALL of them). They all grow new growth appropriately but develop brown spots and/or holes in the foliage soon after. I learned it was probably potassium and/or phosphorous deficiency, and have been trying to correct for almost 2 months with both water column and substrate fertilizer, and no change in those plants EXCEPT the jungle val, which has just exploded even more; I have to cut it every week and pull out new plants to keep it from overtaking everything. It's now my running theory that the jungle val is just way better at acquiring nutrients and is basically acting like an invasive species. Has anyone else ran into this? Anything else I should try? Should I just replace the jungle val with another background plant that's less hardy? Thanks in advance!

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On 11/2/2021 at 1:05 AM, Mmiller2001 said:

What are your tank parameters and size? What are you dosing and how much are you dosing in ppm?

My water parameters? I have hard water and low pH, around 6.5 usually when dechlorinated. 29 gal tank. All of my usual components are within normal limits, no detectable ammonia, nitrites, and acceptable nitrates (about 20ppm usually). Not sure of the ppm dosing, and don't want to do all the math - I dose 3mL of Easy Green twice a week, and have 6-7 root tabs in there for the crypts, dwarf sag, and dwarf lily. Tank has a king betta, 4 albino cory cats, a clown pleco, 2 nerite snails, and pest ramshorn snails (Between me and food availability, that population seem to be stable).They don't eat the healthy plant growth and are a good clean up crew. 

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Have you tried adding more root tabs specifically around the plants you’re trying to encourage and trying to keep them away from the Vals?  I’d probably try that if you haven’t already.  Sometimes Vals, especially jungle Val, can overgrow and outcompete other plants, especially slower growing plants.

Once Vals settle in (they sometimes spend a long time building their root system first), they can really take over.  Dwarf water lily can sometimes do the same thing, so don’t be surprised if something similar happens with it.

You may have to pull it out to prevent it taking over, but usually you can keep runners pulled out or turn then back to the center of the clump to make it denser so it steals nutrients from its friends instead of its other tankmates.  You may find that jungle Val is too much for your 29 G, depending on what species you have.

There is some conflicting information on exactly what the species name is for jungle Val.  Some say Val. americana, some say it’s “var. ‘Gigantea’”, some say they are the same, some say ‘Gigantea’ is smaller (only up to 18”) some say V. americana gets up to 6’.  It’s all very confusing.

From what I can dissect, it seems Val. gigantea is a trade name and Val. americana is the scientific name.  I’ve never personally seen Val. americana get 6’ long fronds that are 1” wide and I’ve seen it growing in the wild many times.  I have seen pics of it getting that big.

If you want a plant that has potential to get that big, then keep it and do your best to tame it as needed.  If you’re getting worried about how big it is, or how much it’s spreading, you might need to switch it for a less aggressive, smaller species of Val.

I have some growing in pots in my 75 G (been in about 3.5 months), in my 29 G (only been planted 2 months), and some will go in my 46 G.  But I’m counting on it getting tall and as dense as possible in each of those settings.  If you want a looser, more open effect, you may need to switch to a different species.  For a smaller plant, check into Val. spiralis (AKA torta, or contorta, or Italian Val, or maybe it’s corkscrew Val as near as I can figure out).

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