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I've had my java fern for roughly 4 months now and it never really took off.  Even though my dwarf sag, rotala, and ludwigia are flourishing, the java fern just gets spotted and makes seed pods.  I'm dosing with easy green weekly and have a good quality light.  I appreciate any advice to make it grow better.  Also, it's attached to the rocks and the rhizome is not buried in the sand. Thanks!

Java Fern.jpg

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I’ve had trouble with Java fern since my first planted tank. I’ve never really determined what it needs that I am not giving it. I see propagation from the rhizomes, but eventually the mature leaves begin to brown,yellow, and die. But new leaves still grow from the rhizome. I have had some new plants grow from the leaf pods, but usually only after I first add it. I imagine that is another indicator that my set up isn’t ideal. 

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Honesty, I don’t see much a problem here especially for only 4 months. You’re mature leaves still look rather green and lush to me. Here is what I would do; Carefully remove all of those small plantlets growing from the mature leaves and re-attach them at the base of already mature plants. The little plantlets will eventually grow and be should reach the size of the already mature leaves. Then, just keep repeating the process. When you see a plantlet starting to grow from a mature leaf, wait for 1-2 leaves to sprout about an inch and make sure they also have developed roots. Java fern roots will resemble brown threads. Try not to completely damage the mature leaf when removing the plantlets because we still want those to stay healthy for as long as possible.

In my experience, I believe when Java fern starts to grow the plantlets from mature leaves, it’s the mature plants way of converting between different water conditions. It doesn’t mean anything is necessarily wrong with your tank, just that the Java fern is in different water than it’s been used to. So, it alters its genetics (before it thinks it’s going to die) in the form of developing offspring that were created by that different water. Why? Well, to preserve its genetics. Plants can do all sorts of wacky things (especially when they think they are going to die) and I believe this to be one of Java ferns wacky things it does. Do I have an education in plant science to back me up? Not at all. But that’s what I’ve come up with after trying to keep it several times and giving up because it just takes sooooooooo long to grow. Anubias nana petite is a “fast-growing” plant in comparison. Ok, maybe not so much a fast-growing plant but it sure seems like it lol.

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I had the same problem with my java ferns in the past where they slowly would lose leaves over time. Then I found out from Cory that plants like java fern and anubias tend to thrive in environments with more potassium. I got a freshwater potassium kit and found out my water had nearly 0 ppm potassium (despite dosing Easy Green up to 20 pm nitrate). I think it's because I bought a huge java fern from a local hobbyist and it sucked up every trace of potassium in the water. I ended up adding some Flourish Advance to supplement my potassium up to 10-20 ppm, and now my java fern is growing tons of new leaves again and isn't making plantlets anymore. (Seachem also sells Flourish Potassium, but Flourish Advance contains some other minerals/nutrients that I'm missing so that's why I'm currently using it.)

986516627_20200915_143024Fullshotoftankmostlyalgaefree.jpg.592d9123d0bee52bbdd24366fed00d2e.jpg

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4 hours ago, Irene said:

I had the same problem with my java ferns in the past where they slowly would lose leaves over time. Then I found out from Cory that plants like java fern and anubias tend to thrive in environments with more potassium. I got a freshwater potassium kit and found out my water had nearly 0 ppm potassium (despite dosing Easy Green up to 20 pm nitrate). I think it's because I bought a huge java fern from a local hobbyist and it sucked up every trace of potassium in the water. I ended up adding some Flourish Advance to supplement my potassium up to 10-20 ppm, and now my java fern is growing tons of new leaves again and isn't making plantlets anymore. (Seachem also sells Flourish Potassium, but Flourish Advance contains some other minerals/nutrients that I'm missing so that's why I'm currently using it.)

986516627_20200915_143024Fullshotoftankmostlyalgaefree.jpg.592d9123d0bee52bbdd24366fed00d2e.jpg

@Irene how long did you dose Advance for or do you still dose it?

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@RyanR I actually still dose it. I dose Easy Green up to 20 ppm nitrate, and then I dose Flourish Advance about every 3 weeks so that it stays between 10-20 ppm potassium. (I also add Seachem Equilibrium for extra minerals because I have super soft water and my plants were suffering from it.) I bought some plastic pump heads online (can't remember from where, maybe eBay or Amazon?) that fit the height of the Flourish Advance bottle. For my particular tap water, 1 pump (~1.5 ml) of Flourish Advance raises the potassium by 5-6 ppm in a 20 gallon tank. 🙂

20201012_150456.jpg.fd934c0eb390e811e30067f3033c0b82.jpg

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@IreneI am curious how you tested for potassium? Is there a kit you used? You said you tested your tap water and determined that each pump produced a certain amount of potassium into your water. Did you test that from your tank? So that you could determine the ppm in your 20 gallon tank?

I was looking at my aquarium and I think the tiger lotus that I added a few months ago may be a potassium sponge. It would explain why my Ludwigia Repens started forming pin holes that yellow. I think we are onto something. 

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@Mitch Norton Yup, I used this freshwater potassium kit and measured how much the potassium increased after adding x number of pumps. https://www.fishtanksdirect.com/salifert-freshwater-potassium-test-kit.aspx

And yes, I technically tested it directly in my aquarium and not from straight tap water since I was mostly interested in practical data for my own tanks. 🙂 The data is very approximate, but it works well for my needs (for example, how many pumps I need to add if my potassium has dropped to 5 ppm).

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On 10/13/2020 at 11:41 AM, Irene said:

@Mitch Norton Yup, I used this freshwater potassium kit and measured how much the potassium increased after adding x number of pumps. https://www.fishtanksdirect.com/salifert-freshwater-potassium-test-kit.aspx

And yes, I technically tested it directly in my aquarium and not from straight tap water since I was mostly interested in practical data for my own tanks. 🙂 The data is very approximate, but it works well for my needs (for example, how many pumps I need to add if my potassium has dropped to 5 ppm).

Is there an option to 'bookmark' posts? or to have some form of 'collective knowledge'?

This looks like something that would be useful to the broader community and may be difficult to find buried in a post.

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