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Nutrient depletion or crypt melt?

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Anyone know what's going on here? I set this 10 gallon aquarium up by blending 3 aqua soils together and planting slow growing plants expecting to get a long life out of it. Recently I have learned that most high end aquascapes are only able to run for a year ish before running out of nutrients. I'm wondering if that is what happened here or if the plants were shocked when I moved to a new house last year. The water from the old house and the new house tested almost exactly the same so I didn't think that was it but also I have been so busy lately that I haven't really been paying the best of attention to this tank.

Tank maintenance in general has been water changes to keep the nitrates lower than 50 but never any gravel vacuuming and no root tabs added.

Tank was set up in November 2019

Looked great in February 2022

And looks like a wasteland now in January 2023

Inhabitants have been MTS, cherry shrimp, kuhli loaches and least killifish. 

I'm also suspecting the MTS of eating my plants after they (the snails) got bigger. I removed around 20 large snails today. I have always feed heavy to avoid the snails having to resort to eating plants. 

The pictures might not be in chronological order but the set up pic is pretty obvious and the final pic is just mulm really. 

The plants are crypt lucens and Christmas moss. The loss of all that crypt lucens is what I'm most sad about even though that Christmas moss was looking really cool for quite some time. 






Edited by bryanisag
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Did you ever add any liquid fertilizers or root tabs in, maybe after you notice growth slowing? Heavy feeding might have provided a lot of the relevant nutrients, but fertilizers are tailor-made for plants. And I believe crypts are on the root-feeding side of things, so if the soils were depleted they might have needed more targeted nutrition.

Did the plants slowly fade or was it more abrupt? Did the leaves show yellowing or holes or anything like that?

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Basically everything @Rube_Goldfish said. I loooooove my crypts, they’re my fave. Anytime I notice a bit of melt or any sort of deficiencies, I toss 2 Coop root tabs under it. By the next day, they almost immediately perk up. You will loose whatever began melting, but it will make up for it in a couple of weeks or so. What is your dosing schedule? 

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I've never used aquasoils, so I have no first hand experience with this, but the tank has been running for almost 3 1/2 years. Based on what I've read, most aquasoils will give you two to three years before their nutrients are depleted. (I think they mostly have a high cation exchange capacity, so depending on the bioload and feeding of the tank, they can be recharged that way, at least to some degree.) Root tabs would restore those nutrients in the same way that they would add nutrients to an inert substrate in the first place.

What's the consistency of the soil? Has it broken down into "mud"?

I think your two best choices are:

A) extensively root tab the existing soil substrate and probably cap it with sand or gravel (especially if it's muddy or if you're worried about nutrients leeching from the root tabs into the water column); or

B) yeah, tear it down and start over, at which point you'd have lots of choice for substrate.

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