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blackened Windelov java fern


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Help, plant advice needed.

Was focused on trying to keep the only remaining 1 of 10 green neon tetras alive in my 5 week old tank, when I noticed most of the plants are dead (Monte Carlo, Val, Pearl Weed, Scarlet Temple, some floater plant that weas maybe frogbit). The only ones hanging on are: the dwarf sag (melting away); various anubias' (old growth leaves yellowing) such as congensis, nana petite, barteri; and these Windelov java ferns (almost fully black leaves). The lone pothos plant whose roots are the only thing submerged is doing fine and is probably doing the heavy lifting of nitrate consumption.

The tank isn't fully cycled, was forced to attempt fish-in cycling since didn't know about this important process beforehand. No fertilizer added, because I was trying to allow the plants time to establish. First 3 weeks had the included led lights in the Top Fin hood switched on maybe 2-3 hours per day in a very sunny room (but not in window nor direct sunlight). In the same 3 weeks, had a mystery snail happily snacking on algae and water was not crystal but decently clear. Last week, moved him in with the quarantining betta in order to quarantine the 10 green neons directly in the 10g.

After 9 died, the water is still greenish yellow even after 70% water change, done after several rounds of med trio, then kanaplex and jungle clear fizz tabs. I had attempted a blackout for 4 days (fully covered with black trash bag, 1 nano sponge filter, 1 medium sponge filter and kept diy minipump filter on for aeration, hood light off), but no noticeable effect.

I was thinking of extending the blackout 4 days...or to dose some Easy Green fertilizer. I have regular aquarium gravel, so I thought root tabs won't help and the Windelov is glued to rock above the substrate anyway. Just not very experienced with plabts nor aquariums in general.

Here is a photo from today (Day 35)

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Photo with the blue gravel below is from Day 17.

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Photo of test strips from yesterday (Day 34). The water change was Day 33. The multi test strip on the left is the 10g, the one on tge right is the quarantine tub with the snail and betta.

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Ammonia test strip from Day 34

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Edited by HelplessNewbie
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On 7/7/2023 at 4:10 PM, redfish said:

Do you think it's something growing on the leaves or do you think they are blackened themselves?

The latter. The stuff doesn't rub off. When I first got them from ACO via shipment, the leaves already were speckled with fine black dots. Thought nothing of it, so went ahead and glue it to the rock.

Edited by HelplessNewbie
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I know it's frustrating watching your plants go through this.  It could be they are experiencing the same melting/dying back like your other plants.  I have some  java fern that turns dark brown/black when it's dying but eventually new growth begins again.  This normally happens when the tank gets out of balance with fertilizer and lighting schedule, etc.  It will usually recover once you get everything balanced again but it takes a couple weeks to see any progress since it's a slow growing plant.  Sometimes it just takes a while for plants to grow in a new tank.  I've experienced melting for several plants.  Some grew back, some didn't.

You are correct that java fern primarily feeds from the water column and doesn't need root tabs in the substrate.  Here is a pic of a java fern going through some die back.  You can sorta make out the brown/black spots on the leaves and some new leaves forming. 

JF.jpeg.91251555fce6085b5cea0a79f1acc97f.jpeg

 

It's hard to pin point exactly what is happening with your plants but don't give up.  We have all been there.

 

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On 7/7/2023 at 7:01 PM, redfish said:

I know it's frustrating watching your plants go through this.  It could be they are experiencing the same melting/dying back like your other plants.  I have some  java fern that turns dark brown/black when it's dying but eventually new growth begins again.  This normally happens when the tank gets out of balance with fertilizer and lighting schedule, etc.  It will usually recover once you get everything balanced again but it takes a couple weeks to see any progress since it's a slow growing plant.  Sometimes it just takes a while for plants to grow in a new tank.  I've experienced melting for several plants.  Some grew back, some didn't.

You are correct that java fern primarily feeds from the water column and doesn't need root tabs in the substrate.  Here is a pic of a java fern going through some die back.  You can sorta make out the brown/black spots on the leaves and some new leaves forming. 

JF.jpeg.91251555fce6085b5cea0a79f1acc97f.jpeg

 

It's hard to pin point exactly what is happening with your plants but don't give up.  We have all been there.

 

Thank you, I needed someone to remind me to be patient and to persevere. The photo and description of dying back is also helpful.

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Agree with redfish. I bought several Windelov plants that were not grown submerged and they all did the same thing yours is doing. The old leaves die off and you start getting new bright green leaves growing typically as their root structure starts growing. 

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Correct me if I am off-the-mark here, but it seems your plant die-off/die-back and the trouble with the fish may be two different things, but both associated with having a relatively new tank. I noticed you said the test strip on the left was the main 10 gallon tank, while the right test strip was the quarantine tank. What I saw was that your nitrate level appeared to be 0 in the 10 gal, but slightly higher (just a little pink color) for the quarantine tank.

Could it be that your water comes naturally with some nitrates (exampled by the quarantine tank reading), but the plants in the 10 gal have already consumed what was originally in the 10 gal and now have nothing to grow on? Algae, unfortunately, is far more resilient and seems to need little more than light to be a pest.  It can take some time and practice to get your tank "dialed in" for plants. Don't get discouraged by set-backs now and then.

Your water column doesn't appear to have anything to feed the plants. It is recommended in most cases to keep nitrate levels between 20 and 40 ppm (while maintaining ammonia/nitrites at 0) in order for plants to thrive. Typically the challenge is to combat excessive algae while feeding your water column plants at the same time. As for the neon tetras, it is more difficult to diagnose because while tetras are from more acidic waters originally, these were likely tank raised and more tolerant of harder water. Your test strips seem to indicate your water is pretty hard. It doesn't mean you can't keep tetras, only that it is more difficult in the early stages when first trying to establish a steady environment.

In my experience, it works best to take things slowly in stages. I like to set up a tank, cycle it for a while (no fish cycle) adding only conditioners, beneficial bacteria and some fish food to establish the tank (testing all the time) while keeping the light very very minimal. I then add plants (usually several weeks later) and dial that in (again without fish) so I know the plants are growing and the algae is manageable. It may again take several weeks to see that the plants are on the upswing from any melt back. I like to use plants with very low light requirements so I can dose fertilizers to maintain the nitrate levels for healthy plants, while keeping the light levels very minimal to control the algae.

Only after I am satisfied that all of that is going well, do I add animals. Of course, if you have other established tanks, then you can safely speed the process up by transferring substrate, wood, rocks, etc from established tanks into the new one to jump-start it. But, this is just my method. I know others have success doing it other ways.

I hope this helps and that things are going better, now.

 

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On 7/8/2023 at 10:17 AM, JChristophersAdventures said:

both associated with having a relatively new tan

yes new tank and inexperience!

On 7/8/2023 at 10:17 AM, JChristophersAdventures said:

Your water column doesn't appear to have anything to feed the plants

I think you are right. I uncovered the tank after being away from home, an additional 4 days blackout. No noticeable difference still. Did partial water change 30% and dosed 1 pump of Easy Green. Will leave it for a week or 2... Maybe Mother Nature just wants me to leave the tank be? Would it hurt to throw some more plants in to maybe outcompete the algae, like anacharis, java moss or cabomba?

On 7/8/2023 at 10:17 AM, JChristophersAdventures said:

Your test strips seem to indicate your water is pretty hard

No, my tap water is actually soft and ph is 6.8. I was trying to, and I guess overcompensated for it in the quarantine tank to help the mystery snail, since his shell was becoming more translucent. Still not sure I can find a happy medium between the tetra and the snail's water requirements. I may relocate the green neon tetra to my 20g that is fish- and plant-less cycling right now. It won't be ready for another 3 or 4 weeks. I intend to keep ph there at 6.8.

Thanks for the advice!

Edited by HelplessNewbie
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Sorry you are having difficulties. Getting a "balanced" tank is one of the biggest challenges when just getting into this hobby. Also having fish, invertebrates (snails), live plants and green water (algae) all at the same time adds to the challenge.

As a beginner, you want to take a conservative approach, including patience... this involves more water changes which you have been doing, of course adding the needed additional water conditioner (within the range limit specified on the label of the conditioner product you are using). Fritz Complete is an excellent example, although there are many others out there.

Fritzyme 7 can greatly accelerate the beneficial bacteria, which might also be helpful. Other than that, you simply allow the process to work itself out (these additives are simply there to bridge the gap until things stabilize and are not a long term substitute for a stable, established aquarium).

You might consider some Easy Carbon to help fight the algae, if that is the major goal. Otherwise dosing lightly with Easy Green while keeping to light low and especially for a shorter time of the day is what is typically recommended (and always keep testing... keep notes of the results for future reference).

One of the things we tend to over look is ambient light in the room (mainly light coming through windows, through sheer curtains, etc). I don't know why, but this light does little for the aquarium plants while making algae grow like crazy... especially during late spring, summer and early fall with longer daylight hours. Blacking this light out completely while keeping your aquarium lights low and short should yield better results.

The 2nd approach is a more aggressive one which would involve more intervention chemicals, but I can't really recommend it because it could end up causing more trouble than it is worth... algae destroyers and water clarifiers are powerful chemical combinations I personally try to avoid. If you make a lot of changes, then it becomes impossible to know what the end result will be and how you got there.

Keep in mind the cost of intervention versus the cost of replacing fish, snails and plants. Either way, the learning curve can have some costs... but, in the end it is worth it in my opinion.

You might also find this helpful: Why isn’t Easy Carbon getting rid of algae? It is found under the FAQs on the Aquarium Co-Op website.

Edited by JChristophersAdventures
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We ran a diy polisher. Looks like it temporarily took care of the algae. See photo below from yesterday.

We plunked some stem plants in, and left the window shades 1/2 open. I can't be certain but the anubias barteri's leaves don't seem yellow anymore today. Can a plant reverse yellowing leaves or is it only going to improve on new growth?

Screenshot_20230710-193710.png

Edited by HelplessNewbie
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