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frncs__

AC Members
Jul 23, 2020
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Hi, so in a nutshell, almost all stem plants that I plant in my tank, are melting. Yesterday, I bought a bacopa monnieri from our local fish store (note that they sell aquatic plants that are grown submerged) along with other stem plants (though I'm not familiar with their names). I planted the plants right after I got home, and today, I found that some of the stems of bacopa are floating above the water. I noticed that the lower portion of the stems were melted, the roots were gone and the tissues of the stem were completely dissolved. The melting always starts from the bottom part of the plant, right below the substrate. The stem kinda rots and tend to be mushy. It has always been the stem that is submerged under the susbtrate.

My tank is currently on its 4th week now, and its specification is:
  • 40 gallon tank (120cm x 30cm x 40cm)
  • ISTA Premium Aquasoil + boiled and filtered course sand gravel (substrate is about 1.5in thick or ~3.8cm thick)
  • Stable room temperature (~28° C or 82 °F) since aquarium is inside our house and we live in a tropical country
  • DIY external canister filter
  • 14-watt 6500K LED T5 Batten Light
  • 25-watt "purple" LED grow light I cheaply ordered online
  • 8-hour light period
  • 2bps CO2 from a DIY sugar-yeast contraption with ceramic diffuser and a mini pump right above the diffuser to act as an in-tank reactor
  • pH ranging from 4.5-6 (rough estimate because I only use pH paper strips for testing pH)
  • I added some root tabs
  • Weekly EI dosing (but due to unavailability of Nitrate fertilizers in our area, I use ammonium phosphate and urea as substitute for N source)
  • I also dose epsom salt for 10ppm/week
  • I do not have test kits for gH, kH, nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia levels but I'm pretty much certain that my tank is completely cycled now.
  • I do 50% water change per week.
For the flora and fauna, I have:
  • water wisteria
  • bacopa monnieri
  • pearlweed
  • anubias nana petite
  • amazon sword
  • crypts
  • h. sunset (newly planted)
  • Persicaria sp. 'Porto Velho' (i think?) smartweed
  • pennywort
  • giant hygros (tho im not quite sure)
  • ludwigia rubin
  • some other plants (i do not know their names so I'll just post some pictures of them)

  • a sorority of 11 female bettas
  • 10 guppy juvies
  • 1 SAE
  • 1 catfish (i dont know what catfish he is)
  • 3 mystery snails
The same thing happened with my some of my water wisteria, giant hygros, pearlweeds, pennywort, tripartita + ludwigia repens (completely melted away). They have/had similar symptoms of melting, but I believe some of them are properly rooted now.

I am also having some minor algae issues. Algae are staring to grow on the leaves of wisterias, hygros, and anubias. There are some algae on the glass but I regularly scrape it.

The fishes are doing great, it's just the plants that I'm having problems with.

I diagnosed some issues like the yellowing of leaves, especially on newer growths , they were lacking in nutrients (mostly N), and there is a nutrient deficiency in the water coloumn since I started EI dosing just a week ago.

I also read some forums regarding melting of the stems at the lower portion of the plants particularly the part that are submerged under the substrate. Tom Barr suggested that maybe it was due to the phenomenon called autofragmentation, wherein the plants eat off their lower portion so they can float away to find a better spot where there are more nutrients, or perhaps more lights (or CO2).

Any insights, inputs, suggestions regarding the melting of the stems?

Thank you!

Regards,
Francis

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FJB

AC Members
Jun 7, 2019
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I am having a similar problem, and I attribute it to excessively high temperature. My heaters have been unplugged for months now, but with 94 and above outside temperatures, the temp in the tanks have risen to 82 and above. during at least parts of each day recently.
My Bacopa, Crypts (3 spp), wisteria and others have completely melted. Hopefully their underground parts will make a come back in time.
Some plants can take the heat, others can't. Even some that can, will not if temps get too much above what they have been used to be in.
I don't know what the temp is in your tank(s?), but it is possible something like in my case is happening to you.
If your temp has become higher than usual, then this could be the issue.

Regardless, My question to you - Why continue dosing nutrients? The plant can't use them when they are melting, regardless of the cause. Algae will.
Sorry for your troubles. Just my 2 cents, based on my own blues.
 
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CichlidFins

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Feb 26, 2020
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I find that moneywort seems to be prone to melting without a strong light and good ferts.
 

frncs__

AC Members
Jul 23, 2020
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I am having a similar problem, and I attribute it to excessively high temperature. My heaters have been unplugged for months now, but with 94 and above outside temperatures, the temp in the tanks have risen to 82 and above. during at least parts of each day recently.
My Bacopa, Crypts (3 spp), wisteria and others have completely melted. Hopefully their underground parts will make a come back in time.
Some plants can take the heat, others can't. Even some that can, will not if temps get too much above what they have been used to be in.
I don't know what the temp is in your tank(s?), but it is possible something like in my case is happening to you.
If your temp has become higher than usual, then this could be the issue.

Regardless, My question to you - Why continue dosing nutrients? The plant can't use them when they are melting, regardless of the cause. Algae will.
Sorry for your troubles. Just my 2 cents, based on my own blues.
I'll plan on buying a decent thermometer to monitor my water temp, maybe temperature plays a big role here.

I'm sorry to hear about your melted plants, I know it's a bit frustrating-- but anyway, I do not have a heater on my aquarium, and I think the fertilizer dosing are what causing the stem rot/melting?

Some of my friends told me that excessive nitrates (especially in ammonium form) can burn plant tissues, I guess I'll stop with dosing ferts for a while until my tank matures and until when the plants are completely thriving properly.

So yea, I guess I'll blame it on the urea and ammonium phophate. I have a rich substrate, I use aquasoil, so that alone can provide nutrients for my plants for quite a long time, I believe.

I'll do some water changes tomorrow and I'm also planning to add an additional '4-red 1-blue' 5m LED grow lights strip.

Let's wait and I'll keep you posted for updates.

Thank you!

Regards,
Francis
 

frncs__

AC Members
Jul 23, 2020
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I find that moneywort seems to be prone to melting without a strong light and good ferts.
I'm planning on upgrading my lights and we'll see what'll happen until then. Also, I already ordered osmocote and I'll use it as root tabs. I also ordered calcium nitrate, I think I'll use this in place of urea instead. I'll also replace my ammonium phophate ferts with a 0-22-0 "duofos" fertilizer available in our area.

I'll try upgrading both my lighting and ferts.
 
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fishorama

AC Members
Jun 28, 2006
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SF Bay area, CA
I've never had it do well for me either. I think it prefers cooler temps in addition to CF's insights. What other stems are unhappy for you? I have good results with ludwegia repens x arcuata & a few others but I'm not the best water column fertilizer, stems often do better with those as opposed to root tabs.
 

frncs__

AC Members
Jul 23, 2020
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Hi,

Sorry for this late update, I have been kinda busy for the past few days.

Right now, I think my plants are starting to adapt to the aquarium's water parameters— not even a single stem melted since last week!

So, here's what I did:

  1. I performed 25% water change every 2 days, I use uderground water from our well water pump (soft water) so I still kept dosing epsom salt and calcium carbonate.

  2. I suspected that I dose excessive ammonia/urea, so I cut off the dosing of urea (for now) and stick to ammonium phosphate, but only sparsely compared to my previous dosing, along with KCl.

  3. I removed the light diffuser from the 14-watt LED T5, the change in intensity of the lighting is quite remarkable.

  4. I added a 3-watt wave maker, then I placed the CO2 diffuser below it so the CO2 bubbles will diffuse even better, and more evenly across the tank (120cm is the length of my tank).

  5. I also put an airstone below the wave maker, so I'm getting that "sprite water" effect.

  6. Added a mini sponge filter right below the inflow.
I can tell you guys that my stricta, hygro difformis, and bacopa that were previously melting below the soil, are now rooting very well and are growing quite fast. The ludwigia repens are also now recovering from the damages they took from their melted leaves. Some of the smaller bacopas are still getting uprooted though, then I found it is the otocinclus that likes to swiftly rush and hunt for algae above the aquasoil, hence the baby stems are keep getting uprooted.

So, I think the key here, is FREQUENT WATER CHANGES! Yes, I know my tank is relatively on its earlier stage, about a month and a half old now. It kinda worked out for me, and also, maybe adequate water flow also played quite a huge role here since I have a long tank and maybe the flow from the filter is not strong enough creating dead spots in the aquarium, therefore promoting stem rots and melting, andddd maybe excessive ammonia (?) maybe they were having ammonia burns back then? But my tank is fully cycled so I believe the baterial colony in my filter will eat away those ammonia and urea I'm dosing and readily convert them to nitrates.

I will still keep on updating this thread.

Oh, and final query, can you help me diagnose why my anubias nana petite looks kinda stunted and pale? New shoots on other plants also look pale yellow. The pictures are posted below. :)

Thank you!

Regards,
Francis

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frncs__

AC Members
Jul 23, 2020
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I've never had it do well for me either. I think it prefers cooler temps in addition to CF's insights. What other stems are unhappy for you? I have good results with ludwegia repens x arcuata & a few others but I'm not the best water column fertilizer, stems often do better with those as opposed to root tabs.
I previously had a massive stem melt on my bacopa, hygros, and had melting leaves from ludwigia repens.

Though I forgot to mention, right before my tank was completely cycled, I lost all my "root plants" like vals, crypts, amazon sword, but I most likely believed that ammonia burns are what caused those melting.


Currently, I still have one surviving amazon sword, hoping it starts shooting runners soon!
 

fishorama

AC Members
Jun 28, 2006
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SF Bay area, CA
A few things: sometimes stem plants' happy top growth shades the lower leaves so much they die. You snip them off & replant...& it can happen again & again. I think that's part of your trouble.

Crypts often "melt" when new or with changing water conditions. If the roots are healthy they almost always come back.

Similarly swords are often grown emersed (leaves out out the water) & they need some time to grow "submersed" (underwater) leaves. The new leaves are often smaller & may be a different shape or color.

Vals are pretty easy unless you use Excel (glutereldehyde), a so called co2 replacement. Vals & elodea hate it, it will stunt or kill them.

I think you may be right about ammonia burn on the anubias. New leaves are often paler for a little while, but your 1 leaf looks frayed on the edges. I haven't had that happen that I recall.

Your plants do look better & less brown dusty "diatoms" on the leaves. Try to gently swirl over the substrate surface to remove detritus when you vacuum during water changes.

I'd say so far so good. You've made some changes, now wait to see how or if that helps. Then adjust things if you need to.
 
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