I’d Like to first start off by simply saying that this was just an experiment that I decided to test out. I have only been in the hobby for about 1 year and 7 months: Take this info as you wish. I am not claiming this to be a solution of any sort, there are people that have been around a lot longer than I have that might have a better hypothesis. When I first began to put thought into this I thought to myself “No way, you’re wrong … but what if you’re right?” (Yes it was one of those kind of things) This is just my theory on what might cause the infamous droop syndrome so many have experienced.
The reasoning for this small experiment, which by the way is still on going, is because there’s no worse feeling than looking into your tank and seeing your beloved, favorite, and typically expensive Ramosior species with drooping leaves. I remember seeing this happen to my first round of Florida I owned, one stem had drooping leaves and I slowly watched it dwindle away. I thought “No big deal it was just an unhealthy stem” not ever expecting to lose every single stem with in the next 3 days. Yes… a total of 20+ stems GONE just like that. Not to mention I paid about $110 for 8 stem back then. haha. They stuck around for about 3 months before catching the ‘droop’.
So what am I talking about for those that aren’t familiar: With Ramosior species there seems to be a time where the plant will droop its leaves, in my case it started with one stem, then 2 more… then 3 more… then, they all melted away without a trace. lol literally. I woke up, checked the tank and $110 was gone before my eyes. From discussing with others that have had this issue no body can seem to put a finger on what exactly it could be. Is there a TIMELINE on when to expect it? No. Could certain SUBSTRATES cause it? Possibly. Co2 issues? Dosing issues? Some strange disease that develops with in the plants? Who knows. All I can say is here’s what I came up with.
7 months ago I decided to give Florida a try again. I started with 5 Stems and focused on trying to keep them as healthy as possible as long as possible, I was giving myself 3 months to see if they get the Droop:
Original 5 Stems: November 14th 2019
Here is what those 5 stems grew to in just 2 months: January 16th 2020
That same bunch 3 months after planting: February 19th 2020
Right around that time I started to work with Rotala Ramosior Sunset which i was told was a much more pickier plant than Florida. (As you can see in the last picture) At this point I was going on 4 months with Florida and hadn’t lost a single stem to melting or to the DROOOOOOOP. Sunset was around for about 3 weeks and as you can tell by the picture was in rough shape.
(Here is where it got interesting for me)
Not really knowing what made Florida stick around so long I started back tracking on how I was caring for the plant. Everything in my tank at this time was being Topped, I would trim the plant and toss the bottoms. This is where I stumbled on something… As I started to focus more on growing Sunset I noticed something about Sunset that was different from my Florida. Florida was being topped once a week. Sunset was never topped or trimmed, I just wanted it to grow. I decided to up root the Sunset and noticed that the bottom of the stems were black, Compared to the Florida which was whitish yellow. Unfortunately I don’t have pictures of them from this time (I know, this is why I’d be discredited in a legit lab lol) but this is where I noticed a difference. Keep this in mind. Here are pictures of the progress Sunset had when I decided to treat it just like Florida and top it once a week, sometimes even twice a week. Pay attention to the Sunset which is in the Center of the tank just to the left of Florida, then will end up to the far left.
February 18th 2020
February 26th 2020
March 9th 2020
March 23rd 2020
April 9th 2020
Shortly after that last picture I decided to redo the entire tank after it was destroyed horribly by algae from lack of husbandry, and maintenance. (I was out of town a lot for work) At the same time I decided to run a short experiment. Hoping it would show some results… Now I did only use Florida for this test, however keep in mind that I still continue to top my Sunset once a week.
So let’s dive back into the black rotting at the bottom of the Sunset before topping it. I noticed that Florida never dealt with this issue because I was always topping all of my plants at least once a week, that was just my maintenance routine. When I planted sunset I didn’t touch it for almost 3 weeks thinking it would grow but it was struggling more than anything. Pale color, Not many side shoots, and overall didn’t look healthy. As you can see from the picture above when I started topping it, it grew faster with 3–4 side shoots on each stem, had beautiful color, and looked healthy for the most part.
April 14th I set up a second tank with the exact same conditions I had in the tank pictured above. (I decided to use Millers Micro-complex instead of mixing my own micros: call it laziness) I took 3 sets of Florida, the first stems (Group 1) I didn’t top at all, second (Group 2) I would top only 3 times over the span of the experiment. Which was conducted over about a 6–7 week time frame. The last set (Group 3) I topped once a week. Here is why I think this is important for Ramosior Species.
Pay attention to how rotted the bottom of the stems are compared to the ones that were topped 3 times and the ones that were topped every week.
Now here is the Second group. Again pay attention to the Bottoms, as well as size difference.
With group two I noticed some rotting towards the bottoms but overall they had decent growth and were much healthy than Group 1 by a long shot. Here’s a side by side comparison:
Left: Group 2 — Right: Group 1
Now…. Here’s Group 3, which was topped every week for 6 weeks.
HEALTHY! In every which way these stems were taller, with bigger leaves, better color, and no rotting at the bottom.
Here’s a comparison between Group 2 and Group 3:
Left: Group 2 — Right: Group 3
Now here is a picture with all 3 groups:
Left: Group 1 — Middle: Group 2 — Right: Group 3
Whats the big THEORY?! Well, I’ve now gone 7 months with Rotala Florida and not a single stem catching the dreaded Droop. (Nov. 14th — June 1st) Sunset has exploded for me with more stems than I thought I’d be able to grow (More pic’s later) Now again, this is just a theory, so please keep that in mind. Working with Ramosior for these months I believe they enjoy rotting from the bottom up… why does that matter? Well, because they rot underneath the substrate, where you would never be able to notice it.
Ramosiors have an inner stem like core, it’s harder than the out side of the plant. If you take your finger nail and run it down the stem barely scratching the outer stem you will see this inner stem that I’m talking about… I’m honestly not sure what to call it. I believe this inner stems acts as a “membrane” for the plant… keeping it healthy. When rotting begins to occur at the bottom of the stem, these membrane like stems begin to rot as well not being able to keep the plant as healthy as possible. Avoid the Rot, Avoid the droop. So where does the droop come into play? I think where we are going wrong with these plants is trimming them and trying to propagate the tops as well as keeping the bottoms. Growing these plants out to be too tall, giving them the time to rot from the bottom for a period of time.
When rotting occurs for too long, I believe the inner core becomes unhealthy and begins to rot behind the outer stem that we see. As we continue to propagate side shoots and tops from the already unhealthy bottoms, the inner core like stem continues to be unhealthy and rot… Eventually Leading to the drooping leaves which will then lead to stems melting. Now the only part I’m stuck on is why they would all decide to melt at the same time. Thinking back on when my Florida Drooped the first time, I never cut the stems, I was too afraid to. lol I would only cut side shoots and replant them. Which would make sense as to why they all melted at the same time. I was taking shoots off of an unhealthy plant (Think inner stem here) and planting it. All of my stems where unhealthy at that point… think of it as a disease almost. Once the main stem has it… so do the side shoots. Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing you can do about it. This would explain why even those that took the stems out of the tank and put them into another tank were still experiencing drooping right after one stem got it. If you experience a stem that droops, it’s only a matter of time before all of the others droop.
The conclusion? I truly believe that if you are able to keep the bottoms from rotting by continuously topping the Ramosior species (Florida, Sunset, Cramer) it could give you a very good chance of preventing the Droop Syndrome. Again, I’m no expert, I’m only speaking from experience here…and 7 months with out any drooping is twice as long as I was able to keep it the first time.
By no means am I saying this is the answer to this strange event… or that I’ve even come close to figuring it out. One thing is for sure, it grows really nice stems! for 6 weeks I’ve topped sunset every week. Here’s what it produced, mind you this is just out of my “farm” tank. Notice that there are healthy leaves all the way down the stem.
Now I had mentioned something way earlier in this post about how substrate may possibly matter when it comes to The Droop. I also mentioned how this is still an on going experiment. All of these stems were grown in MTS (Mineralized Top Soil) and theres a theory out there that Ramosior Sunset doesn't do well in Aquasoil, so to be fair, I recently switched my main tank to Landens Aquasoil to test this with Sunset as well. With about a month into it being in Aquasoil it's not doing so bad. I plan on certainly updating this post after time goes on.
Thank you for reading… Please by all means share your thoughts with me.