all my established plants dying all the sudden

ydono

New Member
Jan 24, 2022
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ohio
I have 3 plant types in my tank: Vallisneria Spiralis, bucephalandra sp godzilla (attached to fake wood ornaments); ancharis, egeria densa. 55 Gallon tank


Before they started dying off, everything was lush and healthy for months. The Valls were so healthy that they were filling the tank too much almost. At this point, the Valls are only about 20% left, the bucephalandra is gone completely and the ancharis are only about 5% left. This took about 1 1/2 months to get to this place (from a very healthy state).

I am noticing that the Valls's runners seem to be turning brown first, then one leaf at a time turns red, translucent and when I pull on them, they come off at the gravel, root.

When I first noticed the plants suffering a little, I looked back to any changes I had made. these were the changes I had made about 2-3 weeks before I noticed the problems:

1 - changed one of my filters (my unit holds two) from the Marineland penguin (with carbon inside) to the Api BIO CHEM zorb. The aquarium did seem even more clear than usual.

2 - I put a different lid on top of the glass. I usually just use pieces of glass. I took them off and put new glass pieces that had hinges in the middle and handles to make it easier to feed. I noticed that the black hinges/connectors in the middle was keeping the light from spreading as much and I was concerned maybe plants in certain areas might not be getting enough light.

3 - The Vals were so thick that the fish didn't have as much space to swim around in them so I thinned them up quite a bit. And created paths throughout them where I took some Vals out completely. At first I thought this might have been the problem, but this wouldn't affect the other plant types.

4 - I had put nitrazorb and phoszorb "pillows" in my filter as the nitrates and phosphates were getting high. It is not unusual for me to do this sometimes as my well water goes through periods of high nitrates and phosphates.

4 - Although not an unusual event, I had taken some of the ornaments out and dosed with hydrogen peroxide to kill off some black algae. I rinsed them well, placed them back in tank and did a water change. This is not unusual maintenance though.

Once noticing the problem getting really bad, a few weeks ago, I put the old filters back, put the old glass back, took the "pillows" out and did a 50% water change. The problem has not gotten any better. I take handfuls of vals out, that are dead and floating, every week.

I tested my water parameters. They have not changed this whole time (before and after issues):

PH: 8.2
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 5.0
Ammonia: 0
Phosphate: .25
KH 7 (125.3) this usually rides between 5 and 7
GH 6 (107.4)

Typical maintenance:

API liquid co2 (which really made my Vals take off) every day

Dose with Thrive (for shrimp) fertilizer 3 times a week and put capsules in the gravel every few months.

My weekly maintenance is typically: 30% water change, clean filters, stress zyme, stress coat. Test for all parameters above.

Any ideas what is going on? I am going to be out of plants soon and will need to replenish before my algae gets all out of wack and I don't want the same thing to happen to the new ones.



dead val.jpg
aquarium.jpg
new filter.jpg
new top.jpg
 

Allwissend

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Hello

1.
API liquid co2 (which really made my Vals take off) every day

Most users of 'liquid CO2' experience Valisneria melt, some reported additional issues in many obligate aquatic plants. Unless the API bottle is under pressure or freezing your hand when you touch it, it does not have 'liquid CO2'. Such products use some nasty chemicals that may cause melt like you see there. Stop dosing it, it is of little value https://www.intuitiveaqua.net/liquid_carbon_exp.html

2.
4 - I had put nitrazorb and phoszorb "pillows" in my filter as the nitrates and phosphates were getting high. It is not unusual for me to do this sometimes as my well water goes through periods of high nitrates and phosphates.
Yep nutrient starvation is another way to kill plants. If your source water has overly high nitrate or phosphate or whatever treat it before adding it to the tank.

Dose with Thrive (for shrimp) fertilizer 3 times a week and put capsules in the gravel every few month

It's good that you add this but you are basically feeding the chemical filtration media not the plants. The water values are very low given the said dosage.

PH: 8.2
KH 7 (125.3) this usually rides between 5 and 7
GH 6 (107.4)
pH may be high for that KH in a low tech tank. Not sure if the pH is accurate. Not a big point right now but might be worth a check in the future.

So overall you are on the right path. Remove chemical media from the tank filtration and stop dosing the 'liquid CO2', keep dosing the Thrive and your plants should bounce back. It takes some time for the damaged plants to regrow.
 

ydono

New Member
Jan 24, 2022
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ohio

Allwissend - thank you for your reply. I have a few follow up questions:


Regarding removing the "chemical media" - are you referring to the penguin carbon filters I put pack in? I believe it is just carbon, no chemicals. Will carbon filter out the fertilizer too?

Regarding the high PH, I was trying to lower the PH at one point but it was impossible. then someone told me that PH won't lower with the KH in it. I keep the KH at around 5-7 because I thought that was the place it had to be to keep PH stable.

Are you saying my nitrate and phosphate levels are too low for plants?

thank you.....
 

Lmuhlen

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Jan 20, 2021
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I assume that by "chemical filtration" he means the nitrazorb and phoszorb "pillows", which are absorbing the nutrients you are dosing. He suggests that you use them to treat only the new water added with water changes when you have those events of excessive nitrates and phosphates on the new water, not the tank as a whole, since it works against your own fertilization and you may lose control over who is winning. I see it as turning the AC and the heater on at the same time.

I consider your nitrates and phosphates levels to be low.
 
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ydono

New Member
Jan 24, 2022
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ohio
OK. thanks for clarification - how would I reduce nitrates and phosphates beforehand, without using the "pillows" in the filtration system? What are you target numbers for Phosphate and Nitrate for live plants?
 

Lmuhlen

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Jan 20, 2021
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14
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Brazil
I imagine doing something similar to RO systems, through which the new water flows once and is stored for later use. Or you can store water somewhere and have some sort of simple filter with the "pillows" as the only media.

Hard to single out one target number for nutrients, but I think 3 times what you have would be a more confortable starting point.
 

Allwissend

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Allwissend - thank you for your reply. I have a few follow up questions:


Regarding removing the "chemical media" - are you referring to the penguin carbon filters I put pack in? I believe it is just carbon, no chemicals. Will carbon filter out the fertilizer too?

Regarding the high PH, I was trying to lower the PH at one point but it was impossible. then someone told me that PH won't lower with the KH in it. I keep the KH at around 5-7 because I thought that was the place it had to be to keep PH stable.

Are you saying my nitrate and phosphate levels are too low for plants?

thank you.....

As Lmuhlen said, I mean the nitrate and phosphate removing media. Even activated carbon filters are not necessary unless you want to remove staining or medicine from the water.
Yes, i think the levels are low for good plant growth especially since they were not reached by plant nutrient removal alone. They will limit the growth and quality of the plants. I wouldn't suggest chasing numbers. Now that you have removed the absorbing pillows start with the recommended dosage and see where that gets you. If there are still issues, increase the dosage. At one point CO2 will limit the plant growth rate.
 

Allwissend

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You need to stop changing the water
Need to is a rather poor choice of words and part of why you were banned from other communities such ask ukaps. You are not in a position to make such mandates. Given the number and frequency of people successfully having aquariums and doing frequent large water changes I would say issues with the tap water are rather isolated. Sorry if your tap water is such a disaster but that's no reason to generalize. Plenty of fish breeders and people with great looking tanks are successful with and recommend large water changes, it works. No need to detract further from the original thread.

Given ydono is adding Thrive S following the manufacturer's recommendations I do not see problems with limited nutrients, after the nutrient absorbing pads are removed.

Activated carbon filters are not necessary unless you want to remove staining or medicine from the water. The blue sponge is enough. Most people supplement it with filter floss, the white fluffy stuff, to filter even finer particles.
 

ydono

New Member
Jan 24, 2022
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ohio
I will go ahead and take the carbon out and stick with the blue pads - and look for the filter floss. thanks for feedback. My vals are still dying and I am down to 25% of what I had - and all other plants are gone.
 
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ydono

New Member
Jan 24, 2022
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ohio
I got rid of the carbon filtration and the liquid co2. Took the blue pads out and put in filter floss (couldn't fit both blue and filter floss in filter holder). Plants still dying at an alarming rate. They are almost all gone.
 

ydono

New Member
Jan 24, 2022
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3
ohio
My nutrient levels are still low. I have been filtering with the white floss only. Not sure what the issue is. I have switched to Thrive for low Tech tanks and here are my numbers:
ph 8.0
kh 6 (107.4)
phosphate 0
ammonia 0
nitrate 5
nitrite 0
gh 7 (125.3)

I put in a new batch of plants since this posting began and now these are almost gone too. They were doing great then they just started to slowly die. The above numbers have remained pretty consistent throughout.