Plants disintegrating / disappearing

nobo

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I have a Juwel Rio 125 litre (T5 lighting, I think; def not LED), “pimped” internal Jewel filter with 2kg of biogravel. Sand substrate over Tropica aquarium soil. . pH 7 - 7.5. Tap water source is hard (London) - DH14. Amonia, nitrate and nitrite levels all fine. Pond snails. No fish yet.

The tank had been up for about a month when I introduced the plants.
First bathc were straight vallis, java fern, water wisteria and indian fern.
I soaked them first in dechlorinated tap water with baking soda for c. 24 hours at room temp (given insecticide, on advice of supplier). Then rinsed in dechlorinated water. Planted in the substrate, save for the java fern which I attached to rocks/driftwood. Within 2 days, all the plants save for the java fern had disappeared/disintegrated. The java fern is still there, but brown and has holes in at the tips of the leaves.

On Saturday, I added a second batch of 20 vallis, java moss and anubias bateri. Dipped for maybe 10-20 mins in the dechlorinated tap water with baking soda. On Sunday I did my first partial (c. 20%) water change. And added some Seachem Flourish. This morning (Monday), the vallis had suffered the same fate as before. Anubias look ok for the time being; java moss a bit brown but it's still there at least!

I've not had similar issues in my nano 19L tank; and the few plants I've transferred from there into the 125L seem ok.

Virtually certain it's not the snails at fault, so perhaps the baking soda? Some other issue with water chemistry? Or the plants themselves (all via mail order - two different suppliers). Perhaps the plants have just died back to the roots and will regrow (no signs yet)? Lighting? (Though seems really soon to have a lighting issue in such a short space of time) I don't have CO2... Should I be thinking about that? I've heard (from some) liquid CO2 isn't good for fish, so diffuser/cannister better, but I'd chosen plants that (I'd hoped) would be easy and low maintaince, without CO2 or unusual lighting requirements.

Any tips welcome. I'm keep to rescue what plants I can/not harm what remains (just the moss and anubias and browned java fern!), and to get the tank fully planted before adding fish, but don't want to add more until I know what's wrong.

Many thanks!
 

PheonixKingZ

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Why would you soak your plants in baking soda? I’ve never heard of that before. What are your water parameters? How many hours a day do you leave your light on for?
 

Colin_T

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Pictures of the plants?

I wouldn't soak them in baking soda because it can damage their cells and cause them to break down. Rinsing under tap water should remove snails and you can look for snail eggs on the leaves. If you want to kill parasites on them, use copper. Put the plants in a container with tap water and add some copper (snail killer or whitespot treatment). Let them soak for 5-10 minutes then rinse well and put in another container of water. Wait an hour then rinse again and put them in the tank.

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Don't waste your time with carbon dioxide (CO2). There's plenty in the atmosphere and the aquarium. Fish and filter bacteria continuously produce CO2 and the plants can use that.

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If the plants are coming from a coldwater pond and going into a warm water tank, the temperature change can kill them and cause them to fall apart.

Try to get plants from tropical aquariums or buy them during warm weather. But avoid getting plants shipped if it's really hot because they can cook during transit.

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How long are the lights on for?
 
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nobo

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Thanks. Good news re CO2!

Lights were on for maybe 6-8 hours whilst cycling with no plants; I should've upped that when I added the first batch of plants (vallis/ferns etc) but forgot until I added the second. That was only for 2-3 days though. Now up to 12 hours.

The baking soda recommendation came from supplier and the sticky here: https://www.fishforums.net/threads/plant-warning.383686/ (upping pH to address insecticide).

I'm guessing the temperature and/or pH change from room temp (c. 19'C) water to tank (c. 26'C) pH 7 did for them, and/or having been posted. It's pretty cool here in the UK, so excessive heat during shipping won't have been an issue; but perhaps the contrary?

Having checked just now, it may be that just a few of the vallis are regrowing, but no signs of the water wysteria or india fern whatsoever. I'll get my next lot/replacements from the LFS!

Might adding some fish help (I have 9 glowlight tetras I can transfer over) - in supplying CO2 and amonia source for plants to take up?

I may add some assassin snails to get the pond snails under control, but assume they shouldn't munching through the plants in any case (no problems with that in my nano tank).

Will get some photos...
 

Colin_T

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You don't need lights on when cycling a tank unless there are plants in the aquarium.

Have the lights on for 12 hours a day if you have plants in the tank. Monitor the algae and if there is none you can increase the photoperiod by an hour. If there is lots of algae then decrease it by an hour.

Don't move fish into a tank that is cycling because it will kill them.

There will be plenty of CO2 for the plants in the water. It is constantly being produced by the filter bacteria and gets into the tank from the air in the atmosphere.
 
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nobo

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Thanks.

I'd left the lights on for 6 hours (6pm-midnight) or so as I'd moved over a few bits and bobs of plants that were otherwise going in the bin. On top of that, they get a little indirect, diffuse daylight during the day, but the tank is c. 5m from the nearest window and bordered on 3 sides, so no much.

Pretty certain the tank is cycled - I've moved over some media and rocks from the old tank when first set up, added API Stress Zyme+ (double dose for starting aquarium), plus 2kg of biogravel in filter. It's had a month now and readings are good. In any case, I plan on moving over my 9 glowlight tetras from the small tank (leaving 5 amano shrimp there) along with perhaps half or more of the filter media. My understanding was that should "insta cycle" the tank; and adding a few fast growing plants at the same time would help address any unwanted spikes (hence the water wysteria and indian fern - though that'd didn't work out so I'll need some more and maybe some floating plants/use water sprite as a floater). Happy to stand corrected, however (especially before I move any fish!); I'm (as you can probably tell) quite new to think and despite having read up on various aspects over the past couple of months, there's so much more to know (and so many conflicting opinions to try to get to the bottom of!).
 
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nobo

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2020/03/07 photos: 2 days after the first round of plants of plants went in. Disintegration visible but not complete.

2020/03/08: day after after second round of pants installed (new vallis visible at back, but quite short). First round plants completed disappeared, save for java fern.

2020/03/09: two days after second round of plants installed - no vallis visible, save for tiny vallis regrowth - which may be regrowth from the first round.
 

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essjay

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Is the java fern planted in the gravel? That should be attached to decor like the anubias.

I could never grow live plants; they always died. Finally I discovered that slow growing plants that are grown on decor survived in my tanks. Apart from water sprite floating on the surface, that's all I have in my tanks. I used to have hornwort, which was threaded through branchy wood rather than planted, but it was taking over and strangling the other plants so it had to go. So slow growers attached to decor plus water sprite floating is an option you could investigate.
 
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nobo

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The java fern's wedged into rocks/driftwood, not planted.

What's perhaps strange is that I've not had any issues (on the contrary!) growing plants in my nano tank (Fluvial Spec 19L) with the glowlights and the amano shrimp. But the LED light on that appears to be a fair bit brighter.

Kinda keen to get the plants to work - and hope there's a way through/things to try (patience?! ;) ). Though if all else fails, I'll follow your route! I guess I might have better luck with LFS plants / potted plants, rather than the strands that have come through the post.
 

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I curently have a java fern which was planted in the gravel and has taken off. In fact it has started 3-4 small side plants that are shooting up beside the parent in the gravel. This java fern is what about a year old now?
 

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you light does look a bit dim in the pics, are you sure the bulbs are giving enough light in the correct spectrum? When I first got plants the tank I had originally came with flourescent bulbs, and the plants did well for a short period before dying off like yours are doing. I retried this but left the top of my tan open and bought a LED full spectrum light bar that sits across the tom of my tank and now I have had no issues with plants. Likely a few other reasons to this also, but that seems to be the biggest change for me. Do you use any type of liquid fertilizer for the plants?
 

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Colin mentioned the danger of soaking plants in baking soda, and that was likely the main issue here. Temperature may have added to it.

Going forward...Vallisneria thrives in harder water. It uses bicarbonates as a source of carbon rather than relying solely on CO2 (it will use both but readily takes up carbon from bicarbonate) so you will have no CO2 issues. Light is important, as this is a fast growing plant and such plants require more light than Anubias, Ferns, mosses, etc. Daylight that is high in the red and blue (essential for photosynthesis) and green, such as 6500K, is ideal. And with the light must come nutrients.
 
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nobo

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Hi Coloursfly,
One dose of Seachem Flourish so far (yesterday morning), which didn't stop the vallis disappearing by this morning. Topica soil with sand over the top - so should be plenty of plant fuel.
The lights could be an issue - though I would've thought/hoped the T5 unit would do the trick. Is there a practical way of testing/knowing? I can't see any markings on the lights to determine their spec...
I've ordered an inexpensive waterproof 78cm RGB LED light, so it can supply extra white light during the day, and could do blue (moonlight) light for occasional periods when the main lights are off and I'm home and want to see something, since I was planning on having a moonlighting option in any case.
But surprised that they've disappeared so quickly (<2 days) if lighting is the issue...
 
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nobo

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Colin mentioned the danger of soaking plants in baking soda, and that was likely the main issue here. Temperature may have added to it.

Going forward...Vallisneria thrives in harder water. It uses bicarbonates as a source of carbon rather than relying solely on CO2 (it will use both but readily takes up carbon from bicarbonate) so you will have no CO2 issues. Light is important, as this is a fast growing plant and such plants require more light than Anubias, Ferns, mosses, etc. Daylight that is high in the red and blue (essential for photosynthesis) and green, such as 6500K, is ideal. And with the light must come nutrients.
Thanks Bryon - that'd make sense. The water is pretty hard, but the bicarb pre-soak may have done for them. Shame - I was following the vendors advice and am now down £40-50 odd worth of plants. Hopefully some of the vallis will regrow, but I think the indian fern and water wysteria are gone for good.

I'm going to try the Aquatic Design Centre in Balham for a few extra on Wednesday (probably frog big and water sprite, possibly a few others to replace those gone) and maybe a few pearl gourami, assassin snails to cull the pond snail population, and others things too. :)
 
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Byron

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One dose of Seachem Flourish so far (yesterday morning), which didn't stop the vallis disappearing by this morning.
You will not see changes in a day, or even several. When plants show signs of trouble, it is because something has been negatively affecting the plant usually for a time. Though the baking soda soak here would be much faster. But also long lasting. I always allow a couploe of weeks after making a change to assess the plant's response.

Be careful with the liquid fertilizer. This can easily be overdosed, harming not only the plants but fish if any are present here.
 

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