Please help identifying the problem with my plants


New Member
20 Aug 2020
Hi all,

I hope someone can help me here resolving the problem with my plants as I’m feeling like I’ve reached the dead end. For the past 2-3 months I’m experiencing few problems like impeded growth, distorted new growth, brown patches on old growth, developing holes on old growth, tears on growing Valisneria leafs. Please see pictures attached. The problem started appearing after I’ve installed CO2 supply. First everything started growing like a crazy as I’ve expected but later after month or so plants have depleted one of important elements and problem started developing.

So my routine is I’m dosing micros and macros daily and once a week on Friday night I do 50% water change, vacuuming gravel and cleaning internal filter (mechanical filtration sponges) to keep water circulation strong and consistent. Every 3 month I do replace root tabs. Last time replaced them 2 weeks ago. From time to time I’m using 5ml of Seachem Excel during water change for algae spot treatment.

My micros are made of CSM+B and daily dose of Fe is 0.04ppm - so weekly total is 0.28ppm.

My macros are made of KNO3, KH2PO4 and K2SO4 and daily dose of:

  • NO3 - 1.61ppm (weekly total 11.27ppm)
  • PO4 - 0.28ppm (weekly total 1.96ppm)
  • K - 2.53ppm (weekly total 17.71ppm)

All micros and macros ingredients are from Aqua Plans Care UK.

Root tabs are pinia balls from Aqua Plants Care UK and root plugs from TNC.

When I do water change I prepare water using 50/50 tap water/RO water (from Spotless Water) + Seachem Prime.

The reason I’m using RO due to present 20ppm NO3 in tap water and to reduce water GH and KH which are:

  • 15GH
  • 10KH
Values taken from water supplier report and confirmed by API test kit. Tap water PH is 8.2

Also water report says that Ca concentration in the tap water is 90ppm.

So more about my fish tank. It’s 80cm width, 35cm height and 35cm tall - 80L but actual water volume is about 50L. It has Eheim BioPower 200 internal filter, Eheim 75w heater, CO2 injection through in tank flux bazooka diffuser, Jebao auto dosing pump for ferts, factory fitted LED light which is 9Watt. I’m considering it as medium/low light. Fish tank age is 10months.

Lights are running 5hours in the morning then 2 hours break then another 5hours totalling 10hours daily photoperiod.

Tank is occupied by 7 neons tetra, 5 black neons, 2 guppies, 1 SAE and 1 pleko.

I’m growing Valisneria, Anubias nana, Anubias petite, Anubias barteri and Hygrophila Compacta.

I’m using plain gravel.

Water params are (roughly as I’m using API Water Test Kit):

  • 8.2 PH before CO2 and 7PH with CO2
  • 14GH
  • 9kH
  • CO2 drop checker lime green
  • Ammonia 0ppm
  • Nitrite 0ppm
  • Nitrate 20ppm
  • Phosphate 2ppm

For the past two weeks I have additionally dosed during the week:

  • 5ppm of MgSO4 to try fixing leaf edges curling upwards on hygrophila
  • 6ml of Seachem Flourish Comprehensive to increase Fe and B levels trying to fix new distorted growth which was lacking green pigment
  • and 20ppm of K2SO4 to try fixing developing holes on Anubias barteri and petite and hygrophila
None of the above worked.

I’m considering my next step to reduce macros dose by half to reduce PO4 to 1ppm and reduce K while my plants can’t use it and it’s just building up. And I can see that algae is taking advantage of the current situation. Also I read that K and Mg overdose can lead to Ca deficiency. It does look like currently I have either Ca or B deficiency. I just can’t find the blocker element :(

P.S. The last attached photo shows when everything was growing well.
Last edited:


New Member
20 Aug 2020
From my own observation, excel damages Val very easily
Yes I’m aware of that. But I used to have Excel as main source of carbon dosing 5ml daily and there was no issues with Valls. Only Elodea and rabbit snails didn’t survive the dose. Of course my first dose was 1ml but then gradually through the month I raised it up to 5ml and everything was growing OK but that was still not enough and I switched to CO2 injection.


New Member
20 Aug 2020
Just wanted to share my joy of success as it seems that I’ve managed to recover my plants. Also I’d like to share my experience with anyone who is experiencing similar issues.

First of all I decided to increase the light intensity by pruning and shifting around some plants to reduce created shade as much as possible. My Vallisneria and Hygrophila where covering most of the water surface. Now Vallisneria lives in far end corner and it’s leaves are creating shade by the front glass were no other plants grow. Hygrophila has now the shorter stems and contained in the small bush in the opposite corner. Also I’ve removed the siesta time and switched to consistent 10 hours photoperiod.

Next I decided to improve CO2 distribution and concentration. Pruning plants already improved the distribution. Also I’ve reduced water surface movement and slightly increased water flow from the filter. Then I set CO2 to turn on 3 hours before light will switch on. This change ensured that drop checker gets lime green towards yellowish not later than two hours into photoperiod.

And the last thing is fertilisation. I’ve increased Mg to 10ppm a week by adding it into the water during the weekly water change. This makes fresh water Ca:Mg ratio 3:1 after mixing tap water with RO and adding Mg. I have reduced NO3 to 15ppm a week, PO4 to 1ppm a week and K to 9ppm a week and Fe (CSM+B) to 0.1ppm a week. My only suspicion is that I was overdosing K which was causing Ca deficiency.

In the end I’ve planted Vallisneria Americana and Java moss to cover holes after shifting big Vallisneria and pruning Hygrophila.

Image attached with improved picture of the plants

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