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Old 02-24-2023, 01:31 PM   #1
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Brown spots on leaves

Hi everyone. Hope you are well. First post here.

So I am pretty brand new to aquarium keeping. I've done research and such, but I'm learning there's nothing quite like experience.

That aside, I have been struggling with my plants dying. I added a CO2 bottle diffuser thing, but it leaked out overnight when I had closed it so I'm not trying that again. Instead, I've started using a liquid CO2 additive, and that seems to be helping my plants.

I do use a little bit of fertilizer occasionally, but I try not to add too much because I accidentally caused a hair algae bloom a while back. Oops.

My newest problem seems to be with my water wisteria (at least I think it is water wisteria). The leaves have developed brown spots with yellow rings around them. And some of leaves have semi transparent smears. I attached a photo of the leaves to help with diagnosing the issue.

Some additional info: my wisteria is not planted in the substrate. It just kind floats/is lightly anchored to a rock by its tangle of roots.

I also have 5 endlers, 3 Cory cats, and one assassin snail in the tank. Plus a couple java ferns and one tiny plant (size of a penny, don't remember the name).
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SelenaRH is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2023, 03:23 PM   #2
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I can't help diagnose the issue you are having but I just wanted to comment because I was told on this forum a few days ago that the ingredients in liquid CO2 are toxic to fish.

Post #4 in this thread https://www.aquariumadvice.com/forum...on-380980.html
niawomad is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2023, 05:08 PM   #3
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Hi and welcome to the forum

Can we get a picture of the entire tank to see how many plants are in it?

Liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) for aquariums is usually Glutaraldehyde, which is a disinfectant and can kill fish and other aquatic organisms.

There is plenty of CO2 in most aquariums and it is produced all day every day by the filter bacteria, fish and other inhabitants, as well as from the atmosphere. Unless you have lots of fast growing true aquatic plants, add lots of aquarium plant fertiliser, and have lots of bright light, there is no point adding CO2. Plants need all of these things to be in balance and if you add CO2 without bright light or fertiliser, it won't make any difference.

CO2 can also drop the pH of the water extremely quickly if you add too much or don't have enough carbonate hardness (KH) in the water. If the pH drops rapidly, the fish can die from acidosis.

Too much CO2 can cause the fish to suffocate or slowly die from CO2 poisoning.

If you have a lot of aeration in the aquarium, it will bubble out excess CO2.


Plant fertiliser is more important than CO2, which is already in the tank. Depending on the plants will determine how much you need to give them. If you have slow growing plants, you don't need to add as much fertiliser or as often. If you have lots of fast growing plants, you might need to fertilise several times a week.

I prefer to use an iron (Fe) based aquarium plant fertiliser and monitor the iron levels. Keep the iron level around 1mg/l (1ppm) and most plants do quite well with that.


What sort of light is on the tank?
What is the Kelvin rating of the globes (it will be a number with K after it, eg: 6500K)?
How often is the light on for?


The plant in the picture looks like it has a disease. It could also have been grown out of water and the terrestrial leaves are dying off. You could cut that leaf off and see how it goes, but if it's a disease, it is probably right through the plant and will continue to cause spots and the leaf/ leaves to die.
Colin_T is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2023, 05:11 PM   #4
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Stress from tank lights coming on when the room is dark can be an issue. Fish don't have eyelids and don't tolerate going from complete dark to bright light (or vice versa) instantly.

In the morning open the curtains or turn the room light on at least 30 minutes (or more) before turning the tank light on. This will reduce the stress on the fish and they won't go from a dark tank to a bright tank instantly.

At night turn the room light on and then turn the tank light off. Wait at least 30 minutes (or more) before turning the room light out. This allows the fish to settle down for the night instead of going from a brightly lit tank to complete darkness instantly.

Try to have the lights on at the same time each day. Use a timer if possible.

If you don't have live plants in the tank, you only need the light on for a few hours in the evening. You might turn them on at 4 or 5pm and off at 9pm.

If you do have live plants in the tank, you can have the lights on for 8-16 hours a day but the fish and plants need 8 hours of darkness to rest. Most people with live plants in their aquarium will have the lights on for 8-12 hours a day.


Most aquarium plants like a bit of light and if you only have the light on for a couple of hours a day, they struggle. If the light doesn't have a high enough wattage they also struggle. Try having the tank lights on for 10-12 hours a day.

If you get lots of green algae then reduce the light by an hour a day and monitor the algae over the next 2 weeks.
If you don't get any green algae on the glass then increase the lighting period by an hour and monitor it.
If you get a small amount of algae then the lighting time is about right.

Some plants will close their leaves up when they have had sufficient light. Ambulia, Hygrophilas and a few others close their top set of leaves first, then the next set and so on down the stem. When you see this happening, wait an hour after the leaves have closed up against the stem and then turn lights off.

Plant lights should have equal amount of red and blue light and a bit less green light.


If you have two light units on the tank, put them on timers and have one come on first, then an hour later the second one can come on. It will be less stressful for the fish.

In the evening, turn the first light off and wait an hour, then have the second light go out.

If the lights have a low, medium and high intensity setting, have them on low in the morning, then increase it to medium after a couple of hours, and then high for the main part of the day. In the evening, reverse this and have the medium setting for a few hours, then low. Then turn the lights off.


Some good plants to try include Ambulia, Hygrophila polysperma, H. ruba/ rubra, Elodia (during summer, but don't buy it in winter because it falls apart), Hydrilla, common Amazon sword plant, narrow or twisted/ spiral Vallis, Water Sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides/ cornuta).

The Water Sprite normally floats on the surface but can also be planted in the substrate. The other plants should be planted in the gravel.

Ambulia, H. polysperma, Elodia/ Hydrilla and Vallis are tall plants that do well along the back. Rotala macranda is a medium/ tallish red plant that usually does well.

H. ruba/ rubra is a medium height plant that looks good on the sides of the tank.

Cryptocorynes are small/ medium plants that are taller than pygmy chain swords but shorter than H. rubra. They also come in a range of colours, mostly different shades of green, brown or purplish red. Crypts are not the easiest plant to grow but can do well if they are healthy to begin with and are not disturbed after planting in the tank.

Most Amazon sword plants can get pretty big and are usually kept in the middle of the tank as a show piece. There is an Ozelot sword plant that has brown spots on green leaves, and a red ruffle sword plant (name may vary depending on where you live) with deep red leaves.

There is a pygmy chain sword plant that is small and does well in the front of the tank.


We use to grow some plants (usually swords, crypts, Aponogetons and water lilies) in 1 or 2 litre plastic icecream containers. You put an inch of gravel in the bottom of the container, then spread a thin layer of granulated garden fertiliser over the gravel. Put a 1/4inch (6mm) thick layer of red/ orange clay over the fertiliser. Dry the clay first and crush it into a powder. Then cover that with more gravel.

You put the plants in the gravel and as they grow, their roots hit the clay and fertiliser and they take off and go nuts. The clay stops the fertiliser leaching into the water.

You can smear silicon on the outside of the buckets and stick gravel or sand to them so it is less conspicuous. Or you can let algae grow on them and the containers turn green.


We did plants in pots for a couple of reasons.
1) I was working in an aquaculture facility and we grew and sold live plants to shops. Some of the shops wanted advanced plants in pots so we did that.

2) Plants like sword plants love nutrients and have big root systems so they needed more gravel and big pots. When given ideal conditions these plants would produce lots of runners with new plants on and we got more plants to sell.

3) Most of the tanks only had a thin layer of substrate that was nowhere near thick enough for plants to grow in so having them in pots allowed us to grow plants in tanks with minimal gravel in the tank.


Lots of plants are sold as aquarium plants and most are marsh plants that do really well when their roots are in water and the rest of the plant is above water. Some marsh plants will do well underwater too.

Hair grass is not a true aquatic plant, neither is Anubias.

Some common marsh plants include Amazon sword plants, Cryptocorynes, Hygrophila sp, Rotala sp, Ludwigia sp, Bacopa sp. These plant do reasonably well underwater.

True aquatic plants include Ambulia, Cabomba, Hornwort, Elodia, Hydrilla and Vallis.

The main difference between marsh plants and true aquatic plants is the stem. True aquatics have a soft flexible stem with air bubbles in it. These bubbles help the plant float and remain buoyant in the water column.

Marsh plants have a rigid stem and these plants can remain standing upright when removed from water. Whereas true aquatic plants will fall over/ collapse when removed from water.


If you add an iron based aquarium plant fertiliser, it will help most aquarium plants do well. The liquid iron based aquarium plant fertilisers tend to be better than the tablet forms, although you can push the tablets under the roots of plants and that works well.

You use an iron (Fe) test kit to monitor iron levels and keep them at 1mg/l (1ppm).

I used Sera Florena liquid plant fertiliser but there are other brands too.


There is no point adding carbon dioxide (CO2) until you have the lights and nutrients worked out. Even then you don't need CO2 unless the tank is full of plants and only has a few small fish in.

There is plenty of CO2 in the average aquarium and it is produced by the fish and filter bacteria all day, every day. The plants also release CO2 at night when it is dark. And more CO2 gets into the tank from the atmosphere.

Don't use liquid CO2 supplements because they are made from toxic substances that harm fish, shrimp and snails.


Some pet shops sell aquatic plant substrates that are meant to improve plant growth. Most don't do anything except add a lot of ammonia to the water and eventually turn into a brown mud on the bottom. Since the majority of aquatic plants take in the nutrients they need via their leaves, having a plant substrate is not going to help much. There are exceptions to this and laterite (red clay) can sometimes be added to the gravel to increase the iron level for the plants taking in nutrients via their roots. But for most plant tanks, all you need is gravel on the bottom of the tank.

Most aquatic plants need at least 2 inches of substrate to grow in and some need 3-4 inches.
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brown, brown spots, leaves, spot

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