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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,

I converted my 10 gallon to a NPT a few weeks ago. Since then, my little echinodorus ozelot has totally melted. All the leaves are now gone, and I have no idea whether anything is alive at all. I haven't uprooted the plant, because I'm hoping that it'll spring back from the dead somehow, but I'm starting to doubt that will happen.

The only major change in the tank was the addition of the soil layer. Otherwise the lighting is the same, the water chemistry is nearly the same (PH, KH, GH all constant, but there is a lot more phosphate in the water, because that comes out of the soil I used). There is now less water movement, but I don't think that would kill it.

I was very careful when uprooting the plant from the gravel and planting it into the soil, but I am sure there would have been some damage. I didn't think it would die, though.

Has anyone else experienced total meltdown of a similar plant when adding a soil underlayer?

I'm not sure whether I should consider getting another of these or not. I do like the plant, but if there is something about the current conditions it can't tolerate, I won't bother.

Any suggestions or similar experiences?
 

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Helen,

This is a WAG since I have never had a NPT tank or used a soil substrate but since you say your new tank is high in phosphates as a result of your soil, were you supplementing any additional nitrates? In the past, I have bottomed out my nitrates after increasing my phosphate dosing. Higher PO4 levels will usually cause the plants to take up more nitrates. If you were lacking in nitrates, the sword may have actually lost its leaves as a result of a nitrate deficiency.

Are any other plants in the tank affected by the soil?

What other plants are you keeping in the tank?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I haven't been adding any nitrates, no. That's not commonly done with NPTs, though I have heard of it.

In any case, the nitrates in this tank haven't gotten below 5ppm, and mostly seem to sit around 10ppm at the moment, though I do expect that to gradually fall. The plants are also getting a decent amount of ammonia, as there is very little biological filtration in the form of media for bacteria to live on. It's all about the plants.

Other plants in the tank include the following:

- duckweed (growing fast)
- some little brown crypt, don't know what it is (growing slowly, maybe not growing much yet since the move, but definitely not dying)
- hygro (growing very fast - I keep having to trim it)
- willow hygro (growing fast)
- echinodorus tenellus (growing, which is an improvement on previously, when it was not)
- java moss (growing faster than before)
- hygro rosanerva (growing moderately, about the same as before)
- green temple (another hygro variety, I don't know the species - growing about as fast as before, which is fast)
- stricta (is that a hygro? it looks like one to me - growing moderately, as before)
- purple stricta (hasn't been there long enough for me to tell).

As you can see, fast-growing stem plants tend to be the ones that do the best for me, especially hygro varieties.

While the different plants are clearly responding diferently to the new conditions, none of them have even lost any leaves, that I know of, except this sword. However the only other really rooty thing I have is the crypt, I think. Most of the other things are stem plants, except for the tenellus, and I don't know whether that has gotten roots down as far as the soil yet.

I was hoping to make the crypt and the ozelot into the "feature plants" of this aquarium, with a background of hygro-ish things, and a foreground with the tenellus. It seems my plan was not to be...
 

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Right, I understand adding fertilizers is not part of the NPT equation but sometimes it becomes a necessity in order to save a plant. Since the sword was uprooted it is possible the roots were damaged and it was not able to uptake enough nutrients through the damaged roots.

It is also hard to judge what certain fertilizers (ammonia, nitrates, etc) are in the water column at any given time other than the exact moment the water is tested. Test kits have a degree of error in their accuracy also. With the high end LaMotte nitrate kit I believe this is +/-4ppm and lower quality test kits can have a greater degree of error. I'm not trying to argue the above points with you, but rather giving you some options to look into.

Another question for you, how much light do you have over the tank? It is my understanding that NPT tanks tend to rely on natural light and use minimal supplemental light. Most of the plants you have, mainly the hygros, can probably get by and even grow with less light than sword plants. Crypts and Java Moss will definitely get by with less light than a sword and sometimes I think Duckweed can grow without any light ;) I ask about the light because I have had many hygro species (Ceylon, Sunset, difformis, etc) grow 4-6 inches over the course of a 3 day blackout. Not so much growth but the plants are reaching for where the light should be. A lack of light could possibly be the cause and is only suggested because I don't know your light levels ;)

A combination of any or all of the above items (not enough light, not enough fertilizers, damaged roots, etc) could have resulted in the demise of your sword plant. I would check out the root system of the sword. If it is white and healthy, it should come back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I understand the nitrate could be lower (or higher) than I thought, but I don't think that would have killed a plant so quickly if so. The nitrate level has, according to my API drop test kit, been gradually dropping since I converted the tank to NPT, but that was only about a month ago. The plant started to melt almost immediately on replanting, at which time the nitrate was about where the tank had been before. So I don't think that is the case in this situation.

The lighting I have is 2 8W T5s over a 10 gallon tank, plus a little natural light that is now coming in from the top of the tank, from where I removed the trickle filter. The daylight is coming in from the back, and the sword is planted at the front, so I don't think its overall light levels have changed much, though they would be slightly increased.

Do you think it possible that the plant died because so much more fertilizer was available from the soil, compared to its previous situation of gravel+mulm+root_tabs? If anything I would say it now has access to much more fertilizer, through its roots, than any time previously (which could explain why it has hardly grown since I had it - it was in relatively nutrient-poor substrate for all that time). I understand that the roots would have been damaged, but would they have been so damaged that they wouldn't be able to take anything in?

Do you suggest uprooting the plant to check its roots? I am more inclined to leave the remains be and wait. Either it will sprout again (in how long?) or not. If there is nothing there by the time the e. tenellus reaches that position (not going to happen soon), then I guess I'll give up on it. I've removed most, but not all of the rotting leaves, but will vaccum the rest as they detach from the rest of the plant.

Thanks very much for your suggestions. I appreciate them.
 

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are the roots alive?

I thought it was natural for echinodorus to melt when they're put in a new environment... Just let it be and hopefully new leaves will grow out.

It doesn't sound like a Nitrogen deficiency.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
are the roots alive?

I thought it was natural for echinodorus to melt when they're put in a new environment... Just let it be and hopefully new leaves will grow out.

It doesn't sound like a Nitrogen deficiency.
I don't know how to tell if the roots are alive without damaging them if they are. I'd rather wait and see.

I am inexperienced with plants, and might be totally wrong, but I've read all about crypt melt, and didn't expect a sword to be as fragile as a crypt. However in this tank, the crypt is fine, even growing new leaves, whereas the sword is melted.

I guess I'm learning...

If it doesn't come back in a couple of months, would you assume it's dead? If so, would you try the same species in that spot? If I've lost this one I'd like to get another one day.
 

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hi helenf:

lots of plants die off when they are transplanted or moved. I've had many crypts die off only to come back within a couple of weeks. Same thing with my friend's A. fenestralis that he got in the mail. However, I don't know if sword plants do this. I'd keep an eye on things and if it isn't coming back after a month or so, I'd assume it's dead.

-ricardo
 

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I was hoping to make the crypt and the ozelot into the "feature plants" of this aquarium, with a background of hygro-ish things, and a foreground with the tenellus. It seems my plan was not to be...
Ah, plants can foil the best laid plans of us mortals.

It is so hard to predict ahead of time which plants will work and which won't. That's why I always recommend that beginners start out with many plant species and find the ones that do best in their setup. In your case, you've got many doing well. That's great!

Try not to set your hopes on one or two plant species. They just may not do well. Then again, wait awhile and try again. Once your tank is established, substrate conditions may change so that an Ozelot may do well.
 

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I've had the same thing... all my tanks are El natural and cryps and swords usually do very well, since they're root plants... but I've had one tank in which both cryps and swords just melted away...

The crypts did come back tho, but the swords didn't do anything until I cheated and gave them some fertilizer pills directly under thiere roots... that got them started, shouldn't be nessecary tho... But it worked!
 

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yea, my big amazon sword melted when I moved it. came back fine.

I've had ozelots do fine in soil, so I'd just keep an eye on it.

My ozelot did die in my 125 gallon NPT. got crowded out by sag subulata I think. That stuff grows like a weed in NPTs.
 
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