Why is my Cryptocoryne plant melting?
You just planted your new cryptocoryne (or crypt) plant in the aquarium, and it looks perfect for the first few days. But then you notice that a few leaves aren’t performing well. Maybe they are turning yellow-brown, have large gaping holes, or are simply withering away. Soon, the whole plant appears as naked as a maple leaf in winter. This is common for cryptocorynes. It is sometimes called “crypt melt”.
Crypts, like many aquatic plants, are sensitive to water changes. They absorb their leaves as they adapt to new conditions. They “eat” the old leaves, which gives them energy to make new roots and create new leaves that can absorb nutrients and light.
Why is my Crypt Plant dying?
Crypt melt most frequently occurs in newly purchased plants. Commercial farms often produce emersed-grown aquarium plants, where the leaves are in open air and only the roots are covered in water. This allows the plants to grow faster and more quickly because they can access light and carbon dioxide (CO2) from air better than from water. Growing the plants out of water also protects the leaves from algae growth, pest snails, and fish diseases.
To encourage faster growth and reduce algae, plant farms keep their aquatic plants out of water.
When you buy an emersed-grown cryptocoryne and put it fully underwater, the crypt must transition into a submersed-grown plant that is accustomed to absorbing light and CO2 from the water. All the thick, broad, emersed leaves usually melt away, and smaller, thinner, submersed leaves appear in their stead. Aquarium Co-Op tries to accelerate this process by providing our crypts with plenty of light and CO2 injection prior to they are sold. If your cryptocoryne starts to melt after it is planted at home, don’t throw it out. You should start to see tiny shoots within weeks, as long as the roots are healthy and it isn’t moved after being planted. Once you see new growth, make sure the crypt has enough lighting and root tab fertilizer to continue building submersed-grown leaves.
What to do with melted leaves. Rotting leaves can sometimes cause nitrogen spikes or algae growth, so it’s best to remove them unless your clean-up crew members consume the dead leaf first.
The larger, emersed-grown leaves usually melt first, and then smaller, submersed-grown leaves begin sprouting from the substrate.
Why Are My Established Crypts Melting?
Sometimes cryptocoryne plants may experience melting seemingly randomly, despite growing well in your fish tank for many months. As I mentioned before, crypts are highly susceptible to environmental changes like shifts in.
– Water quality – Water change frequency – Location (e.g., moving the crypt) – Lighting – Fertilizer dosing – Temperature during hot summers – CO2 injection – Fish food – Pollutants in the air
To survive the transition period, you can either prune the leaves one by one as they melt, or you can trim all the leaves back to the substrate. In theory, this latter method makes the crypt focus on making new leaves instead of trying to save the old ones. The aquarium environment should be kept as stable as possible. Wait several weeks for the cryptocoryne plant to return. Also, remember that while the crypts are melting or pruned back, your fish tank is more prone to an algae bloom because the crypts are no longer consuming as many nutrients in the water. You can add floating and fast-growing plants as well as stem plants to reduce algae growth.
Do not immediately throw away a melted crypt, but rather wait at least three to four weeks to see if the plant will recover and send out new shoots.
You can find out how to properly plant your Cryptocoryne here.
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