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  • 3 min read

    The Problem With Upgrades

    Making upgrades to tank equipment or changing to better quality fertilisers is always exciting. You expect an improvement in your plants – better or faster growth, brighter colours – but sometimes they unexpectedly start looking worse!
    It can be puzzling to see your plants suddenly begin deteriorating rapidly when you imagined they would be growing vigorously under these new and improved conditions. Why is this happening? Shouldn’t the plants be happy?
    The fact is that your plants are adapting to the new conditions in your aquarium. To do this, they cast off old leaves that won’t be able to adapt, absorbing their nutrients as they do. The plants’ energy is put into creating new growth that can make the most of the new conditions. New growth on plants is continuously adjusted to meet the parameters of your aquarium, so the more stable your conditions, the better and more consistent growth you will get.

    Out with the Old
    Old leaves are never given priority by plants as they grow, and if any of the older leaves are damaged or deficient, they’ll never get better – plants generally don’t heal old tissue as the focus is always on new growth.
    Fertiliser and lighting upgrades will not make old, discoloured or algae-ridden leaves suddenly perk up and look like the new growth. In reality, the plant will rid itself of these underperforming leaves in favour of fresh new ones.
    When observing your plants, always look for new growth instead of focusing on the old. If new growth is healthy and appears as you would expect, you’re doing well!
    With stem plants, once a reasonable amount of new growth has emerged, just trim the healthy top portion off and replant it. You can remove the lower stem section altogether. If you decide to leave the lower section where it is, new growth should look great but the old growth will remain the same, so it’s not recommended. LCA Biostim can be a great addition at this stage to give replanted stems a boost.
    For plants like swords, crypts, ferns, anubias and buce, leaves that are healthy enough will often improve their appearance and outcompete algae when upgrades are made. Leaves that are decaying or overrun with algae will likely deteriorate further or start melting as the plant sheds them. The best option here is to remove any older leaves that are too far gone and keep an eye out for any new growth. Removing any decaying matter also helps keep dissolved organics low and algae at bay. Spot dosing LCA Carbon Plus or regular daily full tank dosing can also be helpful in inhibiting algae on leaves.

    Points to Remember
    If you make an upgrade to your planted aquarium and suddenly plants start to look worse for wear, don’t panic! It’s likely they’re adapting to the changed conditions. Keep an eye out for new growth. If it looks healthy, you’re doing fine.
    If new growth doesn’t look healthy, you may need to look into adjusting your fertilisation, lighting or CO2 injection. These all go hand-in-hand – change one and you’ll need to change the others to achieve balance.
    Remove old growth from stems and replant the new stem tops. Any severely damaged leaves from slow growers should be removed, as with swords and echinodorus species.
    From The LCA Team
    Every Solution For Your Aquarium