Brown Spots on Aquarium Plants, Reasons and Remedies!

There are many benefits to growing live plants in your aquarium. Not only do they make your fish’s habitat healthier, but they also improve water quality by removing excess nutrients and aerating the water. Live plants add new complexity to any aquarium design, but they don’t have to be low-maintenance. Brown spots on aquarium plants are a classic problem.

Indeed, there are many possible reasons for your plants to turn brown. Light, water conditions and other factors play an important role in plant growth. You are most likely doing something wrong with your plant care. Just because your plant doesn’t look healthy doesn’t mean it can’t be saved.

In this article, I’ll explain why your plants turn brown. Knowing how your plants grow this way will help your plants look green, healthy and fresh again. Plus, I’ll share with you some important maintenance tips to keep your greenery looking its best!

Why do aquarium plants turn brown

The beautiful green foliage is perfect for viewing in an underwater environment. But if you don’t take good care of your plants, they will gradually lose their vitality and turn a sickly brown color.

1. Nutritional deficiencies

One possible explanation for the discoloration of the leaves is nutrient deficiencies. If your plant lacks essential nutrients, it will turn brown and wilt. In some cases, your plants will even die.

Your water may be missing many micro- and macronutrients. Plants mainly need magnesium, nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus to survive underwater. Without these important macronutrients, your plants will not grow underwater.

Deficiencies of these and other nutrients can cause a range of symptoms. Of course, your plants will turn brown. However, some areas may even turn yellow or black when your plants start to rot.
For example, too little phosphorus can cause plants to shrink and develop dark brown spots.

Also, most plants don’t need many micronutrients, but if they don’t, they can go necrotic. This is a type of plant rot that turns your leaves brown and black. If the plant is iron deficient, you will see these effects. A lack of carbon dioxide can also cause leaves to discolor.

There are many simple solutions to this problem. Indeed, the best way to ensure your plants are not starved of nutrients is to fertilize your tank. However, other reasons may cause your plants not to absorb nutrients. But I’ll get to that later.

2. Insufficient light

Another common cause of brown plant leaves is improper lighting. New facility owners make the mistake of overlighting their facilities. This can cause the plants to wilt and brown. Aquarium owners also make the mistake of letting their plants get very little light. Lack of light can turn plants brown.

Sometimes the lack of light can even bring out brown algae on the plants. This algal growth makes your water and plants unhealthy. So again make sure you have light in your tank.

If you don’t provide your plant with the right amount of light, it won’t thrive in its aquatic environment. Do your research and make sure you’re providing the correct light levels.

3. Don’t Grow Vegetables Correctly

If you’re new to aquatic plants, you’ll want to do your research. Each plant has its own unique requirements and growing methods. If you don’t study the plant you get and end up planting it wrong, its leaves will turn brown.

So make sure the water conditions are right for your plants. You want to find the right climate for your plants, the required pH, and other relevant information.

Also, make sure to properly plant the roots of the plant. Some plants cannot be buried deep in the substrate. Other plants need to penetrate deep into the substrate to properly root. Failure to take proper steps to root the plant can spoil the appearance of the leaves.

4. Your water tank is not clean enough

The next cause is one of the most common causes of brown plants. If your tank water isn’t clean, you can’t expect your plants to stay in good shape. Fish create various wastes and pollutants in your aquarium water.

Of course, plants can help neutralize some of these. But when there are too many nitrates and toxins in the water column, your plants can’t keep up. With too much dirt in the tank, the plants will start to wilt and become unhealthy.

So you want to keep your aquarium in good shape, not only for your plants but also for your fish. Also, make sure your water is properly treated. Trace amounts of chlorine in tap water can actually cause plants to turn brown. But I’ll talk more about keeping your plants in the right water conditions later in the post.

5. Your factory is not adapting to the new environment

Sometimes you don’t do anything wrong. Your plant is properly placed in your tank, it is getting enough light and nutrients, and the water conditions are good. However, plants that grow above water may take some time to adapt to underwater conditions.

Their greens may wilt and turn brown initially. But don’t worry about that. Some plants “melt” when they are first introduced to the aquarium. You will get rid of the leaves that are growing on the water surface and eventually grow new leaves that are suitable for your aquarium.

Just be patient and wait for them to turn green again. In this case, the only thing you can do is to ensure that your water conditions are ideal.

Additional Causes for Brown Aquarium Plants

Nutritional deficiencies are not the only reason for aquatic plants to turn brown or die. As I mentioned above, your overall water quality, lighting conditions and substrate also play a role in the health of your plants.

Poor Aquarium Maintenance

Learn that planted aquariums require more frequent water changes than pure fish tanks. When I started my first plant community, I made the mistake of changing the water only once a month as usual. Not surprisingly, my plants did not perform well at first.

When I started doing more frequent water changes and adding ammonia remover to my filtration system, my plants started growing. I don’t know how to diagnose a specific nutrient deficiency, so I use a balanced fertilizer after every water change. This could be all you need to do to fix your brown plant problem!

Insufficient light conditions

In the past, if you wanted a thriving planted aquarium, you had to invest in the best light setup and replace the bulbs frequently. With modern LED aquarium lights, things get cheaper and you don’t have to replace the diodes as often. As long as your plants get the right spectrum, they should thrive!

However, it depends on your plant. Easy-to-grow aquatic plants tend to be less demanding. If you plan to grow a dense aquarium or aquarium, or want more challenging plants, you may need higher quality light to support their growth. However, too much light and nutrients can cause algae problems!

Substrates not suitable for growing aquariums

Or establishing a pure fish colony, your substrate is usually not a critical choice to worry about. However, planted aquariums rely on substrates to provide nutrients and support bacterial colonies that break down ammonia into usable nitrates. You can even stop your plants from thriving if you choose a sandy substrate!

Brown Spots on Aquarium Plants, Reasons and Remedies
Brown Spots on Aquarium Plants, Reasons and Remedies

How to make brown plants green again

Most plants, but not all, can absorb nutrients from the surrounding water. So make sure you have the right substrate in your aquarium.

1. Make sure you plant it right

Some greens are easier to grow than others. They may just need to be attached to driftwood or other aquarium objects. However, if you’re using a substrate, you’ll need to make sure your plants are rooting properly.

First, make sure your substrate is free of lumps. If your plant takes nutrients from its roots and the substrate is too compact, it won’t be able to fend for itself. Some plants can absorb nutrients from the water column, but not all can, so make sure your substrate is properly placed in your tank!

Next, as I mentioned earlier, research your plant species. You want to bury the roots of the plant properly. Aquarium Plants cannot be buried deeply or parts of plants cannot be placed in the substrate. Other plants should not be placed in the substrate in the first place.

2. Check the lighting level in the aquarium

Likewise, you want to light your plants properly. This brings it back to a healthy green hue. Plants with insufficient light will wither and die. So make sure you have a good LED system to light your plants. Some tank lights are not powerful enough for your plant.

You may even need to purchase a more intense lighting setup, especially if your facility has high lighting needs. Just look online to see how much light your particular plant needs.

Once you have the right amount of light in your tank, brown algae will stop growing on your plants. This will help your plant leaves return to their normal color.

3. Add fertilizer or CO2 to your tank (trim if overfilled)

Some people make the mistake of not using fertilizer in their grow pots. As I mentioned before, Aquarium Plants need nutrients to grow and thrive. Without key nutrients like magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and other macro and micronutrients, your plants will turn brown.

Fertilizer helps bring these nutrients into your tank. Some plants benefit from liquid fertilizers, while others do better with base fertilizers. However, you should choose fertilizers based on your plant type.
However, don’t add too much fertilizer. They can also turn brown if you overfeed the plants. So read the directions on the product label and put in the right amount of fertilizer.

If your plants are still a bit brownish, you can try injecting carbon dioxide into your tank. Without proper carbon dioxide levels, some plants will turn brown.

>> See more: Anthurium Leaves have brown

4. Use a filter and clean your tank

This is one of the most important steps you can take to improve the color and health of your plants. Flora needs ideal water conditions to grow and look vibrant. But if you put them in dirty or contaminated water, they will break down.

If you don’t use an aquarium filter, you should buy one for your aquarium. If you already have a filter, try changing the filter element. If you forget to replace the filter, your tank will get dirtier. You want ammonia and other toxins to go down in your tank.
Also, watch for floating debris and remove it. Spoiled substances can contaminate your water and increase nitrate levels. Debris may be hidden in the crevices of the substrate, so be sure to vacuum the gravel.

5. Make sure your tank equipment is working properly

Sometimes, if your tank equipment isn’t working, your plant can turn brown. You want the best product in your jar so that doesn’t happen. Cheaper aquarium equipment can cause malfunctions.

A filter not working properly can affect the health of the plant. So make sure your filters and other equipment are in good working order. When tank equipment stops working, they change your tank settings. This results in poor plant growth.

The device should be connected, working properly, and of the best quality. If you want to make them even better, you need to invest in your plants!

6. Change the water

If all else fails, try changing the water. By taking some aquarium water, you can solve many of the problems I mentioned in the previous sections. You can reduce the amount of waste and eliminate impurities that brown your plants.

Water changes can also help with over-fertilizing plant pots. You can reduce excess fertilizer and get your plants back to normal by changing the water.

Really, you want to change the water regularly. Most tanks should be replaced with 25% water every one to two weeks. However, if you haven’t changed your aquarium water in a while, try changing more water to remove excess dirt and debris.

Sand and colored aquarium gravel lack trace elements and nutrients to support lush plant growth. Sand can also easily build up, creating dead zones that don’t contain oxygen in your aquarium and substrate. recommend using a substrate suitable for growing aquariums, enhanced by a balanced fertilizer!