Aquarium plants dying? Here's why.

Aquarium plants dying? Here's why.


Sounds familiar?

It is to me. But then I am on the receiving end but if you go onto forums you'll see this sort of statement all the time. I often here the same reason as to why aquarium plants are dying and it's normally due to the fact that they have algae. They've been told (normally by shops) they need to starve the algae. Advice like this is sooooo old school yet the message is continually advised from shop owners who in my opinion clearly don't know what is best.

So hobbyists follow the advice given to starve their algae and totally stop the nutrients they are putting in. Algae dies back a little and plants totally disintegrate - the reason why is simply


you've just starved your plants to death...

My advice to anyone who is looking for advice is speak to experts, like us (and a few others) who know what is best, and not generic shops which peddle out these toxic messages. If your plants are dying you need to first work out why. First, are they actually aquatic plants? Sounds a funny thing to ask but there are still a lot of shops that sell non aquatic plants! This only adds to confusion to hobbyists who may be doing everything else right. Below are pictures of a few non aquatic plant - looks nice heh?

Problem is they will last a couple of weeks then start breaking down. These plants should live in your garden or conservatory, not in your tank. So if you have a plant that looks like these (normally they come without plant labels for identification), remove them and start again.

Secondly, are your plants getting the right nutrients? I'm recommending Neutro T for non CO2 tanks and Neutro+ for CO2 infused tanks.Your plants need no other nutrients with these ferts below.

You add these ferts daily because that's what plants want. Just like us, they want feeding every day - not so crazy is it? Feeding weekly is nuts and just marketing spiel to make it appear that the fertilisers are more economical then they actually are.

Are you providing your plants with carbon is gas or liquid form? If not, why not? Carbon is the backbone of plant growth and without it, your plants will suffer. Try Neutro CO2

Are you performing weekly water changes of at least 30%? Plants need clean water unless you want to grow algae and I'm guessing you don't.

If you follow these very basic steps I guarantee that you will have success with the majority of plants. Some that you might struggle with are advanced one's but we'll get onto that at another time.

If you're still having troubles, reply to this post.



Hi Richard,
I am starting an aquascape soon and experimenting with plants in a smaller tank at the moment. I want to ensure I have a manageable tank given I am a beginner!
On fertilisers, you recommend having daily and not weekly ferts. I have 2 questions then:
1- I would assume with a weekly fert that the nutrients stay in the water and are gradually consumed over a week. Plants will take so much during a day depending on light and CO2 but won’t take more and therefore plenty will remain to be used during the following days. I guess it increases the risk of algae but won’t be ineffective won’t it?
2- If you use daily dosage it is a big commitment…How do you do if your are traveling for a few days, or go on holiday for a week or two?


Hi Geraud

1) Having fertilisers just hanging around in a tank until they are used up is always a problem. It’s a bit like having your weeks shopping sat on your kitchen table until you’re ready to eat it. The alternative is to put it in the fridge and only eat what you need when you need it. Same goes for ferts.

2) Is daily dosage really a big commitment? Is brushing your teeth a big commitment? Not really – you’ve just got to get into the habit of doing it and it’s no problem. When running a planted tank you have to commit, just like feeding your fish. Plants need looking after too.

Yes if you go away it’s an issue (only slight though) and the odd day here and there won’t matter if you don’t dose but if you go away for a week or 2 you need to change tact altogether, but that’s an answer for another day :)

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.