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[APD] Crypt meltdown


I'm long time lurker, and I've got a 38gal with red and green crypts, 
narrow and regular java ferns, and java moss.  It's low light (one 3' 
tube, probably a couple of years old now), no CO2, Fluorite substrate, 
constant spray water change, sump filter that feeds into a RUGF, flow 
seems the same as always.  Over the four years or so I've had it going all 
the plants have been growing slow but steady -- until a couple of days 

Now all of a sudden over a two day span every single crypt has melted 
right down to the gravel.  Been using a big fish net to scoop up all the 
mush off the bottom.  What factor could have changed to trigger such a 
complete and sudden meltdown???  The number of fish (dozen harlequin 
rasboras, four striated botias, four otos, one betta) has changed little 
over the past couple of years (one rasbora died in the last six-months 
that I know of), the hand-full of Amano shrimp who have survived from the 
start still seem happy as normal.  The rasboras seem to like the extra 
elbow room now, the rest of the denizens seem none too fond of the Agent 
Orange look, but are not acting stressed.  Still feeding the same as 
always, same minimal fert routine as always: Flourish, Equilibrium, KH2PO4 
(the KH2PO4 was the last thing that I've changed with this tank, started 
adding it last summer to try to cut down on the algae, seems to have 

I would think with the constant drip water change that the system would 
have reached equilibrium long ago.  The only thing I can think of that 
might have changed would be the temp of the tank since it is not in an 
ACed room, but it is hot now like it has been all summer.  I have a 5gal 
tank that I put some of the crypts into when I thinned them out a bit last 
winter (the rasboras were running out of swimming space!) and they are 
just fine (same constant water change system).  The difference is the 5gal 
has one of those heater/chiller combo units.  Even though it's still hot 
as it has been all summer, could it be a temp fluctuation trigger?

Any idea what caused the crash so I'd know what to keep an eye on in the 
future -- or will need to change in my setup?  If something slowly drifted 
out of the crypt's range why the sudden crash, and why now after the tank 
has seemed stable for so long?  Did the slow plant growth reach some 
critical mass that all of a sudden over-ran the ferts?  Is the RUGF a bad 
thing over the long run?  If so I would have expected the otos or shrimp 
to indicate something was wrong first.

And will the crypts grow back?

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