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Java Fern Melt

Walter Wu wrote:

>At the end of last year, you had some of your java ferns suffering from
>the "meltdown" that other people have also had happen - could you update
>the list with your findings and solution/ cure?  I'd be interested to
>hear an update (since it happens to me every spring in more than one

I can't add a lot more than what I said then.  The tank was clearly
nitrogen deficient at that point, although I can't say for positive that
that caused the melt down.  Since the tank had been neglected for some
time, it was also choked with plants, many which are faster growing than
Javas under the best circumstances.  Since I also hadn't changed any water
in a while, there is also the possibility of the build up of some
allelochemicals or other toxic substances.  

I can say that just taking care of the tank solved the problem and brought
the Javas back without incident.  I weeded, removed all dead or dying
leaves, did a major water change, and fertilized with KNO3.  I was also a
little more careful not to let things get quite that bad again.<g>

I have had a period of time this spring when I also needed to "neglect" my
tanks due to my travel schedule.  When I finally got around to dealing with
that same 55G tank, the surface was matted with plants.  In fact, the
Bacopa had grown out of the tank and between the glass cover and the
lights.  It was holding the glass down so tight that I needed to cut it
away to free the cover.  There was some cyanobacteria growing on top of the
plants on the surface where water circulation was not good, and some fish
food had accumulated.  Again, I weeded, manually removed the cyanobacteria
and did a good sized (30%) water change.  There had been no damage to any
of the plants in the tank.  BUT the big difference was that I had purposely
dosed a little heavily with KNO3 just before I left.  I don't think the
tank ever got as seriously depleted as it did when the Javas melted.

I'm fairly certain there are other things that can cause Javas to melt, but
I do think that it is very possible that a severe nitrogen deficiency
caused the problem I had.