8 Reasons of Why Are My Aquarium Plants Melting? (with Solutions)

Hi, this is your friend Clifton Ervin, the founder and chief editor of this site, Aquariumwolf. I completed my graduation in marine biology and became...Read more

As an amateur aquarist, you know how eye-soothing and aesthetic your freshwater aquarium looks with healthy aquatic plants. Plants also play a crucial role in your aquarium by providing your fish with shelter as well as a place to breed.

Well, the biggest benefit of having real aquarium plants is that they produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide and ammonia that your fish generate. Which are conducive to the growth of your aquarium’s inhabitants.

It takes lots of care, time, and money to make a magnificent planted tank. But, when you see your plants melting in the tank, it’s really heartbreaking, especially if you’re new to the hobby, right? Now, you can ask yourself, why are my aquarium plants melting, or where does it come from?

Buckle up your seat belt and read on. In this blog post, I’m going to provide you with an in-depth discussion on why your aquarium plants are melting and how you can prevent this problem with ease.

So, without further ado, let’s get straight into it!

A Short Overview of The Whole Article:

If you are in a rush and don’t want to go through the whole article, just have a close look at the below section:

Simply answered, though there are a lot of reasons that can result in the melting of your aquatic plants, some of the most common reasons are transitioning their environment, damage, poor nutrition, poor water quality, low carbon dioxide, Anubias rot, etc.

Reasons Of Melting Solutions
Environmental changes Give the plants some time to adapt to the new state.
Low supply of nutrients Provide your plants with the essential nutrients.
Damage Handle new plants with care and don’t move them unnecessarily.
Lack of carbon dioxide Inject carbon dioxide into the water.
Poor water condition Maintain a good aquarium condition by balancing the pH, nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, temperature, and other parameters.
Ammonia burn Clean out fish waste, decaying plants, and other organics.
Algae Overgrowth Trim the algae, keep the lighting of your tank moderate, as well as bring in some algae eaters.
Anubias rot Use proper substrates.
Low light in aquarium Invest in quality LED lights.

What is Melting and Is It Normal in New Tanks?

When aquatic plants lose some or all of their leaves, this condition is known as “melting”. Typically, it first happens to older leaves which lose their original color and become brown before being translucent. Some leaves and branches fall off when others remain on the plant. That’s why it loses its original glory.

What is Melting and Is It Normal in New Tanks

Though, melting generally starts with the oldest leaves, subsequently, the younger leaves also begin to melt. Unless proper steps are taken to curb it, in a short while, the plant will lose all its leaves and eventually die.

Remember that, though melting isn’t normal, it is extremely common in new tanks or tanks that have a lack of CO2. Some species like Cryptocoryne and delicate plantlets from tissue culture tend to melt when they try to adapt to new tanks.

Why Are My Aquarium Plants Melting (8 Reasons Explained)

why are my aquarium plants melting

Here, I’ll go over some of the most common causes of your aquarium plants melting. Here is my take:

1. Environmental changes

One of the main reasons for the melting of your new plants is their inability to adapt to the new environment. Plants need some time to adjust to a particular condition, but the problem occurs when your plants lack the necessary time to adapt to their new habitat.

Most aquatic plants are cultivated where their roots are submerged but leaves remain above the surface of the water. When these plants are suddenly submerged in the fish tank, they have to face a completely new set of variables.

That’s why they take time to adapt to these new changes. And, during this time, the plants end up sacrificing the weaker leaves.

But, no need to worry about it. New plants typically go through a transition period while added to a new environment. But, once the plants start to adapt to the new state, they will grow quickly and strongly and a new leaf will often grow to replace those decayed ones.

However, it’s a matter of concern when the melting spreads to a larger portion of your plant. In this case, the plant will tremendously suffer and eventually melt or die.

On top of that, other parameters such as the hardness of water and the difference in salinity from the original tank may also be the cause of plant melting.

2. Low Supply of Nutrients

Another reason that causes your aquatic plants to melt is the lack of necessary nutrients. Aquatic plants need magnesium, potassium, iron, nitrogen, manganese, and more minerals to thrive.

But, when they don’t get enough of these nutrients, they are more prone to weakening and melting. Due to the lack of nutrients, the plants will also look less colorful than they were before.

3. Damage

As aquatic plants are delicate, they become easily injured and damaged, which leads to melting.

Remember, if the plant isn’t handled carefully while moving it from its original location to your fish tank or if it’s chewed by fish, this might result in damage.

When your plant goes through severe injury on a specific portion, it won’t be able to circulate nutrients to that part. Consequently, this section will weaken and fade away.

On top of all that, too much injury can spread to other portions of the plant, which will most probably cause its untimely death.

4. Lack of Carbon Dioxide

Your aquarium plant may also melt because of the lack of adequate carbon dioxide. As we all know, CO2 is an essential requirement for plants to make food. Due to this, a low level of CO2 will weaken them and interfere with their growth.

5. Poor Water Condition

Because of the poor living conditions, the plants in the aquarium will most possibly be melting. Therefore, ensure that the pH, nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, temperature, and other parameters are balanced, that are very useful to assist your plant to thrive.

Mind you, if these conditions aren’t maintained properly, then your plants won’t do well in the tank and will likely start melting in the long run. But, when you reverse these parameters, they will help the plant to regain its health.

What’s more, the quality of water also affects the well-being and growth of a plant. Continuous exposure to dirty, unhygienic, and stagnant water can severely affect the health of aquatic plants and ultimately make it melt.

So, you should clean out the organic dirt and debris in the fish tank to retain the plant’s comfort level. Needless to say, dirty water also affects your fish.

6. Ammonia Burn

It is the result of unclean tanks with little or no maintenance. Ammonia is a hazardous chemical that severely affects both plants and animals of the tank alike.

When dead plant leaves, leftover food, etc. decay in your planted tank, they release this chemical. Aside from this, if your tank is overstocked and has not been cycled for a long time, then it will trigger ammonia levels to increase rapidly.

Because of ammonia burns, the leaves of the plants display rusty colors, and they wither away and die over time.

So, you better change the aquarium water regularly, weekly if possible, to clean the waste and re-oxygenating the water. Besides, ensure that you cycle the aquarium properly and the biofilm is evolving. You should also avoid overstocking the tank to keep this toxic substance in check.

Heads Up: Ammonia levels should always be 0. Because, any amount will put quite an impact on all aquatic life.

7. Algae Overgrowth

Algae overgrowth is a common problem in dirty tanks that lack ideal water conditions. Apart from poor water conditions, insufficient CO2, excess lighting in the water, etc. also result in this condition.

Though algae don’t pose a great threat to your plants, if the problem is ignored, then they will ultimately affect the plant.

Since algae hinder your plant’s access to light, the plant will starve massively. Your plant will also have difficulty obtaining necessary nutrients because both algae and plants consume the same stuff.

To prevent this, you have to check the growth of the algae population by trimming the algae by hand, keeping the lighting of your tank moderate, and bringing in some algae eaters.

Remember, the dirtier the tank water is, the quicker the algae grows. So, proper maintenance of your tank on a regular basis is the key to solving this issue.

8. Anubias Rot and Other Plant Diseases

Aquatic plant disease like Anubias rot can also result in plants melting. It occurs when you plant the rhizome of an Anubias plant too deeply into the aquarium substrate, making the rhizome mushy and ultimately causing it to rot.

Apart from this, other plant diseases can also cause the plant to lose its leaves. Water-borne infections easily affect delicate plants, and they need to sacrifice old tissues to channel new growth. During this process, some of their leaves get damaged.

How to Prevent Aquarium Plants from Melting (7 Sure-Fire Solutions)

How to Prevent Aquarium Plants from Melting (7 Sure-Fire Solutions)

You have to make sure your aquatic plants are healthy and do well in the tank to prevent them from melting. Here, I’m going to mention some specific ways that you should follow to keep the melting away from your plants. Here we go:

1. Handle New Plants Carefully

You have to handle a new plant with much care while transferring it from the shop to your tank. Doing this will prevent the plant from any kind of damage that leads to melting.

2. Choose Healthy Plants

Healthy plants can adjust to new environments well, preventing melting. Furthermore, they can store energy that helps to cope with transitions. Therefore, if you can select healthy plants for your aquarium, the chances of plant melting will greatly be reduced.

3. Use Appropriate Substrates

Well, melting can sometimes occur because of a poor substrate. For instance, consider planting Anubias on wood or rock so that its rhizomes do not submerge too deep into the soil, preventing Anubias rot.

4. Supply Necessary Nutrients

To keep your aquatic plants healthy and prevent them from melting, you have to provide them with the proper amount of essential nutrients. It is recommended that you add fertilizer and other boosters in the tank water if the organic nutrients are inadequate.

You can also make use of a planted tank substrate like Controsoil within your aquarium as it is loaded up with sufficient nutrients for the roots of the plants. The roots intake these nutrients through the substrate and distribute them to other parts of the plant, which helps to prevent melting.

5. Use Proper LED Lighting

Using LED Lighting also plays an excellent role in the health of your aquarium plants. But, remember, balance is the key. While too much light in the fish tank can result in algae growth, too little can lead to melting and stunted growth for your plant.

Some LED lights are particularly designed for the growth of aquatic plants, and they are best for photosynthesis. For this reason, make sure you invest in quality LED lighting to prevent plants from melting and assist your plant in maintaining its healthy state.

6. Consider Injecting CO2

Want to know about a game-changer in the world of aquatic plants? Guess what? Yeah, I’m talking about CO2 injection into your planted tank.

If you can inject CO2 into the aquarium water, then plants will do much better and grow more rapidly as well. Adding CO2 can also result in fewer algae as well as less melting in your aquarium.

By supplementing CO2, you can increase the growth of your aquatic plants from 5 to 10 times faster. That means that their transition time decreases, and they grow healthier.

7. Don’t Move Plants Unless It’s Necessary

A plant takes a while to establish when you add it into the substrate. In fact, it doesn’t start growing as long as it’s not rooted or settled completely.

This is why if you move the plant into another spot before it has developed a healthy root system, this will shake its roots from the substrate, and it has to reestablish itself in its new place.

For this reason, melting might occur. Hence, if it’s not absolutely necessary, I recommend avoiding shifting the plant.

What To Do With Already Melted Plants?

In this subsection, I’m going to go over what you should do to your aquarium plants that are already melting. So, let’s get to it!

What To Do With Already Melted Plants

Trim the Melted Parts

When some parts of your aquarium plants are melted, they will distort the beauty of the plants and also provide the fish tank with a gloomy look.

In this case, you’ve got to trim these unwanted parts and add more nutrients to help the aquatic plants in growing the new parts. Bear in mind that eliminating decaying plant matter and dead leaves quickly from the water will keep the ammonia levels from rising.

Plus, the damaged leaves can’t produce the required nutrients for the other parts of the plant, resulting in nutrient deficiency. So, snipping the old and sick leaves assists in maintaining a balance for the health of your plant.

Remove The Melted Plants

It is highly recommended that you remove the melted plants so that this condition can no longer spread to other healthy plants.

Remember, as these plants can release toxins in the water, they will make the situation worse and harm your fish, too. Getting rid of the melting plants is the only and best option if they are irreparable.

Can You Save Melting Aquarium Plants?

Well, depending on what the reason for melting is and how acute the situation is, sometimes it’s possible to save melting plants, and other times, it’s impossible.

As I have already mentioned, if some parts of your aquarium plant are melted, you can save the plant by trimming the affected parts. Otherwise, the condition will keep spreading to the remaining healthy parts of the plant. But, if most of the parts of your plant are melted, it is beyond saving.

The good news is that most aquatic plants are quite painstaking. And, that’s why they are extremely capable of adjusting and reproducing.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

After reading this whole write-up, there might be a few questions that arise in your curious mind. Get most of the answers to these questions from the below FAQ section.

How Long Does It Take for Aquarium Plants to Melt?

It actually depends on the species of the aquatic plants. Some plants like Cryptocoryne melt in the first 1 to 2 weeks while adjusting to their new tank conditions.

How Long Do Aquarium Plants Live?

Depending on the species of the plants, the lifespan of the aquatic plants varies greatly from 1 to 20 years.

Can Dying or Melting Aquarium Plants Kill Fish?

Yes! Since dying aquarium plants can carry harmful microorganisms, parasites, diseases, fungus, bacteria, and algae in your aquarium, they can be toxic and even kill the fish.

Plus, when the plants are dead, they later decompose in the tank, causing low oxygen levels in the aquarium. This will most probably end up killing your fish in the aquarium. This is exactly why you had better promptly remove the decaying or dead plants from your aquarium.

Why Is My Anubias Melting in The Aquarium?

Since Anubias are hardy and such slow growers, melting doesn’t typically occur with them. However, one possible reason your Anubias might be losing their leaves is that a leaf was accidentally damaged while removing the plant from its pot or during shipping.

What Are Those Aquarium Plants that Don’t Melt Easily?

Well, let’s have a look at some of the hardiest aquarium plants that won’t easily melt in the aquarium:

  • Moneywort
  • Hornwort
  • Pygmy Chain Sword
  • Rotala Rotundifolia
  • Hygrophilia Polysperma
  • Anubia Nana
  • Java Fern
  • Java Moss
  • Amazon Sword
  • Water Lettuce
  • Vallisneria Spirallis
  • Elodea Densa
  • Marimo Ball
  • Red Ludwigia
  • Duckweed
  • African Water Fern
  • Water Wisteria.

Will Melted Aquarium Plants Grow Back?

As I have said earlier, in most cases, a couple of leaves melt on newly added plants, which is quite natural. If you can ensure the proper environment needed for the aquatic plants to blossom, they’ll definitely bounce back. But, when a plant has deteriorated to a great extent, it is next to impossible to rescue it.

Final Words

Well, that’s all there’s to it, people. Now that you’ve got a clear understanding of “why are my aquarium plants melting?” along with how to prevent your plants from melting. Hopefully, if you follow the aforementioned preventive measures, you will be able to bring the aquascape of your aquarium back to its former splendor.

To wrap it all up, melting some leaves of your aquatic plants is a natural and familiar occurrence whose impact ranges from mild to severe. But, if this continues in all plants, you should be concerned because your fish tank will start losing its beauty.

So, to prevent melting, I would suggest you provide nutrition, carbon dioxide, lighting, etc. Also, be sure you often exchange the water and do not move your fish tank repeatedly to ensure that the roots remain intact and the other parts of the plants obtain the essential nutrients.

Thank you so much for dropping in today, you guys are the bee’s knees!!!

Hi, this is your friend Clifton Ervin, the founder and chief editor of this site, Aquariumwolf. I completed my graduation in marine biology and became an Ichthyologist. One of my favorite hobbies is aquarium keeping; therefore, I love to talk about fish keeping, breeding, food behavior, etc., and much more relevant to aquarium maintenance. I have created this site Aquariumwolf, to share my 20 years+ of experience and knowledge with all new to this journey.

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