Why Are My Plants Dying In Aquarium?

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Written By Fun Fish Tanks

I Love my Fishes 

What are aquariums without live plants? Plants give a natural aesthetic feel to your aquarium and let us not forget about the ambiance your house gets filled with.

Although to have live plants in your aquarium, means you have to take care of them. Similar to maintaining fishes in an aquarium, plants need care too and if you don’t take care of them properly they will wither away. 

Plants are a kind of heaven for an aquarium if you maintain them properly. They help with the oxygenation and absorb the ammonia and nitrates.

So they lend you a hand in a lot of things. But you have to take care of them in the best way possible. There are a lot of reasons why plants die in an aquarium and if you are confused about it, then this article is for you.

Why Do Plants Die in An Aquarium? 

Insufficient lighting 

Why Do Plants Die in An Aquarium? - Insufficient lighting 

Everyone knows plants need light to survive. Not just the non-aquatic plants but aquatic plants require light as well. With light plants can perform photosynthesis and get nutrition for themselves. So if you have aquarium plants then you have to provide them with proper lighting. 

Insufficient lighting won’t help the plant grow at all. You will have to turn on the light for about 8 to 10 hours per day. There are a lot of things you have to keep in mind with lighting in an aquarium.

The intensity of light, light spectrum, and the spread of light is all things you have to keep in mind. You will have to adjust everything to the liking of your plants and to the fish species that you have. 

The best kind of light you can get for your aquarium is LED lights. There are lots of good LED lights in the market. If you can’t get your hands on LED lights then fluorescent lights can be a substitute.

Water Chemistry 

Why Do Plants Die in An Aquarium? - Water Chemistry 

Inadequate water chemistry is the main reason aquarium plants die. Additionally, it’s critical to exercise caution around elevated levels of ammonia and nitrates, which can result from fish waste and eventually endanger the health of plants and fish.

In reality, the chemistry of the water affects whether rot, algae, or other hazardous elements may hurt your aquatic plants. These elements may develop to the cause of death of plants, degrading plant life and impacting fish life as well, if the water chemistry is not maintained.

pH levels 

Why Do Plants Die in An Aquarium? - ph levels

pH levels also need to be taken care of for plants. Although plants have their preferences of pH levels, there is an average range of pH levels for plants. Depending on the type of plant you have, the recommended pH range for aquatic plants to live is between 6.5 and 7.8. 

The pH of your water is crucial to the health of your plants. Your plants’ development will suffer if the pH of the water is not optimal. Additionally, if the pH is off, algae and other dangerous chemicals may bloom in the water of your aquarium.

The wrong tankmates 

Your aquarium plants may be withering off too soon because of your fish and other tank inhabitants. Some fish like nibbling on plants, and some can even attempt to rip the plants straight out of the substrate, leaving them floating on the surface. Other species, such as snails and bottom feeders, can nibble away at the roots, destroying the plant entirely.

Some fish make poor tankmates for aquatic plants. Fish species such as Oscars, Goldfish, and many more nibble on plants pretty often. Some fish species like these can be a nightmare for plants.


The substrate also determines the health of the plant. You will have to choose the right substrate for the plants to grow properly.

If the substrate is rocks and has too many spaces in between them the roots won’t be able to hold on properly and therefore the plant cannot survive. The plants will be floating if the roots can’t hold on. 

Too much leftover food 

Excessive food is as harmful to the plants as it is to the fish. The leftover food that remains after feeding starts breaking down and then is followed by absorption by plants.

The food particles can sometimes contain substances that can harm the plants when they absorb them. If the unnecessary substances are absorbed by the plants then it will harm the plants and affect their growth. 

Fish waste 

Similar to leftover food, fish waste harms plants. Feeding is involved in this situation. More waste will be produced if you feed your fish more food than is necessary.

Certain chemical substances found in fish excrement are poisonous to plants. In addition, if fish excrement is not cleaned up right away, toxins are released that impede plant development. 

Too much Filtration 

All aquariums need a filtration system. Without a good filtration system, the aquarium won’t have the optimal ecosystem. But if the filtration is too strong then it has adverse effects on plants. They have a significant capacity to filter out carbon dioxide, which is bad for plants.

The vegetation in the tank needs carbon dioxide much as non-aquatic plants do. The majority of it is removed by filters, and its absence can harm plant health and cause your aquarium plants to wither.

Nutrient Deficiency 

To be healthy and live longer, aquarium plants require an appropriate supply of nutrients. Lack of nutrients can cause tissues to die and stunted development, which is a major factor in the demise of your plants. The development of plants is also hampered by an abundance of nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.

The growth of aquarium plants is hampered by a persistent lack of vital nutrients including nitrogen, potassium, phosphate, iron, calcium, and magnesium. Your plants could eventually perish as a result of this.

 Aquarium plants become yellow when they don’t get enough nitrogen. Particularly in the older leaves, the color contrast is noticeable. Smaller new leaves or stunted development are further indicators.

Another macronutrient that plants heavily rely on is phosphate. When there is a phosphate deficit, elder leaves start to turn yellow and develop drenched brown spots. On decaying leaves, you may even see green algal dots as they start to turn brown.

Lack of Calcium is also a concern. If you observe that your plants’ new leaves are developing unnaturally, they likely need the calcium or have water hardness problems. 

The leaves of the plants develop noticeable pinholes when there is a potassium deficiency. At first, you might see little black spots. These will eventually become apparent holes that are only partially black or yellow highlighted. 

A lack of iron is readily apparent and identifiable. Green leaves start to fade when there is an iron deficit. The fresh leaves will become a pale yellow color and begin to resemble older leaves.

Iron insufficiency and magnesium deficiency are related. The sole distinction is that, unlike in cases of iron shortage, it affects older leaves. Older leaves change to a pale tint with black veins as they age.

Use the right fertilizer 

You also need to use fertilizer for the proper growth of the plants. With a fertilizer, your aquarium plants will become lush and healthy as they grow.

The fertilizers will provide your plants with the best of the best nutrients that they need. It provides your plants with nutrients that are not available to them in the water column. You also have to use the right fertilizer. Iron-based fertilizers are the ideal choice for you.

How to avoid plants from dying? 

Now that you know most of the reasons why your plants are dying in your aquarium, half of your work is done. You only need to find out the root cause of why your plants are dying. It can be any of the reasons why your plants must be in the worst of conditions. 

Test the water for pH levels and the water parameters. Everything needs to be in the optimal conditions for your plant to survive and maintain its health. Also, use fertilizers for your plants. The fertilizers provide them will all the various nutrients that they require the most. 

Leave no chance of leftover food remaining in the tank. Leftover food will release chemicals in the tank that is a hindrance to the growth of the plant. The same goes for fish waste. You should remove the fish waste and leftover food as soon as possible. 

Also, provide them with the correct amount of lighting and get the LED lights. Light is an important factor in the growth of the plant in your aquarium. Get the right filter and make sure that the filtration is not too strong. If the filtration is strong, the carbon dioxide will be filtered and the plant will not have any access to Carbon Dioxide.

If you favor having plants then you should consider the species of fish you have. If the species that you have are plant eaters then you might want to move your fish to another tank. Also, have a favorable substrate. Don’t get a substrate in which there is too much gap in between, otherwise, the roots can’t hold strong.


There are a lot of reasons why your plants might be dying in an aquarium. It can be deficiency of light, improper water parameters, lack of nutrients, and many more. So you have to figure out what is exactly the problem. Don’t worry there is a remedy for every reason that your plant might be dying. Your plants can be saved.

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