Why Does Aquarium Grass Turns Brown? (How To Prevent It?)

Image of brown aquarium grass

When your aquarium grass turns yellow or brown, it indicates a problem. By identifying the problem on time, you may be able to rescue it before it dies. So, why does aquarium grass turns brown?

Aquarium grass turns brow because of nutritional inadequacies, insufficient lighting, water chemistry problems, and unhygienic tank conditions. Some plants also turn brown when they have trouble adapting to a new tank, the water parameters are unsuitable for their growth, or brown algae cover them.

Let’s take a deeper look at this now.

7 Common Reasons Why Aquarium Grass Turns Brown

For all aquatic plants to flourish, the tank conditions must be right.

Otherwise, they will wilt and turn brown under unfavorable living conditions.

Here are the most common reasons why aquarium grass turns brown.

1. Inadequate Nutrition

Aquatic plants need nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus for good growth.

They also need carbon dioxide and trace amounts of iron to survive and grow.

When your tank water lacks any of these nutrients, the plants suffer.

Nutritional deficiencies will produce various symptoms like discoloration and brown spots.

Other diseases can make the leaves wilt or turn brown.

For instance, phosphorus and iron deficiency cause brown spots and discoloration of leaves.

Overfertilization can also make plants turn brown.

2. Insufficient Lighting

Aquatic plants need sunlight for photosynthesis. They need six to eight hours of light every day for normal growth.

However, it’s not easy for them to obtain it directly.

You may have to use additional lighting in your tank to keep the plants healthy. In the absence of light, plants can turn brown.

When the intensity of light is low or insufficient, aquatic plants become unhealthy.

They become prone to diseases that cause brown spots or wilting of leaves. Lack of light exposure for a long time can also be fatal.

3. Water Chemistry Problems

Water quality and environmental conditions play an important role in keeping aquarium grass healthy.

For good growth, the water temperature, pH, and salinity level need to be correct.

The water chemistry of an aquarium changes over time.

When the concentration of toxic chemicals increases, it affects plant life.

Trace amounts of chlorine in tap water can also turn aquarium grass and the leaves of aquatic plants brown.

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4. Unhygienic Tank Conditions

Fish and aquatic animals eliminate waste in their surroundings.

When this organic waste degrades, it produces toxic substances like ammonia and nitrates.

These make the water unsafe and unsuitable for plant growth.

Prolonged exposure to ammonia and other toxic gases impacts the health of plants.

When the water is filthy and full of dissolved toxins, aquarium plants can’t cope. They become unhealthy and start wilting.

5. Adaptability Issues

When you suddenly introduce a plant into a tank, it may not immediately adjust to the new environment.

Instead, the plant will need some time to get used to the new setting.

Meanwhile, it may display signs of melting, where the leaves turn brown. The plant may look like it is about to wilt and die.

However, if the plant is healthy and the conditions in the tank are right, it will eventually adjust.

Brown leaves will be replaced by fresh growth, and the plant will thrive and grow.

6. Unsuitable Water Parameters

Increased phosphate or nitrate levels, presence of heavy metals, chlorine, or other additives in water can adversely affect the color of aquatic plants.

If you don’t perform timely water changes or your tank water has elevated toxin or metallic content, it will impact the health of your plants.

Some medications added to aquarium water to treat fish diseases can also produce such problems in your plants.

If your plants begin to turn brown after a recent water change, you may have to use a testing kit to check whether the level of phosphates and nitrates in the water has changed.

7. Presence Of Brown Algae

Algae grow profusely in tanks with insufficient lighting.

In addition, excess nutrition in the water due to over-fertilization also triggers algae blooms in aquariums.

When brown algae grow abundantly over the leaf surfaces, it will affect the appearance and health of your aquarium grass.

Brown algae can compromise the look of your aquarium.

These tiny creatures will also use up the nutrients and oxygen in the water meant for your pet plants and animals.

Hence, they can prove disastrous unless you take suitable steps to eliminate them.

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How To Prevent Aquarium Grass From Turning Brown?

Brown aquarium grass doesn’t look good, and it can make your tank look ugly.

Here’s how you can prevent all the grass in your aquarium from turning brown.

1. Fix nutritional deficiencies.

If the leaves of your aquarium grass appear discolored, wilt, or have holes and spots; it could indicate nutritional inadequacy.

To fix it, you can add suitable amounts of fertilizer into the tank. Your plants will perk up and become alright in no time.

2. Correct the lighting.

Too much and too little light are equally unsuitable for aquatic plants.

Both conditions can cause browning of leaves and other unsightly issues.

Make sure that your plant receives adequate light to grow and thrive.

When your aquarium grass can photosynthesize properly, the leaves will turn green again.

4. Check and fix the water parameters.

Each aquatic plant, including aquarium grass, has a specific set of requirements for growth.

Do your research before planting it and find out its pH, temperature, and water chemistry requirements.

Also, find out if the chemical levels in the tank are suitable for its growth and whether it needs hard or soft water.

Plant it correctly and keep track of the water chemistry, and your aquarium grass will remain green and healthy.

5. Check for water hygiene and quality.

An efficient filtering system will fix any hygiene issues and ensure that your tank remains clean for your aquatic plants and pets.

Choose the right one based on your tank capacity and bio-load.

Perform regular water changes and occasionally test the water parameters with a testing kit to ensure that the water parameters are suitable for the aquarium inhabitants.

Don’t let any waste build up in the tank and keep the tank water as well as the substrate clean to support healthy plant growth.

6. Avoid overfertilization.

Just like inadequate nutrition causes plants to wilt, overfertilization is also dangerous.

Check the instruction manual with the fertilizer to administer the correct quantity of fertilizer.

You may have to compare liquid fertilizers with substrate fertilizers to find what better suits your choice of plants.

Then, add just the required quantity to ensure that your plants receive nutrients but are not stressed by the high salt levels.

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7. Use a good-quality filter.

A filter will keep the tank clean and hygienic for your plants.

It will trap any floating waste as well as eliminate dissolved toxins from the water.

However, filters build up waste and get clogged after some time.

So be diligent about cleaning it properly for the filter to operate efficiently.

Change the cartridges and filter media, or clean it regularly to ensure the filter works efficiently.

Also, take care to choose a filter that can handle the bio-load of your tank.

If you have a bigger aquarium or keep messy fish as pets, you may need a bigger and more powerful filter.


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