Why Aquarium Plants Turn Brown and Transparent

Aquarium Plants Turning Brown and Transparent? Here’s how to fix it!

Maintaining a home aquarium requires knowledge, vigilance, and expertise. The easiest way to spruce up its appearance is by adding vibrant live plants. Greenery has multiple benefits, especially for gas exchange and optimal oxygenation.

But, as beautiful as they look, they are equally hard to maintain. So, we have some input if you start noticing the plants changing color and wonder why aquarium plants turn brown and transparent.

This is a common issue that most beginner aquarists struggle with. However, you need to realize that you aren’t the only person messing up. Aquarium plants are highly sensitive, and their maintenance is quite tricky.

This article will explore more about the causes of why your aquarium plants are turning brown. We will also discuss ways you can rectify the issue.

Why Aquarium Plants Turn Brown and Transparent?

Unlike taking care of plants on the soil, things are different underwater. So, the complications are different too.

There are several reasons why the plants could be turning brown. For your convenience, we have sorted some possible reasons.

1. Nutrient Deficiency

Like any living thing on this planet, even plants require optimal and balanced nutrient balance for growth. If your aquarium lacks the right balance of macro and micronutrients, it can lead to discoloration.

Some of the key nutrients that the aquarium plants need include:

  • Magnesium
  • Nitrogen
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorus, etc.

The lack of any or all of these nutrients in the right levels can lead to the leaves turning brown. Besides brown, some parts of the plant can even turn yellow or black.

Besides macronutrients, aquarium plants also need a steady supply of micronutrients. Unmanaged levels can lead to prominent necrosis of the leaves, making them brown or black.

You should also check the carbon dioxide levels since that can alter the appearance of the leaves.

2. Lack of Light Exposure

Except for a handful of aquarium plants, most live plants need constant light exposure for growth and development. But, not just lack of lighting, overexposure can also lead to complications.

Overlighting over a specific live plant can lead to damage to the leaves. Similarly, too little light exposure on the leaves can leave them looking brown.

The lack of optimal lighting conditions also leads to uncontrolled algal growth in the tank. This can inadvertently stunt the plant growth and lead to damage.

So, when choosing lighting fixtures for your aquarium, check the ideal settings. Not just for the fish species, check the settings for the live plants.

3. Improper Placement

Sounds weird, doesn’t it? However, it’s true. Every aquarium plant you buy has specific requirements. Not just the environmental settings, it also involves the planting methods and installation.

Before introducing the plant to the tank, cross-check its compatibility. Ensure that it meets the designed requirements. Also, read through the installation process for the plant before you affix them into the aquarium.

Besides the placement, you also want to pay close attention to the roots. They should be anchored but not suffocated into the substrate. You want them to propagate optimally when you take the right measures.

4. Dirty Tank Water

The dirty tank water also affects the aquarium plants, not just the fish. The excess nitrates and ammonia in the tank are due to the biological waste produced by the fish.

Some aquarium plants will neutralize the excess dirt and chemicals in the water. However, the accumulation of excess dirt will eventually affect the plants. The dirty water also leads to wilting, not just browning in the leaves.

Clean the tank water from time to time and indulge in timely water exchange. So, if you notice issues with the water from time to time, we’d recommend cleaning it.

5. Sudden Shock to the Aquarium Plants

If you consistently blame yourself because of aquarium plants turning brown, it could be due to environmental issues. However, the aquarium plants take some time to adjust to the water parameters.

Like your aquarium fish species, even your aquarium plants need some time getting used to the new environment underwater. So, if you notice browning, take them out of the tank to let them grow in optimal conditions before reintroducing them to the tank.

How To Get Rid of Brown Aquarium Plants in Aquarium?

How To Get Rid of Brown Aquarium Plants in Aquarium

Transforming your brown aquarium plants to green is a complicated process. Not only do you have to find the cause first, you then need to treat it accordingly to get rid of the hassle.

Following are the best ways to do that:

1. Take Care of the Planting

You can’t expect to chuck them in and watch them grow when it comes to aquarium plants. There are different ways to affix them into the substrate. More than the stability of the plant, you have to ensure that the roots are free-floating for easy propagation.

Also, most aquarium plants get their nutrients from the substrate. So, ensure that the substrate is evenly spaced out in the area. Moreover, the way you affix the plant to the decorations or substrate matters too.

If you tie it to heavy gravel or driftwood, ensure it stays in place. Every aquarium plant has specific needs. So, ideally, you want to research the requirements before you plant them in the tank.

2. Sort out the Lighting Intensity

Both excessive and low-light conditions contribute to browning. So, you have to fix that if you want your plants to grow optimally. So, forego the fluorescent lights and instead opt for the LED light fixtures.

The LED aquarium lights are more advanced, have a dispersed coverage, and are energy efficient. They come with adjustable light settings as well, which is a benefit.

Having the right light intensity reflects on the growth rate of the algae too. So if brown algae are damaging the plants, optimal light exposure will prevent their growth in the tank.

3. Add Carbon dioxide to the Tank

API LEAF ZONE Freshwater Aquarium Plant Fertilizer

As we mentioned before, the lack of carbon dioxide is also a contributing factor to browning. Fertilizers play a crucial role if you want the plants to get optimal nutrients. Not just for the leaves, it nourishes the root system too.

You can start by adding fertilizer gradually and see if it makes a difference. For example, if the leaves change color to green, the issue stems from nutrient deficiency.

However, if the problem persists, you might have to inject carbon dioxide into the tank. This can impact proper growth and reduce the complaints of browning.

4. Maintain Cleanliness

Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter 150 GPH

Poor tank water parameters can not just kill the fish but also the live plants in the aquarium. So, if you have a habit of not cleaning the tank frequently, we’d recommend you start now.

The flora needs optimal water conditions to thrive. So, do your research, ascertain what your plants need, and offer that.

Besides manual cleaning and water changes, an aquarium filter does the job. They will keep the biological waste and nitrates to the bare minimum. So, introduce and install a powerful filter into the tank as well.

If you notice an aquarium plan already dead, we’d recommend taking it out of the tank. Don’t wait for it to settle down in the bottom of the tank.

5. Regulate the Water Parameters

Not just the water cleanliness, the individual water parameters make a lot of difference, not just the water cleanliness. It could be the water temperature, pH, or even the hardness level.

If you aren’t sure what the exact issue is, we’d recommend tweaking one parameter after the other. During this time, assess if it’s making a difference to the plant and then go from there.

Water heaters for aquariums are also pretty effective in regulating the water temperature. For pH levels, we’d recommend checking the same now and then.

6. Indulge in Water Change

If the preliminary steps aren’t working, the last step is to change the water. You don’t have to empty and change all the water. A certain percentage of the water change works well. This will dilute the chemicals and reduce the contaminants in the water exponentially.

Besides cleaning and balancing the water parameters, water change also eliminates excess fertilizer in the tank.

Other Common Problems with Aquarium Plants

Besides browning, aquarium plants experience a lot of other complications too. Let us discuss them individually and in detail.

1. Leaves are Turning Transparent

Besides browning, some aquarium plants have their leaves turning transparent. This is a lot more common than you think. The primary reason behind this complication is iron deficiency.

Adding fertilizers rich in iron is the easiest way to fix this issue. Additionally, low-light exposure leads to a transparent appearance too.

So, instead of letting it be, hoping it will regain the color, adjust the light exposure in the tank.

2. Leaves are Turning Yellow

Another common issue with aquarium plants is when the leaves turn yellow. This is again due to poor lighting conditions in the tank.

Lack of optimal potassium levels in the water can also lead to this complication. We’d recommend checking both the causes and adjusting the living conditions to see what fixes the issue better.

3. Leaves are Turning White

Carbon dioxide deficiency in aquarium water is a serious issue. This can lead to the plant turning white and dying eventually.

In such cases, look for good-quality carbon dioxide supplements for the tank. You can also assess the iron levels because iron deficiency can turn the leaves white as well.

4. Leaves and Plant is Disintegrating

Noticing damaging rots and holes on the leaves of the aquarium plants? The chances are that your aquarium plant has crypt rot. This is a common disease that affects aquarium plants, damaging their growth.

Check for potassium levels and the water parameters to fix them accordingly. Once done, keep an eye on the plant and see if the condition gets better or not.


Why Are My Aquarium Plants Dying?

Lack of nutrition is the most common issue that leads to the aquarium plants’ death. It could be a deficiency of main nutrients like iron, potassium, phosphorus, etc. Besides that, carbon dioxide deficiency or poor water parameters also contributes to the issue.

How To Know If My Aquarium Plants Are Dying?

Aquarium plants will show multiple signs before they die. From wilting to sudden changes to the leaf color, several complications arise.

You need to be vigilant and assess the extent of the damage. It is a prominent sign of damage if you notice the leaves turning yellow, brown, black, or white.

Can Dead Plants Kill Fish?

Dead plants, if not removed from the tank, will drastically reduce the oxygen levels in the tank. This can kill the fish species in the aquarium.

Wrapping Up

If you have wondered why your aquarium plants turn brown, we hope this answers it. However, before you start panicking, we recommend finding the cause. Most of these issues are reversible and can be fixed with easy measures. You can find everything explained in detail in this guide.

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