Why Are My Aquarium Plants Turning Brown?

by Aquarium Scoop | Last Updated: October 26, 2022

If your aquarium plants are turning brown, it may be due to a lack of plant space, lack of nutrients, poor lighting conditions, algae growth, or pests and diseases. 

In this guide you’ll learn:

  • What causes aquarium plants to turn brown
  • How to prevent plants from browning
  • How to keep your aquarium in proper conditions for plants

4 Reasons Why Aquarium Plants Turn Brown

Key Takeaway: Aquarium plants can turn brown for several reasons, including lack of light or nutrients and pest and disease attacks. It’s important to figure out the cause so you can take steps to fix it.

Try moving some of the plants around to give them more space; if that doesn’t work, you may need to thin them out. Next, check the pH levels and make sure they are within the ideal range for your plants. The pH level of your aquarium water can greatly impact your plants. If the pH is too high or too low, it can cause the plants to turn brown. Test your water’s pH levels and adjust the pH with a water conditioner if necessary.

  1. Lack of nutrients
  2. Poor lighting conditions
  3. Algae growth
  4. Pests or disease

Important ⚠️

Incorrect pH and overcrowded plants are very common culprits of browning aquarium plants, so start there first.

1. Lack of Nutrients

Plants need nutrients to grow; if they don’t have enough, they will start to turn brown.

Nutrient deficiencies are a prevalent cause of browning plants. Plants need nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to stay healthy. If your aquarium water is low in these nutrients, your plants will start to turn brown. To fix a nutrient deficiency, you’ll need to add a fertilizer to your aquarium.

There are a few things you can do to prevent this from happening:

  1. Make sure you are using a good quality fertilizer.
  2. Make sure you are giving your plants enough light.
  3. Make sure you are not over-watering your plants.

2. Poor Lighting Conditions

If you’ve noticed your aquarium plants turning brown, it could also be due to poor lighting conditions. While there are several possible causes of poor lighting, the most common is not having enough lighting for your aquarium.

Plants need light to photosynthesize and produce the food they need to grow. Without enough light, they will die, and their leaves will turn brown and eventually fall off.

You can do a few things to improve the lighting in your aquarium:

  1. Make sure you have a good-quality aquarium light.
  2. Consider adding more light fixtures or moving the ones you have closer to the plants.
  3. Keep in mind that some plants need more light than others.

If you’re having trouble with a particular plant, try moving it to a spot where it will get more light. 

With a little trial and error, you should be able to find the perfect spot for your plants.

3. Algae Growth

While it’s not the most exciting topic, algae growth is something every aquarium owner should be aware of. Algae is a plant that can grow in both fresh and saltwater environments.

It is often found in ponds, lakes, and streams. While algae is not necessarily harmful to your fish, it can be unsightly and cause your plants to turn brown.

If you do find algae growing in your aquarium, there are a few things you can do to remove it:

  1. Manually remove the algae from the tank using a scraper or brush.
  2. Increase the amount of aeration in the tank. This will help to discourage algae growth.
  3. Use an algae-control product. These products are typically safe for fish and will help control algae growth.

Preventing future algae over-growth

First, make sure you are not overfeeding your fish. Excess food will fall to the bottom of the tank and decompose, which can lead to algae growth. Second, keep your tank clean. Regular water changes and vacuuming will help to remove any excess food or debris that could contribute to algae growth. Finally, consider adding some live plants to your aquarium. Plants compete with algae for nutrients and help to keep your tank clean.

Algae growth is a common issue for aquarium owners. However, by taking a few simple precautions, you can help to prevent algae growth in your tank and keep your aquarium looking clean and clear with a little effort.

Expert Tip 🧠

To prevent algae growth in your aquarium, don’t overfeed your fish, keep your tank clean, and consider adding live plants.

4. Pests or Disease

Browning plants have several potential causes, including pests, diseases, and nutrient deficiencies.

Pests are one of the most common reasons for browning plants. Common aquarium pests include snails, algae, and fish. These pests can damage plants by eating their leaves and roots or burrowing into the stem. 

To get rid of pests, you’ll need to remove them from your aquarium and treat the plants with an insecticide.

Diseases can also cause the browning of plants. Common aquarium diseases include bacterial infections, fungal infections, and viruses.

These diseases can kill plants by causing them to rot or by causing their leaves to turn brown. To treat diseases, you’ll need to quarantine sick fish and treat the plants with a fungicide or an antiviral medication.

If you’re unsure what’s causing your plants to turn brown, it’s best to take them to a professional. A professional can diagnose the problem and recommend a course of treatment.

Expert Tip 🧠

The most common causes of browning plants are pests, diseases, and nutrient deficiencies.

Aquarium Scoop is dedicated to providing the best possible care for your fish and other aquatic life. We offer a variety of services to help you keep your aquarium in top condition, including educational resources on how to take care of your fish and other aquatic life.