Java Fern Melting- 8 Causes and Solutions

Whenever I started to grow Java fern plants in my aquarium for the first time, they completely melted. I was astonished and disappointed also as I hadn’t any clue of such happenings and the way to save them.

Luckily, I got some help at that time from one of my friends who is an expert in this sector. He cheered me up to plant Java fern again and shared some tips with me.

My plants started to thrive and from then I always kept Java fern as a decorative material in my aquarium. Here I am going to share those tips and my experiences related to Java fern melting. 

Why Are My Java Fern Melting?

1. Inappropriate Planting

Melting Java fern is a frustrating issue for hobbyists. However, if you don’t know the correct way of planting and do so unconsciously, you have already allowed your plant to melt.

Let me explain it properly. During planting, those who don’t know the appropriate way, plant the rhizome deep into the aquarium soil. 

As a result, the plant can’t get enough space for aeration. Also, the roots remain in a water-logging condition for a long time. Such a thing leads to death.

Finally, the root system becomes completely disastrous and they can’t reach the nutrients to the upper level or the leaves of the plant. Thus, they start melting and die after a critical length.

2. Lack of Nutrients 

The next thing that you are doing wrong to your plant is you are not supplying enough nutrients to your plant which may lead them to melt.

Though Java ferns don’t need excessive amounts of water, you can’t deprive them of the little amount they need. Especially since they require nitrogenous food and potassium nutrients. 

Potassium nitrate is an important material for their root development. Whenever they lack potassium, their root become weak and unable to supply nutrients to the upper side of the plants.

On the other hand, due to the absence of nitrogen, the older leaves get yellow and necrotic which is unable to take part in photosynthesis. Here the ultimate result is the melting of the plant.

3. Sudden Planting in Water 

Let’s turn to another reason behind Java fern melting. Point to be noted, you are growing the basic Java babies in the soil system.

At that place, they are getting habituated to collect carbon dioxide from the free atmosphere and their life is different from the life they lead inside the aquarium. 

Whenever you are trying to introduce those babies to the aquarium, they can’t immediately adapt to the water condition and start melting. 

Some Java fern plants may be weak by born. But until you plant a well-developed Java baby in the aquarium, they won’t match there and will melt.

4. Excessive Light

Now, look at the amount of light intensity that you are providing to your Java fern. As a gardener, you know the light requirement of a Java fern.

But, despite knowing that, when you are putting your Java fern in high light intensity or a direct light condition, they won’t be able to tolerate it.

The higher amount of light intensity will disturb their vegetative and reproductive parts. The leaves won’t thrive and they will start to become necrotic. 

As a result, the production of food will become impossible and the whole plant will be under stress. Such a condition will also bring the melting condition. 

5. Lack of Oxygen 

Following the light condition, I think I should also say something about the necessity of oxygen in their life. Remember, you are growing them as an aquatic plant.

Being submerged in water, they have to interact with water issues too. Whenever the dissolved oxygen level declines, the anaerobic bacteria work faster than before.

As a result, the bacterial metabolism creates a barrier for the plant metabolism and affects the leaves making them necrotic. 

Also, bacterial attack occurs in the plant that is not suitable for plant development. The overall result ends in the melting of the plant.

6. Improperly Trimmed

You must be habituated in trimming your Java fern plants as harmonic growth is important for the beauty of the aquarium. 

But are you trimming the plant properly? There is a certain amount of trimming that you should follow while cutting your plant leaves. 

You can’t trim more than one-third of your plant. Also, you shouldn’t cut the newly planted fern babies. If you do it unconsciously, this becomes disastrous for the plant. 

Consequently, the Java fern can’t adapt to the hard pruning and gets stuck in growing besides melting. This is also a terrible reason behind Java feen melting. 

7. Poor Water Quality 

Like other hobbyists, you may also know detailed information about the importance of water quality in the plants’ establishment. But are you following it properly? 

Sometimes, during busy days, hobbyists forget to check the water parameters. However, each of the parameters is an important issue for the plant.

If the pH or other elements of the water become higher than their normal range, they become toxic for the plant and that also leads to the melting problem of Java fern.

8. Extreme Cold

Lastly, I want to end the list of reasons with the presence of extreme cold on the Java fern. Hobbyists who live in temperate countries may face this problem.

Also, during cold seasons in other countries, the aquarium water temperature goes below the critical level that is optimum for the plant. 

In such a situation, the plant becomes unable to complete its physiological process due to the extremely low temperature. 

Besides, the photosynthesis process also can’t take place. As a result, the plant can’t make their required food and their body indicators don’t respond to the situation for survival. Finally, the melting occurs.

How Can I Understand My Java Fern Melting?

It’s a good question for those who want to save their Java fern from melting. If you notice the problem in an earlier stage, you may easily save your plant.

But for that purpose, you have to identify that your plant is not in a sound condition. For these reasons, you should notice your plant carefully. If they are in a melting condition, you will notice some abnormalities like these-

  • You may notice that your plant is not growing enough. The stunted growth is the preliminary stage of their melting. 
  • The leaves will turn yellowish, having necrotic lesions that differ from the healthy leaves.
  • Leaves may fall off having necrotic spots in the margins of the leaves.
  • The root system will be fibrous and will be rotten within a short time.
  • You will find a bad odor inside your aquarium of the necrotic plant parts.

How to Save Fern From Melting? 

Whatever, let’s start the main part of this discussion by rescuing the Java fern plants from melting. It’s easy to save your Java fern from melting. You just have to be concerned for your plant. 

To save your plant, you have to start caring for your plant from the point of planting. As they can multiply through vegetative propagation, you can easily have a lot.

So, grow them smoothly so that they don’t face any pressure or stress in growing. Keep in mind that such a soothing growth environment should also be followed during transplantation. 

After transplanting to the aquarium, make sure they are not buried beneath any substrate or their root is not engaged in a deep place in the aquarium. 

The next term is to negotiate with temperature, pH, light conditions, and water elements properly so that they remain favorable for the plant. The optimum range of these facts is mentioned in other articles on my website.

You must check the parameters regularly if they are optimum or not. If they are not, take the necessary steps to make them perfect. 

I have already shared my experience and detailed guide on the way of adjusting water elements to the appropriate water condition. If needed, you can check them from there.

Along with that, provide nutrient materials including nitrogenous fertilizers to them at the right dose at the right time during springtime to enhance their growth.

The last phase of their caring ends with trimming the plant when they grow larger than the required size. Make this smooth and at the right proportion for their adjustment.

What Happens if You Keep Melted Java in the Water?

Sometimes, hobbyists don’t even notice that their Java ferns are already melted inside the aquarium. This condition is harmful to the aquatic inhabitants and fish.

As you know, melting indicates the state of necrosis or decomposition. If the plants are already melted, they create odor and excessive nitrogenous materials in the water. 

Such materials are used by the anaerobic bacteria and toxic materials are produced from necrotic leaves and plant parts.

Consequently, the fish and other aquatic inhabitants living in the fish tank will die and the overall ecosystem of the tank will be poisonous for a living being.

Special Tips For Your Java Fern

Now, I will share some special tips with you that I follow to make my Java fern plants thrive. These tips are helpful for them to protect themselves from melting and also help to nourish more.

The first one is to glue your plants on the substrate. As I have explained before, the planting problem is one of the most serious issues in Java fern melting. 

In this case, you can adjust the plant using glue at a small amount on the substrate. This will help the plant to remain saved from burying under the substrate in the water current.

Secondly, adjust the light bulb in a corner of the aquarium to have the perfect intensity. As a result, it will spread over the whole plant community and won’t bother only some plants and help in photosynthesis. 

Thirdly, try to provide nitrogen fertilizers that in split according to the labelling in the bottle. This will prevent the plant from taking a lot at a time and won’t be toxic after utilization.

Finally, don’t plant any extremely hardy plants that need more fertilizer than Java fern. Such a layout will prevent competition between the plants.


Is gluing fern to substrate harmful to the plant?

Not really! You are only using glue at a little portion to fix the position of the plant to save it from being buried. It won’t disturb the growth or spreading of the plant.

When Should I apply fertilizer to the plant?

Mostly using fertilizer in spring is beneficial for Java plants. But if you notice any deficiency symptoms in the plant, you can apply at a small rate at any time.

Can I save a dying Java fern?

Yeah! You can save a dying Java fern by maintaining its requirements. But, if the root system and the leaves are already melted, you would rather pluck them from the aquarium.

Final Words

However, this is the last portion of my entire description of Java fern melting. Hopefully, you have caught all the small details about the causes that led the Java fern to melt. 

If you are already in this situation, don’t worry. Intensive care will save your plant from dying. However, the measurement of your materials should not exceed the optimum range.

As Java fern is easy to grow, you can save them easily from being threatened. Care for your plant and enjoy a beautifully decorated aquarium with lots of Java fern plants.

Howard Parker

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