Why is My Aquarium Moss Turning Brown?

Why is My Aquarium Moss Turning Brown?

If your aquarium moss is turning brown, it indicates that the plants are decaying or dying, and you should take corrective measures as soon as possible.

Why is My Aquarium Moss Turning Brown? Generally, aquarium moss starts turning brown due to fewer nutrients, including macro and micro-nutrients. However, the absence of optimal tank requirements like carbon dioxide, proper water flow, and light can make moss look brown.

Moss is a well-known and reputed plant which you can place as a carpet on the bottom of the tank as its brights green leaves freshen the tank.

Its low care and non-demanding nature make it one of the most suitable and extensively used aquarium plants: you can also float it on the water surface.

It provides a natural look to the aquarium and serves as a site for fish to lay and hide their eggs.

Also, it attaches itself to different objects, decorations and driftwood through its rhizoids, absorbing nutrients from these surfaces. 

Why is My Aquarium Moss Turning Brown?

Usually, fish tank moss does not brown suddenly unless you are treating it incorrectly, and this poor care and low maintenance lead to this issue.

Plants are sensitive living organisms and can not stand slight changes in the tank environment, so you must be careful. 

Fluctuations in the aquarium’s water parameters harm moss, and in most cases, the brown moss is dead.

Warm water

Temperature is vital in the growth, propagation, and maintenance of every aquarium plant, including moss.

The moss starts to degrade in the warm water and its color changes because it can not withstand hot temperature and prefer cold environment.

When you keep the tank temperature at more than 30 degrees Celsius, the plant begins to die, and it is the first symptom.

The optimal temperature for moss is 23 to 25 degrees Celsius but can tolerate up to 30 degrees Celsius.

However, you need to decrease the temperature more in hot weather to keep the moss alive and thriving, around 20 degrees Celsius.

I use to lower the temperature slightly in many hours to prevent the plant and animal from shock: never make sudden and huge decreases at once.

Algae growth

Algae growth is one of the major causes of damaging plants and animals’ health in a fish tank.

Algae grow fast by using light, carbon dioxide, and nutrients from the tank and spread rapidly on the tank surfaces, decorations, and plants.

Like other plants, algae also grow on moss, decaying it and making it look brown, make it useless, and you need to start again.

If you want to rescue the plant, take it out of the tank and rinse thoroughly with plenty of water.

I use a soft-teeth brush to scrape off all the algae from the moss by brushing smoothly.

Usually, removing algae by rinsing the moss is enough to turn it to its natural color, but you can also add ocean salt in a small amount. 

You can also use chemicals like Seachem flourish to kill and eliminate algae, but it can grow again.

The best solution is to keep the tank clean as much as possible to prevent algae growth.

Low level of carbon dioxide

Carbon dioxide is the fuel of moss to photosynthesis, grow and produce food and oxygen for themselves and others.

If you do not provide sufficient carbon dioxide, the brown color will start to turn gray, and the plant may ultimately die.

I recommend you use a carbon dioxide source in your aquarium: Also, use a measuring probe to maintain the concentration of it in an aquarium.

You can also use Excel, a liquid carbon source readily available in the market that also helps to eliminate algae from the tank.

Add an adequate dose according to the written procedure on the packaging, corresponding to your tank size: avoid adding excess to protect the fish life.

High or low lights in the tank

Light is another essential component for your moss plant to grow and perform the function of photosynthesis.

More and less lighting can damage the plant, resulting in color change and ultimately the death of the plant.

They generally do not require much light and can grow in 0.5 Wpg light as most of them prefer to grow under shade.

I use an incandescent light bulb for my aquarium instead of a fluorescent light bulb that uses gas to light up the bulb.

The incandescent light is more beneficial for the moss in helping it preserve its natural appearance and color: Also, it shows more colors that look amazing in the tank.

Lack of nutrient supply

Nutrients like iron, copper, phosphate, magnesium, nitrogen, and others are crucial for moss growth. In the absence or deficiency of these nutrients, the plants start to rot.

Also, fertilizers are essential to provide a sufficient amount of all the nutrients, and if you do not use them, the plant dies.

Usually, tap water contains copper, so when to change the water in the aquarium, the plants receive their dose, but you must take care of other nutrients.

I always use liquid fertilizers for my aquarium after a week or two and try to use a complete fertilizer rather than macro or micronutrients fertilizer.

Column flourish fertilizers are other options as it contains a good amount of all nutrients: use them depending upon the bioload in your fish tank.

Browning of java Moss occur in a stage of growth

If you have java moss in your aquarium, remember it turns brown at a stage of its usual growth.

It is normal, and after some time, it returns to green color: you have to wait and keep patience.

If you do not want this undesired coloration, try some other best varieties of moss such as flam moss, willow moss, Taiwan or Christmas moss, and Fissiden moss.

The detritus, wastes, and debris in the aquarium:

Moss is best in capturing all the dirt, fish wastes, leftover food, and debris and acts as a natural cleaner of the aquarium.

As it catches all these wastes, it gets dirty very soon, and you will feel the color changes, but actually, it is in its original color.

Deep cleaning of the fish tank is the only way to get rid of this junk.

Take it out and rinse it under fast running water: the water pressure helps to remove impurities.

If you do not want to take it out of the tank, use a gravel vacuum instead, but that takes some practice.

I rinse it and keep it in water for 3 to 5 minutes to ensure cleaning and then put it back in the aquarium.

Lack of water flow

When the leaves become thick in the middle section, particularly in carpeted moss, the water does not reach this section.

Water is the medium of supplying nutrients, carbon dioxide, and oxygen to plants.

Trim the plants every two weeks or months to ensure the water flows through every part of the plants.

Is this browning of moss harmful for fish and plants in the aquarium?

The browning of moss in the fish tank is not that harmful, but the reason behind it can be dangerous.

The rotting plants release ammonia, nitrate in the water, which can cause diseases to the fish like ich disease.

It shows the accumulation of unwanted, unconsumed, and other toxic components in the tank, causing decaying.

If you do not remove these deposits, they begin to poison water, leading to the deterioration of fish health.

On the other hand, it reminds you that you are not cleaning and maintaining the tank properly, which results in algal growth, and excessive algae growth is harmful to animal health.

The pH of water also begins to increase in the response of dead plants that start to damage and kill other plants.  

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