Aquarium Plants Turning Brown [7 Main Reasons and Solutions]

There are many different aquarium plants out there and they all have their own specific needs. The most common aquarium plant problems that people come across involve aquarium plants turning brown. 

If your aquarium plants are turning brown, you’re not alone! 

In this article, we will cover the 7 main reasons why aquarium plants turn brown and discuss some solutions to help you get your green plant back!

7 Reasons Your Aquarium Plants Turning Brown

In this section, I will go over some of the main reasons aquarium plants turn brown. As you read through the list, I hope it helps to explain why your aquarium plant is turning brown.

As an aquarium enthusiast, many problems contends arise in our aquascapes and aquariums which cause inconvenience or difficulty for us when caring for our aquarium environment. 

While some aquarium problems are more common than others, aquarium plants turning brown can be a bit of an enigma for aquarium enthusiasts due to the ways that it manifests themselves.

Here is my list of reasons why your aquarium plant might turn brown and tips on how you can avoid the aquarium plant from turning brown in the future.

1. Aquarium Plants Are Not Getting Enough Nutrients

A lack of nutrients is a common reason aquarium plants turn brown. 

If you have been following the proper aquarium plant fertilizing schedule, and your aquarium plants are still turning brown, there may be something wrong with your aquarium water filtration. 

Aquarium filters work by providing an area for beneficial bacteria to grow. The nutrient load in your aquarium water is consumed by these beneficial bacteria and converted into more inert forms. 

If the aquarium filter is not working properly, aquarium plants will be deprived of nutrients and turn brown as a result.

What to do:

Check to make sure your aquarium filter is working properly.

If aquarium plants are turning brown despite aquarium filters functioning normally, do a water change and use an aquarium plant fertilizing schedule for additional help.

2. Aquarium Plants Are Not Getting Enough Lighting

Aquarium plants need a reasonable amount of aquarium lighting, without enough aquarium lighting, aquarium plants will start to turn brown.

A higher wattage aquarium light or an aquarium light fixture that illuminates the aquarium from different angles will ensure better aquarium plant growth.

Strong aquarium lights can also contribute to algae problems in aquariums if not used properly.

Aquarium lights can also help aquarium plants grow better, but without aquarium lighting aquarium plants will start to turn brown after a while.

A planted aquarium tank that is getting enough aquarium lighting should not have any problems with the aquarium plants turning brown from aquarium lights.

What to do: 

Check aquarium lights and aquarium light placement to ensure aquarium plants have enough aquarium lighting.

Note: Lighting for aquariums is a general guide only, read more about aquarium lighting in the following article: ​10 Tips To Improve Your Aquarium Lighting : [ ]

3. Aquarium Plants Are Not Getting Enough Fertilizer

If you are using aquarium plant fertilizer, make sure the tank is not getting too much or too little.

The most common reasons aquarium plants turn brown are aquarium plant fertilization problems. Excess nitrate in the aquarium water can lead to algae growth and low oxygen levels in your aquarium. 

When this happens the aquarium plants die because they need certain gases to be present in your aquarium water.

Aquarium plant fertilizers are not 100 percent identical to aquarium plant substrate, so they need to be administered correctly, or there is a good chance for aquarium plants to turn brown.

If you have too much aquarium plant fertilizer in your aquarium water, remove some of it through weekly water changes.

Another aquarium plant fertilization problem is that aquarium plants may be receiving too little fertilizer. In this case, you need to supplement aquarium plant fertilizer with aquarium plant substrate. 

There are many aquarium plant substrates available on the market today, which dissolve slowly and supply your aquarium plants for a long time. You can buy these products at most aquarium shops.

What to do: 

Make sure aquarium plants receive enough aquarium plant fertilizer or aquarium plant substrate, so they can grow properly.

4. Aquarium Plants Are Not Getting Enough CO2

If aquarium plants are not getting enough CO2 then, aquarium plants will turn brown. This is a common aquarium plant problem for aquarium owners who have aquariums with minimal CO2 content.

The aquarium owner will need to increase the amount of CO2 in their aquarium by either buying a CO2 system or using yeast.

Yeast is cheaper but only lasts for so long before needing to be replaced. A new batch can be created by taking some sugar and putting it in a container with water. After the yeast forms, add it to the aquarium to produce CO2.

Alternatively, aquarium owners can purchase a CO2 system that will add enough CO2 to keep aquarium plants from turning brown. 

To find an aquarium CO2 system, aquarium owners should search online for aquarium supplies or aquarium plant equipment.

What to do:

Increase CO2 to aquarium plants by either using yeast or aquarium equipment.

Continue to monitor aquarium plants and avoid aquarium problems.

If the aquarium has a CO2 system, check the aquarium equipment regularly for any signs of malfunction.

5. Aquarium Plants Are Over Crowded

Another reason aquarium plants turn brown is that they don’t have enough space to spread out their roots. 

This can be especially true of aquarium plants that are planted on the substrate. 

The aquarium substrate has a tendency to shrink down, leaving less room for aquarium plants to grow. 

This can also happen if too many aquarium plants are placed inside an aquarium at the same time. 

If aquarium plant roots are clogged together it can affect their ability to get air and nutrients. This can cause aquarium plants to turn brown and die.

What to do:

If aquarium plants are overcrowded, use a pair of aquarium scissors to separate the root systems. 

This will allow aquarium plants room to grow and avoid aquarium plant browning.

6. Aquarium Plants Are Not Getting Enough Water Flow

Aquarium plants turning brown can come from aquariums that do not get enough water flow. 

If the aquarium is in a room with no air movement, this will cut down on how quickly fresh nutrients get to your aquarium plants. 

The aquarium should be exposed to a few hours of direct sunlight each day. This will help your aquarium plants get the nutrients they need to stay green.

You can also add a powerhead or a water pump to help increase the amount of oxygen and water flow going into the aquarium. 

This will help aquarium plants turn from brown back to the healthy lush green color that they were before.

What to do:

Add aquarium water pump or aquarium powerhead.

Increase the amount of sunlight to the aquarium.

Check for nutrient deficiencies (refer to the list of common aquarium plant problems above).

7. Plant Substrate That Is Not Aquarium Plant Friendly

In aquariums where aquarium plants are kept, aquarium gravel or aquarium substrate is used as a base for the aquarium plants. 

Aquarium substrate will be the bed of soil that your aquarium plants grow in and it may also be compared to topsoil in a potted plant. 

In some cases, especially with low-light aquarium plants, there may be aquarium substrate in the aquarium and there may not be aquarium plants in it yet. 

This can cause an aquarium plant problem when aquarium plants keep dying after being added to the aquarium because aquarium gravel or aquarium substrate around the roots of aquarium plants is not suitable for them to grow in.

It gets dry and does not provide enough moisture for the roots.

When aquarium plants are put in aquarium gravel or aquarium substrate that is not suitable for aquarium plants.

The aquarium plant roots will die, and when aquarium plants die aquarium fish can be poisoned if they eat the dead aquarium plant.

What to do:

When you add aquarium plants to your aquarium make sure that you put them in a separate container with water and aquarium gravel or aquarium substrate that is suitable for aquarium plants to grow in.

This container should be placed on the aquarium stand while it acclimates to the temperature of your aquarium and makes sure to keep the aquarium plant container filled with water. 

It may take some time for aquarium plants to grow roots into aquarium gravel or aquarium substrate that you place them in.

Also, aquarium plants that you buy may already have aquarium gravel or aquarium substrate wrapped around the roots of aquarium plants and this is a sign that it is aquarium plant-friendly. 

This makes adding aquarium plants very easy because all you need to do is take them out of their container and put them in your aquarium with aquarium gravel or aquarium substrate.

If aquarium gravel or aquarium substrate is not aquarium plant-friendly, aquarium plants will turn brown and die because aquarium gravel or aquarium substrate does not provide enough moisture for the aquarium plant roots.

Why Are My Aquarium Plants Turning Brown?

First, aquarium plants turning brown is not always a bad thing. If you are seeing your aquarium plant change colors, there may be nothing to worry about at all! 

After all aquarium plants need sun too and if they get moved into direct sunlight for an hour or two the leaves will turn yellow as it burns off excess chlorophyll. 

This is normal behavior that aquarium plants will display when acclimated to aquarium life. 

The browning of aquarium plants is also fairly common after they are first planted into the aquarium substrate and have established themselves in their new aquatic home.

Below are some of the different plant browning issues many aquarium keepers have seen. 

We will be also discussing that one by one. So that you can also relate to your problem and get the best solution for that.

Aquarium Plants Turning Brown and Transparent

A common problem aquarium owners encounter is aquarium plants turning brown and transparent. 

The leaves will turn completely see-through or appear to be a very light yellow color or even white. 

Usually, reddish stems are visible under the plant’s leaves. This can happen for several reasons:

Too much sunlight (aquarium placed in direct sunlight).

Aquarium water is too warm (temperature above 76F or 24C )

Aquarium plants are not getting enough nutrients, more specifically Iron and CO. 

Aquarium Plants Turning Brown and Yellow

Aquarium plants turning brown and yellow are common aquarium plant problems. 

Aquarium plants are an integral part of any aquarium, whether it is a fish tank or saltwater aquarium. 

The presence of aquarium plants gives the whole aquarium setting an aesthetically pleasing look and feel that can be enjoyed by everyone – humans as well as your pets! 

Therefore, aquarium plants are often an important part of aquarium decoration.

When this problem occurs try to understand the possible causes so you can fix it.

Aquarium Plants Turning Brown on Edges

Many times you can tell aquarium plants are turning brown when you see a line or ring around the leaves. 

This is usually caused by incorrect lighting, temperature, and over-fertilization. 

If aquarium plants turn from green to brown on just one edge of their leaf it may be from low iron in the water column which can easily occur in new aquariums that have not matured.

If aquarium plants turn brown on the edges of their leaves it can also be caused by high levels of ammonia in aquarium water. 

This will cause rapid growth, but this is more likely to kill aquarium plants instead of just turning them brown or yellow on one edge. 

Low light and incorrect lighting are common causes of aquarium plant leaf discoloration.

Fake Aquarium Plants Turning Brown

Fake aquarium plants don’t last forever. It is normal for them to lose their leaves and turn brown after a certain amount of time. 

But there are ways that you can keep your artificial aquarium plants in top condition and avoid having to replace them prematurely. 

Fake aquarium plant manufacturers often neglect to tell customers how best to care for their products, leading aquarium plant owners to believe that the plants are broken or defective when in fact, they just need a little TLC.

Here are some tips on how to care for fake aquarium plants so that you get the most out of them: 

Don’t place your aquarium plants directly under an aquarium light. This can cause aquarium plants to dry out and turn brown. 

Make sure not to place aquarium plants in the aquarium gravel. The aquarium gravel will cause aquarium plants (and all other decorations) to sink, which can damage or even break them. 

Rinse your fake aquarium plants with fresh water after every use before returning them back into your aquarium.

Tips Of Aquarium Plants Turning Brown

The tip of the plants turns brown when aquarium plants are not watered regularly. 

If the aquarium is dirt-free or has gravel, there may be no water available for the plant to absorb and turn brown. 

But when aquarium plants do get enough water in them, they will start growing again after some time.

The tips of aquarium plants can also turn brown if you have added too much aquarium plant fertilizer. 

You can remove the brown tips by cutting them with a sharp blade.

The aquarium plants may also turn brown if you have used too many aquarium plant fertilizers in your tank at one time. 

Which will burn the roots of the aquarium plants and kill them eventually. So be careful not to add more than what is recommended.

Aquarium Plants Turning Brown In New Tank

In new tank aquarium plants turning brown aquarium can be a common problem. 

The first step is to find the cause of aquarium plants turning brown and then take appropriate action, which will include changing water parameters, correcting lighting conditions, or fertilizing.

Make sure aquarium plants turning brown aquarium water parameters meet the standards and aquarium plants turn green again.

When shifting a plant from old to new tank aquarium plants turning brown aquarium can occur. 

The reason is that aquarium plants turn yellow due to lack of nutrients and the aquarium plant’s leaves are not as green as they should be.

The easiest way to solve this problem, make sure you use a fertilizer for aquarium plants in the new tank before putting them into your aquarium water. 

After adding aquarium plant fertilizers aquarium plants turn green in a few days.

How to Keep Aquarium Plants from Turning Brown

So you want to keep your aquarium plants green from the start? If you want to keep aquarium plants from turning brown, make sure they are healthy and free of debris. 

Do not feed your aquarium plants too much at once – this will cause aquarium plants to turn brown as well. 

If you’re noticing that your aquarium plant has turned a shade of yellow or orange (when it should be green), then you should do a water change with aquarium plant-safe fertilizer. 

If you’re noticing that your aquarium plants are turning brown, then it is most likely due to a lack of light. 

Aquarium plants need at least six hours of sunlight every day and will turn brown if they don’t get enough light (just like any other living thing).

How Do I Turn Brown Aquarium Plants Green Again?

It is a real challenge to turn your brown aquarium plants green again. Here are some of the most common solutions to this problem.

Bring your aquarium plants into a shaded area with plenty of fresh, cool water for at least 24 hours.

Add aquarium plant fertilizer if you have it available or use aquarium water from another healthy tank. You can purchase aquarium plant food at any pet store in an easy-to-use liquid or powder form.

Check your aquarium plant for snails and snail eggs before replanting them in the aquarium.

Raise aquarium temperature to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 Celsius) if possible, but not higher than 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 Celsius).

Your plants will likely survive at normal room temperatures until new growth begins or you can set up a separate aquarium for the plants.

Keep aquarium lights off for several minutes to allow the aquarium plants time to adjust. If you are using aquarium grow lights, set them on a timer if possible or raise the temperature in your tank so they don’t have to work as hard.

Use aquarium plant fertilizer every other day until new growth begins. Once it does begin, reduce aquarium plant fertilizer to once or twice a week.

Continue to monitor aquarium temperature and adjust if necessary.

Prune your aquarium plants when new growth begins, removing brown leaves before they can fall off in the aquarium water. If you are not able to prune them at this time, remove any dead aquarium plants immediately after they turn completely brown and remove aquarium plant fertilizer.

If you have a large aquarium with several aquarium plants, you may wish to separate them into smaller groups for easier pruning or replacement if necessary.

These were some of our tactics you must try to turn back your aquarium plants green in color. If you are not able to turn aquarium plants green again, then the best option is to throw them away and select a replacement aquarium plant.

However, if you follow our advice carefully then there should be no problem at all with your aquarium plants turning brown or dying!

What Should I Do To Avoid This Problem in The Future?

To never face this problem again, you should clean your aquarium plants properly.

Plants that have been sitting in a bucket of water for too long will quickly begin to rot and turn brown. 

Make sure to give them a good rinse before putting them into the aquarium. This should help keep aquarium plants from turning brown again after this one-time mishap! 

Once they are healthy and happy aquarium plants, you can continue to prevent this problem from reoccurring by cleaning your aquarium weekly.

Other Common Problems With Aquarium Plants

There are other aquarium plants problems that aquarium keepers can face. 

In this section we have discussed various aquarium plants turning into some other color, aquarium plants not growing and aquarium plants getting burned by the aquarium lights, etc. 

We hope that aquarium keepers can use the information mentioned in this article to fix aquarium plants’ problems on their own.

Aquarium Plants Turning Black

A new aquarium plant is placed in a tank and shortly after turning black or brown.

We go to the aquarium store and they tell us that there was nothing wrong with the aquarium plants we bought, we just didn’t acclimate them correctly.

But as an aquarium enthusiast, you know there’s something more to this story than what the pet store worker tells you.

Every aquarium enthusiast has had aquarium plants turn black or brown at one time or another, but it’s not something to be dismayed about.

Aquarium plants turning black can be caused by anything from poor aquarium plant care to the particular aquarium plant species itself.

I will go over what causes aquarium plants to turn black and how aquarium enthusiasts can avoid this problem in the future.

While aquarium plants turning black may be annoying, it’s not something to worry about.

Aquarium Plants Disintegrating

There are a variety of aquarium plants which aquarium hobbyists enjoy keeping in their aquariums.

Fortunately, for both novice and experienced aquarium owners, aquarium plants have several benefits. They help to remove pollutants from aquarium water, provide shelter and habitat for aquarium fish, and add oxygen to the aquarium environment.

At least that’s the positive side of aquarium plants.

On the other hand, aquarium plants are living creatures, just as aquarium fish are. Unfortunately, aquarium plants suffer from the same afflictions that aquarium fish do. 

This includes disease or illness caused by factors such as water pollutants or parasites.

While aquarium plants can also develop root rot if their roots are over-watered, aquarium plants also occasionally disintegrate into a pile of brown mush.

The causes for aquarium plants turning brown can vary, but there are some common culprits to be aware of. 

These include aquarium plant root rot and nutrient deficiencies. 

Other factors such as water temperature fluctuations or pH level irregularities can contribute to aquarium plants turning brown as well.

Brown Spots On Aquarium Plants

Brown spots on plants occur when aquarium plants are exposed to minerals that have become deficient in the aquarium water, which causes the plants to burn.

Iron is one of the most important components for plant growth, including aquarium plants. 

Phosphate and potassium are also vital elements required by aquarium plants for healthy growth. 

When these minerals are in short supply aquarium plants will begin to turn brown.

This is a quick guide on how to save aquarium plants that have turned brown or are dying in an aquarium plant emergency. 

Aquarium Plants Turning Yellow

Aquarium plants turning yellow is often one of the first things aquarium hobbyists notice that are wrong with their aquarium. 

There are several different reasons for aquarium plants turning yellow. 

The first thing to do if aquarium plants turn yellow is to assess how long they have been in poor health and what you last did before this problem arose.

Aquarium plants can turn yellow and recover on their own, but if this is not happening seek out the root of the problem so you can solve it.

Aquarium Plants Turning Transparent

Aquarium plants can turn transparent when they are dying. 

The aquarium plant turns from solid green to a translucent color, which makes it difficult to determine if there is still life left in the aquarium plant or not. 

A sure sign that aquarium plants are about to die is aquarium plants turning brown. In addition, aquarium plants may lose vigor due to aquarium plant diseases or from chemical imbalances in the aquarium water.

As aquarium plants lose vigor, aquarium plants begin to turn transparent as a way for aquarium plants to rid themselves of excess toxins and waste buildup. 

This is called translucency. Transparent aquarium plants can easily be mistaken for dead aquarium plants because aquarium plants look the same, aquarium plants are just difficult to see through. The aquarium plant is not dead but maybe dying.

Aquarium Grass Turning Brown

A common problem aquarium hobbyists can encounter is aquarium grass turning brown. 

If aquarium plants are dying, you need to look at the root system. Is your aquarium plant’s root system rotting? The root system loses its connection with the aquarium substrate and gravel, making it die off.

If aquarium plants are dying from the bottom up, this is a good indication that your aquarium plant’s root system is rotting.

In most cases turning brown aquarium plants, brown is not life-threatening for your aquarium grass. You can leave aquarium grass to turn brown if desired as aquarium grass can easily be replaced.

If aquarium plants are turning brown, several factors influence this. 

Aquarium Plants Turning White

Aquarium plants turning brown is a common aquarium plant problem. In addition to brown aquarium plants, aquarium plants can also turn white.

They turn white because aquarium plants need aquarium light and aquarium people don’t always provide aquarium plants the aquarium lighting they need.

You should read this article on aquarium lights to learn more about them if your aquarium plants are turning white.

How Do I Save My Dying Brown Aquarium Plants?

To save a dying aquarium plant, you can cut off the brown part and replant it in a new aquarium.

However, when aquarium plants turn brown at the bottom of the stem, they are most likely dead. You may need to discard it from your aquarium.

If aquarium plants turn yellowish on top with green on the bottom, there is probably no cause for alarm.

These aquarium plants may be losing their lower leaves as they grow, and you should trim these to make the aquarium plant look nice. You can also plant them lower in your aquarium for a different look.

If aquarium plants turn brown at the top and turn green on the bottom, this is usually because of too much light and heat.

The aquarium plant may also be getting too much fertilizer. Reduce the aquarium lights and fertilizers so that aquarium plants turn green on top and bottom again.

If aquarium plants turn brown at the base of the aquarium plant, this is usually because it’s getting too much light and/or heat. 

This aquarium plant may also be root-bound, which means the aquarium plant is planted in too small of an aquarium.

You can use aquarium scissors to remove brown aquarium plants with root-bound roots.

You may also need to trim the existing aquarium plants so they look nice and neat if they are growing out of the aquarium plants below.

If aquarium plants turn brown on the leaves and/or stems, this may be because of too much light and heat.

If aquarium plants keep getting burnt by aquarium lights, you need to move the aquarium plants away from the aquarium lighting or lower the aquarium lights more.

You can also raise aquarium plants above the top level of water for a different look if aquarium plants aren’t getting enough aquarium light.

These were some of my aquarium plant care tips on aquarium plants turning brown. You can also visit our website for more aquarium plant care tips and aquarium information.


In conclusion, aquarium plants turning brown can be a very frustrating problem to have. 

Unfortunately, there is no single solution that works for all aquarium plant problems. 

Fortunately, aquarium plant diseases and disorders are less common than aquarium algae issues, making them the least of any aquarium owner’s worries. 

If your aquarium plants start to turn brown on their own then you should consider yourself lucky and just leave them be. 

But the tactics we discussed with you in this article will surely help you to turn your plant green from brown.  

However, if they turn brown because of aquarium plant disease or aquarium plant disorders then you should address the problem as soon as possible to avoid losing your aquarium plants entirely.

We hope that you have learned about aquarium plants’ common problems and how to deal with them by reading this article.

Our website helps to solve every aquarium problem. Read more helpful articles here.

If there are any other aquarium plant problems that you want us to discuss then please leave a comment below if there’s anything else you would like to know. I read and reply to all comments below.

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