Holes In Aquarium Plants: 3 Causes & How To Solve

What are the holes in aquarium plants? How can you avoid them and recover your plant’s gorgeous look? The questions may have annoyed you for a long time.

The holes can be the result of nutrient deficiency or fish waste. Sometimes, it’s your fish to bite the plants and makes holes. So how can you fix them?

This post will cover all tips and information needed to deal with the holes in your beautiful live plant. Let’s stay with us till the end of the line to discover the best treatment!

Why Are There Holes In Aquarium Plants?

Three primary reasons for the holes in your live plants are potassium deficiency, plant-eating species in the tank, and fish waste or bacteria.

Potassium deficiency

Potassium is a crucial micronutrient to aquatic plants. They absorb a lot of potassium to promote their development and overall health.

In the tissue of the plants, potassium helps with the circulation of nutrients and water. Therefore, a potassium deficiency could make it difficult for your plant to transfer nutrients to its parts.

Moreover, potassium activates about 60 enzymes involved in the creation of proteins. Your plants must have a stable supply of potassium in the water in your tank to thrive.

You might notice that your plants produce little black dots on their foliage if they are deficient in potassium.

These tiny dots may develop into holes with black or yellow outlines when not addressed. The holes keep extending until they wreck your plants.

Plant-eating fish and snails

Some fish species eat plants, resulting in tiny holes in the leaves of your aquatic plants. Be careful if you raise one of those species:

  • Goldfish
  • Uaru spp.
  • Leporinus spp.
  • Pleco
  • Silver Dollars
  • Buenos Aires Tetras
  • Mbuna
  • Oscars
  • Scats
  • Monos

Pest snails also contribute to this issue because they chew on live plant leaves.

Some people confuse pest snails with pond snails, but the latter doesn’t cause many problems for your aquatic flora.

You don’t intend to keep pest snails, but they may still appear in your tank. Their eggs are present in any fish store and plant.

If unchecked, this species can reproduce quickly and endanger the plants.

aquarium plants with holes on leaves

Some species like eating plants

Fish waste and bacteria

Due to its lack of vital nutrients for plants to live, stagnant water is the leading cause of Cryptocoryne rot, also known as Crypt.

In that situation, changing the tank’s water as much as possible is obviously the best solution. A good starting point is at least 50%.

Although the water change can eliminate most bacteria and fish waste that affects your tank plants, some are still hiding among the sediments and stones.

Cleaning and sucking the bottom of the aquarium is the most effective way to reach them.

bottom of the tank

Bacteria may stick to the bottom of the tank

How To Fix Holes in Aquarium Plants?

If the leaves on your plants have holes, see if they are getting adequate nutrients to continue their development.

You may fill in the holes after knowing everything about the nutrients your plants receive. Then, take action as follows.

Add potassium to the tank.

Take a potassium test to determine the cause first if you find little holes starting to appear on the foliage of your plants.

Your tank water should have the right potassium level, which is about 10 to 15 ppm. This video will show you how to perform the potassium test correctly:


Use a potassium supplement if your aquatic plants don’t get enough potassium. This method will help keep your aquarium potassium levels at an ideal rate.

You can use a variety of potassium supplements. We recommend Seachem Flourish Potassium because it doesn’t include nitrate or phosphate.

You should add potassium supplements each time you change the water in the tank, especially if the live plants show signs of potassium shortage.

Add a potassium supplement to fill any minor holes in your aquatic plants to stop them from entirely withering.

The supplement also promotes the growth of the plants and prevents the hole from growing.

a beautiful tank

Aquarium plants need potassium to thrive

Change the water

Changing the water regularly is a terrific method to keep your tank clean and healthy. The ideal weekly change for your aquarium is between 10 and 15%.

Once the water in your fish tank is clean, you won’t have to worry about natural waste or debris. These undetectable wastes would accumulate nitrate and phosphate in the tank, leading to algae growth.

The aquatic plants would experience growth abnormalities due to debris accumulation, and they would perish. To avoid these issues in your aquarium, change the water to remove the debris.

Adjust the lighting

Though a lack of potassium is the primary cause of plant holes, poor illumination is equally vital to their health.

Aquatic plants need 8 to 12 hours of artificial lighting. Meanwhile, direct sunlight can’t work best for them as they cause algae growth.

Stop your pets from eating the plant.

Pest snails are dangerous. You can add fish that eat snails to your aquarium. Loaches should be the best ones for this purpose.

You can also use chemicals to eliminate these snails. Remember to follow the guidelines strictly to avoid harming other tank occupants.

Some fish eat plants. If you want to protect them, choose pets that don’t have that habit. Otherwise, raise your favorite fish in a tank without any plants.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can I stop fish from eating my plants?

You can try these methods to protect your plants from fish:

  • Raise carnivorous fish only
  • Feed your fish algae-based food
  • Choose the plants that your fish don’t like to eat
  • Limit the number of fish in your tank
  • Grow fast-growing plants
  • Choose the fish first and pick the right plants for them

2. How do I add potassium to my aquarium plants?

It depends on what type of fertilizer you use. If it’s liquid, add the solution directly to the tank. But if it’s a root tab, insert the fertilizer into the tank’s substrate for it to break down.

3. How often should I fertilize my aquarium plants?

Feed the plants two to three times a week if your tank receives medium to high light. It would be best to test the water, which should be around 50 ppm of nitrates.

4. How do I make my aquarium plants greener?

The best method is to use iron-based fertilizer. Go for a slow-release solution to save your time.

5. How long do aquarium plants live?

The average lifespan of a planted aquarium is around six months.

Wrapping It Up

Holes in aquarium plants are common, especially when you don’t give them enough potassium. If this is your case, try the methods we have shared above to bring back the beauty of your plants.

Thank you for reading!