API Leaf Zone vs. SeaChem Flourish (use little words)
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Old 04-24-2012, 07:10 AM   #1
mfskarphedin
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API Leaf Zone vs. SeaChem Flourish (use little words)


Forward: Last time I tried changing fertilizer from Flourish, I got green water, in a client's aquarium, so I'm nervous about straying from Flourish again! I don't want an Amano tank; I just want to get this crap at least growing again! I apologize for the length of the following:


Hi, I have a few low tech planted tanks with Profile substrate. I've been using Flourish for the last few years on city water with, eh, ok results, I guess. Most plants aren't curling up and dying, anyway. I've also just started using some Excel this past month, and that's been doing well for some plants, so I got a gallon of Metricide 14 and will continue with that.

But I think I have potassium problems with my Anubias (chronic holes in new leaves) and iron problems with my Red Rubin Sword - just poor growth and color on city water & lots of Flourish versus NO ferts at my old house that, well...we had a dug well with mildly acidic water with excellent GH & KH, and as for K and Fe, the levels were sky high (we lived right off the "Isinglass River," and our water tasted like liquid iron.) Believe me, if I had a pickup truck, I'd get a 100 gallon sealed transport tank and be filling it up at the river every month for water changes!!!

Red Rubins and Java Fern especially went wild there. Red Rubins used to have very little petiole but gargantuan leaves 20+ inches, and the root systems almost doubled the thickness of my substrate, even with zero Nitrates! I used a tiny bit of Flourish once in a while. My Java Fern grew wild in a 125 gallon Koi tank with no added ferts or CO2 (tons of Nitrates,) and I sold it by the boxful. I easily made a couple hundred bucks on eBay clearing out the tank once a year for my xmas money.

Java Fern here is now just...eh. It barely grows at all. Red Rubin has all but disappeared. The big leaves are gone, and the plants are tiny puffs on the bottom with 2" long stubby, transparent, malformed leaves. Oh, how I miss my house in so many ways!

As an aside, the city water pH maxes out my high-range pH kit - two of them. I haven't measured GH and KH here. No wonder I'm down to only Goldfish and Platys!

So, anyway, I read the blurbs on websites touting how Leaf Zone adds only Fe and K, and I thought, that seems perfect to supplement the Flourish and Excel, as I think I'm especially lacking those two nutrients! But then I just found this analysis of metals in it, and now I'm wondering what's the deal?

Is Leaf Zone just another Flourish, so that adding it would be like double-dosing Flourish? In that case, I don't want to overdose micronutrients! Also, isn't Iron a metal? Then why isn't it listed?

As for Flourish's guaranteed analysis, what components are no longer listed, and at what %? Someone's got to have a copy of the old chart stashed somewhere! It's impossible to compare the two thoroughly without complete guaranteed analyses. WTF, US law? You suck!

Poop.

BTW, I only wanted to try a little bit of an Fe & K blend first to see if it helped, without splurging on bottles of Seachem's brand, and then I'd probably buy it dry in bulk or whatever, the same way I bought Excel to try it first and later got a gallon of Metricide when I saw improvement. I'm poor!

I've also considered that I'm also lacking phosphorus and calcium. Should I just go ahead and buy everything I might be lacking in bulk and sell off whatever doesn't seem to do anything, while keeping on the Flourish for micros? Or try something like this "Green Fert Package?" I don't think I really want to add Nitrogen, btw, because I have plenty, believe me! But with lower light levels and generally undemanding plants, it seems like going this route is way overkill. Plus, the guaranteed analysis for the micros isn't as impressive-looking to me as Flourish. However, I'm the first to admit that I'd don't know what I'm talking about.

I know about "EI" from reading on here but I'm too overwhelmed at the moment to make personal sense out of it.

Last edited by mfskarphedin; 04-24-2012 at 07:17 AM.. Reason: added link, polishing it up
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Old 04-24-2012, 08:09 PM   #2
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ApI Leaf Zone = Contains only Potassium (K) & Iron (Fe)


Flourish = Almost all of the micro nutrients + trace elements needed for aquatic plants (better comprehensive supplement)




Also exactly what type of substrate are you using? How do you know that you have "nitrogen"? Plus Excel is a carbon based supplement, some plants respond to it but not all plants will. I would go with a DIY Co2 setup (just browse to DIY forum), this is because plants respond better to actual Co2.

Can you give us a break down of your tank, such as lighting, substrate, ferts being used, water parameters, etc......
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Old 04-24-2012, 09:00 PM   #3
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Ok, well, isn't nitrate a form of nitrogen? I never took chemistry, so I am clueless. I just know I have plenty of nitrate and don't want to add more.

Like I mentioned, I use Profile, which is "Schultz Aquatic Plant Soil" and similar to flourite, just far cheaper. All my tanks (except my quarantine tank) are pretty much the same: zero ammonia/nitrite/varying levels of nitrate. PH is 8.0+. Lighting is low to medium, planting medium/medium-heavy with easy plants. I used to run DIY CO2 years ago, but it was too much of a PITA, so now that there's Excel, I've chosen to use that about 3x/week. It's affected some plants, not all, but enough to continue using it, especially since Metricide is so cheap in the long run. I dose Flourish at the recommended rate a couple times a week. All rooted plants except the crypts over the UGF have Jobe's spikes. All are filtered with canisters except the 10 gal with the UGF - I know, every one a nitrate factory! I do fairly large water changes to keep nitrates down. I'm hoping with increased plant growth that I can cut water changes down by a lot.

Okay, I'm going to dig out my test kit and figure out the GH and KH of my tap water! grumblegrumble

[edit]
Tap water: 6 dKH (107 ppm)
Aquariums: 2-3 dKH (35 - 53 ppm)

Tap water: Ahem. 100 drops. 100 dGH. 1790 ppm. And it still didn't change color. I...think my test is faulty. I stopped there, because the test tube was full.

Let me refer to the water report, as posted by my landlord...

Oh, I just learned we have chloramine, which wasn't in last year's report. .046 ppm. Now I have to get Amquel. sigh Nitrite/Nitrate = 0. Nope, nothing about KH/GH or Calcium or Magnesium, the dummies. They do say gravel-pack and bedrock wells, so I guess it's safe to say anyway that we have liquid rock? *shrug*
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Old 04-26-2012, 05:39 AM   #4
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Well from what I know is that "Schultz Aquatic Plant Soil" is the same as Flourite, or Eco-Complete because it's a inert substrate. Meaning that it has absolutely no beneficial macro/micro nutrients with in itself, but just like other planted substrate media it's capable of storing these type of nutrients, and is able to release the nutrients back into the water over time.

However I've seen nothing but negative feedback about "Schultz Aquatic Plant Soil" saying that it causes massive ammonia spikes.

Anyway, since it's just like other planted substrates, I would suggest going with the entire line of Flourish products, or getting into "EI" dosing with dry fertilizers. Either way by supplying a more profound base of nutrients into your tank the plants should start "perking" up.


Now myself, I prefer to go the MTS (mineralized topsoil) route with my planted tanks, and I use both the dry ferts "EI" dosing, and using some of the Flourish line of products like basic Flourish, and the Flourish Phosphate. But, I also use -000- capsules filled with Plantex CSM+B, chelated iron, Dolomite (calcium & magnesium), Muriate of Potash, and I add in 5 grains of Osmocote Plus, then I put the capsules into some Mexican Pottery Clay because this type of pottery clay is high in Iron and my plants seem to like it lol.

I chose to go this route because it perks my plants up, makes them really healthy and lush, but I mix my topsoil with Flourite, or Special Kitty: All Natural Cat Litter; Because of it being an inert substrate it soaks up the nutrients and releases them slowly back into the water column.
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Old 04-26-2012, 05:59 PM   #5
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Here's a couple pictures of my old 75 gallon setup I used to have, notice how lush and green the plants are. This is done using the MTS route, and going with the dry fertilizers..... Was Co2 injection using a DIY inline Co2 reactor connected through a magnum 350 canister filter.





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Old 04-27-2012, 03:22 AM   #6
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Hi, I wrote this last night, but my internet went down just as I was about to post:

Thanks for the tip on the Profile! I hadn't heard that, and it just so happens that for the first time in years, I need to get a bag to fluff up my 55 gal's substrate. I will be sure to test it thoroughly! I didn't find a lot of links, but I found one thread on APC about someone who had this problem - showed pics of her test kit results as proof and everything.

Anyway, I did have a soil/clay/sand tank back a couple years before Walstad's book came out. Some things grew great, but I forget why I changed it out. I think it had something to do with BBA and green water. Oh, yeah, the green water was definitely from too much light (110W of CFL over a 29 gal, lol. Now those lights are over my 55.) And then I was new to planting, so I was always needing to move plants, and it made a mess, I hated the color of the white sand I used, etc.

However, I've given a little thought to trying it again in that 29 gal with mineralized soil. But that's another tank, and right now I need to concentrate on finding what I need for the anubias and swords in the other tanks. I tried some Azoo clay ball fertilizer about 3-4 years ago on a red rubin sword in a 46 bowfront I keep up for a client, but it didn't seem to help much of anything. However, I think light might have been a limiting factor at the time. Right now, I just put in a Jobe's Stick 3 weeks ago. I'll be back there Monday to see if it helped.

BTW, nice pics! Here's the bowfront I maintain at a chiropractor's office. He went on vacation a couple months ago and left the lights off for 4 days. The sword was not impressed and is in the process of growing back. Now I installed a light timer. :/

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Old 04-27-2012, 05:11 AM   #7
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Thanks, yeah my 75 gallon setup was my pride & joy, spent hundreds of dollars getting it set up and running, with Co2 injection, canister filters, lighting, etc....

But I ended up trading it off to guy for his 100 gallon setup, which I'm currently restoring the stand because it was scratched like crazy along the front of it, and a really ugly stain color, and then the tank had really old sealant that was starting to crack and peel away from the glass. But now it's finally ready to be resealed, and I removed the middle door so I can close it off, and install a shelf into the stand, then it can be repainted.

I went from having the 75 gallon tank, two 55 gallon tanks, a 56 gallon column, a 40 gallon long, and two 29 gallon tanks. Down to just the 75 gallon setup, so I traded it for the 100 gallon setup, and now I have the 100 gallon system, 55 gallon acrylic (got it for $50), a really nice 55 gallon setup, a 6.6 gallon rimless Fluval Edge, a 2.5 gallon nano, and a 0.97 gallon betta cube.

But the tanks that I have actually running, is the rimless Edge, and the 55 gallon acrylic (which looks like crap lol) because I'm slowly tearing it down, and moving things into my really nice 55 gallon tank. I mean my acrylic is basically a holding tank now, because it has what's left of my plants in it, and my 6 peppered corydoras catfist, 35 neon tetras, 1 true siamese algae eater, and what's left of my shrimp collection which is 5 ghost shrimp lol.
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Old 04-27-2012, 07:29 AM   #8
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xxUnRaTeDxxRkOxx, I guess I'll have to be the one person who disagrees with the ammonia spikes, I've set up three tanks recently and none of them have had any sort of ammonia issues.

Tank 1: 6 gallon Edge - uncycled media, couple plants and no spike
Tank 2: 12 gallon Edge - uncycled media, bunch of plants, no spike
Tank 3: 27 gallon - cycled media (cheating I know...), lots of plants and no spike

Maybe I'm the odd one out, but don't believe all the negative you hear about Schultz APS, it's pretty good stuff.

OP, sorry, can't really help you much but I did read a huge substrate comparison test and the Schultz had a TON of iron in it. I can't seem to find the link to the test, but I'll try and post it up tomorrow. There were a few other mentions of it and one more direct comparison against fluorite in which the Schultz had MUCH higher CEC and again, a good amount of innate iron.
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Old 04-27-2012, 11:35 AM   #9
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Maybe it was just a bad batch. I'm still going to test it. I know I had no problems with the first, like, 10 bags.

This chart? Obviously all the new substrates aren't included, but back a few years ago, that's what I used to decide on the Profile (it has many times the amount of Fe and Ca of Flourite.) I thought the plants could use the minerals in it as implied by this article and the people on the plant forums at the time. However, the first paragraph starts already with redox stuff, and that's more to do with the CEC, if I understand my readings of the past couple of days.

Maybe it's trapped in it somehow; I still don't really know squat about chemistry. That's why I was asking if it could get used up, like, if the iron and calcium can be removed by the plants until there's none left, and it needs to be replaced. Or can you put Fe and Ca and such in the water column, and the substrate takes it back up/releases it/takes it back up/etc? Or is it only electrons that are exchanged?

Quote:
As with most things, there is a break-in period for substrates. Newly planted tanks may take a few weeks or several months to become stable. Ammonium, nitrite, and nitrate levels will bounce around until the bacteria are established. They will allow more nutrients to become available to the plants. The plants will then start establishing themselves and a balanced tank can be achieved. As with potted house plants, the nutrients can become exhausted over a period of time. The planted aquarium also has a lifespan, so nutrients need to be replaced or the substrate replaced.
He doesn't say which kind of substrate he's talking about, though - soil? Clay? WTF? Everyone here says it's inert, but I don't think anyone read the article. So, I don't think I'm any closer to a full answer.
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Old 04-28-2012, 02:15 AM   #10
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Yup, that's the chart I was looking for.

I've been reading that most minerals in substrates aren't directly available to plants until a suitable bacteria bed has been cultured and can begin to break the minerals down and make them available to the plants. I'm not entirely sure I understand how that works but I never claimed to be a biologist
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