Trouble with Rotala - Fert Imbalance, CO2, Deficiency?
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Old 12-15-2013, 07:35 PM   #1
oddnature
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Trouble with Rotala - Fert Imbalance, CO2, Deficiency?


First real trouble shooting post for me. I've pretty much gone it alone reading other people's issues and tweaking my setup here and there. Also my first ever planted tank.

Tank Params

Ada Mini-L (so roughly 10gal)
Filter - Eheim 2213
Light - Ada Aquasky - 9hrs

CO2 - on 2 hours before lights, off hour before. Drop checker is consistently lime/yellow green throughout photoperiod. Adding Flourish Excel at recommended dose to combat some aggressive BBA that was introduced into the tank long long ago. Starting to finally win this battle.

Dosing EI
N: 10-20
P: 3-5
K: ? backed off on adding due to K in other ferts and GH booster.
Micros: CSM-B 1/64th tsp daily
Iron: 2ml Flourish Iron 2x/week
Water is quite soft out of tap 1KH and practically 0GH so I add enough baking soda and Flourish Equilibrium to bring it up to about 6KH and 6GH.
PH: generally 6.4 around mid-day
50% weekly water changes

I never used to have any problems with Rotala Rotundifolia. Early on it grew like mad for me and blushed a nice pink hue. That was when I had crushed coral in the filter to boost the KH and kept to an ADA ferts/dosing schedule. When I started having severe problems with GSA and other filamentous green algae I switched over to an EI daily dosing schedule. Now my Rotala is stunted other than a few stems that seem fine, but once those get a trim I'll have the same problem. Everything else in the tank seems ok.






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Old 12-15-2013, 08:09 PM   #2
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Couple of things. Are you using Aquasoil? I think I see it in the last picture but not sure.

If you are using it then you really don't need to be dosing the water column with ferts except GH booster and potassium.

How sure are you that the N level is 10-20 at all times? I see older leaves have small holes in them on the Rotalas, and smaller new growth which looks like typical nitrogen deficiency.

Also, do you know what the Ca:Mg ratio is in your tank right now?

1/64th CSM / day is very high, you are adding 0.12 ppm iron every day from CSM + B, or 0.84 ppm per week Iron. This may not be the cause of your current issue but it is definitely high and could be a problem later since many micros are toxic in tiny amounts.
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Old 12-16-2013, 02:35 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply Zapins!

Quote:
Couple of things. Are you using Aquasoil? I think I see it in the last picture but not sure.

If you are using it then you really don't need to be dosing the water column with ferts except GH booster and potassium.
Yep Aquasoil. I'm willing to consider going back to just the GH and K, but in the tank's early days - say 6mo in. I had lots of problems with yellowing leaves on the HC, very sad looking didiplis diandra and lots of filamentous and GSA. The GSA subsided once I started dosing my phosphates above 3ppm and the tank has been free off any filamentous algae since I started lightly dosing nitrogen. Causation doesn't necessarily equal correlation here, but adding N/P did seem to help my situation.

The tank is about a year and a half in now and has seen a couple rescapes using the same aquasoil with some toping off. Just fyi.

Quote:
How sure are you that the N level is 10-20 at all times? I see older leaves have small holes in them on the Rotalas, and smaller new growth which looks like typical nitrogen deficiency.
Well all times is probably generous. I usually test a couple times a week, less if things simply look healthy, and while I know test kits can lie the N is usually around 5ppm after my weekly water change and up to about 20 by end of the week.

Quote:
Also, do you know what the Ca:Mg ratio is in your tank right now?
No clue. I'll have to pick up a calcium test kit before I can report on that one. Pretty much relying on the GH booster to have proper ratios at this point.

Quote:
1/64th CSM / day is very high, you are adding 0.12 ppm iron every day from CSM + B, or 0.84 ppm per week Iron. This may not be the cause of your current issue but it is definitely high and could be a problem later since many micros are toxic in tiny amounts.
I'll cut this back by half.
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Old 12-16-2013, 03:31 PM   #4
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Zapins, I don't want to say this is the answer to what's happening, but this paragraph in Happi's thread around CSM+B toxicity felt eerily similar to what has been happening in my tank the past couple months.

Quote:
The actual symptoms of micro nutrient toxicities can look a lot like deficiency symptoms. But they appear as a confused conglomeration of several deficiency symptoms that do not match up with any one deficiency. This is because micro nutrients block certain enzymes and pathways in plants, and distrupt normal functioning of the cells. Often times this happens by blocking the use or uptake of another nutrient. So as happi mentioned above, an iron toxicity shows up as a pale looking plant because it blocks the use of sulfur in the photosynthetic system. The absence of sulfur from the enzymes causes the plant to look yellow (which is also a symptom of sulfur deficiency). Unfortunately this is often confused as iron deficiency because of the pale color of the plant. Hobbyists often see this pale color and think that they are not adding enough iron, so they add more iron or CSM+B and create a cycle that perpetuates the problem.
The reason I have been dosing the CSM+B so heavily is because I was noticing pale growth in the Rotala and Didiplis stems thinking it may have been an iron deficiency. I don't know if you caught it above, but I also have been dosing 2ml Flourish Iron 2x/week for the same reason.
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Old 12-16-2013, 04:33 PM   #5
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Yes I did notice you were adding a lot of iron and I had wondered why.

I am surprised it has taken the hobby so long to realize the boundaries of what we can safely dose. It might be the cause of what you have experienced. Toxicities occur a lot more often than people think. Dosing iron using flourish iron is better than dosing iron via CSM+B. I feel it is much safer to use the recommended dose of CSM+B (to get 0.1 ppm iron) and then dose more iron using a separate product for that purpose. If you look at Seachem's line you'll notice that their micro product does not contain iron, instead they sell it as a separate mix. While this may just be coincidence, I feel that perhaps the company put some thought into this issue.

The pictures you show are somewhat difficult to tell from since the new Rotala shoots are still quite small, but it looks like nitrogen deficiency which is slightly odd considering you have aquasoil. Who knows what is still in it though. I trust plant symptoms more than I do test kits and what should be in the tank and in your pictures I see deteriorating older growth (which points to a mobile nutrient like NPK) and smaller than normal new growth that twists slightly. Twisting can be a sign of Ca/Mg issues, but oddly Rotala plants tend to have new growth twisting in nitrogen deficiency as well. So at this point I'd up the dose of KNO3, maybe add a second dose at some point mid week. Especially since adding KNO3 has a low risk of causing a toxicity and your test kit often reads 5 ppm. I think it is quite plausible that it might be closer to 0 than 5 at least for part of the week which is why the weird growth tends to occur after water changes (because it ran out mid weekish and the deficiency symptoms don't start until a few days later around water change day).

I'd try adding a second dose of KNO3 at some point during the week and seeing if that helps. You should know within a week or so if it has worked.
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Old 12-16-2013, 05:26 PM   #6
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i don't want to cause any argument here but i suggest adding different source of Nitrogen which use more than one kind of nitrogen source, i highly suggest making your own recipe using KNO3 and Urea, which is similar to Seachem. i was dosing heavy nitrate and plant did not respond to it very well until i started to dose Urea/NO3 dosing.
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Old 12-16-2013, 05:59 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by happi View Post
i don't want to cause any argument here but i suggest adding different source of Nitrogen which use more than one kind of nitrogen source, i highly suggest making your own recipe using KNO3 and Urea, which is similar to Seachem. i was dosing heavy nitrate and plant did not respond to it very well until i started to dose Urea/NO3 dosing.
Actually, right now I'm using leftover Flourish Nitrogen similar to what you're suggesting. Haven't switched that over to the dry KNO3 that I have.
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Old 12-16-2013, 06:18 PM   #8
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Urea is another decent source of nitrogen, though using it hasn't been widely adopted/tried out in the hobby.

I think you could give it a try if you wanted to, but you need to be aware that in tanks with pH above 7 it will degrade into ammonia which can trigger green water and possibly affect livestock. So use it if you want but be sure you are aware of the potential for something to go wrong.
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Old 12-16-2013, 07:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zapins View Post
Urea is another decent source of nitrogen, though using it hasn't been widely adopted/tried out in the hobby.

I think you could give it a try if you wanted to, but you need to be aware that in tanks with pH above 7 it will degrade into ammonia which can trigger green water and possibly affect livestock. So use it if you want but be sure you are aware of the potential for something to go wrong.
+1 and do not go crazy with it, IME plant will consume 0.6-0.8 ppm of NH4 per day in heavily planted tank, i suggest starting with 1ppm NO3 and 0.3ppm urea in case you decide to use it for your tank. i have used urea for long time and tested it many time and i fully support it being superior to NO3 and you will see a boost to your plant growth.
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Old 12-16-2013, 07:20 PM   #10
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I have no problem using urea in addition to KNO3 but I don't think you should lower the KNO3 dose, you can definitely add a second KNO3 dose during the week, and a little bit of urea as happi suggested, but lets be sure that it is nitrogen deficiency first before we swap out urea for KNO3.

I recently read a few studies that examined using ammonia as the only source of N for plants, and they showed that plants actually suffered toxicity like symptoms when using ammonia as the only source of N compared with plants grown in tanks using nitrate only. The researchers are unsure what the exact mechanism of damage is that causes the ammonia toxicity symptoms but it is quite a wide spread problem in agriculture and even in forests. Furthermore, ammonia toxicity seems to affect plants that are not acid tolerant more than it affects acid tolerant plants. The research I read did not cover plants grown using both KNO3 and ammonia so I do not know if they would also show toxicity symptoms or not if both forms of N are present.

Anyway, the point is, be careful when you add urea or ammonia because it is not as safe as KNO3 in terms of plant health though it does seem to be easier to take up and use in the plant and will also tend to give you more bushy looking plants. Moderation is the key.
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Old 12-16-2013, 10:10 PM   #11
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yep lets focus on your situation for now and we will discus about the Nitrogen sources later on. if you are using seachem nitrogen now, please do report back in a week or so.
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Old 12-16-2013, 10:54 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by happi View Post
yep lets focus on your situation for now and we will discus about the Nitrogen sources later on. if you are using seachem nitrogen now, please do report back in a week or so.
I may have to give it a little more than a week, but I'll do my best. Going out of town for the holidays and having friends watch the house. Hoping they can stick to my schedule

Either way I'll provide updates along the way. Plan is to start with cutting back strongly on the CSM+B then will look at upping the Nitrogen if the problem continues.

Just to note - Did my standard 50% water change tonight and tested nitrates.
Test is showing 5ppm, which is what I usually get after my water changes.
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Old 12-16-2013, 11:22 PM   #13
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From the photos it looks more likely to be a nitrogen deficiency than a CSM+B toxicity at the doses you have, so I'd recommend adding more nitrogen before you cut the CSM+B dose in half rather than the other way around, I think you'll see an improvement within a week if you do it that way.
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Old 12-28-2013, 07:03 PM   #14
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So, coming back here to report progress, but it's pretty much pointless. While I was out of town the timer broke on my CO2 in the on position. Guessing it was only for a couple days, but that was more than enough time to wreak havoc in the tank. Lost a few fish and a shrimp and the swings in CO2 appear to have caused a bloom of BBA that I just don't want to deal with at this point. Phosphates also dropped to about 0.5ppm so I have GSA all over the place.

There seemed to be some minor improvement in the rotala growth, nothing impressive, but at this point I'm planning on a fresh start next week.
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Old 12-28-2013, 08:01 PM   #15
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Sorry to hear about your loss of fish.

I don't think you should start over though, BBA is common in almost all fully established high tech tanks so restarting the tank won't really solve the problem. Just use flourish excel to spot treat it (with a syringe). You can also use gluteraldehyde instead since it is cheaper.

If possible you should take some pictures of the plants from the same position as before so we can see exactly how much progression there is. I'd love to find out.
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