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post #1 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 08:47 PM Thread Starter
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Potassium reference solution

So I am having continued issues with pinholes in most of my plants, now the same issue is visible in my smaller 110L tank. Both tanks are dosed with EI daily. With a leaner Micro dosage to reach around 0.8 ppm iron at the end of each week.

I have read this and tried solutions before and everywhere you can read about pinholes it is always potassium missing. So I went ahead and got me a JBL K test kit and tested both my tanks. The kit tells me I have somewhere around 20-30 ppm K (the scale ends at 20ppm).
Either this test kit is totally worthless or my issue is not potassium deficiency. Will take some pics on affected leaves tonight.
So does anyone have any thought or tips regarding this, starting to get seriously frustrated to the point I am losing interest in the tank alltogether.

And like the topic says does anyone know how to make a potassium reference solution of lets say 15 or 20 ppm K? Have KNO3 and KH2PO4 at home and distilled water.

Growth is otherwise good in the tanks, but many leaves becomes ugly and I assume start leaking sugar and BBA attaches to the damaged leaves. Some plants does not have this issue like my Tiger lotus. Some got it real bad like Staurogyne repens.

Dosing KNO3, KH2PO4 and TNC Trace mix.
Will be replacing the TNC Trace with Aqua Rebell Mikro Basic - Eisenvolldunger (not a very international name) mostly due to better chelators (EDTA,DTPA HEEDTA).

Tank #1 - 500L (Pressurized CO2 at 30ppm, very high light)
KH - 6
GH - 5
NO3 - 25-30 ppm
K - 25-35 ppm
PO4 - 4,0 ppm
Fe - 1,5 ppm
Mg - 2,5


Tank #2 - 110L (Pressurized CO2 at 30ppm, medium light)
KH - 5
GH - 2-3
NO3 - 30 ppm
K - 25 ppm
PO4 - 2,0 ppm
Fe - 0,6 ppm
Mg - 1,5 ppm

Some help to finally get rid of these godamn holes would be really appriciated !


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post #2 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 10:03 PM
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It's a trace toxicity, most likely iron. If the lower and middle leaves show loss of color along with the necrotic lesions and holes, then this strongly indicates iron tox. Iron and the other metals are not needed in the amounts most people think plants need, not even 0.1mg/L of Fe per week which is beyond excessive. Most of it will accumulate, damage cells and impair photosynthesis. If you've been dosing like this for at least several months, and the substrate is high CEC, and only recently had this become an issue, then the soil's adsorption capacity has been reached and all the metals dosed will be in the water column causing problems. The soil is most likely toxic at this point. Maintaining a high pH will help reduce the availability of the metals on the substrate which lowers uptake and can help prevent toxicity.
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post #3 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 10:52 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Solcielo lawrencia View Post
It's a trace toxicity, most likely iron. If the lower and middle leaves show loss of color along with the necrotic lesions and holes, then this strongly indicates iron tox. Iron and the other metals are not needed in the amounts most people think plants need, not even 0.1mg/L of Fe per week which is beyond excessive. Most of it will accumulate, damage cells and impair photosynthesis. If you've been dosing like this for at least several months, and the substrate is high CEC, and only recently had this become an issue, then the soil's adsorption capacity has been reached and all the metals dosed will be in the water column causing problems. The soil is most likely toxic at this point. Maintaining a high pH will help reduce the availability of the metals on the substrate which lowers uptake and can help prevent toxicity.
This has been an issue since the start of tanks. The larger one has been ran for over 2 years now and the smaller is just a couple of months old. The smaller one has just finished its run in period and is now algae free. I have not started E.I dosing until a little while back but the pinholes have been there pretty much since 2-3 weeks after the startup. On this tank I have been dosing E.I for the last 4-6 weeks but the Micro dose has been cut by around 1/3. The substrate is new so I doubt it would have went toxic from that.
The large tanks trace dose has been cut in half, would have cut it more since the FE levels are still a bit to high for my taste but won't bother since I am replacing the TNCTrace/CSM+B with bought liquid micro ferts with stronger chelates instead. I will follow Aqua rebells E.I dosing amounts which to my calculations should add around 0.15 ppm of iron each week (3 day dosing). That is a pretty lean dosing in EI terms and I hope and think should rule out any such possible issues. Contains some K and Mg as well which should not hurt?


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post #4 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 11:49 PM
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The concept of EI is beyond flawed to the point of ludicrousity. If it is based off of Hoaglands solution, then there is already a problem with dosing the trace metals as often and as much as suggested. 1/5th Hoaglands results in 0.2mg/L of Fe constant. It does not suggest dosing 0.2mg/L 2- 3 times per week, let alone 0.5mg/L per dose! This is a misunderstanding of how the solution is used to grow plants, a misunderstanding that EI advocates are unaware of.

But anyway, pinholes as a result of K deficiency will affect only the oldest leaves, not the middle leaves. If there is already excess iron, then plants may have been suffering from the beginning.

Pictures may help.
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post #5 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 12:08 AM Thread Starter
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Will take some pics tomorrow when I can see what I am doing. Though I really doubt I have tox issues in my small tank since like I said it is a relative new setup, it has only been dosed with E.I for a month and with "only" a 1/3 micro dosing.
I have read your other posts on the toxicity topic and found it interesting but the thread turned into a circus and I got bored of it. There might be truth to what your saying but there really are no applicable studies I can find on the topic. One would think everyone following E.I would have tox issues but that does not seem to be the case, maybe they hide it really well :P
Anyways I am open to suggestions since it feels like I have tried everything now.


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post #6 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 12:50 AM
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There are actually thousands of threads on this forum alone where plants are experiencing toxicity. Almost everyone assumes a deficiency, like you thought in your case. This, along with those few who claim that "EI causes no issues", gives the impression that toxicity is so rare that it's unlikely to be the case when it's the exact opposite. As for the studies, you'll have to know what search terms, spend dozens of hours reading, and be prepared to make analogous interpretations of the literature. Also, pay attention to those few of us who have done and are doing experiments into this. We have gone quiet for the aforementioned circus reason but we are still diligently experimenting. And discovering. What I've discovered so far makes me laugh at all the advice that is commonly given because almost all of it is wrong, even from those who seem most knowledgable.
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post #7 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 04:19 PM Thread Starter
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So in your oppinion what should I try out?
Should I continue to dose Macros according to E.I and reduce micros? Should not both be reduced then?
I will be replacing the TNC Trace with the following
Mikro Basic - Eisenvolldünger - Aqua Rebell
Maybe should have ordered
Mikro Spezial - Flowgrow - Aqua Rebell this one instead :S
Following their guidelines for a highlight tank I would dose 20ml x 3 times a week for my 500L
That should result in adding 0.04 ppm Fe each dose and according to rotala butterflys accumulation calc i would peak at 0.2 ppm Fe before the WC and have an average of 0.12 ppm.
Hopefully that would at least rule out and toxicity possibilities. I am just afraid if the regular macro EI dose will turn my tank into an algae dissaster.


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post #8 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 05:37 PM
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I've never used FlowGrow but the ratios look very wrong. The form of chelator also plays a large role in its availability. Weak chelators or unchelated metals will result in the metals' quick oxidation and precipitation, especially at higher pH. Thus, it needs to be dosed more frequently.

All I can say now is that micronutrient ratios matter more than the absolute dose. If the ratios are off, more needs to be added to supply enough of the relatively low metal to prevent its deficiency or it's induced deficiency. However, this just causes there to be excess of the high metal(s) which can cause toxicity. Some of that excess will be used by algae and other microbes but the rest will remain causing problems.
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post #9 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 08:40 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solcielo lawrencia View Post
I've never used FlowGrow but the ratios look very wrong. The form of chelator also plays a large role in its availability. Weak chelators or unchelated metals will result in the metals' quick oxidation and precipitation, especially at higher pH. Thus, it needs to be dosed more frequently.

All I can say now is that micronutrient ratios matter more than the absolute dose. If the ratios are off, more needs to be added to supply enough of the relatively low metal to prevent its deficiency or it's induced deficiency. However, this just causes there to be excess of the high metal(s) which can cause toxicity. Some of that excess will be used by algae and other microbes but the rest will remain causing problems.
What about the other one then (The eisenvoldunger something), it has a much lower FE value and stronger chelators.
Do you have any form of available guidelines on how to dose micros instead? It seems to me you are saying we are dosing toxic levels with EI and we are clueless once again on how much ferts to add to the tanks since you offer nothing to replace it with? Does this also apply to other dosing regimes like PMDD etc?


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post #10 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 11:36 PM
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I don't have enough data yet to make any outright claims as to what plants really need. That will take a lot more time to discover. However, the literature on heavy metal toxicity on aquatic life is very clear: it's toxic to fish, shrimp, and other organisms including algae. At the suggested fertilization concentrations and dosing, it will result in sublethal harm that will not be externally visible. Only dissection and microscopy will show the true harm to organs and physiology. Tumors, shortened lifespan, reduced size, discoloration and dark spots are some of the visible signs but how do you know it's from heavy metal poisoning or from other causes?

Either of the Flowgrow's have too low Zn in relation to Mn. So at low doses, plants may exhibit Zn deficiency or may negatively respond to the excess iron. Again, its not the absolute concentration but the ratios that matter. I think the person just copied Tropica when coming up with this formula unless European tap water has unnaturally high levels of zinc to begin with. FYI: the toxic threshold for ionic Zn begins at around 4ppb; ionic Cu at 1ppb.

As for suggested dosing, dose only when plants appear to need it. Know your plants because certain plants are very tolerant to heavy metal pollution while others are very sensitive. If all your plants are tolerant, then this will give a false impression as to the safe levels and make you believe you can pollute the water as much as possible with no ill effects. But if many are sensitive, then observing their response will help inform your understanding of nutrient requirements.

Lastly, know your water since it may already contain high concentrations of heavy metals and other nutrients which you should avoid adding. This may ultimately mean you cannot use commercial fertilizers but must mix your own. If your pipes are copper and copper concentrations are high, then it would be unwise to add any more by fertilization. It would also be unwise to do large water changes since this would just add excessive amounts of copper and harm plants and animals.
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post #11 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 04:32 PM Thread Starter
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Good to see someone doing something to further improve the hobby.
In my case though, since you are pretty much saying that most (maybe all) commercial fertilizers including dry powders will turn your tank toxic to some degree. I will try out the Aqua Rebell complete iron fertilizer according to their EI recomendations.
I also hope I do not sound ungrateful, but I do not have the time nor the interest to go full chemist on my tank.
When it comes to heavy metals I do not think I have to worry about my tap water. I live in a newly built appartment and copper pipes are a thing of the past here.

When it comes to the comunal water where I live this is all the info I could get.
Temprature at test °C
14
Microorganisms at 22 ºC, after 3 days cfu/ml
2
Microorganisms at 22 ºC, after 7 days cfu/ml
13
Coliform bacteria, 35°C cfu/100 ml
<1
Coloration mg/l Pt
<5
Turbidity (grumlighet) FNU
0,2
pH
8,2
Conductivity mS/m
37
Alcalinity, HCO3 mg/l
139
Smell
None
Taste
None
Chlorine total mg/l
0,04
Ammonium, NH4 mg/l
<0,01
Nitrite, NO2 mg/l
<0,004
Nitrate, NO3 mg/l
5,5
Fluoride, F mg/l
0,23
Chloride, Cl mg/l
28
Sulfate, SO4 mg/l
30
Phosphate, PO4-P mg/l
0,008
Organic coal, TOC mg/l
2,9
Iron, Fe mg/l
0,01
Manganese, Mn mg/l
<0,01
Calcium, Ca mg/l
34
Magnesium, Mg mg/l
7,5
Total Hardness, Ca+Mg mg/l
46
Total Hardness, Ca+Mg °dH
6,5
Copper, Cu mg/l
0,03
Sodium, Na mg/l
34
Potassium, K mg/l
3,3

Not sure what to do with these when it comes to EI. But I will like I said try out the AR Micros and probably cut down on the macro dosing by 1/2. Keep track on the phosphates and esp. K levels in the water.
And hope the pinholes will go away. Pretty sure it won't though...


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post #12 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 05:03 PM
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The service lines may be copper as there are 0.03mg/L of Cu which is 3x more than the Fe. There's also a lot of Na, Cl, sulfate in your water. Doing large WCs just replenishes these nutrients, not get rid of them. This is one problem with large water changes.

Ideally, K>Na. I don't know what effects K<Na has on plant health but it's detrimental to many crop plants. This is something I'll probably experiment on after I figure out the necessary micronutrient ratios necessary to keep a tank healthy. If you really want control, using distilled water may be your best option if you have a solar distiller, or an RO/DI unit to reduce the contaminants in the tap.

Last edited by Solcielo lawrencia; 07-14-2016 at 07:18 PM. Reason: Typo
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post #13 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Solcielo lawrencia View Post
I've never used FlowGrow but the ratios look very wrong. The form of chelator also plays a large role in its availability. Weak chelators or unchelated metals will result in the metals' quick oxidation and precipitation, especially at higher pH. Thus, it needs to be dosed more frequently.

All I can say now is that micronutrient ratios matter more than the absolute dose. If the ratios are off, more needs to be added to supply enough of the relatively low metal to prevent its deficiency or it's induced deficiency. However, this just causes there to be excess of the high metal(s) which can cause toxicity. Some of that excess will be used by algae and other microbes but the rest will remain causing problems.

Do you have a list of these ratios that you feel are important?
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post #14 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 06:14 PM
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Do you have a list of these ratios that you feel are important?
Due to the competitive nature of the essential metals, it's necessary to supply them at ratios plants require. In this case, the tap probably has enough Fe and Mn but the amount of Cu, which is 3x Fe, may be causing problems. One way to rectify this disproportion is to add more Fe, Mn, etc so that they are in better proportion. However, at 0.03mg/L of Cu, adding enough Fe and other metals to improve the ratio would most certainly result in toxic concentrations of heavy metals to animals, even if the plants grow much better as a result. There is a trade-off to be made.

One of the most important confounding factors is the role microbes play in the chemical interactions as they also require the very same metals for their growth and health. So adding fertilizers, especially the trace elements, is actually providing nutrients for the plants, algae, and microbes. It also provides them to fish and other animals. Since we do not know what microbes will colonize and their nutrient requirements, it's difficult to say what is necessary for plants and what's necessary for the microbes. So fertilizing with trace elements are really for these two classes of organisms. It's possible that the microbes that colonize the aquarium require more Cu or are just more tolerant to it. If they require more Cu, then Cu will gradually reduce. The general idea here is that microorganisms play a very large role in tank health and in helping to keep the water safe for both plants and animals. So even if there is an ideal nutrient ratio the plants will grow best in, microbes may change the ratio as they utilize them for their own growth. However, when they die, they will provide the nutrients back to their environment. Unless they are vacuumed and removed.
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Last edited by Solcielo lawrencia; 07-14-2016 at 07:18 PM. Reason: Typo
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post #15 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
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I am using EasyLife Fluid Filter Medium after each WC for a bit more then the actual water change. Not sure if this will help but I am atleast hoping it will help some. I know about the Cl in the tap but after using the easy lifes it goes from measurable on my tests to none measurable after a couple of hours so I am guessing it does something at least.
Unfortunately I do not have any possibility to install a RODI system where I live, my gf would kill me.
Did not realize the copper might pose a problem though but really not much I can do about it. Shrimp seems to be the first to react to copper but I have a steady pop of 100+ amanos in the tank.

Anyway what I really need help with is still the pinholes, might be tox. Sure as hell isnt lack of potassium in the water anyways.
And I still would like to make a potassium reference solution so I can verify my test kits.
Only thing I measured that seems to be low is Mg in the water. Might this cause the issues with pinholes?


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