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post #1 of 55 (permalink) Old 07-16-2016, 08:37 AM Thread Starter
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Nitrate inhibited (not uptaken by plants)

Hello,

Recently I am seeing that the plants seem not to uptake NO3, as they show NO3 deficiency symptoms: the floating plants, trapa natans, have been dying slowly (green leaves, stunted growth, no new leaves, brown little spots in leaves), and only is left one, which seems to follow the same route... The echinodorus also show NO3 deficieny in old leaves (brownish, or brown areas, and thinner tissue).

I have normally 15 mg/l of NO3. Five days ago I had 15 mg/l NO3 and 1.5 PO4, one day later 14-15 mg/l (hard to precise) and 1 mg/l PO4, and next day, maybe 13 mg/l (not less in any case), and 0.7 mg/l PO4.

I see that the PO4 is being uptaken, but NO3 seems that only very slowly. Having a lot of vallisnerias, 6 ludwigias (60 cm long now), a pair of alternanthera rosanervig, two alternanthera rosafolia, ceratopyllum demersum, some egeria densa, 4 anubias barteri, and floating plants (I have also a lot of salvinia natans, which are growing slowler than expected), and seeing the levels of other nutrients I think I should have a bigger NO3 daily uptake, don't you think?

I have measured the values and they are:

CO2 = 15-17 mg/l
pH=7.3
Ca=37 mg/l
Mg = 7 mg/l
K=20 mg/l
KH=8.5 ºdKH
GH=6.5 ºdGH
TDS = 250 ppm (water is 85% RO + 15% tap water, 3100 l)
Cl-= 55 mg/l
I added 0.2 mg/l of Fe twice: three and two days ago.
Today I have added Seachem Flourish for traces as per bottle indications.

The light is not easy to define as it is a garden pond, but I have done an equivalence, through lux-->lumen-->W/gal (equivalences from Tropica):

Direct sunlight (6 h): 10-13 W/gal
Not direct sunlight (2 h): 2.5-3 W/gal
Dawn & Dusk (5 h): 0-1 W/gal

As some days ago I had no Mg (or very low) I added up to 7 mg/l with MgCl2. Before adding it I had 40 mg/l of Cl-, and after adding Mg it raised to 55 mg/l.

AFAIK Cl- is essential in plants to chemically balance the potassium concentration during plant breathing. On the other hand there are some papers that point to the fact that the reduction of Nitrate (to become NO2, then NH3/NH4 which the plants need), *could* be inhibited by Cl- presence (--, it is for spinachs...), although this is for 5 times more Cl- concentration than I have.

--------------------------------------------------------

On the other hand, I was starting to think if I had the expected CO2 really, so I have done a test two days ago:

I stopped all waterfalls to limit CO2 leakage, thus the water surface was quiet and mirror-like, after all day injecting CO2 I have not seen any change visually in plants, they were not pearling as I had expected... Then I measured the CO2 concentration.

At side of CO2 test kits, I had into the pond the JBL drop checker, which at the end of day was very dark (!) and showed a kind of blue-greenish that at best could match with 12 mg/l. The liquid was really dark.

I then tested for CO2 with two different tests: Salifert and JBL Direct. These tests have to be executed two times, one with tank water and then the blank sample (sample without CO2): tank water sample aerated 10 min (I have aerated it through all night, just in case). In fact the principle is to measure acid component of water, I think, so you have to first measure all acids, then subtract the blank result from the first one.

Salifert (5 mg/l steps):

No-aerated sample: 55 mg/l
Blank sample: 15 mg/l

CO2 result = 55 - 15 = 40 mg/l

JBL Direct (2 mg/l steps):

No-aerated sample: 52 mg/l
Blank sample: 14 mg/l

CO2 result = 52 - 14 = 38 mg/l

So, which measure reflects better the CO2 content ?

Salifert (40 ppm), JBL Direct (38 ppm) or JBL Drop-checker (12 ppm) ? I tend to believe the drop test kits, after all they use different methods/reactives, and they both match, although I can't imagine why the drop-checker is not working...aside that it is in a pond corner where there is very limited movement...

If I believe that the ~40 mg/l is more real, then I must have something in the water that difficults NO3 uptake. I don't know what can be.

BTW, at the end of day I had NO3=12-13 mg/l, PO4=0.35-0.4 mg/l, KH = 9.75 ºdKH, pH=6.8-6.85. So, NO3 is still not being uptaken, or very slowly, PO4 is being uptaken (-0.3 or -0.4 per day).

--------------------------------------------------------

I was wondering if really I have NO3 deficiency first, and if so, what could be causing it ?

- Incorrect Ca:Mg ratio ?
- Incorrect K:Cl ratio ? Too much Cl- ?
- CO2 ?
- Other ? What ?

What do you think about it ? I have not found information on Cl- concentrations. But maybe it has nothing to do with the NO3 uptake...

I would really thank you if you could help me. Any comment also regarding CO2 measurements/concentration or NO3 limitation, etc. is really welcomed.

I don't know what can I do. I thought it could be CL- or CO2 problem but it seems not... Tx!
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post #2 of 55 (permalink) Old 07-16-2016, 12:19 PM
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People disagree with me about this all the time which is fine, but from where I'm sitting, a plant cannot be deficient in something if it is provided.

Any idea what the water temperature is? Is it possible that the water is simply getting too warm and the plants have opted to slow growth. I'm not saying that this is the problem, just thinking outside the box.
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post #3 of 55 (permalink) Old 07-16-2016, 12:41 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks a lot for showing interest in the problem !

I have right now (14:00 h here) under direct sunlight hitting water surface 24.6 ºC (or 76.3 ºF). I thought it could be that but before temperature raised (2-3 weeks ago), they showed a similar behaviour (only new leaves are ok, the old ones quickly get fuzz algae, and 'hang' from the stem, more or less).
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post #4 of 55 (permalink) Old 07-16-2016, 12:51 PM
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Geography plays a roll in the water temperature, but if you live in a area that gets really hot, I'd check the temp during the 11:00 AM- 3:00 PM hours.

Does the pond get any shade during the day? If so, how are those plants doing? Have they stopped growing, slowed growth, algae?

What was different before you started seeing this change? Because aquatic plants do not typically shows signs of stress immediately, you'd have to consider that was going on a month or so ago.
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post #5 of 55 (permalink) Old 07-16-2016, 12:52 PM
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perhaps you have something that is adding to the nitrate levels in your tank. A dead fish decaying.. dead leaves decaying somewhere... a bacterial population in the tank dying off, snails dying in the substrate, or something along those lines. Any of these could a) becomme ammonia which then progresses to nitrate keeping your levels elevated or b) becomes ammonia which is used directly by plants, leaving them not needing nitrate, which leaves your levels elevated.w

As an aside what are you using to test potassium with? I feel like it's something i am constantly fighting with in one of my tanks and have no way of measuring it


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post #6 of 55 (permalink) Old 07-16-2016, 04:12 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your replies.

I am in the Mediaterranean coast (Barcelona). I did put a cammo net above the pond some years ago, and it is still there: it cast random shadows over the pond (like the leaves of a tree), but I did put the ludgiwias and echinodorus mainly in the area where they receive more sun.

From the beginning (when I put these plants in the pond, 2 months ago), they have been growing very fast BUT the older leaves (and these not so old too) did get soon fuzz algae on them, and the oldest a kind of diatoms (? not sure) on them too, and all -except the new growth- somewhat curled. At that time, I did manage to have PO4 around 0.5 ppm and NO3 around 5 mg/l.

The oldest leaves receive shadow casted by the nymphaea leaves, so they receive less light. The plants have same looks at the beginning than today, only that at the beginning they grew faster. It is worth mention that some of them (not all) now they have reached the surface, althout the stems that are shorter suffer form the same.


Theatermusic, this is a good point, although I did not see any rotting matter in large quantities. I did measure organic matter and it was at 0.32 mmol/l, then I added Aquavitro Remediation (to clean decaying matter) and a week later it was at 0.2 mmol/l, I have added active carbon + purigen a week ago and I have still to measure organics. I mean that these values are bigger than the concentration I had last year / same month (0.08 mmol/l), so I added organic filtration, still it 'seems' to me hard to believe that this amount add NO3 as much as this. Moreover, I did a test a month and few weeks ago: during 1 week I stopped adding fertilizer, after 7 days NO3 was reduced from 8-10 down to 3 mg/l.

BTW, the only observation is that the ludwigia leaves where hanging from the stem when I had NO3 >5 or so, when I went down to 3 the leaves were no more hanging, but when I added NO3 to reach 10 or so, they hanged another time... (?)
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post #7 of 55 (permalink) Old 07-16-2016, 04:53 PM
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Since this pond is new, diatoms ( dusty, brown algae) is normal. The best way to deal with it is water changes, but since you have a pond, that may or may be a option depending on how much water your pond has.

It is also normal for plants to have a melting process when they are first introduced. It is simply a adjustment period from the water the plants were grown in to your water. Plants that are grown emersed also go through a similar process sometimes as they have to adjust to growing submersed.

The issue with ferts is that if you increase them when they are not being used, it becomes algae food which you don't want.

I'd start at the basic level to address this problem.

Make sure the plants are not crowded and that they are getting water circulation. It doesn't have to be flow like a water fall, but some water movement is needed. Water flow pushes ferts closer to the plants so they can be absorbed. Water flow will also take care of any hot spots that may be happening at the surface of the water. Some plants simply don't like warm water.

Crowding can cause what looks like stunted growth, curly leaves, ect... You can't fix the leaves that look this way, but the new growth should appear normal.

Also make sure the plants that like more light are getting it while others that don't have some shade. Some say that a person can make a low light plant grow in a high light situation if enough CO2 is used, but I think it is more aggravation than what it is worth. Why not just give the plant what it prefers in the first place than having to deal with issues later that could easily be prevented.

From what I've read about salvinia natans, it is a annual. With terrestrial plants that means that the plant has a growing period, then it dies off. I don't know if this happens with a aquatic plant that is kept and maintained in the plant's optimal growing environment or not. It would be worth looking into if somebody around here doesn't know.

I don't know what to make of the ludwigia situation. If you cut nitrates too low, for too long, all other plants will eventually suffer. Fast growing plants like vals will be the first to let you know that they are not being fed enough.
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post #8 of 55 (permalink) Old 07-16-2016, 05:31 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smooch View Post
The issue with ferts is that if you increase them when they are not being used, it becomes algae food which you don't want.

I'd start at the basic level to address this problem.

Make sure the plants are not crowded and that they are getting water circulation.
[...]
Crowding can cause what looks like stunted growth, curly leaves, ect... You can't fix the leaves that look this way, but the new growth should appear normal.
I forgot to say that the pond is not new, the last major overhaul was two years ago, although this spring I changed 80% of water by RO one...

I have observed though that the kind of diatoms (although they seem more green and black than brown), have been reduced in echinodorus leaves specially during the period I keep NO3 10-15 and PO4 to 0.5-1, and I add other ferts. At the same time an ugly black slime (like a film, that I could remove very easily by hand) that appeared in the waterfalls is dissappearing ! (that is good news, as I was not able to control it before, when I did not have CO2 neither added ferts).

But at the same time, the rocks underwater have been covered by a very green algae carpet (1-2 mm long, maximum), specially in the parts of the rock facing sun. Before ferts, a slight greenish surface was developed slowly over the rocks, but in any case no so quickly neither so green/dense). I *guess* that if plants were at full, and not as they are, I could improve a lot this situation...

I have been considering water changes, but not for the 'diatoms' (if they are really diatoms), because I did it other years without success, but I thought it because I start thinking that maybe I had some toxic in water preventing plants to stay healthy...which I don't know. But 3100 l, and a lot of plants >60 cm tall are not to easy to manage (they suffer) when it will take 3+ days to refill...Maybe I could do smaller water changes, though, if they are worth the effort.

Really the plants are somewhat crowded (valls do not seem to care about this though), maybe it is time to cut the stems by half and plant them with more space between stems...although I have quite a lot of water movement (fishes move without swimming when they come to eat).

EDIT: BTW, by crowding you mean that it could limit plant grow because is harder to get light to lower leaves and nutrients because it block water circulation ? Or there are other factors?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smooch View Post
I don't know what to make of the ludwigia situation. If you cut nitrates too low, for too long, all other plants will eventually suffer. Fast growing plants like vals will be the first to let you know that they are not being fed enough.
I have never read about this before so I did think that maybe I had something wrong with my water/setup.

Last edited by Darkbluesky; 07-16-2016 at 05:53 PM. Reason: Additional comment
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post #9 of 55 (permalink) Old 07-16-2016, 05:56 PM
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Smaller water changes are fine. All they do is remove excess organics and ferts from the water column. Fresh water adds trace minerals back to the pond that it may not get otherwise and the fish like clean water too.

As for algae growing on hard surfaces such as rock, that suggests that area is getting too much light and whatever excess is in the water column is feeding it. A way to avoid that is to increase plant volume or mass or somehow shade that area. Plants take in the excess, the algae has nothing to feed on so it goes way. Floating plants are a natural shade provider while also nutrient sponges.

I don't use CO2 so I don't put as much faith in it as others. Yes it helps plants grow faster, but it also makes things harder when a tank or pond get out of balance. Too little ferts and too much light causes algae. Too many ferts and not enough light causes algae, ect...
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theatermusic87 I forgot about the potassium test. I have used with success the Salifert Kalium Potassium test for Freshwater (not the reef one). It is easy and the change of color is quite sharp, never had doubts about it. Unhappily I ran out of reactive and I am having a hard time finding it now, it seems it is no more available for the moment in the shops...

So meanwhile I use the JBL Potassium test, this one is based on turbidity, not bad. It works, but it is limited to 15 mg/l, it is good for low contents (more precise) around 15 (even below) it is better to dilute the sample and multiply the result by the related factor, which is a bit of a hassle as you need at hand RO/DI water and a way to take precise ml of it to mix, etc.

I found both quite accurate.
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post #11 of 55 (permalink) Old 07-16-2016, 07:13 PM Thread Starter
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That is it Smooch, I am trying to get helathy plants just for that, reading you makes me feel I am in the good track. Maybe the ludwigias are adapting to new environment but they are there for at least 2 months.

By the way, do you have a rough idea of NO3 daily (or weekly) consumption in a high light tank ? I know that it depends on mass and type of plants, other ferts concentration etc, but a mean value for a balanced high-tech tank would be enough.
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post #12 of 55 (permalink) Old 07-16-2016, 07:24 PM
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Sorry, I don't. There are too many variables to give a specific number so many around here dose EI as a means of covering all the bases.

After 2 months the ludwigia should have already be done with their adjustment period. I still don't know what to think about how they are displaying melting behavior with higher nitrates while showing normal growth with lower nitrates. I personally have never seen a plant melt with 10-15 ppm nitrates unless there was something else going on. Too much light, too little light, overdosing Excel, ect...
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post #13 of 55 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 06:34 AM
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This is the lighting issue, full sunlight for 6 hrs....
you cannot have a nitrate issue here, i agree.

how are you injecting co2 into this pond?
should naturally have some already enough to grow.

Last edited by StrungOut; 07-17-2016 at 06:35 AM. Reason: aaa
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post #14 of 55 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 08:47 AM Thread Starter
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Naturally I had 4 mg/l at dawn, few hours later (close to noon), 0. ALthough that was last year when I had less plants (~30% less). The pond has gravel bottom, over broken brick layer. The gravel is quartz sand of middle size (3-4 mm), and in some parts, river pebbles. That limits the creation of mulm quite well.

I inject pressurized CO2 from a 12 Kg bottle, using a double-stage regulator and through a DIY CO2 reactor inside the pond. It works quite well. Now I have stopped the largest waterfall and fountain, but not the others, and I can keep around 40 mg/l. When all waterfalls, etc are on, I go down to 15-17 mg/l steady. I am planning to do a modification to avoid the 'splash' in water surface, so limiting the CO2 loss, but that will come later.

What you comment about lighting, puzzles me. What do you mean by that? Do you mean that the high light asks for more nutrients and as they are not enough the plants' growth is stunt ? But I would guess that they should uptake more nutrients until some nutrient is depleted then, stop. But I can't see which nutrient is depleted to inhibit the NO3 uptake (although the PO4 is still being uptaken -by algae maybe?). Maybe trace ones (I only add one dose as per Seachem Flourish indications per week)?

Should I need to increase a lot PO4, NO3, traces, Fe, etc to be up to the light intensity? Or I am wrong ?

Last edited by Darkbluesky; 07-17-2016 at 08:58 AM. Reason: Completing information
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post #15 of 55 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 09:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darkbluesky View Post
Naturally I had 4 mg/l at dawn, few hours later, 0. The pond has gravel bottom, over broken brick layer. The gravel is quartz sand of middle size (3-4 mm), and in some parts, river pebbles. That limits the creation of mulm quite well.

I inject pressurized CO2 from a 12 Kg bottle, through a DIY CO2 reactor inside the pond. It works quite well. Now I have stopped the largest waterfall and fountain, but not the others, and I can keep around 40 mg/l. When all waterfalls, etc are on, I go down to 15-17 mg/l steady.

What you comment about lighting, puzzles me. What do you mean by that? Do you mean that the high light asks for more nutrients and as they are not enough the plants' growth is stunt ? But I would guess that they should uptake more nutrients until some nutrient is depleted then, stop. But I can't see which nutrient is depleted to inhibit the NO3 uptake (although the PO4 is still being uptaken -by algae maybe?). Maybe trace ones (I only add one dose as per Seachem Flourish indications per week)?

Should I need to increase a lot PO4, NO3, traces, Fe, etc to be up to the light intensity? Or I am wrong ?
ok, lets make this pond work. I have no experience with ponds.

In taking away the waterfalls, co2 is able to increase, however I would not have done that, taking oxygen away. Now without it you can get to 40 whatever, it doesn't matter to me, the fertilizer questions do not matter to me. I cannot answer you there either. More light=more demand

The sun is one bright son of a gun. I looked up at it today, I couldn't for more than 1 second. Too bright of colors i don't even know.

What is that? yellow? white? hehe

But said that without the science to back it up i don't know. The sun for 6 hrs.....I mean with the setup you have you can grow these plants in full indirect sunlight, trust me the par will get there. I have done emmersed setups this way so i am comparing systems this way.
So talkin outta my butt, i just know the sun is all the cause.

Well, then, how do natural systems get away with it durrrrrr?
a natural system is a system thats been aged of soil from millions billions years and so on, too many many variables, the fish, the constant new waters or lakes, JUST too MANY VARIABLEs


If you google quartz algae, you can see algae is starting to dominate our natural systems. I blame pollution.

The quartz sand may not be helping at all with the diatoms, but latest study video told me that its simply not the case silicates cause diatoms. Ok this is a new study? The old study? what ever happened to your first answer is usually the right answer
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