Plants as water tests: which ones? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-11-2004, 03:17 PM Thread Starter
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Plants as water tests: which ones?

It seems a pretty common consensus that cheap test kits are not reliable enough to depend solely on them.

Unless one is willing to spend alot more money on top of the line test kits, the other option seems to be (from various threads I've read) to let the plants show you your water parameters.

It would be interesting to know which plants different people use as specific indicators for certain elements.

I'm not only talking about the typical deficiency symptoms (eg if you have pinholes it's probably lack of potassium) but more like "if this plant in my tank gets less red, I know that I need to add more X..."

If we get a good comprehensive list of these together it may be useful for all. Not to mention perhaps less use of chemical test kits (and less $$$ spent on them! ).

So, do you use your plants as water tests?
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-11-2004, 04:29 PM
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I don't use plants as a water test. You only seem to distinguish cheap and expensive test kits, leaving out the 'middle ground' of perfectly acceptable test kits. For example, SeaChem. I trust SeaChem test kits on my marine/reef tank, which is more sensitive than a freshwater planted.
Therefore I trust SeaChem for my freshwater planted tank.

In all actuality there's only a few test kits that are too unreliable to trust. I'd put RedSea in that category, along with any sort of 'dip strip' test kits, which are too easily ruined by minor levels of humidity (plus the fact that they're expensive)

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-11-2004, 08:10 PM
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You know, I've often wished for the same thing, Laith. For example, Hygrophila polysperma quickly becomes brittle when iron is low. Giant Val will quickly show white calcium deposits when the carbon supply is low (due to biogenic decalcification). I think it would be neat to get a list of specific plants that seem to show deficiencies (or excesses) the most quickly.

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-12-2004, 07:05 AM Thread Starter
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Malkore, yes, I agree that I missed out on the middle of the range ones in my post. But I think one can safely say that you get what you pay for. And the less you pay, the more my mind starts asking me "but maybe this test kit is off/old/bad"! . Sometimes I've tested NO3 test kits against a known concentration of NO3 and gotten really off the wall results...

I still think it would be nice to have a list of "indicator" plants...

Anyone else?
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-13-2004, 04:04 AM
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Two things to ponder...

First, this is difficult to do, because plants react differently under different conditions. For example, lack of K might look differently in hard water and soft water, high light and low light, lots of CO2 or not, sufficient or missing N and P etc see where I am going with this?

Secondly, the same nutrient deficiency symptoms can show up in different plants, yes, more or less distinct, but still I think it might be better to know the symptoms in general than to search for plants that indicate them.

Chuck has posted a good overview on his site http://www.csd.net/~cgadd/aqua/art_plant_nutrient.htm

Having said that... I know when my swords want another root tab (or jobe stick). I know when my Wisterias complain that the NO3 is out. I know that the black holes in my swords and lotus tell me the K is getting too low. At least I think I do.


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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-13-2004, 04:31 AM
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I think this is a great idea. I mean, we don't test just for testing sake, right. It's all for the plant and they should be the ultimate guide to dosing, obviously.

I know that when Rotala Indica turns pink there is low or no nitrates but still good levels of phosphate. When there is both low nitrates and phosphates it turns blood red.
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