Help Diagnosing Issues - Toxicity? Deficiency? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-17-2016, 06:47 PM Thread Starter
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Help Diagnosing Issues - Toxicity? Deficiency?

I am recovering from what I think has been a micro toxicity. I was dosing EI levels, high additional iron, plus at one point added 30 Osmocote+ tabs to my 29g tank. Ive cleared out the O+ (as much as I could) and completely stirred/dug up/reset the substrate about a month ago. Almost a week ago I stopped dosing micros all together (at least temporarily).

I've seen a lot of improvement, but I'm still having issues with my Ludwidgia Red and/or Rubin. I have two groups, one may be red, one may be rubin, but not totally sure. The leaves curl downwards pretty severely. One group of them is getting some striping on it's leaves as well. Is this still an ongoing micro toxicity? Why are the leaves curling downward? Are the yellowing veins a Zinc deficiency? Manganese deficiency? You can see a similar pattern in the staurogyne purple in the picture.

-29g, 96W T5HO, Pressurized CO2, Flourite Sand substrate
-EI dosing through auto-doser daily. 2/3 macros levels (macros are always present in healthy amounts), stopped micros a week ago.

Also it would be great if these would turn red. With my lighting, pressurized CO2, and EI dosing you would think they would have no issues, but they turned from red to very green when purchased (both purchased separately at different times from different sources)
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-17-2016, 07:20 PM
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"Using pressurized CO2" isn't enough. If your CO2 tank was empty you would still be "using pressurized CO2". And, if you have the bubble rate adjusted to one bubble every 2 seconds, you would be worse off than if you were using DIY CO2 at a high bubble rate. Assuming those 4 24inch long T5HO bulbs are in a fixture having a fully powered ballast, and good reflectors, you have very high lighting. For that to work you need to have the CO2 running at the highest bubble rate the fish will tolerate, and that occurs when your water is very well oxygenated. With high light, like that, most plant problems end up being due to inadequate concentration of CO2 in the water. Next is too little nitrate in the water, or no phosphate in the water. Plants which are naturally red, become red only if you have them growing healthy, with adequate CO2 and light. You seem to have plenty of light, so I'm back to CO2 as the problem.

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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-17-2016, 07:47 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
"Using pressurized CO2" isn't enough. If your CO2 tank was empty you would still be "using pressurized CO2". And, if you have the bubble rate adjusted to one bubble every 2 seconds, you would be worse off than if you were using DIY CO2 at a high bubble rate. Assuming those 4 24inch long T5HO bulbs are in a fixture having a fully powered ballast, and good reflectors, you have very high lighting. For that to work you need to have the CO2 running at the highest bubble rate the fish will tolerate, and that occurs when your water is very well oxygenated. With high light, like that, most plant problems end up being due to inadequate concentration of CO2 in the water. Next is too little nitrate in the water, or no phosphate in the water. Plants which are naturally red, become red only if you have them growing healthy, with adequate CO2 and light. You seem to have plenty of light, so I'm back to CO2 as the problem.
I use a pH controller to manage CO2. It's at about a 3-4 bubbles per second rate, injected through an inline atomizer that is fed into a spraybar across the back of the tank and has a Koralia 240 adding more circulation. pH is at 5.3 after CO2 (set on ph controller), and my KH is about 0.5-1. CO2 is on 24 hours a day. This bubble rate makes the CO2 almost constantly on and only for short periods does it get cutoff by the ph controller. I tried to adjust it so that it was consistently on and not constantly being turned on/off by the controller, as I figured that would give me a more stable CO2 concentration.

Based on kH charts this puts me well above 30ppm I believe (it's off most charts). Any higher and my fish stress. I also have drop checkers that I move throughout the tank and they're always solid yellow (see pic). I know none of those are completely reliable methods of measuring CO2, but I am led to believe that my water is pretty heavily saturated with CO2.

I've attached a full tank shot for more context if it helps. Picture is after a major trim/replant... and please excuse my aquascaping skills. At this points Im just trying to get everything to grow properly.

PS - GH is at 5 in the tank. I add 1.5tsp of Equilibrium after each water change, which is done at least weekly at 60%+ water. I've actually been struggling with very high PO4 (I think from the Osmocote), so I've been trying to keep it "lower" (for me) at around 3-5 (high for most people). Nitrate is never under 10, usually around 20 (that has been much higher in the past too... trying to keep it at a more normal level)
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-17-2016, 08:10 PM
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Hi crisp330,

Welcome to TPT!

Did someone tell you that you had 'micro toxicity' or did you come to that conclusion on your own?

If you take readings on your tank what are your levels of nitrates and iron (if you have an Fe test kit)? Also do you have current dKH and dGH readings?

You have pressurized CO2, what ppm CO2 level are your running?

96 watts on a 29 gallon is an astounding amount of light for a freshwater tank, I run a 96 watt power compact on a 45 gallon tall (24" tall) and it is almost too much....I have to limit my photoperiod. How long a photoperiod are your running?

With as much light as you are running, along with pressurized CO2, it is likely you would need to dose more than the prescribed amount of Micro-nutrients that EI calls for....not less.

Lastly, just based upon what I can observe of your plants it looks like two deficiencies going on: sulfur and calcium Why? The lighter veins, the yellow coloration is a symptom of sulfur deficiency and the hooked leaf tips is a symptom of a calcium deficiency

Quote:
b. Leaves light green, veins lighter in color than adjoining interveinal areas. Leaves over entire plant may become yellowish green, roots and stems are small in diameter and are hard and woody. Young leaves may appear to be uniformly yellow. Some necrotic spots... sulphur deficiency
Quote:
b. Interveinal chlorosis with smallest veins remaining green producing a checkered or finely netted effect. Grey or tan necrotic spots usually develop in chlorotic areas; the dead spots of tissue may drop out of the leaf giving a ragged appearance. Poor bloom-both size and color. potassium excess can inhibit uptake of manganese... manganese deficiency
Quote:
2. Necrosis occurs at tip and margin of leaves causing a definite hook at leaf tip.
Calcium is essential for the growth of shoot and root tips (meristems). Growing point dies. Margins of young leaves are scalloped and abnormally green and, due to inhibition of cell wall formation, the leaf tips may be "gelatinous" and stuck together inhibiting leaf unfolding. Stem structure is weak and peduncle collapse or shoot topple may occur. Roots are stunted. Premature shedding of fruit and buds is common. Downward curl of leaf tips (hooking) occurs near terminal bud. ammonium or magnesium excess may induce a calcium deficiency in plants... calcium deficiency
If it were me I would only change one (1) thing to begin with.....start dosing your micro-nutrients at the prescribed rate; this should help elevate the sulfur and manganese issues. Then observe your new leaf growth (old leaves may not change much) over the next two weeks....does the condition improve? If yes but say the "hooked leaf tip" condition continues them we will address the calcium situation.

Keep us apprised as to how things progress!
-Roy

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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-17-2016, 09:31 PM Thread Starter
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I came to the assumption of micro toxicity myself after reading through the numerous threads here. I seemed to have all the symptoms and was throwing "non-limiting" amounts of everything at the tank. With what I now understand was WAY overdoing it on the O+ tabs (30 completely filled size 00 gel caps in my 29g), EI levels of everything, high iron dosing, high lighting, high CO2, etc. I thought the O+ tabs probably easily pushed things to a toxicity level. I couldn't keep amano shrimp alive, got 30 MTS snails that died within a week or two, my PO4 levels were always extremely high (off the charts... even now I have trouble keeping them under 5ppm by end of week, and that's with 2/3 EI dosing), Nirates were 40ppm+ at times (never below 20 even right after a WC). I have soft water as well, which seems to be a contributing factor to reaching a micro toxicity more easily. My tank took a steep downhill dive (worse than how it was already humming along) shortly after adding the MTS. I figured they helped mix up the O+ that was in the substrate and leech more micros into the water. So that's how I ended up at a micro toxicity assumption. My growth was much better before starting EI and CSM+B (although that was also with a 65W CLF instead of the current 96W T5HO, much different plant varieties, etc).

Before cutting micros all together, this was my daily dosing:
KNO3: 2.07ppm
PO4: 0.3991ppm
CSM+B: .0685 ppm (using FE as a proxy)
FE (DTPA): .0805

All that is DAILY (macros and micros separated by 4 hours). So I was dosing a fair amount of micros (a bit higher than EI) for several months before that and my tank has been struggling the whole time. I can't get my ammania gracilis to grow for the life of me (see here: https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/8-...sues-help.html), my AR mini constantly looks terrible, prior to stopping micros and trying to reset my substrate almost everything had completely stalled out, slow growth, twisted/crinkled, lack of color on reds, etc. My rotala rundofolia and rotala nanjenshan have been around since before I started EI. They used to grow like wildfire... now my rundofolia has completely died out and I have 2 straggly stands of nanjenshan barely hanging on for dear life.

CO2 ppm is well above 30ppm from what I can figure. It's actually off the charts since I have to run my ph so low (5.3 after CO2 injection). My drop checkers are always solid yellow, regardless of position in the tank.

I just re-tested GH and KH:
GH - 4 (has crept down a bit - usually at 5)
KH - 1.5 ~

Lights are run for 10 hours a day (T5HO, cheap fixture, has reflectors but they're not the best). 2 hours of 48W, 6 hours of 96W (mid-day burst), 2 hours of 48W. There are 2 ZooMed Ultra Sun and 2 TruLumen Flora (pink) bulbs. Each set of bulbs uses 1 of each type (so there is always at least a ZooMed and a TruLumen Flora on, never both of the same kind only). Is this perhaps too much red spectrum using 2 TruLumen Floras?

My GH being a bit lower than I expected could support your calcium suspicions, although I always dose 1.5tsp of Equilibrium at water changes and assumed that was providing enough calcium, but perhaps it is not enough. It usually is at 5+ (last tested 1 week ago), and used to run it higher (7+) a few months ago.

Thank you again for your help and insight! Let me know if you have any new thoughts or ideas based on any of this information.

One thing to add - I do have an FE test kit and it usually reads 0 (or barely traceable) even though I was dosing high amounts of iron. I figured the test kit wasn't reliable, as I've read iron test kits generally are useless. I follow @burr740 's 75g thread (https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/12...n-journey.html) and he had very similar experiences to me (although his results are amazing... mine make me wanna throw my tank out the window). One thing he found is high PO4 levels play some sort of contributing role in this, which I have definitely had. Now how it all fits together... I have no idea.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-18-2016, 02:11 AM
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Hi crisp330,

That is still a LOT of light; on my 45 gallon tall I run the 96 watts for a total of 4.5 hours and it is a taller tank than yours.

You may have easily overdosed your ferts with "30 completely filled 00 gel caps in your 29 gallon" but you seem to have gone too far the other way now. First I will give you my opinion on DIY root tabs, I don't use them. Why, because I have little to no control over the amount of nutrients they release and the amount they release is dependent if they are still inside the gel cap or out and they fertilizer beads increase the release of fertilizer with increasing temperature. Don't get me wrong, I like Miracle-Gro/Scott's Osmocote products and I use them in my garden and potted plants every year but not in my aquarium. What I do use is a high CEC (Calcined) Montmorillonite Clay substrate to absorb nutrients from the water column and make them available to the plants in the root zone and the occasional Seachem Flourish Tab for extra K and micro-nutrients for new swordplants and crypts when they are new or if they seem to be struggling. Otherwise I dose using the Estimative Index (EI) method with a little extra iron and GH Booster because my water is very, very soft.

I assume you are using 4.0 dKH indicator solution in your drop checker to determine your 30+ ppm?

I try to target the following but my tanks do vary (similar to Tom Barr's recommended levels):
NO3 = 15 ppm
K = 10-20 ppm
PO4 = 3.0 ppm
Fe = 0.5 ppm
dGH = 5.0 ppm

Compare the above with your readings....what do you think? Because I use K2SO4 in my DIY GH Booster and I also dose it as part of my EI dosing I don't have issues with sulfur deficiencies since K2SO4 contains sulfur.

Osmocote Plus is a 'balanced' fertilizer 14-14-14 (N-K-P) and contains:
14% Nitrogen (n) (8%+ by ammonia / 5% by Nitrate)
14% Potassium (K)
14% Phosphate (P)

It is a balanced fertilizer but EI does not do 'balanced' nutrients; it's more like 15-15-3 so there is way too much phosphate in Osmocote Plus. Am I saying you cannot get good results with Osmocote Plus, absolutely not. I am saying that if I were to use the 14-14-14 gel caps then I would use them very, very sparingly since they have the ability to put out an abundance of phosphate and I would control my nutrient levels with EI ferts.

Now the tough question, when doing root tabs how do I increase or decrease levels of nutrients? Well to increase levels I would need the typical EI ferts; to decrease I could do a water change I guess but what happens if some are high and others are low?

BTW, how often do I check my ppm's? About once a month. What do I test monthly? PH, dKH, dGH, NO3

Hope this helps!
-Roy

PS, you might what to do some light reading and check out Tom Barr's thoughts on a Light Limited Method; I found it was much easier to 'control' my tanks if they weren't running at 100 miles per hour.

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Last edited by Seattle_Aquarist; 09-20-2016 at 02:52 AM. Reason: corrected iron from 5.0 ppm to 0.5 ppm - sorry
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-18-2016, 03:21 AM Thread Starter
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The numbers in my post above are ppm's dosed daily, not my current tank parameters. Current tank parameters are NO3 20ppm+, PO4 4-5pm+ (sometimes creeps much higher), FE can't read, but never could even after adding .4ppm directly (that was a separate experiment and instantly led to green water). So right now only micros are possibly limited, macros are non-limiting and PO4 is excessive if anything.

I completely agree on using Osmocote+ root tabs. That was my first usage of them, and was a huge mistake. There aren't a lot of good instructions available... I ended up using WAY too much. I have since sworn them off and tried to rid my substrate of as much as possible (removed everything, major stir/dig/mix, pluck out all O+ balls, with about 5-6 complete (90-95%) water changes during it. Basically just shy of taking the substrate out and rising it with a hose). I will not be using them again, and now use Flourish tabs very sparingly.

I believe the O+ tabs were the cause of my recent issues, and it was in the form of micro toxicity and/or very high phosphates (I think the two are somehow related or effect each other... see @burr740's experience). Although even before that, now looking back I had issues that I think were micro toxicities. Since removing the O+ and stoping dosing micros last week, I've seen a lot of improvement. That's why I'm a little gun shy to start dumping micros back in at EI levels, but I agree with you that I am now seeing some micro deficiencies as well.

I'm still having issues keeping PO4 low (like within a 1-3 range). I'm not sure if my substrate is still leeching PO4 and maybe any micros as well. My understanding is Flourish Sand has a fairly high CEC, so it may still be retaining some. I'd like to only change one thing at a time to pinpoint my issues, but things were just so out of whack before and I'm having trouble getting things back to acceptable levels, so that may be hard. I think this will be my plan of action:

- Raise GH slightly higher (6-8ish range maybe?) via Equilibrium. Will address any calcium/magnesium/manganese issues, and higher GH seems to help with potential micro toxicities if they are still occurring (maybe some specific element is still heavily present in my substrate)
- Slowly add micros until deficiency symptoms are gone. I'm starting off at ~1/3 EI levels of CSM+B plus FE (dosing .0228ppm CMS+B, fe proxy, plus .0179 FE DTPA -- DAILY) and will monitor. Continue to increase every 2 weeks until symptoms are gone (my auto-doser solutions last 2 weeks).
- Try to keep PO4 within 1-3 range
- Frequent water changes - 60% 2x week

I may lower light duration or the mid day burst at some point, although I did that a while ago without good results... but there may have been so many other things going on at that point there is no telling what actually was happening. I feel like that is at least the one known constant at this point, so going to keep that the same for now and once things are more stabilized will probably reduce the overall duration or mid-day burst period.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-18-2016, 04:07 AM
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Hi crisp330,

I don't know the CEC of Flourish Sand however regular Flourite has a relatively low CEC (pgs 17-23) but it is certainly possible it is still leaching PO4 especially considering how much Osmocote was in the tank. Adding Seachem Equilibrium will add potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese and since all of these are in the form of 'salts' you will be adding sulfur as well.

Quote:
Derived from: potassium sulfate, calcium sulfate, magnesium sulfate, ferric sulfate, manganese sulfate.

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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-18-2016, 04:17 AM
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I rarely say someone should raise the KH of their water, but I do think yours is low enough to possibly cause problems. I think I would use sodium bicarbonate to raise the KH by about one or two degrees, just to eliminate that as a problem. Incidentally, your plants look pretty good to me.

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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-18-2016, 05:15 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
I rarely say someone should raise the KH of their water, but I do think yours is low enough to possibly cause problems. I think I would use sodium bicarbonate to raise the KH by about one or two degrees, just to eliminate that as a problem. Incidentally, your plants look pretty good to me.
I have wondered that in the past and looked into it but never found anything about low KH being an issue... usually just people saying it's not an issue. I wondered if my post-CO2 ph of 5.3 was an issues as well, which raising my KH would allow me to also raise that along with it. Thanks for saying my plants look good, but I think that is mainly a result of poor photography

I will keep tinkering and keep this updated, following my plan above as well as raising KH. Nothing more frustrating than coming across threads where I'm having the same issues but there is no conclusion. I've got so many variables hopefully I can identify what's what and this helps others, but I'll be happy if things improve... and my damn Ammannia Gracilis starts growing properly.

Thanks for your help Hoppy and Seattle_Aquarist!
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-20-2016, 02:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post
I try to target the following but my tanks do vary (similar to Tom Barr's recommended levels):
NO3 = 15 ppm
K = 10-20 ppm
PO4 = 3.0 ppm
Fe = 5.0 ppm
dGH = 5.0 ppm
5 ppm Fe dosed as DTPA Fe? Is this dosed every week with water changes at the end of the week? I'm just surprised you run it that high. I have only gone close to 3.5 ppm and completely did a WC after since I saw the twisting in a couple of my plants. It could have been the others micros and not the Iron.

@crisp330: Seattle's water parameters is a good starting point.

The Ludwigia's looks really weird. L. Rubin and L. Repens are very hardy Ludwigia's and I have never had them turn green like that.

That being said you can follow Seattle's parameters with maybe a little less on the Fe. A 0.3 ppm dose from DTPA after the water change might be enough. Also make sure you are dosing Magnesium. If you can then dose more Magnesium (MgSO4). I usually run around 10-20 pm Mg without any issues. Usually if the water is hard enough then it is not needed but it does not hurt to dose 5-10 ppm Mg from MgSO4 after water changes. Again this is not needed if you are dosing a form of GH Booster.

Do not worry about the low 5.3 ph. Below is a pic of my 29g Grow tank. It runs at 5.3 ph at the end of photo period and I use a quality PH meter to monitor the ph. It has a breeding colony of Sunburst Platy with around 30+ fish. It is running on 2 x 30" Finnex Planted+ which is a lot of light for a 29g tank.


If your PO4 keeps increasing past 3 ppm then cut the dose. 1.5 - 2.5 ppm PO4 is usually good enough.

Seattle's comment on the Root tabs is also true. If you are using a dosing pump then avoid using the root tabs. They are like a ticking time bomb that you have no idea when they will release nutrients and how much nutrients they will release in the water column. With careful testing, you can most likely lock in you NO3, PO4 and hardness levels by bi-weekly testing and careful tweaking of the dosing pump.


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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-20-2016, 02:54 AM
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Hi @PortalMasteryRy,

Opps, sorry for my error....Fe = 0.7 ppm per dose 3X per week; 0.5 ppm with CSM+B and 0.2 ppm with EDTA Chelated 10%. I corrected the original post....thank you for catching that.

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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-22-2016, 01:14 AM Thread Starter
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I've upped the GH in the tank to eliminate any potential calcium/magnesium/sulfur deficiencies (using Seachem Equilibrium). I added 1 tsp per day, now it's been at 7 for the past 3 days (used to be at 4, but usually ran around 5).

Nitrates - Adding 10.9ppm per week (split daily) seems to keep the Nitrates leveled out around 15ppm.
PO4 - Still rising. I'm adding 0.3ppm per day, 2.1 per week. Somehow it seems to rise by about 1ppm per day. Looks like I need to further decrease this dosing amount, even though I'm already at 1/2 EI dosing.

I'm feeding my fish very sparingly, so I don't think it's coming from that. What is a reasonable about of PO4 to expect from feeding fish? I'm guessing this is still leaching out of my substrate from the O+? Otherwise I have no idea why it rises so quickly. Trying to do water changes to keep it lower (within 1-3ppm at least) and will decrease the dosing amount when I make a new solution.

I started CSM+B and Iron dosing at about 1/3 EI levels 4 days ago. It seems to possibly be slightly helping the deficiencies before (the dark/light veins versus tissue), but I think I need to raise it more. I'm seeing some iron deficiency as well, so will need to increase that. Currently I'm dosing 0.02 FE from CSM+B and .0179 from DTPA per day, but also added .21ppm through all the Equilibrium I added.

With all this though, the curling of my Ludwigia is still very present and doesn't seem to have changed at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PortalMasteryRy View Post
The Ludwigia's looks really weird. L. Rubin and L. Repens are very hardy Ludwigia's and I have never had them turn green like that.
Yeah, they are very very green for some reason, so is my ludwigia glandulosa. Its been in the tank for about a month has had almost no growth, and its totally green (see pic below)... and keep in mind I was dumping tons of iron in previously, along with CSM+B all at or above EI levels.

Here are some current pics.

Ludwigia still super curled:



Veins look to be improving somewhat after starting minimal micros back:


Rotala Wallachi is doing this for some reason. What does this mean? Its usually like this in the AM and will get better throughout the day. It used to grow very well (wayyyy back in the day before I started EI) but recently had pretty much stalled out and started dying off. It has been doing better after clearing out the O+ and after I initially stopped micros. Its turning a little green though... think it needs more iron? You can see it better in a pic below.


Rotala Macranda is stunting a bit. Maybe due to the change in GH? Maybe lacking micros and/or iron?


AR Mini is actually doing better than it has in the past... but still looks terrible:


This green plant in the middle is ludwigia glandulosa believe it or not, in front of my ammania gracilis. Gracilis is still doing terribly, no improvement in leaf twisting and curling, although it is turning a little more pinkish than yellowish. Maybe due to the lack of iron?


Rotala Macranda Green and Blyxa Japonica showing iron deficiency I believe. Rotala is getting light/white green, and new leaves in Blyxa are white.



So, that's where I'm at now. Unfortunately the leaf twisting/curling hasn't improved at all, and the ludwigias have no color, but I'm going to give it more time at the higher GH. I will increase micros and iron next week after my solution runs out unless it starts getting too bad without it.

Last edited by crisp330; 09-22-2016 at 06:41 AM. Reason: Fixing poor grammar :)
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-22-2016, 03:26 AM
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I would not dose any more Micros and give the plants a bit more time. You could bump the Fe by a little bit and maybe do a time DTPA dose of 0.20 ppm and give it 2-3 days.

I'm very curious to how you got your plants to look like that. If you are interested then I would to like to sample and test your water and identify the nutrient levels using my photometer (Hanna HI-83200). If your tank water is 3-4 days past the last water change then we should see if anything stands out nutrient level wise. I can run all the Macro nutrient test and do a Cu, Mn and Fe test.

PM me if you are interested and I can provide you shipping instructions.


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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-22-2016, 06:23 AM Thread Starter
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@PortalMasteryRy That would be amazing and much appreciated!! I did a water change on Tuesday and was planning on doing one Thursday or Friday, but I can certainly hold off if that makes sense for testing.

I'll keep the dosing pumps running on their current setup which is about 1/2 levels of macros and 1/3 micro levels. Should I go ahead and add .2ppm of iron now, or hold off on that as well?

Thank you again!!! PM'ing you now.
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