Micro nutrient deficiency - yes it can happen! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 56 (permalink) Old 10-21-2016, 02:25 AM Thread Starter
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Micro nutrient deficiency - yes it can happen!

I decided to start this post to bring into light possible identification of micro nutrient deficiency that was affecting my 40B. While I was able to grow my 40B tank the way I wanted, certain plants seemed to struggle even with the correct (and even elevated) levels of macro nutrients. After all the fert tweaking, nothing was making sense until I finally decided to do the low range Manganese test on my 40B.

I would have never thought of having a micro deficiency issue affect my 40B tank and I never bothered to test my Manganese levels since the tank was getting a regular daily dose of CSM+B. I was in for a shock after I finally decided to test the tank this past weekend after actually reducing my CSM+B dosing to every other day for that week (thinking it was micro tox!). The machine (Hanna HI-83200) gave me a 0 ppb Manganese reading twice! Manganese in CSM+B is one of the 3 micros that have a higher concentration in the fertilizer mix so to come up with a 0 ppb reading was pretty bad. My machine can read from 0.000 to 0.300 ppm. or 0-300 ppb of Manganese with the accuracy of +/-10 ppb.

200 mg of CSM+B in my 40g tank yields.

Fe 0.086
Mn 0.025
Cu 0.001
Mg 0.018
Zn 0.005
Mo 0.001
B 0.011
dGH 0.004

The culprit is most likely the high CEC Safe-T-Sorb substrate. Even after almost 2 year in the tank, it seems the substrate still sucks out fertilizers from the water column. Still trying to figure out how much.

My dosing routine for CSM+B.

600 mg CSM+B for 40g after every water change yielding:
Element ppm/degree
Fe 0.259
Mn 0.074
Cu 0.004
Mg 0.055
Zn 0.015
Mo 0.002
B 0.032
dGH 0.013

NOTE: Also additional .4 ppm Fe from DTPA 10% Fe dosed after water change PLUS 2x .1 ppm from Seachem Iron everyday on separate schedules


350 mg per week of CSM+B (7 x 50 mg everyday) yielding total every week:
Element ppm/degree
Fe 0.151
Mn 0.043
Cu 0.002
Mg 0.032
Zn 0.009
Mo 0.001
B 0.018
dGH 0.007

Total Micros
Fe 0.41 + .4 ppm Fe from DTPA 10%.
Mn 0.117
Cu 0.006
Mg 0.088
Zn 0.023
Mo 0.003
B 0.05
dGH 0.02


Now the total estimated dose of micronutrients might not be much but I decided to run the test on my 20g and 29g grow tanks which uses inert substrate (petco fine and acrylic coated gravel) and I was shocked to see both tanks show up with more than 90+ ppb of Mn. 94 ppb and 140 ppb for my 20g and 29g which was way more than what I saw in my 40B. Considering the 40B was getting a daily dose then I would have expected to see a higher Mn reading from the machine but that was not the case.

Some picture of the results from the machine:

ul/L is parts per billion or ppb not ppm

Two test for my 40B - had to do the test twice to confirm the low Mn level


Single test of my 29g



test for my 40B 3 days after adding 800 mg of CSM+b or 0.099 ppb Mn during the 3 days


Single test of my 29g after 3 days with no additional CSM+b dosing.


As you can see the total estimate 104 ppb for my 40B ended up to be around 15 ppb. Losing as much as 85 ppb of Manganese in almost 3 days while my 29g at 140 ppb with no additional CSM+B dosing lost only 21 ppb of Manganese in the 3 days between the test.


Before making the discovery this past weekend, my tanks was probably bottoming out of Micros for the past week since I altered my CSM+B dosing and started to dose less.

Some observations on some of my plants (I'll post the photos soon!)
- Pogostemon Erectus - Tips just stopped growing any new leaves, no twisted leaves, just completely no growth at the tips. The plant does not grow more than 3 inches per stem and starts to grow sideshoots which have a tendency to stop growing too. Small stem width.

- Downoi - Just stops growing. Will grow a partially new leaf after a water change then it will just stop growing. Only 1 new baby plant appeared out of 8 plants since the plants were added almost 6 weeks ago from my 20g.

- Tonina Fluviatilis - Bottom leaves were small and the older leaves would just start to become clear from the bottom as if nutrients were being moved from the older leaves but no sign of chlorosis. The tips were small and the distance between leaf nodes was very very short.

- Stargrass - older leaves would appear with black leaf tips and tip margins

- AR (mini and var) - older leaves turn black and would twist a little and leaf margins would cup downward. Leaf nodes was very short and new leaves grow very very very slowly. Leaf size is smaller.

- ludwigia senegalensis - necrotic stem and leaves at the bottom part of the stem, pale orange leaves and not your healthy red leaves with a yellowish strip at the top of the stem. I had a tiny growing stem that almost never grew for the past 3 weeks and started growing just this week after the adjustment in my CSM+B dose.

- Creeping Jenny - grows very very very slows and appears with smaller leaves

Very common thing across the plants that was showing signs of the deficiency was the poor growth of roots. The roots were fine and healthy except only a very small amount of roots will appear.


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post #2 of 56 (permalink) Old 10-21-2016, 04:27 AM
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Thanks for sharing the results! This is very enlightening and confirms that a high CEC substrate is capable if adsorbing cations at a very fast rate.

Did the plants have enough root contact with the substrate to acquire the nutrients there instead of the water column? In my tank, the plants that have not been topped and replanted grow the best with minimal influence of water column dosing, i assume due to the roots.
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post #3 of 56 (permalink) Old 10-21-2016, 05:29 AM
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thanks for posting this PortalMasteryRy, it would be very helpful to those who are using soil vs inert substrate.

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post #4 of 56 (permalink) Old 10-21-2016, 11:59 AM
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Do we think some process might prohibit the plant's from taking up the nutrient's that may be adsorbed/absorbed by substrates with moderate to high CEC like the safe-t-sorb?
I am interested for I am currently running a low tech soil based tank with safe-t-sorb as a cap,and though it's been only a few week's (8) since the tank was flooded,I see no issues yet...
I am only dosing once a week and should think if my substrate was stripping out essential mineral (s) I might see evidence, but perhaps my relatively easy plant's don't need much?
No increase in lighting maybe driving demand for more?
Wonder why the safe-t-sorb would only strip manganese and not other mineral's as well to plant's detriment?
I remember a couple year's back using some KENT"S Iron/Manganese in my tank from left over reef day's, but do not recall any harm nor noted improvement but this post may have me picking up some more just in case.
Would not have to get crazy then in my low tech with the CSM+B.
Thus far, my two large sword plant's(Kleiner Bar/Red flame),Anubia,crypt balansae,crypt parva,crypt blasii,Wisteria,are performing well.
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post #5 of 56 (permalink) Old 10-21-2016, 05:28 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solcielo lawrencia View Post
Thanks for sharing the results! This is very enlightening and confirms that a high CEC substrate is capable if adsorbing cations at a very fast rate.

Did the plants have enough root contact with the substrate to acquire the nutrients there instead of the water column? In my tank, the plants that have not been topped and replanted grow the best with minimal influence of water column dosing, i assume due to the roots.

Yes, when I pull out stem plants I see roots in the substrate. They are slightly less for those plants which I think were affected more by the micro deficiency. Ludwigia S. showed very little roots.
High CEC substrates seem to work. I just can't confirm if it affects all of the micro nutrients. I might do an empty tank test. I still have a 50 lbs bag of Safe-T-Sorb that I can try it out with a higher dose of micros and see if the micros will lessen gradually after a couple of days. Might be a way to make use of my Zinc test since it requires higher levels of micros in the water.

Quote:
Originally Posted by happi View Post
thanks for posting this PortalMasteryRy, it would be very helpful to those who are using soil vs inert substrate.
You're welcome. For inert substrate users, I would be very careful in micro fert dosing. It is very easy to overdose it because of 0 CEC of the substrate.


Quote:
Originally Posted by roadmaster View Post
Do we think some process might prohibit the plant's from taking up the nutrient's that may be adsorbed/absorbed by substrates with moderate to high CEC like the safe-t-sorb?
I am interested for I am currently running a low tech soil based tank with safe-t-sorb as a cap,and though it's been only a few week's (8) since the tank was flooded,I see no issues yet...
I am only dosing once a week and should think if my substrate was stripping out essential mineral (s) I might see evidence, but perhaps my relatively easy plant's don't need much?
No increase in lighting maybe driving demand for more?
Wonder why the safe-t-sorb would only strip manganese and not other mineral's as well to plant's detriment?
I remember a couple year's back using some KENT"S Iron/Manganese in my tank from left over reef day's, but do not recall any harm nor noted improvement but this post may have me picking up some more just in case.
Would not have to get crazy then in my low tech with the CSM+B.
Thus far, my two large sword plant's(Kleiner Bar/Red flame),Anubia,crypt balansae,crypt parva,crypt blasii,Wisteria,are performing well.
I don't know why the plants are struggling to pull nutrients from the substrate. It could also be that since my micros keep bottoming out that all my plants were struggling in general and that affected the rooting of some plants.

I don't think it is just limited to Manganese and I might setup a simple test with some extra STS that I have to see how it affects Zinc. I do have to use an empty tank for it since my Zinc test would require way too much Zinc in the tank for it to work properly. Some of the easy plants show less visible signs but it would be hard to tell unless you test for it. My real concern here is that it is the 0 levels of micronutrients. I think that with even a very small amount of micros that the plants will survive and grow and only when you get 0 levels is when it becomes a problem.

I was able to get away with it for the longest time because I daily dose CSM+B.

If you have low light then it might not be a problem since the general growth rate is lower.


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post #6 of 56 (permalink) Old 10-21-2016, 06:10 PM
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What were the concentrations of phosphate? Precipitation could occur as well, though that wouldn't explain why the inert substrate would remain high while the CEC substrate drastically reduces them.

Also, since microorganismal activity is required to reduce certain nutrients and make them available for the roots, do you notice a large population of bacteria in the substrate by the roots? This may be one of the biggest factors affecting nutrient availability if the microorganisms are limited.

Quote:
Originally Posted by roadmaster View Post
Wonder why the safe-t-sorb would only strip manganese and not other mineral's as well to plant's detriment?
I remember a couple year's back using some KENT"S Iron/Manganese in my tank from left over reef day's, but do not recall any harm nor noted improvement but this post may have me picking up some more just in case.
The CEC has an order of priority; it will adsorb certain metals more readily than others. The STS clay is used in certain heavy metal contaminated waters for remediation and if you search, youll find some scientific literature on this. It has to do with the conformation of the molecules, the geometry and such. It will list which cations will adsorb in order of priority. Something like Pb > Cu >Zn > Mn. Don't quite quote me on this order.

Last edited by Darkblade48; 10-22-2016 at 08:25 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #7 of 56 (permalink) Old 10-22-2016, 06:43 PM Thread Starter
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Tonina Fluviatilis comparison

Here are some pics of my tonina f. from two tanks.

40B summary
300 TDS
60 ppm Ca
60 ppm K
20 ppm NO3
1.5 ppm PO4
5-15 ppb Manganese from the last couple of days ago with a reading of 0 ppb 6 days ago

20G long summary
485 TDS
80 Ca
100+ K (tested on medium range K (0-100 ppm) test and my photometer said it was out of range)
19 ppm NO3
1 ppm PO4
94 ppb Manganese from last test 6 days ago

All tanks are high tech with a dosing pump and CO2 injection.

Picture of a healthy Tonina F.


Tonina in my 40B
The ones I have in my 40B are both from a batch of stems that I got at the start of the year and some more newer stems only a few weeks old.
You can see in the picture the newer stems (blue) all have big long leaves consistent throughout the entire stem while my original older stems just struggled to grow and keep
losing the bottom leaves.

You'll notice in the picture that some of the tips look weird and appear short and stubby and have smaller leaves mostly on my older stems.


You'll also notice 2 recovering tips that is growing properly. These tips started to show up only after the change in my CSM+B dose.

Tonina in my 20L
You would think it might be another issue like CO2 but that was not the case. I took an almost dead stem from my 40B after it floated and tossed it in my 20L. The plant had a tiny growth on the top and the rest of the stem was dead and brown. I planted it in between some AR. The stem grew really well and way better than any stem I had in my 40B


Below is a picture of my tank and I'm not feeding my fish. This is the picture of the tank only about an hour after the lights turn on. You can see a ton of my platys staying at the top indicating to me that I have a ton of CO2 and this is with a air pump connected to a bubble stone that runs 24/7. My SAE still do whatever they do so I'm not too concerned. When the SAEs start gasping for air is when I'm in trouble. My CO2 is started 4 hours before the lights turn on FYI.
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post #8 of 56 (permalink) Old 10-23-2016, 02:41 AM
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Well,I was/am counting on the soil/safe-t-sorb to become nutrient sink so that I might get another year out of low tech tank as opposed to two year's from previous soil/cat litter tank which performed well for me.
I have read and spoken to other's who have used the safe-t-sorb and was aware that the stuff initially can strip mg/calcium from the water but as my water is fairly hard,I was not too concerned.
My soil/cat litter tank's just seemed to become less effective after a year or two and I simply re-dirt them but they do well for first year to eighteen month's.
If the safe-t-sorb is still adsorbing nutrient;s from the water after two year's as reported..I am interested if the issue was always being observed or just in last few month's?
I did no note that all micro's were bottoming out in OP's tank and this was my interest.
thanks for response.
Safe-t-sorb effort is new to me so I will have to observe more intently.
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post #9 of 56 (permalink) Old 11-06-2016, 12:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solcielo lawrencia View Post
Also, since microorganismal activity is required to reduce certain nutrients and make them available for the roots, do you notice a large population of bacteria in the substrate by the roots? This may be one of the biggest factors affecting nutrient availability if the microorganisms are limited.

Solcielo, how do you measure the bacteria population in the substrate?
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post #10 of 56 (permalink) Old 11-06-2016, 01:31 AM
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Haven't read through your whole thread, sorry, but are you sure lighting is not the culprit here, and not one trace element fixing all tonina problems?
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post #11 of 56 (permalink) Old 11-06-2016, 02:09 AM Thread Starter
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Haven't read through your whole thread, sorry, but are you sure lighting is not the culprit here, and not one trace element fixing all tonina problems?
Lighting was never a problem. The toninas are 6"-8" directly underneath my 36" planted+.

I don't know which micro it was but after the new dosing amount, I am able to grow my toninas properly. All tops are healthy and I was able to stop the loss of leaves at the bottom of the stem.

The other indicator was the ludwigia senegalensis which struggled to grow and was very pale even with good Fe dosing. After trying to maintain at least 15 ppb Mn in the water the plants responded well. Even my downoi responded well to the new dosing.

I'll have full confirmation soon as I have started to switch my substrate with black diamond blasting sand.


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post #12 of 56 (permalink) Old 11-06-2016, 04:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PortalMasteryRy View Post
Lighting was never a problem. The toninas are 6"-8" directly underneath my 36" planted+.



I don't know which micro it was but after the new dosing amount, I am able to grow my toninas properly. All tops are healthy and I was able to stop the loss of leaves at the bottom of the stem.



The other indicator was the ludwigia senegalensis which struggled to grow and was very pale even with good Fe dosing. After trying to maintain at least 15 ppb Mn in the water the plants responded well. Even my downoi responded well to the new dosing.



I'll have full confirmation soon as I have started to switch my substrate with black diamond blasting sand.


What's your water GH and KH? I read your values for Ca but I couldn't find any info about Mg... Just wondering if hardness of water could also play a role here.
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post #13 of 56 (permalink) Old 11-06-2016, 05:05 AM Thread Starter
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I keep my Mg levels between 15-20 ppm and my CA around 60-70 ppm. I don't know what my GH is and my KH should be around 4-6. I have yet to test my alkalinity but I dose 2-3 dKH after every water change using Dolomite.

Ca and Mg is not the issue. The grow tank where I tested out the tonina and where it grew without issues has water that is very hard.

At one point, I had my 40B that had issues with the toninas running on 50 ppm Ca /15 Mg/40 K and at another time I played with 80 Ca/ 20 mg/60+ ppm K and still the plants did not grow properly. I have tried out so many combinations including high/low nitrate, phosphate and even Fe. The only thing that solved it was the adjustment in my micro fert dose so my Manganese levels do not bottom out or read 0 ppb when the lights were on. The same issue also affected Syngonanthus Belem but the toninas was the worse between the two plants.

Like what I stated earlier, both my grow tanks never read 0 ppb Manganese and read 90+ and 140+ ppb Mn when I tested them. Both these grow tanks grew toninas without any issues. Even my 20 L which has very hard water (485 ppm TDS), grew the tonina well and even had the cuttings grow with new side shoot or new plants without the tops.

I have some cuttings and some very unhealthy tonina tops from my 40B growing that I threw in my 29 G grow tank. I'm expecting it to grow healthy in a 2-3 weeks.


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post #14 of 56 (permalink) Old 11-07-2016, 03:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PortalMasteryRy View Post
I keep my Mg levels between 15-20 ppm and my CA around 60-70 ppm. I don't know what my GH is and my KH should be around 4-6. I have yet to test my alkalinity but I dose 2-3 dKH after every water change using Dolomite.



Ca and Mg is not the issue. The grow tank where I tested out the tonina and where it grew without issues has water that is very hard.



At one point, I had my 40B that had issues with the toninas running on 50 ppm Ca /15 Mg/40 K and at another time I played with 80 Ca/ 20 mg/60+ ppm K and still the plants did not grow properly. I have tried out so many combinations including high/low nitrate, phosphate and even Fe. The only thing that solved it was the adjustment in my micro fert dose so my Manganese levels do not bottom out or read 0 ppb when the lights were on. The same issue also affected Syngonanthus Belem but the toninas was the worse between the two plants.



Like what I stated earlier, both my grow tanks never read 0 ppb Manganese and read 90+ and 140+ ppb Mn when I tested them. Both these grow tanks grew toninas without any issues. Even my 20 L which has very hard water (485 ppm TDS), grew the tonina well and even had the cuttings grow with new side shoot or new plants without the tops.



I have some cuttings and some very unhealthy tonina tops from my 40B growing that I threw in my 29 G grow tank. I'm expecting it to grow healthy in a 2-3 weeks.


Thanks for clarifying.

Is the Manganese Sulfate Monohydrate the one you are using?

Like this one:

Manganese Sulfate Monohydrate - 32% Mn - 1 Pound https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004RXD1HK..._KcaiybFQZP2RS


Or something different?
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post #15 of 56 (permalink) Old 11-07-2016, 03:51 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fablau View Post
Thanks for clarifying.

Is the Manganese Sulfate Monohydrate the one you are using?

Like this one:

Manganese Sulfate Monohydrate - 32% Mn - 1 Pound https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004RXD1HK..._KcaiybFQZP2RS


Or something different?
Nope. I just increased the dose of my CSM+B to compensate for the lose of Mn in the water. This is something that I never wanted to do but so far it is the only way I can keep the toninas and the other plants happy.

Unfortunately the possibility of overdosing one of the micros is there and my Fe is always high. Fortunately, I've dosed higher Fe prior to the change in my CSM+B dosing so I know how much my tank can tank.

This issue should be resolved in 2 weeks as I am in the process of switching the substrate already. After that I'll be dosing to maintain around 80-100 ppb of Mn in the water using CSM+B.


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