N vs NO3 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 12-03-2016, 05:08 PM Thread Starter
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N vs NO3

In regards to nitrogen I notice a lot of the forum discussions mentions ppm concentrations for NO3. However when I review the ingredient contents of various liquid fertilizers they only list available N. In regards to EI and PPS I see both listed. Would anyone be able to explain if there is any difference in how aquarium plants use N and NO3? Is one more important than the other? When comparing EI vs a commercial liquid fertilizer should I convert NO3 to the appropriate N ppm concentration? I guess the same question can be asked for P and PO4.
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 12-03-2016, 06:41 PM
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Fertilizers usually list the concentration of Nitroven, Phosphorus and Potassium in a formula (NPK). In this formula they use a conventional system in which they list each ingredient as a percentage in weight of N, P205 and K2O. Now, the elements are not actually in that form, it is just a conventional way of presenting this values so you can compare more easily between two different fertilizers without having to make conversions.
The main sources for Nitrogen in fertilizers are Ammonia (NH3), Ammonium Nitrate (NH4NO3) and Urea (CH4N2O).

After all this, here is the only piece of information you probably care about, sorry if I got too technical: pure NO3 contains 22.5% of nitrogen. This can be easily calculated for any formula, using the molecular weight of the elements in a Periodic Table.

I am not familiar with this EI fertilizer, and I am fairly new to aquarium plants so I can't really comment on that.

When it comes to the forms of nitrogen that the plants can use, they are Ammonium (NH4) and Nitrate (NO3). For non aquatic plants there are environmental situations where you might want to use one or another. And, it is not clear to me if one form is easier for plants to absorb, the literature lists some plants that can absorb one form better while others prefer the other form.

I hope this information helps, even though my experience with aquarium plants and the products used is very limited.

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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 12-03-2016, 07:50 PM
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Nitrogen doesn't exist alone (N).. Nitrogen in air is N2, the most abundant gas but plant can't use it directly because the N bond is so strong so it uses NO3 or NH4 etc.. instead.

You can use online ferts or apps calculators that figures (N) for you.

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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 12-03-2016, 08:56 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you to Jardiamj and mistergreen. After doing research on molecular weights and some basic math I realized I was interpreting the results from the calculators incorrectly. Gives me a totally different perspective on my dosing regime.
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