Guide to the Planted Aquarium, Part II- Nutrients and Nutrient Supplementation - The Planted Tank Forum
 14Likes
  • 8 Post By PEdwards
  • 6 Post By Zorfox
  • 2 Post By BettaBettas
  • 4 Post By PEdwards
  • 2 Post By Zorfox
  • 2 Post By PEdwards
  • 2 Post By NickAu
  • 2 Post By klibs
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-26-2017, 05:49 PM Thread Starter
Planted Tank Obsessed
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Oct 2016
Posts: 376
Guide to the Planted Aquarium, Part II- Nutrients and Nutrient Supplementation

Guide to the Planted Aquarium, Part II – Nutrients and Nutrient Supplementation
Phil Edwards, MS


This is the second part in the multi-part series "Guide to the Planted Aquarium" In this part the author will discuss the various inorganic nutrients (hereafter, nutrients) needed by plants and their main functions in plant biochemistry. Definitions of terms used in this section can be found in Part I. This section is not intended as a discussion of which source of nutrients, dry chemicals or commercially available solutions, is superior to the other. Any mention of commercially available solutions is included strictly for completeness. It is up to the individual aquarist to choose which source is best for his or her own needs and desires.

Please refer to Part I for definitions and explanations of terms contained herein- https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/8-...d-aquaria.html

Author's Note: Images will be added as needed once permission is granted by the image's owner.

Part II, Section I- Common Sources of Nutrients and Generally Accepted Ranges of Concentration


Commonly used sources of nutrients in dry form:
C: CO2 gas
N: potassium nitrate (KNO3)
P: potassium phosphate (KH2PO4)
K: potassium sulfate (K2SO4)
Ca: calcium chloride (CaCl2) and calcium sulfate dihydrate (CaSO4 * 2H2O)
Mg: magnesium chloride (MgCl2) and Epsom salts (MgSO4 * 7H2O)
S: calcium sulfate dihydrate (CaSO4 * 2H2O) and Epsom salts (MgSO4 * 7H2O)
Fe: chelated iron (ferrous gluconate, FeEDTA, FeDPTA)
Minor and trace elements: commercially available mixes

All of the above are available as liquid solutions.

Currently accepted best practice concentration ranges for each nutrient:

CO2: 20-30 ppm
N03: 10-20 ppm
P04: 0.5-2 ppm
K: 10-20 ppm
Ca: 10-30 ppm
Mg: 2-5 ppm
S: Generally considered to be sufficiently added as part of Epsom salts and/or calcium sulfate
Fe: 0.1 ppm

Author's Note: These are the generally accepted concentration ranges for use in systems with moderate to high light input and which receive the majority of nutrient input from the water column. Plants in aquariums with soil amended substrates "Walstad" or "MTS" receive the majority of their nutrients from the substrate; therefore, maintaining water column concentrations of N, P, and Fe as above is not typically required. Based on the author's research, maintaining the above concentrations of K, Ca, and Mg is recommended, but not strictly necessary.

Part II, Section II- Nutrient Function

Plant Physiology and Development, 5th Edition, Taiz and Zeiger (Sinauer assoc) was used for fact-checking and as a general reference for this section. Specific citations are listed where appropriate.

This section will only cover the eight main nutrients which are commonly discussed in the hobby: C, N, P, K, Ca, Mg, S, and Fe. Discussion of the remaining minor and trace elements can be summarized as their necessity in general biochemical reactions and functions.

Primary Macronutrient "macros"- Elements (C, N, P, K) needed by plants in large amounts to sustain life and build and maintain tissues. Carbon is typically omitted from the list as it is assumed by terrestrial horticulturists that plants have unlimited access to atmospheric CO2. In planted aquariums C must be supplemented by some means and as such the author has included it in the list of macros to be added.

Carbon (C)- Carbon is the basis of all life on Earth currently known to science. All organisms depend on it to make the organic compounds required for existence. Unlike many animals which create skeletons out of Ca, Mg, and other materials, plants use carbohydrates to create their structure (structural carbohydrate). Two of the most common structural carbohydrates are cellulose and lignin.

One of the unique traits of plants and other photosynthetic organisms is the use of two major systems for the acquisition of energy; the light (light dependent) and dark (light independent) cycles. While plants are receiving light they make the molecules ATP and NADPH in Photosystems 1 and 2. These molecules are then used in the dark cycle to provide the energy needed to produce glucose. From that point plants then either use glucose for respiration or as a source of organic carbon to synthesize amino acids, proteins, enzymes, structural carbohydrates, photosynthetic pigments, and other organic compounds.

Multiple carbon supplementation options are available for planted aquarium hobbyists; CO2 gas and liquid carbon sources. The two most common sources of CO2 are pressurized gas and as a biproduct of fermentation aka "DIY". In the past DIY yeast reactors were relatively common source of CO2 as pressurized gas was considered risky due to "End of Tank Dump" which could potentially kill fish. In recent years an increasing number of aquarium supply companies have released yeast reactor kits catering to aquarists who do not wish to make their own or to aquarists who aren't familiar with how to make their own. Use of pressurized gas has become increasingly popular as high quality plant-specific regulators and small injection systems based on low pressure canisters have become available. Since plants have evolved to use CO2 as their primary source of C, gas injection is considered by many to be superior to liquid carbon sources.

While not as popular or well-regarded as they were in the past, liquid carbon products remain a viable source of C for the planted aquarist. Much discussion has centered around the mechanisms by which these products supply C and their true effectiveness as a carbon source. The author has had the opportunity to speak with some suppliers of liquid carbon sources and was told that the products concerned supply either photosynthetic intermediates or molecules used in energy producing metabolic cycles.

Nitrogen (N)- Nitrogen is perhaps the second most used element after carbon. Four N are bound to one Mg to form the center of chlorophyll. It is an essential component of amino acids and thereby all proteins which organisms use to build cellular structure, synthesize genetic material, and in a host of biochemical reactions. Plant scientists have determined that the most energetically favorable forms of N are ammonia and ammonium (NH3/NH4+) whereas nitrate (NO3-) is easier to store due to NH3/NH4+ being toxic at high concentrations.

Phosphorus (P)- Phosphorus is the third of the four macronutrients. Mentioned above, the ATP and NADP molecules used in the light and dark cycles both contain phosphate (PO43-) making P an essential element in energy acquisition and transport. In addition, P is a central element in the phospholipid bilayer found in all cells. This layer plays an important role in maintaining concentrations of water soluble compounds and ions within the cell. Lastly, P is a major component of nucleic acids which control cell division and growth of new tissue.

Potassium (K)- Potassium plays general, but important, roles in osmotic regulation, ionic transport, enzyme activation, and opening/closing of stomata. Of particular note in submerged plants are the roles K plays in activating ATP production enzymes and osmotic regulation. As submerged plants aren't able to take advantage of evaporation to facilitate nutrient transport they must take advantage of osmosis to move nutrient and energy laden solutions throughout their bodies. One way which they accomplish this is transporting K into cells which creates a difference in solute concentration (osmotic gradient), causing water to move toward that concentration in order to dilute the solute and return to a state of solute equilibrium. In emergent culture this same mechanism is used to open and close stomata to regulate atmospheric CO2 aquisition. The author speculates that opening and closing of stomata is a means of regulating oxygen concentration in submergent culture, resulting in pearling.

Secondary Macronutrients-

Calcium (Ca)- Like potassium, calcium plays a general role in plant life. Perhaps the most important of these is as calcium pectate, a material which strengthens cell walls, promotes structural integrity, and aids in cell elongation. (Hanson, 1984) observed that plants cultured in solutions with low Ca concentrations demonstrated leakage of ions and metabolites.

Magnesium (Mg)- Previously mentioned, Mg is the central element in the ring structure of Chlorophyll. It is also used as an enzyme activator and is important to ATP utilization where ATP must be bound to Mg to be used.

Sulfur (S)- The main role of S in plant life is primarily as an activator or enabler of protein, lipid, and enzyme synthesis as well as chlorophyll production.

Micronutrients-

Iron (Fe)- Iron's main role in plant biology is in chlorophyll synthesis. While not a component of chlorophyll itself it is an essential part of the process. SL353/SS555: Iron (Fe) Nutrition of Plants
burr740, burr740, nel and 5 others like this.

Last edited by PEdwards; 02-28-2017 at 11:22 AM. Reason: This is a work in progress and is subject to frequent revision and addition
PEdwards is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-26-2017, 08:38 PM
Planted Tank Guru
 
Zorfox's Avatar
 
PTrader: (5/100%)
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Gainesville, FL
Posts: 2,105
Very well written Phil! Everything seems spot on to me with only a couple of exceptions.

Now for the constructive criticism.

In regards to your concentration ranges, I would add that the “N” and “P” ppm values are actually Nitrate and Phosphate values and not nitrogen and phosphorus. Example, a N value of 20ppm would be equal to 89ppm of NO3.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PEdwards View Post
Worth noting, many fertilizers used to enhance flowering contain higher amounts of P relative to those for general use. Unless one is specifically trying to promote flowering in emersed culture, increasing PO43- concentration in an aquarium is not recommended as this may reduce iron in the water column.
While it is true that manufacturers sell high P content fertilizers for blooms there is no scientific basis for it. The fact is, high phosphorus levels do not produce more blooms. In fact, too much phosphorus can cause problems. Which leads me to my next critique…

Quote:
Originally Posted by PEdwards View Post
increasing PO43- concentration in an aquarium is not recommended as this may reduce iron in the water column.
I think this is a little misleading. Whether the iron becomes reduced is primarily based on the chelate used as well as KH/PH of the water.

This is just my personal opinion but I think you’re a little light in your PO4 and Fe ranges.
Zorfox is offline  
post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-26-2017, 09:38 PM
Banned
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Australia
Posts: 279
And this is why I joined this site, Great write up.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
NickAu is offline  
 
post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-26-2017, 09:49 PM
Planted Tank Guru
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 2,673
Have to agree with the above comments, this article (again) was wonderful to read. will help a lot of people gain more knowledge.
NickAu and NickAu like this.
BettaBettas is offline  
post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-26-2017, 11:44 PM Thread Starter
Planted Tank Obsessed
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Oct 2016
Posts: 376
Thanks for the tip Zorfox, changed N to NO3 and P to PO4 in the appropriate place (I hope). It's always nice to have a second set of eyes to suss out what I mean when I know what I mean but others don't know what I mean, know what I mean?

Regarding the PO4 + Fe thing, I said "may" for a good reason and would like to sit on that for a bit. I *may* just be running into that problem in my system. I don't want to propagate bad information but I do want to look into it more as it's possible under certain ranges.

As far as the ranges listed, they're not my personally preferred concentrations, rather the generally accepted current best levels and ones I've had success with in the past. What I do in my personal tank may not be the best idea for a beginner and this guide is all about helping them be successful.

Thanks Nick and Bettas.



Cheers,
Phil
Zorfox, Zorfox, NickAu and 1 others like this.
PEdwards is offline  
post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-28-2017, 02:50 AM
Planted Tank Guru
 
Zorfox's Avatar
 
PTrader: (5/100%)
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Gainesville, FL
Posts: 2,105
Quote:
Originally Posted by PEdwards View Post
Thanks for the tip Zorfox, changed N to NO3 and P to PO4 in the appropriate place (I hope). It's always nice to have a second set of eyes to suss out what I mean when I know what I mean but others don't know what I mean, know what I mean?
Yup. You have it corrected in the right place. I agree, it is nice to have a second set of eyes. Likewise, it's nice to meet someone who can accept constructive criticism for a change lol.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PEdwards View Post
Regarding the PO4 + Fe thing, I said "may" for a good reason and would like to sit on that for a bit. I *may* just be running into that problem in my system. I don't want to propagate bad information but I do want to look into it more as it's possible under certain ranges.
I'll have to PM you on this one when I have more time. It's a long story about why I said that in the first place. The same thing applies to the concentration ranges.
PEdwards and PEdwards like this.
Zorfox is offline  
post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-28-2017, 06:33 AM
Banned
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Australia
Posts: 279
After reading this wonderful post I have decided to try a little liquid CO2, Lets see how things go.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
NickAu is offline  
post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-28-2017, 08:16 AM
Planted Tank Guru
 
roadmaster's Avatar
 
PTrader: (1/100%)
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Missouri united states
Posts: 5,576
Would think maybe PO4 ranges suggested sufficient for all but very high energy systems ?
Must consider phosphates from fish food's also for the masses that over feed their fauna.(KNO3 also)
Will be invaluable article for those wishing to know about what plant's need.
Thank You.
roadmaster is offline  
post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-28-2017, 10:47 AM Thread Starter
Planted Tank Obsessed
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Oct 2016
Posts: 376
Quote:
Originally Posted by roadmaster View Post
Would think maybe PO4 ranges suggested sufficient for all but very high energy systems ?
Must consider phosphates from fish food's also for the masses that over feed their fauna.(KNO3 also)
Will be invaluable article for those wishing to know about what plant's need.
Thank You.
That's exactly it roadmaster. They're a basic starting point for folks to cut their teeth on. When I've had the space to run multiple tanks in the past, I've found some permutation of those ranges to be effective for general plant keeping. Some systems required PO4 to be on the high end while NO3 was in the low to moderate, etc. Higher concentrations clearly work when appropriate, like the very high light/energy systems you mentioned.

That being said, if I converted the tissue N and P mg/g dry weight I got in my research to NO3 and PO4 supplementation targets I'd be adding close to 100 ppm NO3 and 10 ppm PO4. Kinda high, I think.



Nick,

Liquid carbon supplements aren't liquid CO2, they're solutions of organic carbon molecules that the plants then utilize somehow according to the manufacturers. A good analogy would be adding sugar water to your tank (don't do that). You'd be adding an organic carbon source for the plants to take up rather than adding a liquid form of CO2. It's an important distinction.
NickAu and NickAu like this.

Last edited by PEdwards; 02-28-2017 at 11:21 AM. Reason: Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers
PEdwards is offline  
post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-28-2017, 10:59 AM
Banned
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Australia
Posts: 279
Quote:
A good analogy would be adding sugar water to your tank (don't do that).
I would only add sugar if I kept Sweet lip ( Lethrinus laticaudis )
PEdwards and PEdwards like this.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
NickAu is offline  
post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-28-2017, 06:49 PM
Planted Tank Guru
 
klibs's Avatar
 
PTrader: (29/100%)
Join Date: May 2014
Location: NH
Posts: 3,325
please sticky this
NickAu and NickAu like this.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
klibs is offline  
Reply

Tags
None

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the The Planted Tank Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in










Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode



Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome