Do I need to dose Calcium - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-12-2017, 02:04 AM Thread Starter
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Do I need to dose Calcium

Hey everyone,

My tank is new and still cycling, and I've been having some plant deficiencies of some sort. I'm struggling with even the easiest of plants, i.e. anacharis. My lighting intensity is in the medium range, I'm using DIY CO2, and dosing Seachems N, P, K, and Fe and Flourish on alternate days with beginners dose. My water is quite hard, but noticed my magnesium ppm is higher than the calcium. I've read that the ratio should be 1:4. Attached is my water quality report for my tap. Am I understanding this right, do I need to add Calcium, and if so, what is the best way? Will this raise my gh even higher? Any input would be much appreciated! Thank you
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-12-2017, 02:30 AM
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Hi tarandmike,

Welcome to TPT!

You could have a calcium issue, or it could be that the ammonia created during the cycling of your new tank is causing the plant issues.....could you provide a couple of pictures so we can get a better idea of the issue(s) please?

Based upon you water quality report I agree that you should have plenty of Mg and although you have Ca it may not be in a form that the plants can utilize. I don't believe that you have to have a 4:1 Ca:Mg ratio but there does have to be sufficient usable Ca available for plants go grow properly. I would not add Ca just yet until we have a better idea of the problem(s) you are having.

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-12-2017, 08:32 PM
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The "simplest" way to instantly raise calcium levels is to either use a GH booster like seachem equilbrium, or use a liquid calcium chloride solution like Kent's liquid calcium.

Also this will raise your GH because this is essentially a measure of calcium and magnesium levels.

Also those levels of calcium and magnesium put your dGH around 6 which should be fine for most applications. I doubt its the source of your problems but if you did add some it doesn't need too much. maybe aim for around 25-30ppm CA?

Last edited by Highseq; 09-12-2017 at 09:16 PM. Reason: More information
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-13-2017, 02:59 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies!

I wasn't aware that ammonia in a cycling tank would affect the plants, what would be some issues that I would see?

My water supply company is located in a neighboring city, and the gh out of my tap is around 200ppm (11-12 drops), it's higher in my tank at 17+ drops. It doesn't coincide with the report readings, so perhaps I am picking up more minerals in the pipes? For hard water, I've not noticed any hard water scaling from calcium, but have noticed staining...from magnesium?

The issues I'm having are:

My anacharis grows, then stops, then sends out side shoots which grow and then stop. The older leaves yellow and melt/fall away, stems seem brittle.

My wendttii cyrpts show decent growth, but veins are very pronounced in new leaves...I know this plant looks and grows different in different environments...just not sure if what I'm seeing is healthy growth.

My Amazon swords were horrible...older leaves had yellow/brown patches, and new leaves were stunted/twisted/transparent and full of holes. I got frustrated with these and tossed them out thinking it was a substrate issue. I have a mix of black sand and fluorite sand substrate. I was using flourish tabs and osmocote tabs for the swords, and currenty with my cyrpts.

My Amazon frogbit disintegrated, but first tried to survive with new tiny little white leaves

My weeping moss is brown...not green, not sure if there was ever new growth or if it's still alive.

I currently have a heavy diatom issue...not sure if it's from the early stages of this new tank, or if it's an indicator of what's going on.

My original plan was a low tech tank, but found it difficult to achieve the right lighting...so I'm now struggling to keep things in balance. I did order Vallisneria, Water Sprite, and Ludwigia to add to this tank...thinking it would help with my algae issue, as I am currently fertilizing the water column for only a handful of anacharis. I also backed the light off some, and plan on double checking my DIY CO2 for possible leaks.

For possible Calcium supplementation, what about those fish vacation feeder blocks?

I wanted to share, this is my same tank a couple years ago before I moved. This is where I'd like to be again. My lighting fixture was a 24" finnex planted plus, and a 20" stingray sitting on a glass canopy, I had DIY CO2, and was using the same fertilizing methods. Now I'm just using the 24" planted plus 2" above the glass canopy. So different water, lower light level, but same tank, CO2, fertilizing regime and similar plants and I'm struggling. That's why I was questioning my water quality and calcium.
(Tank is a 36 gallon corner)
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-13-2017, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by tarandmike View Post
Thanks for the replies!

I wasn't aware that ammonia in a cycling tank would affect the plants, what would be some issues that I would see?

My water supply company is located in a neighboring city, and the gh out of my tap is around 200ppm (11-12 drops), it's higher in my tank at 17+ drops. It doesn't coincide with the report readings, so perhaps I am picking up more minerals in the pipes? For hard water, I've not noticed any hard water scaling from calcium, but have noticed staining...from magnesium?

The issues I'm having are:

My anacharis grows, then stops, then sends out side shoots which grow and then stop. The older leaves yellow and melt/fall away, stems seem brittle.

My wendttii cyrpts show decent growth, but veins are very pronounced in new leaves...I know this plant looks and grows different in different environments...just not sure if what I'm seeing is healthy growth.

My Amazon swords were horrible...older leaves had yellow/brown patches, and new leaves were stunted/twisted/transparent and full of holes. I got frustrated with these and tossed them out thinking it was a substrate issue. I have a mix of black sand and fluorite sand substrate. I was using flourish tabs and osmocote tabs for the swords, and currenty with my cyrpts.

My Amazon frogbit disintegrated, but first tried to survive with new tiny little white leaves

My weeping moss is brown...not green, not sure if there was ever new growth or if it's still alive.

I currently have a heavy diatom issue...not sure if it's from the early stages of this new tank, or if it's an indicator of what's going on.

My original plan was a low tech tank, but found it difficult to achieve the right lighting...so I'm now struggling to keep things in balance. I did order Vallisneria, Water Sprite, and Ludwigia to add to this tank...thinking it would help with my algae issue, as I am currently fertilizing the water column for only a handful of anacharis. I also backed the light off some, and plan on double checking my DIY CO2 for possible leaks.

For possible Calcium supplementation, what about those fish vacation feeder blocks?
Hi tarandmike,

That was a nice looking 'scape you had, no wonder you would like to replicate it; I was hoping for current pictures of your plants that are showing issues however.

Ammonia, generated during the early stages of the nitrogen cycle, can cause leaves to 'burn' if the species is sensitive or the ammonia levels are high. If the Osmocote tabs (which use Ammoniacal Nitrogen the major source of nitrogen) are buried too shallow in the substrate they can cause ammonia burn on the leaves as well.

From your description it does sound like your issues are nutrient related but need to see what is happening before I can suggest a resolution.

Your tank water is higher than your tap water? Then something in the tank is effecting your water hardness. I could be stones/rocks, substrate, ornaments, shells, or possibly an additive. Regular water changes should lower your tank dGH to the dGH of your tap water level.

Roy_________
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-13-2017, 07:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tarandmike View Post
Thanks for the replies!

I wasn't aware that ammonia in a cycling tank would affect the plants, what would be some issues that I would see?

My water supply company is located in a neighboring city, and the gh out of my tap is around 200ppm (11-12 drops), it's higher in my tank at 17+ drops. It doesn't coincide with the report readings, so perhaps I am picking up more minerals in the pipes? For hard water, I've not noticed any hard water scaling from calcium, but have noticed staining...from magnesium?

The issues I'm having are:

My anacharis grows, then stops, then sends out side shoots which grow and then stop. The older leaves yellow and melt/fall away, stems seem brittle.

My wendttii cyrpts show decent growth, but veins are very pronounced in new leaves...I know this plant looks and grows different in different environments...just not sure if what I'm seeing is healthy growth.

My Amazon swords were horrible...older leaves had yellow/brown patches, and new leaves were stunted/twisted/transparent and full of holes. I got frustrated with these and tossed them out thinking it was a substrate issue. I have a mix of black sand and fluorite sand substrate. I was using flourish tabs and osmocote tabs for the swords, and currenty with my cyrpts.

My Amazon frogbit disintegrated, but first tried to survive with new tiny little white leaves

My weeping moss is brown...not green, not sure if there was ever new growth or if it's still alive.

I currently have a heavy diatom issue...not sure if it's from the early stages of this new tank, or if it's an indicator of what's going on.

My original plan was a low tech tank, but found it difficult to achieve the right lighting...so I'm now struggling to keep things in balance. I did order Vallisneria, Water Sprite, and Ludwigia to add to this tank...thinking it would help with my algae issue, as I am currently fertilizing the water column for only a handful of anacharis. I also backed the light off some, and plan on double checking my DIY CO2 for possible leaks.

For possible Calcium supplementation, what about those fish vacation feeder blocks?
Have any pictures so we can see what it looks like now?
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-13-2017, 10:09 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post
Hi tarandmike,

That was a nice looking 'scape you had, no wonder you would like to replicate it; I was hoping for current pictures of your plants that are showing issues however.

Ammonia, generated during the early stages of the nitrogen cycle, can cause leaves to 'burn' if the species is sensitive or the ammonia levels are high. If the Osmocote tabs (which use Ammoniacal Nitrogen the major source of nitrogen) are buried too shallow in the substrate they can cause ammonia burn on the leaves as well.

From your description it does sound like your issues are nutrient related but need to see what is happening before I can suggest a resolution.

Your tank water is higher than your tap water? Then something in the tank is effecting your water hardness. I could be stones/rocks, substrate, ornaments, shells, or possibly an additive. Regular water changes should lower your tank dGH to the dGH of your tap water level.
That is interesting on the ammonia! I actually brought a couple of those osmocote tabs to the surface when I uprooted and tossed out the Amazon Swords. I now have a few of those "little balls" from the capsules laying on top of my substrate, the gravel vac won't suck them up. I am 5-6 weeks into this cycle, and the ammonia has yet to drop below 2ppm (0 nitrites, 5-10 nitrates)...would these exposed osmocote capsules be adding to my ammonia reading?
I use 2, 2 liter bottles for my DIY CO2 that I swap out weekly to keep levels more consistant. I had been using 1 tsp of baking soda per bottle (though it's probably not needed? with my high gh), I'm guessing this is raising my gh levels? Otherwise, my substrate is fluorite sand and Tahitian Moon Sand. I do have a couple resin ornaments (my son's) in my tank, I wouldn't think these would leach anything. I've got a couple lava rocks as well with dying moss on them . No other additives...just the liquid fertilizer.

Bump:

Bump:

Ugh, this tank is such an eye sore right now...

I kept thinking magnesium deficiency, as I am supplying the macros. But according to my water report I should have plenty. Unless the lower Calcium levels is prohibiting proper absorption? Or something else is limiting this in my tank? If the baking soda is not the issue with the raised gh, I was thinking the plants may not be absorbing the Mg and Ca properly and the levels are building up in my tank?
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-13-2017, 10:33 PM
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Originally Posted by tarandmike View Post
I had been using 1 tsp of baking soda per bottle (though it's probably not needed? with my high gh), I'm guessing this is raising my gh levels?r.
Could you elaborate what you mean here, not sure I follow.

Also so in total how much FE do you dose and how many times per week?

Your third picture is moneywort right?

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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-13-2017, 11:01 PM Thread Starter
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Could you elaborate what you mean here, not sure I follow.

Also so in total how much FE do you dose and how many times per week?

Your third picture is moneywort right?
I use 1 tsp of baking soda in each of my 2 liter bottles for my CO2...I think most people use this just as a stabilizer in their tank to prevent the ph from dropping too low. (I should be able to omit this as my high gh prevents my ph from dropping too low) I think the baking soda is raising the gh in my tank, as it differs significantly from my tap.

I dose Flourish Iron 3 times a week, at 3.6ml for my 36 gallon tank.

The only stem plant I have currently in this tank is the anacharis
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-13-2017, 11:12 PM
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That is interesting on the ammonia! I actually brought a couple of those osmocote tabs to the surface when I uprooted and tossed out the Amazon Swords. I now have a few of those "little balls" from the capsules laying on top of my substrate, the gravel vac won't suck them up. I am 5-6 weeks into this cycle, and the ammonia has yet to drop below 2ppm (0 nitrites, 5-10 nitrates)...would these exposed osmocote capsules be adding to my ammonia reading?
Hi taraandmike,

Yes, those 'little balls' are most likely the source of your ammonia issue and the lack of proper cycling. Remove all of the 'little balls' that you can find and then do a 50% water change at least twice in the next 4 days....it will help lower your ammonia levels and dGH.

I see signs of a calcium (Ca) deficiency (hooked Anubias leaf on left), magnesium (Mg) and/or iron (Fe) deficiency (interveinal chlorosis [dark vens with yellow in-between])

As for the source of your increasing dGH here are a couple possibilities, the ornaments to not appear to be in your 'old tank' are they new? Are they ceramic, plastic, or Plaster of Paris? If Plaster of Paris or ceramic and not 'fired' and not shiny inside and out then they are the most likely source of your increasing hardness. There is some questions as to if Tahitian Moon Sand is inert of if it can increase PH and hardness - the less likely possibility but maybe.

What is the size of your tank? What type of lighting are you using?

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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-13-2017, 11:43 PM
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Originally Posted by tarandmike View Post
I use 1 tsp of baking soda in each of my 2 liter bottles for my CO2...I think most people use this just as a stabilizer in their tank to prevent the ph from dropping too low. (I should be able to omit this as my high gh prevents my ph from dropping too low) I think the baking soda is raising the gh in my tank, as it differs significantly from my tap.

I dose Flourish Iron 3 times a week, at 3.6ml for my 36 gallon tank.

The only stem plant I have currently in this tank is the anacharis
Ok you have a couple things mixed up here I think.

First, baking soda adjusts kH, not GH. kH is what prevents pH swings, GH is just a measure of calcium and magnesium in the water.

Second, adding baking soda to the CO2 bottles will change the kH (and pH) of the solution in the CO2 bottles but won't affect the tank's water parameters at all. After all, the only thing that is actually moving from the CO2 bottle to the tank is gaseous CO2, at least that should be the only thing getting into the tank.

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Hi taraandmike,

Yes, those 'little balls' are most likely the source of your ammonia issue and the lack of proper cycling. Remove all of the 'little balls' that you can find and then do a 50% water change at least twice in the next 4 days....it will help lower your ammonia levels and dGH.

I see signs of a calcium (Ca) deficiency (hooked Anubias leaf on left), magnesium (Mg) and/or iron (Fe) deficiency (interveinal chlorosis [dark vens with yellow in-between])

As for the source of your increasing dGH here are a couple possibilities, the ornaments to not appear to be in your 'old tank' are they new? Are they ceramic, plastic, or Plaster of Paris? If Plaster of Paris or ceramic and not 'fired' and not shiny inside and out then they are the most likely source of your increasing hardness. There is some questions as to if Tahitian Moon Sand is inert of if it can increase PH and hardness - the less likely possibility but maybe.

What is the size of your tank? What type of lighting are you using?
Ok, I just performed a 50% water change today and manually removed all the "little balls" I could see; I plan on doing another 50% water change on Monday. The ornaments are new, and I believe they are ceramic with a dull outside, and shiny inside. I did remove the ornaments along with the lava rock. If this was not the source of the increasing hardness, could the Mg and Ca be building up in my tank if they are not being properly absorbed? When would be a good time to check the gh?

Another possible issue, is that I have 218 ppm Sodium present in my tap water...are these levels considered high, and if so, would they interfere with nutrient uptake?

My tank is a 36 gallon corner, approximately 18" tall (34" at it's widest point, and 24" at it's deepest). My light fixture is a 24" Finnex Planted Plus (with splash guard removed) sitting about 2" above a glass canopy.

As of now, do you suggest I wait and see after the next few days before making any changes? Or do you suggest I start dosing Mg, Ca, or both?

And a big thank you for all your help!

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Ok you have a couple things mixed up here I think.

First, baking soda adjusts kH, not GH. kH is what prevents pH swings, GH is just a measure of calcium and magnesium in the water.

Second, adding baking soda to the CO2 bottles will change the kH (and pH) of the solution in the CO2 bottles but won't affect the tank's water parameters at all. After all, the only thing that is actually moving from the CO2 bottle to the tank is gaseous CO2, at least that should be the only thing getting into the tank.
Ah! Thank you for this! I was thinking that baking soda was somehow contributing to my rising gh, this is good to know!
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-14-2017, 10:29 PM
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Ok, I just performed a 50% water change today and manually removed all the "little balls" I could see; I plan on doing another 50% water change on Monday. The ornaments are new, and I believe they are ceramic with a dull outside, and shiny inside. I did remove the ornaments along with the lava rock. If this was not the source of the increasing hardness, could the Mg and Ca be building up in my tank if they are not being properly absorbed? When would be a good time to check the gh?

Another possible issue, is that I have 218 ppm Sodium present in my tap water...are these levels considered high, and if so, would they interfere with nutrient uptake?

My tank is a 36 gallon corner, approximately 18" tall (34" at it's widest point, and 24" at it's deepest). My light fixture is a 24" Finnex Planted Plus (with splash guard removed) sitting about 2" above a glass canopy.

As of now, do you suggest I wait and see after the next few days before making any changes? Or do you suggest I start dosing Mg, Ca, or both?

And a big thank you for all your help!
Hi tarandmike,

Good idea taking out the ornaments (the lava rock is likely inert). The way I check ornaments is I fill a clean plastic container with tap water, measure the dGH and write it down, add the ornaments and/or stones, cover the container. A few weeks later I stir the water and re-check the dGH; if is the same as it was three weeks prior then it is likely the ornaments/rock are not the cause of the increasing dGH.

218 ppm Sodium!! Are you on a water softener by any chance? That is a lot of sodium!

With the "little white balls" removed the tank should continue the nitrogen cycle normally and the ammonia levels drop in a week or so. Continue to dose your Seachem N, P, and K as you have been. Don't change your photoperiod. If you would like you can start looking for some Seachem Equlibrium, which contains Ca, Mg, K, and Fe. Add three (3) teaspoons per 10 gallons after your next water change. The Seachem Equilibrium will add usable Ca, Mg, K, and Fe to your tank, it will also increase your dGH by about about 2 dGH. Then start watching your new growth (the old leaves will likely change very little if any) and see if it looks healthier after a couple of weeks. Keep us posted as to how things progress.

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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-15-2017, 02:47 AM
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My water supply company is located in a neighboring city, and the gh out of my tap is around 200ppm (11-12 drops), it's higher in my tank at 17+ drops. It doesn't coincide with the report readings, so perhaps I am picking up more minerals in the pipes? For hard water, I've not noticed any hard water scaling from calcium, but have noticed staining...from magnesium?
If you add up the levels listed in the water quality report I would expect your tap water to have a GH of about 2 (30ppm). NOT 200ppm. That water report is for a different water source than the one you are on. GH only measures calcium and magnesium. It doesn't detect chloride sodium or salt levels. You need to look for the water quality report for your town.

I have no idea if 200ppm is excessive or if it will effect plants. But the photos of your plants do show deficiencies but there are multiple possibilities. However a water softener can increase sodium levels and cause nutrient deficiencies. But a water softener should not give you a GH reading of 200ppm. For a water softener I would expect the gh to be very low, possibly 0.
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If you add up the levels listed in the water quality report I would expect your tap water to have a GH of about 2 (30ppm). NOT 200ppm. That water report is for a different water source than the one you are on. GH only measures calcium and magnesium. It doesn't detect chloride sodium or salt levels. You need to look for the water quality report for your town.

I have no idea if 200ppm is excessive or if it will effect plants. But the photos of your plants do show deficiencies but there are multiple possibilities. However a water softener can increase sodium levels and cause nutrient deficiencies. But a water softener should not give you a GH reading of 200ppm. For a water softener I would expect the gh to be very low, possibly 0.
I live in North Dakota, my water supply company serves the Minot area and surrounding towns. They currently use three systems, I called a few weeks back to verify specifically which system I'm on. I'm on system 1 & 2, and that's the water quality report I shared in my original post. Just to compare, the 3rd system has even lower dissolved minerals. The report is dated 2016, so the numbers could be off...but I wouldn't think it'd be this significant.

I do not have a water softener. I retested my tap gh, and again, it was 12 drops. I even tested the water from the outside spicket, and that was 11 drops. When I test my aquarium, it still goes beyond 15 drops...and never changes to a true green.

Can you verify for me that the API gh test kit only measures Mg and Ca ions? Everything I've read says, "Magnesium, Calcium, and Other ions". My test kit is new and dated through 10/2019.

I am contemplating calling my water company on Monday for additional info. Unless someone can recommend a place or company that will test tap water. The amount of sodium in the tap boggles my mind as well. I don't know why the numbers are high, or why...but I do know that for drinking water, it sucks.

I know that some people use aquarium salt as a treatment and/or prevention, and it benefits some species of fish, though I'm not sure how this compares or translates to ppm.

To sum up, I'm fairly certain it's a water quality problem causing deficiencies...either there's not enough Ca/Mg in my tap, or there is, and my plants aren't utilizing it. And something is wonky with numbers not matching up...either the water quality report is off, the gh test is off, or I'm off Or, additional minerals are being absorbed in the water on its journey from source to tap.

Also want to add, that I love this forum and really appreciate all the help and feedback! Thank you!
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