Calcium Deficiency w/bad Ca:Mg ratio? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-20-2017, 05:18 PM Thread Starter
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Calcium Deficiency w/bad Ca:Mg ratio?

In a 20H, I've got some signs of calcium deficiencies (leaf tips curling/cupping, some stunted growth, esp in taller plants), and I've started using a small amount of Equilibrium, so my GH is around 9 or 10 dGH (or around 180ppm). But a calcium test shows my water has a pretty low Ca in comparison to the GH - around 40ppm, so the Ca:Mg ratio seems to be off.

Is it possible that the plants are consuming all the calcium, or the ratio is off, and should I be adding pure CaCO3 or CaSO4 instead of Equilibrium to offset the Mg? I've read that high Mg can cause Ca deficiencies.

I've contacted the water company to see if they test for hardness and/or calcium/magnesium. If their tests agree with mine and the Ca/Mg ratio is off, should I soften the water and then add back the right balance, or find another source of water? (RODI is not an option).

or am I over-engineering it all?

Side note: all other params are where I expect: 10-20ppm N, 1-2ppm P, plenty of K, 30-35ppm CO2 via reactor, Finnex 24/7 light.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-20-2017, 06:26 PM
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Hi ice9,

Are you saying your tap water hardness is 9 - 10 dGH? If not, what is the tap water dGH?

Typically increasing the dGH by 2 dGH above tap water will resolve calcium and magnesium issues; sometimes we just see an improvement but not full resolution and have to add a little more. The 3:1 - 4:1 ratio range for Ca:Mg is just a guideline that I believe was derived by analyzing plant materials and finding how much Ca and Mg they contained. Plants will uptake the amount of nutrients they require and the rest is not used. I don't worry too much about what my Ca:Mg ratio is, what I do is watch the plants and try and respond to what they require and the same time not exceeding the parameters that my livestock needs. Is it possible are consuming more Ca and Mg? Certainly that is possible, some plant species adapted to whatever conditions they had in nature and may require more of a particular nutrient than others. If the plants are not showing signs of a magnesium deficiency there is not need to dose it. You can dose calcium sulfate (CaSO4) or calcium chloride** (CaCl2) to add just calcium to a tank.

Because of my soft water I typically add sufficient GH Booster to bring my hardness up 2 - 3 dGH above my tap water and then dose either CaSO4 or MgSO4 if symptoms of calcium of magnesium deficiencies become evident.

** If dosing CaCl2 I always dissolve the crystals in water prior to adding it the the tank. Why? CaCl2 when added to water creates an exothermic (heat generating) reaction (a 1/4 teaspoon in a small amount of water gets HOT). I don't want my fish to swallow a crystal is I dose it dry...that is why I dissolve it first.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-20-2017, 06:52 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post
Hi ice9,
Are you saying your tap water hardness is 9 - 10 dGH? If not, what is the tap water dGH?
No, tank water.

But I did get a response from water company:

Calcium = 19.3 mg/L
Magnesium = 3.6 mg/L
Tot Hardness = 63 mg/L

which matches what both the strip and liquid tests are showing.

so tap water should be fine.... adding a little bit (1-2 dGH of Equilibrium for replaced water) I would think would fix any Ca problem.

Sounds like I have might have an accumulation problem? Maybe a big WC is in order to reset it. Usually I do about 30%. It seemed like every thing just decided to stop growing all of a sudden, even dying back a bit, which sounded like a depletion of some sort.

Not sure what I am missing.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ice9 View Post
Calcium = 19.3 mg/L
Magnesium = 3.6 mg/L
Tot Hardness = 63 mg/L
So that's quite a bit softer than I thought the tap was.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-20-2017, 07:11 PM
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Hi ice9,

If you are doing 50% weekly water changes it is unlikely that you have an accumulation problem. Although you have about 19 ppm of calcium (Ca) and 3.6 ppm of magnesium (Mg) we really don't know how much of the calcium is in CaCO3 and therefore difficult for plants to uptake. According to your water company you should only have about a 4 dGH total hardness for tap water (I assume all the ppm's you were given are annual averages). Are you adding that much GH Booster or is there something else happening in the tank to increase your hardness by 5 - 6 dGH?

Here is the picture from your 'Curling of leaves' thread.


Remembering that there will be little to no change to existing leaves; do the new leaves that have come out in the last month show the same 'downward hooked tip' or are they coming out more or less straight?

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-20-2017, 07:47 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post

If you are doing 50% weekly water changes it is unlikely that you have an accumulation problem. Although you have about 19 ppm of calcium (Ca) and 3.6 ppm of magnesium (Mg) we really don't know how much of the calcium is in CaCO3 and therefore difficult for plants to uptake. According to your water company you should only have about a 4 dGH total hardness for tap water (I assume all the ppm's you were given are annual averages). Are you adding that much GH Booster or is there something else happening in the tank to increase your hardness by 5 - 6 dGH?

Remembering that there will be little to no change to existing leaves; do the new leaves that have come out in the last month show the same 'downward hooked tip' or are they coming out more or less straight?
Just 30% WC, not 50%. I must have mismeasured the Equilibrium at some point, and spiked the GH, but I only add 1/2 tsp per 5gal, which should work out to 2 dGH (1 tblsp/20g = 3dGH). Nothing else in the tank that would affect GH, AFAIK.

My KH is pretty low too - around 1 or 2, which tells me there's not much CaCO3 in the tap water.

Sorry about the blurriness - hard to focus with the phone, but the new growth on the hygro corymbosa seems ok, but nowhere near as fast as I would expect hygro to grow. But I've seen it where it'll start a new leaf, and then just stops tiny and then dies back.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-20-2017, 08:21 PM
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Hi ice9,

H. corymbosa never grows as fast for me as some of the other Hygrophila species. It is encouraging to see new growth sprouting out. According to the Seachem calculator, it should tank 1 tablespoons (or 3 teaspoons) of Equilibrium to increase 10 gallons of water by 2.0 dGH. The 1/2 teaspoon per 5 gallons (=2 teaspoons per 20 gallons) should only increase the hardness 0.6 dGH. Per the calculator to increase 20 gallons by 3.0 dGH you would need to add 3 tablespoons so the 1 tablespoon being added should only increase your hardness by about 1.0 dGH. . I find that the calculator is fairly accurate.

In any case, I would do the 50% water change, then add 2 tablespoons of Equlibrium to increase the hardness by 2.0 dGH. I will be afk for a couple of days starting tomorrow but keep me posted; let's get those plants looking healthy and growing well!

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-20-2017, 09:02 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post
Hi ice9,

According to the Seachem calculator, it should tank 1 tablespoons (or 3 teaspoons) of Equilibrium to increase 10 gallons of water by 2.0 dGH. The 1/2 teaspoon per 5 gallons (=2 teaspoons per 20 gallons) should only increase the hardness 0.6 dGH. Per the calculator to increase 20 gallons by 3.0 dGH you would need to add 3 tablespoons so the 1 tablespoon being added should only increase your hardness by about 1.0 dGH. I find that the calculator is fairly accurate.
That site says 1 meq/L, not 1 dGH, right? On the bottle it says 1 meq / L = 3 dGH. Not even sure what a meq/L is.

Think I'll still do a big WC this week to reset things a bit and remeasure.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-20-2017, 09:42 PM
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That site says 1 meq/L, not 1 dGH, right? On the bottle it says 1 meq / L = 3 dGH. Not even sure what a meq/L is.

Think I'll still do a big WC this week to reset things a bit and remeasure.
Hi ice9,

I apologize, you were correct; I was wrong. 1 tablespoons (3 teaspoons) will increase hardness by 3 dGH.

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Last edited by Seattle_Aquarist; 10-20-2017 at 10:31 PM. Reason: ..
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-20-2017, 06:24 PM Thread Starter
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H. corymbosa never grows as fast for me as some of the other Hygrophila species. It is encouraging to see new growth sprouting out.
It's amazing what tweaking a few little parameters does:
  • Moved the CO2 drop checker down to about 3 inches above the substrate - noticed it was lower than the upper region and adjusted bubble count to get lime green again.
  • Switched to PPS-pro fert dosing and adjusting based on NO3 readings.
  • Added an airstone on a timer from 6pm to 5am.

Everything is starting to improve. Even the ramshorn snails that I couldn't keep alive are doing great. The H. difformis is popping a new pair of leaves every week.

The tops of the H. corymbosa all melted (probably was emersed), but this is the new growth at the node (almost two weeks worth):
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-20-2017, 07:43 PM
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Congrats.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-21-2017, 02:03 AM
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Hi ice9,

New growth looks healthy glad you are seeing improvement!

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