MgSO4 (Espom Salt) Dosing - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-22-2017, 08:59 PM Thread Starter
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MgSO4 (Espom Salt) Dosing

So I have a higher gH out of the tap (~10dGh). I've had signs of Ca/Mg deficiencies. I've been adding gH booster with my weekly water changes. I've come to the conclusion that I need to add more Mg, no Ca. Water source is the MS river and there is high Ca levels in the water from all the limestone. That being said, what should my dosing levels of MgSO4 (Epsom Salt)? I've read dose when you dose micros. I've read dose 3x the level of your micros. Did that and my water is now cloudier than I'd like (read it can react with KNO3). Suggestions or thoughts welcome. I've seen some positive reactions from my plants, so on the right track, just need to refine what I'm doing a bit.
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post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-22-2017, 09:05 PM
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Hi shamrock62081,

Merry Christmas from an ex-St. Louisian!

I remember your other thread; could you share a recent picture of your tank please and maybe picture(s) of the plants that are still having issues?

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post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-22-2017, 09:22 PM Thread Starter
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Hey Roy! Appreciate the assist again. I've slowly upped the CO2 I'm running through my cerges reactor as well this week. Drop checker is a nice yellow. Fish haven't missed a beat.

Bacopa monnieri - growing quickly, but some of the new growth has really skinny leaves



Anubias nana has seen better days. Obviously this is all old growth.



Rotala Vietnam is finally putting on some new growth. This has struggled in my tank. Sadly this is the best it has looked for me. Pogo Kimberly in the back looks green in the picture. It's actually a pinkish yellow to the naked eye.



Rotala (not sure exactly). This has struggled as well. New growth looks pretty good though!

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post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-23-2017, 05:00 AM
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Hi @shamrock62081,

Sorry, took my wife out for dinner. I will respond in the morning. -Roy

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post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-23-2017, 05:59 AM
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Not sure about proper amounts, but I do have a couple thoughts that may help.

First, the cloudiness could be calcium interacting with sulfur you are adding with the epsom salt or other fertilizers. I'm not sure if 10 dGH is quite high enough to cause this, but as you said, it's almost all calcium.

To find out roughly how much calcium and magnesium is in your water, see if you can find someone who keeps a saltwater tank and have them test Ca levels for you. You can then deduct that times 2.5 from the 160-178 ppm that makes up your dGH, and then divide by 4.1 to get your Mg content. Increase resolution of your GH test by using twice or four times as much water, then each drop gives more accuracy.


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post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-23-2017, 04:19 PM
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Hi @shamrock62081,

Sorry for the delayed response! Your plants are looking better, you can really see where you made some changes especially on the Rotala.

I reviewed your new photos and I agree, in the first photo the new leaves on the Bacopa are definitely smaller than the older leaves. I had that same problem in my 30 gallon; the leaves of my Hygrophila 'Sunset' (yes I know it is on the USDA Noxious Weed List), Ludwigia arcuata X L. repens, Ceratopteris cornuta, and java fern 'Trident' were all coming in much smaller than before. I upped my dosing of KH2PO4 by 50% and my KNO3 by 25% and the problem went away in a few weeks and now the new leaves as they emerge are normal. Typically small leaf growth is either a phosphate issue or a nitrogen issue so I decided to increase the dosing of both. In the previous thread you indicated you were running about 10ppm of NO3 and 1ppm of PO4 so increasing your dose of those two should not cause any problems.

In the second photo I noticed the anubias leaf near the top toward the back, is it a newer leaf just emerging? It seems to be yellowish. If the leaf veins are green but the interveinal areas are yellow it would indicate more iron (Fe) is needed. Since your PH is acidic you can use any of the Fe nutrients; if your PH was alkaline I would have suggested ferrous gluconate such as found in Seachem Flourish. However, if the interveinal areas are yellow as well as the veins then it is likely a nitrogen deficiency and if you increase the KNO3 dosing for the small leaf problem new anubias leaves should look better as well.

I am not seeing any major indications of a magnesium deficiency at this time. If the new leaves that emerge looking good start curling their leaf margins (along the long side of the leaf) up or down or if leaves that look good now start developing interveinal chlorosis as they mature then Mg may be indicated.

Remember, existing leaves will change very little if any; it is the new leaves that emerge after changing the dosing that will indicate if progress is being made or not.
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post #7 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-23-2017, 10:41 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post
Hi @shamrock62081,

Sorry for the delayed response! Your plants are looking better, you can really see where you made some changes especially on the Rotala.

I reviewed your new photos and I agree, in the first photo the new leaves on the Bacopa are definitely smaller than the older leaves. I had that same problem in my 30 gallon; the leaves of my Hygrophila 'Sunset' (yes I know it is on the USDA Noxious Weed List), Ludwigia arcuata X L. repens, Ceratopteris cornuta, and java fern 'Trident' were all coming in much smaller than before. I upped my dosing of KH2PO4 by 50% and my KNO3 by 25% and the problem went away in a few weeks and now the new leaves as they emerge are normal. Typically small leaf growth is either a phosphate issue or a nitrogen issue so I decided to increase the dosing of both. In the previous thread you indicated you were running about 10ppm of NO3 and 1ppm of PO4 so increasing your dose of those two should not cause any problems.

In the second photo I noticed the anubias leaf near the top toward the back, is it a newer leaf just emerging? It seems to be yellowish. If the leaf veins are green but the interveinal areas are yellow it would indicate more iron (Fe) is needed. Since your PH is acidic you can use any of the Fe nutrients; if your PH was alkaline I would have suggested ferrous gluconate such as found in Seachem Flourish. However, if the interveinal areas are yellow as well as the veins then it is likely a nitrogen deficiency and if you increase the KNO3 dosing for the small leaf problem new anubias leaves should look better as well.

I am not seeing any major indications of a magnesium deficiency at this time. If the new leaves that emerge looking good start curling their leaf margins (along the long side of the leaf) up or down or if leaves that look good now start developing interveinal chlorosis as they mature then Mg may be indicated.

Remember, existing leaves will change very little if any; it is the new leaves that emerge after changing the dosing that will indicate if progress is being made or not.
Thanks. I could definitely up my phosphate dosing. Tested this morning and it was at 5ppm (water change day is sunday). Had been dosing slightly lower than EI because levels would be at >10ppm. Nitrates were also lower than I've seen them at this point of the week. Must be on the right track.

Iron was always off the scale when I tested last. Will need to test again now. The anubias growth isn't new.

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post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-26-2017, 09:21 PM Thread Starter
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Nothing says welcome home like green water. Was gone 2 days. Nitrates are at 10ppm, phosphates at 5ppm, gH 15, kH 4. UV sterilizer is running now. CO2 tank has plenty of pressure. Missed my Sunday WC. Obviously not short on Macros with test results. May or may not get to a WC tonight.


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post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-26-2017, 09:23 PM
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Hi shamrock62081,

Sorry to hear that, was the light on all that time or is it on a timer?

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post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-26-2017, 09:40 PM Thread Starter
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Hi shamrock62081,

Sorry to hear that, was the light on all that time or is it on a timer?
It's on a timer. I checked macros before I left. Thought I could get by 2 whole days, and reassess on day 3 when I got back (they seem at ok levels). The water had started to get a little cloudy after I dosed MgSO4 a week ago, but it wasn't a green colored cloudy.

At a bit of a loss for what went wrong exactly.

Well my light just turned on. Not green water. Looked green with the lights off. May let the UV sterilizer run overnight. Added some KNO3 before I left to bring up levels for the couple of days I was gone. Don't feel like this should be a bacterial bloom (no dead fish, tank is otherwise pretty clean). Wonder if it's just the ferts reacting with each other. Hopefully a WC will help.

@Seattle_Aquarist any thoughts on what's going on in the tank?


Last edited by Darkblade48; 12-26-2017 at 11:12 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #11 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-27-2017, 02:53 AM
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Hi shamrock62081,

It looks like 'green water' to me. You dosed extra KNO3 before you left, did you by any chance feed 'extra' food as well (which break down into nutrients?

Just an FYI if I'm going to be gone for two or three days I feed my fish normally the day I leave and I feed normally when I return. I don't dose extra nutrients for the plants.

If gone for over 3 days I have a 'fish sitter' come in and dump a pre-measured baggie of food (regular daily amount) every three days. I cut back the photoperiod on my tank by 33% - 50% and don't dose plants at all. Other than trimming when I return, and the fish being skinny, I seldom have any issues.

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post #12 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-27-2017, 09:36 AM
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Hey @shamrock62081

Yep that is green water, a light form, but those are definitely algae in there. Do a big water change and keep the UV going about 2 weeks. That will get rid of it.

With a high GH you will usually have enough Mg. Even so, above 3mg/L Mg all symptoms have disappeared. So add enough MgSO4*7H2O to get 3mg/L Mg in your aquarium and you are good with that part. Pay attention, epsom salt is MgSO4*7H2O not MgSO4. It will make a difference in the amount you need to add.

In the pictures I see signs of PO4 deficiency and maybe micros. R vietnam will surely respond positively when enough micros are present. I will suggest something crazy. Take your test kits and put them in a box or a drawer and not use them for 3 months. Instead add enough nutrients for the plants to grow, something like 3mg/L PO4 20mg/L NO3 ... is enough for most aquariums. Do a weekly 50% water change and your nutrient values will not be to high to cause any troubles with fish or plants. During these 3 months you will get to know how plants look like when they have plenty and how they tell you what they are missing. You will also save a lot of money on test kits

I did it, and I see it so often that somebody start something similar to EI but then start coming back to old habits of trusting test kits and making decisions based on what they tell you.
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post #13 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-27-2017, 11:01 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post
Hi shamrock62081,

It looks like 'green water' to me. You dosed extra KNO3 before you left, did you by any chance feed 'extra' food as well (which break down into nutrients?

Just an FYI if I'm going to be gone for two or three days I feed my fish normally the day I leave and I feed normally when I return. I don't dose extra nutrients for the plants.

If gone for over 3 days I have a 'fish sitter' come in and dump a pre-measured baggie of food (regular daily amount) every three days. I cut back the photoperiod on my tank by 33% - 50% and don't dose plants at all. Other than trimming when I return, and the fish being skinny, I seldom have any issues.
Ugh. Green water. I can't remember if I fed my fish or not before I left. Probably did a little (I feed every other day). My KNO3 levels were about 10ppm before I left, so thought I'd dose some to get through a couple of days. KH2PO4 was >5ppm, so didn't dose any of that. Didn't think I needed to shorten the photo period. Figured there were enough nutrients in the tank and I'd be back in a couple of days.

I'll admit the water was starting to cloud a week ago. I thought it was from some of the dosing additions. It is what it is now.


Quote:
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Hey @shamrock62081

Yep that is green water, a light form, but those are definitely algae in there. Do a big water change and keep the UV going about 2 weeks. That will get rid of it.

With a high GH you will usually have enough Mg. Even so, above 3mg/L Mg all symptoms have disappeared. So add enough MgSO4*7H2O to get 3mg/L Mg in your aquarium and you are good with that part. Pay attention, epsom salt is MgSO4*7H2O not MgSO4. It will make a difference in the amount you need to add.

In the pictures I see signs of PO4 deficiency and maybe micros. R vietnam will surely respond positively when enough micros are present. I will suggest something crazy. Take your test kits and put them in a box or a drawer and not use them for 3 months. Instead add enough nutrients for the plants to grow, something like 3mg/L PO4 20mg/L NO3 ... is enough for most aquariums. Do a weekly 50% water change and your nutrient values will not be to high to cause any troubles with fish or plants. During these 3 months you will get to know how plants look like when they have plenty and how they tell you what they are missing. You will also save a lot of money on test kits

I did it, and I see it so often that somebody start something similar to EI but then start coming back to old habits of trusting test kits and making decisions based on what they tell you.
It's funny you mention K2PO4 deficiency because those levels are always higher than what "guidance" says they should be. I have a decent fish load which provides PO4, so I'll dose half EI some days of the week. Like I mentioned before, the test kit said PO4 was at 5ppm yesterday. Back to full EI. Honestly, I haven't tested in months. Could always tell something was off because growth wasn't that great. Micros get full EI dosing. I have an Sera Fe test, and at the end of the week, it's crazy high.

I'm on the right track with adding Mg. Change in plant growth was very noticeable once I added extra (beyond the gH booster I was adding). And the r. Vietnam is starting to put on decent looking new growth, which it never has. Hopefully will get the green water cleared and can further tweak from there in the next week or two.

50% water change was completed last night. UV is running. Just dosed full EI.
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post #14 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-31-2017, 06:07 PM Thread Starter
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Feeling back on track @Seattle_Aquarist and @dukydaf. Water has been clear for a few days with the UV sterilizer running since Tuesday. Going to leave the UV sterilizer running another week as a precautionary measure as the water seemed noticeably clearer this morning than yesterday (as in clear to crystal clear looking through the tank lengthwise). Completed my weekly 50% WC and trimmed up the star grass that is starting to grow like a weed.

Quick test of water parameters post WC...
gH: 13
P: 2ppm
NO3: 10ppm

These levels are AFTER a WC at the end of the week of full EI dosing, plus I feed my fish at least every other day, which adds to the load. Prior to adding Epsom salt dosing to my regimen roughly a week ago, P and NO3 levels were significantly higher (10ppm and 20ppm respectively) at the end of the week post WC. Will watch my gH a little more closely to gauge how much plants are utilizing the additional Mg. GH was as high as 15 during this past week, but I was bad about consistently testing before and after dosing.

New growth on plants is looking good so will stay the course. Will share a picture later in the week that hopefully shows the improvements.
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post #15 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-31-2017, 07:26 PM
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Hi @shamrock62081,

Glad the 'green water' is getting under control; glad to hear things are growing; looking forward to pictures when you get a chance. I have to remind myself regularly that it all about 'balance'; once the dosing levels are worked out you should have good growth with minimal hassle.

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