Nutrient Balance - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-25-2018, 08:39 AM Thread Starter
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Nutrient Balance

Here's a question for the gurus out there. I figured I'd start a thread rather than stir the pot over on the Custom Micro Mix thread.

Some background... I study veterinary medicine, and I'm taking a nutrition class. I've learned that in animals, high levels of certain nutrients will inhibit uptake of other nutrients. For example, high levels of phosphate will inhibit absorption of calcium. As a result, a hypocalcemic patient may have insufficient calcium in their diet OR they may have excess phosphate in their diet that is preventing calcium absorption.

I have also learned that certain nutrients have a very narrow range of tolerable levels. For example, copper is an essential nutrient that is highly toxic at even slightly elevated levels.

You can probably see where this is going - Do these ideas apply to plants? Are there imbalances that can reduce nutrient uptake? Do certain nutrients interact in ways that make them unavailable? Is it possible to overdose certain nutrients? Does it even matter in any measurable way?

Obviously plants are different from animals, and I assume they absorb and use nutrients in different ways.

I have just been curious, seeing the experimentation going on over at the Custom Micro Mix thread, if there is an upper limit to what we can dose and if there are predictable interactions between nutrients that could be detrimental.

Everything flows.
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-25-2018, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by ursamajor View Post

Do these ideas apply to plants?
Are there imbalances that can reduce nutrient uptake?
Do certain nutrients interact in ways that make them unavailable?
Is it possible to overdose certain nutrients?
Does it even matter in any measurable way?
IMO Yes for all 5 questions.

EI method was designed as non-limiting.
Chelated iron choice depends on one's pH level.
User amounts may vary relative to plant density.

This topic provides great debate, everywhere.
Is all of the debate fact or fiction? I've tried to sort it out and failed.
20 or so spreadsheets of dosing recipes from others and myself.
Scientific study is not really aimed @ aquatic plants either.

Solution:
Experiment with your tank and water parameters.
Everyone's source water and tank is different.
Find what grows your plants best, avoid stupid mistakes, and most of all remember you can't grow everything.
Some plants will fail it happens to all of us.
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Growing is not that difficult.
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-25-2018, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by ursamajor View Post
You can probably see where this is going - Do these ideas apply to plants?
Yes they all do.


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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-25-2018, 10:53 PM
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As the others have stated yes. But keep in mind some fertilizer salts will react sometimes resulting in material that will not dissolve in water and which will then settle out. In the substrate. When this happens it look like your plants are missing something. Or your water tests may present numbers indicating a lot of plant consumption of one or more nutrients.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the PH of your water will affect how much of any fertilizer salt dissolves in the water. For example CSM+B is often used as a micronutrient it is stable at a PH of 6.5 or lower. But if you go above that PH Chelate used in CSM separates from the nutrients and the nutrients will degrade resulting in nutrient loss. Zinc sulfate is also PH sensitive. It dissolve well at a PH of 4 but a higher PH will not dissolve. It will not degrade like CSM will but as fare as the plants are concerned the result is the same. The nutrients are simply not available to them.

Also if you have a deficiency in one nutrient you plants may or may not grow. Meaning if one nutrient is missing a plant will compensate by growing slower, stop growing, or when possible use another similar element. This in my opinion deficiencies are the most common problem.

Plant can to some extent control the absorption of nutrients. So if all nutrients are in excess of the plants need is probably not bad for them. Extreme excess is bad. but In hydroponics were they grow plants in water without fish it is not uncommon to see if micro nutrients added to the water at levels above 1ppm. In most aquarium micronutrients are added at significantly less than 1ppm. The main reason for the difference is are the animals in the aquarium. However if you have excess in just one nutrient it could cause problems for pants. The one excess might increase plant growth enough to cause other nutrients to go into deficiency. Or it may trigger a reaction and a loss of nutrients.

Copper toxicity is often talked about and some manufactures make copper free fertilizers But plants do need it. Many people seem to think 1part per billion of copper will kill shrimp. But in reality 30ppb looks like a reasonable upper limit for shrimp. A good well balanced fertilizer can have about 10ppb of copper in it. Many people will never buy anything with copper in it. But they have no concerns about using tap water. Most tap water flows through copper pipes and as a result you tap water may have between .1ppm to 1ppm of copper init. Differences in tap water chemistry is often overlooked when people people try a different fertilizer. Many fertilizers don't have calcium, sulfur, and chlorine in them but scientist have proven that these are needed. Many fertilizers appear to depend of tap water to supply the missing nutrients. So if you use RO water some fertilizers will simply not work.
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