Watch Plants or Test Kits? Ca/Mg Availability? - The Planted Tank Forum
 13Likes
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-02-2019, 02:59 PM Thread Starter
Planted Member
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Missouri
Posts: 219
Watch Plants or Test Kits? Ca/Mg Availability?

I know it's recommended to use plants to adjust your fert dosing rather than test kits, but I have been experiencing some deficiency symptoms despite high readings from test kits, and previous experience. In short, I grew better plants when dosing less. Substrate is BDBS.

Calcium: Got the API kit and used Edward's formula to make each drop 5 ppm rather than 20. After multiple tests, tap is 25-30 ppm, and in the tank was 45-50 ppm after months of dosing extra Ca. I didn't realize how high I had it until I got a GH kit and I had raised my tap (which is 6.5) up to about 13 degrees, all with calcium. Since then I've brought it back down to 50. With that high Ca plant growth really slowed down, and on another thread someone suggested adding Mg, since my tap report just shows a wide range for Mg. Plants improved overnight. But, despite having over 30 ppm Ca I still have classic hooked leaf tips and curling, in old leaves rather than new. Most noticeable on Lymnophila Rugosa, AR, Anubias.

Magnesium: Extra Mg initially helped. I've added 2-4 ppm each week, and I calculated tap Mg from GH and Ca, which shows 10-12 ppm. Can tap Mg or Ca be unavailable somehow, despite GH of 6.5? You would think I have near-perfect tap water, with 30 ppm Ca, 12 ppm Mg, GH of 6.5 and KH of 4. Yet I have classic Mg deficiency symptoms in Moneywort, Hygro and Ludwigia Palustris (yellowish leaves and red veins). Even noticed GSA on Persicaria Sao Paulo - Mg helps PO4 uptake so maybe that's the issue there.

Nitrate: A calibrated API kit shows nitrate at 50 ppm. I used one mL tank water and four mL tap to dilute the sample. Tap has zero. I don't dose more than 20 ppm NO3 per week, but there is a fish load and I've used lots of O+ to get some plants growing again. But, I have yellowing, deteriorating leaves of L Rugosa, generally slow growth and increasing amounts of GDA.

Potassium: I've always dosed more K than NO3, yet I have classic Hygro pinholes on all but the top two nodes of the plant. Leaves also break off very easily.

PO4: Dosed 5:1 ratio with KNO3, not many issues other than a little GSA on lower leaves. Might be caused by low Mg availability. If I have 50 ppm NO3, I probably have about 10 ppm PO4.

Traces: Custom mix, dosed about 0.5 ppm Fe per week.

Generally, plants grew better with lower fert dosing in the past, and I even had a huge swordplant that no doubtedly sucked up lots of ferts. I don't have that sword anymore. I'm tempted to forgo KNO3 and PO4 this week and see what happens. Ammania Senegalensis is kind of an indicator plant for me - when nutrients drop it starts growing better.

I have no BBA or hair algae to speak of - just some GDA/GSA, but nothing bad. CO2 drops pH 1.3, I have good flow, and don't see anything suggesting a CO2 problem. I also have no tip stunting in any plant, which is good. After I had increased Ca so much, I noticed some AR tips stunting, and I think that was a Ca/Boron issue. Needed more boron with that level of Ca.

Annoying issue - many plants feel brittle - AR, A Senegalensis, old Anubias leaves, even Vals. I've noticed this for years. Can it related to Ca/Mg availability?
Seattle_Aquarist likes this.
aclaar877 is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-02-2019, 09:46 PM
Wannabe Guru
 
Edward's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: at home
Posts: 1,054
It must be deficiency you need more chemicals...
No, just kidding.

Your tap has 25 - 30 ppm Ca and 10 - 12 ppm Mg, 6.5 dGH and 4 dKH, perfect water, no need to change it. Next is N-P-K, you donít need to have more than 10 ppm NO3, 1 ppm PO4 and 15 ppm K. Next and last are the trace elements to worry about if the above changes donít help. At least thatís how I would fix it.

Perpetual Preservation System
The most accurate Aquatic plant fertilizers


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.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Edward is online now  
post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-03-2019, 12:37 AM
Planted Tank Guru
 
Seattle_Aquarist's Avatar
 
PTrader: (64/100%)
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 6,291
Hi @aclaar877,

Pictures of new leaves showing symptoms would help as well.

Roy_________
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.

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

75 Gallon, 2X55W AH Supply CF 8800K, 1XFluval F&P 2.0; 45 Gallon Tall, 96Watt AH Supply CF 6700K; 30 Gallon Long; Fluval F&P 2.0; 20 Gallon, 1X26W AH Supply LED; all with CO2 and (Calcined) Montmorillonite Clay
Seattle_Aquarist is offline  
 
post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-03-2019, 01:01 AM
Planted Tanker
 
burr740's Avatar
 
PTrader: (122/100%)
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Bama
Posts: 5,451
Lower your K to just whats in KNO3. Those pinholes arent K deficiency.

Try doing only that first and see what happens after a week or two


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.




burr740 is online now  
post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-04-2019, 03:59 PM Thread Starter
Planted Member
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Missouri
Posts: 219
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post
Hi @aclaar877,

Pictures of new leaves showing symptoms would help as well.
Yeah, I can get some pictures, but generally new growth is fine. AR is a little wavy, which I can usually fix by lowering Fe/traces. It's just that plants like Lymnophila Rugosa & Belem don't grow at all, even with robust O+ underneath. L Belem also is all green - no purple/red tones on it. Since they go so long without trimming, the lower parts get a little ratty. Same thing with Pogo Erectus - no melting, no stunting, just no growth. I'm just surprised my fert levels (at least NO3 and by extension, PO4) measured so high given my dosing and water changes. You would think a well-planted, high tech tank with BDBS would consume more. Perhaps O+ is leaching quite a bit, and maybe my estimation of 135 gallons of water in a 155 gallon tank is too much.

I expect I will hit a sweet spot again as I reduce dosing closer to what used to work. My tank really responds quickly when things are right. It's just surprising that I can't copy the dosing of some of the other great BDBS tanks on the forum, and that high ferts seem to be problematic for me despite numerous threads and examples from Tom Barr stating otherwise. I'm the same guy who had the "Too Much of Some Fert" thread several weeks ago. Additional Mg helped (probably because I let Ca get so high), but now I'm almost back to where I was, with no growth at all in some plants despite plenty of everything.
Seattle_Aquarist likes this.

Last edited by aclaar877; 02-04-2019 at 04:01 PM. Reason: Added text
aclaar877 is offline  
post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-04-2019, 10:01 PM
Planted Tank Guru
 
Greggz's Avatar
 
PTrader: (2/100%)
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Novi, MI
Posts: 4,009
What is the lighting on this tank? Any idea of PAR values? You mentioning Belem with no color caught my eye. Your deficiency could be light.

Ammania is not a good indicator plant for many aquariums. It's pretty well documented many high light/high fert/inert tanks have trouble with it. I don't have much luck with AR or Pogo E either, but other plants flourish and can't be stopped. Just saying different plants have different optimum conditions, and sometimes you can't please them all.

Now Limno Rugosa will grow in almost any condition. Maybe it's the excess O+ you are putting under it? Just trying to think what else it might be, because in general you can't stop that plant from growing. And excess O+ leaching into the water column is an uncontrolled variable, and who knows what it is adding?

Do you have ANY plants doing well? Do you have any recent pics? FTS and individual plants?

It's strange. At the stated NO3/PO4 values, if light and CO2 are good most plants should be loving it (but not all!).
ChrisX likes 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.
------------------
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Greggz is online now  
post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-05-2019, 02:01 AM
Planted Tank Guru
 
PlantedRich's Avatar
 
PTrader: (2/100%)
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 11,818
As a side question, can I ask what water source for your tap? Maybe located near the center of the state and surface water like Missouri River? Not saying it is bad, just that lower PH like that is less common in the South end of the state and thinking how different water might be confusing the issue.
Greggz likes this.
PlantedRich is online now  
post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-05-2019, 02:35 AM Thread Starter
Planted Member
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Missouri
Posts: 219
Quote:
Originally Posted by PlantedRich View Post
As a side question, can I ask what water source for your tap? Maybe located near the center of the state and surface water like Missouri River? Not saying it is bad, just that lower PH like that is less common in the South end of the state and thinking how different water might be confusing the issue.
Yes, the water source is Meramac River, confirmed with the water company. Ca and Mg vary widely according to the report, so that's why I went and got GH and Ca test kits.

Here are a couple full tank shots - one just happened to be during a water change a couple weeks ago, and then a shot from tonight. I sold quite a few stems the other day so things look a little sparse.





Most plants are growing OK - Ludwigia Palustris, Bacopa, Acmella Repens, Crypts and Vals are the best. Persicaria SP - mostly good, but a few stems don't grow much. Might need more spacing, but they get great CO2 flow, as does Lymnophila Rugosa. Anubias aren't growing as fast nor are they sending out flowers. L Rugosa is growing extremely slow - no trimming for weeks.



A Reineckii has some ratty bottoms, but new growth is OK. That java fern came loose - I need to fix it back on the driftwood...



Lymnophila Belem - another one with no growth to speak of, no stunting, and not much color:



Ammania Senegalensis - just a hint of better growth lately. I know it likes lower nutrient levels, so we'll see if it comes around. May need a substitute for it at some point. Months ago I grew it well enough to sell stems regularly.



Lastly, here is hygro after a trim - not filling in that well. It gets pinholes below the top 2-3 nodes.



Lighting is a BML dutch XB at about 80% strength, a T8 single bulb and twin T5HO on the bowfront, with Floramax and Colormax bulbs. Estimate par at maybe 70-90. Lymnophila Belem is toward the front, and doesn't get as much light as other plants. But, it's enough to grow algae on older Anubias leaves at that spot...

Last edited by aclaar877; 02-05-2019 at 02:37 AM. Reason: Photo link
aclaar877 is offline  
post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-05-2019, 09:34 AM
Planted Tanker
 
burr740's Avatar
 
PTrader: (122/100%)
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Bama
Posts: 5,451
Dont think its the O+ unless you have an absolute ton in there.

Micros seem reasonable. You're rolling your own right? Rule out the possibility that you left something out or made a grave mistake calculating, like left off a zero or two somewhere.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aclaar877 View Post
Additional Mg helped (probably because I let Ca get so high), but now I'm almost back to where I was, with no growth at all in some plants despite plenty of everything.
Or maybe because K has built up and is also very high. All three have an antagonistic relationship.

If Mg helped initially that's a good indication you either have too much Ca or K, or not enough NO3 or PO4, and it would appear those two are plenty, if not too much themselves. Something is definitely out of balance

I would suggest an 80% water change, stick with the same N and P (or go back to whatever those were when the Ammania did well) then

Quote:
Originally Posted by burr740 View Post
Lower your K to just whats in KNO3.
Ride that out for a month and see what happens. I wouldn't be shy about adding another 3-5 Mg either, but you may not need it with lower K


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.




burr740 is online now  
post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-05-2019, 11:36 AM
Planted Tank Guru
 
Greggz's Avatar
 
PTrader: (2/100%)
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Novi, MI
Posts: 4,009
Quote:
Originally Posted by aclaar877 View Post
Lighting is a BML dutch XB at about 80% strength, a T8 single bulb and twin T5HO on the bowfront, with Floramax and Colormax bulbs. Estimate par at maybe 70-90.
Wow that is an interesting mix of light.

If I recall, the BML is capable of very high light. If I were you, I would get a good measure of PAR in that tank. My guess is you have more than you think, which could explain much of the algae, but really it's just a guess. Only way to know for sure is a PAR meter.

And in the picture above with the Belem, the rock or driftwood behind it is covered in BBA. Usually an indication of too much light/too little CO2 and too many dissolved organics in the system. Can also show up in areas with TOO much flow.

Like Burr said above, I would do a couple of massive water changes to reset the tank. I'd also clean anything with BBA on it. Get rid of all of it.

And those leaves really covered with algae are not coming back. They are dying and attracting more algae. I would do a massive trim, and remove as much of the heavily infested leaves as you can. You want to give some of the plants a fresh start.

When people talk about balance, it's not just relating to ferts. It also means the relationship between light/CO2/maintenance. So I would be taking a close look at each one.

Good luck and I look forward to seeing where this goes. You have a nice start there, and I think with some fine tuning the tank will blossom.

PS. If you don't have access to a PAR meter, PM me.


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

Last edited by Greggz; 02-05-2019 at 11:57 AM. Reason: Add
Greggz is online now  
post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-05-2019, 11:42 AM
Algae Grower
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by burr740 View Post
Lower your K to just whats in KNO3. Those pinholes arent K deficiency.

Try doing only that first and see what happens after a week or two
For K; you only dose kno3 and kh2po4 and nothing extra ?
yusufsarac is offline  
post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-05-2019, 06:28 PM Thread Starter
Planted Member
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Missouri
Posts: 219
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greggz View Post
Wow that is an interesting mix of light.

If I recall, the BML is capable of very high light. If I were you, I would get a good measure of PAR in that tank. My guess is you have more than you think, which could explain much of the algae, but really it's just a guess. Only way to know for sure is a PAR meter.

And in the picture above with the Belem, the rock or driftwood behind it is covered in BBA. Usually an indication of too much light/too little CO2 and too many dissolved organics in the system. Can also show up in areas with TOO much flow.

When people talk about balance, it's not just relating to ferts. It also means the relationship between light/CO2/maintenance. So I would be taking a close look at each one.

Good luck and I look forward to seeing where this goes. You have a nice start there, and I think with some fine tuning the tank will blossom.

PS. If you don't have access to a PAR meter, PM me.
Yes, it's possible I have more light than I think. T8 has a ColorMax and no reflector (it's mainly there for extra color, extra night viewing and tank cover), and the T5s are a cheap Odyssea fixture over deliberately dirty glass covers. If memory serves the BML has PAR of 90 24 inches directly under it (at max), and less as you move off-center. I can easily turn the BML down - lately I've been trying to induce better growth and I'm less concerned about algae - I just want plants to grow normally again. I can handle some algae. And the driftwood, I guess that is BBA! It's been there so long I forget about it, and it's never gotten onto plants or sand. It feels like a spongy moss rather than grey tufts so it didn't register to me as BBA...but again, an easy fix.

Joe, I agree that the K has probably gotten too high and messed up the balance. Wish I would have posted this before Saturday's 60% w/c where I added 10 ppm K and no NO3/PO4... That could explain the old leaf tip hooking, Mg deficiency in Moneywort, and seemingly low uptake of NO3 and P (slower growth). Micros are custom mix, exact measurements with mg scale and so forth. 3:1 Fe/Mn ratio, 5:1 Fe/B ratio, and other elements in the ballpark that work for so many people. I have all the tools to have a really nice tank here - hopefully these suggestions work and we'll see it looking better in a couple weeks.
Greggz likes this.
aclaar877 is offline  
post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-05-2019, 06:35 PM
Planted Tanker
 
burr740's Avatar
 
PTrader: (122/100%)
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Bama
Posts: 5,451
Quote:
Originally Posted by yusufsarac View Post
For K; you only dose kno3 and kh2po4 and nothing extra ?
Yes, but Im also dosing NO3 in the 20-30 per week range, so from that theres a pretty good bit of K. Somebody on a low dosing routine, say 10-15 NO3 per week might need a little more.
Greggz likes 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.




burr740 is online now  
post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-06-2019, 01:53 AM
Planted Tank Guru
 
Seattle_Aquarist's Avatar
 
PTrader: (64/100%)
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 6,291
Hi @aclaar877,

Thank you for the thorough background information and pictures, they help explain a lot. I grew up in St. Louis County and am well familiar with the water and nutrient fluctuation that can occur from high water to low water conditions.

I downloaded, enlarged, and enhanced four of the pictures. They showed interveinal chlorosis on new leaves indicating insufficient available iron. I also see a limited amount of leaf tip hooking on new leaves indicating a mild calcium issue. And yes, it looks like magnesium is still needed as well.

Can you please give my your current nutrient levels:

pH -

dKH -

dGH -

Nitrates (ppm of NO3) -

Thanks, -Roy

Roy_________
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.

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

75 Gallon, 2X55W AH Supply CF 8800K, 1XFluval F&P 2.0; 45 Gallon Tall, 96Watt AH Supply CF 6700K; 30 Gallon Long; Fluval F&P 2.0; 20 Gallon, 1X26W AH Supply LED; all with CO2 and (Calcined) Montmorillonite Clay
Seattle_Aquarist is offline  
post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-07-2019, 01:15 PM Thread Starter
Planted Member
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Missouri
Posts: 219
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post
Hi @aclaar877,

Thank you for the thorough background information and pictures, they help explain a lot. I grew up in St. Louis County and am well familiar with the water and nutrient fluctuation that can occur from high water to low water conditions.

I downloaded, enlarged, and enhanced four of the pictures. They showed interveinal chlorosis on new leaves indicating insufficient available iron. I also see a limited amount of leaf tip hooking on new leaves indicating a mild calcium issue. And yes, it looks like magnesium is still needed as well.

Can you please give my your current nutrient levels:

pH -

dKH -

dGH -

Nitrates (ppm of NO3) -

Thanks, -Roy
Roy, thanks for chiming in - I almost PM'd you since you usually comment on perceived deficiencies and I remember you lived in Webster Groves, or had some connections there.

pH - 6.0 or lower. Used API test yesterday evening, toward end of photo period, in the worst CO2 area of the tank (furthest from filter outlets). Color was solid yellow.

KH - 4

GH - 9 Tap is 6.5, so this reflects some added Ca and Mg

NO3 - around 35 ppm. Used 1 mL tank water, 4 mL tap with calibrated API kit, and result is about 7 ppm. I'd guess PO4 would be around 7 ppm given my 5:1 dosing ratio the past few months. And I've usually added more K2SO4 than KNO3, so K is probably also high.

It appears my tank has slower uptake than other similar tanks, given my light, CO2 and plant density. And maybe I've been consistently dosing more than I thought, suggesting tank volume isn't what I've been using in calculations. I'm tempted to do another water change without dosing anything - get NO3 down to about 20 and see how it responds. Tank usually responds very quickly when things are balanced.
Greggz likes this.
aclaar877 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



Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Calibrating Test Kits - for non-Chemists Hoppy Fertilizers and Water Parameters 72 08-16-2018 01:34 PM
Here's a great how to lorax Riparium/Terrarium/Vivarium 3 06-09-2009 12:24 AM

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