When to know if you are over-thinking fertilization - Page 7 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #91 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-05-2019, 12:41 PM
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FWIW:

My day job is selling farm inputs, and making agronomic recommendations to growers.

This is for terrestrial crops, but similar things could be happening.

If you plant corn, you want them all emerging within 48 hours of each other. That way you have a uniform stand - all the plants are at roughly the same stages throughout their lifetime. If you have a late bloomer - a plant who emerged late to the game, the other plants can sense the light being reflected off the smaller plant and they "see" that sucker plant as a "weed". Now, 2 things occur here:

1) The larger plants go into full throttle mode: They know there is a "weed" right next to them, so they put all their energy into growing up and above the "weed" so as to get ahead of it for light. They don't worry about the lower leaves or disease pressure, they only worry about achieving maximum physical size to "beat" the other, late emerging plant.

2) That late emerging plant realizes the same thing - All the bigger plants around it are "weeds" so that plant tries it's hardest to keep up - but it never can, it's just too late to the party to keep up. In focusing all it's energy on growth, the little late emerging plant is prone to pick up diseases, and be hit hard by insects etc. because its "immune system" is taking a back seat while the "growth" is taking the lead role.

This hurts both yield of the crop - because those plants are focusing all their efforts on growth vs reproduction, and it hurts quality because growth is their biggest worry, and immune response is of lesser concern.

Maybe the same thing is at play with our plants? They are "sensing" all the pressure from surrounding plants and are not focusing on health, but rather upward growth only to "beat" the other species resulting in lower leaves being shed, nutrient requirements being altered, abandoning slightly damaged tissue instead of repairing it etc. etc.

It should also be noted that when in full sun - no / low competition, plants will send out more off shoots instead of focusing on upward growth. I see this in a corn crop when the farmer plants at too low of a population - the corn will send out little sucker plantlets off the base - which are prone to disease and typically hurt yield instead of help. This means the farmer should have planted at a higher population to reduce plants sending out little suckers. Could the same thing be said with aquatic plants? Who knows, I'm just blabbering about atm. Think a standing, lone tree in a field vs the same species within a dense forest - VASTLY different growth habits.... Interesting to say the least.
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post #92 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-05-2019, 06:34 PM
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@Greggz I thought I would move this discussion here as we threadjacked dennis's thread.

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Originally Posted by Greggz View Post
I can only to speak to my reasoning for lowering K. In the past, I was raising the KH of my RO water to about 4 dKH. Using K2CO3 that meant a lot of K....50+ ppm.
I don't understand why the calculators (Rotala and Zorfox's) are stating Potassium in ppm is the same between KHCO3 and K2CO3 something I am missing but you should have half the potassium for the same carbonate so I'd use Potassium Bicarbonate if you could find it over Potassium Bicarbonate for sure.

However my preference if I ever do RODI is to to go to a Kh=3 and live with 25ppm of Sodium. Not sure why you don't want that level of Sodium in your tank?

Why kh=3? well S. Repens for one are stated to need a minnimum hardness and I wonder about other species. Plus for Shrimp and Snails the pH range seems a lot safer for them. I'd rather not go below ph=6.5.

Quote:
I tried many times to lower NO3 & PO4, as I just thought it should work. It never did.
That is a mouthful right there and looking at the chart at one point you had phosphate up to 18ppm!
According to Mulder's chart K inhibits NO3 and PO4 so its possible that is/was the problem.

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Then I was having a discussion with Joe, and he mentioned that he had been speaking with Vin Kutty about a guy from Germany who keeps all his tanks with K lower than Mg with great success. So I said what the heck, I've gone this far, might as well jump further down the Rabbit hole.
That is funny, "I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy from Germany who keeps K lower than Mg with great success"
Why K lower than Mg I don't get the relationship? (How high are Ca, Mg and K though?)

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So then I started slowly lowering my KH and total K even further. KH now is just about 1 or so, and I am using MgNO3 instead of KNO3.
Calcium Nitrate is readily available here maybe I'll use it in the future. I get what you are trying to do if you refuse to use Sodiam Bicarb.

Quote:
So I REALLY lowered my K. At the same time I began lowering everything else in proportion, including micros. I figured the worst thing that could happen was going back to my old dosing scheme, which I was all in all I was pretty happy with.
Biggest problem is it could take months before your plants really show deficiencies and by that time you probably have changed many things (added/removed plants) many other problems.

Quote:
So far it has worked out very well. Biggest difference is nuisance algae like GDA on the glass is totally gone. I'm still paying very close attention to see if any deficiencies pop up, like what happened to Joe.
I found the same thing as soon as I lowered my dosage GDA was reduced immediately. Dennis has talked about this on his website as well.
I was so nice to be in Tom's world were excess of everything had no negative effects but that was a bit of "ignorance is bliss".

Quote:

Also shows that the system can withstand some pretty wide swings in dosing yet somehow manage to do OK.
Once plants are healthy and robust they can have stores of nutrients saved up, they can be pretty resilient that is why it may take a lot longer to see deficiencies in some case. I guess countering that is you guys use such strong light so you are driving growth so fast those stores are depleted more quickly.
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post #93 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-05-2019, 07:46 PM
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Good stuff @Quagulator, very interesting.

@cl3537 K lower than Mg was/is an experiment Vin and I were doing specifically for Lythracaea (ammania, etc). Based conversations with Hans-georg Kramer. Who is a biologist and also a long time hobbyists, wrote a book on the subject and also writes for a German mag which name escapes me atm. Expert plant grower.

There is another German scientist, Solinger, who's taken the research a step further and arrived at the same conclusions. Vin's had conversations with him also

Prior to this, Id already seen good results from lowering K levels, and I'd always had better results from high Mg.

Kramer's ratio, which a lot of Europeans follow, calls for 4-2:1 Ca:Mg, with K equal to or lower than Mg.

Why? Because in their experiments Lythracae has repeatedly been demonstrated to stunt/unstunt with K being higher/lower than Mg.

NO3 being high or low, as is usually associated with stunting Lythracaea, becomes less important if that ratio is kept. Still needs to be low by U.S. standards, 10-20/week, but not as low as Dennis' levels. Also, having a low KH say 3 or less seems to mitigate the adverse effects of high NO3 (on Lythracaea)...up to a point.

Personally, Im not convinced there's any magic to keeping that exact K:Mg ratio. But Ive only tested it out with fairly high NO3 when my KH was still 6. But I do know that getting in the general neighborhood has been very good for everything.

I think most folks around here could benefit from kicking up the Mg a little bit, and keeping K in the same range as NO3 or slightly less (if dosing EI levels). At least something closer to that instead of larding on 50 ppm from pre-fab GH boosters because hey, K cant hurt anything right?


How's that for overthinking nutrients?
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post #94 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-05-2019, 07:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cl3537 View Post
@Greggz
I don't understand why the calculators (Rotala and Zorfox's) are stating Potassium in ppm is the same between KHCO3 and K2CO3 something I am missing but you should have half the potassium for the same carbonate so I'd use Potassium Bicarbonate if you could find it over Potassium Bicarbonate for sure.
I had wondered about this as well, but I think what's going on is that the carbonate can take twice as many H+ ions as the bicarbonate, so it only takes half as much carbonate as bicarbonate to get an equivalent increase in KH. Half the potassium but 2x more bicarbonate than carbonate leads to the same change in K. At least, that's my understanding.
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post #95 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-05-2019, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by LRJ View Post
I had wondered about this as well, but I think what's going on is that the carbonate can take twice as many H+ ions as the bicarbonate, so it only takes half as much carbonate as bicarbonate to get an equivalent increase in KH. Half the potassium but 2x more bicarbonate than carbonate leads to the same change in K. At least, that's my understanding.
I am so rusty these days of course that is it!
The Carbonate <> Bicarbonate equilibrium below 8ph is predominantly Bicarbonate so dosing Potassium Carbonate gives you 2 molecules of Carbonate to 2 molecules of Potassium thus its about the same as using Bicarbonate at 1K to 1CO3 .
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Last edited by cl3537; 04-06-2019 at 01:14 AM. Reason: ph
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post #96 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-05-2019, 11:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cl3537 View Post
@Greggz
However my preference if I ever do RODI is to to go to a Kh=3 and live with 25ppm of Sodium. Not sure why you don't want that level of Sodium in your tank?
In general most plants don't like salt. Now it would probably take much higher concentrations to be toxic, but I prefer not to add it. I use the RO system to remove the salt from my softened water, and don't want to add it back in.

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Originally Posted by cl3537 View Post
Why kh=3? well S. Repens for one are stated to need a minnimum hardness and I wonder about other species. Plus for Shrimp and Snails the pH range seems a lot safer for them. I'd rather not go below ph=6.5.
I have no experience with shrimp, other than a few days before my Loaches devoured them. And I don't keep S. Repens, so can't say how low KH might affect it. I will say I don't have a plant so far that doesn't like the lower KH. Like Burr said above, in general might be a good thing for many species. My pH is at 5.70 during the lighting period.

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Originally Posted by cl3537 View Post
That is a mouthful right there and looking at the chart at one point you had phosphate up to 18ppm!
According to Mulder's chart K inhibits NO3 and PO4 so its possible that is/was the problem.
Now that was interesting period. I wanted to test the upper limits of PO4. Most things loved it for a while, especially Ludwigia. But I did find the upper limit. Suddenly things went south. Most notably was a beautiful group of L. Macranda Variegated. Went from red/pink to a complete loss of color in a day or two. Dang near killed it. I covered the whole episode somewhere back in my journal.

So I found a level where it was toxic in my tank, but it was far, far higher than I ever expected.

And I do believe that my excess K led to the need for more NO3 & PO4.

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Originally Posted by cl3537 View Post
That is funny, "I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy from Germany who keeps K lower than Mg with great success"
Why K lower than Mg I don't get the relationship? (How high are Ca, Mg and K though?)
Burr covered this pretty well above. I don't mind trying new things, and I was already pretty close to being there, so it wasn't going much further. Like Joe said, I don't think there is any magic numbers there, more like general guidelines to explore.

And so far results have been good, but watching things closely to see if anything changes. Have bumped up K by 5ppm last two weeks, and growth picked up. But not sure if that is a good thing or not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cl3537 View Post
I found the same thing as soon as I lowered my dosage GDA was reduced immediately. Dennis has talked about this on his website as well.
I was so nice to be in Tom's world were excess of everything had no negative effects but that was a bit of "ignorance is bliss".
No question that is the biggest difference. I never had a big problem with GDA, but would wipe the front glass during a water change. I'm shocked at how clean it is staying now for weeks.

Now I am well aware that this all might seem like an example of spending too much time on fert dosing. I look at it another way. I was dosing very, very rich levels for quite a long time, and was reasonably successful (by my standards!). One thing that has never changed is taking light, CO2, and maintenance seriously. IME, get those right and you have a lot more leeway to monkey around with fert dosing.
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post #97 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-06-2019, 12:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greggz View Post
Now I am well aware that this all might seem like an example of spending too much time on fert dosing. I look at it another way. I was dosing very, very rich levels for quite a long time, and was reasonably successful (by my standards!). One thing that has never changed is taking light, CO2, and maintenance seriously. IME, get those right and you have a lot more leeway to monkey around with fert dosing.

Interesting that you mention this...
So, for the last few weeks I have been lowering the KNO3 dosing in my 75g and, to a lesser degree, the wifes 40g tank. For this week I was dosing 17ppm KNO3 total, down just a little bit from the 30+ that I used to dose. So, just for grins I test the NO3 level in her tank and my tank tonite - to my surprise both test tubes were still pretty red. Not dark red, but red enough. Decidec to test the tap water as well - get a light orange. So, the API test solution must be working to some degree.



Looks like I will be headed even lower over the next few weeks
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post #98 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-06-2019, 12:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Quagulator View Post
My day job is selling farm inputs, and making agronomic recommendations to growers.

This is for terrestrial crops, but similar things could be happening.
Very, very interesting stuff.

I've been saying for a long time that plants seem to enjoy a little elbow room between species. And after a good trim and reduction of mass, everything seems happier.

Never really thought of why, have just observed it.

Maybe there is some correlation between your post and our aquatic plants. Great food for thought.


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post #99 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-06-2019, 07:11 PM
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Wrong thread.


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post #100 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-06-2019, 09:44 PM
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@Xiaozhuang Thank you Dennis for linking your site. I never made the connection that you are Dennis Wong until I followed your link. Great read. I have read every word over the last few days. A lot of good sound advice there. Very well laid out site.
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post #101 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-08-2019, 01:41 PM
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They replenish the soil now and then. They do have 1 or 2 tanks (older ones from what I saw when I visited) that has more serious dust on rocks. The rest of them are pretty clean. And also they can just replace plants that are not doing well - so pictures can be deceiving, they remove types of plants that are not doing well over time. ADA seem to have updated their fertilizer range (I'm not updated on that, but I think they have NO3 dosing now... not sure in what amounts).

Tank cleanliness plays a large role. My farm tank has 8 Tubes of T5 over a 47gallon - extrapolating from PAR tables that is nearer to 200 umols at the substrate than 100... that tank is dosed quite lean as well but just as spotless. Vin kutty came and saw that setup for himself - and we pretty much concluded that its more the effect of consistent plant upkeep (pruning, replanting) & maintenance (vacuum substrate now and then), consistency/quality of water parameters, biological stability of a matured tank - things that can be definitely replicated elsewhere with "some training and experience".
I have worked the last week or two on meticulous cleaning of my tank. Water changes every 3 days 50%+, weekly cleaning of the filter, , and comprehensive blow and vacuum of all plans and the substrate during WC. (thanks for the new method!)

Before I had a Chihiros A601 and running it at 100% gave me algae very quickly(within hours GDA on hardscape). GDA, GSA, and HA. I could get GDA on hardscape and glass within a couple of hours if I ran it at 100 par at substrate 150+ on some hardscape. Had to run it at 60% and get 50 - 60 par at the substrate.

Now running a Twinstar 600S at 70% which is the same/greater PAR(80 - 120 at substrate) or a bit higher, better spread, and I haven't seen any GDA or GSA in a while.

Front glass is pretty clean I haven't had to clean it in days. I have never had less biomass in the tank as well as I did major trims as well.
Definitely seeing cleanliness being more important than adjusting ferts and even than adjusting light.

I'll be tearing down this tank, your Diorama scape has inspired me to try something similar in an an ADA 60p clone but certainly this thread was helpful thanks. Trying hardscape with lava rocks and spiderwood.
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post #102 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-20-2019, 09:15 PM
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First, fantastic thread to all involved, this has easily been the best discussion I've read in the last year.
Thank you @Xiaozhuang for your efforts to advance the community as a whole (sorry, my puns are a terminal case) particularly to consider all the various causes of algae, instead of simply assuming that high light produces it. I'm now cleaning religiously compared with before and looking forward to improvement in things.
Thank you to @Greggz in particular for your religious data keeping for fertilization.
Thank you to @Maryland Guppy for the laughs.
@Asteroid and @cl3537 you're both relatively new to the community as far as I know but clearly you've been doing research, and have experience, your words show it, I'm looking forward to your contributions to the PT community in the next few years.
Thank you @OVT for saying it like you see it. We need people to be honest at times to help avoid "group think"/"crowd/forum mentality."
Thank you @burr740 for the historical perspective you bring and familiarity with Tom Barr's methods in particular, not everyone on this forum reads the report (or at least I know I would certainly benefit from spending more time there, but this is the forum I've called home).
@ipkiss congrats on your 1,000th post. I also laughed when you reminded people (post#26) that YOU remind people to turn down light at times when others don't think to. (though we can see in this thread that lowering light will reduce algae growth but may not remove the actual cause of it.
Thank you @Deanna for "There is no doubt that all the non-nutrient aspects are a major contributor to my success and, because of the move away from EI, I have been able to maintain the appearance but with greatly throttled growth and, therefore, lower maintenance. We should encourage and be tolerant of all voices."
Thank you @happi for being willing to dissent and avoid "group think" as well as being a long time member of the hobby who's got a historical perspective to offer.
Thank you @Quagulator for the very fascinating agricultural insight in post #91

I could go on, but this post is already very weirdly appreciative for the norm here. I know I'm not a recognized pro on the boards but that doesn't mean I'm not reading some of what most of you contribute, and you've all contributed to a fantastic community.

That having been said, @Xiaozhuang seems to be pointing to a general notion that I haven't seen stated quite this clearly: Algae is not caused by light, fertilizer or CO2, rather it is a "plant" that seems to opportunistically grow and feed on compounds produced via methods other than chemical fertilizers (urea/ammonia excluded?) but rather as a result of either plants leaching nutrients(?) due to some form of stress (of which many have been mentioned) or fish producing waste which can leach these particular waste nutrients. The various things produced by those processes I'll assume are much more organic in nature than our fert salts and likely tied to specific bacterial action as well. Algae is nature's process for cleaning up after fauna and flora waste. If we remove fauna waste products before they can feed bacteria (which may create by products which feed algae, not just nitrate) or algae, then we starve algae off.

Is that correct? (sorry for the lengthy/necro? post)
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post #103 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-20-2019, 09:54 PM
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Thanks! But now I'm labeled for humor!

Sometimes I calls um like I see um and it ain't so funny.

Dennis has taken the time to construct an excellent website.
As I have said before it should be a required read before ever purchasing plants.


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post #104 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-21-2019, 04:22 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks! But now I'm labeled for humor!

Sometimes I calls um like I see um and it ain't so funny.

Dennis has taken the time to construct an excellent website.
As I have said before it should be a required read before ever purchasing plants.
Humour is so important in life~
I mean joy is also important in the hobby. I think folks that spend time studying plant growth etc want to improve in general and thats a good thing, but I think most folks tend to be too harsh on their own tanks. Sometimes, we are really picking at small details whereas if most of the public saw the average tank here - they would be damn impressed. We should not let too much fault-finding and micro-management destroy the pleasure of owning nice planted tanks

Regards, Dennis [
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post #105 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-21-2019, 05:31 PM
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but I think most folks tend to be too harsh on their own tanks. Sometimes, we are really picking at small details whereas if most of the public saw the average tank here - they would be damn impressed. We should not let too much fault-finding and micro-management destroy the pleasure of owning nice planted tanks
It would be a lot easier if you would stop posting pics of your tank!


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