Presumed iron deficiency - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 07-11-2019, 03:22 AM Thread Starter
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Presumed iron deficiency

Why are my plants showing a nutrient deficiency? As best I can tell, it is iron deficiency. It is most visible in the anubias, but the stem plants show it too, and my bamboo (which only has roots in water) shows it.
A farmer suggested to me that if it was his crops, he would lower the soil pH because iron gets tied up at high pH. My aquarium water is pH 8.2, but I don't know why. Well water pH is 7.6 to 7.8, but it rises to 8.2 in both of my aquariums.

29 gal aquarium with a low tech setup. Current Satellite + LED light on a split photoperiod (5 on, 4 off, 5 on). Mainly slow growing plants, and some riparium plants at the water surface. Tank is lightly stocked with 3 guppies, 1 harlequin rasbora, 1 betta, 2 BN pleco babies, 3 mystery snails, a bunch of red cherry shrimp and pest snails. Water changes are 30-40% every 2-3 weeks. Water changes are 1/3 RO water, 2/3 aged well water. Top off with RO water. I supplement with dry fertilizers (every other water change), potassium phosphate and a micro mix (Plantex CSM+B) with Mg, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mb, and Zn. I use EI dosing for low tech tanks for amounts. I don't supplement nitrogen because it's in the well water and current nitrogen readings in the tank are ~40. It's been a couple years since I sent the well water in for a lab analysis.
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 07-12-2019, 12:35 AM
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Not knowing what part of Nebraska but I (Central Texas) might guess that you and I both use water from the same underground source and that is pretty much solid limestone! So a point that relates to the limestone is one that I have learned to deal with, by chance as much as knowledge. As mentioned, high PH may be a bit of problem but that is a pretty tough one to deal with, so I go another way and it seems to work and is much easier/cheaper to test. I was getting signs of lack of iron but feeding iron was not helping but there can be another small bit getting in the way. If the ratio of calcium and magnesium are way off and too much CA, adding a bit of magnesium in the form of Epsom salt is the easy way for me as we use it in the garden and always have it on hand.
Something for review. Is the iron short or is it there but just not being taken up? If you dose some epsom salt for magnesium, you may see a big change in a short time. Cheap, easy and not very likely to do any harm if is not the correct item.
Small point to consider, as well? I think I see some signs of leaf tips that are beginning to brown? That may mean that nitrogen is short as it is called a "mobile" nutrient and plants will suck it out of older leafs, leaving them to suffer while growing new leaves! While a pre-mix can seem easy, I find they are not the right combo for me and my water, so I have moved to dry ferts as a way to add only the one item, rather than a bunch of things.
Possibly consider getting an order of dry ferts as a cheaper, more flexible option?
This is my source for a "full blown variety but he has lots of other options:
EI based NPK + CSM+B - NilocG Aquatics
I use this as a place to start on dosing but then I almost always modify it as I see how things go, as I see no reason to pour in too much and then have to do water changes to cut it down:
Rotala Butterfly | Planted Aquarium Nutrient Dosing Calculator
Lots of luck on getting it close as we "Farmers" have to figure it out the best we can!
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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 07-12-2019, 02:42 AM Thread Starter
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Yes, we are on the Ogalalla aquifer. GH and KH usually are about 10, both in aquarium and well water. It probably picks up a lot more calcium before it gets to Texas.

You may be right about the magnesium. The trouble I am seeing is pale leaves with darker green veins. The first deficiency chart I looked at said iron, but another said magnesium. I do use dry fertilizer (currently using CSM+B and potassium phosphate. I do have potassium nitrate but haven't been using it lately as the well water seems to have more than enough nitrogen). In either case, I can supplement a bit of magnesium easily.

I don't think I see any brown leaf tips (or at least, none that concern me). Which plants did you think you saw those on? I have some java fern with some brown spots, but that seems to be normal to me - the old leaves die off. I also have bolbitis that has only been in my tank a couple months. I keep hoping it will transition to my tank and adjust. As long as the rhizome is alive, I will give it a chance. I don't usually worry about brown on the old growth. Perhaps I should? But my API test kit consistently reads nitrogen at about 40, so I don't think it's limiting.
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