Nutrient deficiency on ThriveC fertilizer? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-10-2019, 07:26 PM Thread Starter
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Nutrient deficiency on ThriveC fertilizer?

I have a low-tech five gallon Fluval Spec V with dwarf water lettuce, cryptocoryne undulata 'red', dwarf hair grass, an anubias nana 'petite', and a single betta. Initially, I was dosing API Leaf Zone, Excel, and nitrogen, and everything was fairly happy and growing, but I was also having cyanobacteria issues. When I ran out of Leaf Zone, I wanted to switch to something more comprehensive, so I got ThriveC (I considered mixing my own, but given the size of my tank, I thought it was worth the convenience fee to get pre-mixed) and the GH booster recommended to go along with it (my GH is super low to begin with anyway, so I figured it could only help).

I made no changes, other than stopping the Leaf Zone and Excel and starting ThriveC (1 pump 2x/week) and the GH booster. Almost immediately, I had an algae/cyanobacteria bloom, and I started noticing pin holes in my dwarf water lettuce leaves, starting on the oldest leaves. I initially thought it was likely due to an excess of nutrients that the plants weren't accustomed to, so I pulled back to the minimum recommended dose of 1 pump 1x/week.

Over time, the cyanobacteria died off and the tank is the most algae-free I've had it in a while...but my plants aren't growing. The dwarf water lettuce has pin holes and the old leaves rot off quickly, keeping them small and all their energy is going to maintenance, when before they were throwing babies left and right. The crypts took longer to develop holes in their leaves, but they eventually did, and I've not seen new babies in a while, when before I was pulling them out constantly. The dwarf hair grass isn't spreading. The anubias hasn't put on any new leaves.

So I figured 1 pump of ThriveC 1x/week wasn't enough, and I gradually worked up to 1 pump every other day (more than the recommended maximum). Still no algae/cyanobacteria, which is great, but no improvement to the dwarf water lettuce (if anything it looks worse - I'm seeing new holes on younger and younger leaves). I wouldn't expect to see a change in the other plants quite yet, based on how long it took for them to show problems, but given that the water lettuce hasn't improved, I'm not expecting them to either, and I'd rather fix this now than wait.

During this whole time, I've not made any changes to my lighting, the supplemental nitrogen dose, my weekly water changes, or anything else I can think of, so I'm quite sure it's the switch to ThriveC + GH booster that triggered it (not gonna lie, I'm pretty mad I spent extra money on the convenience of pre-mixed all-in-one, and it made everything so much worse...).

From what I was reading, holes in leaves can indicate a potassium deficiency, but I wanted to get an expert opinion before I went out and bought any new fertilizer. I've attached pictures showing the dwarf water lettuce and the crypts (the hair grass and anubias both look normal, just not growing). What do you think? Nutrient deficiency? Nutrient excess? Something else?
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Last edited by Snapdragon; 09-10-2019 at 07:32 PM. Reason: adding forgotten details
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-11-2019, 01:30 AM
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How much GH booster did you add and how did you dose it? What was tank GH to start with?
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-11-2019, 02:45 AM Thread Starter
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GH started at 2-3, is now 5-6. I add the booster when I'm replacing water I've removed, but not when I'm topping up evaporated water. I've been using 1/8 t per gallon, dissolved before adding the water to the tank (as much as possible, the stuff clumps something fierce).
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-11-2019, 08:50 PM
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Do not dump undissolved GH booster in tank and you should have slowly been increasing GH over coarse of days in your top off water. If undissolved GH booster settles on leaves it will burn them and induce melt in crypts. Rapid shifts in water chemistry will also induce melt.

As far as ThriveC, I only used .5ml added to my top off water and top off daily in my low tech 7gal (6gal water). Plants did fine. Did initial dose of .3ml, from that that point on it was .5ml weekly added to top off water (distilled).

Your dosing based on 4.5gal water using weekly dosing for low light/low tech should be .45ml per week, could be double that depending on uptake in tank

So basically between the rapid GH change, dumping in undissolved GH booster and way overdosing/changing dosing to quick you have melted your plants. Thrive is almost 3x stronger than what you where using before.

Also pic you posted is salvinia not water lettuce.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-11-2019, 09:05 PM
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I am currently having the same trouble. I did recently start dosing with Flourish Potassium. It could also be an Iron deficiency, I think.

I know Thrive has potash (K20) but maybe you need to add KNO3 - I don't see that on the ingredient list. I am not chemically inclined at all - and I may be wrong. But that's what I've been reading about, so maybe it will help you too.

I'll be following your thread for insight!
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-11-2019, 09:37 PM
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I thought those things would just grow in straight tap water....
It could be something simpler such and light and temperature?

Was the fert the only thing you changed?
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-12-2019, 06:11 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveKS View Post
Do not dump undissolved GH booster in tank and you should have slowly been increasing GH over coarse of days in your top off water. If undissolved GH booster settles on leaves it will burn them and induce melt in crypts. Rapid shifts in water chemistry will also induce melt.

I've only once ended up with teeny granules of undissolved GH booster actually in the tank (I still have issues getting it dissolved, but I keep them out of the tank), and they settled in the dwarf hair grass, not the crypts (hair grass shows no signs of burning). It's been over a month, and the crypts didn't start showing issues until at least 2 weeks in, while before they've reacted much faster to things they don't like. Also they're not actually melting away - they've got holes in the leaves, but no dead leaves falling off. I did consider that when I was easing them into the water change (because I did do that), I might have gone too fast, but I'd expect after a month+ the plants would begin to adapt - they had less trouble moving half way across the country, completely switching water! So I'm skeptical that's the entire issue.


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Originally Posted by DaveKS View Post
So basically between the rapid GH change, dumping in undissolved GH booster and way overdosing/changing dosing to quick you have melted your plants. Thrive is almost 3x stronger than what you where using before.

If that's the case, how long would you expect it to take to adapt? Because I went over a month on the smallest dose of ThriveC with the undissolved GH booster actually making it into the tank only once. I usually see at a few new leaves within a couple of weeks if something goes wrong.


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Originally Posted by DaveKS View Post
Also pic you posted is salvinia not water lettuce.

Huh, I guess the person who sold it to me was mistaken. Oh well, still liked 'em when they were growing.


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Originally Posted by CatsMeow View Post
I am currently having the same trouble. I did recently start dosing with Flourish Potassium. It could also be an Iron deficiency, I think.

Let me know if it makes a difference!


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Originally Posted by wuryan View Post
Was the fert the only thing you changed?

Yeah, just the fertilizer. I've had the crypts in the tank for ages, including a cross country move and accompanying water change shock and I've never seen anything like this - they've thrived no matter what I've thrown at them.

Last edited by Snapdragon; 09-12-2019 at 06:13 PM. Reason: typo
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-13-2019, 01:37 AM
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I’m going to suggest that you consider going back to the days when you were happy with everything but the cyanobacteria. I fear that you are now throwing things out of balance by introducing more ferts than may be needed.

You have a small, low-tech, setup. While it might be a stretch, it seems that your fish food, via your Betta, was providing enough phosphorus and, maybe, nitrogen. Your tap (and some of your food) could very well be providing, and usually does for low-tech tanks, all the other needed traces and GH components (calcium and magnesium), but we don’t really know what is in your tap. I’m assuming it does since you were happy with your plants. This leaves only the need to provide potassium and, maybe, more iron (tap often doesn’t have enough iron). Your Leaf Zone provided those two [usually missing] nutrients.

It might be better to focus on addressing the cyanobacteria differently than complicating things with more and different ferts. If you decide to back the horse up, a couple of ideas to inhibit the cyanaobacteria:

- Get a nitrate test kit (I prefer Salifert kits). Try to hit 10ppm NO3 as long as you have BGA (cyanobacteria). When gone, you can back that down, if desired.

- BGA hates good circulation. Try to make sure that your filter is sweeping the substrate with water flow, while simultaneously rippling the water’s surface to get good oxygenation (which cyano also doesn’t like).

Excel is very good in low-tech setups. Continue dosing that.

Don't sweat the money you might have thrown away on more ferts. I don't even want to try counting how much of my life's savings I've spent to no good end on this hobby.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-13-2019, 03:59 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Deanna View Post
I’m going to suggest that you consider going back to the days when you were happy with everything but the cyanobacteria. I fear that you are now throwing things out of balance by introducing more ferts than may be needed.
Yeah, that's definitely an option I'm considering. Unfortunately the cyanobacteria really liked to grow in my floater's roots and strangle it, so I'd been hoping that a better fertilizer might allow the plants to out compete it and keep it down (I was already on the points you mentioned for control). Seems not to be the case, at least with this fertilizer - although ThriveC's supposed to be formulated for low-tech tanks (with a high bio-load, so I think the vision was people with lots of fish and a few plants thrown in), so I don't see why it would be giving me so much grief when I was at a very low dose. Oh well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deanna View Post
You have a small, low-tech, setup. While it might be a stretch, it seems that your fish food, via your Betta, was providing enough phosphorus and, maybe, nitrogen. Your tap (and some of your food) could very well be providing, and usually does for low-tech tanks, all the other needed traces and GH components (calcium and magnesium), but we don’t really know what is in your tap. I’m assuming it does since you were happy with your plants. This leaves only the need to provide potassium and, maybe, more iron (tap often doesn’t have enough iron). Your Leaf Zone provided those two [usually missing] nutrients.
I definitely wasn't getting enough nitrogen, unfortunately. Even with ThriveC's nitrogen, I still have to supplement (I'm disappointed but not terribly surprised, as ThriveC's apparently formulated for densely stocked tanks).

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Don't sweat the money you might have thrown away on more ferts. I don't even want to try counting how much of my life's savings I've spent to no good end on this hobby
Alas, my pet budget has largely been eaten up by surgery and medication for my rats a couple of months ago, so I'm extra cautious on what I buy at the moment. But yeah, if I need to change it, I need to change it.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-13-2019, 04:32 AM
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Quote:
I was dosing API Leaf Zone, Excel, and nitrogen, and everything was fairly happy and growing,
Your original fertilizer was deficient in many things. So if your fertilizer was the only source of nutrients the plants would not grow. But they Did. That means they tapped into a second source of nutrient to make up for what your fertilizer lacked. That second source was probably your substrate.

Quote:
So I figured 1 pump of ThriveC 1x/week wasn't enough, and I gradually worked up to 1 pump every other day (more than the recommended maximum). Still no algae/cyanobacteria, which is great, but no improvement to the dwarf water lettuce (if anything it looks worse - I'm seeing new holes on younger and younger leaves). I wouldn't expect to see a change in the other plants quite yet, based on how long it took for them to show problems, but given that the water lettuce hasn't improved, I'm not expecting them to either, and I'd rather fix this now than wait.
Your new fertilizer mix is nuch better but No fertilizer is perfect and none are perfectly balanced. Most assume your tap water has some of the nutrients needed. But tap water can be dramatically different between 2 cities only 20 miles apart. So a deficiency is still possible because no one has defeloped to fertilizer recipe that works perfectly for all types of water. . It is also possible the nutrients in your substrate have been exhausted.

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From what I was reading, holes in leaves can indicate a potassium deficiency, but I wanted to get an expert opinion before I went out and bought any new fertilizer.
A micro deficiency could also cause holes in the leaves. So it might be potassium or it might not. The is no way to know what nutrient you are short on. The combination of thrive and a GH booster covers you macros but we don't know for sure. We also Don't know what is in your tap water but it is likely very soft.

The best way to determine what your problem is without guessing is to have your tank water tested by a lab.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

This test will measure all plant nutrients down to 1 part per billion. No test kit you can buy does that. If you do this any nutrient that registers a 0ppb is deficient. But it would be best to post the results so anyone could evaluate it and provide feedback. Once you know the issue you could supplement your fertilizer to customize it to your situation.

It is the fastest way I know of to resolve a deficiency issue.

Quote:
Also pic you posted is salvinia not water lettuce.
Quote:
Huh, I guess the person who sold it to me was mistaken. Oh well, still liked 'em when they were growing.
The fact that the salvinia is not doing well is a strong indicator of a nutrient deficiency. With access to the atmosphere CO2 it should grow even in low light if you have all nutrients available in your water. Also small leaves could be a indication of a zinc deficiency. Tap water typically has it so most fertilizers either don't have or only have very little. The same also applies to copper. So based on how much copper and zinc is in your current fertilizer you might be deficient in one of them.

Quote:
Do not dump undissolved GH booster in tank and you should have slowly been increasing GH over coarse of days in your top off water. If undissolved GH booster settles on leaves it will burn them and induce melt in crypts. Rapid shifts in water chemistry will also induce melt.
Just a note I just dump the GH booster into my tank after a 50% water change. Some occasionally does land on leaves. But I have never seen any damage from it and if it is below the water surface it will in general dissolve with a hour of being added. Even if some lands on the leaf of a floating plant where it can take hours to dissolve. The key reason people have a hard time pre dissolving GH boosters is that they are not using enough water. 1 cup or even 2 or 3 of water is generally not enough. One liter of water works better. The 20 litters in your tank is more than enough for it to rapidly dissolve.

But that said I don't have any crypts in my tank.

Quote:
I’m going to suggest that you consider going back to the days when you were happy with everything but the cyanobacteria. I fear that you are now throwing things out of balance by introducing more ferts than may be needed.
I don't think going back to leaf zone is a solution since it is missing 12 different nutrients. I strongly believe the only reason it worked before was because your substrate was supplying what was not in your water and fertilizer. Assuming your substrate is now depleted going back to leaf zone would probably not help.
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-13-2019, 01:16 PM
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It's true that we know little of what the make-up of your water is without test results. So, we are all speculating based upon assumptions. Some of us (including me) assume an inert substrate, in which case there will be no nutrients of consequence other than what your tap, fish and dosing provide. Some are assuming an active substrate, albeit possibly depleted, in which case most of the nutrients would be sourced in the substrate. Perhaps it would be better if you identified the type of substrate that you have.

Can you provide any other test results, e.g.; you mention that you weren't getting enough NO3? I assume that means that you have some NO3 readings. What are those? Other test results that we usually like to see are: PO4 and GH (apparently, you do measure GH). Your local water company can provide a free report that can fill-in some of the blanks. A full picture of your tank water (other than nitrogen) could be provided by @Surf's testing recommendation (I'm going to be trying that, myself, in a few weeks, just for the trace aspect), but it will set you back about $30.

Nor did we get into cleanliness. Do you have a good cleaning regimen that includes frequent cleaning of your filter?

I'm still concerned about how far down the road you want to go with tweaking ferts when you were happy with your plants before. You saw what can happen when you move in a different direction. We can probably get you there with a more precise approach, but there will be some experimentation and more involvement needed (such as providing details), which is fine if you want to commit to it. In any case, keep us advised on the direction that you ultimately find that works.

Last edited by Deanna; 09-13-2019 at 01:35 PM. Reason: add
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-13-2019, 02:47 PM
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When I had cyanobacteria & BGA that kept coming back in a newly cycled tank even after dosing erythromycin, it was a UV filter that eventually turned things around for me. I used a Green Killing Machine because they had them in stock at the local big box pet store, but you can find cheaper versions online for about 1/3 less. Worth a try if nothing else is working for you.....
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-13-2019, 05:56 PM
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Sorry, but there is no way you have a deficiency of anything with amount of Thrive your dosing and low uptake plants your keeping. The holes without blackening around edges is osmotic rupturing of cell walls, it is induced by rapid changes in water chemistry. And a piece of undissolved mineral additive actually setting on plant tissue and dissolving will intensify the osmotic pressure imbalance probably 10 fold.

You shocked your plants with a rapid GH change, osmotic shock, causing cell walls to rupture and disintegrate and also sending plants metabolism into complete shutdown. Then before the plants have had a chance to recover from that shock, which can take almost 2 months, you hit them with another shock by overdosing ferts at close to 4x rate that is needed in your tank.

To raise GH in your tank 1 point it should be done gradually over the coarse of 24-48hrs, not 3 points in 20 minutes while doing a water change.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-18-2019, 06:37 PM Thread Starter
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Right, I was away for a bit, and there was a development. I decided that Deanna was right, and I needed to go back to my original setup, at least until the plants recovered, so I started by slightly reducing the amount of GH booster I put in my water change water, with the intention of weaning the tank off the GH booster first, then changing the fertilizer. Well, my crypts, anubias, and possibly hair grass are growing again! The floaters still look like crap, so I'm going to continue to step down the GH booster with water changes until they perk up or I've removed it entirely - I'll report back what GH I end up at. So apparently a GH of 5-6 was too much in my tank, but everything else was/is fine. We shall see.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Surf View Post
Your original fertilizer was deficient in many things. So if your fertilizer was the only source of nutrients the plants would not grow. But they Did. That means they tapped into a second source of nutrient to make up for what your fertilizer lacked. That second source was probably your substrate.
You're not wrong that my substrate was a second source of nutrients, but it's inert with root tabs, so the substrate giving out wouldn't explain the lack of growth.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Surf View Post
The best way to determine what your problem is without guessing is to have your tank water tested by a lab.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Huh, I hadn't known those were on amazon. If reducing the GH booster doesn't fully resolve it, I may look into a test kit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveKS View Post
To raise GH in your tank 1 point it should be done gradually over the coarse of 24-48hrs, not 3 points in 20 minutes while doing a water change.
Is there any particular reason you're fixated on the idea that I didn't gradually introduce the GH booster when I directly told you that I did?
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