Leaves curl and lack color - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-26-2020, 02:12 AM Thread Starter
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Leaves curl and lack color

I have had a consistent problem with leaves curling since I moved to my new place. I also have had problems in many places (though in the same area of the country) where my stems turn black, then separate. I only have a few stems with that problem at the moment and they just wouldn't show up in my pictures.

I had a past thread where someone identified it as a calcium deficiency. I don't have a Ca test kit, but I started using Seachem Equilibrium as a calcium source. I got that advice for the lack of color in my plants originally, then again when I posted about stems turning black and the tops (and sometimes in the middle) separating from the plant. At that point in time, I was not using a TDS meter. I would do two table spoons. I found on occasion, I would loose a fish during a water change, especially those who like lower PH.

My TDS meter fell in the tank so I need to get another one, but I found in general, this raised my TDS about 300ppm so I felt that was too much. These are some tests that are typical for me, given what I have to test with my kits:

My parameters in tank are:
Ammonia: 0
Nitrate: 0
Nitrate: 10-20 (correction)
PH: Maxed out on both pH and high range pH (without CO2)
KH: around 11 degrees
GH: around 8 degrees
TDS: 400

Out the tap:
PH: Maxed out on both pH and high range pH
KH: 1 to none, hard to test
GH: 8 degrees
TDS: 80-90

I know other people have had leaves curling but it seems the black stems don't happen often. They don't happen to me when adding Equilibrium, but I feel I may be adding too much, maybe there is a better solution here.

I don't have much algae but I have a little bit over everything at this exact moment. A tiny amount of BBA, a small amount of diatoms, green dust on glass but not major, and a bit of staghorn. None concerning or overbearing.

Other note, I get BGA like crazy whenever I start a new tank. I just treat it with EM and it typically never comes back. I only mention it because this also seems not typical. I mean every tank with CO2 I have ever done. It almost never comes back.

I am just hoping to find a solution. I believe the lack of color is associated with this because I can get great colors in my low tech tanks that are not low tech plants, I can get great color in my high tech by starving them of nutrients, but that is short term.

Here is what the curls look like, I will try to get a picture of a black stem when it is in a place more easily photographed. Notice how some leaves have the "bottom" facing the surface.

EDIT: Sorry for the sideways pic, I don't know how to fix this. If I rotate it on my phone, or in other software I have in Windows, it stays sideways. Also, a black stem pic I found, which is sideways as well:
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Last edited by talontsiawd; 01-26-2020 at 05:40 PM. Reason: Correction
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post #2 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-26-2020, 02:48 AM
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Let's start at the top: light and CO2, although both seem good. Are you certain of your CO2 ppm (how do you know)? Do you have high quality light (PAR and PUR)?

From there, I'd move on to nutrients. What are you dosing (quantity and frequency)? What is your PO4 reading? Will also need to know your tank size and type of substrate.

I think you are saying they were ok when you were dosing Equilibrium. Your tap looks fine regarding GH (Ca and Mg) so, as you mentioned, you probably don't need the extra Ca and Mg. However, Equilibrium also contains a lot of potassium. Curling/cupping leaves can be a sign of potassium deficiency and, suspending the Equlibrium, without adding K, could be a problem. It's hard to take guesses until we know everything that you are dosing.

Is your circulation good (all parts of all plants showing some movement)?
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Originally Posted by Deanna View Post
Let's start at the top: light and CO2, although both seem good. Are you certain of your CO2 ppm (how do you know)? Do you have high quality light (PAR and PUR)?

From there, I'd move on to nutrients. What are you dosing (quantity and frequency)? What is your PO4 reading? Will also need to know your tank size and type of substrate.

I think you are saying they were ok when you were dosing Equilibrium. Your tap looks fine regarding GH (Ca and Mg) so, as you mentioned, you probably don't need the extra Ca and Mg. However, Equilibrium also contains a lot of potassium. Curling/cupping leaves can be a sign of potassium deficiency and, suspending the Equlibrium, without adding K, could be a problem. It's hard to take guesses until we know everything that you are dosing.

Is your circulation good (all parts of all plants showing some movement)?
Light-Current Satellite Pro. Par is reasonable, not high, supposedly PUR is not wonderful (PUR is new to me, was out of the aquarium hobby for a few years when it became a more common measurement)
Dosing-Following EI based on 10-20 gallon (plus Equalibrium at 1-2 tablespoons per week, depending on stems blacking or curl, 1 to start). Micros/macros every other day, tank gets dosed daily
Do not have a PO4 test kit-Is this important to have? What is a good target if I buy one.
Tank Size-ADA 60p/20H equivalent
CO2-Only using a drop checker but in the mid lime green to almost yellow, only way to gauge it.
Flow is great-Two Eheims, a 2215 and 2213 (overkill I know), plus a AC 30 as my early tanks used HOB and I found I could run a higher level of CO2 safely, but I am not sure it will stay
Substrate-Used Aqua soil and new potting soil capped with fine black gravel. I didn't intend on this and I am typically not a fan of soil in these conditions. My reason for doing so is as simple as I bought some rocks, loved what I came up with, and was concerned that if I emptied the tank and started over, I couldn't replicate the scape. Cap is 1 inch, the AS is probably nutrient deprived, and the soil is various, so hard to say exactly what it is.

-Matt

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post #4 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-26-2020, 04:54 AM
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What soil, how deep is it and how fine a sand is it?

Usually those kind things would indicate hard anoxic conditions in substrate layer.
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post #5 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-26-2020, 02:17 PM
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It’s hard to tell if this is a toxic substrate issue or a mobile nutrient issue. I’ll let @DaveKS work with you to sift through the substrate possibility, as I use only inert substrate and haven’t messed (because it’s messy) with dirted tanks in a very long time.

Lack of sufficient light could be a problem and it may be more driven by crowding than your light source. The pictures would indicate overcrowding. Conversely, high light without sufficient mobile nutrients could also cause the plant to rob nutrients from older growth in order to shift it to the new growth. I’m guessing you have plenty of light on that sized tank.

I would still like to know exactly what you are dosing. Although you probably have enough PO4, most of us do monitor it as it can be a problem if under-dosed (particularly for root development) and it is a macro. The API kit is ok, although I prefer the Salifert for < 3ppm levels and the API for >3ppm. Start with the API - it’s cheap.

With stems, one way I use to test to see if light/crowding/circulation is a problem, is to cut the top off of one of them and re-plant it in an area of the substrate having no other plantings within about 4-inches of it. Then see if it grows normally over a few weeks. following that, I make suspected adjustments and repeat the process.

It also sounds like you are erratic with the Equilibrium dosing
Quote:
Equalibrium at 1-2 tablespoons per week, depending…
Plants don’t like varying parameters, so you’ll need to keep all dosing consistent. I still think you probably don’t need Equilibrium, given your tap levels. However, you will need to add K separately if you decide to suspend Equilibrium dosing.
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post #6 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-26-2020, 04:31 PM
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Either your nitrate testing is off or your dosing is... if you are dosing EI levels, I would expect a higher Nitrate test, more so in the 20-40 range.

If using API, make sure you shake bottle 2 very well, bang it against a table/wall, etc.


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post #7 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-26-2020, 05:29 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vvDO View Post
Either your nitrate testing is off or your dosing is... if you are dosing EI levels, I would expect a higher Nitrate test, more so in the 20-40 range.

If using API, make sure you shake bottle 2 very well, bang it against a table/wall, etc.


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I missed the shaking part in the directions somehow, my testing is likely off.

Bump: Nitrate at 10-20, definitely was an error in testing. Edited top post.

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post #8 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-26-2020, 05:40 PM
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I missed the shaking part in the directions somehow, my testing is likely off.
Switch to Salifert.
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post #9 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-26-2020, 06:54 PM
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You were asked:
Quote:
From there, I'd move on to nutrients. What are you dosing (quantity and frequency)? What is your PO4 reading? Will also need to know your tank size and type of substrate.
Quote:
Dosing-Following EI based on 10-20 gallon (plus Equalibrium at 1-2 tablespoons per week, depending on stems blacking or curl, 1 to start). Micros/macros every other day, tank gets dosed daily
when you suspect a nutrient problem you need to start by taking a detailed look at your fertilizer. In my experience most nutrient issues start with the fertilizer. Manufactures typically don't include all the 14 essential elements plants need to grow. They anticipate the rest will come from your tap water or fish food. Unfortunately these are variable and will change depending on the utility water source and the seasonal rain fall.

EI dosing is more of a method than a recipe. We need to know what products you are using. If using dry salts we need to know which salts you are using. And we need to know how much of each you are dosing. You have not provided all of this information

Furthermore there is something starange with your water test results:My parameters in tank are:
Quote:
Ammonia: 0
Nitrate: 0
Nitrate: 10-20 (correction)
PH: Maxed out on both pH and high range pH (without CO2)
KH: around 11 degrees
GH: around 8 degrees
TDS: 400

Out the tap:
PH: Maxed out on both pH and high range pH
KH: 1 to none, hard to test
GH: 8 degrees
TDS: 80-90
Note your tap water starts out with a KH of 1 but then in the tank it goes to a KH of 11. But the GH stays the same. If you are dosing equilibrium the GH would not be the same. Also equilibrium will not change KH.

I am guessing your utility water GH is mainly form Calcium carbonate with maybe a small amount of some magnesium sulfate. However when the water is filtered and treated Chlorine is added to strerilize the water. Later the excess chlorine reacts with the carbonate to form calcium chloride (which is safe for plants and fish).

When the water gets to your tap it still have the same GH but very little KH. Because the carbonate was destroyed by the chlorine. Then in your tank you might have higher consumption of Chlorine than normal due to healthy bacteria and plant growth converting much of your GH back to KH. High sulfate consumption would then boost your KH to a level higher than it was in your tap.

Equilibrium would help by boosting the sulfate (sulfur is a necesassary nutrient) level of the tank. But it doesn't provide chlorine. Note a chlorine deficiency will cause black tissue damage based on photos I Have seen. If I am correct you might be able to solve the problem by dosing a fixed amount of potassium chloride and potassium sulfate once a week at the water change.

This is my guess as to what is going on. But I wouldn't take action based on this guess. I could be wrong. I would recommend you get a lab test done on your tank water when the problem occurs. And then another test of the tank when the the problem is not present. This would tell you how the chemistry changes. IF any plant nutrient reads zero your tank is deficient in that nutrient and the level of that nutrient will need to be increased. The full list of plant nutrients is N, K, Ca, Mg, P, S, CL, Fe, Mn, B, Zn, Cu, Mo, Ni. You don not want a zero in any of these. I would pay close attention to Mg, Ca, S, and Cl I have used this test:
https://www.amazon.com/ICP-Analysis-...2-4ca5ff43ebe6

One test costs $30 and you will get a link to your test results in a week.
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post #10 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-26-2020, 07:10 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Surf View Post
You were asked:




when you suspect a nutrient problem you need to start by taking a detailed look at your fertilizer. In my experience most nutrient issues start with the fertilizer. Manufactures typically don't include all the 14 essential elements plants need to grow. They anticipate the rest will come from your tap water or fish food. Unfortunately these are variable and will change depending on the utility water source and the seasonal rain fall.

EI dosing is more of a method than a recipe. We need to know what products you are using. If using dry salts we need to know which salts you are using. And we need to know how much of each you are dosing. You have not provided all of this information

Furthermore there is something starange with your water test results:My parameters in tank are:


Note your tap water starts out with a KH of 1 but then in the tank it goes to a KH of 11. But the GH stays the same. If you are doing equilibrium the GH would not be the same. Also equilibrium will not change KH.

I am guessing your utility water GH is mainly form Calcium carbonate with maybe a small amount of some magnesium sulfate. However when the water is filtered and treated Chlorine is added to strerilize the water. Later the excess chlorine reacts with the carbonate to form calcium chloride (which is safe for plants and fish).

When the water gets to your tap it still have the same GH but very little KH.Because the carbonate was destroyed by the chlorine. Then in your tank you might have higher consumption of Chlorine than normal due to healthy bacteria and plant growth converting much of your GH back to KH. High sulfate consumption would then boost your GH to a level higher than it was in your tap.

Equilibrium would help by boosting the sulfate (sulfur is a necesassary nutrient) level of the tank. But it doesn't provide chlorine. Note a chlorine deficiency will cause black tissue damage based on photos I Have seen. If I am correct you might be able to solve the problem by dosing a fixed amount of potassium chloride and potassium sulfate once a week at the water change.

Thisis my guess as to what is going on. But I wouldn't take action based on this guess. I could be wrong. I would recommend you get a lab test done on your tank water when the problem occurs. And then another test of the tank when the the problem is not present. This would tell you how the chemistry changes. IF any plant nutrient reads zero your tank is deficient in that nutrient and the level of that nutrient will need to be increased. The full list of plant nutrients is N, K, Ca, Mg, P, S, CL, Fe, Mn, B, Zn, Cu, Mo, Ni. You don not want a zero in any of these. I have used this test:
https://www.amazon.com/ICP-Analysis-...2-4ca5ff43ebe6

One test costs $30 and you will get a link to your test results in a week.
Ferts: GLA

Following this guide:
10- 20 Gallon Aquariums
+/- 1/8 tsp KN03 (N) 3x a week
+/- 1/32 tsp KH2P04 (P) 3x a week
+/- 1/32 tsp Plantex CSM
50% weekly water change

My teaspoons likely are not exact, but closest I could do.

I also have Fe but not using it right now.

I can retest the KH and GH, I wasn't home so I just copied and pasted out of my journal but I haven't really been doing any different from that time.

As per the equalibrium, I do want to note that it was never my idea to do so, for good or for bad, someone suggested it at some point when I had stems turning black much more often than I do now and it stopped it. The reason I may do double is when I see a black stem. Any less doesn't seem to do the trick. I dose it dry right after a water change. If my stems haven't been trimmed, and growing rapidly, I may see the beginning of it turning black before it separates and add another tablespoon of it.

I will consider the link to the test but often, someone chimes in who has experienced the same issue as me, especially in my own region as many members are around the Bay Area.


Furthermore, I am not set on EI dosing, it was just something that I started probably 10 or more years ago when either used an expensive, off the self product, or Tom Barr explained his way. There were a few other people who created routines but they were not widely accepted. It is just what I have done.

-Matt

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post #11 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-26-2020, 07:33 PM
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Hi @talontsiawd,

If your tap water is 8.0 dGH and your tank water is 8.0 dGH you can't be adding very much Seachem Equilibrium or the dGH in the tank would be higher. One (1) teaspoon of Equilibrium per 10 gallons of water increases the hardness of a tank by about 1.0 dGH. How much water do you change every week (in gallons) and how much Equilibrium to you add per week?

I see only a couple of signs of a calcium (Ca) issue in the pictures. I do see the dying stem in the first photo and in both photos it seems you are loosing leaves shortly after they mature even when sufficient light seems to be present indicating premature leaf loss. Weak stems that are easily attacked by fungus, leaves where the margins 'curl' (either upwards or downwards) with a "cupping' effect, and premature leaf loss are all symptoms of insufficient available magnesium. This can be caused by either insufficient magnesium being available to the plant or another nutrient (such as high levels of calcium or potassium) impeding the uptake of magnesium by the plant.
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post #12 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-26-2020, 07:45 PM Thread Starter
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Hi @talontsiawd,

If your tap water is 8.0 dGH and your tank water is 8.0 dGH you can't be adding very much Seachem Equilibrium or the dGH in the tank would be higher. One (1) teaspoon of Equilibrium per 10 gallons of water increases the hardness of a tank by about 1.0 dGH. How much water do you change every week (in gallons) and how much Equilibrium to you add per week?

I see only a couple of signs of a calcium (Ca) issue in the pictures. I do see the dying stem in the first photo and in both photos it seems you are loosing leaves shortly after they mature even when sufficient light seems to be present indicating premature leaf loss. Weak stems that are easily attacked by fungus, leaves where the margins 'curl' (either upwards or downwards) with a "cupping' effect, and premature leaf loss are all symptoms of insufficient available magnesium. This can be caused by either insufficient magnesium being available to the plant or another nutrient (such as high levels of calcium or potassium) impeding the uptake of magnesium by the plant.
I should probably retest these levels, just to be sure. Please let me know what tests would be helpful to redo.

As far as water changes, I do 6 gallons per week. My tank 17 gallons but with my hardscape, I think that adds around 1.5 gallons and my substrate is at least 1.5 gallons (or more on both), so I treat it like it is a 12 gallon tank.

-Matt

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post #13 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-26-2020, 08:22 PM
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Hi @talontsiawd,

And how much Equilibrium do you add after each water change?

Determining magnesium levels in my tanks involves me do a dGH reading and a calcium ppm reading (I use API for dGH and Salifert for calcium) and then calculating the magnesium ppm from there.

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post #14 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-26-2020, 11:11 PM
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Leaf rolling is also often caused by environmental factors such as very bright light, a prolonged dip in temperature or a sudden change in water chemistry. If the water current is too strong, leaves will sometimes roll up. I'd focus on the dark (rotting?) stems.

Whatever you do (add more Mg or add more K), just make one change at a time, do it consistently and watch the response over a few weeks. While doing so, maintain all other inputs at a consistent level. I also think that topping a stem and planting it in an isolated area will help determine if light, circulation and crowding are involved. I'd also look into the substrate health possibility, even as a separate issue, as @DaveKS mentioned.
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post #15 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-27-2020, 03:53 AM
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Quote:
ollowing this guide:
10- 20 Gallon Aquariums
+/- 1/8 tsp KN03 (N) 3x a week
+/- 1/32 tsp KH2P04 (P) 3x a week
+/- 1/32 tsp Plantex CSM
50% weekly water change
In my experience any essential plant nutrient that is not in your fertilizer is very likely deficient in your aquarium.

There is no sulfur in your fertilizer recipe. Plants need almost as much S and P. Also Planted CSM doesn't have B (Boron) many aquarium fertilizer manufactures add Boron to it and often call it CSM+B. If you punched it from GLA I would it does have boro. Can you confirm that? Also CSM has FeEDTA which degrade at a PH greater than 6.5. Fe DTPA is good up to a PH of 7.5 and maybe 8. Fe Gluconate is not sensitive to PH but it it has to be dosed more frequently because bacteria can degrade it quickly before plants get to it. However at this time I see no indications of a iron issue so I would continue to use CSM for now.

You could add a little magnesium sulfate to boost sulfur as well as magnesium levels. Another option is to add potassium sulfate. it would add potassium and sulfur. i don't see any reason to add more potassium but adding more magnesium or potassium would not hurt either. And if it works you wouldn't need the equilibrium. you could start out targeting 5ppm Mg or if you decide to use potassium sulfate 5ppm K . You could easily go higher if needed.
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