Potassium deficiency with Seachem equilibrium - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-23-2020, 03:59 PM Thread Starter
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Potassium deficiency with Seachem equilibrium

Looking for a little advice on what could be happening in my planted tank, a few months ago I had a massive bba outbreak due to a clogged co2 diffuser. Up until this point my plants were growing like weeds, after getting the algae under control my plants never really seemed to recover. I started dosing phosphorus and Iron in addition to my normal flourish dose and have noticed some improvement but my plants are still showing distinct signs of potassium deficiency. I have pretty rough well water so we use RO water and the Seachem equilibrium/ buffer method to bring GH and KH both to 6-7 .Equilibriumís number 1 element is potassium so I canít understand how it would be deficient.

Water parameters

Temp- 78
Ph- 6.8 after Co2
Gh-6 to 7
KH-6
Nitrate- 20
90Gallon with Fx4


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Last edited by Darkblade48; 08-25-2020 at 05:11 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-23-2020, 08:15 PM
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Were you dosing phosphorus and iron before the BBA outbreak? It could be that the plants are uptaking more potassium than you're adding because you're adding more of whatever the limiting nutrient was before, so now potassium is the limiting nutrient.

So many fish/plants/inverts to keep, not enough aquaria.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-23-2020, 08:43 PM Thread Starter
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I was dosing iron and thrive+ (all in one) but no phosphorus. That would make sense Iím just not sure how potassium could be the main deficiency when using Seachem equilibrium to maintain achieve GH. By content it is 23% potassium followed by 8% calcium and then magnesium and iron. It seem like there should be an abundance of it.


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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-23-2020, 08:52 PM
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How long was the tank doing well for before the diffuser issue? What are your lights and substrate?


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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-23-2020, 09:51 PM Thread Starter
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Tank has been up and running for about a year. Running a finnex hlc 24/7 light and a planted plus at about 65% for 8 hours a day. Eco complete substrate 3Ē thick and full of root tans.


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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-24-2020, 12:30 PM
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Your plants are telling you what to do. Dose a little K2SO4. You're not going to screw up your tank with a little more K so it's a very benign thing to try. I'd guess you were running P limited before and now it has shifted to K.


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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-24-2020, 01:27 PM
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There is no way you are K deficient.

Raising RO water to 6 dKH with Equilibrium adds 68 ppm K. Your levels are likely even higher with accumulation.

If anything, this excess K is interfering with uptake of other nutrients.

Keep in mind that reading deficiencies from plant leaves is like reading tea leaves. You can see whatever you want to. Most issues with plants look very similar, and it could be lots of other things causing the issue.

If you had "massive" BBA outbreak, likely is more than just a clogged diffuser causing it. Most of those plants require very little CO2 to do well. More likely is too many dissolved organics in the system, and the solution is more frequent gravel vacs, filter cleaning, and water changes.

And if most of these plants were hit by the BBA, it can take a long time to recover. Just might need more patience.

Also, why 6 dKH? Plants love softer water, and if you lower your KH it will help keep your K at more reasonable numbers.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-24-2020, 01:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greggz View Post
There is no way you are K deficient..

Keep in mind that reading deficiencies from plant leaves is like reading tea leaves. You can see whatever you want to. Most issues with plants look very similar, and it could be lots of other things causing the issue.

If you had "massive" BBA outbreak, likely is more than just a clogged diffuser causing it. Most of those plants require very little CO2 to do well. More likely is too many dissolved organics in the system, and the solution is more frequent gravel vacs, filter cleaning, and water changes.

And if most of these plants were hit by the BBA, it can take a long time to recover. Just might need more patience.

Also, why 6 dKH? Plants love softer water, and if you lower your KH it will help keep your K at more reasonable numbers.
You took the words right out of my mouth...

There's like 5 new threads I'm looking at and they all are blaming nutrient deficiencies, some with active new substrates and full water column dosing for undemanding plants. All of them have serious algae issues. Once you have algae on plant leaves, it's going to affect growth and the look of the plant, making it almost impossible to identify a plant deficiency if there is one.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-24-2020, 04:31 PM
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There's like 5 new threads I'm looking at and they all are blaming nutrient deficiencies, some with active new substrates and full water column dosing for undemanding plants. All of them have serious algae issues. Once you have algae on plant leaves, it's going to affect growth and the look of the plant, making it almost impossible to identify a plant deficiency if there is one.
It seems like there's never any shortage of people of people who seem eager to micromanage your fertilizer regime! I am trying to up my game and level up from beginner level to intermediate and have been trying to make heads and tails of fertilizer threads because most of it doesn't really square with what I know about plant nutrition (my background is in horticulture) and ultimately this is the most useful thread I came across. It convinced me I need to quit my own handwringing about fertilizer and focus on getting better at maintenance, as unsexy as that is, and I can revisit fine tuning nutrients down the road.

There seems to be some confusion about what a deficiency really is versus plant growth being nutrient limited that trips up these threads too. The former puts the plant in crisis mode, the latter just slows things down, which might not be a problem at all depending on the context. Most Americans don't eat the recommended amount of calcium every day, but we don't have a national broken bone problem.

I wonder how many aquarists have actually seen true deficiencies that were correctly identified anyway. I know that the way I learned to identify them in the plants I work with (again, I'm talking terrestrial plants here), it's often because I learned it directly from someone who definitely knew what they were talking about and I don't think the hobby is really there yet in terms of collective experience. If you are a corn grower, you can see detailed pictures of every realistic deficiency and information about the circumstances where you might run into it (almost equally important!) and it's backed up by tissue analysis and generations upon generations of effort and research. And then there's us, with the generalized chart and vague symptom descriptions stumbling around in the dark. No one's to blame for this, the hobby just has a lot of room to grow.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-24-2020, 04:31 PM Thread Starter
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The black beard algae was almost 2 months ago, I gave it a month and a half with minimal fertilizer and can assure you something was missing because the plants had zero growth itís only now that I started fertilizing again that everything is starting to come back. I agree that it shouldnít be K deficient but Iím just going by what I can see. Even now cryptocrynes and Anubis are showing pin holes and yellow spots on the leaves. So maybe I have my nutrient deficiencyís mixed up but they arenít happy about something as for the Kh. I keep it there because I feel more safe at a close to neutral Ph for my fish and invertebrates than running a low Kh and having a ph swing.


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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-24-2020, 04:42 PM
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The black beard algae was almost 2 months ago, I gave it a month and a half with minimal fertilizer and can assure you something was missing because the plants had zero growth itís only now that I started fertilizing again that everything is starting to come back. I agree that it shouldnít be K deficient but Iím just going by what I can see. Even now cryptocrynes and Anubis are showing pin holes and yellow spots on the leaves. So maybe I have my nutrient deficiencyís mixed up but they arenít happy about something as for the Kh. I keep it there because I feel more safe at a close to neutral Ph for my fish and invertebrates than running a low Kh and having a ph swing.


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You cut back on ferts, because of BBA, so the plants might have stalled. Once you stall plants you reduce uptake of nutrients and it's only going to cause more algae. Once you have that much algae it's going to take more than ferts to get things back. All plant leaves that are affected by algae and are damaged or dying are fouling the water with ammonia/toxins and is going to keep the algae going.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-24-2020, 08:51 PM
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The black beard algae was almost 2 months ago, I gave it a month and a half with minimal fertilizer and can assure you something was missing because the plants had zero growth itís only now that I started fertilizing again that everything is starting to come back. I agree that it shouldnít be K deficient but Iím just going by what I can see. Even now cryptocrynes and Anubis are showing pin holes and yellow spots on the leaves. So maybe I have my nutrient deficiencyís mixed up but they arenít happy about something as for the Kh. I keep it there because I feel more safe at a close to neutral Ph for my fish and invertebrates than running a low Kh and having a ph swing.
Once again, you do not have a K deficiency. That chart you are referring to about deficiencies has probably done more harm than good. I don't know a single successful planted tanker who thinks they can diagnose a deficiency looking at those pictures. Throw it away. Forget about it. It's not helping you.

Let's put this into prospective. I dose 17.5 K weekly into my tank, which is heavily planted with loads of fast growing stems. You are dosing 68 K weekly into a tank that is very lighted planted with mostly low light slow growing plants.

Your very high K numbers are likely limiting the uptake of both PO4 and NO3.

Then you said you are dosing Seachem Flourish. Flourish only contains micros, no macros. Then you said you started dosing PO4 & Fe....how much? Then you said you were dosing Thrive+. Did you stop dosing it? If so, it was the only source of NO3 that you were dosing. If you stopped dosing it, most likely you are NO3 deficient if anything.

As to pH swings, that is a myth. I know loads of folks who run zero or very low KH tanks, and have for years. Never have a pH swing. If you really feel you must add some KH, I would go down to about 2 or so. It would bring your K numbers back down to something realistic.

But all that being said, you may or not have any deficiency at all. The plants you are keeping are not particularly sensitive to fert levels, and could get by nicely at a wide range of dosing.

More important is general tank cleanliness, the right amount/duration of light, and keeping CO2 steady.

How often are you performing water changes? What percentage? How often performing gravel vac? Filter cleanings?

If you really want help, I would consider starting a journal and list everything you can about the tank. When folks look at a tank in totality, it's much easier to diagnose problems.

I'm just saying that both of your original premises are likely wrong. You are not K deficient, and I very much doubt a clogged CO2 diffuser had much if anything to do with your BBA outbreak. You might need to dig a little deeper to get things going smoothly again.

And on a side note, if you want to improve in the hobby, start thinking of dosing in terms of PPM. Saying you dosed thrive+ or Seachem Flourish means little if folks don't know what that is adding to the tank. And most won't take the time to look it up. The common terminology is NO3, PO4, K, Ca, Mg and Fe listed as ppm.

Good luck and will be interested to see where this goes from here.


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