Does a 10:1 Ratio of NO3/PO4 Really Matter? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-15-2005, 09:19 PM Thread Starter
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Does a 10:1 Ratio of NO3/PO4 Really Matter?

First - full disclosure - I'm using a modified EI system...if that makes any difference !

Based on recommendations I've read a hundred times, I've always tried to keep my NO3 and PO4 levels in a 10:1 ratio. My current targets are 20 and 2. But, I keep thinking that a more basic goal is just to make sure all the needed ferts are present and that none of them go to zero. So, who really cares if the ratio is 10:1 or 7:1 or 5:1? Perhaps the ratio in which plants use up both ferts is in a 10:1 ratio, and to keep things simple for the average aquarist, it is a good ratio to abide by. But, is there really any reason to be hard and fast with 10:1? Would changing the ratios to 5:1 (e.g. NO3=10, PO4=2) have any noticeable effect on the plants? So long as there are sufficient supplies of both in the tank, will the plants uptakes change because of the ratio of the elements?

Just curious....
Brian.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-15-2005, 10:03 PM
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I myself have noticed that my plants don't use much phosphate at all. As the week goes on nitrates stay at about 8ppm, while phosphate just builds up. As for the question I think it matters more for each tank. If I stick with the 10:1 ratio I get green spot everywhere, and usually my tank's phosphate level is around 2-3ppm at all times. Also I have read that high phosphate can help with coloration of plants, but not so high that algae forms.

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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-15-2005, 10:19 PM
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I find the same results as anthony. I am dosing 1/4 of KNO3 and a 1/16th of KH2Po4. My po4 always remains high.....around the 5+ppm mark. I am slowly lowering my dosing. My levels now are 20ppm No3 and 5+ppm po4. A far cry from the 1:10 ratio.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-15-2005, 10:38 PM
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Jason, do you have any problems with algae at those levels?
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-15-2005, 10:42 PM
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Nope no algae at these levels......i have some cladrophora(spelling?) But that seems to grow like a plant. But i have no other algae.......some spot algae at times......but very little.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-15-2005, 10:43 PM
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What's cladrophora, is that the algae on driftwood?

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-15-2005, 10:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony
What's cladrophora, is that the algae on driftwood?
Cladophora....yes it can be on driftwood. Some like the look of it. I find it annoying. HAHA
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-15-2005, 11:15 PM
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I have some on my driftwood, it looks like some kind of moss on it. When it gets too long, I use my filter cleaning brush to trim it down a little.

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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-16-2005, 07:35 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the comments, guys. Anyone else got any ideas, suggestions, theories on the 10:1 ratio?
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-16-2005, 08:04 PM
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Most FW plants have a ratio of 10:1, many are 7:1 for dry weight compositional mass.
That's why they dose it, if maximizes the efficency of dosing and provide less waste. It is not important really since NO3/PO4 are extremely cheap.

It's fun to play around with these as long as you do not bottom them out for long.

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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-17-2005, 02:06 AM Thread Starter
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Good data, Tom. Thanks!
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-17-2005, 05:31 AM
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I did my weekly water change and dosed to get a NO3/PO4 ratio close to 10:1 and added a few extra mg/l of potassium and magnesium because the water quality report from my water company indicates both elements about 10 times lower than the numbers I've read are good for growing plants. I was wondering what was behind these and what limits absorption/consumption by the plant. Is it the ratio or the concentration. Given NO3 are usually in hte 5 to 10 range, does that set the concentration of the other elements?

I've got some algae on the glass of my tank I never had before I installed an additional light, essentially doubling the watts per gallon. I don't believe its the fertilizer and I'm a little reluctant to quit dosing since the plants seem to have fewer pinholes in their leaves now. Perhaps I shoud keep dosing more each week until I find a limit where the plants don't appear to do any better. I've been reluctant to do that because I don't have any way to measure how fertilizer is accumulating over time.

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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-17-2005, 06:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plantbrain
Most FW plants have a ratio of 10:1, many are 7:1 for dry weight compositional mass.
That's why they dose it, if maximizes the efficency of dosing and provide less waste. It is not important really since NO3/PO4 are extremely cheap.

It's fun to play around with these as long as you do not bottom them out for long.

Regards,
Tom Barr
Tom, the ratio you used is N:P, not NO3:PO4, right? I vaguely remember reading that to get N:P to 10:1, NO3:PO4 is 23:1(correction, ok, I found on thekrib that is equivalent to N:P of 16:1). Anyway, I have been ignoring the ratio as well, just make sure I have enough of each. High PO4 has been a big factor for me reducing lots of algae, especially green spot as well as what's floating in water(green water algae).


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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-17-2005, 10:35 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by g8wayg8r
...Perhaps I shoud keep dosing more each week until I find a limit where the plants don't appear to do any better. I've been reluctant to do that because I don't have any way to measure how fertilizer is accumulating over time.
If you do weekly 50% water changes, your fert concentrations will *never* go over twice what you're adding in a week. And that is with *no* uptake by plants.

So if you're adding 10mg/l of NO3 during the week, your tank will never have more than 20mg/l in it (once again this is with 50% wc every week). As your plants will normally be sucking this stuff up (assuming all the other nutrients, light, CO2, other macros, micros are available), people normally add more than this.
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