Question about Testing for iron & potassium - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-27-2005, 05:03 PM Thread Starter
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Question about Testing for iron & potassium

Can somebody please help me, it's highly possible that I might be having a blonde moment is why I don't understand ...

Ok, I read Rex Griggs info on his website (wow, he is one smart guy! ), he reccomends not to get iron or potassium test kits cause they aren't accurate. I understand that.

But how do you know if you need to add those? Trial and error? I understood the part about the potassium needing to be in almost massive quantities before it becomes harmful, but I keep thinking -why add something if you don't know if the water needs it? (don't fix it if it's not broken sort of thing)

I am experimenting with a 10 gallon tank to see if the small bottle of Flourish iron I bought local helps the plants, before trying it on my bigger tanks and ordering larger/cheaper bottles. But I have to order potassium to be able to try it. I just hate doing trial and error method- it can get expensive and in some instances cause harm...

I was going to pm Rex about this but decided to post instead, because somebody else might benefit from the info too, -in case they are having a blonde moment also ...

Jackie
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-27-2005, 06:39 PM
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Not too long ago, I wasn't supplementing any K (via K2SO4) in my tank. I noted that my Anubias leaves were getting pin holes. Doing some searching, I found that that is a symptom of a K deficiency. So, I started dosing it.

So, as with many things in this hobby, it'll depend on your setup and what you want. The real experts (IMO) will tell you to "read the plants, they'll tell you what's needed". Well, I'm an expert-wannabe, so I can now real one possible sign of a K deficiency .

If you have a 10g, you can order a multi-year supply of K2SO4 from Greg Watson (including shipping) for less than $10. You could then just start dosing it because it's cheap and you have it . Or you could wait until you determine that you need it. Your choice.

As to Fe deficiency, can't help much there. It's in the CSM+B mix that I use and I've not discovered that my tank is deficient in it yet.

Good luck,
Brian.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-28-2005, 07:38 AM
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Seachem's Iron test kit is quite accurate. Flourish Iron is a weak complex that easily breaks down so it will show up very clearly on the test kit. Just be sure to let it sit for the recommended developing time for chelated iron. What I did was dose according to the label, wait an hour, then do the test to see if my levels were in check with what should be expected. I then did the test again 24 hours later to confirm if all of the iron precipitated or was used by the plants to check if daily dosing is necessary. I found for me that it was. You can periodically do the test (every few weeks or months) to insure that levels aren't building up.

Lamotte's Potassium test is quite accurate and useful. It can test from 10 to 50 ppm quite easily! You need distilled or RO/DI water, and a bright overhead light and bright white surface to hold the test tube over. I do this test every week after a water change to make sure my levels aren't too high or too low. Occasionally I have to add a bit more or less (the following water change) to keep the levels where I like them - 20 ppm.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-28-2005, 06:08 PM
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If you say so.............and I've used both, I'd not bother with either and have not suggested folks test either of these for many years.

Regards,
Tom Barr

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-28-2005, 07:56 PM Thread Starter
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First- I'd like to apologize for the lenghty post.

-BSS, thanks, I have a ways to go, before I can just "read" the plants-you are definitely one up on me at reading them... Kept all sorts of fish for a long time, just a newbie at planted... I planned on ordering from Greg W. when I finally figure out what I need to do, just hate to have such large quatities sitting around if I won't need them. There are 4 tanks total in my house, my 100 gallon, my 10 gallon, my daughter's 120 gallon & 37 gallon.

-Hypancistrus, Thanks, I heard that iron and postassium are not reliable, and not necessary for that matter. If I decide to try those, I will be sure to get the ones you reccomended...

Tom, I was referred to your site, and read, and reread. You are a pretty smart guy too! thanks for posting. Some info is sinking in, but not all. I hate chemistry, and get confused after reading a while. I'll go back and read some more. Would you suggest I just follow your EI method, and not worry about the iron and potassium levels then?

My 10 gallon with DIY Co2, plants, guppies and a Betta, that would work fine, but my 100 with DIY Co2, my daughter's 120 (no Co2) and 37 (no Co2) all have goldfish, mostly large ones, that produce way too much poop, hence -high nitrates (40 to 60 range ), which started my search for a way to reduce nitrates other than almost daily water changes & minimal feeding, this was the origination of our planted tanks.

Now we just love the look of so many plants-we find ourselves looking at plants in the lfs instead of fish, and wish we could achieve the show tanks we see on the board-except reality sets in and we realize it won't happen with the goldfish who rearrange our plants almost daily or actually love to eat expensive or delicate plants!

I don't have nitrite or amonia troubles unless a tank is going thru a cycle, just nitrates. Well, after getting a boat load of plants from another poster on the board (thanks again Snake! ), I have gotten the nitrates down to around a liveable 10 in the goldfish tanks, and plants are growing wonderfully. The Co2 tanks are having faster plant growth than my daughter's non Co2. The non Co2 is growing though. We can now relax a bit and just do weekly half tank water changes instead of the almost daily changes.

To fill in some blanks, we have well water-no chemical additives- hard water with lots of minerals in it. It leaves a white crusty film on anything that it sits on for more than a day.
The ph out of the tap is 7.9 to 8; in non Co2 tanks, ph is 8.1; in Co2 tanks, ph is 6.8.
I am waiting on kh/gh test kit to come in the mail-sorry.
The phosphate- Non Co2 tanks-is .5 to 1; The Co2 tanks -is between 0 and .5. hard to match the colors on the test kit more accurately.

This lower phosphate reading and a few new yellowish anubias leaves is what triggered the idea of adding other fertilizers (we already add Flourish, and Flourish Excel). I have gotten the small bottle of Flourish iron to experiment (too soon to tell yet if it helps-hasn't even been a week yet), but there is not a source local, for potassium. If I can figure out what I need to do, then I can order a larger quantity. But wanted to get an idea before going that route, don't have room for unneeded fertilizers sitting around.

Oh, and thank you everyone for input on this. I really appreciate it...
Jackie
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-28-2005, 09:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texasgoldies
First- I'd like to apologize for the lenghty post.

Tom, I was referred to your site, and read, and reread. You are a pretty smart guy too! thanks for posting. Some info is sinking in, but not all. I hate chemistry, and get confused after reading a while. I'll go back and read some more. Would you suggest I just follow your EI method, and not worry about the iron and potassium levels then?
I *know* he would suggest that. It's fool-proof and it works. Just add plenty (heck even OD a little) of nutrients, to make sure you won't have any deficiencies. Then, do a huge water change once a week (50% or more). No test kits, no precise measuring, nice looking plants.
If you're nitrates are as high as you say, then lay off dosing it for a while. Once the plants start growing, if you test your nitrates again, you should see it start to go down(all things the same) as the plants start to consume it.

-Ryan

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-29-2005, 01:11 AM
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Originally Posted by plantbrain
If you say so.............and I've used both, I'd not bother with either and have not suggested folks test either of these for many years.

Regards,
Tom Barr

www.BarrReport.com
I think we all know this by now.
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