Switching/Stopping Micros: Please Help Me - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-06-2016, 05:36 PM Thread Starter
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Switching/Stopping Micros: Please Help Me

I'm starting to think that my EI dosing of CSM+B is causing some microtoxicity issues in my tank. A couple of months ago I buried a ton of O+ tabs (rookie error). My guess is that these leaching + CSM have caused too many micronutrients to be present in the tank. I'm seeing curled new leaves on my Hygrophila and slower than usuall growth on some other plants. My lighting, Co2 and macros are all in check (I run a drop checker and test Nitrates/Phosphates weekly).

That said, I have discontinued dosing CSM+B. However, I'm not sure where to go from here. Can I still dose Flourish Comp on my micro days, once weekly, or not at all? I know that Flourish is far more diluted than CSM+B, so maybe it would work. I'm a bit nervous to stop dosing Micros entirely, but know that I definitely need to make a change. I could really use some help here. Thanks, guys.
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-06-2016, 05:41 PM
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You could continue with CSM+B, but try 1/4 as much- still dose every other day so the level is there, the minerals are present. Just in greatly reduced quantity.

Do you have a substrate with high cationic exchange capacity? This may sequester the minerals and allow the plants to take them for quite a while. This reserve plus greatly reduced dosing could end up being a lot closer to supplying the plants needs without going overboard.
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-06-2016, 05:52 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the reply. So, if I decided not to use CSM, could I essentially just use Flourish Comp at suggested doses? When comparing the micro levels of the two products, CSM is way more concentrated. That said, I wouldn't think Flourish would contain high enough levels to do harm. Theoretically, I could even do half doses of Flourish.

I also have a new bottle of Seachem Iron. Would it be best to avoid using this on Micro days, or use it in conjunction with Flourish Comp (it contains little Iron).
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-06-2016, 06:18 PM
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I think I would try it without iron for a while, see how the plants do. I can see a couple of possibilities, and you will have to wait for the plants to tell you what is going on.

a) Reduced dosing + reserves in the substrate = enough supply to last a LONG time, but at lower levels so toxicity symptoms go away. It may take a long time (months? longer?) for deficiency to show up. When the substrate reserves are used up, then the dosing might not be enough.

b) Similar to a, but a deficiency never shows up= the reduced dosing is more in line with how the plants are using the minerals.

c) Reduced levels mean that some mineral will drop below the thresh hold levels more quickly (especially if the substrate is sand or gravel, no cationic exchange capacity) and deficiency symptoms will appear sooner.

Part of the problem here is that there are no tests, short of laboratory testing, to show all the levels of all the micro nutrients, in the leaves and in the substrate. The only test available to the hobbyist is the iron test. This has been used as a proxy for all the micros, under the assumption that the fertilizer manufacturer made the micros formula correctly. So keep the iron at the right level, and all the other micros are assumed to be correct.
However, even several years ago I had heard that CSM+B was low in iron. Another way of saying this is that it was high in all or some of the others. So aquarists started dosing a little iron along with the CSM+B. If you dosed CSM+B in enough quantity to keep the iron high enough, it was over dosing the other minerals.
As long as sand or gravel was the substrate, this may not have been quite so much of a problem. Do a weekly big water change, and you remove the excess because it is still in the water, and can be removed. But if the substrate has any capacity to hold the nutrients (cationic exchange capacity) then any fertilizer that makes it into the substrate is bound to the particles in a way that plants can get them, but won't be removed with water changes, and won't show on a test of the water parameters. So, if you are using the iron test as a proxy for all the micros... and the iron is bound up so you keep testing negative.... you think the plants are using it all, so you keep up the dosing.
I KNOW this happened in my tanks- The substrate has high cationic exchange capacity, and every iron test I did seemed to show no iron within hours of dosing it. Even the sand substrate tanks had enough humus to bind the minerals. But when I stopped fertilizing (stopped macros and micros) the plants stayed healthy for many months. Granted it is a low tech system, but I am not even dosing Excel, and the plants are fine.
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