Nutrient Deficiency... Potassium or Magnesium? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-17-2016, 09:22 PM Thread Starter
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Nutrient Deficiency... Potassium or Magnesium?

Tank Specs:
25g tall with a riparium planter above
pool filter sand with flourish root tabs
Finnex planted plus @ ~50%
23w CFL on riparium

Fert Regime weekly at e.i. low light dose (YANC clone)
K2P04
iron
flourish trace

every other day 2.5ml flourish excel

bi-weekly to every 3 weeks based on water tests
kno3

20% water change every other week, or sooner if needed

plants, asssorted, mostly crypts, swords, vals, moss in tank
Planter emmersed, dwarf palms, peace lily, pythos, fittonia, prayer plant, purple waffle, etc

Water Parameters
Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate ~10, GH 10, KH 5, Ph 7.4

These pictures are of the pythos and peace lily both have been in this tank over a year and appear to be growing well, no other deficiencies noticed in the tank (though hygro refuses to grow in this particular tank)

Pythos (ignore the palm in foreground)


Pythos 1


Pythos 2 (same plant different leaf)


My thoughts are that it is likely a potassium deficiency, simply because with the gh and kh readings I would expect there to still be enough calcium and magnesium; but then if I was posative I wouldn't be asking . The only thing that would lead me to believe it's a Calcium or magensium is there are NO hard water deposits on this tank, and there are on the other 2 that I have.

Thanks in advance for the assistance


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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-17-2016, 09:42 PM
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I believe you have a nitrogen deficiency and not a potassium deficiency. You would have pin holes in the leaves if it was lacking potassium. Also the fact that Hygro refuses to grow in that tank points to that as well. It is a fertilizer hog.

If you have not calibrated your nitrate test you may be surprised. When I did mine I found that at 20 PPM of actual nitrate the test said over 80 PPM. Once I ignored the tests and started dosing fully and trusting the water changes to keep levels safe the tank really took off.

Plants love water changes as well so consider changing 50% each week for a month and see if that makes a difference. You will probably like the results.

Lastly, Excel only lasts for a few hours in the tank so you really should dose every day. Start with a small dose and build up to 2 or even 3 times what it says on the bottle after a few weeks.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-17-2016, 11:01 PM Thread Starter
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Firstly Thank you for helping.

Probably should've specified that the pythos variety is golden pythos, and naturally grows with the yellowing. I'm more concerned that it has a checkerboard appearance. If I remember correctly and it is a nitrate deficiency, I should see that pattern disappear over time correct?

As to the nitrate calibration I just did that, and it was more a revelation in how not standardized my Pyrex measuring cups were than anything else (1 measured 1 cup the other cup with the same water 1 1/4) either way I don't really test for a set target, the does is for 15-20ppm (idr exactly what i mixed) and I test weekly and when it's almost gone (test kit is almost yellow) I redose. I think i'll up what the dose is and redose more frequently, since the test calibration was very distinct between 10 and 25 ppm and I should be able to keep it in that range no problem. I always thought I should dose less since I have a decent bioload ~25 tetra, a gbr, dwarf gourami, probably 100 cherry shrimp and some freshwater mussels, and I will be honest I definitely overfeed (intentionally usually).

Water changes, for what ever reason my fish don't seem to like them much... they always seem to freak out and fly all over the place while I'm doing one, even when draining the water down, so I try and keep it to a smaller volume and they complain less. My 2 shrimp tanks though receive weekly 50% changes no problems at all. Not opposed to more, but I'd prefer to hold off on that for the moment.

Excel... It only lasts a couple hours? I wish I'd noticed that before I started using it... started just before Christmas. Either way I use it sparingly since there are a bunch of vals in the tank that from what I've heard don't do well with excel; though with that short of life in the tank, I feel much more comfortable with daily dosing and slowly increasing the amount (though I fully realize it'll have no impact on the emergent plants in the riparium)

lastly as to the hygros, in case it helps the diagnosis, they would either have very think almost translucent new growth, or they would slowly lose their leaves from the bottom up until there were no leaves left. I always took that as a sign of lack of light, BUT if its nitrates I'd feel pretty foolish


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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-17-2016, 11:25 PM
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Originally Posted by theatermusic87 View Post
or they would slowly lose their leaves from the bottom up until there were no leaves left.
That sounds highly likely N deficiency.

Based on the photos above, I agree with @keymastr that it's not a K deficiency. Try keeping N a little higher and observe.

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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-17-2016, 11:38 PM
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As mentioned it's probably not Mg. But since you are wondering about the GH makeup, it should be possible to google your municipality's water report and see roughly how much ca and mg is in the tap.


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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-17-2016, 11:39 PM Thread Starter
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More KNO3 it is!

As for observations, am I looking for signs of new growth without the deficiency, or am I looking for the current symptoms to slowly disappear from the affected areas? both?


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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-17-2016, 11:49 PM
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Nitrogen is a mobile nutrient, so symptoms will appear on old growth first. As the deficiency becomes greater, new growth will also be affected. New growth can recover from a deficiency, but don't expect old growth to recover.

A sign of sufficient nitrogen levels would be new growth, without continual degradation of old growth. If you can stop those leaves as they become older from suffering the same problems, you've hit the mark.

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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-18-2016, 05:53 AM
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Sounds like you have a good handle on things now. For what it is worth, the same level of nitrates in my heavily stocked tank do not do as well as in my very lightly stocked tank leading me to believe that there is a difference. The tank that gets all it's nitrates from fertilixer does better so now I dose the pther tank as if it was not heavily stocked and it has improved greatly.

As for Excel, it helps a little and fights algae. It will melt some plants unless you start with a small dose, say half of the suggested normal dose and then increase it slowly after a week or so. Do not double the first dose as the bottle suggests. This will let your sensitive plants adjust to it and it will be fine then. I think it can last around 12 hours or so so add it just before lights on if possible.
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