An Introduction to Algae Specific Nutrients - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-27-2017, 05:59 AM Thread Starter
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An Introduction to Algae Specific Nutrients

I have had a 5 gallon aquarium I set up to learn the hobby. Its RO water with quartz gravel and no CO2 injection (Low tech). it has always had algae. Only for a short has it worked well with minimal algae but it didnít last and I have tied every suggestion people have given to others and nothing has worked. Even EI dosing has not worked. The aquarium collapsed early this year When the algae rapidly took over the tank in three weeks.

I started to think about my tank one day and successful tanks using the EI method (which I have tried unsuccessfully) it occurred to me that maybe algae had specific nutrients plants don't need. So I started searching the web and quickly found that it was true.

The commonly accepted elements plant need are:
N, P, K, Ca, Mg, S (Macros)
Fe, Cl, B, Mn, Mo, Zn, Cu, Ni (Micros)
Note all Abbreviations for the elements correspond to the periodic table of elements
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Periodic_table

What I found is that in addition to the plant elements Algae needs Co (cobalt, Se(selenium), I (iodine) and V (vanadium), and Br (Bromine). i call these Algae Specific nutrients (ASN)

Plants no longer need ASN elements to grow due to evolutionary changes they needed to move out of the ocean and onto dry land. However plants haven't forgotten about ASN. Some plants still use iodine and selenium and cobalt but in different ways and they can continue to grow even when ASN elements are not available.

So based on this information algae should not grow in DI water with all the plant nutrients. I did multiple test in a small container and indeed found that algae would not grow. I also did another test and did find that with the fertilized DI water and ASN added algae Algae did grow. Also my research online indicates Cobalt and selenium at high levels are toxic to pants and animals.

Based on this I stopped using Flourish ,which has Cobalt, and used CSM+B plus my own macro mix that contains N, P, K, Ca, Mg, S, and CL. I also use a DI filter to lower the TDS of my RO water to about 1ppm TDS. Algae is no longer growing in my tank. It can now take weeks for any new algae growth to become visible. In the past I was removing a fist full of algae almost daily.

Unfortunately I ran into the toxic properties of CSM. Duckweed is growing but my plants are not. I will try making my own micro mix in january based on the information in the custom micro mix thread on this site.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/11...l#post10672466

However based on what I have found it is now obvious why Estimative index tanks generally have minimal to no algae growth. With no Algae Specific nutrients added in the fertilizer algae will quickly run out of the ASN nutrients while the plants will continue to grow. Shrimp and snails will then consume much of the algae or it will simply die off. However if your fertilizer is deficient in one plant nutrient plant growth will slow or stop and Algae Specific nutrients (ASN) will start to build up and algae will then start to grow.

Also note that when you have a lot of algae in the tank you are likely to have nutrient deficiencies. My experience and water test have confirmed that algae can consume plant nutrients extremely rapidly and can create multiple nutrient deficiencies that will slow or stop plant growth.

Based on my experience I would not recommend using fertilizers with Algae Specific Nutrients: Some Examples of fertilizers with cobalt or vanadium:

Flourish Comprehensive
Flourish Trace
Millers microplex
JBL Proscape
Bright well Aquatic fluorinmulti plant care

Prior to learning about ASN I was using the Flourish Comprehensive (Cobalt only) and when I was doing EI dosing I was using Flourish Trace (which has Cobalt and Vanadium). While some people do use these successfully it is always possible to get a tank crash like I had. Also note it is not possible to prevent any ASN from getting in the tank. Tap water will have at least some of these nutrients or all of them. Animals also need ASN nutrients. Any any balanced fish food will have ASN elements in it.

Happy holidays!

References:

Note below are some links I found helpful in identifying ASN elements. Unfortunately I lost or didn't save all the links I found helpful in my research.

Cobalt:http://https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobalt

Vanadium:https:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanadium

iodine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4993787/


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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-27-2017, 09:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Surf View Post
So based on this information algae should not grow in DI water with all the plant nutrients. I did multiple test in a small container and indeed found that algae would not grow. I also did another test and did find that with the fertilized DI water and ASN added algae Algae did grow.
You present an interesting theory. Where can one see a description of your setup and a documentation of the results you make reference to? How long, what values, what light... were algae spores/cells introduced ? All these are important in drawing the right conclusion.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Surf View Post
I have had a 5 gallon aquarium I set up to learn the hobby. Its RO water with quartz gravel and no CO2 injection (Low tech). it has always had algae. Only for a short has it worked well with minimal algae but it didnít last and I have tied every suggestion people have given to others and nothing has worked. Even EI dosing has not worked. The aquarium collapsed early this year When the algae rapidly took over the tank in three weeks.

Based on this I stopped using Flourish ,which has Cobalt, and used CSM+B plus my own macro mix that contains N, P, K, Ca, Mg, S, and CL. I also use a DI filter to lower the TDS of my RO water to about 1ppm TDS. Algae is no longer growing in my tank. It can now take weeks for any new algae growth to become visible. In the past I was removing a fist full of algae almost daily.
Well, but you see, you changed a bunch of stuff to the aquarium. How can you attribute the result to the lack of these elements ? Perhaps CSMB added something in enough conc. that your plants are no longer suffering. I bet that macro mix also helps a lot. And even harder to quantify, the increased attention and husbandry you have to your tank during the last months helps.

I also find these 2 sentences contradicting : "Algae is no longer growing."; "It can now take weeks for...algae growth to become visible".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Surf View Post
Based on my experience I would not recommend using fertilizers with Algae Specific Nutrients: Some Examples of fertilizers with cobalt or vanadium:

Flourish Comprehensive
Flourish Trace
Millers microplex
JBL Proscape
Bright well Aquatic fluorinmulti plant care

Tap water will have at least some of these nutrients or all of them. Animals also need ASN nutrients. Any any balanced fish food will have ASN elements in it.
As you correctly point out, introduction of certain rare elements into aquariums is hard to prevent. Tap, RO water, fish food, substrate, impurities in fertilizers (that 1% impurity) all will add more than most biological systems need. So even if one would not use the fertilizers above, how would one avoid "contamination" from these other sources ?

The reason why most are not mentioned in agricultural studies as required by plants is because thew had more than enough in soil or impurities. Most of these elements are required by one enzyme or another and can often be interchangeable.

Interesting idea nevertheless.

On hiatus till later this year
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-27-2017, 10:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Surf View Post
I have had a 5 gallon aquarium I set up to learn the hobby. Its RO water with quartz gravel and no CO2 injection (Low tech). it has always had algae. Only for a short has it worked well with minimal algae but it didnít last and I have tied every suggestion people have given to others and nothing has worked. Even EI dosing has not worked. The aquarium collapsed early this year When the algae rapidly took over the tank in three weeks.
And this is what you base your advise on that you give other people? Pretty much what I suspected since I've asked you several times to show your setups and you never do. Just because other people's advice didn't work in your tank doesn't mean you are not doing something wrong in the tank's overall implementation, which you obviously are.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-27-2017, 01:26 PM
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Very interesting premise. It would be good to see pictorial data, as well as further quantitative descriptions of the conditions used (ppms, etc.).

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-27-2017, 01:51 PM
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Hard numbers and more information on this experiment will be needed to gather any useful data. I have found that lots of people having issues with EI are using very soft water, even RODI, without adding a GH booster. Most ferts omit calcium as it can usually be provided in the tap water. Ca deficient tanks grow algae better than plants I have found.


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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-27-2017, 02:03 PM
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How did you come to the conclusion that plants don't need iodine and selenium?

They are necessary for jsynthesizing selenomethionine and tyrozine aminoacids.

Also, I am using 80% RO water and was not adding any extra Br, Se, V, I and I still had algae issues when I did something wrong. Now I am dosing Co for example and I have almost no algae issues. So my observation don't correspond with yours.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-28-2017, 05:08 AM Thread Starter
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Sorry for the late response but my dad is not doing well and my mom asked me to take care of a few things. So I haven't had a lot of time.

Quote:
How did you come to the conclusion that plants don't need iodine and selenium?

They are necessary for jsynthesizing selenomethionine and tyrozine aminoacids.
Algae mainly used iodine and selenium as an antioxidant based on studies I have seen. They are abundant in the ocean. On land they may not always be available. As a result plants developed a wide variety of organic antioxidants and as a result they no longer need iodine and selenium. But if they are available plants will use them as antioxidants. Selenium is also used by plants as a toxin to discourage animals from eating the plant.

While Plants moved away from these elements early animals eating algae became dependent on them.

The plant nutrient list is called essential elements. This means a plant needs them to complete its life cycle. If the plant cannot grow and reproduce the element is called essential. However if the plant can grow and reproduce without them then they are listed as non essential. For plants scientific studies at this point have listed iodine and selenium as non essential. At least one of my references I attached to the bottom of my original post discuss this.

Quote:
I have found that lots of people having issues with EI are using very soft water, even RODI, without adding a GH booster. Most ferts omit calcium as it can usually be provided in the tap water. Ca deficient tanks grow algae better than plants I have found.
I also noticed this about 3 years ago and have been adding a GH booster since then to prevent calcium deficiency. Chlorine and sulfur are also listed as essential elements and are often omitted from fertilizers I have been making my now GH booster to insure i have enough calcium magnesium, chlorine, and sulfur to avoid deficiencies in these elements.I use a 4 parts calcoium to one part magnesium ratio using calcium sulfate, Calcium chloride and magnesium sulfate. I have used this GH booster with KNO3 10ppm N and 1ppm phosphate to insure all macros are covered.

Quote:
Well, but you see, you changed a bunch of stuff to the aquarium. How can you attribute the result to the lack of these elements ? Perhaps CSMB added something in enough conc. that your plants are no longer suffering.
Let me clarify a few things. The tank was set up almost 5 years ago. The only changes made this year is some experimenting with water change volumen and frequency from February and April which helped me identify cobalt as an ASN element. From June through July I had to step away from this to assist my bother due to a medical emergency he had (he recovered). I august I dropped flourish in favor of CSM+B and at that point algae growth stopped. So there have actually been very few changes this year.

Most of the other changes you see were made in the first 3 years. The first fertilizer I used didn't have copper and plants stopped growing and algae moved in. Switch to flourish to resolve that situation. Then I had a nitrogen deficiency because nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia were always zero. Added nitrate resolved that and plant growth improved but algae stayed. a little later a magnesium or sulfur deficiency and chlorine deficiency which I identified and resolved with a GH booster. I also tried EI about 3 years ago and while plant growth was good algae didn't retreat and I went back to my GH booster and flourish and just lived with algae for a while.

Then some time later the algae suddenly cleared for no apparent reason and during that period my plants routinely pearled. To get pearlingI must have been doing something right. This lasted almost a year. Then slowly algae came back and I could not find a cause for that

Then early this year the tank went into a final collapse. Algae quickly covered all the glass, Phosphate levels drop to zero and stayed there no mater how much I added. Fish, shrimp and nerite snails died while the pond snail infestation continued. The only plant doing OK at the moment is duckweed.

AS to the setup of my tank. It is a basic 5 gallon low tech. Substrate is basic white quartz gravel (inert) RO water is used. Lighting is medium 3000K 90 CRI LED, 3000 lumens at full brightness. Light is on a dimmer capable of going from 1% to 100%. Currently at about 50%. Water change 50% once a week with substrate vacuum. NPK dosed to 10ppm nitrate, 1ppm phosphate. GH 2 to 3 degrees, snail shells in filter keep the ph stable at 7. Temp 78. The filter spray bar is located 1/2 inch above the water surface and water hits the surface at 45 degrees This create a lot of aeration plenty of flow throughout the tank. Nitrite an ammonia always zero.
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