Poor plant growth - not sure if deficiency or something else - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-24-2020, 08:37 PM Thread Starter
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Poor plant growth - not sure if deficiency or something else

Hi all,

I have a 10 gallon tank that has been running for about two years now. A couple months ago, I upgraded it to high-tech with CO2 injection, and started adding dry ferts (giving EI dosing a shot). My plants have been growing really well for the past month, but now I'm noticing signs of poor growth. I'm not really sure what to make of it and would love your input. My knee jerk reaction is to assume a nutrient deficiency somewhere, but I'm new-ish to high-tech and realize I could be totally off-base, hah.

I am seeing hair and fuzz algae on older leaves (also a bit of BBA on the glass, but it's manageable so far). I have noticed pale new growth in my rotala, which makes me think something to do with iron (?) Sometimes new leaves are stunted as well, but not always. Necrosis in leaves that seems to start in the center, and then move outwards. I saw this more in the rotala, even in newer growth, but now it's starting to impact some of the older leaves on other plants.

Filter is an Aquaclear 30. Light is a Finnex 24/7, on max brightness for 6 hours a day (I had reduced the photoperiod to hopefully help with the algae). Substrate is 50/50 potting soil and SafeTSorb, capped with sand.

Flora/Fauna
Rotala rotundifolia, hygrophila angustifolia, dwarf hairgrass, various crypts
Two sparkling gourami, a few micro rasbora who need more friends, five amano shrimp and some malaysian trumpet snails

Ferts
I am dosing macronutrients (NPK) and micros (CSM+B) on alternating days, with a 50% water change on Sunday.
4-5 Osmocote+ root tabs that I replace every three months

Parameters
Nitrate is now down to 20-30ppm, though it has been quite high (40+) for the last month or so (my fault, I added KNO3 with a target of 30ppm, and forgot that my tap water is already around 10ppm to begin with, whoops). I have been slowly dosing less KNO3, but last week stopped dosing it altogether, and my nitrates have gone down.
Phosphate: 2-3ppm
Potassium: I increased K2SO4 until I stopped seeing tiny holes in my plant leaves. Going off of the Rotala Butterfly website, I'm dosing around 37ppm.
Iron: Again going off of Rotala Butterfly, each dose of CSM+B gives .27ppm Fe

CO2: Currently at 2.5 bps. It comes on 2 hours before the lights turn on, and off 1 hour before the lights go out.

GH: 5, KH: 4
pH at baseline is 7.5. It is down to 6.9 when the lights turn on, and 6.7 when CO2 turns off.

Thank you!

Link to photo album (which hopefully works)


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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-24-2020, 10:37 PM
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Two things that jumped out to me...

Raise gh to 7.

Go for a co2 drop of atleast 1.0. Maybe slightly higher? I do 1.2 on my 10 gallon without any outwardly signs of distress.

May still need to tweak Ferts but that's what struck me as off.

I will mention that I do see that kind of "growth" on my rotola when I skip water changes and fert dosing for 2 weeks. I front load macros at water change and dose micros 3x/wk when I'm not being lazy, wait I mean busy. Lol.

As to lighting I'm running 3 hrs full intensity with an ONF Nano. 6 hrs overall. Although the tank does get some rather intense indirect lighting from a sky light. 3 months out of the year it gets an hour of direct sunlight.

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-25-2020, 11:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pauld738 View Post
Two things that jumped out to me...

Raise gh to 7.

Go for a co2 drop of atleast 1.0. Maybe slightly higher? I do 1.2 on my 10 gallon without any outwardly signs of distress.

May still need to tweak Ferts but that's what struck me as off.

I will mention that I do see that kind of "growth" on my rotola when I skip water changes and fert dosing for 2 weeks. I front load macros at water change and dose micros 3x/wk when I'm not being lazy, wait I mean busy. Lol.

As to lighting I'm running 3 hrs full intensity with an ONF Nano. 6 hrs overall. Although the tank does get some rather intense indirect lighting from a sky light. 3 months out of the year it gets an hour of direct sunlight.

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There is a clear glass on the foreground plant. What is that for?

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-25-2020, 03:40 PM
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It's a shot glass. Short term fix for this, lol!

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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-25-2020, 08:19 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pauld738 View Post
Two things that jumped out to me...

Raise gh to 7.

Go for a co2 drop of atleast 1.0. Maybe slightly higher? I do 1.2 on my 10 gallon without any outwardly signs of distress.

May still need to tweak Ferts but that's what struck me as off.

I will mention that I do see that kind of "growth" on my rotola when I skip water changes and fert dosing for 2 weeks. I front load macros at water change and dose micros 3x/wk when I'm not being lazy, wait I mean busy. Lol.

As to lighting I'm running 3 hrs full intensity with an ONF Nano. 6 hrs overall. Although the tank does get some rather intense indirect lighting from a sky light. 3 months out of the year it gets an hour of direct sunlight.

Thanks! I'll up the GH and fiddle with the CO2 a bit and see what happens. Your tank is lovely! (shot glass and all hahaha)
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-25-2020, 11:24 PM
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Hi @viverridae

Quote:
Ferts
I am dosing macronutrients (NPK) and micros (CSM+B) on alternating days, with a 50% water change on Sunday.
4-5 Osmocote+ root tabs that I replace every three months.

pH at baseline is 7.5. It is down to 6.9 when the lights turn on, and 6.7 when CO2 turns off.
Great pictures BTW. What I see is the older leaves dieing (necrosis) from the tips toward the stems. Chlorosis (yellowing) occurring on the leaves of the Rotala including the newest leaves however the main veins of the new leaves are showing some green. Based upon observation, and the information you provided I suspect the most likely cause is insufficient available iron.

You are dosing CSM+B as your sole source of iron. CSM+B uses ETDA chelated iron as the iron source in the micro-nutrient mix. ETDA is a good source of iron in acidic conditions, and is commonly used in fertilizers because it is the least expensive form of iron chelate, but it it's availability to plants for uptake decreases with higher pH levels. According to a University of Florida study with a pH of 6.8 maybe 30% of the iron in the mix is available to the plants - the rest is wasted. CSM+B does have other essential micro-nutrients but I would suggest adding a additional different iron source along with the DSM+B. Personally I use a mix of DTPA chelated iron and ferrous gluconate along CSM+B. DTPA iron provides good availability (> 40%) up to a pH of 7.5 and about 100% availability at pH 7.0. Since iron is necessary for photosynthesis and good growth it would also explain the "poor plant growth" you are experiencing. Hope this helps! -Roy
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-26-2020, 12:34 AM
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I don't understand, your plants were growing well low tech and then you went high tech and added CO2 and EI ferts and now some aren't?

If that is the situation adding too much light is one of the few conclusions I can make. From far away your plants look green and healthy not too bad. Adding Co2 and adding more ferts should not cause deficiency problems from happy low tech plants.

Edit: That Carpet won't grow in low tech so I guess you rescaped as well.

You should realize if you are dosing 20 - 30 ppm nitrates per week (and more Potassium) and doing 50% WCs your actual accumulated concentration could be up to double everything you are dosing. Thats high nitrates and phosphates for your low requirement plants.

Overall its not a bad idea given your pH to try adding DTPA Fe (as Seattle Aquarist said) if you can get it but I tend to wonder why you have such high concentrations of everything. Excess Phosphates can inhibit Fe uptake. Balanced fertilizer is much better than excess fertilizer.


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Last edited by cl3537; 10-26-2020 at 01:37 AM. Reason: ....
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-26-2020, 11:07 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post
I suspect the most likely cause is insufficient available iron.
Hi Roy, thank you for the input! I'm unfamiliar with DTPA chelated iron in addition to/comparison to ETDA. Do you have any recommendations for what to use or look into?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cl3537 View Post
I don't understand, your plants were growing well low tech and then you went high tech and added CO2 and EI ferts and now some aren't?
Apologies, I was unclear! Your edit is correct, I rescaped a little when I switched to high-tech, it's just that the tank has been running in some form for the last couple years. The hygrophila angustifolia and dwarf hairgrass are new, crypts and rotala are from the low-tech. Crypts are starting to look MUCH better since the switch. Rotala, not so much.

I definitely overdid it on the nitrate. I have been aiming for (and obviously have not accomplished lol) a 10:1 nitrate to phosphate ratio, as I had read that was a good starting place. Would you recommend I tone it down a bit on the phosphate as well?




Thank you both!


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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-27-2020, 07:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by viverridae View Post
Hi Roy, thank you for the input! I'm unfamiliar with DTPA chelated iron in addition to/comparison to ETDA. Do you have any recommendations for what to use or look into?

Thank you both!
Hi @viverridae,

If you want to keep it simple supplement your current micro dosing with Seachem Iron - dose per the instructions on the label to start. It is made from Ferrous Gluconate which is readily absorbed at most pH levels. You should start seeing improvement in the NEW GROWTH in two weeks or less. Watch the new leaves as they emerge, do they look healthier, greener? Do the plants seem to be growing faster? Do not look at any existing leaves, they will not improve and may continue to decline. If the change in iron improves your plant growth and plant health we can discuss iron options that are less expensive. -Roy
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