Pearling = Success? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 02:22 PM Thread Starter
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Pearling = Success?

I have a carpet of HC in my 75 gallon high tech and have gotten my light/CO2/fert specs so that my HC pearls noticeably every evening. Tiny micro bubbles come out all over the tank.

Is it a safe assumption that if this is happening (and I don't have algae issues) that my tank is doing well / HC is thriving?

Is pearling the end-all indicator of a successful setup?


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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 03:36 PM
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Time will tell. Ive had pearling on my hc but if u dont keep up with your schedule or your substrate over time gets stripped of nutrients thats the only way to know. Then theres trimming and it getting to thick and then you go through the process of growing it back in. Or you can tinker with co2 and ferts and light to get the plants to survive and maintain if your happy with how much it has grown in. But yes the plants are thriving it sounds.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 04:50 PM
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Is it a safe assumption that if this is happening (and I don't have algae issues) that my tank is doing well / HC is thriving?
No, pearling is almost completely unrelated to plant health. Pearling is simply a result of over saturating the water with oxygen. This can happen for many reasons (temperature changes, super saturated water changes, high photosynthetic activity, low water turbulence, etc). Pearling can actually happen in nutrient deficient plants as well as long as the nutrient that is missing does not affect the photosynthesis mechanism.

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Is pearling the end-all indicator of a successful setup?
Not at all, pearling is a pretty but ultimately meaningless indicator for a successful planted tank.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 05:08 PM Thread Starter
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My understanding was that if plants are releasing oxygen (pearling) then they are photosynthesizing successfully (growing). Also if pearling is visible then it is a sign of enough oxygen in the water (correct me if wrong pls)

So what you are saying is that plants can release oxygen while failing to produce new growth? How is this possible / why?

I am curious as to the science behind this...


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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 05:24 PM
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Also if pearling is visible then it is a sign of enough oxygen in the water (correct me if wrong pls)
No, pearling occurs simply when the water column is saturated with oxygen. This causes any extra oxygen that is produced by plants to become visible as pearling.

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So what you are saying is that plants can release oxygen while failing to produce new growth? How is this possible / why?
Photosynthesis will occur even in the absence of nutrients, provided that they are not essential for photosynthesis.

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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 06:18 PM Thread Starter
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I cannot comprehend how plants could release so much oxygen without being healthy. Perhaps if the water was fully saturated with oxygen they would release SOME visible bubbles but I am not so readily buying that constant bubbles rising from plants during the evening is not indicative of good results.

I am totally on board that the absence of pearling is not indicative of problems but the logic going the other way is not very sound to me...
Also I'm not talking about mist on the glass or bubbles after a water change... I am referring to micro bubbles clearly originating from plants under high light during a normal day.

Would like to see specific examples of plants pearling to the extent that mine are in the absence of healthy growth...


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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 06:36 PM
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I cannot comprehend how plants could release so much oxygen without being healthy.
The same way we expel CO2 from our lungs when were sick.
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 06:39 PM
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i guess pearling without algae would be a more appropriate indicator of success. my plants are pearling wildly but most of the lower growth are covered in staghorn/bba algae.
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 06:46 PM Thread Starter
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i guess pearling without algae would be a more appropriate indicator of success. my plants are pearling wildly but most of the lower growth are covered in staghorn/bba algae.
To me this is simply an issue of balance. In my mind your plants ARE healthy (so success if they are truly pearling) but your light/co2/fert balance is off so that algae is able to thrive as well.

Out of curiosity are your plants growing well or are they releasing oxygen without successful growth?


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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 07:07 PM
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wth

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Originally Posted by klibs View Post
To me this is simply an issue of balance. In my mind your plants ARE healthy (so success if they are truly pearling) but your light/co2/fert balance is off so that algae is able to thrive as well.

Out of curiosity are your plants growing well or are they releasing oxygen without successful growth?
my plants are growing well and pearling too. new leaves are bigger than ever. but after some time, those leaves become covered in staghorn or bba. so only the new leaves are beautiful to look at. the lower growth is simply depressing.
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 07:13 PM
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When plants become covered in algae, especially lower leaves this is indicative of plants being unhealthy. The bottom leaves are deficient is one required nutrient, be it light, co2, or organic, and are therefore leaching their nutrients back into the water column for algae to feed off of. In this instance photosynthesis is happening. and plants may pearl, especially from damaged areas, but they are not healthy. Additionally, and it has been proven by either tom barr, zapins, or zorfox that when healthy, plants release a chemical that either deters or outright stops algae from growing.
Op, ur specific tank may be healthy, and it sounds it, but pearling is not the only proof needed of a healthy plant is the point here.

If in doubt, add more plants!

My not-enough-plants-but-not-enough-space-to-put-anymore-so-will-start-going-up-box-of-water.

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Last edited by jeepguy; 08-22-2014 at 07:24 PM. Reason: more
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 07:24 PM
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I dont think there's any question that pearling is good sign in a well balanced tank. The fact that it's possible to have pearling in less than optimum conditions, or induced by external factors like Zap mentioned, just means that by itself, pearling doesnt necessarily mean that everything is hunky dory.


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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 08:21 PM
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If you have healthy plants, good coloration, and it's been long term, no algae etc, I do think pearling is a sign that everything is in order. However, the same could be said about the same tank, sans the pearling. However, I usually take the pearling as a sign to stop tweaking anything and stay the course so it is a nice indicator. However, it doesn't mean you couldn't go further, take even more effort, and use more light, more CO2, etc, just like the non pearling tank.

My point is, it's a great sign when everything is right and I do take it as that. However, it doesn't have to happen to be doing it right. Plenty of people can come up with reasons why it's not a great indicator but from my experience, it is a great indicator.

-Matt

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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 09:14 PM
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A few things.

CO2 is used by plants to make sugars and oxygen. If you provide a lot of CO2 to plants their chlorophyll will have plenty of CO2 to convert into oxygen. This is only one molecule in a plant. Having active chlorophyll doesn't = plant growth and that everything is healthy. It just means that the chlorophyll is healthy. You can remove just the chlorophyll from plants and it will still work if CO2 is provided.

Growth and oxygen production are not one and the same. They are related but the amount of oxygen production does not = the amount of growth directly. So a lot of pearling in the tank simply means that your chlorophyll is working. But there are many other proteins in the plant that can be damaged or affected by nutrient deficiencies and these proteins and structures are responsible for plant growth. Chlorophyll just provides the energy to drive growth, it doesn't make the structures that plant cells need to live.

If your plants run out of other nutrients they will stop growing new tissue, this is because nutrients like nitrogen are needed to make new proteins. Without new proteins the cell cannot divide and make more of itself (no plant growth). This has no effect on already existing cells which were formed before a deficiency happened. These cells still have everything they need to stay alive and keep converting CO2 to O2, and have fully functional chlorophyll.

In other words, if you run out of nutrients in the tank some plant tissue will be affected and some will be unaffected. The unaffected parts of the plant will go on like normal converting CO2 to O2 and these parts of the plant can saturate the water column with oxygen and cause pearling even if the plant has stopped making new leaves and stem. Part of the plant is still functional, only a small percentage of the plant (the growing tips) are unable to convert CO2 to O2.

On top of this you have all the environmental factors I mentioned above and more. Warmer water dissolves less oxygen in it than cold water. So plants need to make less oxygen to saturate the water and form pearls of oxygen on the leaves.
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 09:23 PM
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When plants become covered in algae, especially lower leaves this is indicative of plants being unhealthy. The bottom leaves are deficient is one required nutrient, be it light, co2, or organic, and are therefore leaching their nutrients back into the water column for algae to feed off of. In this instance photosynthesis is happening. and plants may pearl, especially from damaged areas, but they are not healthy. Additionally, and it has been proven by either tom barr, zapins, or zorfox that when healthy, plants release a chemical that either deters or outright stops algae from growing.
Op, ur specific tank may be healthy, and it sounds it, but pearling is not the only proof needed of a healthy plant is the point here.
if the lower growth becomes covered in algae while new growth is ok, is nutrient deficiency the only likely reason causing it? how about too much nutrients in the water column?
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