Nitrate and the effects on plants? - Page 3 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #31 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 01:31 PM Thread Starter
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Run off water from the surrounding land carrying nutrients, deep water springs carrying nutrients, heavy anaerobic zones in the mulm recycling nutrients, bird droppings, insect input, rotting fish...

Not wanting any of the above in my aquarium, but all of them have a natural contribution to natural systems. Fish food in aquariums is a very narrow and limited nutrient source for plants.

In nature you will often see plants covered in debris, some algae and damaged old leaves. Die off is also considered part of the natural cycle of the plants... Help them disperse to other nutrient rich areas. Not the kind of things we expect in our aquariums.

All these natural sources end up adding pretty much the same ions as our "man-made chemicals" NO3, PO4, Ca, Mg, etc... Plus many organics. Or should we go back to showing Ca is Ca and NO3 is NO3 once dissociated in water ???

How much or how little fertilizer you add to a tank depends on your goals and how complicated you want to make your aquarium. That is debatable, expecting aquariums to be like nature is not.

I agree with the choice to make a nitrate scarce fertilizer. However watch out, high plant mass and rapid growers can consume high nitrate levels quite fast. Nitrate kits are very inaccurate. If you notice plants with small new leaves and yellowish old leaves you ran out some time ago.
And I just ordered 20 more stems of fast growing red plants, 10 stems rotala indica and 10 stems bacopa caroliniana, + 4 cryptocoryne spiralis and 2 brownie blue Buce.

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post #32 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 01:35 PM
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I might try the Salifert NO3 test kit. My tank is 37 gal, hi-tech with pressurized CO2, admittedly overstocked, and very heavily planted. The API test kit showed my nitrates consistently in the red, so I calibrated it using distilled water and set amounts of NO3. The API test did not show any difference between 50 and 25 ppm (both were the same red). 10 ppm matched the orange color on the card, but 5 ppm matched the yellow color for zero ppm. So all it really tells me is I'm somewhere between zero and 20 ppm if the result is orange, and somewhere above 25 ppm if the result is red.

I dry dose EI ferts, using 1/16 tsp K2SO4/KH2PO4/CSM+B, and 1/32 tsp KNO3. My nitrates stay higher due to the bioload. I've experimented with not adding any NO3 to the tank. While it reduced my nitrates into the orange over the week, I noticed the plants were lacking NO3 (yellowish color, slow growth, some brown algae). So I add a small amount of KNO3 on the macro dosing days. My nitrate level stays in the red, but the plants grow well and my fish/shrimp are active and seem healthy. I just have to supplement with K2SO4 since I reduced the normal EI amount of KNO3 (to prevent running low on K).

So I agree with the people who say to focus more on visible plant/fish health than test results, especially if you're using the API nitrate kit. I do want to be sure the fish are in a healthy environment, though, which is why I might get the Salifert kit. From what others have said, it will probably show a much lower nitrate level than the API, anyway.
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post #33 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 01:40 PM
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Seachem Flourish is essentially a micro nutrient supplement, it adds Fe and the other required micros. It doesnt provide any macros. Even though it lists N, P and K on the label the amounts are negligible.

There's no wonder the sword took off when you started Thrive. It was starving for macros and Thrive has both

NO3 levels from ferts arent going to be a problem for all but the most sensitive fish and shrimp - certainly not for plants.

I have Fire Red Cherries breeding in 50 ppm NO3 with CO2. That's upper range for hardy shrimp species and Im not recommending it, just saying

Unless you're keeping a specialty livestock with unique requirements, dose enough to keep the plants happy and dont worry about it
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post #34 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by 64D-1701 View Post
I might try the Salifert NO3 test kit. My tank is 37 gal, hi-tech with pressurized CO2, admittedly overstocked, and very heavily planted. The API test kit showed my nitrates consistently in the red, so I calibrated it using distilled water and set amounts of NO3. The API test did not show any difference between 50 and 25 ppm (both were the same red). 10 ppm matched the orange color on the card, but 5 ppm matched the yellow color for zero ppm. So all it really tells me is I'm somewhere between zero and 20 ppm if the result is orange, and somewhere above 25 ppm if the result is red.

I dry dose EI ferts, using 1/16 tsp K2SO4/KH2PO4/CSM+B, and 1/32 tsp KNO3. My nitrates stay higher due to the bioload. I've experimented with not adding any NO3 to the tank. While it reduced my nitrates into the orange over the week, I noticed the plants were lacking NO3 (yellowish color, slow growth, some brown algae). So I add a small amount of KNO3 on the macro dosing days. My nitrate level stays in the red, but the plants grow well and my fish/shrimp are active and seem healthy. I just have to supplement with K2SO4 since I reduced the normal EI amount of KNO3 (to prevent running low on K).

So I agree with the people who say to focus more on visible plant/fish health than test results, especially if you're using the API nitrate kit. I do want to be sure the fish are in a healthy environment, though, which is why I might get the Salifert kit. From what others have said, it will probably show a much lower nitrate level than the API, anyway.

Are you performing the NO3 test properly? API NO3 test is known for bad results, especially is bottle #2 was not shaken extremely well.

Did you do the calibration test using a calibrated scale? I ask because I was using micro measuring spoons and they were way off when I compared to a 0.001 g calibrated scale. So if your calibration tests were off, so would the end result

Overall I agree the API kit is tough to get good, quantifiable results. It is an affordable hobby grade kit after all
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post #35 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 01:46 PM
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As others have mentioned, getting exactly the right amount of dry ferts is not really a big question if one is using the EI method of figuring out how much. Estimative index is by very nature an ESTIMATE so I use a simple method to estimate how much I add. I find small spoons that go down to 1/8 are easy and cheap so that is what I use. I add ferts the way the best cooks measure things. If I want 1/16, I fill the 1/8 spoon more or less half way. From there I go for pinch and forget anything smaller! I just find it very convenient to store and use the dry. Colin sends them in ziplock bags, so I stand the bags in a small box on the shelf so they won't tip. On each day I dose, I pull out the macros (NPK?) and dip a cup of tank water, mix the current days ESTIMATE, stir and pour. The next day, I do the micro the same.
Some would say this is sloppy and I'm not getting exactly the right amount but then , aren't we starting with an estimate of what is needed so why obsess over getting an estimate exactly right? At some point, I often see a deficiency of some sort in one tank that is there in another, so I bump one nutrient up or another down, add FE or do some minor adjustment and wait for a reaction of some sort from the plants.
I see ferts, not as a carefully thought out,exact item as it has so many variables built in. Just by nature the plants will use differing amounts of differing nutrients. So what is available in the tank is the result of what food, waste and decay may add as well as what I dose, versus what the plants use and what is taken out on water changes. I see no logical reason to think we can do the figures on getting those all correct enough to spend much effort on an exact measurement of the ferts we add.
Make it close, make it simple, and let the plants show how it needs to be adapted to fit each tank.
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post #36 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 01:57 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by burr740 View Post
Seachem Flourish is essentially a micro nutrient supplement, it adds Fe and the other required micros. It doesnt provide any macros. Even though it lists N, P and K on the label the amounts are negligible.

There's no wonder the sword took off when you started Thrive. It was starving for macros and Thrive has both

NO3 levels from ferts arent going to be a problem for all but the most sensitive fish and shrimp - certainly not for plants.

I have Fire Red Cherries breeding in 50 ppm NO3 with CO2. That's upper range for hardy shrimp species and Im not recommending it, just saying

Unless you're keeping a specialty livestock with unique requirements, dose enough to keep the plants happy and dont worry about it
Ty sir, and yes everything took off when I switched to thrive here's another before picture about 2 weeks in compared to the Pic I already posted
2 weeks
Approx 1 month


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post #37 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 02:57 PM
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Look again at the photo of my 60g tank. I only use Flourish Comp at 1/2 the recommended amount...Maybe it's my stock level or the food I feed.
It's well established with about 4" silica (pool filter) sand substrate and countless Malaysian Trumpet Snails. A 48" Finnex Planted Plus 24/7 LED running in 24/7 mode from 6am until midnight. I do a 20g weekly water change with pre-filtered well water (filtered through API Nitra-Zorb and an inline carbon filter). I have a pair of Angels, 1/2 dozen Swordtails, 2 Corys, and 10 Neon Tetras. I feed Omega One Tropical Flakes and NLS Optimum. It seems to work for me...



My apologies to the OP if this has gone off rail.

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post #38 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 03:15 PM Thread Starter
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Look again at the photo of my 60g tank. I only use Flourish Comp at 1/2 the recommended amount...Maybe it's my stock level or the food I feed.
It's well established with about 4" silica (pool filter) sand substrate and countless Malaysian Trumpet Snails. A 48" Finnex Planted Plus 24/7 LED running in 24/7 mode from 6am until midnight. I do a 20g weekly water change with pre-filtered well water (filtered through API Nitra-Zorb and an inline carbon filter). I have a pair of Angels, 1/2 dozen Swordtails, 2 Corys, and 10 Neon Tetras. I feed Omega One Tropical Flakes and NLS Optimum. It seems to work for me...



My apologies to the OP if this has gone off rail.
I feed new life spectrum, spirluina, tubifex and brine

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post #39 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 04:30 PM
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everything took off when I switched to thrive here's another before picture about 2 weeks in compared to the Pic I already posted

Dont forget the age old chicken vs egg debate. This was a relatively newly setup tank wasnt it? I think you said you've only had plants for three months. So how long before you switched to thrive? Tanks (planted tanks especially) can take some time settling in so to say at the beginning. Add in the fact that the specific sword you used as your example looks to be a very young immature plant that was likely shocked a bit when it got removed from wherever it originally started growing and moved into your tank. so unless you ran two tanks and used one as a control you cant necessarily confirm that switching to thrive is the driving force behind the better growth. Sure it might be; but there is also the possibility that the plants would have started doing better if you did nothing different too.

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post #40 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 05:14 PM Thread Starter
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Dont forget the age old chicken vs egg debate. This was a relatively newly setup tank wasnt it? I think you said you've only had plants for three months. So how long before you switched to thrive? Tanks (planted tanks especially) can take some time settling in so to say at the beginning. Add in the fact that the specific sword you used as your example looks to be a very young immature plant that was likely shocked a bit when it got removed from wherever it originally started growing and moved into your tank. so unless you ran two tanks and used one as a control you cant necessarily confirm that switching to thrive is the driving force behind the better growth. Sure it might be; but there is also the possibility that the plants would have started doing better if you did nothing different too.
That sword was in the tank, I had 1 sword and 2 anubias for a while, as far as being new to plants 3 months ago i added 5 more anubias, 12 stems of Ludwigia, 10 stems of money wart, a patch of cryptocoryne parva and 10 Wendtii reds, I guess I should of been more clear, I didn't start heavy plants until 3 months ago, only had 3 plants for about 8 months 2 anubias 1 sword.

So no it was the thrive

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post #41 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 05:51 PM
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@p0tluck - but Amazon Swords are heavy root feeders rather than foliar so you prolly shouldn't blame the Thrive.

Bump: "Dont forget the age old chicken vs egg debate."
The egg came first...but it was not an egg from a chicken!

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post #42 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 06:04 PM
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@p0tluck - but Amazon Swords are heavy root feeders rather than foliar so you prolly shouldn't blame the Thrive.

Swords can feed from the water column just fine
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post #43 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 06:47 PM
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. It seems to work for me...


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Now imagine how much better the plants and aquarium would look with adequate dosing of a full range fertilizer.

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So no it was the thrive
I don't think lksdrinker was questioning if Thrive works. He was drawing attention to the fact that the data gathered is not conclusive to isolate Thrive as the only factor for the improvement. It might be, but lots of things changed. Then again, it's not your purpose to prove that Thrive works. We know from research that adding all the nutrients necessary to plants improves their growth. Since Thrive has plant nutrients it makes sense that it played a part in the growth you observed. Nevertheless, we have to be suspicious of random observations... plenty of examples of people claiming " screaming at their tank" made the plants grow better and someone will surely come and say that "if you have chewing gum while you scream it dramatically improves the effect".

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@p0tluck - but Amazon Swords are heavy root feeders rather than foliar so you prolly shouldn't blame the Thrive.
Yes they have a developed root system. They are also heavy water column feeders. Why does one have to exclude the other ?

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post #44 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 07:20 PM
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So no it was the thrive

LOL. I hadnt realized it was so easy to come to scientific conclusions in this hobby.

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post #45 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 09:12 PM Thread Starter
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Where's the damn face palm gif at lol

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