Calcium deficiency with 5 dGH tap water?? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-07-2020, 02:14 AM Thread Starter
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Hey, so I have been having issues with my plants for a while now with typical calcium deficiency symptoms of curled lower leaves on stem plants, generally looking unhealthy and extremely brittle.
I tried everything else so far even changing my substrate to ada amazonia.
I run enough lights, external filter and power head with good flow, pressurised co2 with drop checker being close to yellow during the day. Until previously I dosed EI which was thought to be way to much for the plants I keep so I reduced my weekly all in one dry fert dosing to 3 times lower. No negative or positive affects on plants till then, just saving fertilizer I guess<a href="https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/images/smilie/icon_biggrin.gif" border="0" alt="" title="Very Happy" >:-)</a>
So still my only explanation would be low calcium, my tap water is gh 5 with 20ppm or less calcium. According to my water company my water from a scale of 1-5 1 being extremely soft is 2.
I was recommended in the past to increase my magnesium by dosing epsom salt, which I have done for months now, 10ppm per week, without any changes noticed. So my current tank water is gh 8 due to added magnesium with calcium at 20ppm or less meaning my ratio is a bit low, but would this be too low? I always thought a gh of 5 would be perfect?? I ordered some calcium/ magnesium gh booster now so might give that a try. Any advice appreciated!
Ps. Iam aware of the cloudy looking water, think it was due to me changing too much water some weeks back, mini cycle. I added more purigen since then and extra filter floss plus some seachem clarity which worked good.
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-07-2020, 04:48 PM
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Perhaps the cloudy water is deceiving me, but I donít see a calcium deficiency.
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-07-2020, 10:34 PM
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I think this is a mobile nutrient issue. If those lower leaves also started out looking nice and then turned to crap later than the issue wouldnít be calcium as that was present to make the leaf look decent in the first place. Read this; https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/knowin...ient_deficienc

It has a chart showing possible mobile nutrient culprits. Check what you are actually dosing and compare against known formulas that work and go from there.


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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-08-2020, 01:27 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam the Slayer View Post
I think this is a mobile nutrient issue. If those lower leaves also started out looking nice and then turned to crap later than the issue wouldn’t be calcium as that was present to make the leaf look decent in the first place. Read this; https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/knowin...ient_deficienc

It has a chart showing possible mobile nutrient culprits. Check what you are actually dosing and compare against known formulas that work and go from there.


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Hey, thanks for the article! So this is what Iam dosing per week in 10ml of dry ferts 3 times a week resulting in : 15.9 ppm potassium, 22.5 nitrate, 3.9 ppm phosphates, 1.5 ppm iron plus other micros listed on the fert pack. I used to dose 3 times that per week with no changes, so I really dont know anymore as I seem to be dosing enough of the mobile nutrients.
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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-08-2020, 03:18 AM
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Other wiser people Iím sure will chime in to help but some thoughts I had is what is your lighting setup?

Can you add a pic of that?

The problem could very well be that your calcium and magnesium are out of whack to start with so using ro water and reconstituting it with a gh/kh buffer may help at least cross that off the list.

I read the instructions on the bag; so youíre currently making a solution with 1 liter of water and dosing 10ml of that into your tank 3 time a week?
How big is your tank?

All Iím trying to do by asking these questions is process of elimination.


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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-08-2020, 03:57 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam the Slayer View Post
Other wiser people I’m sure will chime in to help but some thoughts I had is what is your lighting setup?

Can you add a pic of that?

The problem could very well be that your calcium and magnesium are out of whack to start with so using ro water and reconstituting it with a gh/kh buffer may help at least cross that off the list.

I read the instructions on the bag; so you’re currently making a solution with 1 liter of water and dosing 10ml of that into your tank 3 time a week?
How big is your tank?

All I’m trying to do by asking these questions is process of elimination.


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Hey thanks for trying to help!
So I am running 3 lights atm, one just white and blue led that came with the tank about 40 watts, one planted spectrum led about 43 watts and one smaller 28 watts led white and blue, sorry there is no lumen info on those, all aqua one brand.
My tank is 290 liters.
And yes the dosing you mention is correct, I dosed 3 times that for months before with no bad affects, except dialed down as someone mentioned given my ada soil this is way too much.
My tap water gh is 5 calcium 20ppm, when I dosed epsom salt my tank gh was 8 and with calcium being 20 ppm that would give me a low calcium ratio, however I used to have a gh of 8 with calcium at 40ppm which would give me a good ratio about 3.8:1 but no changes.
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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-08-2020, 04:15 AM
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How big is this tank (gallons/liters)? What are the dimensions?

Iím not saying Iím right but I feel like this may be a bit too much light for the current types of plants or maybe the condition that they are now in. Iím assuming we have three lights for even coverage of light in the tank? I would consider removing the shorter light and figure a way to raise the other two lights maybe two inches or so.

The other thing I would do is go through all the plants and remove any dead dying leaves. Donít uproot any crypts or swords but trim off the bad leafs. Pull up the stems and top and replant the good growth and try to suck up any mulm to keep an overall low organic environment.

I know thatís a process but itís just what I would do. I would definitely be using the gh/kh buffer with RO water as well. Just a reference I keep cal/mag ratio 2:1 (30ppm/15ppm) with good success.


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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-08-2020, 04:52 AM
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Hello @Pascal,

@Sam the Slayer is correct. It is indeed not calcium but a mobile nutrient. If it was calcium, the new leaves would typically have a definite leaf tip hook downward which I do not see in your photos. I suspect the problem is a lack of available magnesium. Why? Magnesium is a mobile nutrient, which means the plant / stem is capable of moving the nutrient from older leaves to newer leaves where it is needed for growth. Here is one of your pictures that provides some good clues:



Notice the new leaves look good. Good color, flat, healthy looking. Shortly afterwards (Arrow #1) the color has faded and the leaf bending. Arrow #2 shows the leaf margins curling under causing 'cupping' of the leaf and the color has become yellowish indicating chlorosis. Arrow #3 shows advanced stages of necrosis where plant tissue has died. Here is the definition of a magnesium deficiency. Not all plants will show all of the symptoms, however this plant / stems shows several of them.

Quote:
II. Symptoms do not appear first or most severely on youngest leaves: Effect general on whole plant or localized on older, lower leaves.

C. Interveinal chlorosis. Interveinal chlorosis first appears on oldest leaves.

1. Older leaves chlorotic, usually necrotic in late stages. Chlorosis along leaf margins extending between veins produces a "Christmas tree" pattern. Veins normal green. Leaf margins may curl downward or upward with puckering effect. Necrosis may suddenly occur between veins. Potassium or calcium excess can inhibit uptake of magnesium...magnesium deficiency

When the external magnesium supply is deficient, interveinal chlorosis of the older leaves is the first symptom because as the magnesium of the chlorophyll is remobilized, the mesophyll cells next to the vascular bundles retain chlorophyll for longer periods than do the parenchyma cells between them. Leaves lose green color at tips and between veins followed by chlorosis or development of brilliant colors, starting with lower leaves and proceeding upwards. The chlorosis/brilliant colors (unmasking of other leaf pigments due to the lack of chlorophyll) may start at the leaf margins or tips and progress inward interveinally producing a "Christmas" tree pattern. Leaves are abnormally thin, stems are brittle and have a tendency to curve upward. Stems are weak, subject to fungus infection, usually leaves drop prematurely.
We can't really see the interveinal chlorosis due to the red coloration of the leaf. We do see the chlorosis (yellowing) and necrosis as the leaves get older. It looks like most of the oldest leaves on the stem have already died.

With a 5.0 dGH your water is soft. Since dGH measures calcium and magnesium it is likely that most of the hardness in your water is calcium. You could get a calcium test kit and test it yourself, or possibly your local water utility can tell you how many ppm's of calcium and magnesium is in your water. If it were me I would add magnesium to my dosing routine. How?

Based upon your readings I don't believe you have excessive calcium so I would try adding additional magnesium and see if the plants respond. Here is what I suggest:
1) Continue dosing the nutrients you have with no changes.
2) Drop by the grocery or drug store and pick up some Epsom Salt. Get the cheapest stuff on the shelf with no additives, scents, or perfumes.
3) Do an initial dose to your tank of 1/2 teaspoon per 10 gallons.
4) Thereafter, when you do your weekly water changes, add 1/2 teaspoon per 10 gallons of new water added.

Then observe the new leaves as they emerge over the next two (2) weeks (do not watch the existing leaves leaves - they will not improve and may continue to decline). Do the new leaves look greener, healthier, and possibly larger? Has the growth rate improved with the addition of magnesium to your dosing? If so then we are on the right path. As these new leaves mature you should not see the interveinal chlorosis, premature leaf loss, and necrosis develop as you have been. Hope this helps - keep us posted! -Roy
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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-08-2020, 05:01 AM Thread Starter
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[QUOTE=Sam the Slayer;11327909]How big is this tank (gallons/liters)? What are the dimensions?

I’m not saying I’m right but I feel like this may be a bit too much light for the current types of plants or maybe the condition that they are now in. I’m assuming we have three lights for even coverage of light in the tank? I would consider removing the shorter light and figure a way to raise the other two lights maybe two inches or so.

The other thing I would do is go through all the plants and remove any dead dying leaves. Don’t uproot any crypts or swords but trim off the bad leafs. Pull up the stems and top and replant the good growth and try to suck up any mulm to keep an overall low organic environment.

I know that’s a process but it’s just what I would do. I would definitely be using the gh/kh buffer with RO water as well. Just a reference I keep cal/mag ratio 2:1 (30ppm/15ppm) with good success.


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Its 290 litres, 120 ◊45 ◊60,


I used to run the tank only with the two long leds with not much difference but there was less pearling and I couldnt really grow any carpet plants. Anyway my second aquarium tank light just blew so had to move the small light anyway. Hope the 2 lights are enough, since i noticed more light= much redder plants.
I do trim the plants a lot when they reach the surface with always the same results, new leaves looking great older leaves curling down and becoming very brittle, I thought maybe this could be light related but I mean ludwegia for example doesnt need much.
I am not sure with the RO water will need to find out where to get this, seems like a big job too doing water changes every week.
As I mentioned I ordered some premixed calcium and magnesium solution plus a dry gh booster I will try use the liquid first for a few weeks see what that does.
Its just really frustrating since I tried nearly everything, enough ferts, good soil, fine filtration and good flow, surface skimmer, enough light, lots co2... the last things I wanted to try is up my gh and perhaps invest in a twinstar 1200s which cost like 900 dollars here but at least I would know its no lighting issue.
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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-08-2020, 05:14 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post
Hello @Pascal,

@Sam the Slayer is correct. It is indeed not calcium but a mobile nutrient. If it was calcium, the new leaves would typically have a definite leaf tip hook downward which I do not see in your photos. I suspect the problem is a lack of available magnesium. Why? Magnesium is a mobile nutrient, which means the plant / stem is capable of moving the nutrient from older leaves to newer leaves where it is needed for growth. Here is one of your pictures that provides some good clues:



Notice the new leaves look good. Good color, flat, healthy looking. Shortly afterwards (Arrow #1) the color has faded and the leaf bending. Arrow #2 shows the leaf margins curling under causing 'cupping' of the leaf and the color has become yellowish indicating chlorosis. Arrow #3 shows advanced stages of necrosis where plant tissue has died. Here is the definition of a magnesium deficiency. Not all plants will show all of the symptoms, however this plant / stems shows several of them.

Quote:
II. Symptoms do not appear first or most severely on youngest leaves: Effect general on whole plant or localized on older, lower leaves.

C. Interveinal chlorosis. Interveinal chlorosis first appears on oldest leaves.

1. Older leaves chlorotic, usually necrotic in late stages. Chlorosis along leaf margins extending between veins produces a "Christmas tree" pattern. Veins normal green. Leaf margins may curl downward or upward with puckering effect. Necrosis may suddenly occur between veins. Potassium or calcium excess can inhibit uptake of magnesium...magnesium deficiency

When the external magnesium supply is deficient, interveinal chlorosis of the older leaves is the first symptom because as the magnesium of the chlorophyll is remobilized, the mesophyll cells next to the vascular bundles retain chlorophyll for longer periods than do the parenchyma cells between them. Leaves lose green color at tips and between veins followed by chlorosis or development of brilliant colors, starting with lower leaves and proceeding upwards. The chlorosis/brilliant colors (unmasking of other leaf pigments due to the lack of chlorophyll) may start at the leaf margins or tips and progress inward interveinally producing a "Christmas" tree pattern. Leaves are abnormally thin, stems are brittle and have a tendency to curve upward. Stems are weak, subject to fungus infection, usually leaves drop prematurely.
We can't really see the interveinal chlorosis due to the red coloration of the leaf. We do see the chlorosis (yellowing) and necrosis as the leaves get older. It looks like most of the oldest leaves on the stem have already died.

With a 5.0 dGH your water is soft. Since dGH measures calcium and magnesium it is likely that most of the hardness in your water is calcium. You could get a calcium test kit and test it yourself, or possibly your local water utility can tell you how many ppm's of calcium and magnesium is in your water. If it were me I would add magnesium to my dosing routine. How?

Based upon your readings I don't believe you have excessive calcium so I would try adding additional magnesium and see if the plants respond. Here is what I suggest:
1) Continue dosing the nutrients you have with no changes.
2) Drop by the grocery or drug store and pick up some Epsom Salt. Get the cheapest stuff on the shelf with no additives, scents, or perfumes.
3) Do an initial dose to your tank of 1/2 teaspoon per 10 gallons.
4) Thereafter, when you do your weekly water changes, add 1/2 teaspoon per 10 gallons of new water added.

Then observe the new leaves as they emerge over the next two (2) weeks (do not watch the existing leaves leaves - they will not improve and may continue to decline). Do the new leaves look greener, healthier, and possibly larger? Has the growth rate improved with the addition of magnesium to your dosing? If so then we are on the right path. As these new leaves mature you should not see the interveinal chlorosis, premature leaf loss, and necrosis develop as you have been. Hope this helps - keep us posted! -Roy
Hi Roy, I am not sure if you remember , but you helped me already with my issue some months back, where I had the same issue. Back then you thought maybe I had too much calcium due to my gravel which dissolved when put in vinegar.
Since then I changed to ada amazonia. What I did continue to do as you told me was add the epsom salt which I did 10ppm per week, even 4 half teaspoons after water change then 4 more 3 days later. This is why I am back it didn't help
I also did check my calcium levels a million times which are now at 20ppm, my old gravel months back was at 60ppm, now with a gh of 8 from 5 being the tap water, due to the epsom salt I would have plenty of magnesium more than calcium even.
Even with my gh being 5 and calcium 20ppm I would have about 10ppm magnesium with a ratio of 2:1 calcium.
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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-08-2020, 03:50 PM
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One thing thatís a possibility is that your dosing is too low now. You say you are dosing 10ml 3x week when it looks like you should be dosing closer to 34ml 3x week based on the instructions to achieve those targeted ppms. I would act like your aquasoil is a backup and continue full dosing. If it was me I would take the 290L tank size and deduct the estimated volume that your decor takes up and dose that. So if you think itís 40L of water being taken up by hardscape then dose to 250L which would be 30ml 3x week. I know you recently lowered dosing but I would never have done that. Also could it be the your calcium in the water is calcium carbonate and your substrate is removing it from the water column? I donít know if thatís true but dosing calcium sulphate would fix that as would dosing magnesium sulphate.


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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-08-2020, 06:18 PM
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Hi Hari (@Pascal),

Yes, I remember you and the issue with the gravel. I'm glad you went with a different substrate. Looking at some of your previous posts it appears that you converted over to ADA Aquasoil in January so it should still contain plenty of nutrients. You seem to be dosing the correct amount of magnesium sulfate (MgSO4*7H2O) / Epsom Salt. You said your tap water is 20 ppm of calcium with 5 dGH hardness; what is the dGH and ppm of calcium in your tank?

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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-08-2020, 08:45 PM
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Hi all,

I just wanted to share some thoughts I had reading through.
1) Ammonia spike from amazonia? Maybe it is done now and the plants has recovered? The necrosis may continue - and we are seeing the mobility of nutrients as a way of salvaging what is left on the plant instead of sucking the nutrients from the water column? I am not sure whether plants find it easier to move nutrients from its old leaves vs. taking nutrients from the column.

2) Re: Mulders chart below, could it be more of a ratio issue rather than a nutrient deficiency? In other words, you have enough if you didn't have too much of another?



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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-08-2020, 09:01 PM
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What are the small rock chips along front? Did you test them for GH?

Also wold be nice if youíd get a TDS meter so you can see true overall hardness of your tank and supply water.
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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-09-2020, 02:08 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post
Hi Hari (@Pascal),

Yes, I remember you and the issue with the gravel. I'm glad you went with a different substrate. Looking at some of your previous posts it appears that you converted over to ADA Aquasoil in January so it should still contain plenty of nutrients. You seem to be dosing the correct amount of magnesium sulfate (MgSO4*7H2O) / Epsom Salt. You said your tap water is 20 ppm of calcium with 5 dGH hardness; what is the dGH and ppm of calcium in your tank?
Hi Roy, my tank gh is normally 5 as well but currently 8 due to the epsom salt. The calcium is sometimes 20ppm sometimes 40ppm, I mean the api test kit isn't very accurate I think for freshwater. Thanks
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