Aquarium Ferts Seem To Be Killing Plants - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-27-2014, 12:36 AM Thread Starter
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Aquarium Ferts Seem To Be Killing Plants

I have a 75 gallon tank that has been up and running for about 8 months now.
It's got a t5 ho light on for 9 hours a day
Nitrate 10 - 20 ppm
Ammonia - 0
Nitrite - 0
Ph - 7.8

I have had plants in the tank for months now and just recently started fertilizing with dry ferts

I'm using the estimative index dosing.
3/4 tsp (N) 3 times a week
1/4 tsp (P) 3 times a week
Flourish comprehensive and excell 3 times a week.

I noticed that once I started fertilizing it seems as if the plants started looking as if there are some deficiencies.

I'll attach some pictures of the tank and some of the issues. Any advice of tips will help.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-27-2014, 03:44 AM
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What are your "N" and "P" ferts? My immediate guess is a potassium deficiency as you aren't dosing any of that explicitly.

You may not have seen this deficiency before because there was some other deficiency that took priority over it. For example, if this is a potassium deficiency that's just now showing up, it implies that perhaps the plant is now demanding more potassium than it used to, either because it's grown or because an old deficiency has been satisfied (a phosphorus deficiency for example). Now that this old deficiency has been taken care of, the plant is now limited by this new deficiency.

There's a description of plant nutrients (called Liebig's law of the minimum) that the growth is limited by the lowest available nutrient. Think of it like slats (staves) of different heights in a barrel. Each slat represents a nutrient (light, CO2, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, micros, etc). Now you begin adding water to your barrel (analogous to the plant growing), eventually you hit a point where the water starts spilling out of the shortest slat (this represents your deficiency) and you can't fill the bucket until you replace the shortest slat. Now you fill some more until you hit the next slat and can fill no more.
Here's an image of what I'm talking about.


In reality things are more complicated, but the analogy works.

As you begin adding ferts, you'll hit different levels of deficiency as the plant grows that weren't previously observed. So, I'd say start dosing some more potassium, usually the new leaves look nice and the old leaves are "decaying" away.

Sorry for the long description, just got on a roll, haha. Hope it helps!

Old tanks, all torn down:
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Hope to get a new tank (or two) up soon...
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-27-2014, 04:31 AM
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"I have had plants in the tank for months now and just recently started fertilizing with dry ferts

I'm using the estimative index dosing.
3/4 tsp (N) 3 times a week
1/4 tsp (P) 3 times a week
Flourish comprehensive and excell 3 times a week.

I noticed that once I started fertilizing it seems as if the plants started looking as if there are some deficiencies."

Please state what you are dosing.
As in 3/4 tsp KNO3 three times a week etc. Yes the flourish is equal to micros but much weaker. Also Excel has about a 24 hr life span so either use it every day or you are bouncing the carbon level up and down and that is a known factor in BBA algae. But what about KH2PO4 ?
Any nutrient deficiency will stop plant growth once there is none of that nutrient.
Did you get that dosing from the calculator ? If you did then on the bottom where it says "and you are dosing for" where you selected "EI" you can switch it to "EI Low Light/weekly" or just use one dose per week instead of three doses as @ about 22-23" above the sub. you actually have med light(unless that is an AquaticLife fixture) but no or either low carbon.
Does that leaf of the Sword ever stick out of the water ?
Leaves do eventually get old enough for replacement.

The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line...in the opposite direction...
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-27-2014, 12:54 PM
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I also see this as a potassium deficiency. Holes in the leaves are often potassium deficiency, though old age of a leaf can do this, too. You state that you are dosing the other nutrients (N, P, C, micros).
If you are using KNO3 for its N, then you are also getting K, but perhaps not enough.
The barrel with short staves is a good analogy:
When you were not dosing, the fish food and water changes had a balanced enough supply of nutrients to support slow growth.
Now that you are adding some nutrients it may be that one (or more) is in shorter supply, not so much because it is not being added, but because the plants are growing faster, so are more demanding.

Test: Add more potassium. See if the holes in the leaves continue to show up.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-27-2014, 01:43 PM
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I thought I had potassium deficiency while dosing kno3 and kh2po4 because of yellowing and holes on leaves. Turned out It was just lack of Co2. All other symptoms disappeared once I pumped more Co2 into my tank and ditched the reactor method and started misting. Co2 can show the same signs of nutrient deficiency and mislead people into thinking otherwise IME.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-27-2014, 02:40 PM
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I agree about setting the calculator (petalphile.com) to low light EI. Could you post the exact chemical formulas, as well as the amounts again? N should be KNO3 and P is K2PO4, at least that's what I use. If you notice, between the two, you have 3 Potassiums. You can add K2SO4 for more Potassium if necessary, i.e. if you continue to get pinholes.

If it's accurate that Comprehensive is less potent than CSM+B (micros) then I'd just get some CSM+B. I use CSM+B.

I like your sword despite the problems

Everyone has made good points about the problem.

Steven

MY TANK: Planted 10g; 2 x 10W CFL; Fluval U2 internal filter; MGOCPM/black sand cap

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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-27-2014, 03:39 PM
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Swords are heavy root feeders. Regardless of how you're dosing the water column, they would benefit from some root tabs.


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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-01-2014, 09:34 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChemGuyEthan View Post
What are your "N" and "P" ferts? My immediate guess is a potassium deficiency as you aren't dosing any of that explicitly.

You may not have seen this deficiency before because there was some other deficiency that took priority over it. For example, if this is a potassium deficiency that's just now showing up, it implies that perhaps the plant is now demanding more potassium than it used to, either because it's grown or because an old deficiency has been satisfied (a phosphorus deficiency for example). Now that this old deficiency has been taken care of, the plant is now limited by this new deficiency.

There's a description of plant nutrients (called Liebig's law of the minimum) that the growth is limited by the lowest available nutrient. Think of it like slats (staves) of different heights in a barrel. Each slat represents a nutrient (light, CO2, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, micros, etc). Now you begin adding water to your barrel (analogous to the plant growing), eventually you hit a point where the water starts spilling out of the shortest slat (this represents your deficiency) and you can't fill the bucket until you replace the shortest slat. Now you fill some more until you hit the next slat and can fill no more.
Here's an image of what I'm talking about.


In reality things are more complicated, but the analogy works.

As you begin adding ferts, you'll hit different levels of deficiency as the plant grows that weren't previously observed. So, I'd say start dosing some more potassium, usually the new leaves look nice and the old leaves are "decaying" away.

Sorry for the long description, just got on a roll, haha. Hope it helps!
That's some great info. Thanks!
The N is kno3
The P is KH2PO4
I also have K2SO4, but have not been dosing with it. My understanding is that a sufficient amount of K would be provided by dosing the N and P.
Also, without dosing Kno3, my Nitrate levels are usually around 20 to 30 ppm. On Saturday I did a 50% water change, waited until Sunday to start adding ferts again and my Nitrate levels are at 80 ppm. Should I keep dosing Kno3?
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-01-2014, 10:17 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raymond S. View Post
"I have had plants in the tank for months now and just recently started fertilizing with dry ferts

I'm using the estimative index dosing.
3/4 tsp (N) 3 times a week
1/4 tsp (P) 3 times a week
Flourish comprehensive and excell 3 times a week.

I noticed that once I started fertilizing it seems as if the plants started looking as if there are some deficiencies."

Please state what you are dosing.
As in 3/4 tsp KNO3 three times a week etc. Yes the flourish is equal to micros but much weaker. Also Excel has about a 24 hr life span so either use it every day or you are bouncing the carbon level up and down and that is a known factor in BBA algae. But what about KH2PO4 ?
Any nutrient deficiency will stop plant growth once there is none of that nutrient.
Did you get that dosing from the calculator ? If you did then on the bottom where it says "and you are dosing for" where you selected "EI" you can switch it to "EI Low Light/weekly" or just use one dose per week instead of three doses as @ about 22-23" above the sub. you actually have med light(unless that is an AquaticLife fixture) but no or either low carbon.
Does that leaf of the Sword ever stick out of the water ?
Leaves do eventually get old enough for replacement.
Thanks for the reply as well!
I started adding excel everyday.
Plant growth isn't an issue, the plants are growing, but very weak and kinda yellow and browning. The light is a Cora life. I now have two new bulbs in it 6.7k and 10k.
The swords do stick out, but some of the ones that are sticking out are fine...

Bump:
Quote:
Originally Posted by burr740 View Post
Swords are heavy root feeders. Regardless of how you're dosing the water column, they would benefit from some root tabs.

Thanks for the advice! I have already replaced them twice in the six months I have had the plants in.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-01-2014, 11:32 PM
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You have low light, just barely enough to grow the plants. The Coralife 2 bulb T5HO light is a very low efficiency light, giving you around 20 PAR on that tank, and not able to cover the whole 18 inch front to back area at that much light. I suspect it is a light deficiency more than anything else. If you don't use the legs on the light, but set it right on top of the tank you might gain enough extra intensity to make a difference. But, near the front and back glass you will still be short on light.

Hoppy
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-04-2014, 09:47 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
You have low light, just barely enough to grow the plants. The Coralife 2 bulb T5HO light is a very low efficiency light, giving you around 20 PAR on that tank, and not able to cover the whole 18 inch front to back area at that much light. I suspect it is a light deficiency more than anything else. If you don't use the legs on the light, but set it right on top of the tank you might gain enough extra intensity to make a difference. But, near the front and back glass you will still be short on light.

I don't doubt your knowledge on this subject based on a lot of your posts, but growth isn't an issue. All of my plants were small when I bought them and they have grown a lot. The plant to the left of the Amazon Sword, started poking out of the water since I started this thread. I've had to cut it in half.
I don't fully agree with your suggestion that I have barley enough light to grow plants. Now if you mean barley enough light to grow plants that look healthy, I'd definitely agree with you. As I've said growth has never been an issue and the deficiencies never really started showing until I started to use ferts. I'm not sure if I'm missing something here...

Any suggestions about the Kno3? With the levels of Nitrate sky rocketing, does it make sense to keel fertilizing?
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-04-2014, 10:16 PM
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Honestly I'd strongly suspect that the issue is emersed (grown above water) leaf die off. From the photos you posted only the emersed grown leaves are affected. Emersed leaves are rounded looking versus the newer sword like submersed leaves.

When amazon swords are put under water for the first time they lose their rounded emersed leaves about a month later. There is nothing you can do to save these leaves if you keep the plant submersed. The die off is normal and they can be trimmed off.

From: http://deficiencyfinder.com/?page_id=716

Quote:
Transitioning from emersed to submersed growth can result in large amounts of tissue damage and leaf loss. This is a natural process and should not be confused for a deficiency. Emersed leaf die off can appear in a number of ways, but tends to happen from the edges of the leaf inwards towards the stem. In order to positively identify emersed die off as the cause of damaged leaves the hobbyist must have knowledge of how the plant was previously grown. It is essential to recognize that this problem only occurs when transitioning from emersed growth to submersed growth. Advanced hobbists may be able to recognize emersed grown leaves by their different appearance, but otherwise simply asking the person or business who provided the plant how it was grown will suffice. Emersed die off does not occur in every species of plant, and depending on tank conditions may not happen to species that usually do lose leaves.

Emersed leaf die off following submersion in water likely occurs due to the leaf’s inability to absorb nutrients or oxygen from the water column. This inability to absorb vital nutrients occurs because emersed grown plants must coat all leaves with a thick wax cuticle to prevent drying out. Stomates are grown and used as tiny doors which allow gas exchange to take place with the environment while preventing the leaf from drying out. Underwater stomates cannot exchange gasses and the thick barrier of wax prevents oxygen and other nutrients from diffusing into the leaf. Emersed grown leaves quickly become unproductive, and can place an energy drain on the rest of the plant. The plant quickly responds by reabsorbing what nutrients it can from dying leaves and begins producing submersed leaves which have no wax cuticle, stomates or other terrestrial adaptations.

It is also important to note that emersed die off symptoms may also look similar to the signs of a lack of light. This is because plants respond similarly to unproductive leaves and will undergo virtually the same processes in both conditions.

Image 1 shows an emersed grown Echinodorus (sword plant) leaf that has started to die after being submersed for a week or two. Notice how the veins in damaged areas of the plant are still present in their proper location but the leaf tissue between veins has undergone necrosis and rotted away. This difference will help rule out fish, or abraisive damage which will also damage veins. Furthermore, emersed die back tends to, though not always, occur around the edges of leaves and progresses towards the stem allowing nutrients to be transported back towards the plant along intact veins.


Submersed leaves are longer and thinner:

Zapins
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-05-2014, 02:42 AM
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If you dose no KNO3 and the NO3 is over 10 ppm from fish food, then do not dose KNO3. If the NO3 is going down, then dose just a little KNO3, enough to keep the NO3 stable between water changes. Fish do not seem to mind high NO3 from fertilizer.
You will definitely need to use the K2SO4 as a potassium source, if you are dosing less KNO3.
KH2PO4 is dosed at such a low level that it barely qualifies as a source of K.

Dose the K2SO4 at the same rate you would have of KNO3 and see where that leaves the tank by the end of the week.
Somewhere in there the plants will start needing more N as their other needs are addressed, so keep monitoring the NO3.
It is like fixing the short stave in the barrel then watching to see which is next shortest.

When you are walking this tightrope of trying not to over dose the NO3 I sure would calibrate the NO3 test.
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-17-2015, 02:06 PM
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Am I missing something? Or is the OP only worried about two old, near surfacing amazon sword leaves?

I remove old sword leaves when they look like that, the plant will only grow new healthy ones faster. And, yes, I cannot stress how much amazon swords feed from the roots, their roots could intertwine the whole footprint of your tank.

So my advice:
  1. Follow the advice of the folks to a tee who dose EI just to keep everything rolling properly
  2. Yank off those old dying leaves
  3. Add in some root supplement ferts for the sword especially
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-18-2015, 03:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zapins View Post
Honestly I'd strongly suspect that the issue is emersed (grown above water) leaf die off.
+1. I have a recently ordered mat of java fern doing this in my tank right now. They grow these plants above water because its cheaper and they grow 100x faster and bigger.

The plants experience a large die off and look pretty crappy until new leaves come in (which will be shorter).
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