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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have seen several threads that mention (usually as an aside) the use of calcium. I expect to read most of the rest of this forum to learn more about it, but given the size it may take awhile to learn what I need to know.

So, I would like to ask what role calcium plays in the keeping of plants and the best way to add it to an aquarium?

I am working on a 125 gallon tank with lots of light (it is exposed to sunlight), a pressurized CO2 system that controls the pH to 6.2, and am dosing nutrients using the EI method, using CSM which I mix 10:1 with boron, magnesium sulfate, potassium nitrate, potassium sulfate, and potassium phosphate. I also add chelated iron, but am still trying to learn the best method of adding that one as well.

Once I get this 125 "figured out" I want to start on a 220 I have that is currently just full of green water that I'm growing daphnia in.

Any suggestions?

Thanks,

Mike
 

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Most tap water contains enoug calcium. Also general hardness booster cotains a fair amount. U may not want to mix macros and micros. Phosphates react with iron in close proximity. That is one of the main reasons why macros are added one day and micros the next. Csm also contains iron.. sometimes not enough but for most plants it is
 

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A GH booster once a week with your water changes will give you enough Calcium and Magnesium. These nutrients are also typically found in your tap water but it is hard to say by just testing GH, it is possible that you will get an adequate reading from your test but it won't tell you how much of each is there - ie your reading could be from high magnesium and very low calcium or vice versa. This is why it is best to just dose a GH booster once a week.
 

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mr. krazyfish. don't assume gh booster adds all the necessary magnesium.. it does not add all that my tank needs. i add extra epsom salt and iron to my tanks 3x a week during my trace dose..i follow EI.. there are some plants that require more or should i say, that don't get enough because others take it all
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the replies, everyone!

I guess I should mention that I use pure RO water that I reconstitute with Kent Marine salt such that my TDS reads about 120ppm, something I've been doing for about 10 years now. The tap water here comes from wells that has quite a few contaminants, the types and amounts of which vary through the year (I live in a densely agricultural area along with vast oil-drilling activity).

Thanks,

Mike
 

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Most tap water contains enoug calcium. Also general hardness booster cotains a fair amount. U may not want to mix macros and micros. Phosphates react with iron in close proximity. That is one of the main reasons why macros are added one day and micros the next. Csm also contains iron.. sometimes not enough but for most plants it is
While RootMedic has way more iron, I can't actually find an example of an iron deficiency in someone properly dosing csm.
 

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overstockec.. i am doisng the recommended lvls of csm in my 29 gallon.. 1/16 tsp of dry dosing.. i believe it is attributed to other plants absorbing more.. my bacopa carolina just would not grow properly.. i added magnesium thinking that to be it.. it helped for about 2 days and then the leaves became even worse.. i dose 2ml of extra iron every micro day and its taking off quite nicely..its a very odd situation. all the other plants were and still are fine but this one finely doesnt have algae and is growing properly.
 

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Buy a sack of GH booster. When you see a deficiency do a shotgun dose of GH booster (Mg, K and Ca) and see if it's rectified. If it is still unchanged try boron. If it is still not changed try both. Then If it's still insufficient try upping micros in general etc. Getting plants to grow right involves lots of troubleshooting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Kent Marine salt? Are you running a saltwater tank or what?
VeeSe:

No, I add the marine salt at the same concentration advised on the Kent RO Right container, initially at 1/2 tsp per 10 gallons of water until I got a TDS meter. I now dose less. The TDS is now 110 ppm.

I've had zero problems with it, and both the fish and the plants seem to like it, if their reproduction and size are any indications.

Mike
 

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Getting plants to grow right involves lots of troubleshooting.
TRUER words have never been spoken

I've tried double the dosage of csm+b in my tank which was 1/8 of a tsp. didn't help. im seriously wondering whether my csm has iron in it at all..... but with extra magnesium and iron dosing on my micro days my tank seems to be doing just fine... bacopa no longer has algae and now has big fluffy well colored leaves for its species :)
 

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Maybe the salt is your problem, some think the use of salt in the cleaning proccess of the resins used in water softners is no good for stable or good water in a planted aquarium. You should try a gH Booster and MgS04 to make good water, any Ca needed will be contained in the gH Booster.

I may not know what the hell I'm talking about, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Maybe the salt is your problem, some think the use of salt in the cleaning proccess of the resins used in water softners is no good for stable or good water in a planted aquarium. You should try a gH Booster and MgS04 to make good water, any Ca needed will be contained in the gH Booster.

I may not know what the hell I'm talking about, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night!!!
If you are talking to me, I am really not having a problem...I am just curious about what the role calcium has in a planted tank since I've seen it mentioned a few times and I don't know why it is added or by what method (for example, do you use calcium carbonate, calcium chloride, calcium nitrate, or what. And why?).

I've been using marine salt as a reconstitution of pure RO water for more than 10 years without any issues. I've had a number of fish spawn in this water, including Pelvicachromis pulcher, Mikrogeophagus ramirezi, Otocinclus, CRS shrimp, rasbora, danios of various types, white clouds, guppies (of course...I think that they will reproduce in used motor oil :) ). And I'm currently raising daphnia in another tank in harder, green water, but using the same salt for reconstitution.

I used the Kent Marine salt for two reasons (I'm not using pure NaCl). One, it was Kent RO Right for which I was substituting with the salt. Two, I was using the Kent Marine salt for my reef tank so I had some laying around. I haven't tried any other salt mixes. The salt I have now is years old (though very dry and doesn't appear to have degraded. I was told by my LFS that this brand is not what it once was since the company that made it was taken over by another company. I won't name names because I have no proof that the salt has dropped in quality.

Mike
 

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So, I would like to ask what role calcium plays in the keeping of plants and the best way to add it to an aquarium?
Calcium functions in plants much like it does in animals, it is a key element in the structural integrity of the plant's cell walls (much like how calcium keeps our bones strong). This is why the typical signs of calcium deficiency in plants is often limp or deformed leaves, or leaves that do not entirely emerge. Calcium also serves to move nutrients and other elements in and out of cells.

Like the others have mentioned, I think there is a sufficient amount of Ca in tap water so that it is not a limiting nutrient for most of our plants. As far as adding additional Ca to the aquarium, I just looked at my Flourish Comprehensive fertilizer, and it claims to contain 0.14% Ca. Ironically my trace fertilizer that I use doesn't contain any Ca.
 

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I am just curious about what the role calcium has in a planted tank since I've seen it mentioned a few times and I don't know why it is added or by what method (for example, do you use calcium carbonate, calcium chloride, calcium nitrate, or what. And why?).
CaCl2= maybe for marine tank to booster Ca++ levels. CaCO3, mostly to increase KH, but also to add both Ca and KH. CaCl2 dissolved very easily, CaCO3 is very slow and tough to dissolve. Ca(NO3)2 is eas y to dissolve and good where you have N and very soft water, RO or to dose to a marine planted tank.

I have yet to see a singe documented, verified case of Ca++ limitation in natural or in planted aquariums.




I've been using marine salt as a reconstitution of pure RO water for more than 10 years without any issues. I've had a number of fish spawn in this water, including Pelvicachromis pulcher, Mikrogeophagus ramirezi, Otocinclus, CRS shrimp, rasbora, danios of various types, white clouds, guppies (of course...I think that they will reproduce in used motor oil :) ). And I'm currently raising daphnia in another tank in harder, green water, but using the same salt for reconstitution.
GH booster is generally cheaper.
You might add 3 tsp a week in the 125 Gal.

I used the Kent Marine salt for two reasons (I'm not using pure NaCl). One, it was Kent RO Right for which I was substituting with the salt. Two, I was using the Kent Marine salt for my reef tank so I had some laying around. I haven't tried any other salt mixes. The salt I have now is years old (though very dry and doesn't appear to have degraded. I was told by my LFS that this brand is not what it once was since the company that made it was taken over by another company. I won't name names because I have no proof that the salt has dropped in quality.
Mike
GH booster can be had from various DIY dry salts vendors on line.

As far as using RO, fine for your reef tank there........but the tap is okay for plants, at least you can blend with RO also. This will save you massive time, energy messing with the water changes.

I lived in Davis and the water is rock hard deep well water.......the oil/ag stuff is minor, the drinking/cooking water is where you should spend time using RO, the plants mitigate most of the issues. KH for some fish might be your only variable you may wish to adjust, baking soda does that trick easily.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Andy and Tom:

That is the information I was seeking. I have been using the Estimative Index that Tom advocates, though I haven't visited Tom's site in several years. I don't remember calcium as being part of the EI directly, but my memory is getting shorter as I age :smile:. I think I should re-join your site as well as send my support to this one.

I used to live in Sacramento and remember the water issues there, but the area where I live (Kern County) is notorious for nasty water, which has at times actually had a hydrogen sulfide odor to it. And the pH can range from a usual 7.4 to almost 9 depending on the time of year. Used to give the SW folks fits when they made up their mixes (I used to work in a LFS and had to deal with that). This was just before RO filters were available to hobbyists. Switching to RO was the only solution. And, and as I mentioned, finding a pink residue from evaporated tap water was a bit scary.

I hear many good things about the GH booster, and may give that a try. I haven't noticed any problems with my plants that would suggest a mineral deficiency, but I don't want to wait for that to happen before making my water the "best it can be."

Tom's comment that he has yet to see a documented case of Ca++ deficiency makes me think I should not worry about it. But I do like knowing about everything I can...that's just me :).

Thanks!

Mike
 

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you got to be kidding? Calcium in fresh water? well i guess if your breeding snails and you need to replenish the calcium level.

or if you played mad scientists and lowered your KH too low and injected co2 and watched your ph swing like a garden gate.


US water is very hard except in some coastal areas.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
you got to be kidding? Calcium in fresh water? well i guess if your breeding snails and you need to replenish the calcium level.

or if you played mad scientists and lowered your KH too low and injected co2 and watched your ph swing like a garden gate.


US water is very hard except in some coastal areas.
The reason I asked about it is that I had read more than a few folks here mention calcium levels in other threads. I didn't understand what, if any, calcium needed to be added nor why, so I asked.

As for the "US water is very hard except in some coastal areas," I use pure RO water that I reconstitute because the tap water here is so nasty and variable not having to do with hardness. For one thing, the water companies change the source of their water as the year passes, sometimes drawing from the river, and other times tapping underground aquifers, which caused wild changes in the pH of the tap water. That is an issue mostly for those who live in the southern part of this town, and I don't know where my current water company gets its water. It is a moot point for me because of the RO machine. I also didn't like the pink residue from the tap water that I mentioned before.

My pH is pretty stable. I use a pH controller and a converted calcium reactor to add CO2, something I've done for about 8 years without an issue.

The RO water out of my machine measures 3-4 ppm on the TDS meter and I reconstitute it to about 110 ppm. I also add fertilizers as per the EI method advocated by Tom Barr. I've been doing the reconstitution bit for more than 10 years, while the using the EI method for perhaps 4 or 5 years. I still have much to learn, though, which is why I am here :).

I had just not heard of calcium additions being recommended by Mr. Barr or anyone else, and his comment a few messages before this one explains why.

Whatever I've been doing seems to be working. I can't remember the last time I had any disease issues in my tanks, and the fish reproduce well (including another spawning by the wild-caught P. pulcher just this past week), which I take as an indication that they like the conditions where they live.

Thanks,

Mike
 

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GH booster is about 25% CaSO4.

Gypsum.

25% MgSO4, epsom salt

And 50% or so of K2SO4, potash of sulfur.

I suggest that in EI, I cannot control every web site's version of EI.........or modifications thereof........it's more a general range, and can be adjusted to suit. If your tap has a lot of NO3, then switching to mostly K2SO4 in place of KNO3 and so on...........

Common sense stuff.

But this is the internet..........common sense is easily buried:cool:
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Common sense stuff.

But this is the internet..........common sense is easily buried:cool:
Tom:

"Common sense" is a contradiction in terms :).

The "EI" I have been speaking of was gleaned directly from your website; nowhere else. I have not yet had cause to modify the original dosage of potassium nitrate, magnesium sulfate, potash of sulfur, and the CSM+B. And it may be that the marine salt I've been using to reconstitute the RO water has provided the calcium and other nutrients I (or perhaps better said, the plants) need. I use zero tap water.

OTOH, I've not tried a very wide variety of plants. I've never even seen some of the plants pictured in some of the tanks on this site. I've been growing a very nice tropical lily with a violet flower that helps shade the submersed plants from the worst of the sunlight.

I can't say that I'm a plant aquaculturist because my main goal is to provide the best environment I can for the fish I keep, which is something I've been doing since I was 10 years old (I grew wonderful anacharis and water sprite back then :icon_smil ) without the use of CO2 or fertilizers, of course (this was 45+ years ago) when I was breeding dwarf gourami, "kribensis," and rams. I also used to harvest daphnia and fairy shrimp from vernal ponds back then. Those were the days.

I haven't noticed any changes in the plants that suggest calcium deficiency, though I don't want to wait until I do before adding some via the GH booster you mentioned. I also haven't noticed any problems with the fish...I should think that if the tank were really deficient in calcium that the fish would have growth issues.

Thanks!

Mike
 
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