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After a brief hiccup with my 50 gallon tank, I have been coasting algae free for about two months now. I have a DIY CO2 system which, thanks to some distiller's yeast and some other improvements, is enormously productive. I dose ferts according to this formula, using Plantex+B for trace elements. I pull handfuls of bacopa, ludwigia repens, and glosso out every week.


Awful image quality, I know. I'm going to take some better pictures soon.

I have recently started noticing that some of the newer plant leaves, particularly on the glosso, are coming in partially white. Apparently, that is an indicator of iron deficiency. It's unsightly, but everything is still growing pretty fast.

The catch is that, according to some studies cited by Diana Walstad in her book, Ecology of the Planted Aquarium, iron deficiency is a great way to keep algae at bay. I'm now wondering if my algae-free bliss is a result of my tank's lack of iron.

Do you think it's worth adding iron to treat my sickly looking (but still somehow thriving) plants at the risk of turning my tank back into this?

 

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Walstad deals with tanks from one narrow perspective - the "natural" style. Maybe in the conditions of that particular style of tank, excess iron might cause algae.

But the existence and success of other systems like EI demonstrate that excess iron does not universally lead to algae, at least in other tank styles.

Even assuming it might, your own tank demonstrated for the last two months that there is a happy medium, as you had neither algae nor deficient new growth.

And the system you're using, PPS-Pro, is the very definition of trying to maintain happy mediums, through reading plant and algae symptoms. So follow your system! If the plants need something then dose it. I guarantee unhealthy plants are a bigger algae inducer than a bit of any extra nutrient.
 
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