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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey Guys,

I think some if not all of my plants have some nutrient deficiencies. The old Hygrophila Corymbosa leaves are rolling, then they get holes in them. Not pin holes like potassium deficiency but large holes. I can't figure out why. The new shoots in my Rotala Indica plants are growing really small compared to the rest of the plant and old leaves are dying. My Amazon swords are not growing tall. The new leaves growing in my Ludwiga Repens are also small and the old leaves wilt and change colour from green to brown and looks like there are scrapes on the leaves. The new leaves of my Aponogeton Crispus comes out with dead tips. It's like there is no tip on the leaf. Even the new leaves of the Anubias has missing parts in it. The new leaves in the dwarf swords are coming out twisted as with calcium deficiency. I started dosing calcium sulphate but still no improvement.

My setup is a 65 gallon with eco-complete substrate that has been in the tank about 1 year. Two 40 watt light fixtures with 6700K fluorescent bulbs.
I fertilize with potassium sulphate, calcium sulphate, magnesium sulphate.
I add seachem excel everyday. Don't add mono potassium phosphate because my API phosphate test kit says I have 2 ppm phosphate almost all the time. Don't add nitrates either since I keep fish in my tank and the nitrate keeps climbing. I do 60% water changes every 2 weeks to drop the nitrates. Almost all the time the nitrates reach like 60 ppm just before I do a water change.

What do you think is causing all this?
 

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Dred10, the holes on your plants look like fish damage, probably pleco damage.

The stunted appearance of the plants looks quite similar to nitrogen deficiency. The progressively smaller new growth, the deteriorating older leaves starting around the tips of older leaves are all typical symptoms.

I know your test kit reads 2 ppm phosphate and up to 60 ppm nitrates, but test kits can be wrong depending on their age, how you mix them, and many other reasons. The best thing to do is to calibrate the tests you have by adding a known amount of nitrate to a known amount of pure water. Then do the nitrate test on the water and if it does not match the amount you calculated and added then the test kit is wrong. Do the same for the phosphate test kit. Use this site to calculate how much potassium nitrate to add to get a certain concentration: http://calc.petalphile.com/

I'd make three tests to calibrate your kit, a 0 ppm, 10 ppm and 50 or 60 ppm concentrations.

Look through some of the nitrogen deficiencies on this site: www.deficiencyfinder.com it will show you many photos of different species of plants with each deficiency.

I used to live in T&T. I loved it there and was sad to move. Lots of nice local fish to collect but very few aquatic plants.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Zapins,

Yes it's true, nice local fish but few plants. You do get some rare plants (not the ones available in abundance here) if you know where to look. You should come back for Carnival.

I will try to calibrate the test kits. However, even if the nitrate test kits don't tell the right concentration of nitrates, it does indicate that the nitrates are going up every day. I was thinking all along that my fish load is not small but not that large and the nitrates being produced was much more that the plants are consuming but from your advice, it may be the case where they aren't absorbing much at all.

What do you think could cause this? Too low phosphate concentration? I recently started added phosphate and had a total of approximately 4 ppm phosphate which made sense because of how much mono potassium phosphate I added in the last couple of weeks but no difference. Nitrates still going up, phosphate concentration doesn't seem to drop. It's like the plants aren't absorbing any phosphate or they are absorbing at the same rate the phosphate is being produced. Oh I also forgot to mention that I add seachem excel everyday.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Also, the Anubia in the pic are growing leaves with the missing pieces. You can see the missin crescent. I noticed this missing piece while the leaf was still rolled as it was sprouting out. Could nitrate deficiency cause this as well?
 

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I'd love to come back for Carnival one day. That was an amazing experience and one I'd love to repeat. The steel band competition was great as well.

What rare plants are there? I spent a few months ditch diving everywhere I could and all I found was introduced plants like Hydrilla, duckweed, and Hyacinth. I did find some mosses in a a highland stream but they weren't very different from java moss.

The thing with nutrient deficiencies is you can only have one deficiency at a time. Once a nutrient runs out the plant cannot grow more until it gets the nutrient it is missing. This prevents multiple deficiencies.

I was wondering about the phosphate since phosphate symptoms are similar and sometimes difficult to tell apart from nitrate deficiencies. However, you seem to have added phosphate and the plants did not change so that pretty much rules that out.

How much flourish excel are you adding every day?

Can you try adding some nitrate to the tank? Say 10 ppm twice a week and see if the plants respond within a week. If we can rule out nitrate like you did phosphate then we can move on to less likely possibilities.

These are the nutrients and where they can be moved from:
Immobile nutrients are: Ca, Fe, B, Ni and Mn

Mobile nutrients are: N, P, K, and Mg.

Variably mobile nutrients: Cu, Zn, S, and Mo.
Immobile nutrient deficiencies show up in the new growth, mobile deficiencies show up in the old growth first.

Can you post more photos of the sword plants?

Also, the Anubia in the pic are growing leaves with the missing pieces. You can see the missin crescent. I noticed this missing piece while the leaf was still rolled as it was sprouting out. Could nitrate deficiency cause this as well?
No, nitrate deficiency doesn't result in physical damage to the leaf like holes and tears. That is almost certainly mechanical damage. Perhaps a fish or snail chewed a small hole in the bud before it opened and the damage enlarged. What fish & snails do you have in the tank?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I was talking about pet shops. You can get the rare plants if you know which shops to look. That's cool that you saw some of them growing naturally here in Trinidad. I would love to see them growing in the wild.

I add about 10 ml of excel everyday which is an overdose compared to the dosage on the label. I also forgot to mention :redface: that I dose about 10 ml of Seachem flourish when my iron test shows less than 0.1 ppm which is like every 3 days.

Although I added phosphates about 2 weeks ago, do you think I would be able to see an improvement by now to safely say it wasn't a phosphate deficiency?

I included the pics of the sword plants like you asked. There are 2 kinds of swords. When I bought them from the shop, the leaves were twice the length almost reaching the water surface. After some time those leaves melted and he new ones never grew that tall. They produce new leaves but stay short. I also included my red crypts. Those are in my tank about a year now and never really put out much leaves. Again these leaves that the plant did put out never got larger than what you're seeing in the pic.

I also included a new pic of the anubia sending out another new leaf. You can also see that this new leaf is going to have a missing crescent although it is still rolled and didn't open yet. I have no snails in my tank, just some discus, loaches, corydoras, serpae and neon tetras, a Chinese algae eater and a small spotted pleco.

I will try adding the nitrate like you recommended but I will have to be careful seeing that the test kit shows it increasing as days go by. I have tested my tap water supply and the results show less than 5 ppm nitrate.

I have been reading some stuff about eco-complete saying it doesn't have much nutrients available for the plants. I have never used root tabs and since I set up my planted tank about a year and a half ago I never got good growth although I fertilize through the water column using dry fertilizers. I thought by switching from aquarium gravel to eco complete I would be getting better growth but I did not. Could the eco complete be contributing to the problem?
 

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Although I added phosphates about 2 weeks ago, do you think I would be able to see an improvement by now to safely say it wasn't a phosphate deficiency?
Yes you should have seen an improvement by now, definitely. The plants should have started putting out new leaves very quickly within a week.

I included the pics of the sword plants like you asked. There are 2 kinds of swords. When I bought them from the shop, the leaves were twice the length almost reaching the water surface. After some time those leaves melted and he new ones never grew that tall. They produce new leaves but stay short.
Sword plants are often grown emersed and have round leaves on a long stem. When submersed they usually rot and die. The plant then puts out new long thinner leaves which are able to survive underwater.

The hole damage on the leaves doesn't look nutrient related. If you can, could you remove the pleco from the tank and put it somewhere else? Plecos often damage leaves at night when the lights are off, and they tend to target large leafy plants like anubias, and amazon sword plants.

I will try adding the nitrate like you recommended but I will have to be careful seeing that the test kit shows it increasing as days go by. I have tested my tap water supply and the results show less than 5 ppm nitrate.
It does seem like your test kit is working properly, but just to be sure dosing nitrates for a week should let us know for certain.

I have been reading some stuff about eco-complete saying it doesn't have much nutrients available for the plants. I have never used root tabs and since I set up my planted tank about a year and a half ago I never got good growth although I fertilize through the water column using dry fertilizers. I thought by switching from aquarium gravel to eco complete I would be getting better growth but I did not. Could the eco complete be contributing to the problem?
Yeah, what you thought is a common misconception. I think the company who makes eco-complete intentionally named it in a way that makes people think it has nutrients in it. In fact, it does not have any significant amount of nutrients in it or any other special properties. It is an inert substrate like pool filter sand, ceramic chips, fluorite, etc. It does have a nice dark color though. It shouldn't be causing the problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I have seen new leaves growing from my fast growing stem plants like the rotala and repens but they always look like they're putting out new leaves at this rate with the older leaves wilting and then getting algae on them.

So if eco complete is inert then my heavy root feeders like the swords and crypts wouldn't be able to benefit much from it right?

Since I fertilize only in the water column, do you think this may also be a reason for the swords, crypts and stem plants failing to grow successfully?

Also, since eco-complete has a high cation exchange capacity, shouldn't it supposed to take the nutrients available in the water column and supply It to the plant roots? If eco complete was doing this, would this be enough for the plants to grow properly?

Athough the leaves of the sword plants wouldn't get that long again because now it's sending out submerged leaves, do you think they should have grown longer than how they look in the pics?

I will remove the pleco today, so hopefully things improve with the holes.
 

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It should take a week or two to see changes depending on your tank conditions.

Do you have pressurized CO2 on the tank?

Can you take a photo of the lights you have as they are on the tank?

What are you adding for micro nutrients?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
It should take a week or two to see changes depending on your tank conditions.

Do you have pressurized CO2 on the tank?

No CO2 but I use Seachem Excel.


Can you take a photo of the lights you have as they are on the tank?

See below for 2 shots.

What are you adding for micro nutrients?
I use seachem flourish for micro nutrients together with Tetra Florapride.
 

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