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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, all. I could use some help with this. I just added a large Anubias barteri and two Java Ferns to my 20g tall about 2.5 weeks ago (the tank has been running for about a year). They’ve all produced new growth in that time, but the growth is rather unhealthy looking. The first/only new Anubias leaf since I brought the plant home just opened up yesterday, and it already has a hole/necrosis (first picture). The end of the leaf is also curled so much that the tip almost touches the bottom of the leaf.

Aside from that, the few new Java Fern leaves are pretty rigid/inconsistent in shape.

Other recent problems also include brown algae growing in the crevices of the old/mature Anubias leaves and a combination of green and brown algae growing on the exposed roots of the Java Ferns.

Some details about the tank:
-50% water change per week.
-WC immediately followed by dosing 3 mL of Thrive C (3/4 dose).
-pH of 7.6.
-LED light (Nicrew G2) with max of 4100 LUX / 70 PAR at 12”, but run at an intensity of 40% for 8-9 hours per day to discourage algae (was running it at 60% before a couple days ago).

From the reading I’ve done so far, I think these plants at least have a Potassium deficiency (the old Anubias leaves all have pinholes with brown edges), but I’m wondering if there’s a Calcium deficiency as well, considering how rigid and sometimes pale the new leaves are. I don’t have a test kit for GH or KH but I think I’ll be ordering one in the next couple days. I’m also contemplating dosing Seachem Flourish Potassium or Equilibrium half way through the week between water changes/Thrive C doses. Thoughts?

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Is that Thrive "C" or "S"? I know I get the 2 mixed up from time to time. And there are important differences between the 2.

Either way those 2 lines add roughly the same amount of K. Which is not alot. Roughly 1.9 ppm for the dose you do. Depending on many factors that may not be enough. You can have a lot of extra K inn your tank and be ok so if you are going to add anything, I would try the K first and see what happens.

Also, while I think it's really important to test for Gh/Kh even on a recuring basis. You might be able to get that info from your water companies website. A lot of the municipalities post their water reports online. If yours does, you should be able to get atleast a Ca level.

Don't add Equilibrium until you know your Gh.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Is that Thrive "C" or "S"? I know I get the 2 mixed up from time to time. And there are important differences between the 2.

Either way those 2 lines add roughly the same amount of K. Which is not alot. Roughly 1.9 ppm for the dose you do. Depending on many factors that may not be enough. You can have a lot of extra K inn your tank and be ok so if you are going to add anything, I would try the K first and see what happens.

Also, while I think it's really important to test for Gh/Kh even on a recuring basis. You might be able to get that info from your water companies website. A lot of the municipalities post their water reports online. If yours does, you should be able to get atleast a Ca level.

Don't add Equilibrium until you know your Gh.

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It’s Thrive C, I just double checked the bottle. And okay, I think I’ll grab a bottle of Flourish Potassium in that case, seems there aren’t too many options for K-only supplements.

And yes! I just looked up the details for my local tap water, these are the results:
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It might be handier to get the Flourish but keep in mind the little 250 ml bottle on Amazon is $6.59 and it's 5% potassium. I think that's about 6 grams of potassium. You can by a pound (453 grams) of K2SO4, potassium sulfate from somewhere like GLA for $3
 

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That's a nice water report! Lol :)

The only thing I can see is that the ratio of Ca to Mg is off a bit. Too much Ca vs the amount of Mg that you have. Many places online say the ratio should be 3:1. There are quite a few on here including myself that run at 2:1 ratio of Ca:Mg. Your tap is at 4.6:1.

Since your GH is at the lower end it might be interesting to see what would happen if you add some epsom salt. About 1.5 teaspoons to your 20gal tank would bump you up to the 3:1 ratio. If you go to 3 teaspoons that would put you at 2:1 ratio but also bumps the hardness up to the Medium range. You didn't mention fish so don't know if that would be a bit much.

Could still have a K issue but sometimes the deficiency signs get all mixed up when the Ca:Mg:K ratios get all out of whack.

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It might be handier to get the Flourish but keep in mind the little 250 ml bottle on Amazon is $6.59 and it's 5% potassium. I think that's about 6 grams of potassium. You can by a pound (453 grams) of K2SO4, potassium sulfate from somewhere like GLA for $3
Oh, nice. So with powders like that, I assume you just mix them up in a small container of tank water before pouring it into the tank?

That's a nice water report! Lol :)

The only thing I can see is that the ratio of Ca to Mg is off a bit. Too much Ca vs the amount of Mg that you have. Many places online say the ratio should be 3:1. There are quite a few on here including myself that run at 2:1 ratio of Ca:Mg. Your tap is at 4.6:1.

Since your GH is at the lower end it might be interesting to see what would happen if you add some epsom salt. About 1.5 teaspoons to your 20gal tank would bump you up to the 3:1 ratio. If you go to 3 teaspoons that would put you at 2:1 ratio but also bumps the hardness up to the Medium range. You didn't mention fish so don't know if that would be a bit much.

Could still have a K issue but sometimes the deficiency signs get all mixed up when the Ca:Mg:K ratios get all out of whack.

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That’s interesting, not something I would’ve picked up myself! I’m pretty new to taking planted tanks seriously. Would I add that amount of epsom salt weekly, then? And after a water change I assume. This tank’s stock includes some Swordtails and an Asian Bumblebee Catfish, I also have a few Mystery Snails being shipped here as I type this to help eat some of the algae.

Edit: I just found some old (“expired” in 2015) Magnesium Sulfate USP in my closet, could add some to the tank tomorrow or after the next WC and see if it helps!
 

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That’s interesting, not something I would’ve picked up myself! I’m pretty new to taking planted tanks seriously. Would I add that amount of epsom salt weekly, then? And after a water change I assume.

Edit: I just found some old (“expired” in 2015) Magnesium Sulfate USP in my closet, could add some to the tank tomorrow or after the next WC and see if it helps!
Not sure about the USP part but that should work. You can add the 1.5 teaspoons now to the tank. Maybe split the dose in half one day and the rest the next. I've seen it mentioned that you don't want to increase Gh/kh by more than a degree per day. For fish health.

Then whenever you do a water change, add enough Mg to cover what you took out. So if you do a 50% water change put 3/4 teaspoon back in.

Rotalabutterfly.com has a nutrient calculator to help with smaller water changes if needed. Just choose your water volume. DIY. Dry dosing. Dose to reach a target and put in 10ppm (which when added to the 20ppm of your tap gives you roughly a 3:1 ratio of Ca:Mg).

Keep in mind that the toughest part about this hobby, besides dealing with algae, is waiting for results. Maybe 1 week but more than likely 2 weeks, if not longer since you have Anubias and ferns, to tell if it is helping.

I wouldn't blame you for adding a little K in there as well. :)



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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Not sure about the USP part but that should work. You can add the 1.5 teaspoons now to the tank. Maybe split the dose in half one day and the rest the next. I've seen it mentioned that you don't want to increase Gh/kh by more than a degree per day. For fish health.

Then whenever you do a water change, add enough Mg to cover what you took out. So if you do a 50% water change put 3/4 teaspoon back in.

Rotalabutterfly.com has a nutrient calculator to help with smaller water changes if needed. Just choose your water volume. DIY. Dry dosing. Dose to reach a target and put in 10ppm (which when added to the 20ppm of your tap gives you roughly a 3:1 ratio of Ca:Mg).

Keep in mind that the toughest part about this hobby, besides dealing with algae, is waiting for results. Maybe 1 week but more than likely 2 weeks, if not longer since you have Anubias and ferns, to tell if it is helping.

I wouldn't blame you for adding a little K in there as well. :)



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Thanks for the all the help! That website is very useful, too. I'll have to save it for the future. I'm going to add half the dose either today or tomorrow and the other half the next day. Give it a week to see how things are doing, then probably add potassium as well, just to see if it helps.
 

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No problem!

Post back if you can. Would love to hear what worked.

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While you got some good advice above, I doubt the issues have much to do with a deficiency. Anubias and Java Fern will grow in a wide variety of nutrient conditions, and are not particularly sensitive to dosing levels like stem plants.

You said you added the Anubias and Java Fern two weeks ago? If so they could still be transitioning to submerged. Next likely suspect is too much light. Both of those plants can pretty much grow in the dark, and don't need much light at all.

Are there other plants that have been in the tank longer? If so, how are they doing? Have a full tank shot of the tank? Better to look at the health of the entire tank than trying to diagnose a deficiency from a couple of plant pics.
 

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While you got some good advice above, I doubt the issues have much to do with a deficiency. Anubias and Java Fern will grow in a wide variety of nutrient conditions, and are not particularly sensitive to dosing levels like stem plants.

You said you added the Anubias and Java Fern two weeks ago? If so they could still be transitioning to submerged. Next likely suspect is too much light. Both of those plants can pretty much grow in the dark, and don't need much light at all.

Are there other plants that have been in the tank longer? If so, how are they doing? Have a full tank shot of the tank? Better to look at the health of the entire tank than trying to diagnose a deficiency from a couple of plant pics.
I should have added...

And what doesn't work, lol!

Although, I do believe atleast for the Anubia that that was new growth that was affected? Curled?

Although I kind of agree, the hole shown didn't look exactly like the issues I've experienced with low K. I'm curious if that changes your thoughts on this?

Plus, I've seen Anubias in some pretty high light tanks? Albeit co2 injected. :)

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I should have added...

And what doesn't work, lol!

Although, I do believe atleast for the Anubia that that was new growth that was affected? Curled?

Although I kind of agree, the hole shown didn't look exactly like the issues I've experienced with low K. I'm curious if that changes your thoughts on this?

Plus, I've seen Anubias in some pretty high light tanks? Albeit co2 injected. :)

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The problem with identifying deficiencies from a picture is that most deficiencies look a lot alike. I've seen people look at a picture and tell people that it's clearly a calcium deficiency. Turns out a few days later when they test their water their Ca is actually through the roof. So that's why it's best to look at everything and take a holistic approach.

And yes, Anubias can be grown in high light CO2 injected tanks. But you better know what you are doing or it could be a disaster too. More light exposes any weakness. You can also throw anubias into a bucket and toss it in the closet and it will grow there too.

In either case, it's a plant that does not require a lot of nutrients. Can be grown from lean to rich and everywhere in between.
 

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The problem with identifying deficiencies from a picture is that most deficiencies look a lot alike. I've seen people look at a picture and tell people that it's clearly a calcium deficiency. Turns out a few days later when they test their water their Ca is actually through the roof. So that's why it's best to look at everything and take a holistic approach.

And yes, Anubias can be grown in high light CO2 injected tanks. But you better know what you are doing or it could be a disaster too. More light exposes any weakness. You can also throw anubias into a bucket and toss it in the closet and it will grow there too.

In either case, it's a plant that does not require a lot of nutrients. Can be grown from lean to rich and everywhere in between.
Yeah, that's why I mentioned trying to up the Mg. Everything was looking like K or Ca issue but since there was plenty of Ca and Mg seemed low comparitively maybe it was a ratio thing.

Who knows, it may be neither. :)

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
While you got some good advice above, I doubt the issues have much to do with a deficiency. Anubias and Java Fern will grow in a wide variety of nutrient conditions, and are not particularly sensitive to dosing levels like stem plants.

You said you added the Anubias and Java Fern two weeks ago? If so they could still be transitioning to submerged. Next likely suspect is too much light. Both of those plants can pretty much grow in the dark, and don't need much light at all.

Are there other plants that have been in the tank longer? If so, how are they doing? Have a full tank shot of the tank? Better to look at the health of the entire tank than trying to diagnose a deficiency from a couple of plant pics.
I got the plants from a friend who was growing them submerged in his tank, but maybe they’re still adapting to the new water parameters.

As for lighting, I run that LED I mentioned in the original post at 40% intensity for 8-9 hours per day. Visually, it’s about as bright as the crappy old fluorescent hood light that I swapped out for this new one, but assumedly with better specs for growing plants. Should I try even lower intensity, 20% maybe, or only 7 hours of light per day?

The only older plant in the tank is a tiny piece of Anacharis that’s left over from the original plants I bought a year ago. Bought a few clumps of anacharis and cabomba last winter and tried to grow them under a crappy light with no fertilizers, which you can imagine didn’t end well. But, that one little piece is still surviving and growing very slowly.
 

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Hi Everyone,

In my experience, it's very rare to have a potassium deficiency. But, when in doubt, I test using the JBL Potassium Test Kit - although any other manufacturer's test kit should be equally good. The JBL Kit is a turbidity test where the cloudiness of the test sample changes. The test tube is placed on a card with a black cross underneath it. Sample water (with reagent) is then dripped into the test tube until the cross is no longer visible. The resulting potassium level is marked on the test tube. Easy-peasy.

Anon
 
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