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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey Everyone,

Im new to this forum and joined to see if I could get some help on this plant leaf curling issue I have been having for about a year and a half. First a bit about the tank:

Its a 40 gallon breeder, thats heavily planted. It is equipped with passive CO2 that is able to raise to CO2 level to ~10ppm. It has a fluval 3.0 and a cheap nicrew led for lighting along with a blue led accent light. The water tends to get pretty hard and TDS runs from 350 to 600, pH 7-7.5.
My water change water is RO because the tap is not great for plants. The RO is mixed up to 60ppm Ca (from Calcium Chloride), 10ppm Mg (from MgSO4), 5 DKH (from baking soda), and 30 ppm (from K2SO4). I chose this mix bc after much trial and error this is the mix that lessened the leaf curling issue that I frequently see, however I suspect this is a way different mixture from what most of the experts use. Any other recommendations for make up water parameters and mixes? I replaced CaSO4 with CaCl2 initially because the CaSO4 seemed to have no beneficial impact on the leaf curling.

Anyways, I am looking for tips on how to troubleshoot this issue as it has left me scratching my head. I am by no means an expert and am just stumbling my way through planted tanks, so please feel free to add constructive criticism or probe for more information. The curling occurs in two different ways. Many times plants will appear a bit bent as their normal appearance and other times I will notice an acute and many times severe curling in plants that were previously straight leaved. This change can often be immediate and drastic and seems to be brought on by some change in the tank. I have noticed it occur after doing a water change and even moving plants around in the tank.

I have heard that curling can occur from Calcium and /or CO2 deficiency, and from excess chlorine, but none of these seem to be able to explain all the times I see curling. Could this be from a trace mineral deficiency? My fertilization regime is to add K2PO4 regularly as phosphate is always low but nitrate higher (40-80), from the large amount of fish in the tank. I also occasionally add some potassium and iron and a trace element mix (Miller's Microplex) to cover my bases. I have tried using Easy Green, once a week but have not witnessed much of a change. Finally, Water changes occur once every 2 weeks. Any, help or advice would be greatly appreciated

thanks in advance,
Chris
 

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I can't necessarily help you, but I can tell you about my curling issues. I was trying to go PPS rather than EI for my dosing. Since I was monitoring the nitrates and adjusting the other macros/micros according to how much nitrate was being used, I wasn't doing weekly water changes. After some time I noticed the curling on my plants. I looked about and found the most common cause is calcium deficiency. I figured that my water was so hard here in SE Texas that there was no way it was deficient in Calcium. Anyways, I figured it couldn't hurt to start doing more frequent water changes and that is when my curling stopped. I don't know if calcium chloride is less available to the plants than the carbonates in my water is, you may want to take a look and see if anyone else can give some info on the difference between the two as far as uptake to the plants.
 

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There could be multiple reasons for the leaf curling, but based on what you posted:

-60ppm Ca should be plenty of Ca but at 6:1 Ca:Mg I'd be looking to get that ratio between 4:1 and 2:1 Ca:Mg
-Swapping CaCl2 for CaSO4 wasn't necessary
-I'd drop the baking soda as the sodium in it isn't beneficial to the plants; good alternates are KHCO3 and K2CO3
-Your CO2 peaking at 10ppm may be insufficient if this is a heavily planted tank. A recommended measure of adequate CO2 is a 1 point drop in pH iduring the course of a day
-What are you using for micros?

Lastly, this thread may be a good read for you where other members compare their dosing amounts
Share your dosing
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hey Everyone,
Thanks for your replies Bandit1200 and rzn7z7! rzn7z7,thanks for the advice! I am using miller's microplex to add micronutrients to the water and thanks so much for the link. Also, I started using baking soda to raise kh because when I used K2CO3 which I also tried, I was stressed by how it skyrocketed the pH of my makeup RO with just a small addition. Is there something I'm missing here? How do you dose potassium carbonate without swinging the pH so much??? In the beginning I was trying to target a low pH, a low dKH, and moderate GH however for me that seemed impossible to do. I was targeting a pH of 6-7, a KH of 2, and a GH of 5-7 but i found it impossible to get there with RO or, or tap for that matter. Can anyone help me on trying to achieve these parameters? I always found that water would mix up so that one of these parameters became way out of wack. Most of the time I would achieve a pH that was too high or yoyo'd. I used rotalabutterfly to calculate each chemical addition.

Also, does anyone know why we use CaSo4 instead of CaCl in the planted tank hobby. CaCl seems to dissolve immediately while CaSo4 overtime, making it hard to achieve precise parameters IMO. Is the sulfate a critical element for plants, is the chlorine detrimental to plants?

I appreciate the advice, thanks much

Chris
 

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K2CO3 shouldn't behave differently than NaHCO3 or KHCO3 and cause drastic changes in pH so that's interesting. If you used rotalabutterfly, however, to calculate how much to add I do see a potential issue - adding 1tsp K2CO3 to 30 gallons of water results in a 0.0004 degrees rise in KH which seems incredibly low; meantime, 1tsp baking soda into 30 gallons raises KH by 1.33 while 1tsp KHCO3/30 gallons raises KH by 1.36

I use KHCO3 and don't know what to make of these calculator numbers for K2CO3 but it they caused you to overdose then, yeah, I could see that wreaking havoc with your pH

Meantime, your point re. CaSO4 dissolving slowly is valid - I only replace 16% of my water weekly and slow dissolution hasn't been an issue, however, if you're changing 50+% weekly then pre-mixing your GH ingredients (Ca and Mg) into your RO water would be the way to go
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Ok so a bit of an update on my situation:

I did a water change and increased the CO2 significantly such that the plants pearl for 4 hours in the second half of the photoperiod. I also upped the phosphate with KH2PO4. I find that this is being used up rapidly such that it decreases to .5ppm daily. I have begun adding daily additions of 2ppm. Also, Nitrate has decreased from 20 to 40ppm. I've added additional Miller's microplex to up the micronutrients and installed a dosing pump to additionally add both Miller's Microplex and phosphate at EI daily dosing levels. The plants are certainly growing faster, however the curling is worse than before and seemed to increase the more CO2 i add.

One thing I've noticed is that my KH increased by 1, from 4-5 but my GH increased significantly to 20!! I think this is because I have a dish of crushed coral in the tank and it seems to be melting at a faster rate with the increased CO2. My question is what do people think the most likely cause of the increased curling is? Is it still a micro or macro deficiency issue? Is the increase in hardness interfering with nutrient uptake? Is there an alternative explanation why curling might happen? Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance!

Chris
 

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Crushed coral is calcium carbonate (CaCO3), yes? CaCO3 dissolves faster in lower pH tanks so, yeah, I'd say the extra CO2 is the reason behind the uptick in KH and GH. Can you remove the crushed coral?

The pearling from increased CO2 is a good sign and suggests you were CO2 deficient - in fact, you should be getting a minimum of a 1.0 pH drop from the addition of CO2. How do you measure your pH?

The drop in PO4 and NO3 isn't surprising - with CO2 being removed as a deficiency the macros are next as your hungry plants start snacking on everything. This right here should help with curling but there will probably be more steps required
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Ok a further update,
So as rzn7z7 suggested I removed the crushed coral and and did a water change to decrease the hardness. I am testing pH with a ph meter, however I have not yet monitored the pH drop, but plan to in the coming days. I have focused on maintaining consistent CO2 as judged by what time plants begin pearling. Daily they will pearl 4 hours after lights on. I have also been maintaining TDS at around 350-450 before a water change rather than 600 plus. KH is now maintained from 2-3, and Gh from 8-9 rather than 20.

Current water parameters (using liquid test kits) are:
PH b4 addition of CO2-7.1 (pen)
TDS-340 (pen)
NO3-20-30 (API)
PO4- ~1 (API)
C02- ~10 ppm
MG- >10 (max color on test kit comparison chart) (JBL)
Ca- ~60 (API)
KH-2.5 (API)
GH-8-9 (API)
K-~15 (easy life)
Fe- .1-.2 (seachem)

After a bit of trial and error the curling has decreased significantly. I attribute this to dialing in my CO2 and correcting a micro deficiency. This regime has the tank humming along, growing rapidly and very little curling occurring. This is of course until some unknown threshhold is reached after a water change. This comes around 1 week post water change. When this occurs plants stop growing or are greatly stunted, additionally leaf curling resumes. Addition of micros no longer seems to help the curling at that point.
Scratching my head, I proceeded to test a battery of things, it seems that nothing is deficient that I can see from the parameters I tested. At this point I'm suspecting it may be if anything an excess causing the slow down. Maybe Mg? What does everyone think about this? Does someone have a better explanation as to what is occuring? Any big thing I'm missing to try? Please advise

Thanks in advance
Chris

Ok a further update,
So as rzn7z7 suggested I removed the crushed coral and and did a water change to decrease the hardness. I am testing pH with a ph meter, however I have not yet monitored the pH drop, but plan to in the coming days. I have focused on maintaining consistent CO2 as judged by what time plants begin pearling. Daily they will pearl 4 hours after lights on. I have also been maintaining TDS at around 350-450 before a water change rather than 600 plus. KH is now maintained from 2-3, and Gh from 8-9 rather than 20.

Current water parameters (using liquid test kits) are:
PH b4 addition of CO2-7.1 (pen)
TDS-340 (pen)
NO3-20-30 (API)
PO4- ~1 (API)
C02- ~10 ppm
MG- >10 (max color on test kit comparison chart) (JBL)
Ca- ~60 (API)
KH-2.5 (API)
GH-8-9 (API)
K-~15 (easy life)
Fe- .1-.2 (seachem)

After a bit of trial and error the curling has decreased significantly. I attribute this to dialing in my CO2 and correcting a micro deficiency. This regime has the tank humming along, growing rapidly and very little curling occurring. This is of course until some unknown threshhold is reached after a water change. This comes around 1 week post water change. When this occurs plants stop growing or are greatly stunted, additionally leaf curling resumes. Addition of micros no longer seems to help the curling at that point.
Scratching my head, I proceeded to test a battery of things, it seems that nothing is deficient that I can see from the parameters I tested. At this point I'm suspecting it may be if anything an excess causing the slow down. Maybe Mg? What does everyone think about this? Does someone have a better explanation as to what is occuring? Any big thing I'm missing to try? Please advise

Thanks in advance
Chris
For clarity, the water parameters listed are at a point when plants have slowed drastically despite good CO2 and good macros

Chris
 
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