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Old 06-24-2012, 12:43 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Do you think this info on nutrients is accurate?

I'm sure the people who have been around for a while will recognize this info from the Yamato Green website. What I am wondering is if the information is accurate.

I have been away from the aquarium hobby for at least 6-7 years. However, I slightly remember the Yamato Green name from that time, and it seems like it was fairly popular. I am not really wondering if the specific product is good, but rather the info listed below on what each nutrient does for the plants. Is the info stated below accurate on what each nutrient does for the plant correct?

I am trying to get back into the hobby again, and at first I thought I would provide nutrients as they were needed by the plants in MY particular setup and according to the stage the aquarium was in at the time. I started to look for information, such as which nutrients promote root growth etc. However, I find more info on how to dose as opposed to what to dose and why to dose it. For instance with my house plants and the ones outside I might use a particular configuration for new plants (to promote root development), vs a different configuration for older plants, or ones I wanted to increase flowering on, or even at different times of year. Anyway, I assume the requirements for terrestrial and aquatic plants differ, and before I diverge too far from my original question here is the list of nutrient descriptions I am wondering about.

the following was copied from: http://www.yamatogreen.com/plantnutrients101.htm
There are 13 mineral nutrients needed for plants to grow. The mineral nutrients are divided into two groups: macronutrients and micronutrients. You also sometimes see these nutrients divided as primary and secondary nutrients.
Macronutrients are so named because plants use quite a lot of them. The macronutrients are: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulfur (S). Most of these nutrients must usually be added to the aquarium water because plants use so much of them for growth. Some (like magnesium, sulfur and calcium) are usually present in large amounts in hard water. If you live in a soft water area, you may need to add magnesium, sulfur and calcium to increase the hardness levels of the water and provide these essential nutrients to the plants.

Micronutrients are so named because, while necessary for growth, plants usually require only small amounts of them. The micronutrients are: boron (B), copper (Cu), Iron (Fe), chloride (Cl), manganese (Mn), molybdenum (Mo), and zinc (Zn).


There are also three non-mineral nutrients required by plants. These are hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), and carbon (C).

While some of these nutrients may be present in tapwater, not all are present. Indeed, some municipalities reduce or remove important nutrients at the water processing plant. As an example, most municipal water supplies are very deficient in iron. Soft water areas are deficient in calcium, magnesium and sulfur.
Let's briefly discuss these nutrients and their roles in plant growth.

Nitrogen (N): An essential part of all living cells. Must be present for protein synthesis. Nitrogen is an important part of chlorophyll (the green pigment in plants). Nitrogen is usually provided to plants in the form of nitrate, and is usually deficient in tapwater, where it is considered a contaminant. Aquarium plants require about 5-10 ppm nitrate for adequate growth.


Phosphorus (P): helps convert light into sugars that the plants use to feed, and is an essential component of photosynthesis. Excess phosphorus without adequate light levels can contribute to algae growth. Usually present in adequate amounts in tapwater, and by the addition of fish food to the tank.

Potassium (K): plants require huge amounts of potassium for growth. Important in protein synthesis, and helps plants to metabolize iron. Usually deficient in aquariums. Ideal level varies, but is around 5-10 ppm.
Calcium (Ca): a component of cell wall structure. Helps provide strength to the plant, and helps transport other nutrients throughout the plant. Usually present in adequate quantities in most municipal water areas, where it is responsible for "hard" water.
Magnesium (Mg): A component of chlorophyll. Essential to the transport of iron in the plant. May be present in adequate quantities in hard water areas; is probably deficient in softer water areas.
Sulfur (S): Helps in chlorophyll production. Essential for healthy root growth. Stimulates rapid plant growth. Usually deficient in all but the hardest water areas.
Boron (B): Essential for the regulation of other nutrients. Helps the plant produce sugars and starches. Very small amounts required.
Copper (Cu): Essential for the plant to reproduce. Helps stimulate the production of proteins.
Chloride (Cl): Plays a role in plant metabolization of other nutrients. Usually present in chlorinated water (dechlorinators convert Chlorine into a salt of chloride). May be deficient in well water or deionized water.
Iron (Fe): absolutely essential for plant growth, and usually deficient in all municipal water. Must be present for the manufacture of chlorophyll. Without adequate iron (about 0.1 to 0.5 ppm), plants will yellow and fail to produce dark green growth.
Manganese (Mn): important nutrient that helps the plant digest starches and nitrogen, thus helps the plant to use other minerals. A deficiency may actually show up as a deficiency in one of the other nutrients, such as iron (yellowing leaves).

Molybdenum (Mo): assists the plant to metabolize nitrogen. Very tiny amounts required to maintain plant health.


Zinc (Zn): Essential for carbohydrate metabolization. Helps regulate plant growth
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Old 06-25-2012, 11:38 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do you think this info on nutrients is accurate?

you need N,P, and K. (macro's) and micro's. I don't like CL, I use 4 stage ro/di with kent ro right.. my tetras love and are very happy in there little 10 gallon.
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Old 06-25-2012, 02:44 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do you think this info on nutrients is accurate?

The information you quote is a pretty standard description of macro and micro-nutrients. I can't comment on their suggested concentrations (ppm), but everything else looks accurate.

There will be a difference on opinion on whether the nutriets are best in the water or in the substrate. I tend to think they are best in the substrate where they cannot be used by algae.
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Old 06-25-2012, 08:47 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do you think this info on nutrients is accurate?

Thanks for the replies guys.

Michael, I was wondering about the comment you made that you prefer nutrients in the substrate vs. the water column. Is that the reason you seem to prefer El Natural setups? I promise I am not stalking you, but your hidden spring setup was one of the first setups that really caught my attention. So I had to see what else you had put together. Do you ever dose the water column? Like perhaps if you see a specific deficiency.
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Old 06-26-2012, 06:51 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do you think this info on nutrients is accurate?

A couple of comments...

First of all, the concept of different formulations for houseplants vs orchids vs vegetables vs annuals, etc isn't really applicable for planted aquariums. All aquatic plants grow in the same manner; you don't need specialized formulas because you don't really have to worry about the development of flowers or fruit.

Second of all, all aquatic plants need the correct nutrients to grow. period. having a nutrient rich substrate simply means that you have a surplus of nutrients available for the plants to grow. the fact that it is not available to the algae in the water column is a bonus. that said, if their is a nutrient deficiency, then your plants will let you know and the easiest way to correct that deficiency is to add it to the water column - substrate fertilization is simply less convenient.

Third of all, why do we dose? we dose in order to provide all the nutrients that the plant needs to grow under a certain light intensity. light intensity determines nutrient demand. more light = more nutrient demand. furthermore, not all of the nutrients plants need are available in the aquarium in equal amounts; some may be in excess, some may be deficient. for example, K is often times deficient; Fe is also usually deficient (although soil based tanks often have a huge amount of Fe available).
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:58 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do you think this info on nutrients is accurate?

Thank you, if you are stalking me I am flattered, LOL! I got bored with Hidden Spring and took it down about a month ago. Look for its replacement in a few months, a planted tank for Tanganyikan shell dwellers.

Yes, keeping nutrients in the substrate is one of the reasons I like the Walstad method. I do dose the water--with fish food and water changes. That is a deliberately provocative statement because I think most people do not realize how much nutrients they are putting in the tank everytime they feed fish and change water.

I don't think there is anything wrong with dosing artificial fertilizers for a deficiency. Because I have soil and other high CEC ingredients in my substrate, any freely circulating nutrients are absorbed by the substrate. They are sequestered there until a plant root comes along to grab them. So even if I did dose fertilizers all the time, most of the nutrients would stay in the substrate. As I understand it, this is the system used by ADA: a nutrient rich substrate with high CEC that is supplemented as necessary with water column fertilization.

This way of doing things does have certain effects. For example, I have a hard time with fast-growing floating plants in established tanks because my water has so few nutrients. And there are a few other plants that have failed in my tanks--perhaps because of the lean water column or because I do not use CO2.

But this does not limit my choices much. There are so many species that do well in these conditions that I will never have a chance to grow them all. And I do not crave rare and delicate plants just for their rarity. What I want is visually interesting species for my designs that will flourish with the level of care that I am willing to provide.
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Old 06-27-2012, 02:30 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do you think this info on nutrients is accurate?

Michael,
Thanks for the reply, and I will be watching for your new setup. Good luck.

I think something you said really speaks to the nature of this hobby, or for that matter any hobby. I have been thinking about it lately in respect to several hobbies.

"What I want is visually interesting species for my designs that will flourish with the level of care that I am willing to provide."

IMHO, a hobby should be enjoyable. To enjoy that hobby you have to know what you want from it, and what you are willing to do to accomplish that goal. I often say that the world is a matter of perspective.How one person perceives something, and what they find important is a matter of personal preference.

For instance someone might only be interested in a breathtaking aquascape. Someone else might be more interested in simply growing healthy plants and fish, no matter what the completed tank looks like. Another motivating factor may be a love of tinkering with technology. Also, accomplishing a goal with out the use of "high tech" gear is very appealing to some.

In addition, I think an individual is always more successful with any project if they follow a formula that matches their skill set. It's not always the case that there is only one right answer. I think this is very evident in this hobby, and why some have success with EI, or the Walstad method, or the ADA style etc. I think if you understand what you want from the hobby, and what you're capable of doing then your chance of success is greater. Also success is in the eye of the beholder.

The most complicated aspect for me has been understanding how all the different variables affect each other. Such as if I change substrate how will it affect my choice of nutrients or filtration, lighting, CO2 etc. I would think that most of that knowledge comes from hands on experience. Anyway, I kind of got off on a "side road" there, but it kind of bothers me that different methods seem to be dividing lines in the hobby.
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Old 06-27-2012, 02:56 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do you think this info on nutrients is accurate?

Hi there JeffyFunk, and thanks for the reply. When you state that:

"All aquatic plants grow in the same manner; you don't need specialized formulas because you don't really have to worry about the development of flowers or fruit."

Are you saying that all aquatic plants require the same amounts of NPK, and traces through out their lives?

Even if the aquatic plants are not growing flowers or fruit wouldn't there be certain nutrients that would impact the different stages in their life? Like when first planted, I would think a certain nutrient would have more to do with producing roots. Then a different nutrient would be more important when the plant is trying to produce new foliage.

This is the reason I would expect the nutrient additions for a new tank to differ from an older tank. Likewise, I would think that in the beginning a new tank would not need certain nutrients. However, I don't see programs like EI accounting for that.
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Old 06-27-2012, 08:41 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do you think this info on nutrients is accurate?

I remember the YamatoGreen guy and his fertilizers from about 10 years ago. Strange thing I was thinking about him just 2 days ago and here you are mentioning him.

For 10 years the hobby has moved further in some ways but the following can't be denied:

1. You must use an active substrate
2. You must provide good filtration
3. You must be concerned with the CO2 AND the O2
4. Fertilization is still a matter of dispute
5. Algae are as big of a problem as they were 10 years ago

What seems to be important is not how exactly every component works but how all of them work together. The interactions are so dynamic that it is essential to have a strategy and not run after chemical concentration numbers and defficiency sympthoms alone. The Japanese company ADA has borrowed all the good information and practices that is out there and has created a coherent system allowing you to run a planted tank in a very much predictable manner.

As far as aquascaping is concerned you find the hobby in the biggest rut it has even been in. This opens opportunities for something new to emerge.
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Old 06-28-2012, 09:48 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do you think this info on nutrients is accurate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrislewistx View Post
Are you saying that all aquatic plants require the same amounts of NPK, and traces through out their lives?

Even if the aquatic plants are not growing flowers or fruit wouldn't there be certain nutrients that would impact the different stages in their life? Like when first planted, I would think a certain nutrient would have more to do with producing roots. Then a different nutrient would be more important when the plant is trying to produce new foliage.

This is the reason I would expect the nutrient additions for a new tank to differ from an older tank. Likewise, I would think that in the beginning a new tank would not need certain nutrients. However, I don't see programs like EI accounting for that.
I see three ideas in your response that I believe are partially correct, partially incorrect.

(1) In essence, yes - plants require the same amount of nutrients throughout their life relative to their size.
(2) If you use the Amano method of dosing, then yes, the exact nutrients you add to your tank change over time.
(3) If you are dosing using EI quantities, then yes, you are correct in that they don't change. However, that system of dosing was not designed that way.

First, (1) the plants require the same amount of nutrients throughout their life relative to their size. This is an example of focusing too much on the trees and not seeing the forest; focusing on the microscopic when you should really be seeing the macroscopic. When you place a plant into an aquarium, it grows. period. it's going to grow roots and foliage... at the same time. are the exact same quantities of nutrients the same used to grow roots as to grow leaves? probably not. but it doesn't matter because (1) there are only a few nutrients actually needed (N, P, K, Fe, etc) and (2) the quantity of nutrients required to do this is (probably) proportional to the growth rate. It's not like plants need an exact amount of some exotic element, say Palladium, in order to activate a specific root growth mechanism. Instead, growth mechanisms are controlled by hormones which are composed of, surprise surprise, the basic elements (C, N, O, P, K, etc).

What you are partially correct about, however, is that plants have different nutrient demands depending on how old they are. I say this is only partially correct because it has more to do with their overall mass, rather than their age; A newly planted full grown Echinodorus is going going to require a lot more nutrients than a newly planted baby plantlet. In this case, the ratio of nutrients required is the same, but the amounts are different.

(I should add the caveat that the ratio of elements needed is, in fact, dependent upon the plants in the aquarium. That said, there is no master chart to look up where you add up the demand values of the plants in your aquarium and figure out the exact ratio of N:P:K you need to add to your tank... you just have to watch your aquarium and determine, by their growth, if they need more of any particular nutrient.)

Second, (2) If you use the Amano method of dosing, then yes, the exact nutrients you add to your tank change over time. In the Amano method, the logic is (roughly speaking here) that you fertilize in steps or stages, based on the age of the aquarium and substrate. In the beginning of an aquarium, using Aquasoil, the plants grow mainly from nutrients in the substrate - you dose nutrients that are lacking in the substrate (typically K & Fe). Later, as the plants grow and the substrate starts to deplete, you replenish the substrate using root tabs and increasing the nutrients you add to the water column. The overall nutrient demands are not changing; where the nutrients are coming from, however, is changing. This is a lot different than saying, new plants don't need N as nitrate.

Third, (3) If you are dosing using EI quantities, then yes, you are correct in that they don't change. However, that system of dosing was not designed that way. The EI system was designed so that anyone could fertilize their tank and grow plants without suffering from nutrient deficiencies. The quantities of fertilizer added are assuming you do not have a nutrient rich substrate so that all of the nutrients the plants need have to come from the water column.

And just to comment a little on Niko's comment (because i can...)... the above information is assuming that you are following points 1, 2, and 3 in Niko's comment above. Point 4 is the topic of discussion here. Point 5 is a consequence of not paying attention to points 1 to 4.
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