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El Natural Diana Walstad's low-maintenance, soil-based 'El Natural' method for keeping plants and fish.

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Old 06-23-2020, 04:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Sword with holes on leaves

I've noticed the growth of one of sword plants (10G aquarium) has been stagnant for a while. Today, after a closer examination, I observed several tiny holes on most, if not all, leaves:





According to Ecology of the Planted Aquarium, page 87, this can be due to a lack of Calcium. I'm a bit puzzled though, because the water's GH seems to be at an acceptable level. My parameters are:

GH: 161.1 ppm
KH: 4 ºdKH
TDS: 275
pH: ~7.4

Should I be raising the GH further? I currently have some Seachem Replenish lying around, but I'm hesitant to use it because Seachem itself mentions it can be detrimental to plants. I can follow the book (or this very recent post), the main advantage of Replenish is that I already have it.

My shrimp seem to be thriving, so the current hardness seems to be enough for them to molt. Other plants are doing well, save for this sword plant (only one in the tank).
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Old 06-23-2020, 08:31 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sword with holes on leaves

can you take a closer picture of the snails? The holes don’t look natural. It’s rare in an aquarium but some snails do eat healthy plants.
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Old 06-24-2020, 06:17 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sword with holes on leaves

Are the holes in all leaves, or just the older ones?
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Old 06-25-2020, 03:50 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sword with holes on leaves

Quote:
Originally Posted by HomeroThompson View Post
According to Ecology of the Planted Aquarium, page 87, this can be due to a lack of Calcium. I'm a bit puzzled though, because the water's GH seems to be at an acceptable level.
Lack of calcium doesn't cause little holes in the leaves. It causes the entire leaf to melt/dissolve away and the plant to die.
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Old 06-25-2020, 04:39 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sword with holes on leaves

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Originally Posted by mistergreen View Post
can you take a closer picture of the snails? The holes don’t look natural. It’s rare in an aquarium but some snails do eat healthy plants.
I think they're just regular ramshorn snails, together with a few bladder snails:





There's also a single assassin snail, so that the ramshorn snail population doesn't get completely out of hand.

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Are the holes in all leaves, or just the older ones?
All of them. I haven't seen new growth in a while.

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Originally Posted by dwalstad View Post
Lack of calcium doesn't cause little holes in the leaves. It causes the entire leaf to melt/dissolve away and the plant to die.
Ah I was mistaken then.

I should maybe add, the tank has been going for about 15 months.

Also, there's a single leaf that's looking considerably worse, and which I discovered after my original post (it was hidden away by the nearby Java fern). Sorry for the blurry pictures, getting my phone to focus was an impossible task:



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Old 06-25-2020, 05:21 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sword with holes on leaves

hmmm, strange. Snails look normal. When in doubt, look at the macronutrients. Look at nitrogen & potassium & CO2/carbon.
How old is this tank and how often are the water changes?
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Old 06-26-2020, 08:43 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sword with holes on leaves

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hmmm, strange. Snails look normal. When in doubt, look at the macronutrients. Look at nitrogen & potassium & CO2/carbon.
How old is this tank and how often are the water changes?
When you say look, is it possible to measure those?

The tank has been running for 15 months. To be honest, I do water changes every couple of months (aside from small top offs due to evaporation), the livestock seems happy.
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Old 06-27-2020, 05:48 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sword with holes on leaves

I read somewhere that baby snails will eat tiny holes where they hatch. I have nothing to back that up with. But, I have seen this in my new tank and it's not causing plants to die, so I just don't worry about it. In my tank it's mainly Brazilian pennywort that this has happened to.
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Old 06-28-2020, 07:04 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sword with holes on leaves

I have a ton of snails in my tank. Some are pond snails and the other look somewhat like MTS only they are much smaller(1mm in size) and they only make an appearance when there isn't much circulating in the tank. I've also had ramshorns in the past and none of them ever ate away at the plants.

Are all the leaves affected or is it only the older ones? From the looks of it, I'm wondering if your plants are dealing with a potassium deficiency.
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Old 06-28-2020, 02:36 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sword with holes on leaves

I'm inclined to agree with Mandy that it might be potassium deficiency. My analysis (Table V-3, p. 80 in my book) showed that K provided by the fishfood input was borderline. Moreover, deficiency symptoms are holes in the leaves. Here's a link for more on nutrient deficiencies.

Easy to fix by adding a pinch to the tank of "salt substitute" from a grocery store. Mostly KCl. Dissolve it first in some water before adding to the tank.

Remember that 1 tsp KCl = about 6 grams (6,000 mg) and about half of that is actual K; the rest is Cl. If you have a 10 gal tank (40 liters) and you shoot for a generous 10 mg K per liter. you only need to add 800 mg of KCl. That will give you a total of 400 mg of pure K and 10 mg K per liter. So you need to think in terms of one-tenth of a teaspoon per 10 gal. My point is that you don't have to add much of the salt substitute. And adding a little extra or a little less won't hurt.

Your hardwater might have plenty of Ca and Mg but lack K.
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