Nutrient deficiency - nitrogen? - El Natural - Aquatic Plant Central

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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 01-05-2021, 09:25 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Nutrient deficiency - nitrogen?

Hello, I'm back with some more troubleshooting questions!

To add some context: three weeks ago, my crypts all melted away. They are just now starting to grow back, but fairly slowly.
Baby crypt growing back:


Now I am noticing some other plants melting or deteriorating. It's most obvious in the Helanthium tenellum, but my larger sword (Echinodorus parviflorus Tropica) has also had some yellowing leaves (mostly older leaves, but some of the new leaves look a little yellow as well).
Melting Helanthium:


Yellowing leaves on Echinodorus:


I'm not very experienced with diagnosing nutrient deficiencies. It sounds like general yellowing/leaves reabsorbing into the plant can be due to nitrogen deficiency. But potassium can cause holes in leaves, which I see a little bit on the Helanthium (see red circle).


Any ideas what could be causing this? I'm in the stage now where I want to just add a ton of stuff to the tank to try and fix it - but I know I should be patient and take things slow If it is nitrogen, how do you fix it? I had some algae earlier, and eliminated it by reducing feeding - I'm worried if I add more food, it could cause it to come back. Would root tabs be a good option in that case?

Thanks!
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Old 01-05-2021, 05:35 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Nutrient deficiency - nitrogen?

Hard to say what the deficiency is. I doubt it's N. That's probably the last nutrient that would become deficient in a planted tank. Besides, N is a mobile nutrient, such that old leaves would turn yellow as the plant moves N from older to growing younger leaves. I don't see that with your Amazon.

You can always expect some wilting and leaf death. However, that new yellow leaf on the Amazon suggests an immobile nutrient is deficient. Iron deficiency comes to mind, because it is so common. Could be that your substrate is low in iron?

Attached is my cheat sheet for nutrient deficiencies.

You could try a root tab next to the Amazon, but make sure it contains iron. Or you could just increase fishfood supply. (Now that you've got established plants, algae may not cause a problem.)
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File Type: pdf Nutrient Deficiency Symptoms.pdf (16.9 KB, 35 views)
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Old 01-06-2021, 08:48 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Nutrient deficiency - nitrogen?

Thanks for the reply, great to have your expertise to lean on.

I have suspected iron deficiency in the past, due to my floating/stem plants yellowing. I have Seachem Iron, which from what I understand is taken up very quickly by plants through their leaves. I will try dosing a little and see if that helps. I also have some few-year-old root tabs laying around somewhere, I can give that a try if the iron doesn't change anything.

Informative PDF and linked website. There's so much to learn! I can see why people never get bored in this hobby
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Old 01-13-2021, 12:50 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Nutrient deficiency - nitrogen?

I've been dosing with Flourish Iron for a week now (about every other day, dosing slightly less than is recommended for my tank size) and the results seem to be good! The new sword leaf is definitely darker. The floating plants, particularly the salvinia, has also shot up in size with much more robust roots than I've seen before on this tank! I thought they may have an iron deficiency when I first set up the tank, and that certainly seems to be a limiting factor for them. The chain swords haven't shown much change.

I'll keep up regular iron dosing for a while and see if things keep improving.

Is there any way to introduce a more permanent iron source to the substrate, assuming mine is deficient in it? I've heard of shoving a nail in it - does that actually work? Or would root tabs w/ iron be a better way to go?
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