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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Despite decent Ca levels as written in the tittle i still have severe burned and stunted tips on my Umbrosum and Alternatera reineckii. Those symptoms go away when K is almost 0 ppm but at the same time K deficiency shows up (at 0 ppm K plants begin to grow healthy in only 3..4 days time). Many say that the problems with stunted/burned tips are due to low NO3, CO2 etc. but i checked all that stuff and i can say that is NOT the case; it didn't helped at all. I tried high NO3, high PO4, Mg, changed micro ratios and levels (the only micronutrient i didn't change was copper but i don't think it would have any effect) I also tried low levels of SO4, Na. I wonder HOW some of us can have high K and low Ca and no problems i've just written about. If there is someone who can explain in simple words what causes such issues and it really helps he should be given "Planted Tank Nobel Prize"
 

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I've been messing around with the same problem (which I think is some kind of Ca blocking by Mg and/or K.) I have been mixing my fairly hard tap water with RO/DI water to keep my Mg levels down (<10 ppm Mg, probably lower right now.) Ca is around 40ppm. I replaced my KNO3 with CaNO3, and KH2PO4 with Fleet enema (NaH2PO4/Na2HPO4); no addition of K2SO4 or MgSO4. The only addition of K or Mg is the small amount that is in the Flourish I dose. Haven't seen any signs of K deficiencies yet.

The Ca deficiency has improved in many plants that had symptoms, and as a side effect, my ramshorn snails are now showing normal new shell growth instead of white pitted shells. I just got some beautiful new shoots appearing from my sad, dark, stunted Rotala wallichi. However, my Nesea crassicaulus still has some slightly crinkled leaf growth and Ammania senegalensis remains completely deformed (I might just toss it.)
 

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These are very interesting findings. I may try using just calcium carbonate to increase my RO water to 40 ppm KH as CaCO3. (Right now I use a combination of CaCO3 and K2CO3.)

Aquariumlandscapes.net sells a potassium test kit that only tests K levels between 1 - 2 ppm. They have always maintained that 1 or 2 ppm K is ideal for a planted tank.

kekon, I commend your efforts with experimenting, testing, and researching. Changing individual micronutrient levels and observing results... this is what the hobby needs more of.
 

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I love to see more looking into this and trying to get to the bottom of it. For a LONG time 2 years actually I have been fighting with over all bad growth.... and reocurence of this "Ca deficiency" type symptom.... for me I have yet to slove it but I strongly feel it has a lot to do with my levels of Mg.... I have also added additional K to the tank for a long time and I dont know if this has any affect on the whole deal or not but it is a variable.

When I recently stopped dosing Mg all togeather other than what comes from my traces.... and am working on really bumping up CO2, and macros, still not getting very good growth but stunting has improved, though its still there.....

Another observation I have made is that when I get stunting of my plants like this.... many plants also start to show sever pin holes along with yellowing of older leaves followed by complete fall off of the leaf. This is also when I dose just 2 ppm of Mg per week. Evidance that Mg at even low concentrations can block K? I dont know..... but I strongly feel that Ca Mg and K are all tied into this deal for me any way....
 

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I know ADA recommends daily dosing of potassium (Brighty K), but I don't know how concentrated Brighty K is. It's also intended to be used with Aqua Soil, which basically pulls in positively charged ions (like K) from the water column.

It's looking more and more like "leaner is better" when it comes to the water column... kind of the opposite of EI if you ask me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I went even further with that; i even checked other elements and how they will affect my plants to find what's wrong. I dosed the following:

- nickel (NiCl2 * 6H2O)
- cobalt (CoCl2 * 6H2O)
- iodine (KJ)
- vanadium (from a commercial fertilizer)
- urea (CO(NH2)2) - as a source of N
- guanidine carbonate (C2H10N6 * H2CO3) - as a source of N
- ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3; 0.5 ppm MH4 daily)
- 0 ppm Mg & 30 ppm Ca - Mg deficiency began to show on Cardamine Lyrata (its leaves curled upward along leaves edges - it's another sign of Mg deficiency apart from yellowing lower leaves)

All that stuff didn't help at all. Tom Barr said it was impossble that K+ blocked Ca even when K+ was high but my experiments showed that it wasn't true.
But one thing is certain: stunted growth of fast growing stem plants is a result of Ca blokage. I came to the conclusion that it would good thing to dose K+ daily in small amounts but whenever K+ drops below 5..10 i notice some improvement but K+ deficiency apperars on other plats :(
 

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Another observation I have made is that when I get stunting of my plants like this.... many plants also start to show sever pin holes along with yellowing of older leaves followed by complete fall off of the leaf. This is also when I dose just 2 ppm of Mg per week.
The fact you dose x ppm of Mg a week doesn't mean much if we don't know what is the total Mg in the water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Elkmor said:
Try boric acid, dose 0,02 mg/l of boron weekly. If it doesn't help then suspect lots of boron in your tap water... do less water changes, try PPS without w/c for a month.
I did it but plants stopped to grow a few days after adding boron. I use only RO water so all the micros are under control. I also stopped adding micros for a few days but plants began to grow pale.
 

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Hi kekon
The world is patiently waiting for the day when you start growing plants. Plants in general don't need much, we already know what and how.

The reason why you are having difficulties is because there are damaging chemicals present in your water source. They are; Na, NaCl, Chlorine, Chloramin, medical hormones, medications, cleaners, caffeine, contraceptives, painkillers, insect repellent, perfumes, nicotine, fluoxetine hydrochloride Prozac, antidepressant, antibiotics, disinfectants, deodorant fragrances, anti-cholesterol drugs, soaps, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, arsenic, benzene, turpentine, toluene, kerosene, and on and on &#8230;.

RO reverse osmosis filtration does not entirely eliminate these substances. No Vanadium or K to Ca ratio will resolve it.

The only option is to let the plants to help you. Fill up your aquarium clean again and maintain the proper fertilizer levels with daily dosing for a month or two. The plants will consume most of the harmful chemicals cleaning the water column in the process. Algae will die and plants will grow through the stages.

Thank you
Edward
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Well, i believe that the chemicals you mentioned above can cause the problems i have. But i don't think there is any source where they could come from. Of course i agree that RO doesn't remove chemicals from the tap completely.
I have problems with 2..3 species only; others seem to grow much better. The problems concern stem plants only. Such plants like Blyxa japonica, h.callitrihoides, rotala, microsorium, aromatica grow very well.
The only chemicals i add to my tank come from TMG and RO water reconstitution such as CaCO3, MgSO4, NaHCO3, KNO3, KH2PO4 and Ca(NO3)2 so these are salts we all use in our tanks and i'm quite sure there don't cause any problems if used correctly. I know for sure that something is blocking Ca in my tank and this is the only issue i have now and try to find out how to solve it.
 

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Kekon, I tip my hat to you as well with your testing. I have been dealing with the same A. reinickii on/off stunting we are all so aware of. Having virtually no Mg in my water, I have been adding it to the tank. For a while, it seemed to make things better, now it seems to be reverting to the way it used to be. I have also tried boron to no avail. I will try some TMG instead of Flourish to see if the different chelator makes any difference in the availability of the micros to the plants.

Keep us updated on any relevant observations you make. Thanks. :thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
First of all i'd like to thank for all the people from APC as it helped and helps me a lot :)
Of course i will post any new info from experiments in my tank. When it comes to chelators i tried only ones which were a blend of EDTA + DTPA. I add Fe and Mn chelators to changed water so that Fe was at the same level all the week (0.2..0.3 ppm). It helps a bit.
 

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I can't remember where I read this, but it's something to think about and/or experiment with...

In cases where potassium is blocking calcium uptake in some plants, it may only happen when the CO2 levels are greater than 20 ppm.

Again I can't remember where I read that...
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Yes, I also notice that. It also seems higher NO3 helps a bit maybe because when there is more N plants need more K. I'm very confused about NO3 as i measured it using 2 test kits: one of them showed 20 ppm but the second one - 10 ppm (i know we cannot rely upon test kits but JBL test kit i always used gave accurate readings. This time however something's wrong with it)
I made reference solution of known NO3 (20 ppm) and one showed below 5 ppm one 10 ppm. I got furious and took water sample to a laboratory and told them to measure NO3 accurately. I hope the result will be in several hours.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
One more thought came to my mind... In the past when i didn't have any problems i had very low PO4 and NO3. There were about 0.1 and 2..5 ppm rescpectively (i had issues with N deficiency and my cabomba didn't grow - it was yellow on its lower leaves) Also it was only 13 ppm Ca and 4 ppm Mg. K was about 15 ppm. Plants grew like crazy. After switching to high PO4 and NO3 the problems i described occured. Is it possible that having low PO4 and NO3 it puts much lower demands on Ca ? Also, as far as i know NO3 is converted to NH3 in plants. From the hydroponics i know that ammonium excess also induces Ca deficiency. So maybe high NO3 produces ammonium excess in plants which causes Ca deficiency but it could be an idle speculation...
 

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I also have the severe stunting/crinkling of new A. reineckii-leaves from time to time. If it grows in the shade (light limitation) or I limit phosphate it grows fine.

High PAR/PUR 10000K triphosphour bulbs that are heavy on the blue and red (Triton, Aquastar, Aquarelle etc) often seems to grow plants "too fast for calcium-uptake" with good N, P, K and CO2-levels, especially close to the light.

The same i true for apples - you must not ferilize apple trees with ammonium in sunny weather because calcium-uptake will not be sufficiently fast. The apples will get "bitter-pit". The fast nitrogen source will speed up the growth to fast for calcium uptake.

Calcium can only be taken up via diffusion, the plants doesn't go for Calcium actively as other nutrients. I have seen reports of greater success with A. reineckii with better circulation, which would be explained that the Calcium uptake is passive via diffusion.

I would love to see an A. reineckii grown under very intense 10K light fertilized with EI and insane amounts of CO2 in soft water with an inert substrate. (Calcium uptake is also in the root tips).

A more lean approach like PPS would probably result in greater success, but that is not for me personally. I like EI and will go down with it. I will further seek the easy solution to this problem until I can do EI successfully without Ca-deficiencies and good unlimiting light/nutrient levels.

A good substrate instead of my inert gravel I would guess would help alot. Since ADA-substrates are to expensive to ship to Sweden my next setups will probably use Kitty-litter combined with Akadama... And really good circulation everywhere in the tank without dead spots...
 

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In my particular case, I can't imagine it's Ca deficiency. I have well water from a limestone aquifer gh12, mostly Ca. In one tank, the reinickii is directly in front of the spray bar, so it gets the brunt of the circulation. My gut feeling tells me it's a combination of factors at play here, not just a single one, which causes the issues we see with reinickii.
 

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High Ca-concentration wouldn't do anything if you drive the growth rate faster than the plant can diffuse Ca in and transport it to the right place. Add a bunch of antagonistic relations between alkali elements and Aluminium and it seems Calcium is a quite tricky component when the plants are driven very hard.
 
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