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Growing tips going puny

2612 Views 9 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  gnome
Hi, All.

Last week I increased my dosage of macros, iron, and traces. For a few days, I got really rapid growth. Now I'm seeing the tips of my plants going puny. In particular, Lindernia rotundifolia, Micranthemum umbrosum, and a few stems of my pearl grasses. Also, the leaves of my Bacopa caroliniana 'variegated' have not been growing out as big as some of the lower leaves.

This is a 10-gallon with Eco-Complete and 28W PC lighting with reflectors. Temperature has been unchanged. Here is what I dose *daily*:

1.5 mL Flourish Phosphorus - increased from 1 mL
1-1.25 mL Flourish Iron - increased from 0.75 mL
9 drops Flourish - increased from 6 drops
an estimated 0.02 tsp KNO3 (from a stock sol'n.) - 20% increase
an estimated 0.006 tsp K2SO4 (from a stock sol'n.) - not increased
an immeasureable amount of Mg from the epsom salt added to KNO3 sol'n.

A few days ago, after I noticed the crumpling tips, I added a small pouch of crushed coral to the filter box, but I don't think it's doing anything. The M. umbrosum is getting puny new leaves... They're not even round. And if it helps any, my Alternanthera reineckii has been getting puny, deformed tips since I put it in my tank WAY before I started seeing problems with my other plants.

Am I adding too much of something? Because before, although I was getting very slow growth with everything, the plants were at least growing out normal-looking leaves. Now it seems that things are getting taller a lot faster, but the leaves are not looking right. Oh yeah - and I am running DIY CO2 in the tank. I've checked, and it's still got a ways to go before it's out of juice (or "gelatin").

It's depressing to watch this. Thanks in advance for any helpful suggestions.

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I remembered about an hour ago that I recently ~doubled the amount of Equilibrium to the change water. I've even been topping off with this higher-concentration stuff. After I remembered this, I did a water change with NO Equilibrium. I'll see if this helps. Sorry I forgot to mention this important little detail... :oops:

Let us know how it turns out Naomi. Equilibrium does have a very high concentration of K+. If nothing positive happens within a week, we'll try to find another solution to the problem.

Thanks, Carlos. Sorry I haven't e-mailed back. I'll do that soon.

I wonder if Dr. Greg Morin might consider formulating an Equilibrium *without* the potassium...? I've been using it more to increase the GH, but I really don't like adding all that K to my tank (whether or not it's responsible for inhibiting the uptake of this, that and the other). It already gets added from the KNO3 and K2SO4. Besides, they have Flourish Potassium in their product line. I'd like something to increase the Ca, Mg, and Mn in reasonable ratios. I don't mind the Fe, either, but I add Flourish Iron so it's probably not necessary.

Then again, I suppose a concoction with just Ca, Mg and Mn would be fairly easy to mix up oneself.

Sounds like iron deficiency. When you increased your macros and got faster growth the demand for iron got a lot higher. The increase from 0.75 ml of Flourish didn't catch up with the increased demand. Try doubling or tripling the amount of Fluorish.

One cure for iron deficiency is to slow the plants down with less light or some other deficiency, like nitrogen deficiency that does not cause a lot of damage to the plant. When slowed down, the plants "catch up" on their iron needs.

I recall seeing a tank with a row of plants in the back and a light that lit the center of the tank much more than the sides. The plants in the center were best lit and looked the worst. they where half the size of the plants (same species) near the ends that had less light.

I know, I know. I've got iron on the brain!
That's *exactly* what I was thinking - like an already-slender adolescent going through a growth spurt... The kid gets taller but since all the energy goes into growing vertically, s/he gets that "beanpole" look to them for a while. That's why I restrained myself from adding any macros, today - I thought maybe slowing down the overall growth would help the leaves to "catch up." I did add Flourish and Flourish Iron, though. I don't want to add too much of these because I have seven Amano shrimp in the tank that are critical in keeping it free of hair/thread algae. I better go back to "steady and slow."

Actually, after the water change, the pearlgrass started pearling like mad. At first I thought it was just gasses from the change water being released, but it was only the pearlgrass bubbling away, and it continued on for the rest of the day. I *really* don't like that Equilibrium contains such a high potassium content. Adding an amount to increase the GH by 3 dH also raises the K level by 65 ppm! That seems like an insane amount, when it's recommended that nitrates be kept below 10 ppm phosphates only a fraction of that.

I had iron on the brain, too. Thanks for confirming what I'd been suspecting. My plants are going on a diet ;).

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65 ppm K is a lot, but I don't think it is in any 'danger zone'. The recent long thread on APD about K being possibly too high didn't have any hard data about specific levels where it gets too high. In hydroponics, they routinely keep K at much higher levels.

If you want to add back GH to deionized, rain, or RO water, you can always add ground limestone and wait a few days for it to get the GH up. You can add some epsom salts (MgSO4) so that you have magnesium taken care of along with calcium. If you want to do it a little quicker, you can cautiously add small portions of lime while checking your pH to make sure it stays in the 6.5 to 7.0 range.

Also, adding lots more iron may not be bad for shrimp. I don't know anything about that. Does anybody have any experiences where iron additons caused a shrimp die-off?

It seems to me that we shouldn't have to keep our plants limited by macros just because we can't get the iron high enough!

I have been keeping 10 amano shrimp, 6 cherry red shrimp, and five crystal red shrimp for about a month now in my "high tech" 20g long. No problems here. I dose 3ml of Flourish and 3 mL of Flourish Iron daily... about 24 mL of each per week! :shock:


Then as Paul suggest, add more traces, Flourish not just iron.

Check your CO2. DIY is always suspect and small new growth that sometimes rots is classic low CO2.

Tom Barr
Thanks so much for all of the suggestions! I did something today that I probably should have done when the problems first started. I measured the GH. My Tetra test kit showed it to be 13 dH! I then measured the tap water. It was less than 1 dH (as usual). So I immediately removed the pouch of crushed coral that I put in a few days ago, and I'm going to resume water changes normally, except that I won't be adding any Equilibrium.

I've always thought that crushed coral was supposed to work very slowly. I'm getting the feeling that this is not actually the case. But I don't know since I didn't measure the GH before putting the crushed coral into use. For all I know, all of that calcium could be build-up from the Equilibrium.

Seeing as how there's still plenty of gelatin still congealed, I don't think the CO2 is running any lower than it has for the past 4-5 months. Granted, it's probably low empirically-speaking, but no lower than it's been for a while. Some of the plants that have been doing fine suddenly got weird-looking only after I increased the nitrates and phosphorus.

I don't think I can test the CO2 using the pH/KH chart, anyway, since I've been using SeaChem's Acid and Alkaline Buffers. Don't ask me why I've been using these - I barely remember any more. They don't work to stabilize the pH, either :? .

Anyway, I'm cutting back on the macros for a while and slowly increasing the amounts of traces and iron I'm adding. Thanks again, guys! I'll post an update when I see changes.

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