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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Having analyzed different tanks parameters and my own one (mainly NPK) i came to the conclusion that there is no tips stunting (most probably Ca deficiency) when K is high (say 15..20 ppm) and very low NO3 (below 2 ppm).
When only NO3 is raised to higher values and K is high some plants get severely stunted (look like severe Ca deficiency). Even Polysperma doesn't grow at all. I'm very confused why it happens...:confused:
 

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I know plants prefer NH2 to NO3, because NH2 is closer to an amine group which plants use to make plant proteins. I hypothesize that plants may be "participating" in the biological cycle, and getting the nitrogen they need from the ammonia and nitrite from the fish in the tank before it turns to nitrate. That may explain why many tanks have plants growing great even though there is little to no nitrate measured.

As far as nitrate rich water stunting some plants, I don't have any guesses, other than there are still ongoing debates regarding high nitrates affecting fish health.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I dosed urea for some time and must say that it's worse source of N... I have much better results using NO3. Urea is converted to NO3 quite quickly and then the produced NO3 is used. I dosed 3 nitrogen forms silmultaneously - it gives a little bit faster growth at the beginning but after 2..3 days time it's exactly the same as in case when KNO3 i used. It seems urea is better used by terrestial plants.
 

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Having analyzed different tanks parameters and my own one (mainly NPK) i came to the conclusion that there is no tips stunting (most probably Ca deficiency) when K is high (say 15..20 ppm) and very low NO3 (below 2 ppm).
When only NO3 is raised to higher values and K is high some plants get severely stunted (look like severe Ca deficiency). Even Polysperma doesn't grow at all. I'm very confused why it happens...:confused:
You may try to dose Ca(NO3)2.
It can raise both Ca & N together :D
 

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Barry, I though you had hit the nail on the head till I double checked. There are only 28 chloroplasticizable zones.

Kekon,
Actually, I may be experiencing what you describe. In all honestly my experience could be the result of a hundred different factors but let me explain briefly my situation.

First:
I have very hard water. Gh~460mg/l, Ca hardness~350mg/l, Ca++~140, Mg++~25. I have very hard well water. The Ca and Ca hardness tests are Lamotte. The Gh is an cheap test but it was calibrated with a CaCl2 reference solution.

I dose KNO3 and KH2PO4 for macros and Flourish and Flourish Fe or FeEDTA for traces, in sufficient quantities. NO3 and PO4 levels are checked with Lamotte test kits.

Now, over the last few months, whenever NO3 levels went above ~60mg/l I would start to get stunting of Rotala sp, BGA would develop and the fish/shrimp were unhappy. Water changes would remidy the issue for a week until levels built back up. For a while I dosed 4mg/l NO3 daily (if Tom Barr can why can't I:)) Later, through the business of life I neglected the tank. No water changes for 3 weeks, I cut back on marco dosing but still dosed a good bit. At one point, after a ~30% water change I tested NO3 levels of 88mg/l. At that point NO3 had not been dosed for almost a week. Stem plants right at the waters surface grew fine but lower in the water column there was tip stunting.

Fast forward:
I stopped all macro dosing for a couple weeks, did 40%wc every 5-7days and checked NO3/PO4 levels weekly. NO3 uptake averaged 2-3mg/l daily, slowly increasing as plant mass increased. Once No3 levels reached 35-40mg/l stunting all but disappeared and everything grew much better. At this point I did a major trim for the local club meeting and another wc. A few weeks ago I rescaped the tank, removing and trimming all plants, 60%wc, etc. Post rescape NO3 was 3.5mg/l PO4 was 0.3mg/l.

I decided on a new fert schedule, NO3 and PO4 4:1mg/l added every other day. Flourish and Fe added on alternating days. I added traces directly after the wc and macros starting the next day. At day 3 from setup, NO3- 7.7mg/l PO4 2.5mg/l (keep in mind I assume a +/-10% error due to dilution of sample for testing, rounding error, etc) 7 days later, day 9 from setup, NO3=26.5mg/l PO4-no test. I have kept a spreadsheet record of dosing, testing, wc, etc. It shows a very slight uptake for NO3 but then plant mass was intially very low and also stressed from the rescape.

In the first days after the rescape, I noticed some stunting of new growth which I attributed to low NO3 and stress. Within a few days, growth had improved as NO3 deficiency was removed. Then, sometime around day 12, tip stunting started again. Regardless of NO3 uptake at this time, levels should have reached 30mg/l NO3 on or before day 12. Now, on day 15 No3 levels should be 38+mg/l NO3 (I have not tested in a few days). Stunting has gotten worse on 4 Rotala sp and on Polygonum sp., BGA is developing again on growth tips and some gravel areas.

One thing possibly note worthy, possibly coincidence; after the rescape I incorporated extra K into my marco solution with K2SO4. Before the rescape, whenNO3 levels were 80+, I noticed that the addition of K caused an almost immediate increase in NO3 uptake which I took to assume was due to K limitation. Anyway, my current every other day dose adds, 4mg/l NO3, 1mg/l PO4 and 2.5mg/l K.

I was not adding K in the past and BGA/stunting started at a higher NO3 concentration. ~60+mg/l pre K addition, ~40mg/l now with K addition.

As I said, it could be all coincidence, accident, etc. I know logically that there could be 100 different factors, but to not share my rather unscientific observations seemed inappropriate and uncooperative.

Re: high nitrates and fish/shrimp health... I have mostly corydoras pygmeaus/habrosas and otocinclus sp. in my aquarium. I also have Amano shrimp and cherry shrimp. The fish are pretty tough little buggers but the shrimp start to drop like flies at really high NO3, say 70-80+ Now, its possibly due to low O2 or some other buildup, for sure I cannot say.
 

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No, he makes observations, asks questions, experiments, and posts results. The hobby needs much more of that.
Agreed.... I have had issues with all of my tanks for a LONG time. Its people like kekon, and thier observations that make me sit back and think... the answer to my problems are to "just add more" as is so MANY times suggested of people.

Some pleople can toss in a bunch of this and that and grow great plants.... others for reason yet to be known have a combination of water, substrate, lighting etc. that create a very touchy environment that needs careful balance....

I appriciate what you do kekon, and appriciate even more you sharing your thoughts and opinions despite the crap you can sometimes catch from those who think the key to success is half a pound of ferts per week, along with lethal levels of CO2. sometimes attention needs to paid to detail... and thats just what your doing. Keep up the good work!! ;)

Dennis I would also like to tank you for sharing detailed information of your tank... it isn't often that people keep such detailed record keeping and observations... maybe if we were all a bit better with that we could more easily compare nutrient levels and effects in our own systems. But boy that can be a lot of work! hats off to you also ;)
 

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To be honest I agree with you all. Often as not people over think, get burned out, try to hard, etc. I agree with Barry there. On the other hand, MrSanders is right in that what works for one person may not work for another. Some of us ask why, wonder why.. but that does not make one side right and another wrong. One of the things I like about this hobby is that I can get as deep as I want, take it to whatever extreme I choose. I know that that kills it for some people but it drives it for others.

Personally, I find this kind of stuff a good outlet for practicing and solidifying, a "real world situation" of the things I learn in school.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks very much for sharing your thougths and experiments results with me.
You all do great work (i'm sure that my work is only like a drop in the ocean comparing it to all the hard work you've done in the hobby)
I know i'm too mad and maybe i overcomplicate things but if something doesn't work i have to find other way to solve the problem and that's why i go deeply into details.

I'm just poking some fun at Kekon. He thinks way too hard.
Barry, i know you do like doing that ;) You would probably say: "throw away all that stuff, buy a bottle of TMG, add some of it to the tank, add X spoons of KNO3 and KH2PO4 and that's enough". But believe me - that doesn't work for some plants i've been growing in my tank for a year now. You can't satisfy
all the plant species needs using one fertilizing method only - just as your body can't be in a good health eating only bread and drinking only water every day.

The thing is that all the pieces of advice i've been given from "great aquascapers" don't work. It's people like Mr. Sanders, Dennis, Salt who help me to improve things in the hobby and it really works. Ok, i've written to much... Let's return to the topic.
 

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I avoid indulging answering to things I am not sure of, this is why I don't answer to many posts, but let me try to say my thoughts on this one:
High K low NO3 plants can't start a faster growth rate, high K, high NO3, plants start their growth mechanism and the next on the line nutrient gets limited, maybe the assimilation at this point of Ca (the process is supposed to be somewhat passive) is not fast enough or who knows what other nutrient for that matter maybe responsible, and leaf curling stunting appears. Maybe there is a highest growth point on the plants and above it something is not possible to be assimilated(at least in the way we provide it). Well I must say at many things this hobby is such a mess. I still believe from my personal experience that the best root to avoid many of this problems is a nutrient rich substrate.
:)
 

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You can't satisfy
all the plant species needs using one fertilizing method only - just as your body can't be in a good health eating only bread and drinking only water every day.
Well kekon, you got that right! I think this is an ongoing problem people deal with in their setups. We spend hours looking at our tanks and putting together an amazing new scape project. We have all the colors and shapes in just the right places. Then the days comes. We spend hours planting, replanting, clipping and what not. We add water, dose, check the CO2 bubbles and wait. Sometimes the results are great and sometimes things are not going the way they were going in our heads beforehand. Some plants grow like crazy weeds while others struggle or die. On top of that there is some GDA on the glass and the whole project is going out the window. We then try to figure out what went wrong. Everything was there NPK,CO2,Ca,Mg - everything! Yet, that darn A. reineckii instead of striking red, turned into a brown, twisted, and ugly mutant. Anyways, we do all those things but often times we forget that we pack together species from all around the world together in a 20 or 50 gallon tank and demand of them to just sit there and look gorgeous. I don't think it works that way. We may get away with some species from the Amazon growing fine with D. diandra or something but there is a reason why bananas don't grow in Ohio and tomatoes in the Arizona desert. There are no universal tank conditions ideal for every plant we collect. I wish that was the case. Obviously we can get away with a lot of this crime against nature and grow many different species together. There are times, however, when R. macrandra will be perfectly happy while some "easy to grow" moss will turn into mush. Just something to consider.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I still believe from my personal experience that the best root to avoid many of this problems is a nutrient rich substrate.
It'd be probably out of nutrients quickly especially if one had fast growing species. I grew many plants without any substrate and their growth was amazing - low GH and NPK. I think that we just overfertilize our tanks.

Sometimes i think it would be better to apply nutrient rich substrate under the roots of some plants only which may require good substrate. As a matter of fact some nutrients will go out from the substrate into the water column. It cannot be avoided. We must also take into acoount the fact, that there could be other micronutrients necessary (besides the basic ones: B, Zn, Cu, Mo, Fe, Mn) that we don't know about or they have not been investigated yet. Since i use only RO water i added to my micro fert additional elements: nickel, cobalt, vanadium, iodine, tin, aluminium.

PS. Kekon regards to kaczorki,lepperki etc.
The issues with curled leaves, stunted tips etc. began whey they came to power :D
 

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It'd be probably out of nutrients quickly especially if one had fast growing species.
No it doesn't, a properly prepared soil+laterite substrate will last for 3 years guarantied and start to deteriorate in the 4th year. It will provide a rich, full of bacteria environment, will promote good root growth and give great buffering capacity in case we miss something of the amounts of ferts we add in the column.

I grew many plants without any substrate and their growth was amazing - low GH and NPK. I think that we just overfertilize our tanks.
I wish it was that simple. Many plants will do ok with low amounts of NPK but some plants do need higher N concentrations in the column (specially with inert substrates, they will soon saw deficiency symptoms if this amounts are not provided, mind you I do not mean to target levels like 50-80 ppm NO3, but still a steady supply of N is a prerequisite same applies for K (even amounts above the ones provided from KNO3) same goes for P and TE, Fe. Maybe optimal uptake values and concentrations must be met to give the plant the impetus it needs for proper growth. More than once I have seen NO3 deficiency with low NO3 in the column, plants like stellatas, umbrosum and others are the ones to exibit problems first.
It is very difficult for us with no lab resources to come to conclusive answers concerning our plants behaviour, growth cause there are so many unaccounted factors involved in each process (see my previous post) most of the time we can just speculate.
:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
No it doesn't, a properly prepared soil+laterite substrate will last for 3 years guarantied and start to deteriorate in the 4th year. It will provide a rich, full of bacteria environment, will promote good root growth and give great buffering capacity in case we miss something of the amounts of ferts we add in the column.
What about such plants as Anubias, Microsorium ? Their roots cannot be put into the substrate and they grow very well. When it comes to umbrosum it doesn't need much NO3; it grows like weed in very low NO3 (2..5) and very soft water (GH about 2). ADA makes sobstrates but they're expensive and i know some folks who use it but they don't have very good results: plants turn pale and they have to supplement additional iron (ECA) to get richer colors.
The plain gravel used as substrate is also full of bacteria i think provided it's not cleaned very often (by rinsing).
It seems substrate is a good thing when you don't want to pour ferts into the tank but if you do it every day the substrate is not necessary.

Here is a picture of Blyxa, HC, Glosso and cardamine Lyrata - they're all planted in plain gravel, without any additions ;) (and grow like weeds)
 

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What about such plants as Anubias, Microsorium
Anubias here always head their roots to the substrate even when planted high.

ADA makes substrates but they're expensive and i know some folks who use it but they don't have very good results: plants turn pale and they have to supplement additional iron (ECA) to get richer colors.
Well we have 100's of examples of very nice tanks with ADA what if they have to add ECA aswell?
The plain gravel used as substrate is also full of bacteria i think provided it's not cleaned very often (by rinsing).
It seems substrate is a good thing when you don't want to pour ferts into the tank but if you do it every day the substrate is not necessary.
Soil is a completely different thing from plain gravel even bacteria wise. I think substrate is very good in any case, adding ferts on the column or not. Best of out tanks (me and a friend) have been the ones with rich substrate in addition to column ferts.
As for umbrosum in this tank of mine it does not grow either way :).
Here is a picture of Blyxa, HC, Glosso and cardamine Lyrata - they're all planted in plain gravel, without any additions
The same plants will grow very well with rich substrate, little column ferts and even less maintenance column wise I have done it in the past.
Kekon what I am bassically saying here is this. Some plants may grow fine with such low NO3 and no support from a substrate some don't. Plant physiology is much more complicated than it looks initially with our experiments in a single or a couple of tanks (believe me I have been fooled into believing I found the answer myself many times to discover on the end that I have missed something), and we need not to rush into conclusions. Still I agree with you on the fact that we don't need to add a **** load of ferts to have good growing plants but 1-5 ppm NO3 in the column is very low for some species.
:)
 
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