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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

There is so much confusion in this hobby! I can easily pull 5-6 books from my home library and read completely conflicting advice on anything from what water conditions a particular fish likes through to things like how much CO2 is considered 'safe'!

This really annoys me! We humans have been keeping aquariums for years now but should some much better organised alien creature stumble across our documentation they would wonder how we reliably achieve any kind of results! ;-)

Iron levels is another one - what on earth is correct here???

Seachem tell me one thing (but do they really just want me to spend more money on their product?), whilst other documentation, including Dianna Walstad's book, which I own and enjoy reading, tells me that iron is a major contributing factor towards algae! I have an email from Seachem specifically telling me that 'iron does not contribute to algae growth'.

Perhaps the reason for the confusion isn't so much that the advice is outright wrong, but rather, it's not 'qualified' properly. What I mean by this is that perhaps, under some specific circumstances, one particular piece of advice is sound and logical, whereas, under a different set of circumstances, that peice of advice is no longer sound.

So, getting back to iron levels, what iron level should one set there tank to?

There is also confusion regarding iron test kits and whether they are acurate enough or even useful at all?

Personally, I don't set my iron to any level and don't test for it at all. I understand, according to Dianna's book, that plants take up iron very quickly. So, I just give my plants a small feed of Seachem Iron twice a week. I have no idea if this is too much, not enough etc, as I have no reliable advice as to how much to add and no reliable means to test for iron given that there is a possibility that iron test kits aren't any good!

Scott.
 

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The subject of iron in this hobby is one of the many things that has a wide range of opinions. The amount of iron used in your tank is going to very from anothers use, just because all setups are different.

I've personally found that very little additional iron is needed if you dose regular with a good micro nutrient. I dose 5ml of additional iron once a week. In one of my tanks I even went months without dosing any additional iron to see what would happen. I seen no difference in the appearence of the plants, no iron dificency signs.

I think in most part the concensus on iron test is the same, they are inaccurate. When I first got into this hobby I used an iron test kit. No matter how much iron was dosed the test always read zero. So I did end up over dosing, which did contribute to algae issues. But there was also other contributing factors.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply. I've done the same thing as you, I tried completely holding back on dosing any iron for a while and didn't notice any difference in the plants at all.

But then again, I wonder how long it takes a plant to burn through it's internally stored iron??
 

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I guess that would depend on the plant itself, since some plants have higher iron needs then others.
 

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Trying to maintain an arbitrary iron level isn't very useful. Even if a fully functioning testkit indicates no water iron, the plants may still be getting plenty for their needs (they're taking it up faster than your testkit can measure it). The only time a testkit might help is if you think you've overdosed.

Excessive iron fertilization can sometimes stimulate algae and cause iron toxicity in plants. At the same time, if plants are yellow and stunted from iron deficiency, they can't compete with algae and keep it under control. So for algae control, you do want plants to get enough iron to maintain good growth.

Therefore, I would let symptoms of iron deficiency in the plants guide any fertilizer additions. The classic symptom of iron deficiency is yellowing of new leaves.

I often see iron deficiency when I try to grow Water Sprite as a floating plant. It gradually turns yellow and dies. If I pot it in soil, it does fabulous.

Using a soil substrate nicely bypasses the whole iron fertilization delimna. Soil provides plentiful (and readily available) iron for rooted plants. Fishfood additions help replenish the iron that plants remove from the soil. No need for iron fertilizers or iron testkits!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hi Diana. Thanks for the info, appreciate it.

I can understand what you mean with respect to letting the plants tell me when they are running out of iron. If yellowing of new leaves is the classic sign of iron deficiency, logic would have it that if new leaves are NOT yellowing, that would therefore imply that iron is NOT in short supply and there is therefore NO need to dose any? Is that correct?

Assuming that plants do indeed have sufficient iron, is there any advantage to adding more, within reason (i.e. not overdosing)?? For example, does dosing extra iron induce greener foliage? Does dosing extra iron induce stronger plant stems, better roots, faster growth etc? Or is it simply a black-and-white case whereby plants either aren't getting enough and start to yellow or are getting enough and don't yellow, full stop?

The substrate in my tank is 100% Seachem flourite, which is high in iron. Seachem recommend that I also dose Seachem Flourish iron every day and justify this by telling me that iron is used rapidly by plants etc etc. Is this just a sales pitch, or, as per my previous question, is there really something advantageous in this approach?

I'm not totally sure, but when I was dosing Seachem Iron every day, I am pretty sure that my Echinodrous Tenellus was growing (and spreading) quite rapidly. I'm not sure if it was just a co-incidence though. I have reduced iron dosing to twice a week. The E. Tenellus is kind of just sitting there at the moment even though my lighting is fine (nice new tubes) and my CO2 levels are 30mg/L via CO2 injection. Hmmmm. Could the extra iron be the secret?

Scott.
 

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iron is trace element for plants.. Meaning they need a really small amount of it. There are plenty of trace elements in the soil and fish food/poop, and in tap water.

I've had a 5G NPT for 2 years now and I haven't dosed iron yet... I've added K, Ca, and Mg though.

Over dosing trace elements, metals, is dangerous to Fish and inverts.
 

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scottwardThe substrate in my tank is 100% Seachem flourite said:
I'm sorry, but I really don't know how to answer your iron question. I have little experience with commercial products. My forte is "Mother Nature".

The El Natural forum is for those who have NPTs (soil substrates, no CO2 injection and no artificial fertilizers). To best answer your questions about commercial products, I would advise that you direct your questions to the Seachem company or High-Tech forums.
 
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