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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I took the time just now to go through and draw out most of the common plant deficiencies in pictoral form. This diagram is by no means an exhaustive reference for all deficiencies and certain plants vary in their symptoms, but in general most deficiencies will look something like the diagram below.

There is a red dotted line that shows deficiencies that show up in new growth and deficiencies that show up in older growth, this is an important line and attention should be paid to it!!

Hope this helps people identify what they have a bit better.

***Edit***
This was updated as of 2016 and is correct to the best of my knowledge. Iron deficiency is seen in the new leaves only.




***Edit***
THE PHOTO BELOW IS AN OLD VERSION (Notice the red line was shifted downwards, meaning iron deficiency occurs only in the new leaves - NOT the entire plant on most aquatic species).



 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Magnesium deficiency is characterized by very dark green leaf veins and some kind of discoloration in the tissue between veins. The exact color depends on the plant in question, so clear leaf tissue is possible.

Clear leaves sounds like a lack of light to me, but it depends where the problem shows up on the plant and could be something different entirely.
 

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Nice graphic, Zapins! For phosphate deficiency, you can often tell the difference between that and nitrate deficiency, if green spot algae is also on the older leaves/glass. That would likely indicate lack of P. Fantastic job!
 

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Thanks very much Zapins for taking the time to draw this very educational diagram. To the best of my knowledge it summarizes quite well what we know about deficiency symptoms in aquatics so far with regards to macro elements.

While the graphic explains issues when macros are in short supply let me add to this when traces are deficient:
New growth in most species will appear twisted and reduced in size. This is in accordance with knowledgeable people such as Amano and the guys from Seachem.

This finding gets overlooked quite often as aquarists seem to concentrate on macros these days primarily.


Thanks again, Detlef
 

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Thanks very much Zapins for taking the time to draw this very educational diagram. To the best of my knowledge it summarizes quite well what we know about deficiency symptoms in aquatics so far with regards to macro elements.

While the graphic explains issues when macros are in short supply let me add to this when traces are deficient:
New growth in most species will appear twisted and reduced in size. This is in accordance with knowledgeable people such as Amano and the guys from Seachem.

This finding gets overlooked quite often as aquarists seem to concentrate on macros these days primarily.

Thanks again, Detlef
Hi Detlef..

Well, I can't exactly agree.. perhaps in SEVERE deficiency..

Trace deficiency will show in new growth. This new growth will be lighter in color. It's quite easy to see.

What you describe is much more likely to come from Calcium, which is also shown in the image.
 

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And I forgot to underline...

you CAN see what detlef describes even though it is micronutrients that are missing.. BUT it is only in extreme cases.. meaning.. you won't experience it as a 'normal' deficiency due to dosing too little.. only if you outright don't dose at all..
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Micro deficiencies are rarely encountered unless it is an iron deficiency, that is why I didn't include them in the diagram. But you are both right. Some micros cause the new growth the be pale (iron), others cause the new growth to be twisted (boron).
 

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Nice job Zapins.

I have one to add. Tips of leaves dark green is a phosphate deficiency. I had this with my Java Fern.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Yes phosphate deficiencies can also cause dark green leaf colors.

The thing with deficiencies is that there are is a lot of give and take with the visual symptoms. I was reading a deficiency book on some common terrestrial plants and the actual deficiency signs are quite varied across different species.

There are some strong similarities, like nitrate deficiency is usually always linked to yellowing, but there are a lot of other nutrient deficiencies that look completely different in different plants.

What I would like to do is set up a controlled hydroponics experiment (emergent growth) where I purposely cause deficiencies in one nutrient at a time for the most common species of aquatic plants in order to see how valid something like my deficiency diagram actually is for aquatic plants. I suspect that what people see as one deficiency symptom in a species of aquatic plant might be totally different from the same nutrient deficiency in another species, making a general pictorial guide somewhat less accurate then a by-species guide. The only problem is I'm not sure how closely the emergent growth deficiency symptoms of aquatic plants correlates with the submerged deficiency symptoms of the same plant.

Thoughts?
 

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If you could do your experiment with submerged growth and water column dosing, it would eliminate the plant uptake via leaf vs root variable that's already blocking us with terrestrial studies.

But: amazing. I admire your ability to create a diagram showing the results of that experiment, and am excited about the results.

We're both hariom fans I think. I'm definitely one of your fans and think you a great gardener. If you're down, combining efforts might get us all to the promised land faster. Again, regardless, this contribution is already awesome.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Haha, thank you, and yes I desperately want to get to the promised land as you call it. There is so much missinformation in this hobby its surprising we can even grow plants at all...

My main gripe with a submersed experiment is that algae will play a role, possibly causing secondary deficiencies that might skew the results. Growing the plants emersed eliminates the algae threat but the drawback is it might not be that useful for submersed growth.

I wonder if there is some type of algaecide that affects only plants that will allow a submersed study?
 

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If you guys get going on any attempts to show deficiencies, remember to take pictures for the Plant Deficiency Symptoms section of the Photos collection. To be sure you have the deficiency you think you have, you should be able to document recovery from the symptoms by adding the element suspected of causing the deficiency. Damage to leaves caused by deficiency can not be repaired, but, if adding the element in question causes improved growth and stops new damage from happening, then you know you have correctly identified the deficiency.

To prevent secondary deficiencies, keep all the nutrients except the one you want deficient in good supply. Damage caused by unknown toxicities is another problem. You know that you don't have a toxicity problem if you get a good recovery and a healthy looking plant after adding the element you were trying to keep deficient. This picture of boron deficiency in a sword followed by recovery when boron was added illustrates that. The healthy new growth after the boron was added eliminates the possibility that some unknown toxicity was causing the damage:
 

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What about leaves turning transparent? Would that fit under magnesium deficiency?
I've looked over this many times before and had not seen this question. For future users, I would think this is mainly from extreme sodium levels like NaCl. It can also happen when using straight ro water with a substrate that has no available nutrients. Also Chlorine I think?
 

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I don’t remember where I copied this list from, maybe William Cullina. I just thought people might find it interesting.

Potassium - Protein synthesis, water and charge balance, enzyme activation.
Boron - Chlorophyll production, flowering, root growth, cell function.
Carbon - Required for all organic compounds.
Calcium - Cell wall stability and permeability, enzyme activation, cell response to stimuli.
Chlorine - Water and charge balance, photosynthesis.
Copper - Component of enzymes utilized in redox reactions that take place during photosynthesis.
Iron - Required for photosynthesis, component of enzymes utilized in redox reactions.
Magnesium - Component of chlorophyll, enzyme activation.
Manganese - Formation of amino acids, enzyme activation.
Molybdenum and Cobalt - Required for nitrate reduction.
Nickel - Enzyme activation, processing of nitrogenous material.
Sulfur - Component of proteins and the coenzymes that are involved with nutrient utilization and growth.
Zinc - Chlorophyll production, enzyme activation.
 
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