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2 part question: Preloading macros and GH/KH mysteries

Nov 10, 2022
28
19
Rhode Island
Hello all,

Its been a while since I've posted as life has been busy but since my post my never ending battle with bba and green spot algae has been a lot better. It seems as though the majority of my problem was a dirty substrate. I have rescaped to a dutch aquascape and removed my seiryu stone and did a substantial cleaning of my substrate and since then I have had no greenspot algae and significantly reduced the BBA on my slow growing plants. When I rescaped I pulled all my plants and cut all of the leaves off of my buce that seemed to be effected and I have seen very little regrowth except for older leaves which may have had some that missed my attention but it is very minimal.

My new questions pertain to fertilization. I am very interested in trying out preloading macro ferts in my water change bucket (I use RO water with a tds of ~2). I have been reading through Greggz posts on another forum and it has been hugely informative and helpful in trying to attain 1% of the success he has with his dutch aquascape. An interesting topic for me is the preloading of macro ferts. I have been noticing some deficiencies in my rotala (curled leaves...mostly r. green) and some random stunting of tips particularly in my H'ra and bonsai and very twisted growth from AR mini.

Since I don't believe that my problem is with my co2 (degassed ph 7.35 .... light on ph ~6) I am trying to fiddle with my ferts a bit. I have been using a chihiros autodoser and after recalibrating last night realized it was not dosing very accurately. I believe preloading my ferts will be the way to go to simplify and increase the consistency of my macro dosing. My only question in this regard is whether the water with ferts can sit in my brute container for ~3 weeks at a time without growing algae or any other problem. I generally get about that much time from one brute container full of water.

My second question is regarding a mystery I'm having with GH/KH.

Prior to removing my seiryu stone my KH was ~5 and GH ~9. When I rescaped the tank I removed about 90 percent of the water (only water in my canister remained) and refilled it with my remineralized RO water that has a kH of 0 and a gH of 6. This was about 3 weeks ago. Last night I tested my tank and the KH was 3 and the GH was 9. Would Seachem flourish cause this rise in gh/kh? I switched to using seachem flourish instead of CSM+B to try it out when I was having algae issues and dose it above the seachem recommendations (.6 ppm of iron per week). On the seachem website it claims that this product will not increase kH or gH but I'm not sure what else could have been causing this issue.

Thank you in advance!

Edit

Here are two pictures the first is when I just planted the tank on 8/8 and here is the tank today on 8/31. I have done some rearranging and a little bit of trimming but this is about 3 and a half weeks of growth. All of the stems started as tissue culture other than the H'ra and Rotala green. You can see the AR mini is growing very twisted as well. I apologize for the ugly appearance I'm just trying to figure out how to grow plants well so scape was not my main concern.

Tank_8_8.JPG

Tank_8_31a.JPG
 
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My only question in this regard is whether the water with ferts can sit in my brute container for ~3 weeks at a time without growing algae or any other problem. I generally get about that much time from one brute container full of water.
It can as long as your container is exposed to 0 light, it is preferably slightly acidic and very clean. Personally I would not be comfortable though as mold could also develop. I guess you would need to try and see.
Would Seachem flourish cause this rise in gh/kh?
No. Flourish does not contain any carbonates. What you see in your tank is simply the remanent for your old stones, probably some carbonates in the soil. It will slowly fade away.
 
I am starting to think my pH pen is lying to me. The growth on my AR mini is very stunted and Im not sure what else it could be. I use an inline diffuser and its right in the flow of the lily pipe and still has this weird growth pattern. Here is a better look at the ar mini.

armini.jpeg
 
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I am starting to think my pH pen is lying to me. The growth on my AR mini is very stunted and Im not sure what else it could be. I use an inline diffuser and its right in the flow of the lily pipe and still has this weird growth pattern. Here is a better look at the ar mini.

View attachment 2934
This is exactly caused by poor trace mix ratios or excessive heavy metals. It is not a deficiency at all... AR isn't CO2 demanding, you could grow it perfectly at 10ppm CO2 - check out the examples from low tech tanks as well, they have pale color but no such curling. The one I have below is grown without CO2 for example, but the plant takes weeks to produce new leaves.

This issue is especially prevalent among the crowd that use DIY trace mixes
DSCF3997-Optimized3.JPG
 
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I was dosing a lot of iron with .6 ppm of iron via csm+b and .6 ppm of dtpa per week. Could this be an accumulation in my substrate? I’ve been dosing .6 ppm of iron via seachem flourish for at least 6 weeks now.
 
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I was dosing a lot of iron with .6 ppm of iron
That's already quite in excess of even the standard high 0.5ppm EI dosing.

and .6 ppm of dtpa as well.
Curious as to why you were dosing DTPA alone? Most if not all CSM+B traces are already chelated.

Could this be an accumulation in my substrate?
It is possible. Trace metals do accumulate in the substrate although 6 weeks doesn't sound like a lot. This said you could also have dosed way more than what you thought specially when dosing CSM+B.

I’ve been dosing .6 ppm of iron via seachem flourish for at least 6 weeks now.
What is the reason behind dosing so much iron? I would cut that dosing in half and even divide by 3. Make it 0.2ppm. You are basically dosing 10 times the Flourish's recommended dosage, but I have to admit that product is pretty pretty lean anyway, so even at 10x the dosage all other traces are still in "standard" ranges.
 
That's already quite in excess of even the standard high 0.5ppm EI dosing.


Curious as to why you were dosing DTPA alone? Most if not all CSM+B traces are already chelated.


It is possible. Trace metals do accumulate in the substrate although 6 weeks doesn't sound like a lot. This said you could also have dosed way more than what you thought specially when dosing CSM+B.


What is the reason behind dosing so much iron? I would cut that dosing in half and even divide by 3. Make it 0.2ppm. You are basically dosing 10 times the Flourish's recommended dosage, but I have to admit that product is pretty pretty lean anyway, so even at 10x the dosage all other traces are still in "standard" ranges.
I think I may have been a bit confusing with my response.

I was dosing .6 ppm of iron per week via csm+b and .6 ppm of iron via dtpa mixed into my csm+b micro mix.....this was happening for maybe 6 months....

For the last ~6 weeks I switched to Seachem Flourish. I've been dosing .6 ppm of iron via the flours which is about 4ml 3x a week in a 16 gallon tank. The reason for this is when you look up the appropriate flourish dose for EI on rotala butterfly this is the number it pumps out. It says dose .2 ppm 2-4x per week...

I am a little confused on dosing micros and how much iron is needed. I have looked up some older stuff from Tom Barr and he advocates higher levels of iron than you typically see people recommend now. I will try to reduce micro dosing going forward and see if that helps. I think I'm going to shut down the autodosers for now and go back to manual dosing until I can get this figured out.

I had made a chart comparing the different levels of micro nutrients that Greggz doses compared to amounts of seachem and csm+b and what I am dosing seems in range with what he uses but maybe I am misunderstanding....

1693577474108.png
 
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Is this an iron deficiency or a magnesium deficiency for this Rotala Green. Its kind of hard to see but the vein of the leaf is darker than the tissue. I add 10 ppm of magnesium to my water change bucket so I don’t think it would be that. Seachem flourish uses only gluconate iron is it possible it’s dissipating quickly leading to deficiencies or am I way off?

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I have looked up some older stuff from Tom Barr and he advocates higher levels of iron than you typically see people recommend now.
Things have changed over the years. At one time EI dosing recommended 5 ppm Fe from CSM+B weekly. Way more than any tank in the world needs. Then at some point there some was discussion with a group that I know and it got lowered that to 2 ppm Fe per week.

Most people now are at less than a quarter of that.

You can take comfort that you are not alone. Many people have had issues with twisted leaves on AR Mini over the years. I've seen it happen when people are dosing too many micros, and when they aren't dosing any micros. In the end I don't think anyone knows for sure.

To me more important is how the rest of the tank is doing. I have seen people chase parameters for a single plant and the rest of the tank suffers. Just saying that over the years I have learned to stick with plants that like the soup you are serving.

The micro dosing that you listed above is not my current mix. Here is my latest. Pretty much the same as what Joe Harvey uses and sells packets of.

Untitled.jpg
 
You can take comfort that you are not alone. Many people have had issues with twisted leaves on AR Mini over the years. I've seen it happen when people are dosing too many micros, and when they aren't dosing any micros. In the end I don't think anyone knows for sure.
I disagree with this statement completely. It is most definitely an issue with too much traces - it is not that we do not know, but that many members do not want to accept that over-dosing can be an issue because heavy dosing is popular among folks that like the idea of EI. Overly lean micros do not give rise to this in AR specifically. The twisting coupled with good coloration/sizing otherwise is a uniquely over-dosing scenario.
 
I disagree with this statement completely. It is most definitely an issue with too much traces - it is not that we do not know, but that many members do not want to accept that over-dosing can be an issue because heavy dosing is popular among folks that like the idea of EI. Overly lean micros do not give rise to this in AR specifically. The twisting coupled with good coloration/sizing otherwise is a uniquely over-dosing scenario.
Dennis I’ve seen many posts from you citing the issue of too much traces. Is there an amount you’d recommend and maybe even advise of certain mixes to stay away from? The trace ratio is pre determined and the dosing is based on how much iron you plan to dose. I know you also have a product to sell and a formula to protect, but any insight that might help many of us out with these issues?
 
I disagree with this statement completely. It is most definitely an issue with too much traces - it is not that we do not know, but that many members do not want to accept that over-dosing can be an issue because heavy dosing is popular among folks that like the idea of EI. Overly lean micros do not give rise to this in AR specifically. The twisting coupled with good coloration/sizing otherwise is a uniquely over-dosing scenario.
I guess I could have worded that better my friend. In my experience too many traces can be a cause, but it's not the ONLY cause. As you know you have to be careful reading tea leaves, as many issues with plants present themselves in similar fashions. Drawing conclusions without understanding the entire eco system can lead to false assumptions. I've seen it too many times over the years.

So my point is yes micros could very well be the root cause, but so could many other things. I have seen many people show similar symptoms when they are not dosing ANY traces. Could be issues with substrate health/cleanliness, or poor tank maintenance in general. Could be too much or not enough light. Could be the plants are shaded or crowded. Could be they are uprooting constantly and some plants like AR Mini prefer digging their roots in. Could be the plants are in a area with too strong of a flow. And who knows what else?

This reminds of the terrible dark years of the micro-tox wars. Those guys actually had many good points, but they attributed EVERY plant tank problem to micros. Even if people were not dosing micros! It was micro tunnel vision.

And in general folks today, even with what many would call "EI' type dosing are only dosing a fraction of the micros that EI called for years ago. I am not growing AR at the moment, but folks like Joe Harvey grows them with perfectly flat leaves with his custom trace mix. Now maybe he's an outlier but I know quite a few others who do so as well.

As always drawn from my own personal experience and interactions with others over many years. Your mileage may vary! :D
 
Things have changed over the years. At one time EI dosing recommended 5 ppm Fe from CSM+B weekly. Way more than any tank in the world needs. Then at some point there some was discussion with a group that I know and it got lowered that to 2 ppm Fe per week.

Most people now are at less than a quarter of that.

You can take comfort that you are not alone. Many people have had issues with twisted leaves on AR Mini over the years. I've seen it happen when people are dosing too many micros, and when they aren't dosing any micros. In the end I don't think anyone knows for sure.

To me more important is how the rest of the tank is doing. I have seen people chase parameters for a single plant and the rest of the tank suffers. Just saying that over the years I have learned to stick with plants that like the soup you are serving.

The micro dosing that you listed above is not my current mix. Here is my latest. Pretty much the same as what Joe Harvey uses and sells packets of.

View attachment 2986
Thanks for the updated list I was going off an older version I guess.

I have a question on why you switched from dtpa to edta? My ph at night gets to about 6.7 do you think it would be better to stick with dtpa in my case?
 
Dennis I’ve seen many posts from you citing the issue of too much traces. Is there an amount you’d recommend and maybe even advise of certain mixes to stay away from? The trace ratio is pre determined and the dosing is based on how much iron you plan to dose. I know you also have a product to sell and a formula to protect, but any insight that might help many of us out with these issues?

I think that ultimately you should read the plants. Many plants are not sensitive to heavy traces, the two best indicator plants that I know of that are commonly grown are AR and Rotala species. Both have tip stunting with otherwise good coloration if your traces are off. This does not happen if you are overly lean. Additionally, if you use Rotala rotundifolia variants and AR, they are both very low requirement plants that can grow well with low levels in ferts/CO2/light etc, so it is easy to rule out the other factors.

2hrAquaristDSCF0769_1024x1024.jpg
Tip stunting in macrandra looks like as below (left vs normal growth on right). Rotala species will look similar. And the amount of stunting % in a tank is highly correlated with the over-dosage in traces - so the more extreme the overdosage, the more stunted tips one would have. OP's AR picture is a textbook case of trace toxicity in AR; good coloration, but twisted tips. Such tip stunting with good coloration is impossible to achieve in overly lean tanks.

The problem with hobbyists is that many conclusions are formed by largely anecdotal evidence with small data sets. So one or a few guys being able to achieve X with Y is really not a real data set. The advantage of my interpretations is that because I sell uniform commercial fertilizer products across the globe, with tens of thousands of customers (literally), feedback comes pretty fast when something is off - and the data set from that end is overwhelmingly conclusive. I make more money selling EI than anyone in this forum - so I'm not straight bashing the methodology, but it is important to recognize the strengths/weakness with each approach. Heavy dosing's cons is that you can hit toxicity in some more species easily where other plants grow perfectly fine. From a very large user base of thousands - tip stunting issues such as these come only from groups that chose to do heavier dosages - and the heavier the dosage the worse the stunting issues.

How much to dose if you are doing DIY - I think the general hobbyists ranges tend to err on the heavy side unless your tank is both densely planted and growing fast. But one easy way to gauge is by growing both the above mentioned species and taking note of their growth forms. Stunting can happen quickly (days) but to make it go away by changing regime can take much longer. So if you are seeing symptoms such as above, reduce dosages by half. If both species grow well, then you're in a good zone for the tank.
 
I think that ultimately you should read the plants. Many plants are not sensitive to heavy traces, the two best indicator plants that I know of that are commonly grown are AR and Rotala species. Both have tip stunting with otherwise good coloration if your traces are off. This does not happen if you are overly lean. Additionally, if you use Rotala rotundifolia variants and AR, they are both very low requirement plants that can grow well with low levels in ferts/CO2/light etc, so it is easy to rule out the other factors.

View attachment 2993
Tip stunting in macrandra looks like as below (left vs normal growth on right). Rotala species will look similar. And the amount of stunting % in a tank is highly correlated with the over-dosage in traces - so the more extreme the overdosage, the more stunted tips one would have. OP's AR picture is a textbook case of trace toxicity in AR; good coloration, but twisted tips. Such tip stunting with good coloration is impossible to achieve in overly lean tanks.

The problem with hobbyists is that many conclusions are formed by largely anecdotal evidence with small data sets. So one or a few guys being able to achieve X with Y is really not a real data set. The advantage of my interpretations is that because I sell uniform commercial fertilizer products across the globe, with tens of thousands of customers (literally), feedback comes pretty fast when something is off - and the data set from that end is overwhelmingly conclusive. I make more money selling EI than anyone in this forum - so I'm not straight bashing the methodology, but it is important to recognize the strengths/weakness with each approach. Heavy dosing's cons is that you can hit toxicity in some more species easily where other plants grow perfectly fine. From a very large user base of thousands - tip stunting issues such as these come only from groups that chose to do heavier dosages - and the heavier the dosage the worse the stunting issues.

How much to dose if you are doing DIY - I think the general hobbyists ranges tend to err on the heavy side unless your tank is both densely planted and growing fast. But one easy way to gauge is by growing both the above mentioned species and taking note of their growth forms. Stunting can happen quickly (days) but to make it go away by changing regime can take much longer. So if you are seeing symptoms such as above, reduce dosages by half. If both species grow well, then you're in a good zone for the tank.

It's interesting you mention rotala as I also see stunting in the tips of rotala green but it also seemed to have iron deficiency as well as you can see from the picture I posted.
 
It's interesting you mention rotala as I also see stunting in the tips of rotala green but it also seemed to have iron deficiency as well as you can see from the picture I posted.
I that it is extremely unlikely to be iron deficiency, especially at the rates that you are dosing
A couple of pages to read if you are into diagnosing deficiencies:

For my tank as densely planted as this, the weekly Fe dosage is just around 0.2ppm
2hrAquaristDSCF6238.jpg
 
Do you think I should reduce my micro dosing? I have been dosing .6 ppm of iron via seachem flourish per week (3x) but just switched to the same dosage but dividing it up by 7 and dosing every day this week. I also added .1 ppm of dtpa to the mix as well. Would you recommend switch to csm+b and dosing .2 ppm of iron or reducing my seachem dose?
 
Do you think I should reduce my micro dosing? I have been dosing .6 ppm of iron via seachem flourish per week (3x) but just switched to the same dosage but dividing it up by 7 and dosing every day this week. I also added .1 ppm of dtpa to the mix as well. Would you recommend switch to csm+b and dosing .2 ppm of iron or reducing my seachem dose?
Judging by the symptoms of your tank, I think either way can work as long as your overall dosages are reduced. Aquasoil itself contain a good amount of traces, so if your tank is newly and not yet dense, there is really no worry about a lack of traces. In a couple of months time, if your plants density increase to the point where you can't see the substrate, you can re-evaluate. If you can get stunting in AR - you are in quite a bit excess; this means that you are far from insufficiency.
 
Thank you for your advice I will reduce micro dosing. My tank was started last march but it had a nature aquascape with a lot of rockwork and only stems in the background so I think it shouldn't be depleted yet.

Do you think I should also decrease my macro dosing? I am dosing 24 ppm of nitrate, 8 ppm of PO4 and 30 ppm of K per week.
 
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