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P.E.I. soil in subsrate

> Wayne Jones wrote:
> About a month ago I set up a new 120 gallon tank and used a small 
> amount of P.E.I. soil in the substrate. I used it in the same manner that 
> one would use laterite. I mixed about 3 pounds into the bottom 1/3 of the 
> of a plain gravel substrate. After planting things appeared to go along 
> pretty well for about 3 weeks but for the last 2 weeks the plants are 
> showing signs of what appears to be a lack of iron. The new tips of the 
> Limnophila are very light colored. In contrast with the old growth they 
> appear almost white. The Echinodorous plants are also looking very pale 
> but the water sprite, Java ferns and Anubius is looking pretty good. There

> is also a fair bit of green spot algae on the glass so there seems to be 
> enough nutrients in the water column to support plant growth.

I don't think you should conclude from the presense of algae that there are
enough nutrients to support plant growth.  Often the lack of one nutrient
will stunt plant growth and allow all other nutrients to be utilized by
algae.  If you can identify what is missing, ADDING it reverses the process
as the plants will outcompete the algae and it will die off.  

The symptoms you describe may be attributed to many things other than iron.
Nitrate deficiency will produce yellow coloration.  Magnesium depletion will
sometimes produce whitening in light-colored fast-growers such as swords.
Echinodorus benefits from sutstrate siupplementaion but is also a heavy
nitrate feeder.

One additional point, which probably should have been made first:  your tank
has only been up for a matter of weeks.  It's bound to be undergoing swings
in the various nutrients.  Testing frequently with decent quality kits and
doing what you can to maintain macro-nutrient levels (including appropriate
water changing) is a good start.  That and remaining patient.