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Re: Plant health

> Tom wrote:
>> Good plant health will help the most to control algae.
> I have seen you write this line many many times and it just dawned on me
> what you may have meant.

Well think about this:
New tank. Plant have not established themselves yet. High potential for
algae. Another tank. Low to absent NO3's for a few weeks. Poor plant growth
and algae creeps in. Another tank with CO2 problems(too much and/or too
little). Again algae problems with semi okay plant growth.
Another tank with some good growth for awhile then poor growth(uneven
nutrient amounts).

Much of all this revolves around the plants, not the algae. Most FW algae
are secondary opportunist waiting for a bloom.
> Are you saying do not try and fix the algae problem, but try and fix the
> deficiency for the plants and the algae will go away again?

Well generally yes, BUT you should attack the algae also! Manual/physical
removal, with water changes, herbivores, good nutrient levels etc. Do all of
these, not just one silver bullet. It's not that difficult once you get the
hang of it. Go in once a week and prune, do your basic water change, Check
the CO2, clean clogged filters and add a fresh batch of nutrients(this
regular addition of nutrient will keep a deficiency problem to a minimum!).
Got a problem? Go back and repeat this procedure. Check the CO2 again etc.
This is the best method to handle all the algae issues generally. Green
water and a few others need some extra work but almost never come back if
you keep up on things. But will all algae problems go away by nutrients
alone? Doubtful. In a healthy tank where they have not gotten a foot hold
algae do stay away if the nutrients are well managed but these also have
herbivores, regular maintenance etc. Can't get out that part:)

> How many thousands of different dificiencys are there out there?

Well there's only a few nutrients plant's need. But there's many
combinations and degrees of each.
>When you
> find algae in your tank how long does it usually take you to find the
> dificiency....hours, days, or weeks?

Depends. Typically the deficiency has been going on for awhile if you get
algae. I test and keep up on things regularly. Algae on the glass is the
only algae I have dealt with for quite sometime. Remember that I use
herbivores and other methods to control algae as well, not just nutrient

It takes some time for the plants to regain their health after being
starved. Your not going to be doing to well if you have a broken leg then
the next day go out and try to run. Plants take sometime to get going again.
Give them time and be patient. They will come back and as they do they use
progressively more nutrients. Keeping up and realizing this "momentum" helps
as the plants get going and growing again.
If you have a tank that;'s doing well and has fast growth it can handle iron
levels of 1.5ppm, PO4's of 1.0ppm and NO3's of 10ppm etc.
If you have a tank that's got poor CO2, poor plant health etc your going to
get algae even though the levels are the same. If you cut these levels in
half and keep attacking the algae and doing water changes etc eventually the
plants will regain the upper hand and be dominant if you fix the CO2.

It's a balance of these things and your tank can change as it starts growing
and becoming healthier but many folks do not keep up on this and don't
enough nutrients(namely macro's but traces also) so this stunts/slows their
plants somewhat, which is not bad in some cases and they might not get much
algae etc. There are varying degrees here as well. If you don't have any NO3
where you had plenty prior to your plants taking off and you do not correct
this you will have more problems than someone who does add KNO3 with every
weekly water change. Having fish and feeding them solves some of this N and
P issue.
Depends on your frequency of additions/maintenance restocking the tank with
fresh supply of all the nutrients. If you did this often you'll have less
problems than some one who does not. Once the tank is up and running well
then you can back off for a more manageable truce with the algae. If you
really keep up on things for 3-4 weeks your tank will look very nice.
This is an excellent technique for those folks doing open houses/photo ops
and doing a big water change right before(that morning) before the folks
come over is a good idea.

> Is there a specific group of test that
> you start with (ie. 2 or 3 first set of test then if that doesn't show
> anything go to 2 or 3 second set of test?).

Certainly. CO2 is the first. NO3 2nd, PO4 3rd, Fe 4th.
But you should always remember the other items:
Adding K+ to excess by estimation, pruned plants and trim off any poor
looking leaves, clean filters, good water circulation, water changes etc.
If the N and P are not being used suspect CO2. Clean tank well prune off any
algae-> Water change-> add fresh nutrient back in-> correct CO2-> repeat for
3 weeks. Should take care of most all the algae/plant health problems if
your cleaning the tank and doing regular maintenance.
> Dave Berryman

Tom Barr