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Re: New tank nutrition

> From: "Gamera" <Gamera at attbi_com>
> Subject: Plant Nutrition in new tank
> I set up a new 30-gallon planted tank a week ago.  Itís doing pretty good so
> far.  However, I have a few questions about nutrient deficiencies that I
> have noticed.  My new tank is eating up NO3 very quickly.  I measured it
> yesterday morning at 10-20 ppm, and this morning at 0 ppm.  So, a 10-20 ppm
> drop in 24 hours, and that was after I added about 5 ml of PMDD halfway
> through the day yesterday.

Well take a good look at your test kit. What brand is it? I pretty much use
the Lamott or Hach kits for this one(NO3). They cost a lot although the
refills are cheap and it's a pleasure using them. You can use some less
costly test kits for the others.

More on what to do below:

  The plants consume available Phosphates very
> quickly too.  This is a new phenomenon to me.  Iíve never had a tank eat up
> nutrients like this.  Itís going to take me some time to figure out how much
> I should add to maintain specific levels.  Now for my questions. Once I
> notice nutrient deficiencies and add the necessary nutrient to correct the
> problem, do the affected plants recover or are the affected leaves a lost
> cause once they show the deficiency?  A day or two ago, my Java Ferns
> started to show yellowing/withering along the leaf edges, on both old and
> new leaves.  One of the biggest and oldest leaves was showing these same
> symptoms around its leaf edges, but also in the middle of the leaf; lots of
> yellowing spots throughout the leaf.  Since my tank is eating up Nitrogen so
> quickly, I decided to add some KNO3 for good measure.  Also, according to
> the nutrient deficiencies chart at Chuck Gaddís site, it looks like this may
> be a Potassium deficiency, too.  So I added about a half teaspoon of K2SO4.
> However, these also seem to be symptoms of a Calcium deficiency.  So I added
> a few milliliters of CaNO.  Also, a Magnesium deficiency seems to fit the
> scenario.  So I added about a quarter teaspoon of MgSO4+7H2O.

Uh stop. Back up and work on _one_ thing at a time. Relax.

> Geez, with all these possible deficiencies, how does anyone ever pinpoint
> one specific deficiency, especially when thereís a lot of crossover?  How
> long should I wait after adding the nutrients before I decide I didnít add
> enough or the proper nutrient to correct the deficiency and therefore should
> add more or try a different nutrient?  Will the withering leaf edges recover
> after adding the proper nutrient, or will the nutrient only prevent other
> plants from meeting the same fate (i.e. the one showing the deficiency is a
> lost cause)?

Well a dose of patience is in order. Don't expect immediate results. Give
things 2-4 weeks. Relax and stop adding everything at once.
> Is there anyone or any Website out there that can instruct plant aquarium
> hobbyists on how to custom make their own PMDD?  What I mean is if I have a
> monthís worth of data about my water parameters and notes on daily nutrient
> additions and how quickly those nutrients are consumed, is there anyway to
> translate that into a customized fertilizer for my tank that will allow my
> to add 1 ml, 2 ml or 5 ml everyday, and my tank will be supplied with all
> the nutrients necessary for its particular metabolism?

Well there's a nice "range" that can be maintained and works for most all
tanks that use CO2. Some tanks use only 1/4teaspoon of KNO3 a week, a higher
light tank may use 2-3x that amount that has less fish etc. Or your tap has
NO3's/PO4's etc.  
> Finally, what in a tank consumes or depletes your KH?

Namely to any degree low CO2 and the presence of a KH eater(hornwort,
Egeria, Algae, Vals etc), something that breaks the HCO3(KH mainly in our
tanks) into an OH and a CO2. HNO3 can form but if your taking care of your
tank this will happen much.

> The KH of my tap
> water is 5-6 degrees.  However, one day after a 30% water change, the KH in
> my tank is only 2-3 degrees.

The water change(or you adding them on that day) could be adding nutrients
and CO2. Then plants grow fast for that day. The next day if your pH is
high(low CO2 levels) your plants will eat the KH. Do you use Driftwood,peat

  What consumes or depletes the carbonates in a
> tank that quickly?

Acids(strong, like HCL, HNO3, H2SO4 etc) some plants and algae.

> Well, thatís the end of my flurry of questions.  Thanks
> in advance for any help or advice!
> Tank parameters as of this morning (11:30 am, half hour before lights on):
> Size: 30 gallons
> Lighting: 96 watts AH Supply Bright Kit
> Photoperiod: 10 hours
> Pressurized CO2 at 1 bubble every two to three seconds
> Substrate: Flourite
> Filtration: Eheim Pro II model 2026
> Temp: 76 degrees F.
> PH: 6.6
> KH: 3 - 4 degrees (after adding Ĺ tsp of baking soda yesterday)
> CO2: 23 Ė 30 ppm
> NO3: 0 Ė 5 ppm (added 10 ml PMDD after testing)
> PO4: 0.1 ppm (added 2 ml KH2PO4 after testing)
> Fe: < 0.1 ppm (added 10 ml Chelated Trace Elements after testing)
> Plants: Vallisneria, Red Foxtail, Wisteria, Java Fern, Anubias nana,
> Christmas Moss, Hairgrass, one Crypt Wendtii, and a crapload of Riccia
> fluitans

The vals will eat the HCO3.
You might think you have enough CO2 right now. Before the lights come on is
when CO2 is highest. Check right before it goes off. What the difference
now? Does it look like the pH has climbed to 7.0 or higher? If so, you need
to add more during the day.
Keep the pH at 6.4 to 6.8. I crank mine during the day. I turn the CO2 off
at night. Don't need it and don't get that low pH in the AM.
Also you said that your KH was 2-3 there and now it's raised up to 3-4. Try
getting it to 5. Keep the pH around 6.7-6.8. As that KH drops so does the
CO2 amount in your water and the more your Vals etc will use the HCO3.
Just keep the KH and CO2 higher. It should balance out once the CO2 level is

As far as adding the KNO3. Add no more than 3 x a week(1/4 teaspoon each
time), add some algae eaters in there now. Each dose of KNO3 will add about
6ppm of NO3 and 4ppm of K.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of K2SO4.
Raise your GH to about 5 or so.
Add 5mls of a trace mix(comporable to Flourish or TMG 3 x a week, maybe a
bit more. 
A small dash of KH2PO4 3x a week.

I don't mix a all in one PMDD. I keep tabs on each, mainly KNO3 as my main
control variable.

Try this. It should work pretty well and give things about 3 weeks. This
should get you by well till you get a nice NO3 kit(unless you already have
one). I suspect the kits may not be giving you the right amounts. 10-20ppm
drop is not quite right.
Tom Barr

> Thanks,
> Gamera