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It took two years of experience both good and bad to assimilate enough about
nutrition and get to the point where I finally feel like I've got some kind
of a handle on this beast. I'm a long way from where I want to be, but I
finally feel I've turned the corner now and there's no looking back.
and how do I know this?
My plants tell me. One can look at them and read from their colors just as
clearly - heck, much more clearly than one of LaMotte's "comparators". Much
I tell you - the Epiphany was that Tom Barr's "PO4 Epistle to the Phosphate
Limited". Phosphate was the final piece to this puzzle. There's no need to
avoid it entirely at all -- and it's addition, in the correct quantities,
makes everything else work like it should.
Everything looks so much better since I started adding PO4 a week ago and the
kicker is that the tank is sucking down N like crazy now. It didn't look that
bad in the first place either. That's the scary part.
Even the BBA is dying off. Yes!
I found a little colony under one leaf of C. pontederifolia that came in from
Asia and contrary to what I had always read, and from my previous personal
experiences as well, I was able to detach it rather easily -- almost like it
was weaker. Didn't make so much as a mark on the leaf either and hasn't come
back at all. I think it's truly dying!
I also believe iron, which I had avoided to the point of deficiency in the
past, had much to do with this overall improvement. Everytime I added iron
before, back when I wasn't also adding the PO4 (like two weeks ago), I'd get
a noticeable increase in algae of all types: GS, GW, and any BBA present
would not only spread but reproduce it seemed. Now, when I add iron in the
presence of . 2 and now up to . 5 ppm of orthophosphate - no algae increases
and the plant colors are all intensifying dramatically.
Some Anubias and others were clearly iron deficient but are greening up
nicely now and, get this: enlarging overall. I don't just mean they are
putting out new leads and leaves, even though they are. I mean the plant
itself is bulking up overall, like someone was pumping it up with air. Ja!
The Reds! So much more intense now even though I use Flourite as a substrate.
Ditto, orange and yellows. I even kicked the Mg up a notch too since I was
able to increase everything else: 1/2 tsp to 75 gal tank.
SO: in summary for those who wish to know:
75 gal tank with 220 watts of A&H PC's at 5300K (4 X 55W) 12 hr photoperiod,
Flourite and Turface substrate
Pressure CO2 system running 24/7, no controllers, solenoids, etc., with micro
airline fed into sump return filter
Sump system with minimal biological filtration - no wet/dry.
Vortex D1 diatom running full time
Water returned to substrate level via underwater "spray bar" across back wall
Heavily planted tank with 9 SAE's, 2 FFF and 13 M. praecox aka "Dwarf Neon
This tank now consumes 1/4 tsp KNO3 every 2 days and I need to find a good
iron test kit to really quantify things. The reds and greens are a good
It all was made possible by PO4 and Tom Barr's constant nagging and reminding
to the point where I finally listened.
Tom Barr, preaching the gospel of plant nutrition; a voice in the wilderness
urging us, the sometimes doubtful, always suspicious, yet ever curious
disbelievers and all unknowing, to change our ways and limitations --
nutrient and otherwise.
West Palm Beach