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>> What is an Fe measurement? <
> From you're above comment and other post that I have read I take this to mean
> that there isn't a reliable test for measuring Fe in the aquarium. Am I
> understanding this right?

Pretty much. There's more to it than that. The measurement will not
correlate well with good plant growth.
This is were you put away the test kit and try using your eyes. The other
nutrients like PO4/K/CO2 are all in excess, NO3 is kept fairly low.
>> I use volume of traces/tank volume/time as my unit.
> You can convert this into micrograms of Fe uptake per day(or some unit of
> time) for the tank or weight of plant material<
> You answered my question well enough as far as adding Fe but if you have the
> time could you give me an idea of how you calculate the weight of the plant
> material?

Well you don't need to do this. This was just an idea you can take to the
next step.

Folks can simply pick a volume and frequency and guess what makes the plants
grow the best when _all the other_ nutrients are in good shape/ranges while
you run your test.
>> Carbon is the main issue, then NO3.
> If these two are messed up/limited, run out etc, generally here's trouble.<
>> The run down is Light=> CO2/carbon => NO3/NH4 => K+ => Traces => PO4.
> The traces/PO4 status is not clear which is "more" important for aquatic
> plants.<
>> But I tell folks to work from the light on down like this. Get each one in a
> good range, then, progress to the next nutrient down.<
>> Precise control over having enough CO2 and enough but not too much NO3 is
> much more important in routine day to day plant tank keeping.<
> The above statements are very valuable to me; this is a clear guideline
> where to place my priorities for good plant growth.

Well if there's a problem, start by going down the list like I mentioned.
>> So back to the main issue, carbon. <
> I now understand a lot more about plant nutrients but the issue of carbon
> has lead to more questions.

40+% of a plant is carbon, you might want to ensure there's enough.

> At this time I really can't switch to CO2 so adding is Excel is the only
> option I have available to me that I know of.

Better than not adding anything.
DIY can work also, even on a big tank but you'll need a carboy or something

> Let me make sure I understand the terminology here. A tank with Excel added
> is a carbon enriched tank right?

Therefore you should try and use CO2 type advice and methods.
If I said merely a non CO2 tank, I would be leaving out Excel and similar
products which adds carbon in a different form but not CO2.

Someone got me on that a while ago.

> -   I have peacocks in it but they don't bother the plants and they do very
> little and usually no digging.

Very nice fish. I use to keep and bred them years ago.
They do well in planted tanks. Most of the ions in the Rift lakes go very
well with plants, like Ca, K, Mg etc.
You can use the same/similar hardness and add CO2, your pH will be in the
7.2-7.4 range for good CO2 but the fish don't care. I think they like the
hardness/the ions more than a "pH level".

They are cichlids also and pretty tough.
A few Tangy's and wilds are sensitive and care needs to be used but they can
adapt well to planted tanks.

> -   Since this tank started of as a fish tank for peacocks my substrate is
> aragonite which leaves my ph high (currently - Ph 7.4  / KH 5 / GH 13) it
> seems 
> to have dropped with the addition of nutrients because without it usually ran
> between 8.0 and 8.2

That's fine.
Onyx sand is a good substrate for rift fish and plants.

> -   Not that it matters but the tank also has - s. algae eaters, o-cats and
> amano shrimp in it without any problem, although the shrimp do tend to hide

Surprised they are not eaten.
Full grown peacocks would eat them.

> -   I am growing a large variety of plants, some which are recommended to be
> grown in soft water only.

Yada yada.......If I had a nickel for each time I've head this I'd be rich.

Plants don't want soft water, they want CO2.

The Plant Fest will take folks to two hard water rivers and a couple of
black water systems. Claus also found the nicest plants in those harder
waters in Brazil. FW hardwater springs are the best places(high in CO2) for
plant growth.

I have yet to find a plant that can only be grown in soft water. If you know
of one, please let me know.

I lost track of the species and varieties of species, but it's over 250
species of plants, all did fine in hard water except for 2 and they act
funny in soft water for many folks anyway. The jury's still out on those but
the other 248+ species have no issues whether it's hard/soft etc.

> Anyway do you have any suggestions on what I can or should do to improve the
> carbon situation?

DIY, it's cheap.
> Does a lower Ph still help with carbon uptake when using Excel?

I would suppose so.
> Is surface agitation still a concern for carbon lose when using Excel?

Shouldn't be. Ask Greg at SeaChem. I don't use Excel but did try a bottle on
a tank sometime ago.
Tom Barr
> Thanks again for all of your help,
> Bill