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Re: spot feeding pellet formula for Amazon Swords

Aquatic Plants Digest wrote: Aquatic Gardeners Association
> ------------------------------
> >The amazon sword plants in our 100 gallon tank have grown so robustly
> >that the we recently decided to "top" them.  The leaves had grown out of
> >the water filling over half of the hood and were cutting off much of the
> >light to the lower growing plants and causing the Oak hood to warp.  We
> >cut the leaves off just above the water line, leaving the stalks which
> >we like as part of the look of the tank.  We filled a 5 gallon bucket
> >over half full with leaves.  Has anyone had a similar experience?  Will
> >"topping" do long term damage to the plants?  The tank is illuminated by
> >2-40 watt shop light bulbs and 2-40 watt grow lux bulbs,  the substrate
> >is medium sand blast grit, and the plants are fertilized by spot feeding
> >via the Plantguild pellet system , no undergravel heating is provided.
> >We would appreciate anyone with information on the effects of "topping"
> >to respond.
> THis is certainly no good for the plants.  If you must limit the size of
> Echinodorus, it is better to do it by removing as many as the older, outer
> leaves as necessary.  They will probably recover from a single "topping"
> such as you describe if they are kept under good conditions.  However they
> would probably succumb to repeated assaults of this sort.
> There are _MANY_ species of Echinodorus. Some grow _very_ large, while
> there are also many of more modest size.  Just as you don't buy a red tail
> catfish and plan to keep him long term in a tank that's too small, the same
> is true of plants.  Pick a species that does not grow as tall.
> I believe that you also supplement your substrate with fertilizers that
> contain PO4?  The reason that most people limit this substance is to avoid
> algae problems.  WHile _some_ PO4 is clearly a necessity for plants to
> survive, limiting amount of PO4 available will also keep some plants from
> growing as large.  You may want to reconsider your fertilizer mix.
> Karen Randall
> Aquatic Gardeners Association
>  or via FTP to ftp.actwin.com in /pub/aquaria/aquatic-plants.

Karen Randall and Bob Dixon, thanks for you very informative responses
to my questions regarding "topping" of swords.  

Karen, you are correct in your assertion that I'm making spot feeding
pellets with Phosphorus. Actually the pellets that I'm using for spot
feeding the swords I make using on part Blackleaf brand trace mix and
one part Osmocot tablet.  The Osmocot tablet as it comes from the garden
center does contain phoshoric acid, P2O3.  However, because I'm
inserting the pellets that I make directly into the substrate relatively
little of the phosphorus makes it into the water column and algal blooms
are not a big problem.  Because algal growth is not a great concern your
observation that I'm over fertilizing the swords may well be correct. 
Before I started substrate "spot feeding" the main way that I knew that
I was over fertilizing was a "algal bloom", now it's more difficult to
know.   In fact the only way I can really tell now is by observing
deficiencies.  For example, my plants show no signs of iron deficiency
but yet I never show any iron when testing the free water.   It would be
interesting to know if anyone has found a way to determine nutrient
levels in substrates?
Bill Terburg
Email: terburg at familychest_com
Web:   http://www.familychest.com/plantguild/