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Odds and Ends

Kelly asked how we dose individual compounds.  Basically, I think we
look at inputs, primarily the contents of one's make up water, the
contents of our shelf fertilizer, and we guess about what's in the fish
food we feed our fish.  Then we look for information about target levels
(if we're lucky dr. dave (Huebert) chimes in with a useful tidbit) and
then we consider whether we might have a shortage of one nutrient or
another.  Target levels are trickier than they appear at first site
because the plants are taking nutrients out of the water column every
day.  The level we start with will not be the average level over the
course of a week.  Then we watch our tanks carefully.  Particularly for
nutrients like Potassium which we can't measure unless we have a $500
gadget, it's the watching our tanks which is the most important point.

Susan wrote about the Hach iron test kit, "The technician I spoke with
there said that this kit measures iron in its ionic form and won't
measure chelated iron. I really don't know where this leaves me and I'm
hoping you might translate for me. If it doesn't measure chelated iron
is it giving a partial reading of useless iron and not recording lots of
valuable iron and if so how much more? Thanks once again!"  The Hach
technical folks told me the same thing.  Craig Bingham, Ph.D. (of blue
water in a white bucket fame) told me that he thought the Hach kit would
do a better job of pulling out chelated iron than the LaMotte kit.
Being a glutton for punishment at the time, I bought both kits and
tested regularly for iron in tanks using only Tropica MasterGrow for
iron supplement (other than whatever iron is in fish food).  The Hach
kit was more sensitive than the LaMotte which also did a pretty good job
of measuring trace levels.  If a recidivist notion hits me regarding
iron, I pull out the Hach kit rather than the LaMotte kit.  

Someone asked about selecting an aquarium plant book.  This is easy if
you read German.  In that case, Christel Kasselmann's book,
Aquarienphlanzen, is the hands down winner.  If you don't read German,
then it's a tie with the best book you can think of.

Regards, Steve