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Re: Colorless new growth

On Mon, 20 Dec 1999, Phil Eaton wrote:

> How often should one add an iron/manganese supplement to the tank?  If
> measured, at what level should it be maintained?

How often you supplement depends on how you supplement.  If you're using a
commercial product or adhere to a system like PMDD then you are best off
following the instructions that accompany the product.

I supplement mostly with iron gluconate tablets when symptoms appear and
only treat the effected plants.  The tablets are quartered and the bits
are pressed into the substrate in the root zone of the plant.  I think
that for any given plant the treatment is needed two or three times a
year, but I haven't kept good records on that.

I've never supplemented with manganese but I imagine it would work much
like supplementing with iron.

> Also, I have quite soft water in the tank.  How possible is it that I am
> calcium deficient? Or, should that even be a factor in regards to colorless
> new growth?  I heard someone say regarding pond plants once that they threw
> in a handfull of crushed oyster shell to help the plants get going... any
> merit to this?  (I'm sure that would go over nicely at a pH of 6.2!)

Calcium deficiency isn't associated with chlorosis.  Calcium deficiency
causes slow, gnarled growth in new leaves; in some species the deformed
growth is followed quickly by death of the growing tip.  In the case where
the growing tip dies, the plant may branch and continue to grow after
the deficiency is fixed.  The deformed growth may actually be strongly
colored; unusually green in green plants and unusually red in red plants.

Calcium deficiency can be treated by placing pieces of calcium tablets
into the substrate around effected plants.  This might also work with
bits of shell.

Calcium is part of general hardness and your tap water probably has
sufficient calcium for most plants if it carries 2 degrees of general
hardness.  The minimum hardness goes up if an unusually large part of the
hardness is from magnesium, and it goes up if your water also carries a
high concentration of sodium.  Some plants may need more calcium than they
can get from 2 degrees of general hardness.  Even plants that don't show
deficiency symptoms outright may benefit from adding calcium to very soft

> Before I started really getting interested in the plants, I noticed the
> stunted/compact growth mentioned, on almost all my plants. (over the past 2
> years)  Do you think that the tank could be so depleted of nutrients that I
> need to dose daily to some degree until the growth starts to normalize?

Don't dose more than the product instructions call for.  Some metals in
plant supplements can be damaging if they're dosed incorrectly.  It may
take a while to sort out the right balance, but be patient.

> on a side note, I am also getting ready to leave town for 2 weeks.  should I
> reduce the amount of light the tank gets per day while I'm not there to add
> nutrients?

Postpone any major changes to your maintenance regime until after you

I have limited experience with tank care through extended absences, but
it seems to me that if your tank is near a balance then you need to keep
things as near normal as you can while you're gone.  Changes are only
likely to mess with the balance.

This seems like a real good time of year (and opening) for someone with
more experience in vacation maintenance to add some useful information.

Roger Miller