Iron Dosing

Discussion in 'Aquarium Plants' started by Dr.WilfordBrimley, Aug 3, 2017.

  1. Dr.WilfordBrimleyValued MemberMember

    Basic question. How often should I dose Iron? I should mention I have no way to test my Iron levels other than looking at yellowing leaves and not red ludwigia.

    Setup: 30 gallon tank with a UG filter with a 60 gallon air pump, aqueon 20 quiet flow.

    Oceanic light(and tank) 6500k bulb 24in, 3 LED lights (unsure of temp), and a 2700k CFL. Standard 12 on/12 off.

    Dosing with Flourish Comprehensive and Excel.

    Plants: Purple Cabomba, Java Moss, Wisteria, Guppy Grass, Temple, Anubias, Red Ludwigia

    Fish: German Blue Ram pair, 3 ember tetra, 3 cardinal tetra, 4 neon tetra, ramshown & bladder snails.

    My Temple has holes and yellowing leaves and the Red Ludwigia (I just got it yesterday) is red under the leaves, but not on top. I've hit the tank with about 4ml of Iron since last night. Also just picked up yesterday.

    Thoughts/Advice? Thanks in advance.

  2. -Mak-Fishlore VIPMember

    I think in most cases, red plants are red due to light, not iron. Green leaves use light more efficiently than red leaves, so only under better lighting do leaves turn red. Of course too much light leads to algae, so it's a delicate balance. Yellowing leaves doesn't have to mean iron deficiency. I'd give them some more time, but if it worsens see if it's potassium deficiency.

  3. Dr.WilfordBrimleyValued MemberMember

    I also have a potassium deficiency. Everything seems to be being made worse by the excel. Not that the excel is hurting the plants, but my mineral levels were probably low to begin with. My anubias has pretty much always suffered from yellowing/holes. I have very weak stems in my cabomba and temple, and the temple especially has the yellowing between the veins.

    Using these ferts is new to me. My potassium just got here today and I dosed with that. I hit the tank with Flourish and Excel this morning as well. I put Iron in yesterday. All the fish are acting fine (i think my rams are about to spawn again) so I don't think my trace element levels are off.

    Gonna give it a day or two and see what the potassium does.

    Also, you mentioned lighting. What color temp do I need and how much? My light setup is in my OC.

    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 5, 2017
  4. anirocWell Known MemberMember

    A light that has a Kelvin rating means it is a full spectrum. Plants don't need a full spectrum, only certain portion (red and blue) for photosynthesis. For your own eye, a color temp around 6000k will bring up natural colors of fish and plants. Ideally, you'll need a PAR meter to measure your light and to decide if your light is strong enough for your plants.
    Red plants need strong light, low nitrates and iron to show as red as they can be.
  5. Dr.WilfordBrimleyValued MemberMember

    Okay, the low nitrates thing actually helps. How low of nitrate levels do I need? Mine stay around 20 - 30 ppm usually. Is that too high?

    I forget the exact model bulb I have, but I know I have one on my other tank rated @ 7500k. Would that be better? The other tank only has anachris, some kind of anubias, wisteria, and guppy grass.

    Full read out of lights on the tank in question is in OC
  6. -Mak-Fishlore VIPMember

    Even though low nitrates bring out the red in plants, I don't recommend getting them too low. Low nitrates cause reddening because the green chlorophyll needs nitrate and red doesn't need as much. It could lead to deficiencies on the other plants, and cyanobacteria especially likes lower nitrates. It'll also be kind of hard for you to do this, since you're dosing a liquid fert and can't adjust how much nitrate you're adding. More water changes will lower them though.
  7. Jocelyn AdelmanFishlore VIPMember

    I would switch to nilocg thrive or ultum nature systems plant food... both have a better NPK ratio then flourish.
    Analogy... your out driving your car (plants), you step on the pedal to accelerate (excel) but your car stops because your tank is empty (ferts)... best way to explain why plants are hurting after excel, you are giving them the push but not the support from the ferts.

    Just dosing potassium and not dosing phosphorus and nitrogen certainly doesn't hurt, but you are still leaving out 2 of the three macros (flourish contains almost no phosphates or nitrogen, but it's decent for the micros).
    Nitrates of 20-30 are great for a planted tank (range would be 10-40), however, not great for a tank not being dosed nitrogen... it would be better to have your nitrates from fish waste lower (larger/more frequent water changes) and the additional nitrates from the ferts....
    hope this makes sense... basically for you now your nitrates should be around 10 with water changes, once you start dosing the other ferts they should then be in the 20-30 range...(again, flourish comp had very minimal nitrogen so it should not be affecting your current nitrate readings)

    If the lighting isn't great and you switch the lights, then the other tank will start suffering....
  8. anirocWell Known MemberMember

    Nitrates are the work of bacteria, fish do not expel nitrates, they expel ammonia which plants prefer over the nitrates. You can have zero nitrates and still feed your plants Nitrogen if fish are around...
    I like your analogy Jocelyn, but I would consider the "light" to be the gas pedal that drives the need for higher ferts and CO2; also driving at full speed means you can run into problems.
  9. Dr.WilfordBrimleyValued MemberMember

    You keep talking about lights, but not telling me what you think about the light set up I have.

    I'm running an oceanic light fixture with a 24 inch t8 17 watt 6500k fluorescent, a cfl 2700k @ 5 watts, and 3 LED strips with two LEDs each. Not sure of the wattage and color temp, but it's mostly for looks.

    The other bulb is a 24 inch T8 19 watt (i think) 7500k fluorescent only. Would that bulb work better? The tank it is on doesn't have these problems because I used dirt in it when setting it up so like... yeah. My anacharis has gone from 6 stocks to over 20 stocks in 6 weeks and I need to clip more buds tomorrow, I don't think dropping the color temp down on that tank will hurt it. Since I can't get an answer about my light set up I'm just gonna switch the bulbs. I'm more concerned with the cichlid tank anyway.

    Why would it be better if the nitrate came from ferts over fish? The whole point of a tank is to make it as close to a closed system as possible.

    The only reason I'm dosing stuff at all is because it's a relatively new tank with not a huge bioload. -- Although, I have added more tetra (New complete animal stock, 5 ember, 5 neon, 3 cardinal. 2 GBRs and all the ramshorn. Also 2 kuhli loaches).

    I also just now started running carbon so my nitrates have been around 30ppm with no chemical filtration other than the plants for almost 6 months.

    Over all growth is fine. My guppy grass is great, so is my java moss, wisteria, and the bamboo I have in the tank. My anubias puts out new growth all the time, thick and hardy, but the old stuff turns brown and yellow at the edges. My giant duck weed keeps getting holes in it and yellowing. My temple is doing alright, but not great, - it tends to get holes and leaves turn yellow and fall off after about a month of forming - and my cabomba has really thin stalks with almost no roots, but grows really fast. All this seems to like potassium deficiency to me. The Red Ludwigia is new, but seems to be doing alright so far. One stock died off, and it dropped some leaves, but there is new growth low and high on the remaining stocks.

    My problem really seems to be a lack of minerals. The tank is only about 6 months old and there isn't very many fish compared to the amount of plants.

    My complete set up is in the OC other than the addition of the fish I mentioned above. Just got some stock today.
  10. Jocelyn AdelmanFishlore VIPMember

    When dosing nitrogen you are dosing a mix of sources, nitrates are one of them, but not all.

    As for why no one commented on your lighting... it's because we were waiting for you answer on the info for the lights.
    I can't really say much about t8s as I use leds, hopefully someone else here can help with that.

    Again, as I said earlier, you are likely having a nitrogen deficiency along with potassium... and possibly phosphates. Switching to a better fert or removing excel from the equation should help until we get your lights figured out.
  11. Dr.WilfordBrimleyValued MemberMember

    My lighting set up, filtration, stock, and plants are all listed in my original post so I don't know what info you're looking for.

    You aren't being super helpful because I've now posted my lighting set up twice and you aren't giving my any advice.

    I'm kinda starting to get annoyed because you keep saying my lighting is an issue without actually commenting on my lights. How do you figure I have a nitrogen deficiency? You just keep saying things without justification or reason so I really don't get what you're trying to tell me.

    There is no way I have a nitrogen deficiency based on the symptoms of my plants. The only problem I can have that might point to that is my thin cabomba stocks. Everything else points to potassium. My leave are thick and my plants are vibrant for the most part.

    Anyway, this isn't super helpful. You keep asking for info I've gave twice so unless you've got something useful for me, I'm just gonna see what happens.
  12. Dr.WilfordBrimleyValued MemberMember

    I've quoted myself where I talk about my lighting twice.

    I switched out the bulbs this morning. I'm now running F20 - T12 bulbs on both tanks, both with a color temperature of 6500 K (as in Kelvins). Like, I really don't know what other info you're waiting for. This makes no sense.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 6, 2017
  13. Dr.WilfordBrimleyValued MemberMember

    So, doing even more research, it seems Comprehensive should really be used based on the amount of plants in the tank, and not just recommended dosing. I hit the tank this morning since it was the day. I'm going to hit it again. I did a partial water change. Tested Nitrate (steady 30 ppm) and Nitrite (steady 0ppm). Didn't bother to test ammonia because the carbon was changed yesterday.
  14. anirocWell Known MemberMember

    Back in the days when all we had for our plants were the T12, the watt per gallon rule applied. A 2-2.5 watt/gallon was considered an OK light. So if your T12 is around 60-75W, you are good. Of course, the depth of the tank, water clarity and good reflectors play a role.
    A T8 if it's 24'', means it is a 17 watt. Enough light for Anubia maybe...
  15. Dr.WilfordBrimleyValued MemberMember

    I swapped both bulbs on the tanks this morning.

    I'm running F20 T12s @ 20 watts. It's a 30 gallon tank, so about 18 inches deep, probs closer to 16 to the top of the substrate.

    So I'm running less than 1 watt per gallon, but why does wattage matter. I thought the important part was color temp?

    The bulbs I'm using are 6500 kelvin color temp. Bright white daylight bulbs from home depot.

    What is more important: Color temp or over all wattage?
  16. Jocelyn AdelmanFishlore VIPMember

    Both are equally important... one is for the amount of light that will penetrate through water, one is the spectrum that plants can absorb.
  17. Dr.WilfordBrimleyValued MemberMember

    I mean... It's a light that literally says it's for aquatic growth, plus I have some LED strips that are a brighter white than my T12 20 watt bulb. Also, wattage can't be that important since LED lights can achieve color temps needed at a much lower wattage.

    I guess the question is, what are the signs of improper lighting? The pic attached is about a month old, maybe more. I dunno. It's bright as in the tank. There is about double that amount of cabomba now (though it's kinda hidden by new plant additions)

    I'll try to get a new pic of the tank uploaded tonight.

    Full lighting on the tank in question --
    f20 t12 20 watt 6500k bulb
    CFL 5 watt 2700k bulb
    2 LEDs @ .75 watt (unsure of color temp)
    6 LED @ 2 watts (I think; unsure of color temp)

    Let's get the lights sorted then talk nutrients, cool?

    Attached Files:

  18. Jocelyn AdelmanFishlore VIPMember

    Can you get a picture of the lights???? Odd I know, but just trying to picture how you are running all of them at once? I see the cfl is on the right, but unclear on the rest... it still appears darkish at the substrate...
  19. Dr.WilfordBrimleyValued MemberMember

    That picture doesn't have the LEDs in it. The darkness toward the left/middle is because that piece of drift wood is against the glass. There is also some fine black substrate on the right hand side in the front, making it look like a shadow.

    The piece of driftwood with the anubias on it on the right is touching the front and right side of the tank in this picture.

    The T12 is in a standard fluorescent aquarium hood. The CFL is in a floor lap made for reading (it's shaped like a hook)

    The LED lights are just little string light strips. One string has two light strips on it, each containing 3 LED lights for a total of 6 in the strand. One strip sits in the back right corner and the other sits in the front right corner.

    The other LED is in the back left corner is only 2 lights in a strip.

    I'll try to get a picture tomorrow.
  20. Dr.WilfordBrimleyValued MemberMember


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice