Plant Nutrients and Test Kits

Mmbrown

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HI everyone,

I am doing my best right now to grow plants in my 20 long. While some of them are doing really well, others are only doing meh. This is my fertilizer regimen:

M Flourish Comp
T Flourish Excel
W API Leaf Zone
Th Excel
F Comp
S Excel
Su Water Change, Excel

I have a single 6500K T8 bulb over the tank (low-medium light). I'm not using any CO2.

When I say "some of the plants are meh," I mean that for a couple of species, half the plant looks really good, and half has curling or pale or spotted or what have you leaves.

I know there are lots of test kits outside of the traditional ammonia/nitrite/nitrate/pH that we all have, and I'd like to start using them. I am very numbers oriented, so I think this would do better for me than looking at the symptoms on my plants and trying to guess at which deficiencies I have.

So, I'd like to know: Which test kits do you/would you (if you felt so inclined) use when you're looking into the health of your plants? What readings are "good" or "bad"? (I put these in quotes as I suspect the answer will be along the lines of "it depends, but generally....")

For instance, I'd like to know "Oh I used the Phosphorus test kit on my tap and got a reading of 0, so now I dose it with Flourish Phosphorus because really you want to have between 1 and 2 for lightly planted to between 5 and 6 for heavily planted" or something like that

I actually don't know if a Flourish Phosphorus exists XD It's just an example!

Again, I'm sure the answer will be more complicated than the above example. But, if I could get even just a testimonial of what you do, or guideline, or way to find for myself what would work, I'd be happy.
 

jetajockey

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In a low tech tank it's really not necessary to test for each individual thing, but if you are really inclined...

I'd get a po4 test kit, there isn't a cheap K test kit that I know of. But just get into an EI or pps-pro dosing regimen and you'll be sure you have enough ferts available for the plants at all times.
 

juscallmej

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A single T8 over a 20 gallon long might be a bit low. Just read your profile and your bulb are rated at 17 watts which is less than 1 watt per gallon.
I think upgrading your lighting would be the best bang for your buck right now as it sounds like your plants are getting enough fertilizer.
 
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Mmbrown

Mmbrown

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I don't like the watts per gallon rule. I find it to be more like the inch of fish per gallon rule, in that it's not really a rule at all. I just wanna know about fertilizers D: Thanks for taking the time to read this though.

Jetajockey, do you know if comp and excel need to be used with eI dosing, or does eI cover everything? I've read about it before but not looked into it that much.
 

ryanr

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Hi,
Pale and curling leaves can indicate a CO2 deficiency (in new growth), but assuming your CO2 (or carbon) levels are fine, it can also indicate a deficiency in Calcium and/or trace elements. Possibly also too much Potassium or Magnesium too. Do you have pinholes in the leaves? If yes, then that rules out too much Potassium. Pinholes are normally a sign of Potassium deficiency.

See if the following helps:
 

shelleyd2008

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I would say part of the problem is the lighting. I would also think you might be dosing/fertilizing your tank too much, though I don't know that it would effect the plants like that. I have low light on my 45g and it is planted with low-light plants. I dose Excel, Comprehensive, and another (potassium I think??) once a week with water changes. The plants are not growing excessively, but they are growing. I probably don't even need to fertilize.

This thread shows that your lighting (T8) is considered low for the depth of your tank (12"). https://www.fishlore.com/encyclopediaaquariumplants.htm

One thing that would help is to know what plants you have in the tank.
 

jetajockey

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Excel is actually meant to be dosed daily, but definitely could be overdoing it on the others. Although I think it would be causing algae issues first if that were the case, but who knows.
 

Terra

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Which plants are fading? Excel dosing can cause some plants to melt, it did for me back when I used it.
 
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Mmbrown

Mmbrown

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Thanks for taking the time to reply everyone.

That is actually the same chart I use to determine lighting levels. I know what I have is low and I am happy with it. I have read a lot on lighting- what makes it good, what makes it bad, what we really need from our lights. Increasing my light wouldn't be a detriment, but keeping it low isn't either, as long as everything is balanced.

The list of plants I have is in my profile so I didn't feel the need to rewrite it.

When I dosed excel every day, I developed a lot of diatoms, so I switched to every other day. Then I had green spot algae, which I got rid of by shortening the photo period just a bit.

Ryanr, I was thinking it's either a potassium or calcium deficiency. I read somewhere that potassium should read between 10 and 20 ppm, but I haven't read anything on calcium yet. If we decide it is a calcium deficiency, would I just want to play with dosing levels for that until the symptoms go away? Or is there a specific "you want to get it up to 5ppm" or something like that. The curling leaves are old growth. I do have pinholes, but in a different plant.

Again, thanks everyone.

Edit to add: Terra, my bacopa is the one paling and my pennywort is the one with pinholes.
 

ryanr

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I wasn't aware there was a specific number for Potassium. I've always let my plants tell me what they need. I currently dose 2.5mL of Seachem Potassium into 20G once a week (yes, I'm a big Seachem fan). Calcium, I'm not sure about either. I dose Flourish for micro/trace elements.

Excel can be used daily or every other day, so there's no problem there.

Are you using any root tabs - IIRC, the bacopa might appreciate the tabs, as would the sword, and it probably wouldn't hurt the ambulia either.
 

jetajockey

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The diatoms and excel are unrelated, if anything, excel will kill diatoms.

Calcium is more of a micro thing and as long as you are maintaining some kind of GH you should have more than enough available in that regard.
 

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