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API Leaf Zone and K levels

Discussion in 'CO2 Enrichment' started by Mr_docfish, Dec 16, 2008.

  1. Mr_docfish

    Mr_docfish Junior Poster

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    Would there be someone out there that would agree with me that the K levels in API Leaf Zone are quite high?
    My assumption for this came about when I was dosing daily doses without water changing for more than 3 weeks...
    I have read on some forums that high K levels will reduce the uptake of Ca..... I have noticed a Ca deficiency - but the Ca test shows sufficient Ca, and when I add extra Ca there is only a mild noticeable change. After a water change, without adding any extra ferts, all goes well again. This problem was worse when I was adding KNO3 on top of that... I have since started using NH4NO3 with better results, but I still have to water change the tank every 2 weeks to prevent the K levels from going up....

    Any comment on this??
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Sure, it has been unequivocally shown that high K+, both in recent times(within the last few years) and as well as in the past in the late 1990's and early 2000's that excess or high K+, even at 50-100ppm, far more than API will ever add if you do water changes...........will have no negative impact on the growth of even the most sensntive suspected plants.

    This is a case where internal Ca++ signaling was mistakenly and poorly assumed is to cause horticulture effects. If you test the effects of a nutrient on any system, limiting or inhibiting, you must have a non limiting control.

    This was never done.
    Aquarists can easily do this however.

    Agriculture/horticulture and plant molecular cell signalling are not the same.
    Some hobbyists apparently have no background in plant biology and have no clue, then run around telling everyone that it must be the casue even in the face of experimental evdience(Hobbyists add 50 to 100ppm of K+ to a tank with the same species over a long term and there's no effect) to the contrary dating back over 10 years:rolleyes:

    They can stunt the plants for many reasons, they rarely test K+, and if you limit one nutrient, it can affect the uptake of other nutrients(like CO2 a great deal).

    This is why I had no issues with high K+, and they may have. Of course they assume they must be right and everything else is perfect, without a single control.

    I have a control, the tank I dosed high K+ to and never had the response. Plants grew better than ever. The proponents want to ingore and dismiss other observations and believe their own without considering other possible causes:mad:

    Bad idea and how a myth like excess PO4 = algae gets started.
    Same thing and same logic there.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Ammonium nitrate is a great terrestrial fertilizer, but it isn't ideal for a planted tank. Ammonia is a cause of algae blooms. You may get away with dosing NH4NO3, at least for awhile, but I sure wouldn't want to dose it regularly. Those who have posted about dosing ammonia as a fertilizer, on other forums, have been extremely careful to dose only very small doses, and monitor the water to be sure no ammonia builds up.
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    How are you measuring K+?
    Also, CO2 can cause many issues as well organic build up, clogged filters, increase in plant biomass etc. By not doing ater changes, you can have many potential issues you have not tested for also.

    The supposed Ca++ deficiency claims I've seen are more often CO2 issues.
    The "excess" claims are generally simply adding more of a limiting nutrient. This causes an increase in the CO2 demand.

    Not enough CO2, which the plant's carbon source derives from is 40-50% of the plant's total dry weight, manifest itself as stunted new growth, this is clear as day and can be repeated with non limiting nutrients and manipulating the CO2.

    So nutrients are no longer a factor in the evaluation.
    Only CO2.

    Then you get the same type of stunting.
    This verifies that it might likely be CO2.

    Next, you see if high K+ stunts plants. If not, then you have suggest it was some other cause. You can easily be sure of how much K+ is present by dosing and /or measuring the water. K+ has no organic or bound forms, so it's biovailable pretty simply.

    You are likely not adding much NH4NO3, and likely dosing less of something else like K+/Fe etc, so less nutrients is easing the CO2 demand.

    Try using less light instead of fiddling with nutrients, this reduces CO2 demand and also reduces nutrient demand. This will give you more flexibility in any dosing routine. That and add more CO2, reduce outgassing etc, do water changes more often etc. Works for myself and works for Amano.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  5. Mr_docfish

    Mr_docfish Junior Poster

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    Unfortunately, I do not have a K test, can you recommend me a brand?

    My plants are mainly Aponogetons, crypts, swords and java fern types.
    The problem is not stunting, it is elongated petioles and in the latter stages, curling of the leaves in some spp but not all.
    You might well be right that it is just as simple as an accumulation of BOC or limited element....
    here is what I do in a nutshell:

    I have a KH of 80-100ppm and CO2 injected at a pH controlled level of 6.5.
    I have only started adding NH4NO3 recently (last 2 months - daily) and I compensate for the residual H+ with Ca(OH)2, maintaining the normal pH (without CO2) at 7.4
    Lights were 6500K 150W MH, and now are 10000K. Lights are on for 10hours and the tank depth is 80cm.
    I use an Eheim Liquidoser dosing enough to maintain an Fe level of 0.1ppm, tested weekly. NH4NO3 is added daily to maintain NO3 at 10-20ppm, tested weekly. PO4 is added as the acid every second day to maintain 1ppm tested weekly.
    recent picture:
    [​IMG]

    This week, I have changed the liquid fert (Fe & Trace) to AquaMedic Ferreal to try out, and I will post up my opinions as compared to Leaf Zone, this will take a few weeks....

    Any further comments would be great....

    PS
    I understand that the EI method is the best in your opinions (and I would have to agree), but I run a large fish retail business here in Australia, so I have to find 'off the shelf' products that I can sell, and give advice as to how to use them... water changing is one thing that many new aquarists don't like doing... so I am experimenting to find easier ways for the average customer....
     
  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Hi, well, hopefully next Sept, I'll be Melbourne to talk about planted tanks.
    Might see you then?

    Anyway, elongated petioles sounds like, along with the picture of the tank and species listed, appears to be more an issue of a good trim/pruning is in order. The plants are self shading and have run out of light from the looks of the tank.
    I'm not sure, as you know the history better, but based on the picture, that is what things look like.

    How much light do you have here?

    As plants crowd in, they compete very very strongly for 2 main things, this is true in natural systems also: light and CO2.

    So you will see some plants not ding so well, others doing okay.
    Some might have a slight edge for light, or others might be on the outer edge of a plant group and have more light, but are more CO2 stressed since they have more light. Other plants might have enough light, but not enough CO2, then you get curling in both cases.

    There is a great deal of talk and disscussion about competition between plants and algae, but in reality, plants compete with eachother on the same terms, and when you limit something, it could be light, CO2 or a nutrient.........or run lean on nutrients, then you place a lot more pressure for the plants to compete with eachother.

    Plants are far more alike than the algae and plants are. Yet no one bothers to disscuss it.

    Where would you see this happen? => Under slightly limiting conditions.
    Where would you see the most/largest impact if you have to chose a parameter? Light, then CO2.

    These are the most likely suspects.

    K+ I can easily rule out.

    CO2 controllers only tell you what is going on around the probe, the CO2 is not even throughout the tank, particular larger tanks. You also assume there are no other non carbonate influences on KH or organic acids causing differences in the pH/KH estimation of CO2.

    The CO2 control system is only as good as it's mixing ability. You can have it set for a good range of pH and still only have a small dinky pump to try and mix it vs a strong well distributed flow system.

    You will get two very different results, even though you have a CO2 controller.

    Your light is likely fine, but MH's are not the best for producing an even spread, if you can, raise the light up, trim the plants well(Trim off the outter ring of leaves on rosette plants, or what ever you like that looks good). See the post recently about measuring the light from "ntino". Some of those comments apply.

    Also, what might a difference of 20ppm in KH do to a CO2 level?

    It wil move you about 10ppm of CO2, quite a bit.
    Add large tanks and poor mixing, you cannot tell me there's a lot of mixing because it's full of plants!

    The plants greatly reduce the flow, they have dominated the tank, so there's not much algae issue, that, not so much the fert routine is likely why there's no algae issue, but as plants dominate, they compete with each other.

    No matter how you slice this issue, the issue still will be helped by a good reduction and some care with trimming the plants.

    More light- perhaps raise the light up some as well, this will reduce the CO2 demand and allow more flex there. MH's are pretty high light unless fairly high up. So that will cause more issues for folks.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    K+ testing,well about the best solution, it ain't cheap, is the Hanna photometer. These run about 180$ US. Anbd then the cost of reagents is not cheap either. You can DIY the reagents if you have access to a lab etc, most do not, so they pay.

    Hanna makes a fairly easy to use multiparameter meter also, bu now you are at 800-1200$ ranges.

    A couple of companies make test kits, they run about 30-40$ US each, but are not that accurate in the 10-30ppm range, the most common used K+ ranges. The others are very accurate.

    So many just estimate their K+ based on dosing and water changes. Still, it's a large unknown unless folks confirm. As someone who has confirmed no issues with excess K+, by both estimation dosing and with test kits, etimations work fine and are easy to hit.

    It is only when you get to plant limitation levels do test kits need to be used to make sure things do not run out. So I prefer a larger non limiting target. If you test and dose right, there should be no reason you have to do a water change. It is used to rule things out and to avoid test kits, but Organic builld up should be addressed by a healthy bacterial community in the tank(transformation and export in some cases, eg NO3=> N2 gas, reduced carbon=> CO2 gas) and by trimming the plants(export).

    Basically the leaner you get and higher light and CO2 you have, the more you have to watch it and stay on top of things. The less light, the easier it is to manage for both CO2 and nurients.

    As far as NH4NO3, what happens when folks add NH4 to their tanks at the start up phase? Does the NH4 disappear right away in Fishless cycling? No.........
    Why do we slowly add fish to a tank rather than all at once?
    After a little time, the NH4 may very well be bacteria food and turned into NO3.......some gets nabbed at NH4 to be sure in this tank, but it does not seem to me that the N is limiting here.

    Fish add enough % of NH4 in virtually any tank(Well, many seem to have nice scapes and no fish, so a grain of salt is added for them, hehe).

    Traces can be added more and more progressively until you no longer see any improvement in plant health/growth.

    Ca/Mg are also issues. Do you have an idea what the Mg is?

    As far as being a LFS, You can package your own "secret fert blends" in plain bottles as liquids or as powders and add a label. It's not easy making a living doing a Fish store. But...........this is one way you can make some added $ and sell on the net to locals in the country.

    This way you have the items and make a good profit margin.
    We have massive pet store chains here(most of which I'd like to see tank and go under) that beat up on the more knowledgable LFS. They have a tough time competing.

    So doing things that they cannot is a key.

    Not sure who well that applies to you folks there where your market is at. You can order an buy these chemicals, you have agriculture there:cool: And where's there agriculture, there's ferts.

    And a note about EI: it is not the "best method" in all cases. Not method will ever be that.

    From the sounds of things, a non CO2 approach might be more to your liking as well as most customers. No water changes for many years. The trick is balancing the light and plant biomass, with the inputs from the fish.
    This is a far more balancing system and more natural than anything using industrial CO2 enriched agriculture methods that amplify things by 1000-2000% or more.

    So a method really depends on goals. EI is often use to rule out a limitation in CO2 enriched systems. In non CO2 systems, you can add a small amount of wide range of ferts to do the same, without having to test much because demand is so low, growth is slow etc, so we only need to add a small amount to take the stress off the plants.

    This method is detailed here:
    http://www.barrreport.com/estimative-index/2817-non-co2-methods.html

    What brands off the shelf do you have access to?
    Also, do you calibrate the test kits you use?

    See the post from LeftC on how to make a NO3 and PO4 reference solution.
    http://www.barrreport.com/co2-aquatic-plant-fertilization/3470-can-someone-tell-me-how-calibrate-my-kit.html?highlight=LeftC+PO4+NO3+reference

    This should help you to make sure the cheapo test kits are in the range they say. Does not matter if it's a 10,000$ test machine, we all have to calibrate them each time we use them for a set of test.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr




    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  8. Mr_docfish

    Mr_docfish Junior Poster

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    Thanks Tom, the last post was very informative for me...
    just a bit of background info on my shop in Western Australia and the products we use....
    We carry mainly the API range, though we have access to brands like Sera, Aquamedic, Dupla, Seachem, Hagen....
    In Australia, we have restrictions in selling products that have not been approved, that is, I cannot mix my own fert and sell it without registration = $$$....:mad:
    Can you let me know what brand of K test kit I could get, just to try it out.... I don't know of any from my suppliers (many do not carry a full range), so I will have to look overseas for it....


    The reason I was aiming at the high K levels to start with, was due to the rainbowfish darting around the tank, bouncing on the glass like there was something affecting their nervous system.... though it did not affect the loaches, shrimp and SAE... my understanding of animal cellular function is if K levels increase, then there will be a multitude of problems within the animal, one of which is an effect on the nervous system. Several hours after a water change, they would come better and start acting normal again.....
    Coupled with the "assumption" that increased K will limit the uptake of Ca in some plants, and the plants pictured below show what looks to me to be a Ca deficiency, then this is where it lead me.....
    Of course I was not happy with an assumption. I needed proof, or something close to it, so I though I would ask yourself, or one of your gurus.....

    here are some pictures from today of the leaves of a couple of plants that are affected:
    Aponogeton bullosus:

    [​IMG]


    Aponogeton tofus (older, normal leaf behind, and newer, affected leaf in front):

    [​IMG]


    Would you say that pearling is an indication that the water parameters are in the ballpark, or is that just an assumption... regardless of when I do water changes or not, they always pearl well:

    [​IMG]


    I do not calibrate the test kits that I use, though now I think I will, for my own peace of mind... but I am aware that looking at colours is not an exact science, so there will be a wide margin for error using standard testing kits for the hobby.

    So in you opinion, if I felt that there might be a limiting element, then I could just increase the fert dosing (Fe and Trace) and increase the CO2 without overdoing it (within reason).... I was of the opinion that some elements would affect plants if they were in excess, but is that just in relation to the whole picture of all the elements?? That is if one element is way out of proportion to the others, then this could pose a problem, but if all elements were balanced, at twice the requirement for the plants, then this is fine....?? hope you understand this question, this is one that plagues me the most....



    PS, as for Melbourne, I am the other side of the country, so I will miss out on seeing you.... *sad* if you are ever in Perth, I'll chase you up for a hand shake....
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Aw, you are way over on the Perth West side, long way from Melbourne:eek:
    Well, I'm on our West coast, similar climate.

    The color issue is helped a lot here, and you'll be surprised at how bad some test kits are and can be. If you can buy a reasonable scale for a few $$, say 0.01 to 0.001 gram accuracy, you are in business.

    As far as making your own fertilizers..............no.
    I'm not sure about Oz, but we get around this by calling it an aquatic "plant supplement" for thr hobby. Not agriculture or calling it a fertilizer for agricultural use. Oz has better import/export quarantine than we do and likely less loopholes.

    Generally this is much better, but they should make exception policies for proper use and low risk/impact trades such as aquarium hobbyist. Not the import of various plant species, critters etc rather, something that is already there and being used by the ton and in your food supplies:D

    Makes no sense to regulate aquarium supplements.

    Somehow I do not think the right folks have been contacted, I just cannot see them being that unreasonable about it light of the irony with large scale agriculture vs this hobby.

    As far as K+, you need to treat excess as with most fertilizers for what they really are: salts. You only start to get "excess" when you start to influence the osmotic pressure, much like adding too much NaCl in the FW tank.

    The excess of one nutrient might be symptomatic of a larger issue, like why is it not being taken up? and are you adding way too much relative to the other nutrients?, or maybe the test method is way off? or why dose that much? and have you done a water change lately to prevent having to finely balance all these nutrients, many of which you do not test for a measure?

    These are far more relevant questions that need addressed. A water change will easily solve the issue and re set any suspected issues, then you can add a lot of K+ and see once the tank is doing fine. If not, then you can rule that one out with the large frequent water changes. Then slow down or stop water changes and see if you get the response again. Then you know it's not K+, but rather..........something else.

    So you repeat but this time with something else in mind.

    Few aquarist want to do all that and test and calibrate, but many do not like water changes either.

    However, you cannot not automate the testing, calibration and analyzing.
    You can make the water change easy or entirely automated.

    This will easily pay for itself many times over and is something you can sell to customers(labor, parts etc) who would love to not do any hoses or buckets etc.
    You turn a valve to drain the tank(say a pre set or a lower level at 50%, 70% etc), and is quickly heads out to irrigate the lawn, landscape etc, turn another valve to refill.

    Have it hard plumbed.

    You can add a small float switch, electronic, dual etc for redundancy etc, and a solenoid to drain the water for a pre set time, daily, weekly, every other day etc.

    Many customers will love such a system added to their home, tank etc.
    You also! But if the tank is at the LFS, then adding this will serve as a nice model fo sales also.

    It is a huge labor saving device. Few have the motivation to do a large frequent water change, so they put it off, sometimes things are fine, sometimes not. So reducing the required motivation to do a water change is a key to the solution here. This is a human social issue, not a Science based one. You can use test kits to avoid water changes and balance the in/out as best as you can till you have to do a water change, often waiting until there's an issue already present.

    With water changes done frequently, you stay on top of things and avoid them before they occur.

    I do not know if they sell ADA in Oz, I'd imagine they do and have a distributor there. You might consider using the ADA aqua soil also. Likley cost an arm and leg there though. Not cheap here either, but it's a good product and grows plants without having to buy KNO3, KH2PO4, K2SO4. Well, not as much and if you use less light, good fish loads/feeding, you should do pretty good.

    Back to your tank.
    Trim that sucker.
    Trim off those leaves, the Apono's are fast growing large weeds they will grow new leaves just fine. They will show the signs of issues before other species because they are faster growing.

    Slower growing understory plants like the Crypts much less so.

    So you have to trim and prune things to keep the plant- plant competition down also. Left to their own devices, the plants will take over and leave you with one or two species and not much else.

    I'd suggets trimming things good, large water change, Use the API+ something else also, this should help the Rainbows. They need higher current and flow. Where do they come from? Not lakes.........
    What about the Apono's? Crypts? All from the streams................

    If you trim things up more, then add a bit more current to the surface, then you will ose a bit more CO2m but you can simply add more to account for that. This will add more current, better mixing and more O2 for the Rainbows.

    Add enough current to cause a ripple, but not break the surface for about 1/4-1/2 the surface of this tank, hack the plants back.

    This will likely take care of most of it.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  10. Mr_docfish

    Mr_docfish Junior Poster

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    This is most probably the case... the plants that I keep (mainly non-stemmed plants, ie mainly monocots) probably do not uptake as much of the K as the majority of the stemmed plants out there. As I have not had time (or inclination, as I have had enough of fish tanks when I get home from my own LFS) to do the water changes, I feel that the K levels are increasing to a point where it is blocking the Ca uptake. The plants that are showing the symptoms are mainly the faster growing ones, in full light, and some are directly in the flow (Ap bullosus need it to thrive). Adding Ca(OH)2 to offset the low pH from the introduction of NH4NO3 and the KHPO4, reduces the effects for a short time... and the introduction of CaCl does wonders, but I can only do it occasionally due to the Chloride content, and it soon gets used up or blocked (Ca levels according to my test are still above 40ppm).
    I have made this hypothesis due to what I have read about the relation of K vs Ca. After further reading, I have noticed that higher levels of K are fine, as long as the ratio of K vs Ca are kept up, then there are no problems... so really, one way of looking at it is K is not the issue really, it is the Ca.... if I keep the Ca levels up, then the problem with the plants goes away.... only one problem left... the freaky Rainbowfish..... answer = water change, or find/make a fert mix with lower K.... this is what I am trying now, it has been a week, I will see how long it lasts before the fish freak out again... I'll let you know...

    PS, I am looking for a reasonable K test to buy, so I can register the change in K levels over a 3 week period. I'm interested if the plants I keep actually utilise all the available K as compared to the Ca levels....

    well I have been using about 1.5g of 100% stuff daily for the last few months... every evening, and the next morning, the NH4 levels are 0.... and the pH is controlled at 6.5, so the small amount of NH4 for that time is not toxic enough to cause problems, even with loaches. The trouble with the rainbows freaking out prompted me to use it over the KNO3... so it is not the cause either...
     
  11. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    "I feel that the K levels are increasing to a point where it is blocking the Ca uptake. "

    I can assure with 100% confidence this is not the cause as much as you want to believe it.

    Unless you are at 200-300ppm of K+ at least, then it's not blocking, it's salt stress.
    There is simply no observational nor precedent to say this.
    One group ran around telling everyone this myth based on some paper they read that has nothing to do with orticulture or external K+ levels in the environment.

    There is not such effect in any mineral nutriton text at the levels we see i aquariums.
    This is a myth.

    Do not waste your time. Rehashing a myth brings it up again and again. Then someone else thinks it's true or maybe they really do not know so they go off and think there's something to it and tell others.

    And the myth lives on.

    I do know.
    I've tested it, and so have others many many times, there's not a shred of truth to it when we test it on purpose and look for it. There's many other possibel issiue you, nor any of the other folks that claim there's some effetc have never bothered to consider, measure or test.

    All I have to do is show a case where I know exactly how much K+ I have added.
    If I do ot get the effect, it CANNOT be due to excess K+ blocking the Ca++.

    If it was, then I should be able to confirm it with a simple test by adding K+ to a specific ppm level, however, I nor anyone that's tested it has found this to be the case.

    Folks have been adding K+ to well beyond 30ppm for decades now.
    This is not some new test or observation, what is new is the myth and it's been going on for too long. You did not come up with this theory by yourself, you listened and bought into someone else's bad conclusion and myth.

    See Erik's winning AGA contest tank, he had well over 100ppm K+ and I've grown those same plant you have with well over 30-50 ppm K+ range.

    2nd AGA International Aquascaping Contest

    Now if you accept the theory, explain this, and explain these:
    [​IMG]

    These are the most sensitive of the aquatic plants growing nicely at 40ppm of K+.
    I think you cannot possibly, at leats with any logic, argue that "excess K+" is blocking any thing. Do a few more water changes, prune things back some, add a tad bit more CO2, then add K2SO4 and see for yourself.
    I already know it's a myth, I do not need convincing.

    You cannot be unwilling to do routine maintenance, test carefully, and hope to resolve much.

    Sure, things will go fine for a bit. But I'm suggesting methods that address the longer term care and root causes. If you do not have the time etc, then you might just accept some issues and unknowns. Science is about testing things, not just guessing and arguing through semantics. You have to actively do and test something. You need to isolate it and make sure, then confirm. Not just speculate and not do the foot work. I may come across harsh, but it's not meant that way at the person, just this idea and way of thinking. It really hurts the hobby and confuses folks when myths get into the hobby.

    This is one of them.
    In person, or in a plant club, we can easily resolve such issues and it comes across a lot different than on the web where myths and misunderstandings seem to norm. Come over the house and see me add 50ppm of K2SO4, then look at the plants. Come back after 2-3 weeks etc, any issues? No, then you cannot deny there's a huge issue with the theory. We have done this going back to the mid 1990's, this is not some new thing here. Then we can ponder what might the real issue be over some BBQ:p

    K+ has been added at high levels to many tanks for decades or longer.
    Also, a wide range of Ca++ levels have been observed and tested in conjunction.

    1.5 grams of NH4NO3 in a tank this size full of plans presents no issue and with lower light, not too much is going to be an issue. This is not much N or NH4. Adding up to .5ppm and even .8ppm of NH4 is okay is some tanks depending on biomass and light.

    Good filter=> NH4 to NO3 pretty fast also via bacteria.
    I see no issue there, also, I'd not worry much at such low levels about the pH for NH4: NH3 ratios.

    With CO2, not much if any issue at these tiny rates on a large tank full of plants.

    I'd still prune and trim the tank up some, do a few water changes.
    You likely waste more time thinking and testing K+ than you would doing that. Tank will look better also if you tend it more.

    Mine always do.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  12. Mr_docfish

    Mr_docfish Junior Poster

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    That is why I wish to test this myth by finding a K test kit.... I just can't get one in Australia atm.... will have to look at your end of the world after Christmas, and see what kits are available... any recommendations??

    I am in the middle here wishing to believe you, and trying to understand the rants of others, while trying to come to terms with what is happening to the tank. I do not believe that it is an issue of water flow or CO2 (this problem has occurred for some time now and the tank is only 1 year old now, it was not that over-crowded until recently)... so there is something else amiss here. But I will consider the possibility that you are right about the K levels not being the problem... I am not doubting you, just keeping my options open....
    Remember, my issue is not only the plants, it is also the fish... I have never seen this in rainbows before where nothing out of the ordinary was added to the tank... so if it is not their internal K/Na imbalance, then I will have to find out what it is... it might just be a cocktail of problems that seems to affect some individual plants and fish at the same time.

    On a side note:
    May I give you one example of my own... being in the retail sector for quite a number of years (20+), I come across all sorts of rare problems...
    I have a long-term old customer that had restarted his 1500 litre tank after a long illness. He used to use Sera Florena as a basic fertiliser before, but I recommended this time that he use the Leaf Zone..... after 2 months, he was loosing fish and the plants that were doing fine to begin with, were now showing similar to a Ca deficiency, even though the Ca levels were fine, but a few plants were still growing well without issue. After looking at everything he had been using... we asked a simple question... how much of the fertiliser was he using... he had used nearly the whole 2.5litre bottle (suitable for 20000L + of water) in that 2 months... he was only doing 15% weekly water changes... his reasoning was he was trying to maintain his Fe levels at 0.5ppm, which was the only test he was doing. This was his method he was using when he was dosing with Florena in the past, without any problem, in fact he was doing very well then....
    After many water changes to flush out the tank, the fish came good and the plants did too. He is now using a different local made fert and is doing well again... he is following the directions and not testing for Fe anymore, just looking at the plants.
    There is a max level of any element that a tank can handle... there is a limit somewhere...he was surely going over that max limit by overdosing the Leaf Zone.


    Don't get me wrong... I posted this question about K on this site on purpose, knowing that you would have your opinions (you don't follow everyone else - they follow you), you are similar to me on the forums that I frequent in Australia. I have not played around with planted tanks for all that long or at least, never got that involved till now, so your opinions are great to bounce my ideas off... if I ever have a chance to talk to you, one on one, I will love to throw some of my experiences at you to get a discussion going.... I'd enjoy the challenge ;).


    When I get the K test kit, it will be interesting to see what the change in K levels will be with different fertiliser brands.... it could be that the leaf zone is lacking rather than overdosing in one or more elements... I will find out eventually and post back here. I hope you are right, I would like to continue with the leaf zone and just tweak it a bit to suit my tank and the inhabitants... Otherwise, I will just have to do the water changes....(even though I have rigged it up to make it easy, I still have to initialise it and watch it... until I change some of the plumbing to make it semi auto... :) ) (you can see my set up in the link in my signature below.)


    Regards,
    Oliver
     
  13. plantmaster

    plantmaster Lifetime Members
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    I wonder if any testing was done, by no reply would that mean he did manage to buy a $100 test only to find his k levels were low?
    Save your money listen to tom.
     
  14. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    No, I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything, I'd much rather have them learn for themselves, see it for themselves, test it, them they know and realize the issues, they have convinced themselves, not just me.

    You need to be able to convince yourself.
    "Yes, I buy this argument"

    Or not..........

    That is a lot better for the hobby, it's future etc, than merely believing whatever Tom Barr says;)

    Then you have smart, sharp folks that are able to learn and offer new knowledge to the hobby in the future. 20 Clever folks will get far more done than just 1.

    They, in turn, can teach more folks about the myths and pitfalls.
    These folks will post and have web sites, they will interact with the hobby, things will and do slowly change. This is far far better than mere belief or paying $$$ for brand names.

    They might get around to testing, they might not. That's up to them, I did and have. So I know, what is really the issue, is that they may/may not know if they tested or not.

    Depends on how they do it or if they bother to do it.
    It's easier to question, bug, haggle me than test....... that point I am not lost upon;)


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  15. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Hanna makes what is about the best hobbyists version. About 180$ USD$.
    Lamotte makes one, sort of hard to read, about 30-40$ USA.

    You can simply check the tap water report, do a few large 70-80% water changes and dose based on weight and Volume of the water, to re set the ppm's each and every time for a few weeks to ensure any ppm range you want to test also.

    No test kit needed.
    You also need to make a reference set of ppm's, say 2ppm, 10ppm, 20ppm, 30ppm etc if you plan on testing this.

    Reasonable given where you are at. Do not give into belief BTW.
    It does more harm than good here.

    Fish, particularly tougher ones like Rainbows that are common in harder waters with more salts, should have no issues balancing internal salts.

    Likewise.

    This really points to a CO2 issue, plants compete with eachother for CO2.
    Adding K+ to a K+ limited system does what?
    =>Increase CO2 demand.
    So now you go from a K+ limited system, to a CO2 limited system.

    Only by providing non limiting nutrients and non limiting CO2, will you avoid a vicious circle.

    When a few species do well, it's typically those that can out compete the other species for CO2.

    I know because I can add high levels of K+(and have for decades) to fish like Altums, Cardinals, Crystal Red shrimp, Apisto's, Rift Cichlids, and yes.......Rainbows, including New Guinea species and dozens of catfish.

    If not, you end up looking on the web, noticing that there a dozen of "me too's", all basing correlation on direct cause, not even thinking it might be a cascade or other issues that can explain different results/observations.

    Careful about how simple such questions really are, these are more dangerous.

    Well, here's a few issues going on here:)

    Sounds better.
    But does not show that K+ had anything to do with it.

    It likely has nothing to a max level, rather one limiting nutrient no longer being limiting, now something else is now limited, likely CO2. Strong to moderate PO4, K+ limitation etc will limit the CO2 demand.

    Once you take that limitation away, CO2 demand goes way up.
    Plants suffer, some cannot compete for CO2, the rotting plants degrade water quality, low CO2 also causes some species to Use the KH as a carbon source, changing pH targets set for CO2, and suggesting even less CO2 for any target pH based on the pH/KH/CO2 relationship.

    We can easily test for high K+ levels(add more based on a tank volume-this is not hard), but the other parameters must be independent(this part is harder for many). If CO2 is affecting the results, then you end up thinking it's K+, not CO2.

    This is an issue as old as the hills in this hobby.

    I'm not after followers, just folks who think, use their reason and can test and observe things.

    Folks with decades of experiences tend to get along and agree more than you might think.

    You have a lot of observations to draw from.


    Make sure you consider the CO2.
    It's far easier to rule out nutrient ppm's, and light, then focus on CO2.

    CO2 tweaking is far more productive area to focus on, 95% of the issues are CO2 related at the root. Non "root" issues are general limitations which are easier to rule out.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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