Aquarium Plant Deficiency Guide

Jason King

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This is something I started I while back but before I add it to the article section I would like your feedback and confirmation.

If anyone would like to expand on this and go into more detail please do, I would gladly change my text etc...

This is a reference quick guide only and does not reflect the ultimate solution to the problem.

Nutrient deficiencies can be detected by observing the plants and their symptoms, when a plant has used up the nutrient reserves the leaves or stems change and cause bad growth or a change of colour.

Here are some examples and solutions that may help you solve the growth problems.

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CO2 - Carbon Dioxide
Type: Gas or Liquid

Description: Most deficiencies are caused by the lack of Co2, once your co2 is at least 30ppm you can move onto nutrient deficiencies.

Optimal Levels: 30+ppm

Solution: In case of a Co2 deficiency, you can increase the ppm by using pressurized Co2 or Liquid Carbon.

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Iron - Fe
Nutrient Type: Micro

Description: Leaves become brittle, slightly glass like and normally look like they are rotting. They also have a more yellow appearance.

Optimal Levels: 0.5ppm

Solution: In case of a Iron deficiency, you can increase the levels of available Iron (Fe). Try adding some extra CSM+B in case of a micronutrient deficiency.

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Magnesium - Mg
Nutrient Type: Micro

Description: Leaves become yellow similar to iron because it prevents plants from absorbing iron but with veins remaining green, they may also develop brown spots and distorted leaf growth.

Optimal Levels: 5 – 10ppm

Solution: In case of a magnesium deficiency, you can increase the levels of available Magnesium Sulphate (MgSO4).

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Calcium - Ca
Nutrient Type: Micro

Description: Slightly bent or twisted leaf shapes, Leaves are often yellow on the edges.

Optimal Levels: 20 – 30ppm

Solution: In case of a calcium deficiency, you can increase the levels of available Calcium Nitrate (CaNO3) or Calcium Sulfate (CaSO4).

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Boron - B
Nutrient Type: Micro

Description: Similar to calcium deficiencies but stems can delicate and new shoots appear dead.

Optimal Levels: 20 – 30ppm

Solution: In case of a boron deficiency, you can increase the levels of trace elements by adding some extra CSM+B.

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Lack of Light


Description: Obviously this is not a Nutrient but the lack of light can cause plants to look weak, spindly with small leaves with lower sections eventually becoming bare.

Optimal Levels: more info here..

Solution: In case of a light deficiency, you can add more lighting or increase the strength of lighting by moving it closer to the water surface.

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Nitrogen - N
Nutrient Type: Macro

Description: Older leaves become yellow and die off. New leaves are small and crippled, Growth rate can also be very slow.

Optimal Levels: 10 – 40ppm

Solution: In case of a Nitrogen deficiency, you can increase the levels of available Potassium Nitrate (KNO3).

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Phosphorus - P
Nutrient Type: Macro

Description: Similar signs to lack of nitrogen but look out for stunted growth and darker coloration.

Optimal Levels: 1 – 3ppm

Solution: In case of a Phosphorus deficiency, you can increase the levels of available PO4 by using Mono Potassium Phosphate (KH2PO4).

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Potassium - K
Nutrient Type: Macro

Description: Leaves begin to curl, become yellow from edges and pinholes in start to appear which slowly become larger over time.

Optimal Levels: 5 – 40ppm

Solution: In case of a Potassium deficiency, you can increase the levels of available Potassium Nitrate (KNO3).

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Dale Hazey

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Not sure if I should post this here, please delete my post if I'm off topic.

But for folks using excel, how do we know if we have enough available carbon? Carbon deficiency is basically algae growth and slow or bad plant growth? How do you determine a proper photoperiod for excel use, to be able to rule out carbon deficiency? And move onto nutrient deficiency...

Also I just want to say, rotalabutterfly is great, love the work being done there. Can't wait for the algae index and nutrient deficiency index to be completed. Thank you for that website.

Dale
 
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VaughnH

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Excel, or other similar products, will not provide enough available carbon unless you have low light. Low light refers to the brightness of the light, not the duration of it. The best way to know you have enough available carbon is to first be sure you have more than enough of all of the other nutrients, then observe the plants to see if they are growing at the rate they should be, in good health. If so, you have enough carbon. Unfortunately, it is much easier to determine if the plants are growing as they should be if you have seen the plants when they are growing as they should be. The best way to do that is to start by having, for sure, adequate supplies of all of the nutrients, with an appropriate light intensity for those species of plants. That lets you see what the plants should look like.
 
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Kyalgae

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When I think about deficiencies I think a picture is worth a thousand words. I don't have that plant eye that many others on this forum have. I think identifying deficiencies is something I struggle with. Different plants may show deficiencies in varying ways. Two or three quality pictures of different plants, say a background foreground, and midground plant showing a particular deficiency would be very helpful. Obviously this adds a lot more work, but it would be very useful. Sometimes I find those pictures in other websites, but a picture verified by the resident experts on this site would be something I'd trust. My two cents.
 

Jason King

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I Agree and we need real life pictures of different plants to illustrate this properly.

A fellow hobbyist tried to illustrate this a few months back but with Illustrations / vector graphics etc it's very hard to do even if these are very good.


Magnesium.jpg



Potassium.jpg
 
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