EDTA chelated vs gluconate(ogranic) trace mix

albu81

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Dec 5, 2011
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Hello guys,

I want to put into a small discussion the benefit of gluconate traces versus EDTA traces.
I know that CSM or TNC UK traces are EDTA mix, but I'm reading on internet and it seems that some guys are using in micro mix the ogranic form of traces, as Carboxylate (Mg, Ca, B, Cu, Fe, etc).
What i know for sure is that Fe Gluconate is spreading in aqutic community, specially since Seachem is using this form in their Flourish Iron and i've seen that many ferts sites is selling them as separate powder.

What if you mix these traces as gluconate, you will get better result in plant uptake, or you will get worse results due to the, let's say, bigger instability of these elements in the water, tho is not very clear for me if EDTA is much more stable than Gluconate.

Looking over the net, i saw that Tobi, from floragrow.de is using organic source of trace in his mix and he stated that they get great reasult in Germany with this mix.
I hope that i'm not confusing the ogranic compunds from his mix with these gluconate/carboxylate elements.

I'm asking this since i've found a source of these elements as carboxylate and i'm putting some ideeas to try them in a mix... hope i will manage to find a way to achieve the CSM+B ratio tho.
On top of these elements, ascorbic acid should be integrated in the mix ?

thanks'

Florin
 

Tom Barr

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It's a trade off, longer dwell times, or dosing time with stronger chelators like DTPA, maybe a few days, ETDA, a few hours, gluconate a few mins, maybe 1-2 hours.
The goal is to add enough Fe to the plant to maximize the growth.

They are traces, so factors like CO2, light etc, play a much larger function in results.

Separating those to be able to say that it is due solely to the form of Fe chelation in a trace is impossible I would say in a planted aquarium. You can use some theory, but practical matters would be very very difficult.
Hobbyists have used CMS and Seachem products for over a decade, no one has ever suggested there's much difference and suddenly now, someone does?
These topics come up about once every 2-4 years on forums.

I've yet to see any difference.

I have 4 different chelators.

So obviously I've used them all. You do not NEED chelators for any other fertilizers in aquatic systems other than Fe. The strength of the chelator plays some role, but since the Fe is a TRACE, the overall energy budget for the plant to take in say Fe Gluconate vs DTPA is insignificant for aquatic plants.
Now you can haggle and argue over a minor detail like chelators, but I just make a mix of DTPA, ETDA, and gluconate all in one mix and dose that. I dose daily overall for traces, but 2-3x a week for anything else.

I also dose more than what 99% of the people suggest. But my tanks seem to lack the issues most have.
You can add AA or you can add 5% vinegar and this will remove the KH, then add the trace mixture.

Since tap water KH varies a great deal, you can custom blend the trace chelator mix to suit harder or softer water, but I don't. Citrate, Gluconate, these are extremely weak chelator/ligands, suited mostly for very soft KH's(under 3 degrees). My tap is 1-2 degrees. DTPA and ETDA(or similar) is/was used for Tropica's master grow trace mix for about 20 years now. They grow more plants than I or Tobi ever will and have the research set up to test what works well.

We added Fe Gluconate in the local club for years on top of the CMS mix just to be "sexy". No one reported any real significance. I think Tobi is likely wanting to believe..... than really doing a comparative observation. Would not be the first time nor the 1st hobbyists to do so.
We all can be tempted to do that.
 

albu81

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Dec 5, 2011
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Bucharest, Romania
Thanks' Tom for feedback.

As an sustaining point for glu/citrate, i saw on the Krib that Greg Morin from Seachem, stated that the form which is delivered the Fe(II) in these it tend to be better for plants.
He stated that plants will use less energy to pull out Fe out of gluconate angaints the normal EDTA/DTPA/EDDHA chelates.
Also he is saying that non-organic chelators, due to their strength tend to bind with the elements from aquarium itself and it they can take elements out of the plants :confused:.
I can understand that this is a somehow overrated, since if this was the case all EDTA/DTPA tanks would suffer from this action with result in deficiencies and big collapses.

Again, looking at some horticulture ferts, i saw that some comps are yelling and singing that these organic form of traces are a big breakthrough, and if i look at Tobi, than i should be really convinced that glu/citrate is better :)

The point to use many form of chelator, therefore both forms of Fe, seems very smooth, because basically you supply plants multiple choices :)

Btw, there is any reference source between each chelator, ph and time of availability in water?
Also, what i dont understand very clear is the relation between KH and chelator, i will look over the net for this :), what i know that in solution Fe, regardless the chelator is more stable in PH arround 5 and with raising PH the chelator need to be stronger, otherwise Fe tend to deposit...

About the fert method, you stated that you dose traces daily, is this more suitable for your tanks ? Many is dosing EI each 2 day from what i saw over the net.
Did you ever went with Fe over 2ppm ?

Thank you,

Florin
 

Tom Barr

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There's no evidence that chelators will remove or re sequester the Fe in plants. These chemicals generally are broken down by bacteria.

Observations alone do not support these claims on traces anyhow. So if folks dose often, then they see good results, this has little to do with the type of Chelator, more to do with the amount and the general care of the aquarium.
No one in the hobby has shown otherwise thus far. Reporting that a few people had good results, well, that implies little about the chleator itself, it could be for many reasons.
What happens is one or two people say "Hey me too!" and a myth is born.

Maybe there's something to it, but most likely, there is not.

What I need to see when folks make claims is some observational response difference. Eg when I add more CO2, or more light, I get faster growth etc. Or If I add Excel I see less BBA.
Or if I use ADA AS and dose less to the water I see similar rates of growth etc.

Dosing more and dosing more frequently traces does appear to help, regardless of the TYPE of chelator.
That is observed widely.
Type? Very little differences if you dose often.
I dosed about 20 ppm of Fe a few times due to a dosing pump error. Water was yellow, but no issues otherwise.

Dose is exposure x Time.

So if the Fe is avail in many forms for long periods or very frequent periods, then the plant can take up plenty.
ADA AS and most clay based semi soft sediments have plenty of Fe as well.

Organic forms are often used for Human vitamins etc. We are well studied, aquatic plants are not.
As I said, people have been using these for decades in this hobby. There's no big difference, it's all in what you WANT to believe, rather than factual basis.
Every few years, some group of hobbyists think they discover some new thing that no one has ever seen and go running around waving a flag.
A few months later, not so much.
I've seen this for the same topics about a dozen times.

Those discussions off the Krib in the 1990's, I was a part of.

People that think there's some huge gains made by some special fert dosing really do not understand growing aquatic plants.
It's quite minor as long as you add some and do not limit the plants.
And if you are limiting the plant's growth, then you have dependencies on other factors besides the ferts, which leads many to incorrect conclusions.
Until they master that issue, you may as well argue with a holy man preaching.

ADA preaches using their entire line, but they are selling something. Amano freely admits there's no big deal about it. The aqua soil hold the lion's share of the ferts for the 1st year or so anyway. Many ADA converts redo their tank's yearly or every 2 years.

This paper is about the only known Fe chelation uptake on aquatic plants.
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00145772?LI=true#page-1

http://www.researchgate.net/publica..._growth_of_Hydrilla_verticillata_(L.F.)_Royle

As you can see, there's ample Fe in soil and there's a lot more Fe that can be added to increase growth rates for at least one aquatic plant species.

This is a much much better paper for helping aquarist become much more successful over all:

http://www.tropica.com/en/tropica-abc/basic-knowledge/co2-and-light.aspx
 

albu81

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Dec 5, 2011
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Bucharest, Romania
Thank's Tom,

I agree that there is no magic trick for a good healthy aquarium. good care should be the main thing here.
What i'm trying to find, is the benefit of using multiple Iron sources in ferts and this because here, our aquarist are very straight going with PPS-Pro (tho is more PMDD al way long :)... )
In this "quest" i'm trying to find a good balance of the iron sources with your experience, yes i'm a leech ..., so i can dose my aquarium in order to get, let say, the best results.

Regarding the iron sources, you said you use 4 types of chelates, i assume is EDTA(?), DTPA, Glu and CSM+B.
What ratio you think will be fair for a mix for these ?Looking at your previous post, you put said like 3:1:1 (CSM : DTPA:Glu), but if you mix 4 chelates than i maybe and 4:1:1:1 (CSM+B:EDTA(should we increase the EDTA amount of iron aside the CSM): DTPA:Glu) should be OK ?

Checking the links, for Hydrilla verticillata the non limiting Iron level is around 6-8ppm :), which i guess is not so pleasant to have due to yellowish water color and maybe some live stock will be harmed, tho i have no sustaining argument here, just he old saying that Fe is toxic to fish.

cheers,
Florin
 

Tom Barr

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My take is that adding several chelators types will target all possible outcomes. Cost? Not much different.
PPS pro starts too lean to rule out dependency. The aquarist never learns if the CO2 was good enough or the lighting etc, which are the main drivers.
It's a wiser approach to start at a non limiting level, so you have a reference to compare against, then reduce the dosing down if you want fewer water changes etc.
This is a much much better article:
http://www.tropica.com/en/tropica-abc/basic-knowledge/co2-and-light.aspx

You do not add just enough food to feed your cows and chickens to keep them from dying? Or do you feed then enough to where they might leave just a little bit extra in the bowl?
Then reduce it down where they eat just the right amount?

I have no issues when debating people on such topics because I start with a general philosophy, not picking and choosing to suit what I "think":)
Adding wasteful amounts of lighting and CO2 but then claiming lean is better for ferts is not supportable. No one has killed livestock with ferts in some 20 + years I've done this. Not one case that's verified.
CO2?

Almost every week someone kills their fish.

Light?
People add way too much and get algae, again, almost every week.

Ferts are minor issues and trace elements are EVEN more minor.
PPS and EI both add the same nutrients. The only difference is how much.
If I add a lot less EI, then is it PPS? If I dose a lot more PPS, is it now EI?
Pretty much.

I spend far more time helping aquarist with light and mostly CO2, the ferts? like I said, only 5% or less of the time. Maybe less.
Traces pose no threat to any livestock even when dosed very heavily. Maybe at 8ppm or higher, but the water will look bad before you get to the toxic ranges for CRS high grade shrimps etc.
I tend to dose only .3-.5ppm per day.

Which is a lot more than most dose.

I dose this by volume:

4 CMS+B(has Fe ETDA): 1 DTPA and 1 Fe Gluc.
I add about 2 table spoons of this to 1/2 liter of hot water.

You can run the dosing calculator here to see what ppm's per dose this is for your targets.
I dose more based on the plants than test kits or assumptions about when I need to do a water change or not.
I think I have that part down fairly well after all:

TV1224_zps731a7f16.jpg
 

albu81

New Member
Dec 5, 2011
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Bucharest, Romania
Yes Tom, i think you did fairly well :)
Each time i see your tank i get a very good feeling and I really question folks that are saying you have to check very carefully each fert you dose and that high level of ferts are adding algae bloom...

And you are 100+% right, all the time folks are very carefully with their ferts, but they put so few effort on CO2 and light.
More i saw people that tend to rely so much on CO2 test kit, which is ... pretty low from my side, since i know for sure that Florin Ilia, who invested alot in lab tech, got huge differences between kit reading and lab instruments reading and if i recall correctly also you got maybe 30ppm diff between right lab reading and test kits.
Also, many folks rely on checkers, which again tend to offer wrong info, maybe as an alternative you can go with 2 checkers to have a better result.

As I've said, my intend is to make myself a nice mix which can help my plant considering that light and CO2 are (i hope) well balanced.
For example, following your advice I have increased the CO2 in my tank (only 15gal) so much, that people called me crazy ... since guys with more light tend to dose less CO2 in much bigger tanks (more than 50gal maybe).
Same for NO3, which in my tank is HUGE according to "normal" standard of PPS, around 50ppm :).
when i have shared the co2 and no3 to them i got reactions like your stock will suffocate (strange all my fish & shrimps are very active and they are really feeling good), they will get huge health problem due to high NO3, you will get algae bloom etc...

Surprising i have not so big algae problem, only some GDA which I put on the low PO4 value, since this could not keep up the pace with rest, being under 1ppm, even tho i have dose lot of Easy Life Phospho but i assume i could not keep up with plant uptake and you know, scare not to kill your stock came in :)

Guys here are sometimes silly enough to consider that they get BBA from other tanks and not considering that their tank has a problem, same that they tend to believe that if you take out all the carbonate from your tank, the BBA will be gone, that means to limit CO2, lower your KH and all calcareous material from your tank and BBA will be gone.

Sometimes I tend to argue with them about this, since looking at EI I find it very straight forward and the most decent dosing method... and i usually tell them not to limit their stuff in their tank. Many folks told me that i will get problems ... but could not explain why, just that i will get problems.
Sometimes people are afraid and sometimes get bad results mainly due to bad Light/CO2 management.
They afraid of EI since they usually have poor CO2/Light management dosing big amount of nutrients will result in a huge failure, this being probably the worse scenario, to dose your tank with huge amount of nutrients but to have limiting factor the CO2...

Same in myth area, people consider that adding Iron to their tank will make their plants more reddish which is not well documented if not at all. I had a big debate with one guy who said Iron will make its plants to thrive on red, but I was telling him that looking at folks over forums, more reddish came to more stressed plants therefore to limit his NO3...could not convince him.

Also, folks are using that root irrigation system, which they say is beneficial for plants since the nutrients will be all the time available on roots and plant uptake will be much increased followed by an increased growth rate, told them that roots doesn't matter so much on aquatic plants for uptake since they rely on all plant mass for uptake.
Instead of building huge irrigation system they could get decent soil or buy one hand of root tabs, plant these and get same result.
Tho they tend not to care since if they have discovered something it's hard to convince that can be other way do it, much simple.

So, old myths are dieing hard :)

Thank again for sharing with me your experience,

Florin