NO3 Stress


Junior Poster
Aug 25, 2009
Hello my name is Guido and I'm from Argentina. I'm 22 and I'm student of Environmental Sciences. I would first like to apologize for my English I can read but for write I need to use the google translator :p.
Has long been looking for the reason that the plants are these beautiful reds and could not find the cause although she suspected that stress was a little bright at limiting the growth.
Now I'm interested in getting the stress by no3 and need help on how to achieve it and that has no test to measure NO3 and PO4.

My tank data
100x50x40 200 L
Substrate: Laterite 20% Humus 20% Sand 60% (3 - 5 cm) + Sand 100% 2 cm + Gravel 2 cm.
Lighting: 2 PLL 954 36W + Grolux 30W + 865 (6500K) 30W to 20 centimeters above the water in a lid covered with a reflective material. 10 h per day
CO2: Valve + Glass diffuser + 300 L/h Pump. 3-4 bubbles per second
Fertilized: "Aquagarden Macros" & "Aquagarden Micros" i don't know exact formula but I was told it was taken from ADA
Filtering: intern 800 L/h wadding + domestic canister 10L full of "leca" (LECA - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Feeding: Twice in the day. Grindal + Tetra color or "homemade pasta for discus" + Tetra color

Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi x 10
Tegatus x 9
Rodostomus x 2
Serpae x 6
Scalar x 4
Tricho x 1
Betta x 1
Apistograma borelli x 1
Otociniclus x 2

Melanoide Snail x 100 ¿?
Big Apple Snail x 3
Small Apple Snail x 30 ¿?

Plants: (current)
Blyxa japonica
Eleocharis sp
Hemiantus micrantemoides
Ludwigia glandulosa
Riccia flotantis
Cabomba carolineana & furcata
Rotala rotundifolia
Heteranthera zosterifolia
Java Fern
Echinodorus bleheri
Narrow Fern
Windelov Fern
Proserpinaca palustris
Cryptocoryne brown
Rotala walichii
Limnophila aromática
Rotala macandra

Add a picture a little old but that they give an idea of the aquarium

Rotala walichii, Limnophila aromatica and Rotala macandra coloration is poor.
Can you help me?

Saludos desde Argentina!!!



Plant Guru Team
Lifetime Member
Sep 23, 2007
South Florida
Hola Guido,

Welcome aboard!

2 PLL 954 36W + Grolux 30W + 865 (6500K) 30W

Could you provide a bit more detail on the # of bulbs and wattage you are using? 2 or 4 bulbs?

Could you also provide more detail on your c02 diffusion method and how you determine your approximate c02 level?

I can't honestly see the point in specifically limiting a plant nutrient to adjust color. Tom and many others use full EI fertilizing method which provides NON LIMITING amounts of all nutrients, and they have great color and growth.

I think your issue is more likely insufficient c02/nutrient levels for the light you are providing. You also need to ensure that you have good current and flow in the tank to ensure that all plant leaves get some movement. This will help ensure that nutrients are available to the plants and that waste products are washed away.

Light is what drives plant growth and thus c02 and nutrient demand.

If any of these are limited (and c02 usually is) the plants will not grow or color optimally.

You may want to read this thread about different fert routines. The EI method using dry ferts and mixing with water to dump in the tank and a 50% weekly water change to reset the nutrient levels in the tank is cheap and easy.

for dry ferts:

Welcome to Planted Aquarium Fertilizer

Hope this helps,


Lifetime Charter Member
Lifetime Member
Mar 12, 2009
This is an issue I've been looking at. You can drop out nitrates to push red in some plants; it works well temporarily, then the deficiencies catch up. I've tried doing it mildly without much success; the plants got a little bit of a copper color.

Personally I don't think NO3 limitation is the only way to get red. I've had red in high NO3 tanks but not others with the same species, but I don't know why. Lighting doesn't seem to answer the issue either; I've had red in low light, green in high.

This is a topic I've been playing with for a while, and haven't gotten very far. Here's a thread from a few months back that I made on the subject:



Prolific Poster
Jul 19, 2009
SK, Canada
Although many people say it doesn't work, I have found supplementing Iron increases reds in my plants. I have experienced this with Rotala wallichii. Maybe it was a deficiency that I was now meeting, or maybe it was an abundance...I'm not sure.