nutrient deficiencies



quite often we talk of irregular plant growth as a source of pinpointing problems with dosing and nutrient deficiencies. i've looked up several tables and have found quite a number of discrepencies (frustrating) between them. i think it would be very helpful if a chart of some sort was posted. was wondering if you might have something to offer here tom (other than all that indispensible knowledge you carry around in your head)? or does anyone else have one that they find to be very reliable in the course of their experience? i know i would greatly appreciate something like this as a basic reference tool. :eek:

Tom Barr

Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
Re: nutrient deficiencies

There are generalizations for this.
That's about as best you can get for close to 10 nutrient variables and far many environmental variables( pruning, water changes, picking off algae, cleaning equipment, wiping the glass, cleaning the gravel, uprooting , moving plants around ad nauseum.......)

I use indicator plants and I know what the problem is in about any tank I see in person and if I'm wrong at first, then I get it the second or third time. Either way, the tank's conditions and plant growth are improve if you go about improving the nutrients in a step wise manner.

That gives you great confidence that the things you have looked into are correct and then you explore the next variable.

Riccia: good pearling= good CO2/NO3
Mic. umbrosum good growth = good NO3 levels.
Green spot algae= low PO4
Good pearling without lulls in the plant growth rates = decent PO4
Lack of holes in fast growing plants= good K, NO3
Slight yellowish veining= low Mg
Pale colors= NO3 or low traces
BBA, and algae in general= poor CO2
Stunted tips: PO4/NO3, rarely Ca.

Tom Barr


Lifetime Members
Lifetime Member
Feb 13, 2005
Chandler, Az
Re: nutrient deficiencies

I seem to remember that crinkled leaves are an indicator of some sort of deficiancy but don't seem to remember.. any thoughts?


Guru Class Expert
Jan 24, 2005
Re: nutrient deficiencies

I understand crinkled leaves to be a calcium deficiency. As I am experiencing this in one of my tanks I will know shortly if Calcium corrects this problem.