Nutrient Defiency, advise please


Junior Poster
Oct 30, 2008
I have a 55 gallon planted aquarium running a Eheim 2217. Pressurized CO2 is setup and running with a DIY inline reactor on the filter's outtake. I have 3 watts per gallon of 6500K CFL light. Ammonia is at 0, Nitrite is at 0, Nitrate is a little over 5, and Phosphorus is at about .75 ppm. I fertilize with the Seachem products at this schedule:

Day 1: Flourish, Excel, Potassium, Phosphorus, Nitrogen, and Iron
Day 2: Excel and Iron
Day 3: Excel, Iron, Potassium
Day 4: Flourish, Excel, Potassium, Phosphorus, Nitrogen, and Iron
Day 5: Excel and Iron
Day 6: Excel, Iron, and Potassium
Day 7: 50% water change

My problem is my plants seem to be browning on the leaves, especially the Wisteria. Odd part about it is that it seems like light is not getting to the lower part of the plants because the tops of the plants look great.

Does anyone know what would cause this?


Plant Guru Team
Lifetime Member
Sep 23, 2007
South Florida

Welcome to the forum!

Your dosing/water change schedule seems fine, but I use dry ferts and other than Excel, do not use the same products, so I am limited in helping you there as far as dosages or effectivity. You may want to use dry fertilizers and use EI which is discussed with other methods here:

It is much less expensive than Seachem products:)

Could you give some more details of your lighting fixture?

You can either raise the fixture if possible, or based on the bulb config remove 1 or 2 tubes, or have a 'burst' of the full 3 wpg only for a short duration.

3 wpg on a 55 is a lot of light. Light is the driving force for plant growth and thus nutrient demand. Hight light will drive high C02 need as well as other nutrients. I suspect your issue is here. Insufficient and unstable c02 levels cause many plant growth and algal issues.

Do you use a drop checker (DC) with a known 4 or 5 deg kh water sample? If not using a ph/c02 chart will not work. A drop checker is still a rough estimate of c02 ppm.

Please also give some more details on your c02 diffusion. It is more than possible that your c02 is not what you think it is:) It may be insufficient for your current setup or undersized..........

How much plant mass do you have? As plants grow and thicken they need more nutrients and FLOW to get it to them. Heavier growth inhibits flow and can affect the level of nutrients available to the plant, and prevent waste products from removal.

Also, are the filters and intakes clean and well maintained. Are all leaves on the plants able to move with current even slightly?

Does your tank need a prune?

I hope this helps.


Junior Poster
Oct 30, 2008
Thank you for the welcome and the response! I will try to answers your questions in the order you presented them.

I do plan on moving to dry fertilizers but have not done much research on where to buy. I know they are cheaper but I am really clueless on what is involved.

Regarding my lighting, I converted the stock aquarium lighting to light fixtures that support 4 sockets. In each socket is a 29 watt 6500K CFL light bulb. These fixtures are attached to the roof of my DIY Canopy. I also have another 58 watt Coralife 6700K & 10,000K light in the canopy as well. The Corallife sits about 2 inches off the water's surface and the DIY fixtures are about 3 inches. The canopy lid is artisically cut for heat dissapation.

I do not believe my CO2 is the problem, at least not it's stability. It is a constant 3-4 bubbles per second and according to the Kh/ph conversion about 30 ppm. However I do plan on investing in a drop checker soon.

The CO2 is diffusing using a DIY PVC reactor on the outtake of my Eheim 2217 canister filter. CO2 is injected into this reactor then is broken up as it meets the water and 17 bioballs.

The tank itself is pretty densely planted with wisteria, vals, anubias, anacharis, dwarf hairgrass, red ludwigia, and java moss, but I do not think flow is an issue as all plant rhythmically flow back and forth. Also the filter and intake system is very clean, it has only been functional for about a month.

Everything screams nutrient deficiency to me but I know there are many out there who are much more experience at this than I. Any help would be much appreciate.