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Help! Plants stunting and turning white

Vicky_29

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Hi all,
I have a 80L tank that is running for the past 4 months. Although I didn't see issues with plant growth in the beginning, I am recently facing stunted new growth and white pale leaves in some plants.
Details about my tank:
KH: 3dkh
GH: 4dgh
ph :7.2 before CO2 and drops to around 6.1 after CO2 injection.
Substrate: Ada Amazonia version 2
Lighting: Chihiros wrgb2 for 6hrs daily from 4 p.m to 10 p.m running at 80 percent intensity and with a ramp up/down time of 1 hour.
Filtration : Eheim classic 350
CO2: Starts 2 hrs before lights on and off 1 the before lights off. 6bps via JBL inline diffuser.
Maintenance : Weekly 50 percent water.
change.
Fertilizer : 3ml of APT complete daily.

Rotala Shimoga leaves turning white:
IMG_20210727_213810.jpg

IMG_20210727_213826.jpg

Ludiwigia glandulosa with stunted curved new leaves
IMG_20210727_214409.jpg


Rotala macrandra mini butterfly stunted tops:
IMG_20210727_214117.jpg

Rotala wallichi stunted top

IMG_20210727_214229.jpg


Overall tank pic (taken a week back)
IMG_20210720_180246.jpg


I see much of the cases of stunted growth has been associated with CO2, but I have my drop checker turn to a good lime green 3 hrs after CO2 is on. I am suspecting this to be iron deficiency but not sure why this is not seen with other folks who use APT complete. Perhaps the time of dosing ferts play a role? I dose in the morning and go to work (9.am), while the photo period starts sometime in the evening(4 p.m). I did read in some websites that the DTPA iron would precipitate if the ph is above 7. Does this have a role to play in the stunted growth.

Any help on this is greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance. Love from India!

Regards,
Vigneswaran
 

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Wookii

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It looks like there may be several things going on. Certainly the pale new growth could be iron deficiency, but your water is fairly soft, so I’m not sure if the iron would be coming out of chelation so easily.

It also looks like older leaves are affected so could be Magnesium deficiency also - and APT Complete doesn’t add much Magnesium, at least not compared to the 10ppm weekly suggested for EI.

The stunting is most likely to be CO2, and if your drop checker colour in the photo is representative, I’d say your injection rate is a little low, and you want a lighter green. You should also try placing the drop checker on the back glass where the stunted stems are, to see if your CO2 levels are even lower there, and maybe affected by the output from your skimmer?

To trouble shoot I would maybe add the magnesium first (you can use Magnesium Sulphate, more commonly known as Epsom Salts), along with a very gradual increase in the CO injection rate. Double check your distribution too, and that the stunted stems are getting CO2 rich water, and not in the output flow of the skimmer.

If those two things fail to solve the pale new growth, then look to add some DTPA Iron to your bottle of APT Complete also, or invest in an auto-doser so you can dose after the CO2 injection has brought the pH down.
 

erwin123

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As an APT fert user, I would try Wookii's suggestion first with the Epsom salts.

3ml a day APT Complete shouldn't lead to visible nutrient deficiency in an 80 litre tank? I was peviously dosing 3ml a day in my 100l tank but gradually increased the dosage as my plant mass increased.
 

dw1305

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Vicky_29

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Thanks a lot you everyone for your replies.
You should also try placing the drop checker on the back glass where the stunted stems are, to see if your CO2 levels are even lower there, and maybe affected by the output from your skimmer?
@Wookii , I did try out your suggestion today by moving the drop checker near the rotala macrandra without changing the bubble count. I saw the drop checker turn a good lime green 3 hours after the CO2 came on (one hour into the photo period) and a hour later it is almost yellow. If I increase the CO2 any more I think my fishes would get stressed.
IMG_20210728_211518.jpg


Also I have ordered some Epsom salt and DTPA Fe online to try out your other suggestion. Hoping to get the same by next week. Will keep posted on the plant growth progress once I receive the same. I just wanted to ask how much do you think I should dose and if I should target any ppm value for Mg and Fe? I don't want to go full EI just because of my work schedule and the increased maintenance time each week for the tank.

Meanwhile I had a follow up question regarding iron chelation, @Wookii , @dw1305 . Which factor in the aquarium is responsible for breaking of iron chelation....is it the pH of aquarium water or the hardness or a combination of both?

@dw1305 , I understand that Fe deficiency is tied to pale/ white leaves of rotala shimoga, but does it have a role to play in the stunted tops of rotala macrandra and rotala wallichi (pic above) and curled leaf tips in the Ludiwigia glandulosa or do you think it might be due to some other nutrient deficiency.

Sorry if these questions sound very basic, I am a complete beginner to the hobby just asking all the questions arising up in my mind even if it is trivial. I just hope learn properly and do one correct thing every day and not jump to assumptions without knowing the actual cause.

Thanks for taking the time to help!

Regards,
Vigneswaran
 

Geoffrey Rea

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Hi Vigneswaran.

Although I didn't see issues with plant growth in the beginning, I am recently facing stunted new growth and white pale leaves in some plants.

You mention things were running smoothly for four months then performance dipped. A few questions:

- When was the last filter maintenance of the Eheim Classic 350?

- Have you experienced higher temperatures recently in your area?

- When was the drop checker solution last changed?

- Triple question… What is your surface agitation like? How deep is your substrate in this setup? Do you normally let growth fill the tank before trimming and replanting? All of these are formed around the missing information from the full front photo that would be useful to know.
 

Vicky_29

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Hi @Geoffrey Rea ,

Thanks a lot for taking the time to respond😄

Let me try to answer the triple question first.
Triple question… What is your surface agitation like? How deep is your substrate in this setup? Do you normally let growth fill the tank before trimming and replanting? All of these are formed around the missing information from the full front photo that would be useful to know.
Here is a picture of my tank as on today (it is due for trimming this week)

IMG_20210729_203019__01.jpg

And I have a good ripple going across the surface of the tank
ezgif.com-gif-maker.gif

My substrate is around 6cm deep and I normally let the plants fill in (like in the picture above) and then give a trim.

When was the last filter maintenance of the Eheim Classic 350?
I last cleaned my filter a month before, I usually plan my filter maintenance once every couple of months, though I clean the filter tubes , inlet and outlet regularly (when I see deposits on the filter line).
Have you experienced higher temperatures recently in your area?
The last couple of months have not been that hot here, ideally the tank temperature has been between 24-27 degrees Celsius.
When was the drop checker solution last changed?
I changed the solution three weeks back.

Let me know your thoughts on this, and if I need to change anything to make the plants grow better.

Regards,
Vigneswaran
 

Geoffrey Rea

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Thank you for the extra details Vigneswaran. It really helps produce a broader perspective of how your system is performing.

Several observations involving water parameters, timing, general distribution and Co2.

Starting with water parameters. Do you use tap water? Is there a water report available? Without these details it’s not possible to know anything about parameters beyond the addition of 3ml of APT complete daily.

Timing.

Perhaps the time of dosing ferts play a role? I dose in the morning and go to work (9.am), while the photo period starts sometime in the evening(4 p.m).

As earlier stated by other members, auto dosing your tank at lights on would be advantageous. Especially considering that this will be the ongoing scenario unless you want to move your photoperiod. Assuming this would be a permanently undesirable option as you would miss seeing the tank when you get home from work.

However, you could try shifting your photoperiod to start at 9am temporarily to see if it’s beneficial to dose at lights on. This is a free option and would be a good first port of call before worrying about iron chelation. You want that iron in the water column during your photoperiod.

This leads to another aspect, also regarding timing…

Lighting: Chihiros wrgb2 for 6hrs daily from 4 p.m to 10 p.m running at 80 percent intensity and with a ramp up/down time of 1 hour.

It’s entirely up to you but it’s unnecessary to have such long ramp up/down periods. Restrict the ramp up/down period to 15 minutes or less. Get the light to the plants, get the Calvin cycle going, maximise light dependent reactions to produce sugars for your plants, produce oxygen. If only using 6 hours of light it’s imperative that you are maximising your dissolved oxygen in that time to carry the system through the other 18 hours of dark period. From experience of tanks running on/off lighting and those with ramp up/down periods, setups with no ramp perform better within the allotted time for photoperiod e.g. 6 hours. The only reason to use a ramp is to avoid startling the fish.

General distribution.

One improvement can be had by placing your skimmer next to your inlet:

1627638893393.jpeg


The flow pattern would then be established as:

1627638939668.jpeg


Evidence of this being beneficial can be seen on the foreground. Your carpet to the right is doing fine:

1627639047666.png


On the left the growth is getting leggy:

1627639128016.png


Your Reineckii would also benefit from the entirely clockwise flow/distribution from the push of the outlet/skimmer and the draw of the inlet:

1627639386987.jpeg


You will be drawing more water through the lower growth and improving general distribution.

Co2.

If there were no drop checker in your photo I would be pretty convinced your tank has a Co2 issue. Drop checkers can be fouled giving you a false indication. I’m looking at elongated growth, appearance of algae, degrading lower growth and a distinct lack of any pearling. That’s currently though.

You stated things were running well for four months before now.

What has changed at month four onwards?

Did the Co2 bottle run out and go unnoticed? Were you working from home due to the COVID pandemic, dosing at lights on then returned to work and started dosing seven hours before lights on? Did you add or remove any equipment?
 

Vicky_29

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Hi @Geoffrey Rea ,

First of all, thank you so much for the spending the time and effort to provide such a indepth analysis of my tank.This gives a clear view of what I might be missing and the things I need to improve with the tank.

As you had suggested, I had made some immediate changes to the tank to improve the overall water distribution by moving the skimmer next to the filter inlet and also have reduced the light ramp up/down time to 15 mins to maximize the dissolved oxygen. I have also given the plants a nice trim this week.

In addition to this, I am asked to do wfh for the next few weeks (due to rising covid cases here) so I can dose the fertilizer just before the photoperiod. This is a temporary solution and I will try to get a auto dosing pump. I will keep posted on the progress of the tank at the end of this week.

As for your other queries, please find my responses below.
Starting with water parameters. Do you use tap water? Is there a water report available? Without these details it’s not possible to know anything about parameters beyond the addition of 3ml of APT complete daily
I use tap water in my tank, but sadly there is no water report available. I think I will have to get the water tested by a lab, since water parameters are not published by government here. I am checking with some water testing labs in my city, will see if I can get the water tested ( if the water test cost is not on the expensive side😅).
What has changed at month four onwards?

Did the Co2 bottle run out and go unnoticed? Were you working from home due to the COVID pandemic, dosing at lights on then returned to work and started dosing seven hours before lights on? Did you add or remove any equipment?
Yes Geoffrey you are right! A month back I was doing WFH and had dosed the fertilizer in evening an hour after lights on. This is something that I was reminded of suddenly when I saw your question, and made me think if the dosing time was the source of my problems. I don't want to jump to any conclusions, guess we'll find out soon 😉.

Equipment wise I did not make any changes other than swapping a new CO2 cylinder in place of old one that was getting empty .This was done before even the old one got completely empty and having a spare CO2 cylinder that is filled came in handy.

Love from India!

Regards,
Vigneswaran
 

Geoffrey Rea

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Well that’s promising information Vigneswaran. If the chelate was working before it should work now when dosed at lights on. As you say, we’ll find out soon.

Luckily you have Rotala wallichii in your tank. It’s the first plant to fall when things are off, but also the first to react when things are to it’s liking. A good indicator of progress.

If your new growth is looking lush again, with dosing at lights on, you’ll hopefully have the whole system back on point again soon after. The lower growth will need discarding and the fresh top replanting so it can root and take full advantage of the ADA Amazonia again without expending resources on old growth.

Yes Geoffrey you are right! A month back I was doing WFH and had dosed the fertilizer in evening an hour after lights on.

The aquarist is part of the system, always a very important component when diagnosing problems. Autodosing takes one job away though. A nice to have piece of kit indeed!

I use tap water in my tank, but sadly there is no water report available. I think I will have to get the water tested by a lab, since water parameters are not published by government here. I am checking with some water testing labs in my city, will see if I can get the water tested ( if the water test cost is not on the expensive side😅).

Hopefully not too expensive, but invaluable information to aquarium keepers. You won’t regret knowing what goes into your tank each week. Before paying, make sure you have asked any other hobbyists in your area first. They may already have a report and be willing to share… Just a thought.

First of all, thank you so much for the spending the time and effort to provide such a indepth analysis of my tank.This gives a clear view of what I might be missing and the things I need to improve with the tank.

Pleasure. But let’s see what the outcome is first. Keep us posted and budget at least a week of consistently dosing at lights on before drawing any conclusions. It was working before returning to work though, so this decreases the probability we need to look elsewhere.

There’s still a question mark regarding the Co2… With your ramp up/down now set to 15 minutes you have five and a half hours of the Chihiros WRGB2 light fixture set at 80%. Would expect pearling and the drop checker to sit in the green under the new conditions.

Your flow pattern is now good, surface agitation is good, timing of dosing is good… Hopefully back on track. As ever, the plants and fish don’t lie so keeping an eye on them reveals all.

Love from India!

Much love from England! So brilliant to have an international community on UKAPS 😎
 

Vicky_29

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Hi all,
It's been almost two weeks since I have started dosing the ferts just before lights on and changing the flow pattern as @Geoffrey Rea had suggested, so I thought I will provide an update of how things are currently in my tank.

Overall I am seeing some really good improvements in my tank. This is my tank as of today.
IMG_20210813_205948__01.jpg

I had trimmed the white and pale tops of Rotala Shimoga (as in post #1), and the new growth has been significantly better and greener.
IMG_20210813_210156.jpg

IMG_20210813_210929.jpg


Also, the rotala macrandra mini butterfly that earlier showed signs of stunting is growing well now (atleast some of the stems).
IMG_20210813_210236.jpg


While some of the plants are doing really well in the tank, I am still seeing few signs of deficiency in some plants varieties, I will start off with the glassy leaves seen in some rotala /Ludiwigia senegalensis stems as in the pic below.

IMG_20210813_211726.jpg


I am also facing issue with Ludiwigia glandulosa, which is showing curled new leaf and stunted growth. Also the rotala wallichi is not showing any signs of growth after the last trimming and has stayed fairly the same size for two weeks.

IMG_20210813_213642.jpg

IMG_20210813_213959__01.jpg


In addition, few of the rotala macrandra mini butterfly stems are showing side shoot growth that is pale pink in colour instead of red (not sure if this is a deficiency or this is how the side shoots of mini butterfly normally look).
IMG_20210813_211808.jpg


I am not sure if this is caused by single or combination of nutrient deficit, but luckily I have some data about my water parameters. As advised by members in this thread, I got my water tested by a lab (unfortunately not much planted tank hobbyist are here in my area, so was unable to source the water parameters from them). Please find the report below. I took this water sample from my aquarium, after doing a large water change with my tap water (about 70 percent) and leaving it overnight in the tank without adding any ferts so I believe it should reflect the base state of my tank every week after a water change.
Screenshot_20210814-005836.jpg

From this report, I am not sure if the Fe and Mg level is optimal in my tank or if any other parameters is a bit off.Any advice/insights on this would be really helpful. I have the EI dry salts handy (MgSO4, KNO3,KH2PO4, CSM+B, and Fe-DTPA) and am ready to experiment to find the actual factor that is causing the plants to suffer.

Thanks in advance!

Regards,
Vigneswaran
 

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Vicky_29

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Hi Geoffrey,
Yes, I need some prescriptive advice on how to overcome the deficiency symptoms like glassy leaves and stunted growth (seen in some of the plants as mentioned in my previous post) and if I should tweak any of the ferts to get over that.
Regards,
Vigneswaran
 

Geoffrey Rea

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Okay then, so there’s been multiple changes lately and we want to account for that as best we can.

‘Start as you mean to go on’ summarises this post really. In other words, as much consistency from now on given that the timing of your dosing is sorted. Auto doser will keep this consistency going.

- Commit to 80% light intensity and 6 hours of photoperiod for now and start working the system from here. Light is relatively easy to control as an input.

- You can always tweak dosing, but bare in mind this is linked to Co2 application.

- With this in mind, temperature fluctuations will be a variable affecting Co2 being efficiently dissolved. You mentioned a range between 24C and 27C with each 1C of difference changing the input needs. It’s why temperature stability is coveted so highly in the high tech end of the hobby. Quite simply, stable temps make the system easier to assess and handle. Placing the most difficult plant species in the path of Co2 mist can circumvent problems with the most sensitive species to Co2 fluctuations, such as your R. macrandra. Even if the temperature goes up, the mist will keep Co2 availability locally high around that species to keep up with its needs regardless. Other more tolerant species to temperature fluctuations/changes in metabolism can be used in the least desirable spots in the tank.

One option in the hottest temps is running your Co2 for the entirety of the photoperiod; maximising the time that the plants have to store Co2 in their tissues. Think ‘net’ consumption in the plant tissues by the end of the six hour photoperiod in the absence of desired ‘gross’ concentration in the water column. As dissolved concentration becomes harder to attain, all we are left with is increasing the availability across time for the plants to get their carbon needs met at the lowered concentration. Aiming for maximum oxygen dissolved into the water by biological means by lights out. An additional safety net in very hot weather is putting comprehensive root tabs in prior to the warmer weather. This means whatever the achievable concentration of dissolved Co2 in the water column, the plants have all the N and P they need via the roots. It’s mobile through the plant and is somewhat regulated. This makes your water column dosing more dependable at fixed inputs regardless of temperature and decreases the need for wild Co2 adjustment.

Mention all of the above because of your location in India, assuming it can get hot in your location? Unless you are running air conditioning 24/7 ambient temperature is out of your control, we need to adapt our strategy to accommodate this. The temperature isn’t a problem. Running the tank the same at 27C as at 24C is though. Each has different demands and at best we can react seasonally.

Back on point… Immediate impression is your plants are on the mend. This is evidenced by the growth changes in your photo’s:

1628988452861.jpeg


In the above photo you can see new growth (above the red line) has improved leaf formation, side shooting, shorter distances between the nodes and colouration. This is a bit more stark than what can be attributed simply to being closer to the light.

1628991192023.jpeg


Same story again in this image.

In addition, few of the rotala macrandra mini butterfly stems are showing side shoot growth that is pale pink in colour instead of red (not sure if this is a deficiency or this is how the side shoots of mini butterfly normally look).

This is healthy growth of this species and typical colouration under the circumstances. The new growth at the base is also promising. If R. macrandra is growing well it begs the question why are we changing things? It’s another good indicator plant. Amazonia 2 with the root tabs placed and APT complete daily is working.

Water.

I took this water sample from my aquarium, after doing a large water change with my tap water (about 70 percent) and leaving it overnight in the tank without adding any ferts so I believe it should reflect the base state of my tank every week after a water change.

10:1 ratio of Calcium to Magnesium works. Stating the obvious, but they’ve tested what they can measure. There’s nothing of concern here and you’ve got nice tap water.

Prescriptive improvements.

- You need plant mass. Plain and simple. The stems at the back need increasing by cutting the tops and replanting alongside the existing rooted growth. More plants, more oxygen, more stability. If you let the stems get right to the surface before cutting you’ll get the best colouration and form when replanting the tops. Don’t be afraid to let the tank grow out between trimming cycles.

- Fertilisation. Loathed to change what you are doing in light of your water report. Would continue what you are doing as it previously was working well. Moving the dosing time was counterproductive, but since dosing at lights on your plants are improving just two weeks since the adjustment. More time will tell if there’s anything to follow up here. The Ludiwigia glandulosa would benefit by popping a root tab underneath it. The R. Wallichii is growing very slowly as it’s a high light/Co2 plant and is currently very low down to the substrate. Let it gain some height and see how it does, it will take longer than it’s neighbours.

- Water. Any reason to not do two water changes a week for a bit? You’ll be losing the older growth since correcting the dosing as new growth comes in. Help the system along by removing dissolved organics.

A final query is regarding the Ludiwigia senegalensis:

1628994903478.jpeg


This is a stock photo of Ludiwigia senegalensis:

1628995080973.jpeg


Could be wrong but suspect this is a misidentification as would associate green leaves on Ludiwigia senegalensis with very low light conditions. Maybe someone else can clarify what species this is?
 

Vicky_29

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Hi @Geoffrey Rea ,

Thanks a lot for providing a very comprehensive and wonderful explanation about the things that are going on in my tank.

Being a beginner in the planted tank hobby, I believe I am constantly trying to troubleshoot things. Now with the pale and white stems gone, I got worried about why few other plants were not doing well. From your explanation it is clear not to change any parameters, to maintain the same thing consistently (which i feel is also a good challenge that comes with this hobby:D) and give the plants more time to adapt .

So based on your suggestion, here are the things I am going to do:
1) Light: Maintain the same light intensity (80 percent) and photo period of 6 hours. I am also thinking of letting go of my current ramp time of 15 mins, as you had pointed out earlier my plants actually do better without ramp and the pearling I see is better now at the end of photoperiod than when compared to my previous ramp time of 1 hour.
2) CO2 : I will inject CO2 through the entirety of photoperiod to account for the temperature fluctuations (luckily we are in pre-winter season currently and not recording that hot temperatures, but I have understood your point that even with temperature fluctuations of a degree or so the CO2 solubility will differ), so my CO2 comes on two hour before the lights and goes off when the lights goes off.
3) Fertilizer: Maintain the same dosing of 3 ml APT complete, just before lights on. I am currently on the look out for auto doser pumps locally and online but unable to find any (the ones available are overpriced), it's just matter of time before I get one. Also regarding your suggestion on using root tabs with N and P, I am curious to know what brand of root tabs you use and if you have got liking towards any brand in particular?
4) Maintenance : I will let the plants grow in and will try to fill the tank with plant mass as suggested. As for the water changes, I will see to that I do two water changes per week for the next few weeks to aid the removal of organics in this transition period.

I will keep this thread updated on the progress.

10:1 ratio of Calcium to Magnesium works. Stating the obvious, but they’ve tested what they can measure. There’s nothing of concern here and you’ve got nice tap water.
A closing question about my tank water parameters, I see my water has a Ca to Mg ratio of about 10:1 from the test report. I have read that ideally in planted tanks it has to be in the ratio of 3:1 (or 2:1), since the excess of one element will impede the intake of another by the plants. So just wanted to confirm if the 10:1 ratio is okay and is not a concern.

Thanks again for taking the time to help, it really improves my understanding of things by interacting with helpful and knowledgeable folks like you in this forum ! UKAPS rocks:cool:!

Regards,
Vigneswaran
 

Geoffrey Rea

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A closing question about my tank water parameters, I see my water has a Ca to Mg ratio of about 10:1 from the test report. I have read that ideally in planted tanks it has to be in the ratio of 3:1 (or 2:1), since the excess of one element will impede the intake of another by the plants. So just wanted to confirm if the 10:1 ratio is okay and is not a concern.

Some will claim it matters, some will claim it’s nonsense. Not a chemist, biologist or botanist so cannot say either way.

If you continually water change with Ca 43.9mg/l and Mg 4.86mg/l would suspect you’ll be fine week to week with little to no evidence of impeded nutrient uptake though. Personally would be happy with those numbers and it comes out of the tap! No messing around, available when you want and consistent.

You could add magnesium so the input water is 3:1 at water change with Ca 43.9mg/l and Mg 14.6mg/l and would suspect you’ll also be okay. But it’s one more hassle that is prone to error and potential inconsistency.

Tap water here is Ca 111 mg/l and Mg 8.31mg/l. This tank was grown under Ca 111:K 22:Mg 8.31

1629126687151.jpeg


This one is grown under Ca 12.2:K 53.9:Mg 3.94

1629127008619.jpeg


You can work with a lot of values. Consistency with maintenance and plant husbandry goes a long way before searching for ideal ratios/parameters from experience.

See what you think Vigneswaran.
 

Vicky_29

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Two words, Stunning and extremely vibrant 😍! Really love your tanks @Geoffrey Rea!

I am going to use my tap water as such going forth and just be consistent with my dosing and maintenance. Thanks for your inputs Geoffrey.

Regards,
Vigneswaran
 

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