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Potassium Levels - Tested With "Easy-Life" Test Kit

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Offline TopCookie

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Potassium Levels - Tested With "Easy-Life" Test Kit
« on: June 13, 2018, 03:44:37 PM »
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Finally got around to testing my Potassium (K) levels in the tank today, using the "Easy-Life" test kit that's fairly widely available... 

Most of the regulars will know of my tales of woe, with stalled plant growth and subsequent full on assault by two or three varieties of algae...  The plan was always to get the plants kickstarted and taking up the nutrients which it appears the algae have been enjoying...!!!  After considerable fumbling around and taking in as much advice as possible, I am glad to be able to report that plant growth in the tank is abundant once again with no visible malaise to be seen...  What a journey though, phew...!!!  Still doing battle with the algae at the moment, but the key part of the plan has been achieved and it looks like the tide might be turning back in my favour...  fingers crossed...!!! 

Anyways, I could see the plants, when suffering at their worst, looked to have the same sort of yellow colouring and problems that are commonly associated with both nitrogen deficiency and potassium deficiency...  Easy to measure nitrogen by way of nitrates, but potassium is a lot trickier to measure... 

The results from today's test are: 20ppm  which is (apparently) almost perfect, perhaps a tiny little bit above the absolute ideal (that will probably be down to fertiliser use, which includes potassium), but well within the desired range and certainly not deficient... 

I can definitely recommend the Easy-Life Potassium test kit and don't mind admitting that I came close to dosing with additional potassium on the grounds of my assumption that there was a deficiency... 

Now, onwards with the algae wars...   ;)

Offline Lynne W

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Re: Potassium Levels - Tested With "Easy-Life" Test Kit
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2018, 07:40:58 PM »
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Good luck with the algae wars, I've been lucky so far not to have an issue with this, but I'm sure my time will come!!

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Offline Matt

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Re: Potassium Levels - Tested With "Easy-Life" Test Kit
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2018, 11:19:39 PM »
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This is great news. What are your other readings like under the new regime? (I can't remember what tests you have but I think a few?)

Offline TopCookie

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Re: Potassium Levels - Tested With "Easy-Life" Test Kit
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2018, 02:27:57 PM »
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Thanks folks...   :)

Not tested GH/KH for a while, as I find them hard to see clearly - that colour change etc...

Not done a phosphates test for a little while either, but the test kit is out on loan at the mo...  Could do with checking that again soon really...

One key reading is that I have started to see some nitrates, barely any but some...  It had been on zero nitrates for a long time, so I would guess that this minimal presence now (which I'm really pleased about) will be essentially from the TNC Complete... 

Next phase now will be to let things be for a while and monitor the algae...  I suspect it may well back off by itself if allowed time for all the changes made to slowly do their thing... 

I think the one last potential biggy where the algae is concerned is the notion of too much natural light, so there remains this area to be tinkered with if the algae doesn't progressively improve...  Thoughts here are to maybe reduce tank lighting even further, although at six hours per day, I don't think that's excessive...  The notion of blacking out the tank side glass through which most natural light enters is the most likely next move, although we're due new blinds in the coming weeks and that should potentially reduce the levels of natural light in the room to the point where there would be no need to do anything else...  I'll have to wait and see, once they're in... 

Offline jaypeecee

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Re: Potassium Levels - Tested With "Easy-Life" Test Kit
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2018, 08:47:10 PM »
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Hi TC,

How far have you got with resolving your algae problems? I can possibly help.

JPC

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Re: Potassium Levels - Tested With "Easy-Life" Test Kit
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2018, 11:45:34 PM »
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Hi @jaypeecee

I'd love to hear any advice on algae problems, as I'm sure many would - being a problem that afflicts us almost all at least at some time...

My woeful collection of algae has completely disappeared now, after a lengthy and arduous battle...!!!  Difficult to be precise about what turned things around but my best guess is that the huge reduction in both tank lights photoperiod and getting blinds installed in the room also cutting right down the amount of natural light in there...  I should make a point of saying that the natural light was not direct sunlight, but it was a bright room all the same... 

The changes didn't happen overnight, another key factor here...  it took a long time and you couldn't see changes on a daily basis or such like...  in fact, I just got to the point where I stopped monitoring the algae and just got on with things, only to one day realise that it had almost all gone and then with more time, it eventually all vanished... 

It's almost what you could consider a problem in fact as I gathered quite a serious clean up crew and now there's no visible algae for them to munch on, so I have to feed the tank quite significantly with algae wafers just to keep the various clean up guys n gals happy...!!!   :D

Wasn't an enjoyable battle, I have to say...  But I guess it's human nature to seek out complex answers to what are often simple questions...  In my tank and with the plants & inhabitants I have in there, it certainly appears to have been down to nothing more complicated than lighting... 

Offline jaypeecee

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Re: Potassium Levels - Tested With "Easy-Life" Test Kit
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2018, 06:26:29 PM »
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Hi TC,

Finally found a moment to reply!

The basis on which I work is to look after the plants and let them take care of the algae. So, aquatic plants need light and nutrients. First up is a source of carbon and, for my planted tank, that means CO2. I maintain a CO2 concentration of around 25ppm after stabilization. Next up is - light. Determining and measuring the correct amount of light is difficult and, for a good many aquarists, means trial and error. Without a specialized underwater PAR meter, lighting level cannot be measured. Some people use the presence of plant 'pearling' as a guide.

Now for the other nutrients - macro, micro and trace. Nitrogen is available from nitrate. Phosphorus in the form of phosphate is present in most fish foods (and therefore fish waste). Both these nutrients are present in the water column. For all the other nutrients (including potassium), I currently use Seachem Flourish Root Tabs. I haven't used any liquid fertilizers for many months. I maintain nitrate at less than 10ppm and phosphate at less than 0.05ppm. I also aim to keep dissolved organics low by using activated carbon in my external filter. My plants (mostly Echinodorus varieties) are in very good shape. I have virtually no algae.

I don't think you mentioned CO2. Please clarify.

JPC

Offline jaypeecee

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Re: Potassium Levels - Tested With "Easy-Life" Test Kit
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2018, 04:24:08 PM »
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Hi again, TC

I find the following websites to be excellent resources for aquatic plants and their nutrient requirements/signs of deficiency:

http://www.aqua-rebell.com/aquatic-plants/nutrients-for-a-planted-tank.html

http://www.theplantedtank.co.uk

Happy reading!

JPC

Offline TopCookie

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Re: Potassium Levels - Tested With "Easy-Life" Test Kit
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2018, 12:38:36 AM »
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@jaypeecee

A factor to take into account with my set up is that it's a low tech set up based loosely on Diana Walstad's work and has a soil sub-substrate, with gravel on top...  You don't tend to see many Walstad method tanks any more these days, but I was always aiming for a minimal intervention & maintenance type of deal...

I've tried all manner of plants with varying degrees of success, the biggest single issue over time is that I have Rabbit snails and Amano shrimp in the tank and they have learnt to quickly discover which plants are edible...  The shrimp will eat leaves and the Rabbit snails like to eat the stems near the base, either cropping the plant completely or rooting them up while presumably trying to reach more tender stem beneath the substrate - a possible assistant here could also be some Corydoras I have, who also like to seek out micro treats in the same spots...  Over time, between them, they have taken out almost all of the stem plants in the tank completely, but it was a long & slow process...  Now I have mostly Echinodorus species, much like yourself...  Also have a few Anubias types and Bucephalandra types...  There's little doubt now that introducing other varieties is not an especially good idea as most of the plant types I like the look of are usually stem plants and they too would quickly become expensive salad...!!!

I have mucked about with different fertilisers and tried liquid carbon and what I found worked best in my particular set up is the TNC Complete, although any liquid fertiliser that contains macros as well as micros I'm sure would be equally good... 

There was a time when malnutrition ravaged many of my plants and algae made the most of the opportunity and took over, and this lead to overdosing with TNC Complete to reinvigorate the plant growth...  That phase has passed now and I actually fertilise much less often now, which is still producing insanely fast growth with the Echinodorus plants and healthy looking Anubias & Bucephalandras etc...  I'm no scientist nor am I any sort of brainiac, lol, but what I think has changed is that now the tank is a year old, the Walstad ecology has finally started to work well and that there is a cycle of fish waste now being broken down and taken up by the substrate just as Diana Walstad discusses...  I do very few water changes and in fact lately have been neglecting them completely and during this time the plants have gone mad and the last remnants of algae have disappeared... 

Back to carbon, to finish off...  I tried liquid carbon twice...  First time around it nearly killed off my Amano shrimps and I was only using about a quarter of the recommended dose...!!!  Second time around was during the liquid fertiliser overdosing regime, this time building the amount up very slowly...  Ultimately, I now feel that liquid carbon is essentially a complete waste of time and money...  All the plants that remain in the tank and are good & healthy are basically "easy" plants, and as such really don't require supplemental carbon anyways - which all falls in line with my original goal of as near as possible getting to a Walstad method tank...   :)

Offline jaypeecee

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Re: Potassium Levels - Tested With "Easy-Life" Test Kit
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2018, 11:04:43 AM »
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Hi TC,

I found a lot of interesting stuff in your last post. So, as I see it - you have a so-called 'low tech' setup with soil/gravel substrate, minimal fertilization and no supplemental carbon. As you have prolific plant growth, the plants must be getting the carbon they need from the substrate and/or the water. If it's the latter, perhaps it's from the carbonate hardness or dissolved organic carbon. What is the KH of your water and does it vary much? Do you use activated carbon in your internal/external filter? I am a scientist but physics is my field. However, I like to understand the science of this fascinating hobby. Please remind me about your tank lighting - is it brightly lit (as perceived by the human eye)?

I use Tetra Complete in my tank. On top of that is a 5cm layer of JBL Manado. Diana Walstad's Ecology of The Planted Aquarium has been on my book list for a long time. Looks like I should get a copy!

JPC

Offline TopCookie

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Re: Potassium Levels - Tested With "Easy-Life" Test Kit
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2018, 11:27:28 PM »
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First thing I would say @jaypeecee is that with your background of science, and arguably physics being the most complex of them all, then you would surely enjoy Diana's book immensely...!!!  Even if you didn't adopt her philosophies, it's still an amazing book...!!!  It has to be said though, that she does shy away from much of the contemporary wisdom when it comes to aquariums and fish keeping...  For some folks, that would be potential heresy, but for others it is more like nirvana... 

For me, I am a self confessed lazy bones and Diana Walstad's teachings are music to my ears...!!!

My "dirt" substrate is John Innes No.3 (around a fiver for a huge bag...!!!) with pea gravel on top...  I have an area of just sand, which was geared up for the Corydoras that I always knew I would get, but the fish and the shrimps didn't take long to cover the bulk of that sand with a thin layer of the pea gravel...!!!  I used to manually remove the gravel back to where it belongs but this turned out to be a losing battle and besides, the gravel that's on the sand is very shallow and doesn't adversely affect the Cories... 

My lighting is the standard LED lights that came supplied with the Aqua One 170L Aquavogue tank and now that we are back on GMT, I've just recently increased the lighting back up to seven hours (on a built in timer) because of the weak natural light at this time of year...  The tank lights photoperiod was even shorter during the brighter days and will likely be reduced again come spring...  As for how brightly lit, I'd say it was initially fairly bright (the tank LEDs) but now I have such growth with the Echinodorus plants that there are many leaves with part laying on the surface...  I also have Amazon Frogbit, the floating plant, and that grows like there's no tomorrow and also provides additional shade from the LEDs... 

I'll get a more up to date photo over the weekend and post it up here so that you can see how it looks - although it's a bit of a jungle at the moment, lol...  :D

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