Nutrient Deficiencies And Excesses

An excess or deficiency of one or more nutrients can cause problems to both fish and plants in the aquarium. Because plants have no control over the amounts of some of the nutrients they absorb (such as copper) excesses can cause fundamental problems within individual cells that in turn affect the entire plant Providing a correct balance of nutrients without supplying too much or too little of any particular nutrient is very difficult. The levels of most nutrients cannot be easily determined and the only way to judge whether there is a nutrient problem is to observe the health of the plants. Deficiencies can be spotted in many ways, mainly in the form of slow or deformed growth, alterations in the color of leaves, or a breakdown of cell structure. They may only affect some plants due to differences in individual nutrient requirements.

Sometimes, a deficiency of one nutrient can be caused by an excess of another. In this instance, the nutrient present in excess "competes" with the second nutrient, preventing it from being absorbed by the plant and causing a deficiency.

A good indicator of whether a particular problem is caused by an excess or a deficiency of a nutrient can be seen in the difference in symptoms between slow-growing and faster-growing plants. If there is an excess of a certain nutrient, faster-growing plants may not be affected because they can essentially 'dilute' the nutrient through fast production of new leaves. Slow-growing plants have no choice but to increase their buildup of the nutrient until signs of excess begin to show. The same process works in reverse; faster-growing plants will show signs of nutrient deficiencies before slow-growing plants, which have higher reserves.

Plants will generally take up more nutrients than they need and simply store them in the cell tissue for later use. Problems occur when the storage capacity of a plant is exceeded and the nutrient buildup becomes toxic, affecting the function of cells. For example, a buildup of iron manifests itself in the form of brown spots on the leaves. These are literally deposits of iron that have collected in one area. Over time, further deposits prevent the cells in that area from functioning properly and the affected area dies back.

Many nutrient problems take the form of yellowing of the leaf tissue - chlorosis -caused by a lack of chlorophyll. Chlorosis occurs when a plant is unable to produce normal amounts of chlorophyll due to a lack of nutrients. Since chlorophyll is used for photosynthesis, a lack of it prevents this vital process and affects every aspect of a plant's health. Many nutrients are used in the production and correct functioning of chlorophyll, so chlorosis can be used as a general indicator of nutrient problems in the aquarium.

The yellow areas on this leaf may be signs of poisoning or a deficiency of iron.

Aquarium Plants Iron Deficiency

The yellow areas on this leaf may be signs of poisoning or a deficiency of iron.

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  • yerusalem filmon
    How an excess of one nutrient can affect another nutrient?
    5 years ago

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