May 2012 Meeting

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012 at 11:07 am

GWAPA and Aquarium Club of Lancaster County held a joint meeting on May 19 at That Fish Place  in Lancaster, PA. ACLC President Joel Antkowiak opened the meeting with a warm welcome for all ACLC and GWAPA members, and announced some upcoming events, including the ACLC 40th Anniversary Celebration in September.

GWAPA member Aaron Talbot spoke on the topic of Fertilization: Beginner to Advanced Methods. He began with the observation that while many in the audience keep plants with their fish, “I keep fish with my plants,” emphasizing the difference in attitude when plants are the main focus in an aquarium.

Aaron’s presentation covered macronutrients, micronutrients, light, and other factors in planted aquarium nutrition. He stressed that CO2 is the most important macronutrient, as carbon is the building block for all life. When upgrading a planted tank, CO2 is probably the most important improvement to make. Most people upgrade the lighting first, which can be a mistake.

Nitrogen is one of the first nutrients a planted tank keeper may notice when it runs out. Signs of deficiency are paleness and yellowing of old leaves.

Phosphate is not needed in high amounts, and it may not even be necesary to dose it in a low light tank. Signs of deficiency may include yellowing of old leaves, similar to nitrogen deficiency.

Potassium is “a bit insidious” because it is needed for plants to be able to absorb other nutrients. Pinholes in leaves are a sign of potassium deficiency.

Calcium and magnesium do not usually need to be dosed, as most tap water contains sufficient amounts. Calcium deficiency is indicated by crinkly leaves, and magnesium deficiency by dark veins, pale leaves, and perhaps crinkly new growth.

Micronutrients include iron, manganese, molybdenum, boron, copper, chlorine, and zinc. These should be dosed even in a low light tank. Iron is the most common micronutrient deficiency, indicated by yellow new growth.

When it comes to lighting, more is not always better. The greater the light, the greater the plants’ need for nutrients. Too much light without the necessary nutrients can lead to constant algae problems.

Other factors in plant growth, often overlooked, include adequate filtration and circulation, and appropriate water temperature.

Aaron’s presentation, which includes target levels for dosing, guidelines for lighting levels, and dosing calculators, can be viewed here:

Planted Aquarium Nutrition by Aaron Talbot