Small holes in my plants' leaves - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 7 Old 12-27-2009, 02:08 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Small holes in my plants' leaves

The plants in my tank are mostly different strands of Hygrophila and I also have 1 cryptocoryne wendtii. In the last few weeks, theirs leaves have developed small holes and I have read that this could be caused by a potassium deficiency... am I on the right track here? Are there other things that can cause plant leaves to develop small holes? And how can I correct it?

I have straight gravel of about 1.5" deep throughout the tank and use Nutrafin Plant-Gro 1X / week in the recommended dose.

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post #2 of 7 Old 12-27-2009, 04:03 PM
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If by small holes you mean pin-point size and lots of them...a nutrient deficiency. Interestingly I have this now in my 90g, brought about I believe by an excess of magnesium [won't get into all that]. I would recommend a basic comprehensive fertilizer.

With respect to Nutrafin Plant-Gro, I have not used the liquid form. I do use the sticks and they are incredible. However, I also use Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement for the Planted Aquarium which allegedly contains all essential micro- and macro-nutrients in roughly the necessary balance, so any specific nutrient deficiency in the sticks would likely not be of effect.

Nutrafin liquid does not contain all the nutrients that are in Flourish. Here are the specs on Nutrafin: Nutrafin Plant Gro Aquatic Plant Essential Micro-Nutrients - Live Plant Care - Fish - PetSmart
and here are Seachem's for Flourish to compare: Seachem. Flourish

You will note that "potassium" is not listed in either. I have been using only Flourish for more than a year, with great results. However, if in both our cases potassium is the deficient nutrient, neither of us will be getting it with either product. Dosing with single nutrients is something I never recommend because the nutrient needs of plants is proportional and an excess of some can result in a deficiency of others when the plant "shuts down" assimilation of other nutrients due to the excess nutrient. Potassium excess has been shown to result in iron deficiency in some cases. But increasing the iron is dangerous because iron is a heavy metal and thus toxic at excessive levels, and years ago I actually killed off some plants by using iron on its own [another reason I don't recommend individual nutrients], and in any case, if the plant is not assimilating iron due to the potassium, increasing iron would be useless.

It just so happens that last week I began a new product only available in the Vancouver area so far, manufactured by an aquarist on Vancouver Island. It has a different combination of nutrients, and includes potassium, and others who have used this in planted aquaria for more than a year highly recommend it. I will be interested in seeing its effects. In your case, I would suggest either Flourish or Kent Freshwater. I used the latter for more than 10 years and I had no plant problems whatever, any my water is very soft with no mineral in it, so the Kent must have covered the basics.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #3 of 7 Old 12-27-2009, 04:44 PM
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I'm using the same stuff then you have after the algae crash in the 55g...I have no holes in any of the plants also not the Hygrophilias....Just to be safe that we're on the right track here about deficiency, can you take a picture?

~ Life Is Too Short, Break The Rules, Forgive Quickly, Kiss Slowly, Love Truly, Laugh Uncontrollably And Never Regret Anything that Made You Smile.
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post #4 of 7 Old 12-28-2009, 06:38 AM Thread Starter
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I'll try to get a picture up but given the size of the problem and the crappy way that most of my pics turn out I'd say that you won't et too much out of it. Byron's description is bang on "pin-point size holes and lots of it". There's also the occasional rip in a few of the leaves but I'm not entirely certain that those are actually a nutrient deficiency over simple fish "wear and tear". I plan to change most of the plants in the tank over the course of the coming few months but I thought I'd try to fix the nutrient deficiency issue on the ones I have first. If I can't fix a weed that will grow in any condition, what will it be when I get real plants?

I have to admit that I was really hoping that you would answer this post Byron as you've been a big help with other plant posts of mine Thanks for that! You don't disappoint!
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post #5 of 7 Old 12-28-2009, 07:59 AM
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I have the same problem with my Hygrophila. I'm going to try the potassium route. I currently use Flourish. If it doesn't have potassium and my tank needs it, adding more flourish accomplishes nothing. As a matter of fact I increased the flourish dosage and now I know why it's not helping.

I don't normally like to dose individual nutrients as well but there are times when it may be necessary. Just like when we humans dose potassium, vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, etc in our own bodies. But I'd only dose those elements in the tank that I'm pretty certain are the ones missing.
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post #6 of 7 Old 12-28-2009, 08:26 AM Thread Starter
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This is where I read about the potassium deficiency. I thought I'd post it since I'm fairly new at the planted tank thing...

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post #7 of 7 Old 12-28-2009, 10:02 AM
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If you're all dealing with pinholes and lack of potassium, then maybe this will help you all Flourish Potassium, Plant Care | Pet Solutions

I pers hadn't tried it but sounds like something that would work for you.

@Hawkin, I still doubt its the Nutrafin's soul issue thou, it it was "bad" fert, either my Hygro and/ or other plants would so symptoms of nutrition deficiency too (holes, yellow etc).
But I'm wondering if me using the liquid in combo with the root tablets for the swords now makes this difference also for the rest of the plants; Cause really that's the only diff in our tanks.

~ Life Is Too Short, Break The Rules, Forgive Quickly, Kiss Slowly, Love Truly, Laugh Uncontrollably And Never Regret Anything that Made You Smile.
Life May Not Be The Party We Hoped For, But While We're Here, We Should Dance. ~
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