Threshold On Plant Nutrients - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 4 Old 03-15-2013, 12:47 PM Thread Starter
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Threshold On Plant Nutrients

Hello,
I was wondering if there is a threshold on available nutrients that plants have less difficulty in taking them up. For instance; if we take two identical tanks with the same size plants and one tank had 5 ppm nitrates and the other tank had 15 ppm, then the question would be:
Would the plants in the tank with 5 ppm nitrates have a harder time taken up this nutrient then the tank with 15 ppm?
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post #2 of 4 Old 03-15-2013, 01:33 PM
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No to that specific question, but the take up of nutrients is a bit more involved.

Aquatic plants have very specific needs for 17 nutrients in relative proportion. An excess of some nutrients can cause the plant to "shut down" assimilation of certain other nutrients. I won't bog things down on this point, but move on.

As for nitrogen, most aquatic plants prefer ammonium, and they will take this up [provided all other necessary nutrients are available, and light is sufficient to drive photosynthesis] until it is exhausted. Only then will they turn to other forms of nitrogen--and again only if everything else is still sufficient--and studies indicate their next preference is nitrite. Only after this (i.e., ammonium and nitrite are exhausted) will they then turn to nitrate--and again provided everything else is still available.

The reason is the inward workings of the plant. Ammonium is easiest to assimilate, requiring minimal effort. Nitrite requires more effort from the plant, and nitrate even more. This is because both nitrite and nitrate have to be converted by the plant back into ammonium, and this takes considerable energy.

There are some aquatic plants that do take up nitrate better, but they are few. And before you ask, I would have to dig through my research to name them.

Byron.
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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 4 Old 03-15-2013, 02:13 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks,
I was thinking that the higher ppm might affect the uptake much faster and the lower ppm much slower. So actually, the plants in both tanks if identical, are taken up the nutrients at the same rate. In other words; If the input and output of both tanks remains the same, then the ppm stays stable provided other parameters are in balance.
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post #4 of 4 Old 03-15-2013, 07:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjordan390 View Post
Thanks,
I was thinking that the higher ppm might affect the uptake much faster and the lower ppm much slower. So actually, the plants in both tanks if identical, are taken up the nutrients at the same rate. In other words; If the input and output of both tanks remains the same, then the ppm stays stable provided other parameters are in balance.
The concentration might not remain stable, that depends on whether the source provides nitrates at the same rate as the plants take them up, but the rate of absorption by the plants would remain identical.

I have a variety of plants in my aquarium and my nitrates do not go up measurably. I have yet to see them over 5ppm even after a three week span between water changes (Florida trip). I couldn't tell which ones are the best for this but I might guess the duckweed, then swords and maybe the hygrophila .

Jeff.


Total years fish keeping experience: 7 months, can't start counting in years for a while yet.

The shotgun approach to a planted tank with an LED fixture

Small scale nitrogen cycle with a jar, water and fish food; no substrate, filter etc
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