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[split] Ammonia/nitrate consumption by plants
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eelman
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Joined: 26 Dec 2006

PostPosted: 2007.01.01(Mon)13:03    Post subject: [split] Ammonia/nitrate consumption by plants Reply with quote

FlyingFish wrote:
I should mention that if you're keeping plants, they do use nitrogen as a food source, and while they prefer ammonia, I believe they will also make use of nitrate, so plan accordingly.


no, plants don't prefer ammonia. plants don't use ammonia at all. plants only consume ammonia after it has been transformed into nitrates by microscopic organisms.
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Liszie
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Joined: 22 Oct 2006
Location: Lower Mainland, BC

PostPosted: 2007.01.01(Mon)14:43    Post subject: Reply with quote

You may well be right as I only have about six months of experience with plants... However my statement was not based on experience. This was my source...
Here's the exact quote...
Haname wrote:
Plants need nitrogen, they prefer ammonia as a nitrogen source...

Haname is one of our moderators.

In ANY case, we are not really dealing with ammonia, we are dealing with nitrate.
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Plantbrain
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Joined: 10 Dec 2003
Location: The swamp

PostPosted: 2007.01.06(Sat)15:36    Post subject: Reply with quote

eelman wrote:
FlyingFish wrote:
I should mention that if you're keeping plants, they do use nitrogen as a food source, and while they prefer ammonia, I believe they will also make use of nitrate, so plan accordingly.



No, plants don't prefer ammonia. plants don't use ammonia at all. plants only consume ammonia after it has been transformed into nitrates by microscopic organisms.


The poster had it right.
This is patently wrong though.

Plants prefer low levels of NH4 and they all definitely use NH4.
While high levels of NH4 can burn and harm plants, such levels are never reached in our tanks, our fish would die long before that.

NO3 is "preferred" in the ranges that are common in our aquariums.
At about 0.5 ppm NH4 or higher to about 2-4 ppm NH4, plants will take up more NH4 than NH4 for a given rate, at about 1ppm of NH4, plants will stop all NO3 uptake and take up NH4 exclusively for Egeria.

But our tanks typically have less than 0.1ppm of NH4 and plants take this up directly or the bacteria get it in fish only tanks, and a little bit in planted tanks. At this ppm range, the rate of uptake for NH4 is very slow, but very high for NO3 when the NO3 is 10ppm etc.

Plants will take up a much larger fraction of their N from NO3 and folks dose this in KNO3 form typically for plants if the NO3's run low.

So plants use both forms of N: NH4 and N03. There's scant evidence to suggest duckweed takes up NO2, but you can test this by adding NH4 to a fishless planted tank as many have done in the past, and watch the NO2 presist for 2-3 weeks without any decline or other sources of N to plants.

So it would seem that aquatic plants, at least most species, do not like NO2, it's toxic internally to most plants. so are high amounts of NH4, but plants process these both fairly fast, but they do have limits to the processing, whereas they can handle a lot more internal NO3.

There are few organic forms of N plants also take up, but generally these are ignored in the context of horticulture.

Regards,
Tom Barr
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Dusko
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PostPosted: 2007.01.07(Sun)15:13    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tom Barr it's always a pleasure reading your posts Smile
I didn't have a clue about plants disliking NO2, thanks for sharing.

I would just like to add one thing concerning NO3 rising in low light planted tanks where no CO2 is added. In my experience NO3 can rise over time of a few month to over 50 ppm, especially if the tank is maintained in a low tech manner, where water changes are done every 3 month approx.

Fish waste and plant material will accumulate inside the gravel forming aquarium mulm that will act as fertiliser.

To eliminate this NO3 raising I re-introduced the DIY CO2 back, and the NO3 was brought down to approx 10ppm in about 7 days. My Hygro polysperma and Rosanervig are obviously developing huge leaves with very strong vanes, as well as the Amazon Sword, that had lots of problems taking off.
CO2 even the DIY one will bring huge difference to your plant growing.
Of course dosing some PMDD + Iron is more than needed Wink

I am observing my aquarium at the moment trying to establish a low light tank, with DIY CO2 + PMDD + TMG without changing the water for 3 month (re-dosing micros and macros in between water changes are needed I believe, ones or twice).
I am trying to do this not because I am lazy to do water changes but rather because environment doesn't really respect water wasting. And in our every day lives we do waste a lot of water Wink
I believe that this is possible. Time will tell.

Kind regards, Dusko.
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eelman
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PostPosted: 2007.01.08(Mon)22:54    Post subject: Reply with quote

Plantbrain wrote:


Plants prefer low levels of NH4 and they all definitely use NH4.
While high levels of NH4 can burn and harm plants, such levels are never reached in our tanks, our fish would die long before that.

NO3 is "preferred" in the ranges that are common in our aquariums.
At about 0.5 ppm NH4 or higher to about 2-4 ppm NH4, plants will take up more NH4 than NH4 for a given rate, at about 1ppm of NH4, plants will stop all NO3 uptake and take up NH4 exclusively for Egeria.



plantbrain could you please clarify this? I think you made a typo in the part of the quote that I enlarged, and that was a pretty critical part of the explanation.

I think I can tell what you meant but if you could clarify it would be great.

and just so we're on the same page, please double check me on the following:

NH4 = ammonium
NH3 = ammonia
NO2 = nitrite
NO3 = nitrate

this is all very interesting to me because plants using ammonia (or ammonium) seems to go against what I learned in every bio class I ever took. this is basically what I learned:

http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/images/nitrogencycle.jpg

in the picture plants don't jump in until the nitrogen is in the form of nitrates, so I guess there must be exceptions to it?
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Plantbrain
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Joined: 10 Dec 2003
Location: The swamp

PostPosted: 2007.01.09(Tue)0:31    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, yes, plants do use NH4 directly.

As far as the NH3/NH4 issues, it's pH dependent.
In terms of what specifically plants use, it's NH4 due to the low pH inside the plants and the cell walls are often low pH.

So even in alkaline waters, the plants will acidify things and reduce the NH3 to the NH4 form.

This might be a bit intense, sorry, I'm a botantist and do both molecular methods and backgrounds as well as a ecology based apporaches

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/rhodcv/hort640c/nuptake/nu00001.htm

Note the cell diagram, I tend to think in these terms with pics.
"Plastid" means Chloroplast in most cases, so just think that.

Uptake is a bit like a car battery, the charges balance out, the ions with +'s need to be in balance with the -'s ions, if not, the system has an electro chemical potential.
Much like car battery. This potential allows the plants to do work and take up nutrient actively and convert them in to goodies like proteins etc.

Note, some of the references are bit old in terms of botany, a lot of work has been done since and in NO3 uptake and a fair amount on NH4.

I think many Bio folks pass over NH4 uptake and focus on NO3 as more is known about it and the inducible systems plants possess.
I'd suggest going to library and reading the section of N in the Taiz and Zeigler book. I know some of the authors in that book, a couple still work at UC Davis where I'm at.

I cannot say why the class passed it over peronally though, I sure don't when I teach botany to my 2 nd year bio majors.
I show all the evidence and give them a ref listing to look more into it and for the exams.

You can add NH4 to a glass of water, add CO2, add the ferts etc except NO3 and add some water sprite and see what happens. Measure the NH4 and the NO3 over time.

Do not add more than say 0.3-0.4ppm of NH4 per day
The weed will remove it.

The groovy thing about NH4 uptake, no cycling is required, thus the plant reduces the O2 needed to process the waste! Furthermore, the plant produces O2 as well!

Bacteria?
Nope.
Can you sell bacteria slime? Not likely, plants? Sure!
Which look better?

and other obvious ideas.........

Check out the Taiz plant Physiology book, it's got some stuff most folks might use to some degree even if the all the molecular stuff scares them:)

http://departments.agri.huji.ac.il/plantscience/topics_irrigation/uzifert/4thmeet.htm

Click on the 5th meeting after reading the 4th.
Or more of them, the figures are good also.

Now if you have mastered all that and want more, just ask, I have a barrel full more:)

Here's more just in case:

http://www.google.com/search?q=plant+ammonium+nitrate+metabolism&hl=en&lr=&start=20&sa=N

Run through 10 pages of google and maybe hit a few google scholar links and you'll get some in depth info.


Regards,
Tom Barr
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Plantbrain
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PostPosted: 2007.01.09(Tue)2:32    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dusko, if the tank has a rise, slow or otherwise, in NO3, you likely have too many fish for the plant growth rates. If dosing a little PO4 does not help, then you defintitely have issues, often times low PO4 causes the problem with slowed NO3 uptake.
You add the Mg, the K+ and Traces and if it's PMDD, some NO3 as well.

The ideal situation is to have lower fish waste than the plant's demand.
This means you add KNO3 etc say once every 1-2 weeks.Maybe KH2PO4, GH booster and traces as well. This covers all the bases for the plants, and gives them the best growth with very minimal dosing, once a week is not tough at all, if you miss a week? No big deal.

I add a small amount roughly, 1/15th of EI dosing.
Error on the lesser side.

The plant pruning/trimming etc acts as the fish waste export mainly and the topping off prevents anything from building up.

You can drive CO2 here and there and add more standard CO2 enriched dosing routines.water changes etc, then return but that's a hassle and not always a good idea as the plants take a lot longer than algae to adapt to low and high CO2 levels.

If environmental causes for less water usage are your game, then well.......take the arguement to the logical conclusion, we really do not need aquariums at all to live and survive ?

Here's what I do:

I have a water change pipe in my home that runs outside to a pond/waterfall and the water overflows to a sump that irrigates the landscape, this water drains into the aquifer after being well filtered through my wetland plant garden.

Obviously not everyone has this nor can.

There are trade offs. But if trade offs are what you are about, then a non CO2 approach makes the most sense in terms of labor and water savings, and lighter fish load will also mean less water changes, but that's apparently a trade off you are willing to put up with it seems.
Idea

We all have our rationizations Wink
I've had some tanks for 2+ years without a water changes and they got them only because I moved. Discus even bred in my friend's tank with 2 years no water changes, ample usage of plants will address the waste.
you can reduce your water consumption down by 800%! haha
But what I said is true actually.........

What about the chemical waste from those test kits you use?
Cool

I'm teasing ya, but there's a lot to such thinking, it's not always this black and white thing and everyone has a different concept of such limits.

I'm all for the preservation notion, but not everyone else is.

Regards,
Tom Barr

Dusko wrote:
Tom Barr it's always a pleasure reading your posts Smile
I didn't have a clue about plants disliking NO2, thanks for sharing.

I would just like to add one thing concerning NO3 rising in low light planted tanks where no CO2 is added. In my experience NO3 can rise over time of a few month to over 50 ppm, especially if the tank is maintained in a low tech manner, where water changes are done every 3 month approx.

Fish waste and plant material will accumulate inside the gravel forming aquarium mulm that will act as fertiliser.

To eliminate this NO3 raising I re-introduced the DIY CO2 back, and the NO3 was brought down to approx 10ppm in about 7 days. My Hygro polysperma and Rosanervig are obviously developing huge leaves with very strong vanes, as well as the Amazon Sword, that had lots of problems taking off.
CO2 even the DIY one will bring huge difference to your plant growing.
Of course dosing some PMDD + Iron is more than needed Wink

I am observing my aquarium at the moment trying to establish a low light tank, with DIY CO2 + PMDD + TMG without changing the water for 3 month (re-dosing micros and macros in between water changes are needed I believe, ones or twice).
I am trying to do this not because I am lazy to do water changes but rather because environment doesn't really respect water wasting. And in our every day lives we do waste a lot of water Wink
I believe that this is possible. Time will tell.

Kind regards, Dusko.

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Dusko
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Joined: 13 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: 2007.01.09(Tue)14:31    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Dusko, if the tank has a rise, slow or otherwise, in NO3, you likely have too many fish for the plant growth rates. If dosing a little PO4 does not help, then you defintitely have issues, often times low PO4 causes the problem with slowed NO3 uptake.
You add the Mg, the K+ and Traces and if it's PMDD, some NO3 as well.


It makes sense Wink Thanks Tom

I did experience 3 of my huge Amazon Sword (mother plants) collapsing. There was lots of surface slime that had green color, no other algae were taking over (well, hard to say really, keeping 2 SAEs, 2 Otos, 5 Amano shrimps and lots of Trumpet snails).
Only Hygros were doing OK (thanks god) keeping the "balance".

On my 180 liter journal one can see the actual plant density.
http://www.180liter.blogspot.com/n
The fauna list is next;
2 Scalare, 2 SAE, 2 Oto, 5 Amano shrimps and 11 Cardinal tetras.
Do you think this stock level is too much for a low light low tech planted 180 liters tank?

The Echinodoris problem is fixed with placing several Laterite balls under it and introducing the DIY CO2 through the power head.

Amazon Sword leaf today;



the way it looked just two weeks ago;



Little CO2 and Iron boost do miracles.

Thanks again, regards, Dusko.
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Plantbrain
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Location: The swamp

PostPosted: 2007.01.09(Tue)23:46    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dusko, that is classic CO2 deficiency, that patterning on the leaves of the sword, Gaint Hydro does this as well.

The plant cannibalizes itself to supply new reduced carbon to the growing tips in hopes that the plant willr each the surface and no long have a CO2 limitation.

A number of emergent, amphibious aquatic plants do this, of which both swords and gaint hygro are...........

I've effectively rules out traces, Fe, K+ in these systems and still had the same type of responses many times(18 so far, I think I'm done).......

You said you added one thing that really supports my notion: CO2.

Also, when you have a tank full of aquatic plants, at the start, when you first plant them, they have little biomass, thus little CO2 demand.

As they grow and fill in, the requirements for nutrients and CO2 go up.
The only real way to address this is to prune and/or regulate lighting.

A non CO2 tank will have a stable fish load and feeding routine, thuis a stable NO3 level if not on the lower side if you you also maintain ansd stable plant biomass.

Folks often times have 2-3x the starting plant biomass before they do that badly needed trimming. Clearly 3x the plant mass needs a lot more nutrients and CO2 to support the healthy growth.

Also, this explains why planting heavy from the initial start up phase removes all the NH4 and reduces algae, but you also have to add ferts to get things going more in such tanks.

You can regulate lighting pretty easy with heat resistent clear plastic.
Add more layers, or sand them etc to make various levels of reduction/light blockage. Fairly easy to do.



Regards,
Tom Barr
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Dusko
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PostPosted: 2007.01.10(Wed)14:23    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Tom, that tip with a heat resistant clear plastic is really helpful Smile

One more thing though;

You said "The plant cannibalizes itself to supply new reduced carbon to the growing tips in hopes that the plant will reach the surface and no long have a CO2 limitation."

"And no longer have CO2 limitation" Confused this confuses me.
Do you mean that plants have enough CO2 if closer to the surface? Or above it? Is there any good way to force atmospheric CO2 into the water column? (concerning low light tanks)
Like agitated water surface, to ensure gas exchange?(that is why I have a very still water surface, is that wrong In your opinion?)
But I thought that agitated surface usually reduces CO2 from the water?

I am sorry to sound so lost Smile but I do believe you have some great insights to offer on this subject.

Looking forward to your answer.

Kind regards, Dusko.
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