Plant care: How can water tests help?

Ideally water looks crystal-clear, yet pollutants are often invisible. That’s why clear water might still be toxic, if, for example, it contains an amount of arsenic or nitrite which can lead to an inner suffocation (as can happen to humans too). Water tests for the aquatic field help us to measure and to work against to these non-visible substances in the water.

Uptil now there were only two tests available for the plant enthusiast: JBL Kit de teste CO2-pH Permanente and the JBL Iron Test Fe . The CO2 permanent test is very well suited to monitoring CO2 fertiliser systems, but it does react with a time lag. However the new JBL CO2 Direct Test-Set shows the current CO2 situation very precisely. Up to now aquarists have been using the iron test in place of an individual test to check the fertilisation - there just wasn’t any other test to indicate how much fertiliser had been consumed. Since all manufacturers use a highly visible purple colour for their iron tests it was always an easily readable test. Iron alone was measured in place of the many other micronutrients and it was assumed that all other nutrients were consumed at a similar rate. So if there was no iron, there were no other trace elements, and equally, if there was sufficient iron there were sufficient other trace elements and it was assumed that the dosage of the fertiliser could be reduced. This rule of thumb has proven its worth over decades of experience with plant aquariums. But a more detailed examination shows that it only applies for micronutrients.

The consumption of the individual fertiliser components, especially of the macronutrients nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), magnesium (Mg), varies substantially, depending on the plant species. Therefore it’s best for professional aquascapers to measure the single components separately and then adapt the dosage.

The new JBL K Potassium Test Set has a simple structure but is very professional and its results are very accurate! In case of an insufficiency a supplement of the potassium content is directly possible with JBL ProScape K Macroelements . A too low potassium content can, for example, have a serious impact on the longitudinal growth of the plants.

With the new JBL ProScape Mg Kit de teste de magnésio para água doce everyone can determine the important plant nutrient Mg within minutes and adapt the fertilisation with JBL ProScape Mg Macroelements . Magnesium is the central atom of the leaf green (chlorophyll) and therefore crucially involved in the energy production of the plant. A magnesium deficiency generally leads to stunted growth in plants.

The JBL Nitrate Test NO₃ provides you with information on the nitrogen content in the form of nitrate in the water. The recommended nitrate value also varies from plant species to plant species. With the fertiliser JBL ProScape N Macroelements an increase is possible.

Ammonium also serves as a nitrogen source and with the JBL Ammonium Test NH₄ you could also determine the NH4 content. But the ammonium is so quickly oxidized through nitrite to nitrate by means of bacteria that a determination of the present content makes little sense.

Phosphor in form of phosphates plays a crucial role for all life processes. So phosphates are centrally involved in the entire energy metabolism and in the design of the genetic information of all organisms. You can measure the important value with the JBL Phosphate Test sensitive and increase it with the fertiliser JBL ProScape P Macroelements .

For the dedicated Proscaper there is the JBL Testlab ProScape which contains ALL relevant water tests for plant dominated aquariums. The waterproof and sturdy case contains the following tests: Fe (iron), NO3 (nitrate nitrogen), PO4 sensitive (phosphate), CO2 Direct (carbon dioxide), Mg (magnesium) freshwater, KH (carbonate hardness), K (potassium), SiO2 (silicate) and pH 6.0 – 7.6 (acidity).

Finally we’ll give you a rule of thumb for the ideal water values in a plant aquarium using the ProScape fertilising principle:

  • CO2: 20-35 mg/l
  • nitrate nitrogen (NO3): 10-30 mg/l
  • potassium (K): 10-30 mg/l
  • phosphate (PO4): 0.1-1.5 mg/l
  • iron (Fe): 0.1-0.5 mg/l
  • magnesium (Mg): 5-10 mg/l

Do you have any problems with your plants? Just add your questions as comment at the end of this post. We will provide you with tips and tricks about plant care and determining the water values especially tailored for your aquarium.

© 25.07.2016
Matthias Wiesensee
Matthias Wiesensee
M.Sc. Wirtschaftsinformatik
JBL GmbH & Co. KG

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