When Should I Dose Iron in My Planted Aquarium?
Aquatic plants need a special mix of building blocks in order to grow and live. Macronutrients, such as nitrogen, potassium, or phosphorous, are nutrients plants consume in large amounts. While micronutrients, like iron and boron, are nutrients plants only consume in small quantities. Many all-in-one liquid fertilizers like Easy Green already contain iron (Fe), so when is it necessary to dose additional iron in your planted tank?
Are my aquarium plants in need of more iron?
Iron is utilized by plants to produce chlorophyll, a green pigment that helps plants to absorb light and make energy. The plants that need bright lighting or are quick-growing will require a lot more energy. They often require extra iron to increase their ability to produce more chlorophyll. An increase in iron can help your plants grow stronger and produce more vibrant colors.
Does my aquarium plant have iron deficiencies? It is a fascinating fact that iron cannot freely move between different areas of the plant that lacks it. Therefore, when your aquarium has low iron levels, the new leaves will appear pale or yellow due to insufficient chlorophyll. However, the bright colors of the older leaves will not fade.
Plants lacking iron might show yellowing or pallor on their newest leaves, with veins that are darker in color.
Are red plants dependent on iron? The primary function of iron is to create green pigments from chlorophyll, and not red pigment. Red plants such as scarlet temple and Ammannia gracis may need extra iron, since they are high-light plants that consume higher amounts of nutrients. Red-leafed plants contain large amounts of red pigment and smaller amounts of green chlorophyll, and scientists are looking into the purpose of these red pigments and why red plants become more vibrant in bright sunlight. The red pigment can protect the leaves from excessive light energy. Also, less chlorophyll is required to capture light photons. For the aquarium hobby, we recommend a combination of high light, carbon dioxide (CO2) injection, and good nutrient dosing (including iron) to enhance the redness of your plants.
Certain red plants may cause the topmost leaves to turn pink, red, or purple. The lower leaves, however, remain green.
Bottom line: if your planted aquarium isn’t displaying nutrient deficiencies and you aren’t trying to grow high light plants, you probably don’t need to add any extra iron beyond what comes in Easy Green fertilizer. You also don’t require supplemental iron If you are using well water or iron-enriched substrate that already contains excess iron. If your tank is requiring more iron than the current supply, you can read on.
How Often Should I Add Iron to My Aquarium?
Easy Iron is our iron supplement for enhanced plant growth that is completely safe for aquarium fish, shrimp, and snails. This iron supplement contains a concentrated mix of iron derived from iron DTPA and ferrous gluconate. Iron is used very quickly in aquariums. We recommend using 1 ml of Easy Iron for every 10 gallons of water, approximately 1-3 times per week. Each pump adds 0.26ppm of iron. A whole bottle can treat as many as 5,000 gallons.
Start with a low dose and increase gradually over the next two weeks if you are unsure. People have reported an increase in filamentous or hair algae when an excessive amount of iron is used. Some planted tank articles recommend aiming for a range of 0.1-0.5 ppm iron in your aquarium water.
Why doesn’t Easy Green contain more iron? Easy Green fertilizer does already contain iron, but in trace amounts that are appropriate for most planted aquariums. High concentrations of iron do not mix well with other plant nutrients and minerals, so we created Easy Iron as a separate product that can be added when necessary.
If your aquatic plants are not suffering from a shortage of iron and you still have problems, we have a full article that will help you determine if the symptoms are related. Have fun with your tank and be sure to enjoy the outdoors every day.