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 (like nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous) are nutrients that plants consume in large quantities, where as micronutrients (like iron and boron) are nutrients that plants consume in trace amounts. Easy Green, an all-in-1 liquid fertilizer, already contains iron (Fe). So when do you need to add more iron to your plant tank?
Do My Aquarium Plants Need More Iron?
Iron is used by plants to make chlorophyll. It is a green pigment which helps plants absorb light and create energy. The plants that need bright lighting or are quick-growing will require a lot more energy. In order to get more energy, they often require supplemental iron to produce an abundance of chlorophyll. Therefore, adding extra iron in your aquarium can result in healthier plant growth and more vivid 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. If your aquarium lacks iron, you will notice that the newer leaves of your plant may appear yellow or pale due to insufficient chlorine. Old leaves, however, still retain their vibrant colors.
Plants lacking iron might show yellowing or pallor on their newest leaves, with veins that are darker in color.
Red plants require iron. Iron is primarily used to produce green chlorophyll pigment, not red pigment. Scarlet temple and Ammanniagracilis are red plants. They also consume more nutrients, so extra iron is possible. 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. In intense lighting, the red pigment might protect the leaves against excess light energy. The amount of green pigment may also be reduced since less chlorophyll can collect 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.
With certain red plants, the highest leaves may turn pink, red or purple depending on where they are located. However, the lower leaves remain green in the shade.
The bottom line is that if your aquarium doesn’t have nutrient deficiencies, and you’re not trying to grow plants with high light levels, then you don’t need any additional iron. Supplemental iron is not required if you have iron-enriched substrate or well water. 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. It contains a highly concentrated blend of iron derived from ferrous gluconate, iron DTPA, and iron EDTA. Iron is utilized quite rapidly in aquariums, so we recommend dosing 1 pump (1 ml) of Easy Iron per 10 gallons of water approximately 1-3 times a week as desired. Each pump contains 0.26 ppm iron and a whole bottle can treat up to 5,000 galallons of water.
If in doubt, begin with a low dosage for two weeks and gradually increase the dose over time. There have been reports of an increase in filamentous and hair algae due to excessive iron. Some articles about planted tanks recommend an aquarium water level between 0.1 to 0.5 ppm iron.
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. We created Easy Iron to be an additional product that can be used when needed.
If you have issues with your live aquatic plants but they don’t seem to be due to a deficiency in iron, please read our article on other plant nutrients to find out if you have any similar symptoms. Enjoy your tank and good luck!