When you set up your aquaponics system at home, you do so with utmost care. But in spite of all your efforts, small problems tend to crop up. For instance in some cases the plants do not grow all that well. In others the plants may die after a few weeks. But by far the most common problem that people face with the plants is aquaponics plants yellowing. In fact, why this is happening and how to rectify it is a question that many aquaponics experts get asked often.
But now there is no need to consult the experts for this problem – since we have brought you the solution right here!
What causes yellowing of the plants?
The yellowing that we are talking about here is a very characteristic phenomenon. Unlike dried leaves going yellow, here the leaves do not visibly dry out. Instead, the plants grow yellow according to a different pattern. The veins in fact, do remain the original green shade, but the rest of the leaf blade starts to turn yellow. In fact, new leaves start out yellow.
This condition is called chlorosis and is brought on by a deficiency of iron. Iron is an essential nutrient for all plants. But in aquaponics there is always the risk of the plants starving of iron because fish food naturally does not contain too much iron. And this can adversely affect the health of the plants…
How does iron deficiency affect the plants?
When the plant does not get enough oxygen it is unable to make chlorophyll. This is what causes the yellowing of the plants. But the adverse effects run deeper than this.
The aquaponics system is established on the plants needing and absorbing nitrogen in the right form. But inadequate iron inhibits the plant’s ability to absorb both phosphorus as well as nitrogen – both essential for healthy growth of the plants.
What to do to make up for this deficiency?
You can always add iron to the system. But too much iron isn’t too good an idea either. This is because too much iron inhibits the plant’s ability to absorb essential sugars and nutrients from the water. On the other hand, you can also add Chelated iron at a 13% strength – but this is usually an expensive compound. And you do not want to spend unnecessary amounts on it. Instead find out exactly how much you will need and then buy the required amount.
Instead, here’s what you can do:
- First get an iron test kit.
- Use it to find out how much iron is present in the water in the fish tank.
- The ideal is 2.0 ppm. However, if the reading is lower than this you will need to add chelated iron.
- Chelated iron is available in the form of a powder. And the general rate is that 1 cup of the iron dissolved in half a bucket will raise the iron level of a 10,000 gallon tank by 0.5 ppm.
So now you can stop worrying about aquaponics plants yellowing… it is a common problem and many people face it – particularly with home systems. But with a single bottle or box of chelated iron you are set for a good year or even more. So get the iron and get treating your plants. After all, your fish and plants are all but taking care of themselves – this is the least you can do!
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