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Translation: i thank Mr. Mario Larosa and Giovanni Bubici a lot for his productive and important translation work, that has maintained the original content and descriptions of the italian version of this article.

The availability of Fe depends on the presence of some mineral elements such as P, mainly, and Cu, Mn, Ca and Zn, which impair Fe uptake when they are in excess. By contrast, K stimulates the Fe uptake by the plant.?

The photoreduction is a real phenomenon that favors the reduction of Fe3+ to Fe2+ (in the presence of organic carbon), providing a larger availability for plants, especially under the highest solar irradiation (12:00). In fact, after at least 5 hours of light, Fe2+ is more abundant than in the morning.?


It is known that many factors are involved in the Fe uptake byu the plants, including mainly the Fe type (oxidation state and compounds) introduced in the tank and the plant species. In fact, the plant species are variably sensitive to Fe availability, and frequently even if all the plant species in the tank grow normally, Fe-deficiency symptoms may occur only on one plant species, surely the most demanding or with a physiology oriented to a different absorption mechanism. Taking into account that lots of substrates have a Fe content sufficient for years, plant species with a well-developed root system should not suffer Fe-deficiency. Problems of Fe availability are related to its precipitation inside the plant, besides in the water, which yields oxides, phosphates, or binds Fe to proteins by immobilizing the metal and absolutely inhibiting its phloematic translocation. This is why Fe is considered a "non-mobile" element. Fe-deficiency symptoms occur first on young leaves (Fe cannot be translocated from old to young leaves), and then progressively in older ones up to bleach them (extreme condition).


Unfortunately, symptoms on old leaves are often confused with and advanced N-deficiency, but Fe-deficiency can be recognized only during the first stages of appearance, when inter-veinal chlorosis precedes a complete leaf yellowing.


Personally, I believe that most of the Fe that we provide to our tanks is lost (insoluble compounds), while chelate forms are more stable and ensure a larger long-term presence, making Fe available for the plants and algae. I have realized that plants have an overall delayed response to the chelate Fe, surely due to the time required for Fe release from the chelator induced by the plant.?The Fe-gluconate is another chelate form that makes the Fe readily available and in the most desirable form (Fe2+). For exigent plants, this is the best formulation because provides a daily controlled supply, and does not release chelators in the water that could increase (reversible chelation), without our knowledge, the amount of Fe in a short time.?Results of the quantification tests do not ensure a correct measurement of the chelate compounds, but only of the free forms; taking into account what mentioned above, in the constant and massive presence of chelators, it would be impossible to quantify Fe just because non measurable.

Bibliografia: Ecologia dell'acquario di piante  - Diana L. Walstad