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Deciding which form of ferts to use

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  • Deciding which form of ferts to use

    Now that you've added plants to your tank, the next question is always "What about fertilization?". It can be very confusing. One article says no fertilization is needed; yet another states it is required. It's enough to drive you crazy!

    When is fertilization necessary?
    It all starts with lighting. Is your tank low, moderate or high level lighting?
    Low Lighting: Ferts typically are not required, but plants would appreciate small doses.
    High Lighting: Ferts are definitely required, or you will end up with dieing plants and algae growing faster than weeds
    Moderate Lighting: Here's were it gets tough. If only a plant or two, you may be able to get away from fertilization, but most likely it will be needed.
    How's that for a straight answer :lol:

    Does it feel like you are growing algae far too easily? Then odds are you need ferts in your planted tank.

    Once you decide to use fertilizers, then more research is necessary to decide on what will be used. Liquid ferts, dry ferts or substrate ferts....or a combination.

    Liquid Ferts
    This is the simplest form of fertilization. And therefore is usually the first product most reach for. These products, such as Flourish Comprehensive, seem to do quite well for low light tanks. And while it definitely was not my experience, some use liquid products in moderately lit tanks. These products are quite easy to dose, following the directions. In smaller aquariums they are very economical too; further adding to their popularity.

    The downside of liquid ferts is that you get what you get. Meaning if your plants develop a deficiency or if you are dosing too much of a certain component and algae starts you have very little means to make adjustments. Certainly you could purchase yet more products to supplement a product, but there is no way to reduce with liquid. And another thing that really bugs me is the cost in comparison to what the bottle actually contains. They are 90% water after all.

    Many are nervous after reading the breakdown of nutrients in bottled products, focusing usually on the copper levels. These levels are so low that this is a non-issue. I have dose RCS tanks with Comprehensive at double strength with no losses.

    A $20 investment lasted me about a month in a 90G tank. Estimated yearly cost: $240

    Dry Ferts
    For the serious aquatic gardener this is the only choice! Dry ferts come in 4 separate compounds. Allows you to customize to your tank's needs. Need more iron or less nitrogen, easy peasy...simply make a small adjustment to those compounds. These ferts can be pre-mixed with water or they can be dry measured. In larger tanks dry measured is very easy as all you need to do is to take a small amount of tank water, drop in the dry ferts to dissolve the crystals and pour in.

    The downside, if you can call it that, is in smaller tanks the measures are as small as 1/32 tsp or even 1/64th tsp. A bit harder unless you are able to find measures this small. Honestly, I have nothing negative to say about dry ferts.

    A $20 investment lasted me close to 2 years in the same 90G tank. Estimated yearly cost: $10

    Substrate Ferts
    Tablets or capsules that are placed into the substrate for the root feeding plants, such as swords or crypts. Dosed on monthly or quarterly basis so you don't have to remember to add something to the tank every day.

    I have seen some use standard gardening fertilizers as substrate ferts, which is concerning to me. These products are not correctly balanced for an aquatic garden. If you decide to try them, Osmocote is commonly used, proceed at your own risk and be prepared to take action if things go south.

    I use Flourish Root Tabs 4 times a year. A 10 count box costs about $8. Instead of dosing the entire tank, I only place the tablets near my heavy root feeders. Estimated yearly cost: $16 (2 boxes)

    Hope you found this this high level overview helpful.
    - Dena

    All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.
    Walt Disney

    The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.
    Socrates

  • #2
    Re: Deciding which form of ferts to use

    Awesome writeup! Just had to give that a post it note.
    -Jim-

    Originally posted by Albert Einstein
    If the facts dont fit the theory, change the facts
    Originally posted by Theodore Geisel
    Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind donít matter and those who matter donít mind.

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    • #3
      Re: Deciding which form of ferts to use

      Thanks! Figured it was about time to add something to this forum.
      - Dena

      All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.
      Walt Disney

      The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.
      Socrates

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Deciding which form of ferts to use

        I think you should put a sticky on this one.

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        • #5
          Re: Deciding which form of ferts to use

          already is....
          -Jim-

          Originally posted by Albert Einstein
          If the facts dont fit the theory, change the facts
          Originally posted by Theodore Geisel
          Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind donít matter and those who matter donít mind.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Deciding which form of ferts to use

            Nice!

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Deciding which form of ferts to use

              Just what I needed to read ... I read about a guy taking red clay and mixing Flourish comprehensive supplement for dirted planted tanks ... Dried some out to make chunks and put that in his tank bottom before putting his soil in, which he mixed with this clay/flourish combination aswel , I don't know if its bogus or if it worthe giving a shot , would love to hear people thoughts on it or if any has done it please .... Tell me more !

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