DIY ferts for planted tank?

catcrazy37

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It seems like such a waste to just keep buying and adding root tabs to my aquarium. Is there a cheaper option I can make myself, or else improve the ecosystem in the tank so the plants continue to get nutrients and grow? They aren’t doing much at the moment and are far from flourishing.
 

PheonixKingZ

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I have heard of people using clay? I would honestly just buy root tabs - trying to make DIY root tabs may lead to problems...
 

StevenF

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I just fertilizer the water column. Most gravel substrates are porous enough that the nutrient levels in the substrate will be about the same as those in the water column. But keep in mind getting good growth isn't just about adding a fertilizer.

Good aquarium maintenance is important. Do a 50% water change once a week. This will insure nutrient levels in your tank stay stable and removes any unused fertilizer. Fertilize the water once a week at the water change. Also check your water GH (general hardness) . GH is a measure of water hardness which is mainly due to calcium and magnesium. Plants need calcium and magnesium to grow and if your tap water doesn't have enough your plants won't grow. Many fertilizers don't have calcium and many don't have enough magnesium. If your water GH is less than 4 degrees harness or 70ppm you might not have enough. Also when you test your water verify your nitrates are not zero. Plant need nitrogen to grow and if your nitrates are zero you won't get good growth. Try to maintain 5 to 10 ppm of nitrate.
 

ClownLurch

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I just fertilizer the water column. Most gravel substrates are porous enough that the nutrient levels in the substrate will be about the same as those in the water column. But keep in mind getting good growth isn't just about adding a fertilizer.

Good aquarium maintenance is important. Do a 50% water change once a week. This will insure nutrient levels in your tank stay stable and removes any unused fertilizer. Fertilize the water once a week at the water change. Also check your water GH (general hardness) . GH is a measure of water hardness which is mainly due to calcium and magnesium. Plants need calcium and magnesium to grow and if your tap water doesn't have enough your plants won't grow. Many fertilizers don't have calcium and many don't have enough magnesium. If your water GH is less than 4 degrees harness or 70ppm you might not have enough. Also when you test your water verify your nitrates are not zero. Plant need nitrogen to grow and if your nitrates are zero you won't get good growth. Try to maintain 5 to 10 ppm of nitrate.
Thanks for that.
Explains why my plants are growing well despite me knowing nothing and flying by the seat of my pants. Our water has 10ppm of nitrates from tap and is 19dh/340ppm. I’ve also been adding 50% of recommended weekly dose of flourish comprehensive twice a week after reading @Retired Viking theory on it. Flourish root tabs added at initial planting too.
Weve a Chalk river/stream about 100yds from us and it’s part of a huge network of em around north and west of London flowing from chalk hills that’s the source of our water.
Our little river/stream is always lush with plant life and you can stand on the bridge looking along it on hot days and imagine you’re in the Amazon or somewhere. Beautiful.
Thanks again.
 
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Byron

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Mention has not been made of the plant species, and this is an important factor. Adding excess nutrients (more than absolutely necessary for the plants) is detrimental to fish, and the biological system. One of the advantages of good substrate fertilizer such as Seachem's Flourish Tabs is that they release nutrients as they are taken up by the plants, and excess doe not get into the upper water column. Several years ago upon learning this, and having nutrient-lacking tap water (zero GH), I reduced my liquid fertilizing and added the tabs, and the plants took off. Large substrate-rooted plants (swords, bulb-type, etc) especially benefit from this. I was able to discontinue using a calcium/magnesium fertilizer (Equilibrium) when I added the tabs, replaced every 2-3 months. You obviously won't have the hard mineral lacking problem with your water, but the tabs really do make a huge difference to such plants. And the fish are not impacted, a true benefit.

You asked about DIY substrate tabs. This is not advisable. Aquatic plants have a different nutrient requirement than terrestrial plants, especially in the area of nitrate and phosphorus, and every DIY I have seen seems based on products like Osmocote. This is not safe in a fish tank.
 

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