Fertilizers in planted aquariums are very important. We as humans need certain nutrition from food sources to function. Similarly, plants need nutrition too to survive and be healthy. Here are 10 things you need to know about plant fertilizers:
1. Plants need macro and micro nutrients to survive. Macro nutrients are nutrients that plants consume in large quantities, such as nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.
2. Micro nutrients are nutrients that plants need in trace amounts, such as iron, boron, and manganese.
3. Plants take nutrients from the soil and water columns. Liquid fertilizers provide nutrients to plants through water columns. If you are using good quality and unused aqua soil, root fertilizers (which provides nutrients through plant roots) are not immediately required when you start the aquarium. However root fertilizers and root tabs such as flourish root tabs are required over time for heavy root feeding plants such as crypts. This is due to aqua soil nutrients depleting over time.
4. There are two extremes of fertilizer dosing. One is based on Estimative Index which rely on heavy fertilizer dosing and large weekly water change to reset nutrients. Another is lean dosing which is based on low fertilizer dosing but rely on a nutrient rich substrate such as ADA amazonia soil. You can choose any of the two but as beginners, I think lean dosing or somewhat in between the two extremes is appropriate.
5. Light, C02 and fertilizers work together in making a planted aquarium a success. Finding the right balance takes time. Cooler temperatures also help plants thrive. Don’t overstock , overfeed fishes and use maximum of 8 hrs of light in a planted aquarium.
6. All in one nutrients such as the ‘Aquascaper’ contain all traces of macro and micro nutrients and also gives dosing instructions based on c02 and energy levels. You may also dose individual macro and micro nutrients depending on requirements of plants in your aquarium.
7. Daily or intermittent dosing is better than one large weekly dose based on my experience. Liquid carbon are not fertilizers. Always use a few fast growing stem plants to avoid algae build up. Power soil or other nutients can also be added to aerate the bottom and help buildup beneficial bacteria in your system.
8. Plants become red as part of their defense mechanism. High dosing of iron will not necessarily make your plants red. Iron dosing should be minimal as it may be deadly for livestock.
9. Try using a lot of plants when starting an aquarium to avoid algae build up. Don’t overdose on fertilizers if your using few plants which can cause algae.
10. Research your plants requirements first before using fertilizers. Don’t buy difficult plants if you are a beginner. If you have shrimps, don’t use copper containing fertilizers.