Low Tech Fertilizers? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-30-2015, 09:56 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
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Location: NJ
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Low Tech Fertilizers?

Hi guys, right now I have a 55gal low tech tank with a 48' double t5NO fixture. As for substrate I have flourite under gravel. My question today is whether i need to be adding any fertilizers to the tank on a daily/weekly basis considering it is low tech. Right now there appears to be no problem with plant growth except with my java moss, I recently noticed it starting to turn brown so i went and thinned it out so that the light reaches the bottom of the moss as well but it still doesn't seem to be doing any better. Also I am having a bit of trouble with algae growing on the glass but nothing incredibly bad at the moment. If I should be dosing any ferts please be sure to clarify which ones, how much, and how frequently. Also should I be adding liquid CO2? Thanks for the help in advance.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-01-2015, 12:15 AM
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A couple of pictures of the tank would help. Mulm/detrius that builds up on the bottom
will eventually fill in between the grains of the sub and turn into fertilizers. But that takes months after the tank is set up. Low amounts of some kinds of plants can grow in that type of fertilizers.
The algae on the glass only really implies that the light is on for too long each day.
Is that T5NO actually an aquarium fixture that has reflectors ?
Home Depot actually has a shop light T8 fixture that has more light than that T5NO.
It's because it has excellent reflectors on it.
Java Moss doesn't like temperatures over 80 much. That and seriously low light are the only things I know of that might hurt it.
Any slower growing type plants should do OK in there without adding ferts.
Just google any you think you might like to have before you buy them.
Look for low light/slow growth in the description/growing conditions listed.
Anubias are likely the most common ones in that category. But I suspect that unless you up-grade that light you are not going to grow much in there.

The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line...in the opposite direction...
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-01-2015, 01:30 AM
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Plants need over a dozen elements to live.
Some are pretty simple, like hydrogen and oxygen.
Carbon is a good idea, but in a low tech tank the decomposing matter in the soil may supply it.
Fish food has the elements plants need, but may be low in potassium and iron.

When I wanted to improve conditions for my tanks the first ferts I added were C (Excel), K and Fe (Leaf Zone, a liquid fertilizer).

The other minerals that you should check is with the GH test. Plants and fish need calcium and magnesium. If the GH is too low (<3 dGH) these might be marginal. Water changes usually supply these minerals.

When you first start with a commercial product, I would try the low end dose, whatever the label says. If that helps, you could stay with that dose, or try a bit more.

What may happen is this:
When you supply the missing element, then the next element in shortest supply becomes the deficient one, so you should watch and dose that...
until you reach some other stopping point, such as the light.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-01-2015, 02:38 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: NJ
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The fixture that I have is actually an aquarium fixture that I putchased not too long ago, it has a reflector for each light and puts out a total of 56w of t5 light. Also, all of the plants that I do have in there are ones that do well in low light low tech settings, and as I said at the moment my other plants are either growing or remaining the same except for the moss, the temp in my tank is never over 80, usually at 79 so perhaps it's because only one of the bulbs is actually providing useable light for the plants because one is actnic, Im waiting on the new bulb I ordered to arrive in the meantime. As for the algae I'll most likely lower my photo period about an hour and see if that helps.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-01-2015, 02:50 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
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I think I'm going to take your advice with the CO2 and leave zone, how often do you dose with these two?
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-01-2015, 03:49 PM
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Low Tech Tanks

Hello nar...

If by low tech, you mean you have nothing but standard florescent lighting, basic filtration that hangs on the back of the tank and undemanding plants, then as long as you have a good stock of fish and feed a balanced diet, you don't need to add commercial fertilizers. The old leaves of the aquatic plants and the waste the fish produce are constantly dissolving in the tank water and nourishing the tank. All you need to do is remove and replace at least half the tank water and service the filtration system weekly to maintain the tank. Tank keeping is pretty simple, it's all about the water.


"Fear not my child, just change the tank water."
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-01-2015, 04:43 PM
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And water change may even be unnecessary for about... well almost a year now in my case.
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