Osmocote Plus/Miracle Gro used in gravel safe in a tank WITH fish?
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Old 06-05-2011, 11:49 PM   #1
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Osmocote Plus/Miracle Gro used in gravel safe in a tank WITH fish?


Hi everyone,

I'm quite new to planted tanks (at least putting much more thought into them than "add plants, let fish fertilize") and want to make sure I don't do anything that could harm my fish.

I've acquired some small-ish amazon swords and currently only have inert gravel in my tanks. I don't want to go to soil, and won't be redoing the substrate in the near future, so I wanted to fertilize using root tabs of some sort. I've read that Osmocote Plus (16-9-12) terrestrial plant fertilizer granules are recommended for planted tanks over some root tabs.

However, I haven't been able to find Osmocote Plus anywhere (possibly not available in Canada?) but I have found what I think is a nearly identical product - Miracle Gro Shake 'N' Feed 19-6-12. There's just a small difference in the NPK ratio, and the Miracle Gro has no micronutrients.

For comparison, here's the Miracle Gro Shake 'N' Feed 19-6-12 MSDS and product label vs. the Osmocote Plus MSDS.

So my questions are:

(1) Is it safe to be using these fertilizers (made for terrestrial plants) in tanks with FISH in them? What if one works its way up through the gravel to the surface... and a fish tries to eat it...

(2) Do you agree that these are very similar/interchangeable products, with the only differences being the lack of micronutrients in the Miracle Gro, and the slightly different NPK ratios? It looks like I won't be able to get the Osmocote locally, and I'm hoping for an alternative.


Thank you so much in advance for any advice and help you can offer!
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Old 06-06-2011, 12:36 AM   #2
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Osmocote Plus is fine. I don't know about Miracle grow. Last time I checked, MG had urea based nitrogen included and you wouldn't want any of that except what your fish supply.

RootMedic is having a sale on substrate fertilizers that you might want to check out.
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Old 06-06-2011, 12:44 AM   #3
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Thanks so much for your reply!

Quote:
Originally Posted by audioaficionado View Post
Last time I checked, MG had urea based nitrogen included and you wouldn't want any of that except what your fish supply.
If the Miracle Gro contained urea, it would list that in the MSDS, would it not? For this formula, it's MSDS only lists Ammonium Nitrate - no urea.

Also, I'd love to order something online but (a) I'm hoping for something ASAP and (b) we're facing a postal strike in Canada, so I'm kind of hooped.
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Old 06-06-2011, 12:57 AM   #4
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1) urea isn't harmful, in reasonable quantities. if it was, Users of Pfertz, RootMedic, and other products would have a hell of a problem. Plants use ammonia very quickly. Much more quickly than nitrite or nitrate.

2) Urea, is (NH2)2CO. Ammonium Nitrate is NH4NO3


3) The content is not the significant part. The membrane. I have no idea what miracle gro uses.
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Old 06-06-2011, 02:21 AM   #5
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I think the slow release properties of the MG are not as slow as the Osmocote, so nitrogen may be released to rapidly. I used Osmocote fruit & vegtable and read the MSDS data sheet and it was coated to release much slower. I guess you could try a small area for a 2 or 3 week period and check your nitrites, nitrates, & ammonia to see the effect, the Osmocote data claimed it took a week of ground water to swell the product and start the release of the nutrients. If you get past the trial period without any spikes of nutrients it should be safe for use. The Osomocote was 14-14-14 so you may want to try a smaller amount, I used 00 gel caps but you may want to try 0 gel caps or a similar amount if you are using fertcicles.
I think any fish would quicly reject the taste of either and mine have been fine and stayed in the substrate, just remember no vacuuming for 4 months to be safe atleast not into the substrate.
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Old 06-06-2011, 02:29 AM   #6
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Urea is not ammonium and the plants won't take it up directly like they will ammonium and nitrates. The urea will need to be broken down into ammonium by bacteria first. We make it in our livers by combining ammonia from protein breakdown and CO2. I did not know your products have urea in them. I'd just as soon not put any urea in my tank. I'm still interested in your clay and peat substrate materials.

OP where are the micronutrients for the Shake 'n Grow listed? Osmocote has 'em listed. Also the coating is engineered for slow release in soil/air with repeated wet/dry water cycles. Under continuous water contact, it may release faster than the label states. RootMedic products were designed for aquarium conditions in mind to the best of my knowledge.

I think Osmocote Plus is your best bet during a postal strike.

Overstocked is the best authority on RM products and shipping issues as he sells them.
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Old 06-06-2011, 03:47 AM   #7
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The Osmocote even gave a breakdown rate at different temperatures, I just don't like the lack of published facts about the MG. I think the Urea can be ok in small doses and it certainly must be coated, cheap landscape companies used Urea 46-0-0 spead very thin to cheaply green up properties but actually loose benifits by stripping out micro organism from the soil and when winter came they would use it to melt ice on sidewalks, it's a dual purpose product (sorry that was my field).
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Old 06-06-2011, 05:58 PM   #8
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Thanks so much for your responses, everyone! I see what you mean now that even though the nutrients in the Miracle Gro and the Osmocote might be the same, other parts of their formulations might make them different and might make one safe for a tank while the other might not be.

As far as Osmocote goes, I've called every garden store in town and can't get Osmocote PLUS, but I can get other Osmocote formulations - like the 14-14-14 and the 19-6-12

Are either of those Osmocote formulations safe to use instead of the Osmocote Plus?

Thanks again!
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Old 06-06-2011, 07:23 PM   #9
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You can buy it online, but then you might as well get RootMedic instead.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OverStocked View Post
The membrane. I have no idea what miracle gro uses.
MSDS says "Modified Linseed Oil Resin". Cheap and somewhat biodegradable.
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Old 06-06-2011, 07:37 PM   #10
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I use the Osmocote fruit & vegtable 14-14-14 and it works fine, I got a 1.25 pound bottle for 8 bucks and 500 00 sized gel caps on ebay for 10 bucks and it made 500 gel caps and I had a 1/3 of the Osmocote left. I put one under each plant with high requirements, sword, ludwigia, crinium, etc. with other plants like cobomba, vals, etc. I just put one every 5 to 6 inches and they are working good and I used 36 in a 150 gallon tank so I have 5 years worth of substrate ferts.
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Old 06-07-2011, 06:09 PM   #11
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I had some of the Miracle Grow green granules, that you are supposed to mix with water and use that to water your vegetables, and mixed that in with my compost substrate. My fish are fine and my plants are growing like crazy. I think I would prefer to mix some of this with water and dose instead of chancing placing granules in there your fish could eat and possibly die from.
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Old 06-28-2011, 02:42 AM   #12
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I used osmocote in a planted tank and when I measured my nitrate levels they were very high, above 160ppm. I was doing weekly 50% water changes with either rainwater or RO water, and dosing maybe 20ppm KNO3 weekly, prior to testing the water. The plants seem to grow okay, but I was thinking that it might be nice to get fish sometime... Has anyone else experience high levels of Nitrates in their tanks from osmocote?
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Old 06-28-2011, 02:52 AM   #13
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No, my nitrates 0, nitrites 0, and I'm starting to dose EI.
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