Questions on osmocote tabs - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-10-2016, 09:56 PM Thread Starter
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Questions on osmocote tabs

Hey all! I am interested in starting to use these tabs but I have a few questions...

The "tabs" are in pill-like gel caps. Once submerged beneath/near a plant, do these caps dissolve? Or will I have to dig them out?

Are these 100% safe for all fish, invertebrates (mainly my dwarf frog) and plants?

How long does a tab last? How often would I be replacing them?

If I purchase 400, how long will that last me? Just trying to figure out how many I would need to purchase to have a month/6 month/year supply.

How long do they remain active while in storage? Do I need to purchase in small amounts and use within a certain time frame? Or can they sit in my storage box indefinitely?

I currently use Seachem Excel, Seachem Trace and Seachem Iron. I dose Excel daily (or every other day 'cause I forget).. I dose Trace 2x a week. And I dose Iron (6 eye droppers) 1x a week.

Would I need to make any changes to my current dosing? Would using osmocote tabs replace my current routine? Or would the tabs compliment my current routine?

For reference: 46g bow front with BDBS substrate. I have a ton of Anubias and two red melon swords now but I plan to purchase Madagascar Lace, Aponogeton and red flame and oriental swords very soon.

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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-11-2016, 12:42 PM
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I don't think anyone can say they are 100% safe or not and I will stand by this opinion. Have they been used for decades and there been no apparent ill effects? Yes. I think you are safe, but as for being 100%... well I had a bad experience with them once and it will forever tarnish them for me. There is possibly surfactants in osmocote, which are potentially harmful to fish. I don't think there is solid proof on whether or not surfactants are harmful or not though..

Remember, these are designed for soil use, they are not designed for aquarium use. There are other tabs out there that cost similar, you could for example buy the pond ones that Osmocote sells, and remove the blue balls which are a wetting agent (surfactant). You may not even need to remove the blue balls as they do advertise that it is safe for fish.. again who knows. Link: https://www.scottsaustralia.com.au/o...quatic-plants/

Bottom line.. there is no solid 100% but people have used DYI osmocote tabs for years. They provide the best bang for your buck for sure. If you are by nature someone who is very careful or worrisome, don't use them, because in the back of your mind you will always question.

They last around 3-6 months most people say. You don't need to use a lot, one tab per 4 inch radius would be plenty IMO. Some people dose heavily, I recommend go easy as you can always add more. Pulling them out of the gravel is nearly impossible and a HUGE pain in the ass (I speak from experience). Just watch the growth, the swords will eat this stuff up real good.

400 will give you enough for YEARS haha.

It won't replace your current dosing routine, some plants pull from the water column, some pull from the substrate. Having access to both would be good. If anything... you may be able to reduce your trace to 1x a week, but that's about it.

Hope this is somewhat helpful.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-11-2016, 01:16 PM
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The following is largely opinion based since there is very little more than anecdotes to go by in our hobby.


Quote:
Originally Posted by KA1OTE View Post
The "tabs" are in pill-like gel caps. Once submerged beneath/near a plant, do these caps dissolve? Or will I have to dig them out?

They will dissolve. They are gel capsules, AKA, pills. They are usually 100% food grade, safe for human consumption.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KA1OTE View Post
Are these 100% safe for all fish, invertebrates (mainly my dwarf frog) and plants?

The capsules are definitely safe. The O+ inside is up for debate. It is best to keep it submerged under the soil. I don't believe it will harm them if it surfaces, but I can't imagine it being good for the fish to eat. With that said, mine have never more than nipped at a pellet that has risen above the soil and they steer clear of it. As far as plants, it should be safe. Most plants can be grown outside of water too, so I believe the ferts are pretty interchangeable.

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Originally Posted by KA1OTE View Post
How long does a tab last? How often would I be replacing them?


This is largely dependent on your plant base. For slower growing plants, they will last longer. Anywhere from 30-90 days is average from my experience. I replace mine every 3-4 months.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KA1OTE View Post
If I purchase 400, how long will that last me? Just trying to figure out how many I would need to purchase to have a month/6 month/year supply.


If you place them in a 6" grid, they will last you a lifetime. That is what I usually suggest. One every 6" in every direction. This comes out to 16 for a standard 55g footprint. Then replace them once every 3 months. So 64 per year. You'd have nearly 6 years of root tabs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KA1OTE View Post
How long do they remain active while in storage? Do I need to purchase in small amounts and use within a certain time frame? Or can they sit in my storage box indefinitely?

I would look at a box of O+ for an expiration date, but I don't think they go bad. Just don't get them wet, they melt together.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KA1OTE View Post
Would I need to make any changes to my current dosing? Would using osmocote tabs replace my current routine? Or would the tabs compliment my current routine?


The root tabs will compliment any dosing. The liquid carbon is completely separate and the trace elements are always good. Root tabs are just another layer, often the least efficient since many plants feed from column dosing much easier. It depends on your plants and you'll be able to see the difference in their growth, color, etc in a few weeks. If you notice deficiencies after several weeks, it is time to replace the tabs.


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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-11-2016, 07:14 PM Thread Starter
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Wow. Thanks so much for the replies guys! I couldn't have asked for more thorough info!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Freemananana View Post
They will dissolve. They are gel capsules, AKA, pills. They are usually 100% food grade, safe for human consumption.
So these will dissolve completely leaving no footprint/trace behind? I am anal about my tank and it will drive me nuts knowing capsules remain in the substrate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Freemananana View Post
For slower growing plants, they will last longer. Anywhere from 30-90 days is average from my experience. I replace mine every 3-4 months.
How do you judge when it is time to replace them? Half of my home (outside of my tank) is a jungle. I am quite used to "reading" my houseplants to know when they are in need of water, ice, food, sun, etc. Just wondering how my aquatic plants will communicate with me on their needs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Freemananana View Post
If you place them in a 6" grid, they will last you a lifetime. That is what I usually suggest. One every 6" in every direction. This comes out to 16 for a standard 55g footprint. Then replace them once every 3 months. So 64 per year. You'd have nearly 6 years of root tabs.
This is an interesting and methodical approach. I like it leaves little room for error or doubt that you have not covered the tank thoroughly. In my 46g, I have Anubias lining each side and will soon (ordering today) have aponogeton ulvaceus, crinum natans and madagascar lace lining the back. So I don't think I will use this grid method. Instead, I'll just poke a tab along the "tree line" arc every 6". Given my plant species, would 6" be effective? Or should I tighten up or space out the tab distance?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Freemananana View Post
I would look at a box of O+ for an expiration date, but I don't think they go bad. Just don't get them wet, they melt together.
I assumed they would need to be kept dry so I have a dry storage dedicated to my hobby where I would keep these (if I were to buy in bulk).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Freemananana View Post
The root tabs will compliment any dosing. The liquid carbon is completely separate and the trace elements are always good. Root tabs are just another layer, often the least efficient since many plants feed from column dosing much easier. It depends on your plants and you'll be able to see the difference in their growth, color, etc in a few weeks. If you notice deficiencies after several weeks, it is time to replace the tabs.
Thank you for confirming my suspicions. I will continue to dose the column. I already mentioned this above but.. what type of deficiencies would the plants show? What clues do I keep an eye out for?

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 11:34 AM
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Anything from yellowing leaves to slower growth. It really depends on what is in your water coming from the tap. If you notice plants that are regularly healthy are starting to show distress of any kind, it may be time to put in some more root tabs. You'll know it when you see it, basically. If you've kept house plants, this won't be much different.


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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-15-2016, 07:16 AM
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Those capsules get slippery when you stick them in the tank--they start dissolving the second they touch the water. When you bury the tabs just make sure you push them all the way down to the bottom of the substrate. Don't stop until you mash glass, otherwise you might get some of those little O+ balls making an appearance when you do a little rescaping. I've been using them in my low tech tanks for a year and a half with no issues in any of the three. I don't dose the water column but rather deliberately pick root-feeding plants so I don't have to fuss with scheduled dosings. Theoretically you could replace your dosing schedule but it took me some experimenting to figure out which plants don't mind pulling it all through the roots and which plants couldn't hack it. Mine last a good 4 months or more, but then I go with 4" instead of 6" because the pool filter sand I use is completely inert. The giant Amazon Sword gets two shoved into either side of it though and I generally go with one tab per sword plant.
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