Are Liquid Fertilizers Worth Buying? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-01-2020, 02:07 AM Thread Starter
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Are Liquid Fertilizers Worth Buying?

So my question focuses primarily on liquid carbon fertilizers, such as Flourish Excel, and "All in one" style liquid fertilizers, such as Aquarium Co-op's Easy Green. So first off, I have a 5 gallon tank with eco complete and an 8 watt, 6500ish K LED (I don't know the exact specs, but it came with my aquatop pices 5 gallon rimless bullet shaped tank). The plants I have are Abubias Nana Petite, S. repens, and rotala macranda narrow leaf. I don't use any form of CO2, but there are currently DIY osmocote root tabs in my tank. I do not plan on getting pressurized CO2 because I'm a student, and there isn't anywhere near me where I can get a CO2 tank refilled, so I was wondering if it would be worth using a liquid carbon source? In other words, would I see any significant change in growth from using something like Flourish Excel in my tank? Further, I know that plants absorb the majority of their nutrients through their roots, and since I am already using root tabs, would it be necessary to get an all-in-one liquid fertilizer?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-01-2020, 11:34 AM
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Are Liquid Fertilizers Worth Buying?

I believe that you would see a change in growth using both Excel and easy green.

I'm not sure it's true that aquatic plants absorb most nutrients through their roots. They pull a lot right out of the water column.

I'd also be willing to bet there's somewhere that fills CO2 near you.... There's a lot of people getting it for making beer at home, for welding, for paintball, etc. So if the only reason you're not gonna get it is because you can't find it, it's probably just somewhere you aren't thinking about.

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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-01-2020, 01:13 PM
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Most Dick's will fill co2. I use a beer/soda supply store five miles from my house. I have a larger tank and it cost $35 and I've been running on that fillup for 5 months and still going.

I use liquid ferts as well. My plants grow like weeds and I don't really have any algae issues to speak of.
This set here lasts about 4 months for my 65 gallon.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I am an equipment and tool junkie. I try to keep it simple but.........
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-01-2020, 01:46 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jaz419 View Post
I believe that you would see a change in growth using both Excel and easy green.

I'm not sure it's true that aquatic plants absorb most nutrients through their roots. They pull a lot right out of the water column.

I'd also be willing to bet there's somewhere that fills CO2 near you.... There's a lot of people getting it for making beer at home, for welding, for paintball, etc. So if the only reason you're not gonna get it is because you can't find it, it's probably just somewhere you aren't thinking about.

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I did not know that. I have always heard that plants absorb most of their nutrients through their roots, but that could have been a rumor I heard a while back. In that case, do you think it would be excessive to have both root tabs and liquid fertilizers? My plan was to avoid ferttz because I already have root tabs and supplement primarily with growth hormones, like Flourish Advance, or a carbon source. As for the CO2 refilling, I'm sure there is somewhere near enough to me, but I don't want to go out of my way to get tanks refilled during the school year. Thanks for the response!

Bump: [quote=jaz419;11336247]I believe that you would see a change in growth using both Excel and easy green.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-01-2020, 01:52 PM
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I hope this isn't off subject too much, but I have a funny CO2 story. I used to have Dicks fill my paintball tanks for $4 a piece. Problem was, 90% of the time they didn't have any, even when I called ahead to check and they said yes !!! Anyway, there's a place that fills fire extinguishes on my way home from work. I bought a 20 gallon siphon feed tank off amazon and a re-fill station from ebay and fill them myself now. $20 to fill the tank, and I get roughly 8 refills. Not a huge savings in money, but I ALWAYS have co2 no matter what. Just something to think about in the future, if you go the paintball tank route.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-01-2020, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by JCombra View Post
I hope this isn't off subject too much, but I have a funny CO2 story. I used to have Dicks fill my paintball tanks for $4 a piece. Problem was, 90% of the time they didn't have any, even when I called ahead to check and they said yes !!! Anyway, there's a place that fills fire extinguishes on my way home from work. I bought a 20 gallon siphon feed tank off amazon and a re-fill station from ebay and fill them myself now. $20 to fill the tank, and I get roughly 8 refills. Not a huge savings in money, but I ALWAYS have co2 no matter what. Just something to think about in the future, if you go the paintball tank route.

I'd really like to hear some more details on this. (I couldn't find a tank on Amazon) Sounds like it might be a good way for the OP to introduce CO2. I have 2 smaller tanks I'd love to add CO2 to but don't want to deal with the distance traveled and the unreliability to get refills at Dicks.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-01-2020, 02:58 PM
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Hey Kubla, my tank is actually a 10 gallon not 20. Not sure where that came from !! Here's a link to the tank.

https://www.amazon.com/Aluminum-Cyli...8344497&sr=8-4

And here's a link to the re-fill station :

https://www.amazon.com/MAddog-MD-205...dDbGljaz10cnVl


Both these products have gone WAAAAY up in price since I bought mine. The tank cost me $80 and the re-fill station cost me $35....yikes..... either way, I still HIGHLY recommend it. After the initial layout, it pays for itself. One thing I notice is I run my CO2 a little ' hotter' now that i know I can re-fill my tanks anytime. Before I always had the ' Dick's might be out, AGAIN' hanging over my head so I would throttle my usage. Piece of mind is a wonderful thing to have !!

Hope this helps.....

Jim
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-01-2020, 06:39 PM
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Are Liquid Fertilizers Worth Buying?

I'd guess that most in the hobby would say that it is not excessive to use both tabs and liquid. Most are probably in agreement that root tabs alone are typically not enough. I personally use both but only really put root tabs below plants that are known as heavy root feeders like crypts. But I'm honestly not even certain that there's evidence that supports any plants "needing" root tabs specifically.... So I guess I just do it... Just because.

But yeah back to your question... Using both is not excessive.

If you're going to avoid fertilization, you need to keep your lighting in check too. If you've got a really bright light but no fertilization... You're asking for algae issues.


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Last edited by jaz419; 05-02-2020 at 01:01 PM.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-01-2020, 06:52 PM
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Not sure that any plant NEEDS root feeding but some certainly do better with it. I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure all plants or the vast majority will to some degree feed from the water column. I don't know that any of the plants you currently have would be considered heavy root feeders so some column feeding would be beneficial. I guess you could argue anubius is a heavy root feeder but many people don't put the roots in the substrate at all so yeah, it feeds through the roots but from the water column.

Probably just a half dose once a week even. Just keep up with water changes. I see good things said about the Easy Green, personally I use Thrive products. It's a bit more concentrated. As far as Excel...people will argue both ways...some say it helps, some say it's worthless as a carbon source. I use CO2 so I don't have a dog in that fight.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-01-2020, 09:00 PM
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Eco complete has a very mild CEC value and pore spacing is a little to open for osmocote. Most the ferts will just get flushed out into water column anyway. Water dosing is simpler and gives you better control of tanks levels, what little nutrients eco complete needs for its CEC stores can easily be delivered and more precisely regulated via water column dosing.

Easy green, just get you gallon jug of RO or distilled water, add 1pump (1ml) of easy green and then just use that jug to top off for evaporation 2-3x times or daily throughout the week. The dose of easy green for your tank will be somewhere between .5-1ml per week. I figure with water surface area of your tank topping off for evaporation will probably be a gallon every 10days, that would give .75ml on average per week. The easy green pump wonít work, itís 1ml dose, your tank needs .5 pump once or twice a week, no way to accurately do .5 a pump.

Really need a picture of tank showing planting density if you want people to help you zero in on dosing. Itís a balancing act using just the right amount for type of plants you have and amount of light you are giving them. Knowing lighting schedule and intensity is another variable to the equation.

Just start with dosing. Change one thing at a time and give it 2-3wks to show improvement. If you go changing a bunch of things you end up not knowing which had the biggest effect. Iíd say start with dosing.
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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-01-2020, 10:29 PM
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So dicks tends to be a pain to deal with when it comes to co2. If your local store is able to provide then that a win. Unfortunately the ones near me dont understand how to fill a tank properly.

As for the topic, dry ferts are stupid cheap, and easy to mix into ro water. Hence why many use it.

But some cant buy certain dry ferts in certain countries as it can be used for criminal use.

"Liquid co2" is not co2, it's a chemical that helps some plants absorb the co2 that is already in the water. Unfortunately it is know to harm a very select few plants. It is not co2, nor is it close to co2 injection, however if that's all you can get it's better than nothing.

Next thing, root tabs. Every plant is different, some feed more from roots, some feed more from the water column. Many do a bit of both. From my experience, plants do best with root tabs and ferts in the water.


It seems you are deciding what kind of tank your trying to achieve. If you do co2 injection, you'll need ideal levels of ferts in the water to prevent a deficiency from creating weak plants and an imbalance for algae to feed on.



But if you go the low light, no co2 injection, low tech route, you can get certain plants to grow at a slower rate.
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-01-2020, 10:34 PM
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Agree with Dave. And Excel isn't a CO2 source and is barely a carbon source and I hate the way they market that. It does kill algae and biofilm and plants suffering from being coated will really respond. But you can dump and entire bottle in an aquarium and a drop checker won't budge. It has its place, but isn't quite what the sales literature says. I prefer dry ferts for economy and being able to add or subtract nutrients as I might need.
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-01-2020, 11:28 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Blue Ridge Reef View Post
Agree with Dave. And Excel isn't a CO2 source and is barely a carbon source and I hate the way they market that. It does kill algae and biofilm and plants suffering from being coated will really respond. But you can dump and entire bottle in an aquarium and a drop checker won't budge. It has its place, but isn't quite what the sales literature says. I prefer dry ferts for economy and being able to add or subtract nutrients as I might need.
would you say excel provides no benefit with respect to being a carbon source? I would think that it's not changing your drop checker because drop checkers measure the amount of carbonic acid generated as a result of gaseous carbon dioxide introduction into the water, which is not being introduced with excel. I wanna know if the product could act as a carbon source even if it is inferior to that of adding CO2 gas.
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-02-2020, 04:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpark143 View Post
would you say excel provides no benefit with respect to being a carbon source? I would think that it's not changing your drop checker because drop checkers measure the amount of carbonic acid generated as a result of gaseous carbon dioxide introduction into the water, which is not being introduced with excel. I wanna know if the product could act as a carbon source even if it is inferior to that of adding CO2 gas.
Excel definitely works at providing a carbon source to plants. However, it is not as effective as CO2.


Drop checkers will not react to any addition of glutaraldehyde, as they only react to CO2

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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-02-2020, 08:16 PM
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I like dry ferts for ease of use as I see I want to add more of one or another fert. Sometimes it gets down to being like meds. When I want aspirin, I want it plain, not mixed in a multipurpose med. So dry is cheap, easy to order and store, so that when/ if I want to bump up something like nitrate, I simply add more dry nitrate to a cup of tank water, stir, and pour.
My guide for what looks needed:
https://www.google.com/search?q=aqua...n4aQwqnj0DI2M:

My source for ferts:
https://www.nilocg.com/product-categ...ry-fertilizer/
And a plan for how much:
https://rotalabutterfly.com/nutrient-calculator.php
Remembering it is just an ESTIMATE, I go for getting close and then watch and adapt as I see things grow and change. There is no specific amount as all plants grow and change and do different things.

All towns have folks who drink soda and beer ( sometimes even in college towns?), most have places where they do welding, brew home brew or other uses for CO2, so don't give up too quick without doing a search for things like welding gas supply?
But finding what fits us personally is always going to be a search for the truth, and that search changes frequently, so do some study on what fits best for you.
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