Root Tabs Vs Water Column Dosing? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-11-2011, 01:24 AM Thread Starter
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Root Tabs Vs Water Column Dosing?

Has anyone tried these methods individually? What did you notice? Was one better than the other? I'm asking this because I've read some interesting articles about nutrient uptake from the roots vs the leaves.

Here's one
http://www.jstor.org/pss/2441300

I also watch Dustinsfishtanks on youtube and he often talks about how Greg Moran from Seachem told him plants absorb iron from their roots 4-400 times more effectively than from their leaves.

These things got me thinking about which way is best and more importantly, easiest to fertilize my tank. Right now I dose 3x a week using EI dosing. Things are working great, but if I can just put root tabs in every 2 months and maintain the same results, that would be a whole lot easier.

I'm thinking about using osmocote plus gel tabs. How long do you think they'll last? 1 week, 1 month, 3 months? Thanks for any help

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Last edited by BlueJack; 07-11-2011 at 07:56 AM.
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-11-2011, 02:07 AM
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Very interesting question.
I can't recall ever reading about any time-tested trials of one vs. the other under similar circumstances. I did go with just root tab ferts for a few months and the plants did reasonably well, but growth & general appearance improved considerably when I started doing both together. I did conclude that root tab ferts seemed to be more or less effective for periods up to 3-4 months before requiring replacement.
Would like to hear what others may have to say.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-11-2011, 03:29 AM
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Dose with a Pwrhead

It'll keep nutrients from going stagnant and algea blooms. If you go ahead with liquid dosing you'll probably see faster results if you remove activated carbon and/or zeoliites from filters

IMO I prefer to not dose in a heavily stocked tank. I let snails and fish provide organic bioload and use root tabs, diffused CO2 and lights.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-11-2011, 06:42 AM
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So would using Osmocote plus capsules generally supply nutrients for the plants? I'm still deciding on whether or not I want to keep track of EI dosing constantly .__.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-11-2011, 07:47 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DerangedCorgi View Post
So would using Osmocote plus capsules generally supply nutrients for the plants? I'm still deciding on whether or not I want to keep track of EI dosing constantly .__.
I'm still not sure. Hope somebody can provide some more insight.

I do have an ingredient list for a couple root tabs.

Osmocote Plus


RootMedic Tabs


Flourish Tabs


It looks like Osmocote Plus and Rootmedic are heavy in the Macros (N,P,K). While Flourish is heavier in the micros (Ca, Fe, etc)

It also stated that rootmedic lasts 6-9 months.(I guess that applies to Osmocote since they're basically the same) and flourish lasts 1-3 months.

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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-11-2011, 07:53 AM
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Yeah, I have the osmocote plus jug and a couple hundred capsules of it sitting on my desk right now. I'm just too lazy to perform a 50% change every week x_x
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-11-2011, 04:07 PM
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I have a high light, C02, medium plant mass tank. I use Osmocote fruit & veg. 14-14-14 00 gel caps for only for a couple of weeks with one gel cap under heavy root feeders like swords, Ludwigia, and in other area I spread them out a little under Vals, Cobomba, etc.
All the plants reacted well with the Ludwigia turning really red and good growth all around. I soon added EI dosing because there were no nitrates available in the water column, I did it kinda backwards and started dosing EI for a 50 gallon tank (in a 150) and at the end of the week I had about 5 ppm nitrates, so I doubled the dose to meet amounts for a 100 g tank and at the end of the week I had 20 ppm nitrates, I did my water change and checked again and had 10 ppm nitrates, and that were I'm staying for now.

I think the root tabs are like a booster but not enough in a high tech tank after all I'm dumping in teaspoons of KN03 every other day and there is just one little root tab under a plant that would'nt even fill the teaspoon. I use Flourite which is a baked clay and I've been told that old Flourite is good at absorbing nutirents from root tabs so maybe after multiple tabs are added (every 3 months) the substrate will hold more nutrients due to the slow release nature of Osomocote. The data sheet for Osmocote said it needed one week of moisture to swell and start to release nutrients and it lasted 3 months with tempetures of 80 degrees, hope this helped.

The whole point of EI is not keeping track, I hardly ever test at all, really just to get the set up right because I was going to use 2 different methods of ferts.


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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-11-2011, 04:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DerangedCorgi View Post
Yeah, I have the osmocote plus jug and a couple hundred capsules of it sitting on my desk right now. I'm just too lazy to perform a 50% change every week x_x

With Osmocote you don't have to do any water changes at all.


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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-11-2011, 11:34 PM
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Originally Posted by 150EH View Post
With Osmocote you don't have to do any water changes at all.
I mean if I decide to do EI dosing I'll have to do 50% weekly changes.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-11-2011, 11:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DerangedCorgi View Post
I mean if I decide to do EI dosing I'll have to do 50% weekly changes.
No, there's never been have to about EI, 50% is simply a starting point that's arbitrary. It is a myth to suggest EI demands or requires this.

It will raise your error factor........but that might not be an issue.
I do 1x a month on two of my tanks for example.

Plants love water changes, you cannot over do them.

ADG, Jeff Senske etc, Amano, Myself, we suggest large weekly water changes, and this is a wide range of folks from independent lines that all came to this conclusion.

It is not bad advice in the least.

Sediment ferts are logn term and easy, they provide a back up if you forget to dose or want to dose less for some reason........say you believe in the myth that less ppm in the water = less algae. You have an option.

Sediment vs water column should NOT be viewed as "either... or".
Rather, it should be view as complementary and synegistic. One supplyes the roots, the other the leaves, this takes the avantages of each and gets rid of the disadvantages of each as well.

A better study from Madsen and Cerdergreen looks at 4 species of plants in a nutrient rich stream...they even cut off the roots, and the shoots still had the same rates of growth.

See:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/1...802.x/abstract

Pretty much states what all researchers already know: aquatic plants are opportunistic, they will nab nutrients where ever they are, the same is true when given the opportunity, to terrestrial land plants via fertigation......

Sediments offer another source.........of nutrients. But this does not mean osmocoat and anythign else you put into there does not leach and crequire water change sif the ferts build up......ADA aqua soil neeeds frequent water changes initially till the leaching stops.

Far more than EI suggest at 50% weekly.

Still, it's better to do a water change than not.

Once you get the hang of things, then you can progressively reduce the ferts and then you can start to reduce the water changes, mostly the frequency.......

This I've long detailed if you wish to do few water changes and view them as hidious chore.

Making the water change easy and you still need to trim and garden some either way, I do the water change while I clean and other routine things to the tank, even with 480 Gal worth of tank, I spend less than 1.5 hours a week and keep the tanks looking in pretty decent shape.

Some folks sell sediment ferts as some way to entirely avoid water changes, while to some degree this can be true........you do get better growth by doing both and the short and the long term management is easier.

I like to do them personally and the tank looks better. If you honestly hatre water changes, then do non CO2.

If you hate water changes but are not willing to give up CO2..then use low light, since that is what determines CO2 and nutrient uptake.

In otherwords, there's no single silver bullet to avoud water changes, you need to consider the aquarium holstically and start where growth starts, then go down one by one to achieve the best management practice for your goal.

Suggesting sediment ferts will solve all algae and dosing issues is rubbish however. But that is how many like to sell it off as.....



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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-12-2011, 12:20 AM
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You didn't need to go into so much detail lol. My post wasn't that I don't want to, it was that I've been told I have to. That if I miss a water change, oblivion is nigh and all will be forever lost (Just kidding but you get the idea, haha) Since I'm taking short intersession classes right now I might miss/forget to do a water change which happens more often than I wanted to and I'm also running pressurized co2 w/ 3.5wpg. I try to do water changes but other things distract me from doing so/I get tired or lazy (it averages out to a bi-weekly~monthly water change)


So if missing water changes wouldn't affect much or anything at all then I guess I'll start dry/pre-mix dosing, whenever I have time... c_c
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-12-2011, 01:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueJack View Post
Has anyone tried these methods individually? What did you notice? Was one better than the other? I'm asking this because I've read some interesting articles about nutrient uptake from the roots vs the leaves.
[...]
plants absorb iron from their roots 4-400 times more effectively than from their leaves.
Dumb question perhaps, off topic surely, but assuming an inert substrate and water column fertilization, doesn't fertilized water trickle down to the roots and get absorbed effectively? Making water column the more complete method of the 2.

I don't think the other way is as effective - ferts are released from the soil into the water column but in reduced quantities (right?)
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-12-2011, 01:32 AM
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I don't see how you can isolate nutrients in the substrate, so they don't get into the water. Chemical salts diffuse throughout the water, as far as I know. I do think it is true that the concentration in the water will be lower than than in the substrate, because the plants are eating them out of the water, for one thing. And, again, there are no testing results I know of that demonstrate that aquarium algae is caused by nutrients in the water. There are a lot of results demonstrating that they don't cause algae.

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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-12-2011, 05:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DerangedCorgi View Post
You didn't need to go into so much detail lol.
Yea, a few folks have died from info overload

Quote:
My post wasn't that I don't want to, it was that I've been told I have to.
Tell who ever said that to go eat horse feathers.

Quote:
That if I miss a water change, oblivion is nigh and all will be forever lost (Just kidding but you get the idea, haha) Since I'm taking short intersession classes right now I might miss/forget to do a water change which happens more often than I wanted to and I'm also running pressurized co2 w/ 3.5wpg.
Ayyiiyiiyiiyii
The high light, try 1/2 this amount my friend!!

Then there's much less work and hassle, plants, grow, but less demand for CO2(so dosing that is MUCH easier) and much less critical demand for nutrients.

Fear not also, we have a EI dosing modeling calculator that will predict the % uptake and the build up based on any range or frequency of dosing/water changes.

So you can check your routine and tweak it to whatever limits you wish.

The flexibility often bothers some folks, so many of us will tell you a starting point, then go from there.

This is true for the sediments, and the water column both, there's many ways to add sediment ferts and there's no rule that says you must of must not do water changes for that.

These are assumptions.

Quote:
I try to do water changes but other things distract me from doing so/I get tired or lazy (it averages out to a bi-weekly~monthly water change)
So if missing water changes wouldn't affect much or anything at all then I guess I'll start dry/pre-mix dosing, whenever I have time... c_c
You'd be better off running a tank like this:



No CO2 a single 24 W T 5 light over a 17 gal tank. Easy as pie, this tank gets a water change about once every 3 months, but could easily........go much much longer.

Mostly to remove the yellowing from the wood.

Want use the gas?



1.5W/gal of T5 at 3 feet from the sediment, plain old Flourite in this case, plain dolomite above, or this tank


2w/gal, this is my highest w/gal tank, but they all run the same intensity from the light meter and most all are 3ft away from the sediment.

Light is the gas pedal and what you are saying is you want cO2 but do not want a lot of work, so the best and 1st option has NOTHING to do with ferts........growth does not start there, it starts with light.

then we go to CO2...........then LASTLY.......we go to dual location ferts.

This is the best way to reduce growth and labor/maintenance.
It used all three major factors involved in growth, not a narrow minded view of only one.




Regards,
Tom Barr
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-12-2011, 05:51 AM
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Originally Posted by florini View Post
Dumb question perhaps, off topic surely, but assuming an inert substrate and water column fertilization, doesn't fertilized water trickle down to the roots and get absorbed effectively? Making water column the more complete method of the 2.

I don't think the other way is as effective - ferts are released from the soil into the water column but in reduced quantities (right?)
Yep, this is the principle method in fertigation.

One benefit for plants however is the high concentrations of ferts in the root zone and it's just simply easy to add them that dosing the water column. Also, the sediment is a good place for the NH4 bound in soft clay, eg soils like clay loams or ADA As etc.

We cannot add much NH4 to the water column without closely metered dosing or fish waste and then not that much.........but the soil can hold a fair amount, this runs out after 6-18 months or so depending on the tank.

All gets chowed by bacteria and turned into either plant tissue or NO3 via bacteria. But.......things like P, Fe etc.....they all last a very logn time......it's mostly just the N that runs out.

If you are dosing ample KNO3, then there's no noted effect of older ADA AS or soils ..........since the plants still have plenty even 2-3 years later.

Also, the addition of the water column ferts means the sediment will last longer since there is less draw from the sediment by plant roots, there' is also no transport cost for the plant as far as nutrients.

Hard to beat both.

Same try to sell it off as no dosing...but then they dose K+ and traces still curious...so there's no labor saved really there, you still have to dose something......2 things vs 3-4 things, yee haw, that's not really saving me any work.




Regards,
Tom Barr
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