Ferts for Dummies? Please? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 05:43 AM Thread Starter
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Ferts for Dummies? Please?

Im a noob to planted tanks, and seem to have ran headlong into this!
I got a $17 bottle of ferts, which ended up being just for floating plants, and i had stem plants and substrate plants, and they needed other nutrients. So I bought a bottle of Flourish Comprehensive Supplements. And though some of the plants are doing better, some are not quite failing, but doing worse than when i got them.
I hear terms like micros and macros, and how some nutrients are given in a gh booster?

Theres so much i dont understand, i thought id ask if there was a link to an all over explanation? Maybe a thread already written? Or if someone wanted to explain this all to me?
I would greatly appreciate this!!

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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 05:56 AM
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Here's a link in the "FAQ" that could be helpful! : https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/showthread.php?t=1074
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 12:55 PM
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Or,,,you could google Tom Barr's Non CO2 method, which is low tech style with scaled back EI dosing.
This is the method I chose and work's well just as Tom said it would.
I use dry fertz from aquariumfertilizer.com (macro-micro package).
No matter ,,high energy(high tech), or low energy (low tech), plant's do benefit from fetrilization of either substrate,water column,or both (better in my view).
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 10:19 PM
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Plants need about 16 elements to grow.
Some they need a lot of.
Some they need just a little.
Some of the things that we add to our tanks for other reasons also supply the plants with some of the things they need.

Hydrogen (H), Oxygen (O): A tank without hydrogen and oxygen may be safer according to the dihydrogen monoxide believers, but I prefer a tank filled with water.

Carbon (C): Most plants need carbon in the form of Carbon Dioxide. When they take in the carbon they start making other molecules with it, and someone figured out that they could supply the plants with carbon in the form of those molecules instead.

The next three are macros, and are the real, legal definition, fertilizers:
Nitrogen (N): Found in proteins, so fish food is one source. We measure Nitrogens as ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Plants can use all three, but do not use fish food directly. It has to break down into ammonia. Often added to a planted tank in the form of KNO3, potassium nitrate. If your aquarium tests are already showing you have a lot of NO3, then you do not need to add more, but find out where it is coming from (tap water, fish food, other)
Phoshorus (P): Usually supplied as phosphate, comes in fish food. If you have enough nitrate from fish food you probably have enough phosphate, too. If you have to dose Nitrogen, then you probably have to dose phosphate, too.
Potassium (K): Aquarium plants seem to use a lot of potassium, and its supply in fish food is not as reliable as N or P. Even if you do not need to dose much else, I would dose K.

The next group are secondary nutrients. Plants need less of these than the ones listed so far.
Calcium (Ca) and Magnesium (Mg): When you test the GH or General Hardness Ca is one of the minerals tested, Magnesium is the other. Most tap water has enough of each, but very soft water might not. Most plants use Ca and Mg in a ratio of around 4 parts Ca to 1 part Mg. The ratio in the water does not have to be exactly that, though. Just so long as neither is zero. There are separate tests if the GH test shows the level is so low that you are suspicious of a problem. If you need to dose both, GH Booster is good. If you need to dose either separately there are materials to do that.
There are a few other minerals that are secondary, but are almost never in short supply.

Micros, the elements that plants use the least of are usually simply dosed as a group, in a blend.
Iron (Fe): Used by plants and not as often available from fish food. If you only needed to dose a couple of things, one of them would probably be iron.
Dosing macros as a blend that includes iron, if you test at all, just test for iron. Keep the iron in the right range, and assume all the other macros are fine.

Carbonates: Not an element, but the other most frequently discussed aquarium parameter:
Carbonates and bicarbonates are a buffer that stabilizes the pH. Low carbonates and the pH is more likely to vary. High carbonates and the pH is more likely to be high.
Roughly half the plants we grow in aquariums can use the carbonates as a source of carbon.
Nitrifying bacteria get the carbon they need from carbonates.
If you need to add carbonates there are several materials to do this. Baking soda is one of the most common.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-15-2012, 07:21 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you so much!
So, my water is soft, very soft. About 1 drop GH and maybe two drops KH. My ph in my big tank is 6.2-6.4 and in my ten gal it's 6.2-6.0.
The melange I should be dosing calcium, and magnesium, right?
I do break up these Dr. Turtle calcium blocks for my snails, when I remember. It was the only calcium anything I could find, and I read that cuttle bone[for birds] can mess up your water?
Anyways, it's probably not enough, though I figured is mention it.
I feed NLS, so is this food a good source of phosphorus and potassium?

Is there a good, but not expensive, fert line I could use?
Also, test kits?

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-15-2012, 08:45 AM
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Skip the fert lines. They are all fairly expensive and you pay for and to ship a product that is 90% water.

Make the jump to dry. Its not that hard particularly with the guidance of folks here on the forum.

Here is a link to a guy that sells on the forums here.

Dry Ferts Supplier

if you want to go half way, and don't want to bother with measuring and mixing yourself check out nilocg's premeasured diy liquid ferts kit in the link above.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-15-2012, 11:59 PM
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With GH so low I would dose a GH Booster. Depending on the fish, I would add enough to test 3 degrees GH for soft water fish, higher for hard water fish.
Then I would add enough baking soda to make the KH roughly the same. Does not have to be exact.
I do not think cuttlebone 'messes up the water'. Whoever said that is probably thinking that it will add minerals to the water (which it does) and can make the water harder, which some people do not want, but you do want. Sure, add cuttlebone. Some snails will actually crawl across it, and eat a bit, especially if a little algae grows on it.

NLS, like most fish food will add N, P, and most micros to the water, but not so much K or Fe.

If you want to try easing your way into fertilizers you could get bottled fertilizers, such as the Seachem line or any other. But as noted above, you are paying for a bottle of water, with just a little actual fertilizer in it. It is OK to do once, and practice dosing until you figure out what your plants want.
Then buy the dry products and refill the bottles.
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