Using Molasses for Plant nutrition ?? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-10-2012, 06:48 AM Thread Starter
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Using Molasses for Plant nutrition ??

Just had an idea that came to mind regarding the use of ferts. The concept being that all organic Carbon based lifeforms need mineral nutrients to thrive. Duhh... Ok so its possible that we have all the plant nutrients we need somewhere in our homes in one state or another.

Recalling that after my spouse increased her Iron store while pregnant with our daughter using ONLY Blackstrap molasses to well above the required level in less than a week to the amazement of all the Pro's.

I figured why not try this on our plants? After all the Plantains Blackstrap Molasses has 20% Iron, 20% Calcium and 600ppm of Potassium and host of micros all organic from a plant based source.. Anyhow i stumbled on this link that confirms its use and repackedging under a sudo name brands by a host of gardening company's and retailers. As well as its use in gardening substrates as a chelater.

I have yet to try this in my tanks but the basic rationale of carbon lifeforms and minerals is enough to remove much of the mystery and fear regarding household FOODs being used for Aquarium/Gardening. The next step is understanding amounts to some degree so as to monitor dosing.

If anyone has experience or input regarding the topic please share
this is just one example.

Last edited by Acen; 12-10-2012 at 10:44 PM. Reason: Inappropriate link removed
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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-10-2012, 07:53 AM
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What would be the advantage of using a complex compound, that cannot be controlled (i.e. each batch would be chemically different), compared to using dry fertilizers which can be carefully controlled and monitored?

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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-10-2012, 01:16 PM
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Very interesting idea. With the added of laboratory support to understand concentration levels, you would have to experiment with dilution ratios.

Maybe you would start with one tablespoon dissolved in 8oz of boiling water. Then maybe dose @ 1 drop per gallon in your test tank. For the test to be fair you need two identical tanks, a test and a control tank.

I'm very interested in the all organic approaches. If you decide to move forward please consider a journal.
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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-10-2012, 02:55 PM
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You'll probably create a lot of unwanted issues as well like cloudy water or slime/ bio film on everything due to increase bacteria growth.

Oh, this isn't new. Some liquid carbon supplements in Europe use complex sugars.


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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-10-2012, 03:04 PM
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....Oh, this isn't new. Some liquid carbon supplements in Europe use complex sugars.

It's new to me

I find it an interesting topic.
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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-10-2012, 03:24 PM
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Experimental Design

Quote:
Originally Posted by DogFish View Post
Very interesting idea. With the added of laboratory support to understand concentration levels, you would have to experiment with dilution ratios.

Maybe you would start with one tablespoon dissolved in 8oz of boiling water. Then maybe dose @ 1 drop per gallon in your test tank. For the test to be fair you need two identical tanks, a test and a control tank.

I'm very interested in the all organic approaches. If you decide to move forward please consider a journal.
If it were up to me, I'd cut dividers out of plexiglass to split the tank up into 64 sections, and lay out the controls in a Latin Square to minimize parametric noise. With around 20 runs or so, it'd be pretty close to having publication quality data. (With only two comparisons, your results will be no better than anecdotal) Put in an equal amount of plant mass into each section and then weigh what comes out at the end. Something that's easily friable, like moss would probably work best. You'd have to make sure you standardized your water between runs to control for fluctuations in trace elements and mycorrhizal flora in case you're using vascular plants as your test organism.

As for standardizing the active ingredient concentrations- you could determine maltose concentrations fairly easily in a Gas Chromatograph. Many local testing labs (i.e. drug testing) would probably do this for you at around $30 a sample. I wouldn't bother with less than three samples a shot, with one of the samples having an already known concentration as a check to make sure the lab is actually doing the testing properly.

That said, comparative saccharide utilization has been thoroughly hammered out with the advent of radiolabeling in the 1930's, 1940's, and 1950's. Most any textbook on general or plant biochemistry (e.g. Lubert Stryer), botany (e.g. Peter Raven) or a review article (e.g. Berg et. al.) should have the information the original poster is looking for. Failing that, a google DOI search or book search (Try: light independent Calvin Cycle reactions) would probably turn up similar results.

When it comes to chelation of oxidized transition metals at physiological pH, polysaccharides (which are weak poly-alcohols) are orders of magnitude less efficient than weak ionized organic acids like citrate or butyrate. Any appreciable chelation effects from blackstrap molasses probably has more to with stabilizing agents (commonly Ascorbate or EDTA in food) and breakdown products of molasses than the actual molasses itself.

Last edited by flc; 12-10-2012 at 05:58 PM. Reason: chelation comment added
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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-10-2012, 04:11 PM
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Just off the top of my head...

Plants do not use complex molecules.
Anything locked up in complex molecules needs to be broken down (usually by microorganisms) into molecules the right size to enter the plant. Plants take in molecules with just a few atoms: Ammonia, nitrate, nitrate, phosphate and so on.
During this breakdown carbon may be produced, so here is the source of CO2.
As the molasses breaks down the minerals that were bound to the sugars may be utilized by the microorganisms, but that is OK. Keep on following the route and eventually they will end up in the plants.

I think I would inject the molasses into the substrate where there is the greatest concentration of decomposer organisms.

Control tank: No molasses.
Test tanks: several different amounts of molasses injected once: x, 2x, 3x. Spread out the injection into many parts of the tank. (This may mean diluting the molasses to get enough to inject in many scattered locations)

Second run:
Control tank: The best of the above (one time injection)
Test tanks: Inject that much several times at spaced intervals:
Once daily, once weekly, once monthly. (I can see this test running on a while)

Third run:
The best of the above, (frequency of injection) but inject some or all of the molasses into the water column.
Control: Inject it all into the substrate.
Test tanks:
Inject 25%, 50% or 75% into the water column, the rest into the substrate.

To figure out what works best weighing the new growth of the plants ought to be enough, though analyzing the plant material might be helpful. In fact we are looking for good growth in the tanks, we do not really care what the leaves are made of. Weighing can be done at home, do not need expensive lab results.
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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-10-2012, 06:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
Just off the top of my head...

Plants do not use complex molecules.
Anything locked up in complex molecules needs to be broken down (usually by microorganisms) into molecules the right size to enter the plant. Plants take in molecules with just a few atoms: Ammonia, nitrate, nitrate, phosphate and so on.
I'm no expert but about EDTA? This is how plants absorb insoluble iron and magnesium.

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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-10-2012, 06:47 PM
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alot of people use blackstrap molasses as a sweetner when growing organic fruits and vegetables. usually a tablespoon to a gallon of water. the sugars feed the bacteria in the dirt and is uptaken by the roots of the plants.
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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-10-2012, 10:56 PM Thread Starter
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+1 Diana
"I think I would inject the molasses into the substrate where there is the greatest concentration of decomposer organisms."

I too beleive this would be the most rational starting point, or as an additive to the filter media to boost bac populations.

i noticed the effectiveness of seachem iron, which is Fe Gluccanate! Many dose gluconate for faster uptake of Fe. Black strap molasses is a carb/sugar also that should be immediately absorpable by most life forms, plants incuded..

Last edited by Acen; 12-10-2012 at 11:23 PM. Reason: Added
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post #11 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-11-2012, 05:55 AM
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It is my understanding that chelated minerals act like this:

Chelated means linked to a chemical in a way that the minerals can change from one location to another. They are loosely bound to that chemical. If they are near other minerals and other chelating materials then the minerals can swap places.

When you add chelated fertilizer to the substrate it can do one of three things:
1) The mineral that is attached can get swapped for some other mineral in the substrate. The original mineral may then get locked up in the soil, not available to the plant.
2) The mineral may be located close to a plant root, with its attendant microorganisms. Whether it is the microorganisms or the plant is not important, but the plant or the microorganisms add something to their surroundings that knocks the mineral off the chelator, then the plant gets the mineral. The plant is not actually taking in the chelator.
3) A microorganism not related to the plant might get the mineral, but then this microorganism may die, and leave the mineral in an available form for any of these options to happen over and over again.

Adding things to the soil that are too large for the plant but might be a good source of nutrients or energy for microorganisms is a good idea. I think this is what is happening when molasses is added to water or soil. Even in a hydroponic set up there are bio films with many microorganisms living on all the damp surfaces, and they can make use of sugars that may be too large for plants. Some of the byproducts of the bio film make their way out into the water, and these may be molecules the right size for plants. The plants can have microorganisms growing on their roots, stems and leaves, too.
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post #12 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-11-2012, 07:49 AM
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Works just as good as ferts taste on flapjacks.
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post #13 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-11-2012, 08:13 PM
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A big issue with any carbohydrates used for CO2= the aerobic metabolism requires what specifically?

Hint, when you eat Molasses, what do you need to burn it?

There's not a lot in the aquarium and fish also need it as well.




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post #14 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-11-2012, 08:18 PM
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Quote:
...any carbohydrates used for CO2...
This is true even when leaves or whatever are getting used as source material for the carbon part of CO2.
I am not sure anyone is suggesting using so much molasses that it would reduce the oxygen level that much. Of course that means not much CO2 produced, too.
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post #15 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-12-2012, 01:31 AM
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I see what you are saying Diana, and I totally agree with you. A process I am more familiar with (which I know is a bit off topic) shows how methanogenic and sulfate reducing microorganisms precipitate dolomite cements in conditions that otherwise inhibit dolomitization. The microorganisms I am referring to work in a similar fashion to the ones you described.

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