Fertilizer Mess - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-22-2014, 08:48 AM Thread Starter
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Fertilizer Mess

Hi, I am looking for some help with fertilizers. I am not really sure how to properly use them and messed up my tank.

I thought if you had fertilizers it would help plants grow really fast and lush but I think I used way too much. I have a standard 10 gallon and a mini 2.5 gallon.

I started with my 10 gallon with 6 tetras and anubias and people told me they need root tabs so I bought these root tabs from ebay made from osmocote plus. I buried 3 underneath my anubias and everything was okay. Than I acquired the 2.5 gallon with a betta and people told me they like plants so I bought more plants. I bought some ludwigia repen, ludwigia grandulosa, water sprite and dwarf sagittaria.

The ludwigias didn't do very well and started to wither, I thought they needed more fertilizer bc roottabs release really slowly so I bought seachem flourish and added that. But the ludwigia was still withering so the people at the fish store told me to buy flourish iron to see if it helps and it didn't. It turns out they were the kind growing out of water and I had to convert it to the kind that grew underwater, I don't know how to do that so they died.

After that my water sprite started turning yellow and I bought powdered fertilizer with added chelating agents because I was told the plants needed more potassium. But it didn't help and I ended up with a huge algae bloom. I was then told to add flourish excel to help the plants use up the nutrients and kill the algae but it just made everything worse.

So I cleaned out everything and gave up the dying plants and threw them out. It turns out the powdered fertilizier had urea which turned into ammonia. Most of my tetras died one after other while I tried to save the plants and my betta ended up with finrot. =(

I am so frustrated, most of my fish and plants are dead or dying. I just have my anubias which remained unaffected and I have a handful of dwarf sagittaria still okay. I gave my 2 sad tetras away to better homes and is nursing my betta back to health.

With the current plants I have (anubias and dwarf saggittria), what do I really need? I really would like to sell the things I don't need to get some of my money back. Thanks!
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-22-2014, 12:50 PM
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Plants need more than just fertilizer. Primarily they need light, nutrients and carbon dioxide. Many refer to these as a three legged stool. You want that stool level so balancing those three things is the key.

Plants need light. I'm guessing you have low light based on the plants that survived. By the way, anubias should not be planted in the substrate. They should be attached to hardscape. What type of lighting do you have?

Since you are not injecting CO2 this one is pretty easy. Just continue using the Excel following the directions on the label.

The amount of fertilizer you add is based on several things primarily light, CO2 and plant mass. There are 12 basic nutrients plants need to survive. Those nutrients should ideally be supplied at the correct ratios to one another.

Imagine a bucket of 12 apples representing those 12 nutrients. Healthy apples indicate an adequate nutrient level for each element. Rotten apples indicate nutrients that are too low or too high. One bad apple will ruin the bucket. Several bad ones will ruin it even faster.

It sounds like you have a bucket (aquarium) with several bad apples (nutrients). Rather than root around the bucket searching for bad apples, simply empty the bucket (do several large water changes) and add fresh ones.

How we add apples to the bucket are referred to as dosing methods. There are three popular methods PPS (perpetual preservation system), EI (Estimative index) and non CO2 methods.

Since you have Excel I would eliminate the non CO2 methods leaving PPS or EI. Excel does promote growth considerably when used properly. Of those two methods I personally prefer the EI method.

The EI method was originally devised to eliminate frequent water testing to balance all those nutrients. It's the easiest to use and the most effective in my opinion. Here is a link that describes the basics of this method. The EI method relies on emptying the bucket on a regular basis. This not only allows us to keep nutrients at a level that never limits plant growth but also removes harmful things and adds beneficial things on a regular basis.

Since you have such small tanks I would use solutions for dosing. You can try to assemble commercial solutions or make your own. The DIY route is FAR cheaper and quite easy. About $25 will get you all the fertilizers you will need for the next few years! Here is another link that explains how to make basic nutrient solutions.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-22-2014, 02:36 PM
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That was helpful, thank you! I am new and reading up on how to do this as well. Still in the planning phase. Is this a potential method as well for a 75 gallon low tech? I know it promotes seachem products, but still curious.

http://www.seachem.com/support/PlantDoseChart.pdf
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-22-2014, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by All4Fish View Post
That was helpful, thank you! I am new and reading up on how to do this as well. Still in the planning phase. Is this a potential method as well for a 75 gallon low tech? I know it promotes seachem products, but still curious.

http://www.seachem.com/support/PlantDoseChart.pdf
Seachem has good products and support. It would be a viable option. I don't mean to imply that commercial products are bad. I just don't want to pay the price they charge and not have the flexibility that dry fertilizers offer.

If you want to discuss it further start a new thread about it
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-22-2014, 07:51 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the reply Zorfox! I have 2 10 watt long incandescent light bulbs in my 10 gallon's hood but I am going try to see if I can fit 2 CFL in there so the tank will have better light. My 2.5 gallon came with a 2w clip on led light but even I could tell it was too dim so I bought a other clip on light and screwed in a 13watt cfl.

What is a hardscape? I will dig my anubias out.

I have already did a 90% water change. I read your article used the nutrient calculator and it says if I use seachem flourish I need 1 ml for 2.5 gallon 2-4 times a week and 5ml for the 10 gallon 2-4 times a week. Does that mean I don't really need the iron, the root tabs or the powdered fertilizer? I think seachem flourish has all the 6 things you listed.

Thanks so much for your help!!
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-22-2014, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by wintersprout View Post
Thank you for the reply Zorfox! I have 2 10 watt long incandescent light bulbs in my 10 gallon's hood but I am going try to see if I can fit 2 CFL in there so the tank will have better light. My 2.5 gallon came with a 2w clip on led light but even I could tell it was too dim so I bought a other clip on light and screwed in a 13watt cfl.
Those incandescent bulbs won't be enough. If it's a standard 10g hood I doubt a CFL will fit. I have a 10 gallon with two clamp on lights with 13 watt 6500K CFL bulbs. I picked them up at Wal-Mart for $9. They look good as well. Works great.

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Originally Posted by wintersprout View Post
What is a hardscape? I will dig my anubias out.
Rocks, driftwood, castles or that annoying chest that opens and closes lol. Anything that is "hard". You can tie them on with string or even easier use superglue gel. It works fantastic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wintersprout View Post
I have already did a 90% water change. I read your article used the nutrient calculator and it says if I use seachem flourish I need 1 ml for 2.5 gallon 2-4 times a week and 5ml for the 10 gallon 2-4 times a week. Does that mean I don't really need the iron, the root tabs or the powdered fertilizer? I think seachem flourish has all the 6 things you listed.

Thanks so much for your help!!
Seachem flourish does not have enough of the macro nutrients (Nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus). It can be used as a trace fertilizer. The amount of iron in the flourish should be enough. However, you will need to add the macros. If you feed a lot and your tank produces enough nitrate and phosphate you would only need potassium. You could use something like Flora pride or API leaf zone for that. It all depends on how much your tank produces and if your tap water is free of them. A simple nitrate and phosphate kit will tell you this.

If you do need nitrogen and phosphurus I would just order an EI pack. You can get them from a member here (NilOCG), Greenleaf aquariums, aquriumfetilizers.com or anywhere else you can find them. I personally like supporting the members here.

Edit: Forgot to mention. The EI doses on that calculator are for high light and CO2 injected tanks. You only need 10-20% of those doses. Just don't forget to do the 50% weekly water changes! That is a vital step in this method.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-22-2014, 09:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wintersprout View Post
Thank you for the reply Zorfox! I have 2 10 watt long incandescent light bulbs in my 10 gallon's hood but I am going try to see if I can fit 2 CFL in there so the tank will have better light. My 2.5 gallon came with a 2w clip on led light but even I could tell it was too dim so I bought a other clip on light and screwed in a 13watt cfl.

What is a hardscape? I will dig my anubias out.

I have already did a 90% water change. I read your article used the nutrient calculator and it says if I use seachem flourish I need 1 ml for 2.5 gallon 2-4 times a week and 5ml for the 10 gallon 2-4 times a week. Does that mean I don't really need the iron, the root tabs or the powdered fertilizer? I think seachem flourish has all the 6 things you listed.

Thanks so much for your help!!
If you can find them, Sylvania's Micro Mini CFLs fit in those incandescent hoods. I have two 13 watt 6500K ones in my hood, and they fit perfectly.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-23-2014, 01:32 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Zorfox and Little Soprano, I will look for mini cfl, I think home hardware stores might carry them.
I am also going to find something to tie my anubias to, its really long so I may have to severe it in half for it fit onto anything.

I try to keep my nitrates between 5-10, not sure what my phosphates are so I will have to buy a kit for that. I guess I ought to buy the api leaf zone thing because I read through all my fertilizers and none of the contain potassium. The powdered fert contain nitrate, ammonia, phosphoric acid and potash so I think I can use that to supplement? how much nitrate and phosphates should I aim for?

I guess for my 10 gallon, excel and 1ml of flourish per week is good with a 50% water change. For my 2.5 gallon, excel and 0.25ml of flourish is good?

Thanks so much for all the advice!
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