Fertilizing a Low-Tech Tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 04:58 AM Thread Starter
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Fertilizing a Low-Tech Tank

What is the best way to fertilize a low tech tank? I realize this is a vague question as there are many things plants require, however, I would appreciate some information on this topic. Thanks.

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Standard 55 gallon tank
1 Coralife T5 HO Bulb ~ 54 watts
Miracle Grow Organic, Topped w/ Play Sand
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 12:47 PM
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I left my fish do the fertilizing - I never add anything.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 01:02 PM
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for a low tech iu wouldnt really bother adding ferts exept maybe root tabs in the substrate

40 gallon dirt tank
5 Gallon planted bonsai dirt tank
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Super hypo tangerine baldy carrot tail leopard gecko ''Moon''
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 02:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by falcooo View Post
What is the best way to fertilize a low tech tank? I realize this is a vague question as there are many things plants require, however, I would appreciate some information on this topic. Thanks.

I Have...
Standard 55 gallon tank
1 Coralife T5 HO Bulb ~ 54 watts
Miracle Grow Organic, Topped w/ Play Sand
Curious what people say.I have the EXACT same setup,only with Fluorite substrate
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 02:19 PM
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I have a 20gal L (only 1 T8 light over it) & I use fert tabs & once a week dose the seachem line.

Liquid ferts are more expensive but my tank is small & liquids are easier for me.

How are your plants doing??

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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 04:59 PM Thread Starter
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I really like the idea of letting the fish do all the fertilizing, but I'm impatient and want to see new growth. All my plants seem healthy just not growing very much, granted its only been two months.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 05:15 PM
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It's hard to be patient I know!

Check out the Fert sub-forum and see what other info you can find.

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-11-2012, 11:22 AM
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Here's one thought:

http://www.barrreport.com/showthread...on-CO2-methods


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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-11-2012, 12:09 PM
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-11-2012, 12:15 PM
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I think without co2 dirt or not, your plants will grow slower. With dirt substrates in the beginning you will have some free co2 from decomposition in the soil but will slow after that is exhausted , ImE. I am trying tom's lo-tech method and it helps to keep the plants healthy but they don't grow any faster really.


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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-11-2012, 12:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by falcooo View Post
I really like the idea of letting the fish do all the fertilizing, but I'm impatient and want to see new growth. All my plants seem healthy just not growing very much, granted its only been two months.
It all depends on what is the most important thing to you. If you want faster growth then you have to do things to encourage that. If you just want healthy plants and don't care as much about growth then that's a whole different ballgame. Higher light, ferts and Co2 all will do that for you.

Here is a pretty inexpensive fert package. In a low tech tank Tom suggests ferts once every week or two although I've seen some fantastic tanks using nothing at all.

http://greenleafaquariums.com/aquari...rtilizers.html


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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-11-2012, 04:19 PM
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Since "low tech" has no accepted meaning, you can't generalize about what fertilizing is needed or not needed. If you mean low light, and not low tech, then the fertilizing needed depends on how low the light is, how many of what fish you have, what substrate you have, whether you use Excel or CO2 or neither, etc. You need enough nutrients to meet the plants needs for the growth rate they can achieve with the amount of light they have. And, a shortage of carbon, from CO2 or Excel or the substrate, further limits the growth rate of the plants, and their need for other nutrients.

Fortunately having more nutrients than the plants need does no harm, so it isn't necessary to hit exactly the amount they need. Just dose enough so you can be sure they have enough, and if you overdo it, no problem as long as you do big water changes periodically to get rid of extreme excesses.

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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-11-2012, 06:29 PM
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Here is how I handled the situation, and how it evolved. Not saying it is The Recipe, just what worked for me. I hope you can find some sort of hint here that might be a starting point for your system. Every set up is different. Your tap water might have more minerals so you do not have to add trace nutrients. You might have so few fish that fish food just about does not count as fertilizer...

Phase 1:
Few plants, low light, gravel substrate, big fish load. Fish food was the only fertilizer for a short time.
Plants showed potassium deficiency.

Phase 2:
Same set up. Added Leaf Zone (Potassium and iron). Plants looked better, and in ways that made me sure they also had some iron deficiency before.

Phase 3:
Same set up, but more plants. Added Excel. This was even better, but the plants started growing faster to the point that they were removing more and more of the nitrogen, suggesting that they might be also using up the other nutrients common in fish food.

Hint: if you still have to do water changes to keep the NO3 low, there is probably enough other nutrients (P, traces) for the plants, but you may have to dose K, C and Fe.

Phase 4: I noticed the plants nearest the windows were growing faster than the others, so I doubled the lighting. I also started using better plant substrates, less gravel.
At this point the plants needed a lot more fertilizer, so I got into the EI method. I was still used to doing pretty large water changes on most of the tanks anyway, to keep the NO3 low so that part of the EI was fine. I still had a large fish load in most tanks, so I was already fertilizing the tanks that way. Now I was adding straight ferts as well. I found I did not have to add very much NO3 to all the tanks, but some were using more, so I had to test to see I was not adding too much. Similarly, I did not have to add Epsom salt or GH booster to any tank. Some fertilizer recipes include Epsom salt as a magnesium source- well, the GH was stable in my tanks, suggesting the water changes were bringing in enough CA and Mg.

Phase 5:
I backed off the full EI method to what worked for me. While I was still heavily fertilizing the high CEC substrates had picked up a lot of fertilizer so now I am much more casual about how much fertilizer and how often. The substrate is a cushion that keeps the plants going when I do not fertilize. I do a lot fewer water changes, and most are around 25%. I have smaller fish loads in each tank.

Hint: I still use the NO3 test to determine fertilizer needs. I have practiced enough that I know how my tanks respond. On those tanks where the fish food is not enough I add enough of all the fertilizers in the ratios that work for me. On tanks where the NO3 holds pretty stable (plants are using it about as fast as the fish convert fish food to fertilizer) I dose less of most ferts, and little to no NO3. More K and traces.
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 12:37 AM
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@diana could you post a pic of your tank? i would really like to see it : ) i have a dirt setup myself and next month im gonna start adding seachem root tabs to my substrate to see what happens i think that is time to start whit some fertilizing
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-26-2012, 10:43 AM
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At what level do you attempt to keep NO3?




Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
Here is how I handled the situation, and how it evolved. Not saying it is The Recipe, just what worked for me. I hope you can find some sort of hint here that might be a starting point for your system. Every set up is different. Your tap water might have more minerals so you do not have to add trace nutrients. You might have so few fish that fish food just about does not count as fertilizer...

Phase 1:
Few plants, low light, gravel substrate, big fish load. Fish food was the only fertilizer for a short time.
Plants showed potassium deficiency.

Phase 2:
Same set up. Added Leaf Zone (Potassium and iron). Plants looked better, and in ways that made me sure they also had some iron deficiency before.

Phase 3:
Same set up, but more plants. Added Excel. This was even better, but the plants started growing faster to the point that they were removing more and more of the nitrogen, suggesting that they might be also using up the other nutrients common in fish food.

Hint: if you still have to do water changes to keep the NO3 low, there is probably enough other nutrients (P, traces) for the plants, but you may have to dose K, C and Fe.

Phase 4: I noticed the plants nearest the windows were growing faster than the others, so I doubled the lighting. I also started using better plant substrates, less gravel.
At this point the plants needed a lot more fertilizer, so I got into the EI method. I was still used to doing pretty large water changes on most of the tanks anyway, to keep the NO3 low so that part of the EI was fine. I still had a large fish load in most tanks, so I was already fertilizing the tanks that way. Now I was adding straight ferts as well. I found I did not have to add very much NO3 to all the tanks, but some were using more, so I had to test to see I was not adding too much. Similarly, I did not have to add Epsom salt or GH booster to any tank. Some fertilizer recipes include Epsom salt as a magnesium source- well, the GH was stable in my tanks, suggesting the water changes were bringing in enough CA and Mg.

Phase 5:
I backed off the full EI method to what worked for me. While I was still heavily fertilizing the high CEC substrates had picked up a lot of fertilizer so now I am much more casual about how much fertilizer and how often. The substrate is a cushion that keeps the plants going when I do not fertilize. I do a lot fewer water changes, and most are around 25%. I have smaller fish loads in each tank.

Hint: I still use the NO3 test to determine fertilizer needs. I have practiced enough that I know how my tanks respond. On those tanks where the fish food is not enough I add enough of all the fertilizers in the ratios that work for me. On tanks where the NO3 holds pretty stable (plants are using it about as fast as the fish convert fish food to fertilizer) I dose less of most ferts, and little to no NO3. More K and traces.


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