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Discussion Starter #1
I am going to be setting up a planted SEA Biotope, but I'd like it to last a long time, and to keep expenses low-ish I want to avoid aquasoil and its ilk.

I am considering staying with just stem plants, ferns, and mosses, but that's mostly because root tabs seem like a hassle.

What are your experiences with root tabs? How long do they last? How effective are they? Is the process for replacing them/putting new ones in once the old are depleted a hassle?

Thanks in advance.
 

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Make your own. Osmocote + from Walmart or Home Depot etc and some pill capsules from any health and fitness store. They should last around 6 months give or take. The whole set up costs maybe $20 and will last forever. Or just buy the pre-made ones but spend a lot more. They definitely help the plants giving them another outlet for nutrient absorption.
 

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I am going to be setting up a planted SEA Biotope, but I'd like it to last a long time, and to keep expenses low-ish I want to avoid aquasoil and its ilk.



I am considering staying with just stem plants, ferns, and mosses, but that's mostly because root tabs seem like a hassle.



What are your experiences with root tabs? How long do they last? How effective are they? Is the process for replacing them/putting new ones in once the old are depleted a hassle?



Thanks in advance.

The seachem root tabs are from what I can tell still going strong since putting them in 3 months ago. Not a hassle since only need to worry about putting them close to the root feeders. Not for me anyway. Just use my long tweezers and push down. And I have a high 24" tank. If you do them at one of your 50% wc days then even easier. Worth it for me to have my root feeders.


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Make your own. Osmocote + from Walmart or Home Depot etc and some pill capsules from any health and fitness store. They should last around 6 months give or take. The whole set up costs maybe $20 and will last forever. Or just buy the pre-made ones but spend a lot more. They definitely help the plants giving them another outlet for nutrient absorption.


Great idea with the make your own. Going to do that next instead of buying more seachem tabs. Thanks for the awesome idea.


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I use "00" gelatin capsules. Just search the forum here if you run into trouble, I learned how to make them here.
 

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I use "00" gelatin capsules. Just search the forum here if you run into trouble, I learned how to make them here.


Great advice. Will do. Another way to save. Love it.


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set the tank up with dirt.Use MGOCPM and a blasting sand cap,no root tabs needed.Very reasonable cost,great plant growth.

Can you tell I'm a recent dirt convert?

You can get both at Tractor supply.the MGO is 5.49 for 9 liter bag,the sand is 9 bucks for 50 pounds.I think it's actually less than you'd spend for plain "aquarium gravel".
 

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set the tank up with dirt.Use MGOCPM and a blasting sand cap,no root tabs needed.Very reasonable cost,great plant growth.



Can you tell I'm a recent dirt convert?


How long does the dirt last as far as nutrients go?


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Dirt can last a year or so depending on what you consider 'last' and the plants you plant in it. No real science available on it. Root tabs last a couple months from what I've seen as well. I used dirt with O+ sprinkled on it because I make my own root tabs and have a huge container of it. I also have about 800 "00" capsules left. My total cost was about $15 a couple years back and I've been using them since without issue. I'd do both. Well, I DID do both.
 

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I made my own root tabs as others have mentioned with the osmocote and 00 gelatin caps. I've ran into two issues. 1. I forget where I place them and end up stirring the substrate during watch changes which leads to number 2. The yellow/orange balls do not dissolve. I have to manually pick them out which is a huge hassle and unsightly.
As big of a pain as it is, made your own and save a bunch of money. They DO help a lot!

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How long does the dirt last as far as nutrients go?


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From what I've seen,it lasts longer if you can go 1 1/2 inches deep with the dirt.I am still waiting to see how long it's good for.When I see a decrease in growth,I'll begin supplementing with root caps.I too have a bottle of osmocote + and size 00 gel caps.
 

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I do 1/3 EI but also use the API tabs to give extra to my heavy root-feeders and I can definitely tell they benefit- when I hold off too long, the aponos start to look pale, slow down growth and leaves are shorter. I usually dose tabs once every 5 or 6 weeks. It's $10 for a pack but I buy them in bulk online when I can get free shipping- still a lot more expensive than the dyi capsules I know.

Tricky part is they start to dissolve once in the water, and my fishes get irritated. So now what I do is add them halfway thru a water change, while the level is low. I use the long-handled tweezers to push them quickly down into substrate as far as I can, and wipe off the tweezers between tabs, so they stay dry. Then I finish off siphoning out water to finish the wc, which removes some of whatever dissolved into the water column. Sounds like a pain but it's not too much trouble. And I do it less than once a month.
 

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I made my own root tabs as others have mentioned with the osmocote and 00 gelatin caps. I've ran into two issues. 1. I forget where I place them and end up stirring the substrate during watch changes which leads to number 2. The yellow/orange balls do not dissolve. I have to manually pick them out which is a huge hassle and unsightly.
As big of a pain as it is, made your own and save a bunch of money. They DO help a lot!

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Are you not burying them deep enough? Thanks to you guys just bought the gel caps and picking up the osmocote. Awesome. Figured my seachem root tabs are nearing their end three months later so will be prepared.
 

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You don't need the capsules initially.. Put time released oscomote under your soil.. after a few months you can add more in the gel caps..no biggie just sayin...
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Thanks for all the suggestions! I like the idea of the DIY tabs.

Question: Are all the ingredients in Osmocote+ safe for the fish? I plan on having kuhli loaches which I know like to dig. I'll have half the tank sanded for them to dig in, and plan on keeping any root-feeding plants on the other side with a more root-friendly substrate, but I want to be sure it wouldn't be a disaster if one of the tabs got released into the water column.
 

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Are you not burying them deep enough? Thanks to you guys just bought the gel caps and picking up the osmocote. Awesome. Figured my seachem root tabs are nearing their end three months later so will be prepared.
You know, I thought so, pretty dang close to the bottom. Maybe snails were rooting around and eventually they work their way up and when I'm vacuuming, I'll insert it into the gravel about 1/8" and sure enough, they'll surface. Who knows! Anyone else that this problem?

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Everything I ever saw when I was doing my research so to speak on DIY caps,said to push them in as deep as you can,preferably to the very bottom.I don't have loaches but I do have trumpet snails,and I've never seen an empty ball.

I have never ever seen any problem with the fish,or ran across anyone who had.I think everything in them is fish safe.
 

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You don't have to pack the capsules to the brim with the Osmocote pellets, either. A little goes a long way, I've found. I'm out of capsules at the moment, and I just push 2-3 pellets under the plants.
 

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Seems like making your own would be a hassle, unless I'm envisioning things wrong. Trying to shove the little O+ balls into a tiny gelatin capsule... the multiply that by 100 or however many capsules you need. Is it a time consuming process or should I just stop being lazy because it only takes a couple of minutes?
 

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You don't have to pack the capsules to the brim with the Osmocote pellets, either. A little goes a long way, I've found. I'm out of capsules at the moment, and I just push 2-3 pellets under the plants.
This ^^^

Seems like making your own would be a hassle, unless I'm envisioning things wrong. Trying to shove the little O+ balls into a tiny gelatin capsule... the multiply that by 100 or however many capsules you need. Is it a time consuming process or should I just stop being lazy because it only takes a couple of minutes?
I'm on a tight budget..I can't justify spending money to have someone else do work that I'm capable of doing myself. At one point, I had disposable income and would buy things pre-made(other hobbies and what not) but I can't do that now. A 2lb bottle of Osmocote is $9.99 and 1000 gel caps is $12.55. For less then $25 I've got a SEVERAL YEARS supply of root caps. To me, it's worth it.
 
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