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I'm sure this gets asked plenty of times, but for a person who is just getting serious with a planted tank could someone point me in the right direction to get started. For reference my tank is 75 gallons, using a fluval 3 for lighting supplemented with an old, undersized, finnex fugeray planted plus. I also have a pressurized co2 system utilizing a co2 reactor powered by a canister filter. Thanks in advance.
 

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For a tank that size I would use Potassium Nitrate, Monopotassium Phosphate and Potassium Sulfate powders from Green Leaf Aquariums. They'll send you tubs of the stuff. You will also have to decide how you want to dose micronutrients. You can choose between liquid or powder. Be careful which Iron you get to fertilize with. I think EDTA Iron is the one you get if your pH is under 7.0. Some people fertilize with their substrate. You don't have to fertilize the water column as much when you use an active substrate.
 

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How high is your pH/KH?
Do you use high CEC substrate like aquasoil?
What plants do you plan to keep?

Before dosing stuffs, getting CO2 right is of MOST importance.
Even if you inject CO2, depending on various things CO2 might not reach certain parts of your tanks.
Good circulation, No over crowding, High injection rates, Lower temps, Good surface agitation and no surface scum.



Look into Liebig's law of minimum, estimative index and ADA method.
EI provides non-limiting nutrients all the time. ADA method is all about providing nutrients exclusively through roots. Minimum nutrients in water column.
Usually you settle somewhere between those two.

If you wish to make your own fertilizer, then like @Savetheplants said get KNO3, KH2PO4, K2SO4, and pre-mixed trace elements like CSM+B.
Those are the beginner kit. Use water change to remove those from the tank. Keeping regular fertilizing and water change routine helps.
Use rotalabutterfly.com to calculate things.
It is also helpful to learn molecular weights of each chemicals, how to calculate % composition of each chemicals, how to calculate concentration manually.
Once you get better grip at how things work then you can look into things like different chemicals and ratios (Personally I don't think ratios matter that much), unchelated trace mixes, ammonia dosings, homemade root tabs and power sand or even aquasoil...list never ends.

Or you can just buy good quality commercial stuffs.
Most fertilizers are expensive compared to homemade ones, but it is much easier.
You can even get ADA amazonia and some root tabs then forget about fertilization for months. Most plants will grow very well until the magic wears off.





My advice is to not stick to one regime rigidly.
Be flexible with your fertilization. Watch your plants react. This is why I use homemade ferts. Watching plants change forms and colors is very fun.
Plants react to water column fertilization quickly. Sometimes within hours. I usually dose for a week and then evaluate unless something hideous happens.
Keeping regular fertilizing and water change routine helps.

Usually most plants give stable growths with fresh aquasoil with lean dosings.
Some plants are more likely(not always) to stunt with richer dosings....especially with N and traces. Feeding them through root and reducing water column nutrients give better results.
Some plants likes additional nutrients through water column.
Some plants never get red with higher N dosings. Those plants won't go very well with hungry plants that want more N.

Start high and reduce dosing when you see something bad. Eventually you'll find what works for your tank and what doesn't.
For me, high macros can usually go by without much problems, but I cannot do high...or even low traces for some plants. I have to go super ultra low traces for R. macrandra.

Have fun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
How high is your pH/KH?
Do you use high CEC substrate like aquasoil?
What plants do you plan to keep?

Before dosing stuffs, getting CO2 right is of MOST importance.
Even if you inject CO2, depending on various things CO2 might not reach certain parts of your tanks.
Good circulation, No over crowding, High injection rates, Lower temps, Good surface agitation and no surface scum.



Look into Liebig's law of minimum, estimative index and ADA method.
EI provides non-limiting nutrients all the time. ADA method is all about providing nutrients exclusively through roots. Minimum nutrients in water column.
Usually you settle somewhere between those two.

If you wish to make your own fertilizer, then like @Savetheplants said get KNO3, KH2PO4, K2SO4, and pre-mixed trace elements like CSM+B.
Those are the beginner kit. Use water change to remove those from the tank. Keeping regular fertilizing and water change routine helps.
Use rotalabutterfly.com to calculate things.
It is also helpful to learn molecular weights of each chemicals, how to calculate % composition of each chemicals, how to calculate concentration manually.
Once you get better grip at how things work then you can look into things like different chemicals and ratios (Personally I don't think ratios matter that much), unchelated trace mixes, ammonia dosings, homemade root tabs and power sand or even aquasoil...list never ends.

Or you can just buy good quality commercial stuffs.
Most fertilizers are expensive compared to homemade ones, but it is much easier.
You can even get ADA amazonia and some root tabs then forget about fertilization for months. Most plants will grow very well until the magic wears off.





My advice is to not stick to one regime rigidly.
Be flexible with your fertilization. Watch your plants react. This is why I use homemade ferts. Watching plants change forms and colors is very fun.
Plants react to water column fertilization quickly. Sometimes within hours. I usually dose for a week and then evaluate unless something hideous happens.
Keeping regular fertilizing and water change routine helps.

Usually most plants give stable growths with fresh aquasoil with lean dosings.
Some plants are more likely(not always) to stunt with richer dosings....especially with N and traces. Feeding them through root and reducing water column nutrients give better results.
Some plants likes additional nutrients through water column.
Some plants never get red with higher N dosings. Those plants won't go very well with hungry plants that want more N.

Start high and reduce dosing when you see something bad. Eventually you'll find what works for your tank and what doesn't.
For me, high macros can usually go by without much problems, but I cannot do high...or even low traces for some plants. I have to go super ultra low traces for R. macrandra.

Have fun.
First off, thanks so much for the detailed response. Right now ph is sitting around 6.7, temps are going to be high since i have discus and I know going in this severely limits my plant selection due to the elevated temperatures. You mentioned a handful of chemicals to dose, where would I go to get a hold of them? Thanks again for the amazing response.
 

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temps are going to be high since i have discus and I know going in this severely limits my plant selection due to the elevated temperatures.
Before we start take a look at George Farmer's discus planted tank youtube video.
There is one that he explains how it is set up and stuffs...


Higher temps is not very great idea for any plants really. It can definately work out like George's tank.
However, take a look at this post: Quag's 45 Gallon "No-Theme" Planted Tank
In general higher temp means higher everything. Higher nutrient demand, Higher CO2 demand, Higher growth rate, Faster response to everything.....
This leaves little room for error.
Yea some plants can handle higher temps, but they won't do their best. Heat resistant doesn't mean heat-do-better.
I'd say no higher than 28C or 82F. Ideally somewhere around 25C or 77F. Temp above 30C or 86F will severely hinder plant health.


At least discus tank means you have access to soft water. This makes most things easier.
When talking about soft water, KH is the one to look out for in general. As for GH, most tap has enough Ca and Mg.
Usually plants prefer low KH. The lower the better. Like discus. There are some oddballs like crypts and Pogo helferi which likes high KH tho..
80% plants grow fine in 8+ dKH. 95% plants grow fine in 3~8dKH. 99% plants grow fine in 3- dKH.


Also discus have high bioload which means you'll have to think about that when planning for your dosings.
Fish poop basically provide N in urea or ammonia, which will turn into nitrates. And P.
Exact amout....who knows. More you feed, more they poop.
Different foods can have different N : P ratio in poops....I think. Never tested myself.


If you are really getting into serious side of planted tank hobby, then getting a separate tank or raising discus in lower temp range is what I recommend.
(I think they do OK..just doesn't get that noice fat and round body. I'm no expert tho..)


I believe you can get most stuffs in amazon. Or LFS might carry some.
Dunno I don't live in states.
 

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Speaking from my own personal experience when starting out with fertilizers, I had no idea as to what plants actually needed in terms of both macronutrients and micronutrients. I suggest you start with this document to get a better understanding of what plants need with regards to fertilizers:

CIS 1124.qxp5 (uidaho.edu)

That document is obviously targeted more towards raising crops, however all plants have the same nutrient requirements. I think knowing exactly what the plants need is essential for being successful when fertilizing, as if you don't provide the entire spectrum of nutrients, your plants growth will be restricted, but diagnosing deficiencies is much more complicated than the "deficiency charts" indicate.

When looking at Macros vs Micros, you generally can get by with overdosing macros (although there is a limit when your plants will have issues), however micros can be much more easily overdosed and this can cause problems for the growth of your plants.

What I suggest you start with is becoming familiar with Rotala Butterfly, more specifically, the nutrient calculator found here:

Rotala Butterfly | Planted Aquarium Nutrient Dosing Calculator

That calculator allows you to see just how much a dose of your selected fertilizer provides to your aquarium in terms of ppm (parts per million).

You will need to decide if you want to start off with the route of DIY mixing fertilizers (which I recommend but it also takes a more solid understanding of the fundamentals) or dosing an all-in-one, or combination of all-in-ones. Generally speaking, no all-in-one fertilizer has everything that a plant needs, because often times the nutrients can react with one another in the bottle prior to making it into your tank. So be careful of this when you're deciding on what to fertilize with. (The rotala butterfly calculator is super helpful in that regard as it already has all-in-one fertilizer concentrations built into the calculator, so you can compare different brands and determine how much of the nutrients are added via various sources)

The big question is always, how much of each nutrient does your tank need? Honestly that is the million dollar question for everyone that has gone down the rabbit hole of fertilization. There isn't a set amount because each tank is different. However, as a baseline, I suggest you look at the general trends people are using in this thread:

Share your dosing thread | The Planted Tank Forum

If you start with the average of what folks are dosing with on there, you will likely meet all the nutrient requirements of your plants. The folks on that thread have obviously gone down the rabbit hole and are very much into fine-tuning certain nutrient amounts in order to absolutely maximize the plant health for their given tank, however you don't have to go that far if you don't want.
 
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