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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Quick question for anyone who can chime in.

Can one successfully keep a planted tank with root tabs alone?

I'm starting a lo tech 10g guppy tank (clay based safe-t-sorb substrate) and will be using Jungle Vals, Crypt, dwarf sag or blyxa and maybe some water wisteria along with water lettuce, elodea and guppy grass as floaters.

I started with dirt and plan on using dirt on all my tanks but the thought of being able to rescape without causing a big mess(dirt) is making me reconsider. Will using root tabs and only root tabs give me similar results?
 

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Yes, you can keep a successful low tech tank with just root tabs, or even with nothing but what is in the soil, if you use that. Low tech means slow plant growth, so the demand for nutrients is pretty low.
 

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I've finally reached a balance that involves only using root tabs and adding no ferts. I have them, I just got lazy and wasn't adding them like I should have been and realized that things were growing just fine without them, only a bit slower.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
My non filtered Nano has been set up for over 9 months and its going strong with MGOPS as the only source of nutrients. I've been dying to rescape but the crypt/val roots are so spread out that uprooting will more than likely cause a big mess.

Thanks for the feedback.
 

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This is an excellent question and one I have been wondering myself. I recently picked up some Osmocote fert (non-plus) as well as 00 gelcaps. I had the same thought...if the right nutrients are placed in the substrate how much demand/need would their be for column ferts?

I use PFS which is inert, plants have done fairly well without root tabs but I tend to get a lot of roots growing out of the plants into the water column.
 

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Part of the concept of low tech is that the soil provides the fertilizer so you do not constantly have to dose the tank.
Fertilizer tablets in a soil that has a high CEC is a superb way to do this.

I found that a high CEC soil (Soil Master Select, actually, but the other montmorillonite clays will do it to) will take the water column dosed ferts and hold on to them, ready for the plants to use.
I was dosing pretty steadily for a while, then stopped and the plants kept right on growing.
 

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I made some root tabs a couple weeks ago but just added them to a tank this last weekend. Mostly, I targeted stem plants that I thought could benefit the most since this is a pool filter sand tank. I have continued to dose EI and this week my water has clouded up some. I am going to scale back the EI quite a bit for this next week and see how the plants react if at all.

I'm not sure where my tank falls in the "tech" category. I am running DIY CO2 (yeast) but I have been tweaking it for months and my tank is the high range (yellow on drop checker) but I'm going to drop down one 2 liter bottle this next week. and see where it sits.

Thanks for your reply.
 

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Again, it's all about balance.

Dial in your light levels, plant species and total plant mass versus exactly the right bioload of livestock, and you can set up a successful planted tank without ANY substrate or ANY additional fertilizers... the plants could obtain everything they need from fish respiration and waste.

There's really no substitute for trial and error with planted tanks (and that's all part of the fun, anyways! ;) ) Give it some time and you'll learn what plants will thrive versus fail given all the parameters of your particular tank (bioload, substrate, available nutrients, lighting, etc)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Again, it's all about balance.There's really no substitute for trial and error with planted tanks
I have a bunch of crypts and some osmocote gel caps coming in next week so I think I'm going to set aside the MGOPS and give osmocote a try. I guess I wont know until I try it.


Dial in your light levels
I eliminated my algae problem a few months back by raising the light up from 6" to 8" above water line and eliminated my small algae problem . I lowered the light down a few inches last night to snap a few pics and forgot to raise it back up. Just now I noticed algae forming around the gravel line.

"Dial in your light levels" ...This comments has never been so true. I now know for a fact that my sweet spot is 8" above the water line for this particular tank.
 
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