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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Im getting some root tabs for my amazons and crypts and was curious as to which was the best. I have seen the jungle lab tabs that have iron in them. Which ones are best? And where exactly should the tabs be placed? My amazons I know have very long roots so im not sure where the best place to put them are. Near the base of the plant or farther out? thanks
 

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I don't understand why you feel the need to get root tabs at all.
you already fert/Co2 the water column; those swords and crypts
are not demanding plants that will manage fine in your inert gravel.
just because they have elaborate root structures does not mean
you need to feed them anymore than you already are.
 

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I don't understand why you feel the need to get root tabs at all.
you already fert/Co2 the water column; those swords and crypts
are not demanding plants that will manage fine in your inert gravel.
just because they have elaborate root structures does not mean
you need to feed them anymore than you already are.
Not entirely true. Some plants draw most of their nutrients from the water. Others draw most from the substrate. Crypts and swords are heavy root feeders. Just dosing the water column isn't going to solve every plants needs. Root feeders will grow much better with root tabs. I recommend the Seachem tabs and advise to stay away from the aquariumplants.com root tabs. I have tried them both.
 

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Root feeders will grow much better with root tabs. I recommend the Seachem tabs and advise to stay away from the aquariumplants.com root tabs.
Interesting. I usually use root tabs if I notice a plant under stress.
could you elaborate as to why you were not please with AP's tabs?
 

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Not entirely true. Some plants draw most of their nutrients from the water. Others draw most from the substrate. Crypts and swords are heavy root feeders. Just dosing the water column isn't going to solve every plants needs. Root feeders will grow much better with root tabs. I recommend the Seachem tabs and advise to stay away from the aquariumplants.com root tabs. I have tried them both.
Why would it not solve every plant issue?
I've grown most species, about 300 at last count, that way.

Why do you assume that Crypts and Swords prefer substrate ferts?
If your comparision is based upon a limited water column, then sure, any one with common sense would be able to predict that:cool:

Could it be that the root systems are more from their riverine habitat?
They need to hang on well, otherwise they can get flushed downstream, and fragmentation is not a well developed mode of reproduction with these two groups, unlike say Myriophyllum species.

Physical attachment is important.

Crypts and Swords also are amphibious plants, they live both submersed and emergent, so they are smart to develop roots underwater, as when the water recedes, they will still have a source of nutrients.

But large root systems do not show cause that they prefer sediment over water column fertilization, if anything, they prefer both.

I seldom keep swords due to their rapid growth and have sold many large tree like sword plants and lots of Crypts using plain sand, no laterite, no substrate ferts of any type, plain old water column fertilization, many in year's past oogled the plants I brought every month to the club meetings.

Adding fert tabs to the substrate is easy, that's the main benefit I'd say.
But most add water column ferts and do the horrid hassle of dosing their fish(adding fish food daily):icon_conf

Still, adding ferts to both location will optimze a method, but just make sure when you make comparisons, that they are fair and that the water column was not limiting prior. Most of the time it is.

Even if it's not and swords/Crypts do better, I think given their growth rate, it's not a practical issue to debate, what really is the debatable issue is more a routine that's easier than add ing the ferts, but even that arguement has it's issues(like many that hassle with feeding/dosing their fish:icon_mrgr ).

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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Still, adding ferts to both location will optimze a method, but just make sure when you make comparisons, that they are fair and that the water column was not limiting prior. Most of the time it is.
That's the point I'm trying to make Tom. Never did I recommend not adding ferts to the water column and using only tabs. There have been times in my tanks when I did not have root tabs and there have been times when I did. My dosing routine, lights, Co2, etc. have been unchanged since just after starting the tanks. When I use the tabs I've noticed a better root structure and faster reproduction of some plants. Not all, but some. In my opinion that is worth the $7-8 I might spend on a pack of tabs that last me over a year. I'm sold on the fact that Amazon Sword, HC and Giant Hairgrass grow nicer and faster for me when I use the tabs. Does that mean I should dose more into my water column and stop the tabs? Maybe. But I'm set in my dosing routine, I have ZERO algae problems and I'm happy with the way things have been going in my tanks. Why screw with it and possibly cause an algae outbreak. I'm just the type that would rather spend more time enjoying my tanks than screwing with them or changing things. I stick with what works for me.

As for the brand of tabs, I prefer the Seachem tabs because they hold together until they are completely used up. You could pull what's left of it out of the substrate after a month or two and it will stay in one solid piece. The aquariumplants.com tabs do not hold together well and will disintegrate all over your tank if you disturb them before they are gone.
 

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Seachem tabs because they hold together until they are completely used up. You could pull what's left of it out of the substrate after a month or two and it will stay in one solid piece.
I can confirm this observation.
I was very impressed with that,
especially since I may rearrange
some plants every Month or two.
 

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That's the point I'm trying to make Tom. Never did I recommend not adding ferts to the water column and using only tabs.
I'm not saying adding any ferts to the water column.

I'm talking about non limiting conditions in the water column for all nutrients all the time, that's quite different than just adding say some Traces and K+... vs adding....... KNO3, KH2PO4, Traces, GH etc.

Many that add root tabs etc, already add other things to their water column such as traces(some once a week, some daily, some 2-3x a week), and without adding KNO3, obviously adding a root tab with KNO3 will help in such cases.

There have been times in my tanks when I did not have root tabs and there have been times when I did. My dosing routine, lights, Co2, etc. have been unchanged since just after starting the tanks.
And what happens, since as you say, things are unchanged, to the plant biomass? Is it growing and increasing, or does it always stay stable?

Most tank's increase in their plant biomass after you start them. As they grow, the dosing needs to be increased to maintain the same unchanged levels.

When I use the tabs I've noticed a better root structure and faster reproduction of some plants. Not all, but some. In my opinion that is worth the $7-8 I might spend on a pack of tabs that last me over a year. I'm sold on the fact that Amazon Sword, HC and Giant Hairgrass grow nicer and faster for me when I use the tabs. Does that mean I should dose more into my water column and stop the tabs? Maybe.
This is your best arguement for a richer substrate.
Stick with this.
You can argue having a nice back up for nutrients if you are no good with water column ferts and are not as consistent etc with it.
You can also effective argue less transport issues when you have nutrients in both locations.

But I'm set in my dosing routine, I have ZERO algae problems and I'm happy with the way things have been going in my tanks. Why screw with it and possibly cause an algae outbreak.
To test to see if your notions are correct or not.
To learn another method.
To have more methods available to you so you can better understand and manage things.

I have zero algae issues with pure water column dosing also, did this for about 10 years on many tanks.

The hairgrass I grew was nicer than anyone's.
Swords more massive and downright weedy.
We did not have HC back then.

I'm just the type that would rather spend more time enjoying my tanks than screwing with them or changing things. I stick with what works for me.
Nothing wrong with that, since this is your goal, I should suggest you try a non CO2 approach and reduced lighting.

These are better ways to reduce issues and provides more wiggle room for a method.

Knowing what trade offs each method affords is useful.


As for the brand of tabs, I prefer the Seachem tabs because they hold together until they are completely used up. You could pull what's left of it out of the substrate after a month or two and it will stay in one solid piece. The aquariumplants.com tabs do not hold together well and will disintegrate all over your tank if you disturb them before they are gone.
I like the SeaChem version also, but adding a macro nutrient will help as well to the substrate.

The cost of a bag of soil? 2.99$.
So you are actually somewhere in the middle, wanting to deal with some trade offs, as will someone wanting faster growth using CO2/more light, water column ferts as well.

As far as Seachem tabs causing algae, that's hogwash, as far as adding traces to the water column causing algae, again, hogwash.
I should have had bad cases of algae on many tanks over many years if any of that were true.
Same with NO3 and PO4 for that matter.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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what if you add hogwash to the water column?


ok sorry I couldn't resist.
I don't use root tabs anymore...when I vacuum my substrate and some of it comes up I notice my corys are not happy.... There really is no need....
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
ok so if i do decide to add tabs, as i have already asked...where should i place them?
 

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Hogwash will induce algae under strong lighting, it's loaded with bile, pig vomit and feces: urea and NH4.

The main point I'm making is that adding ferts to both locations helps any method, you can try and be a purist and isolate them to see the effects, but you need to do this on purpose.

If I can produce awesome fast growth without substrate ferts, is there really any preference? The hypothesis is this: Swords and Crypts "prefer" substrate ferts.

It does not ask if the method is "easier" than water column ferts or not now does it?:thumbsdow

No, clearly not.

By "preference", we define that as a faster growth rate.
You need a good baseline to compare the growth as well, so if you set up a preference test, you need to show clear more rapid growth with solely substrate sources vs water column sources.

I know no one has done this test.
Why? Because it's very difficult to remove everything from the water column other than say CO2/O2.

We have chambers at my lab that can do this. Few research facilities have these. The water column on the other is easy for aquarist to do.

So try these and see which method does better.
Then do a number of runs to make sure in was not just one data point that may skew things.

Now if you are talking about a combination effect, adding both of these to a planted tank and testing the swords or Crypts, most hypothesis would predict a synergistic effect or at least the same growth rates.

Several papers suggest that in nutrient rich strreams, even with the roots cut off, the plants still have the same growth rates, these are not Crypts or swords though.........

Also, when a plant is well established due to "time", then you add more ferts, that is not preference, as the comaprision has little to do with what was done prior in the water column and with respect to development. A period of adjustment and acclimatization is required.

Flourite appears to do better than plain sand, and ADA AS does better than Flourite when you provide non limiting water column nutrients.

But.........this is a general observation, not specific to swords or Crypts.
I will not suggest a substrate until I can show that it otherwise produces better growth than with water column dosing alone.
That's the only fair way to judge the substrate.

Now if you want to limit the water column for some reason, some people claim it's for algae limitation(that's well documented not to be the case both in planted tanks and in similar natural systems), and others claim it's easier(which it is certainly, but will not last forever) and cheaper(perhaps, maybe not though), or that they want a lower maintenance tank(use less light, go non CO2 if that is really your goal, at least be honest with yourself and others about that), then you might think otherwise about water column ferts.

But I'll be happy to entertain anyone that thinks they can show that solely adding substrate ferts in absense of water column ferts other than CO2 will produce better growth than water column ferts.

That's the claim made about Crypts and swords and I just do not see this pattern unless the water column is limited and then it's not a fair comparision.

Why folks do not want to acknowledge that and be honest about it is a bone of contention for me.

It's either both or water column alone.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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ok so if i do decide to add tabs, as i have already asked...where should i place them?
Some people place the next to the swords or close by. With the Seachem Flourish Tabs they say go every 4-6" of your tank(So in a 10g you would put 3) They last about 3 months IME. But it depends on a variety of things. How big is your tank? Is it the 100g? I would say place near the Swords and Crypts if you want to. Most stem plants dont need it as they are usually fast growing as it is and are undemanding of them. You would need a couple of boxes, they get like 10 in each box. Tell us what you decide.
 

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It's either both or water column alone.

Well there is nothing wrong with a little extra if he feels he needs it. Both would be preffered as it can get its nutrients from 2 places. Im not an expert though so I cant really say too much on the matter. And I think all plants benefit from both except with a few exceptions(Mosses, Anubias, Java Ferns).
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Also, can lotus plant benefit from tabs?
 

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From what I understand they have extensive root systems as well. I suppose they could. But try to use something that isn't just micros like most substrate tabs out there. Use some macro's as well.

I like the idea of making mud in ice cube trays, freezing them, and pushing them below the substrate quickly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
what kind of mud?

also, how can i know if the tabs have macros and micros? does seachem?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
also any body have any experience with jungle labs root tabs +iron?
 

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Few tabs have macros, most are micros like SeaChem.

Jobes sticks have macrosAnd few micros).
Garden soil cubes have macros(and a few micros).
You can use most garden soils. I like to boil it for 10 minutes or else soak for 3weeks in a shallow tray prior to use, but if you add a small amount it's not critical when using the mud cube method.

These are cheap and easy to add.

What is not so easy, is determining what levels of macros are really in the water column after adding such items and how much is used there, vs the sediment via root uptake.

And also determining how well and water column only routine does with sword/Crypt growth.

If I have a slow rate of release, say 0.05ppm of NO3/30 sec, which matches the uptake rate of the plants, I may never measure the water column concentration, since it's used up before I can measure it.
I started adding more to see if at higher levels, the Lamotte test kit would register and decline.

This is the case with fish waste and NH4 production, it's used very rapidly and at a very low level.

Thus saying something prefers a location of nutrients when isolating them is truly difficult, it is rather speculatory without a good methjod to test and answer the question you have.
Those roots may very well be solely for anchoring and when the water nutrients decline or for when there is no water column, but merely having them does not imply preferences for uptake.

Many hobbyists(generally, I'm not picking on anyone, this issue goes ways back a decade or more) seem to lose track of that.

We use a filtered water flow through system and large tanks to deal with any water column related issues, this way the growth we see is solely from the sediments we use at our lab. This means we use a lot of water and also filter and run it back through a recycling DI filter.

I use loam soil, delta soil, peat bogs in Lake Tahoe, sandy soils from rivers, lake sediments etc to see how they impact weed growth and the affects on herbicides. I've anaylzed a Ludwigia species for growth and N and P tissue nutrient concentrations for 5 soil types recently.

I can post the file on my web site if anyone is interested.

I have about 950 replicate pots going at any one time and use flow through tanks that have only Ca/KH/Mg/SO4 and Cl ions in them and CO2.

These pots use various sediments and I can compare them by using dry weight plant biomass before and after growth for the controls, the herbicides decrease the growth obviously as well.

The nice thing is being able to compare many soil types for specifically aquatic plant growth. I also looked at differences in shoot vs Root growth.
Some might find it a very interesting paper. I call it homework:thumbsdow haha

Being a hobbyists as well, I add ADA AS, Flourite in the lab set ups as well.

This makes for a good comparision when combined with years of extensive water column only plant horticulture. We do have one species of Echinodorus in California also, and it's a beaut, E berteroi.

I'd like to see how it does and I've collected more of this species than anyone esle in it's native USA habitat, the Santa Ynez River system from Lake Chachuma and it's upstream length.

It's about the last place many would expect to find a sword plant.
Rice fields in CA every now and then get some Echinodorus, but they are not that weedy really.

You maybe also make your own Clay balls, smaller is better(pea size or smaller even), and add KNO3, KH2PO4 and traces embedded inside them.
Some folks used Osmocoat as well.

Rather than the advice that suggest one quick fix, I tend to focus on the whole plant health. But your goals define what you want and the management method you want also.

So if all you want is a little bit better growth, the tank is mainly swords etc, no algae issues, adding them, Jobes, SeaChem, whatever, ought to do fine.

If you have algae issues, have other plants, focusing on both the water column and the sediment might be better at reaching the goal you have in mind.

If you do the latter, you will have better success over the long term with all plant species and have better growth with the swords/Crypts, but that's the trade off, depends on your level of rigor and work.

Still, a soil non CO2 planted tank kicks the snickolys out of any such substrate tab fert plan on lower mainteance, nice plants and long term work load.

About all you do there is add fish food and maybe a fert here and there once a week, no water changes, add for evaporation etc.
Many are flabbergasted at how easy and how well the plants grow.

But the plants grow much slower, and when it comes to swords and Crypts, that's not a bad idea.

Careful what you wish for.
For may want to check out the APD archives for more about some of this and the Krib of course.



Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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yes i highly recommend using flourish tabs under the lotus plants. they will literally flourish. take it out after 2-3 weeks and you will see the roots will be wrapped around that flourish tab.
 
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