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Not a plug for their website and products but they do have some good advice about all aspects of high tech planted tanks..

 

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I would say which ever one is easiest for you to manage. Most people will either buy the dry ferts and mix it themselves or buy something produced by a company. I prefer the DIY method because it allows me to adjust each nutrient parameter (if needed), it's super easy to do and it is considerably cheaper than a premixed solution (paying $$$ for mainly h2o). Everyone's tanks are different ecosystems and require different amounts of nutrients, so what works for one system may not be ideal for another. If you decide to make your own, Greenleafaquariums.com has a great selection of ferts as well as tons of information regarding different dosing methods. Rotalabutterfly.com has a great calculator for measuring out your ferts. Hope this helps!
 

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I agree with @ytro about doing the DIY method. Mixes don't account for things like how many fish you have or how much fertilizer might already be in your tap water. My tap water has 4 ppm Nitrate in it according to my test. It's kind of like how you season to taste when you cook. You can get the mix and have DIY on standby if you need to adjust something. Sometimes the easiest solution is best. I used Rotalabutterfly.com this weekend to formulate a way to prepare RO water for use in the aquarium. There were all sorts of awkward measurements and ratios I could have used. Finally I found that 1/2 tsp Calcium Sulfate + 1/4 tsp Magnesium Sulfate + 1/2 teaspoon Sodium Bicarbonate in a five gallon bottle of RO water comes pretty close. It's a simple recipe with simple measures and no scale. The best fertilizer will be what you think is best. But do some research to decide what you like. Everybody's water is different.
 

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I also like the 2hraquarist as GrampsGrunge suggested.

I think mixing your own ferts is a GREAT way to go... BUT when you are first starting out an all in one prepackaged fertilizer is a MUCH better way to start. With a new tank you want consistency in the water parameters as much as possible, you don't want them to change week to week or day to day. How are you going to know what changes you need to make in your fertilizer recipe when you are first starting out? Especially when the chemistry of the tank is constantly changing as it is coming to a balance. I recommend letting your tank get established and come to an equilibrium before you start mixing your own fertilizers!
 

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I agree with @ytro about doing the DIY method. Mixes don't account for things like how many fish you have or how much fertilizer might already be in your tap water. My tap water has 4 ppm Nitrate in it according to my test. It's kind of like how you season to taste when you cook. You can get the mix and have DIY on standby if you need to adjust something. Sometimes the easiest solution is best. I used Rotalabutterfly.com this weekend to formulate a way to prepare RO water for use in the aquarium. There were all sorts of awkward measurements and ratios I could have used. Finally I found that 1/2 tsp Calcium Sulfate + 1/4 tsp Magnesium Sulfate + 1/2 teaspoon Sodium Bicarbonate in a five gallon bottle of RO water comes pretty close. It's a simple recipe with simple measures and no scale. The best fertilizer will be what you think is best. But do some research to decide what you like. Everybody's water is different.
That's a lot of Sodium, which really doesn't do much for the plants, nutrient wise. I would expect that Potassium Bicarb as a pH buffer would be a better choice, even Calcium Carbonate (despite it's reluctance to mix quickly..) would be a better compound to use. Given Sodium Bicarb's rather aggressive pH altering power I'd prefer something a little less reactive.
 

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That's a lot of Sodium, which really doesn't do much for the plants, nutrient wise. I would expect that Potassium Bicarb as a pH buffer would be a better choice, even Calcium Carbonate (despite it's reluctance to mix quickly..) would be a better compound to use. Given Sodium Bicarb's rather aggressive pH altering power I'd prefer something a little less reactive.
I was considering Calcium Carbonate. That's what was complicating my calculations. I also have a concern about all the Sodium so I am going to make that 3/8 tsp instead of 1/2 tsp. I still might try about 15 mg/l of Calcium Carbonate to see if it will dissolve. More if I can get away with it. Thanks for mentioning it. I've been thinking about this. But now it's complicated again.

EDIT: How about 1/16 tsp Calcium Carbonate, 3/8 tsp Calcium Sulfate, 1/4 tsp Magnesium Sulfate, 1/8 tsp Potassium Bicarbonate and 1/8 tsp Sodium Bicarbonate? That's a simple recipe and I bet it comes close.
 

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I was considering Calcium Carbonate. That's what was complicating my calculations. I also have a concern about all the Sodium so I am going to make that 3/8 tsp instead of 1/2 tsp. I still might try about 15 mg/l of Calcium Carbonate to see if it will dissolve. More if I can get away with it. Thanks for mentioning it. I've been thinking about this. But now it's complicated again.

EDIT: How about 1/16 tsp Calcium Carbonate, 3/8 tsp Calcium Sulfate, 1/4 tsp Magnesium Sulfate, 1/8 tsp Potassium Bicarbonate and 1/8 tsp Sodium Bicarbonate? That's a simple recipe and I bet it comes close.
It sounds better. Granted, back in the early days when the Booths were doing their Dupla Optimum tanks, they were adding dry Sodium Bicarb and Calcium Carbonate. The CaCO3 was added and it was expected that it would settle into the gravel where the CO2 injection and their heating cables sucking water through the gravel very slowly would dissolve it.

Potassium is an element you can add in excess, plants will always make use of it and a certain excess does no harm, but with less pH swings as Potassium Sulfate. Potassium Bicarb tends to alkalize almost as vigorously as Sodium Bicarb. Amano's first tanks were KH buffered with Wood ash = Potash.

Just some thoughts, I'm not an expert at this but it's been made abundantly clear with our really soft well water that I have to KH buffer and add GH. Sodium bicarb is pure, unadulterated KH whereas CaCO3 tends to up both GH and KH and plants use Calcium almost as much as Nitrogen. You do water changes weekly to clear out the old elements and water they're dissolved in but Sodium, really isn't used at all and can build in concentration through evaporation.
 

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Fascinating @GrampsGrunge . I found a container of Equilibrium today and saw the Potassium Sulfate you mentioned on the label. I was wondering what it is for. So it buffers but not as well as bicarbonate? CaCO3 dissolves better in cooler water. That seems strange to me.

I bought a power head today to try to dissolve a small amount of CaCO3. I'm going to run an experiment to see how much will dissolve. I went back to the drawing board on my RO water reconstitution recipe:

GH and KH in 18.925 liters of Water
1.00 dGH + 1.00 dKH CaCO3 = 7.15 mg/l Ca = 10.71 mg/l CO3 = 338 mg = 1/8 tsp
2.00 dGH CaSO4.2H20 = 14.29 mg/l Ca = 11.43 mg/l S = 1.16 g = 29/64 tsp
2.00 dGH CaCl = 14.29 mg/l Ca = 25.28 mg/l Cl = 749 mg = 21/64 tsp
1.65 dGH MgSO4.7H20 = 7.15 mg/l Mg = 9.43 mg/l S = 1.37 g = 17/64 tsp
1.00 dKH NaHCO3 = 8.20 mg/l Na = 21.76 mg/l HCO3 = 567 mg = 1/8 tsp
1.00 dKh KHCO3 = 13.93 mg/l K = 21.74 mg/l HCO3 = 675 mg = 7/64 tsp
Compounds total 4.65 dGH and 3 dKH
21.43 mg/l Ca and 7.15 mg/l Mg, 3 Ca:1 Mg
7.144 mg/l Ca = 1 dGH
4.355 mg/l Mg = 1 dGH

It's not so simple anymore. Sorry @Goatcheze we're taking this thread to Cuba!
 

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Fascinating @GrampsGrunge . I found a container of Equilibrium today and saw the Potassium Sulfate you mentioned on the label. I was wondering what it is for. So it buffers but not as well as bicarbonate? CaCO3 dissolves better in cooler water. That seems strange to me.

I bought a power head today to try to dissolve a small amount of CaCO3. I'm going to run an experiment to see how much will dissolve. I went back to the drawing board on my RO water reconstitution recipe:

GH and KH in 18.925 liters of Water
1.00 dGH + 1.00 dKH CaCO3 = 7.15 mg/l Ca = 10.71 mg/l CO3 = 338 mg = 1/8 tsp
2.00 dGH CaSO4.2H20 = 14.29 mg/l Ca = 11.43 mg/l S = 1.16 g = 29/64 tsp
2.00 dGH CaCl = 14.29 mg/l Ca = 25.28 mg/l Cl = 749 mg = 21/64 tsp
1.65 dGH MgSO4.7H20 = 7.15 mg/l Mg = 9.43 mg/l S = 1.37 g = 17/64 tsp
1.00 dKH NaHCO3 = 8.20 mg/l Na = 21.76 mg/l HCO3 = 567 mg = 1/8 tsp
1.00 dKh KHCO3 = 13.93 mg/l K = 21.74 mg/l HCO3 = 675 mg = 7/64 tsp
Compounds total 4.65 dGH and 3 dKH
21.43 mg/l Ca and 7.15 mg/l Mg, 3 Ca:1 Mg
7.144 mg/l Ca = 1 dGH
4.355 mg/l Mg = 1 dGH

It's not so simple anymore. Sorry @Goatcheze we're taking this thread to Cuba!
Actually KSO4 is running dual service as GH and as a macro fertilizer, as Potassium and less as a Sulfur source.

But since Sulfates have no carbonate power, it does nothing for KH.

KH could be balanced in a 1:3 to 1:4 ratio with GH hardness. It's not a hard and fast rule. You just want to keep enough KH in the tank so there's some pH buffering if you have a power outage. Or the CO2 decides to malfunction and cause a pH swing. The GH is there for the fish and plant's health, I consider it osmotic shock buffer, if you introduce a little too much soft water. Not likely for most people on tap water but here in the PacNorWet we have some surprisingly soft water coming out of our municipal water supplies. Often times over KH buffered with Sodium Bicarb or Hydroxide.

A TDS pen can be a good investment if you change your water frequently on a soft water source. Fore knowledge is forewarned, staying ahead of the surprises. I'm probably over thinking things, but I've been keeping planted tanks for 28 years.
 
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