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Re: substrate water column fertilizer

Raymond wrote:
> Hi everybody, just wanted to know if any of you out there use just substrate 
> fertilizer without using water column fertilizer..

Since we're both using Vancouver water and the three sources have nearly
identical soft water, I suspect that you'll need to add the same
minerals to the water as I do. I add potassium, magnesium and calcium to
the water. I sometimes add nitrogen to the substrate in the form of clay
+ fertilizer balls. The fertilizer we used to make the clay balls
(14-14-14) does have potassium however potassium is used up in an
aquarium fairly quickly when growth rates are good. Its also an
important mineral nutrient for fish. I like to dose it to at least 10
ppm and have dosed it much higher. The only problem with high doses is
that the change in salinity can stress the fish, so add the dose in
small amounts over a few days when changing the concentration in your

I find that if I add nitrate to the water, I get a good growth response
from the plants and from the algae. In the tanks with SAEs and other
good algae eaters such as the larger Killie species, the algae is
quickly eaten and the nitrogen addition is primarily beneficial. In
tanks with poor grazers such as Cynolebias species (cannot mix with
other fish) or the small live bearers, the fish don't consume enough of
the algae and the extra algae growth is a nuisance. It doesn't hurt the
fish any but I have to be very careful not to spread the thick filament
algae from my two cynolebias tanks to the other tanks. The Spirogyra
algae seems to have spread to all my tanks but is easily controlled by
many kinds of fish.

I would say that if you are going to try to push a soil substrate tank
from N limitation into P limitation, you need to add small doses of N
each week, use lots of fast growing plants and have some good algae
grazers on hand. Snails are a must for soil tanks since you need them to
deal with the diatom growth that accompanies a new soil tank.

> i know that green spot algae occurs in most planted tanks (with co2 and high 
> light.. etc etc..) but one of my friend suggested his plants grew really 
> with fertilizer clay balls (steve pushak's method) and didn't add any liquid 
> fertilizer to the water column.. and there was not BBA or any other algae 
> problems.. except for green spot algae.. another tank he had.. he used the 
> clay ball fertilizers and some liquid fertilizers (i think seachem's 
> flourish and flourish iron) and not too sure if he dosed it too much but 
> some BBA (does that stand for black beard algae?!?!) and some fuzzy type of 
> algae all over his swords, saggiterria (spelling) and anabuis (spelling 
> again. = (..)

Whether you need to add trace nutrients to the water depends upon your
substrate composition. I think it is easier for most people to use
relatively safe substrates such as laterite + gravel or fluorite +
gravel and so with these you probably need to supplement trace nutrients
in the water just a little. Try using very small doses. I think you got
some of the chelated trace nutrients from me last time you were here.
Try adding a few drops of a very dilute solution once every few days.

> anyways have any of you noticed that.. if the substrate is rich enough that 
> the plants will do well without adding any fertilizer in the column.. but 
> his hasn't tried any TMG yet..

I suppose you could add many of the soluble nutrients to a substrate
however these minerals will quickly dissolve and be used up over time
especially with water changes. I strongly recommend that you add Ca, Mg
and K along with water changes. If you're using clay balls, they will
supply enough N to the rooted plants; you can kick the floating plants,
Java Fern, Bolbitus and other non-rooted plants by adding small nitrate

> acutaly i haven't tried it yet i'll go out and get a bottle this weekend and 
> try it out on my tank..[snip]

If you have all of the minerals that I gave you (K, Mg, Ca, KNO3,
trace), I don't think adding TMG will do anything for your tanks except
confuse the issue. If you use those minerals as directed, have clay
fertilizer balls, have enough light and CO2, you should get pretty
vigorous growth in a couple of weeks. If you have SAEs, then you
shouldn't have too many problems with filament algae unless you get some
of the very thick horse hair thread algae or Oedogonium, the green furry
algae which grows on your leaves. I don't think anything is very
effective at eating those two kinds of algae.

Steve Pushak                              Vancouver, BC, CANADA 

Visit "Steve's Aquatic Page"      http://home.infinet.net/teban/
 for LOTS of pics, tips and links for aquatic gardening!!!