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Re: Evil Jobes Plant Spikes?

Dave M. wrote:

I've been using Jobe's Plant Spikes for Ferns and Palms for 18 months under
my Swords, which usually keeps them happy. About six weeks ago, I did some
long overdue maintenance on the tank, removing several large plants and
disturbing the gravel big time. I estimate that I released a total one
whole spike or more into the water column-actually, four or five
semi-dissolved half spikes, which broke into zillions of pieces when they
came out of the gravel.

Since then, I've been fighting the worst algae to ever hit my tank. It's
been driving me crazy trying to pin down the cause. Finally during the last
week, I see two mentions of how Jobe's Spikes can cause an algae explosion
if released from the gravel. Oops...Water changes seem to have helped, but
the tank still has a ways to go.

That was me preaching against the spikes. If you burn yourself enough, you start telling people to watch out for fire.

What caused the "explosion" is the burst of ammonium (NH4+) that was released when you pulled up the plants and set the Jobes free. In the past, Tom Barr has made some posts on the effect ammonium has on algae, and my own experiences using ammonium based fertilizers fall right in line with what he observed. I've seen some incredible algae events while playing around with terrestrial ferts, the vast majority of which contain ammonium (often ammonium nitrate) and urea as primary nitrogen sources.

Rest assured that your tank will recover, but you'll have to be patient.

What can we use under swords to prevent this from happening in the future?
I have 100% Flourite, which probably provides sufficient Iron for the root
feeders (I dose iron as well). Is there a recommended substrate fertilizer
that people have had good experiences with?

Most of the commercially available "aquarium" tabs should be fine, but these don't usually contain nitrogen or phosphorus. Making your own might be a more desirable option for adding N & P since you can control the amount that goes in. Mixing chem powders into balls or pellets of iron rich clay is probably the most common DIY method.
Chuck Huffine
Knoxville, Tennessee