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To use or not to use (fertilizers)

Neil wrote:

>For people that travel alot, have a lot of tanks to maintain or just want a
>lower maintenance system, it is very useful to have a setup which does not
>require daily fertilizer drops or even weekly or bi-weekly fertilization.
>For the first several years of my peat substrate tank, the only trace
>elements the plants got was thru water changes.... it not have enough fish
>to provide minerals thru fish food. 

OK,  I'll concede that if you want to keep a tank without fish, and want to
travel for periods of several weeks at a time, that _PERHAPS_ that's a good
reason to want to be able to meet all of your plants' nutritional needs
without liquid fertilizers.  

But traveling alone isn't a good excuse.  If you have fish in the tank,
you'll have to come home before you starve them to death, or else have
someone come in and feed for you.  If you can teach the person to feed, you
can teach them to fertilize.  I go away for a week or two at a stretch at
least once or twice a year.  For up to 10 days, I find that just like my
fish, if the plants are well fed going into the vacation, everyone does
_fine_ without application of fertilizer (or food) while I'm gone.

If I'm going to be gone more than 10 days, I get someone to come in once or
twice while I'm gone.  I set all the food for all the tanks up in film
canisters, and leave instructions on how to measure the fertilizer and when
to apply it to each tank.  It really isn't that big a deal. (I have them
water the house plants too... they'll be gasping for water long before the
aquatic plants are having serious problems with nutrient deficiencies)

If you're going to be gone so much that you _really_ can't use liquid
fertilizers in your tank, you probably can't keep fish either... In fact,
you probably don't see the tank much at all ;-)

Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Association