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Nitrate fertilization

Pat Bowerman wrote:

> Really? I thought that you used Tropica Mastergrow. I see that it
contains some
>K, but you find it necessary to supplement the potassium in Mastergrow? 

I do, and it does, but my tanks seem to need more.  It was actually Claus
who suggested it, after seeing my tanks.

>You also
>add additional N? In what manner do you do this? 

Usually KNO3, although if I thought I didn't need the potassium, I'd go to
what Neil suggested, nitrogen sulfate.

>Do you feed mostly flake food, frozen food, or live? 

All of the above.  Flake most often, live least often. (I'm lazy<g>)

>Is you fish load abnormally low?

I don't think so.  Heres' a run down of the fish in my 70G:

4 Giant Danios
4 Yellow Tailed Rasboras (same size as the giant danios)
4 Brilliant Rasboras
12 Barbus pentazonas
4 Botia Striata
2 prs Anomalochromis thomasi (plus 5 1" fry that I can't catch<g>)
1 Striped Raphael catfish

All of these fish are full grown.  BUT the tank is well established, (3+
years) and _heavily_ planted.

> I ask all of these questions
>because of the thread that I had going a while back about whether N should be
>included in a commercial fertilizer.

As far as I'm concerned, absolutely not.  By the time a person needs to add
macronutrients, they usually also know enough to know where to find them.
I see more problems from excess nutrients than from too little.  And I see
people dumping phosphate based buffers into their tanks all the time (even
people who post here on the APD, so have access to the archives) and can't
figure out why they have algae problems.  

I personally would not uses a "complete" fertilizer that contained N or P
even though I do supplement macronutrients.  I want to be able to control
those substances closely and separately.

Also, let me make it clear that it is _ONLY_ in a strongly lit, high growth
tank that this type of situation is likely to develop.

> Perhaps, if N and K are not supplied in the
>wide range fertilizers that are currently being offered, they could be
offered as
>optional supplements. 

I wouldn't mind it if a manufacturer did that, but I would want them to
offer each separately, and the cost of packaging, labeling, marketing and
distribution would make it a lot more expensive than just going and buying
what you need elsewhere.  I don't think they'd sell enough to make it worth
their while, and I'm _sure_ that people would mis-use them and cause
problems for themselves.<g>

Or, we could all just keep using Jobe's Sticks. <g>

Those work too, although I've gotten out of the habit of using them since
I've gotten daring enough to just toss the stuff in the water.<g>

(Newbie alert:  DON'T add macronutrients unless you are _SURE_ through
testing AND observing your plants that this is _REALLY_ the problem.  More
times than not, there is another imbalance that is the real cause of your

>Why would you run a tank strictly on bottled water?

Because I have intermittent problems with copper in my tap water, and I
don't trust it.  Many plants do just fine, but there are a few that are
very copper sensitive, and I keep some in a "copper safe" tank that also
houses some pet shrimp.

>Bane of your existence? Please, tell us more.
[my soil based tank]

I've had the tank set up for several years now, and I've never really been
happy with it.  There were fairly serious toxicity problems in the
beginning, with severely deformed growth that looked like it could be a
calcium deficiency, even though there were adequate levels of calcium in
the water.  I really don't know what exactly the problem was.  Some plants
(that do fine in my other tanks) fail to grow at all in that tank, others
only grow if I actually isolate their roots from the surrounding substrate
by potting them.  Bolbitis, which thrives in all my other tanks, and
doesn't even HAVE its roots in the substrate fails miserably in this tank.  

The tank is over 2 years old now, and actually may finally be levelling out
at this point... It's actually looking pretty good.  But now it has to be
taken down to make room for the new big tank.  I _won't_ be repeating the

BTW, since I know someone will ask, no, I DIDN'T have algae problems in
this tank.  In fact, there has very little algae of _any_ kind, including
spot algae on the glass.  I don't think even the algae liked it.<g>  The
"nuisance" weed in the tank for a long time was Riccia.  It would
completely mat the surface in less than a week.  Recently, that has slowed

Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Association