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Roger wrote:
>I disagree with Tom Barr a little over substrate fertilization.  I took to
>fertilizing the substrate after years of fertilizing the water column.
>This means that I feed only those plants that appear to need it, I feed
>with only what I think is needed and I don't fertilize the algae.  As s
>nice side effects, I don't have to worry about doing a bunch of water
>tests and java moss and other water-column feeders remain manageable tank
>Fertilizing the water column is pretty convenient and I do resort to it
>for special cases, but I find that my aquariums do best when I limit
>regular feedings to the substrate.
I started with that principle(adding only things to the substrate) in an
effort to control algae.
I reasoned that plants have roots and algae does not. If I deprive the algae
of nutrients in the water column, the plants will grow and out compete for
algae, hence starving the algae. Algae has no way of getting to the
nutrients, lacking roots. I did large weekly water changes to rid nutrients
from the water column.
    I went down this path for a few years. It works too. I have a tank that
gets only Fe/Mg tablets and fish feedings. Lots of Java moss too. Namely, I
like it on tanks that I don't give as much attention too. 
Removing excess sticks/tablets/clay balls or having them break apart as I
tried to place them irritated me. So did plumes of fertilizer laterite dust
anytime I did a replanting(which I'm very bad about doing too much). But
these aren't big issues either.
     I've found that using the water column I can grow more kinds of species
at faster rates than the substrate method. It takes less energy for the
plant to take in the nutrients directly than moving through the transport
from the roots  to the rest of the plant or does it? 

The whole tank can be brought up to a nice balancing state between the
fish/Fertilizer/amount of light input/CO2 etc using the liquid method but
overdoses can happen................good to do water changes to prevent any
build up(this works with both methods). If I add too much, a water change
takes care of it. 

Point is:
Both methods work well and a mix of both works well too. Some things in your
own system of doing things and maintaining might work well for you but
another's won't. Both might work well, but laterite is not a requirement for
an established tank nor adding it to the substrate after a tank is set up
something I could see saying "yeah, do this .......". Buying the balls or
pellets can be done but why do this if water column fertilization works too?
I like simple substrates and I feed the plants when I feed my fish so I can
see plants and observe them and their reactions to daily additions rather
than the long term substrate fertilizers. I can alter the amounts  of
trace/macro elements and observe outcomes much faster than the substrate
method which will teach me more about the plants needs faster IMO.
Speed/fast growth isn't everything though............... 
Tom Barr