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bone meal


I observed recently that some of my tanks are phosphorus limited and that
I can dose phosphates to the water column - at least on a sporadic basis -
without suffering excessive algae growth.  That leads me to look for ways
to safely dose phosphate.

I don't want to add phosphate to the water column, as I don't want to feed
the algae more than I need to.  So I'm looking for ways to get a stable
supply into the substrate.

Bone meal is one option; it's a high-phosphorus soil conditioner. The
phosphorus is there as calcium hydroxyl phosphate which is very poorly
soluble.  In soils it release phosphorus very slowly and it isn't favored
as a phosphorus fertilizer.  I once added a teaspoon or so of bone meal to
the substrate in a paludarium.  I started worrying soon afterwords that it
was a Bad Thing, but I never did see anything that made me regret adding
the bone meal.  So now I'm wondering if I could get away with adding it to
the substrate in an aquarium.

Has anyone else tried that?  Were there any changes (good or bad) that
they could say with confidence were caused by the bone meal?

A second idea that for now I'm just toying with is too mix ferrous sulfate
and sodium biphosphate in jar of water, then bubble with air until most of
the iron precipitates.  The combination could form some iron phosphates
(poorly soluble) and iron hydroxides that will pull some more of the
phosphate down with it.  That precipitate, dried and crumbled, might
provide stable iron and phosphorus to the substrate.  Any thoughts on this
little chemistry experiment?

Roger Miller