Nutrients for the aquatic plants are divided into two groups – macro- or micronutrients. Plants need more macronutrients than micro but both are important as well. Macro include: hydrogen, calcium, carbon, ,, nitrogen, oxygen, magnesium phosphorus, sulfur, and potassium.
Plants require a number of organic and mineral nutrients in order to maintain steady growth and good general health. Every nutrient is needed for optimal growth, even if just minimal value of it is required. Feeding aquarium plants you can compare it to the diet, but for the plants. You don’t want your plants to have health problems or that something will limit their growth. It is good to consider a purchase of good aquarium fertilizers, and substrate. You can deliver nutrients in many different ways(methods).
Micronutrients are needed only in trace amounts. Micro include: molybdenum, boron, copper, manganese, chlorine, zinc, iron, and nickel .
You don’t have to worry about oxygen and hydrogen(there is more than enough). Other like calcium and nitrogen you can find in aquarium water. However in very soft water, there might be not enough calcium. When your plants are growing well you may need to start providing them nitrogen, because it might be not enough of it from ammonia and nitrates. For sure if you would like to have underwater garden you will have to provide also carbon, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur, and potassium for your aquarium plants.
Consider macronutrients as proteins in your diet, it will build you plants. Micronutrients are responsible for management and control of whole ‘plant body’. Some micro you will find in the tap water, but those are used very fast so you will have to consider buying a good fertilizers. A good choice is: seachem line, CSM+B, Tropica master grow, Pfertz micros, TNC trace elements, Easy green Co-op, Niclog (GLA), UNS, Thrive,
Tap water quality and micronutrients level is depended on where you live. It is better to find out or check hardness KH/PH, ph, nitrates in the tap water(metal and toxicity as well but it is hard without professional stuff). That is also why we do regular water changes to keep these nutrients at good level for aquatic plants. It is usually best to use tap water (rather than reverse-osmosis or rainwater) at least partially as a source of nutrients in a planted aquarium. As long as you don’t want to go pro you may forget about RO filters and adding all elements by yourself. You can still have good quality high-tech aquarium using tap water.
‘While you are selecting suitable nutrient mixes, bear in mind that some fertilizers include other micronutrients that are not essential for aquatic plants and need not be added to the aquarium. Some terrestrial plants may require these nutrients for functions that are not present in aquatic plants, such as nitrogen fixation (obtaining nitrogen from the atmosphere). These nutrients include sodium, silicon, iodine, and cobalt. Aquatic plants do not need these nutrients.’
In the aquarium, nutrients can be supplied to plants from a number of sources. Because plants take up nutrients both through their leaves and the roots, nutrients should be made available in the substrate and the water
Deficiencies and excesses
‘An excess or deficiency of one or more nutrients can cause problems to both fish and plants in the aquarium. Because plants have no control over the amounts of some of the nutrients they absorb (such as copper) excesses can cause fundamental problems within individual cells that in turn affect the entire plant.’ That is the main reason why a good nutrients balance is a key. It is hard to find ‘golden middle’ by just calculating it all on the paper. You must watch your plants and see how they react. Don’t add right away recommended amounts, start with something smaller and then after few weeks you will know what are you doing. Slow growth, yellow leaves, brown or black spots, cramp growth may are the sings of deficiencies.
‘Sometimes, a deficiency of one nutrient can be caused by an excess of another. In this instance, the nutrient present in excess “competes” with the second nutrient, preventing it from being absorbed by the plant and causing a deficiency.’
Plants as an indicator of good balance
Plants can also be a good indicator of deficiencies and excesses. I use always one or two fast growing plants in my planted tank set-up, like different hygrophilias. In this way I’m able to notice the problem long before it will affect slow growing plants. Fish might also be a good indicator. My clown louch and its colors tells me that water in my aquarium is very clean. If colors would fade it is a bad sign that something is wrong.Slow-growing plants have bigger storage for nutrients, just in case, that’s why they will be fine and if you will work fast deficiencies and excesses won’t touch them.
Sometimes plants will store too much nutrients because of the excess of it in the water or/and substrate. This nutrient build-up may be toxic for them. When there is too much iron for example red plants will ‘fade’ much slower with limited light even if iron won’t be available for a while. When other green plants will start showing problems on their leaves – brown spots.
On the plants leaves may also occur chlorosis, which is disability to produce normal amounts of chlorophyll due to a lack of nutrients. Chlorophyll is used for photosynthesis and lack of it prevents this vital process. This affects every aspect of a plant’s health. Many nutrients are used in the production and correct functioning of chlorophyll. Chlorosis can be used as a general indicator of nutrient problems in the aquarium.
Aquarium Plants Fertilizers Dry and Liquid
There are many different brands of aquarium plants fertilizer available for the market. Each of them has their own formula and works for growing aquatic plants. However some are better and some does not work that good. It all depends also on dosing and what do you keep in your aquarium. Aquarium plants will benefit from every one of them. The most efficient economically are dry fertilizers, because you can make more liquid solution for less money. Below you will find a few most popular aquarium fertilizers and their brands:
Niclog Dry fertilizers
Niclog fertilizer brand is well know from their Plantex CSM+B microelements mix. Whole set of fertilizers Micro and NPK macro fertilizers plus GH minerals you can buy for as low as $20. You can find them online on the niclog website.
ADA Liquid aquarium plants fertilizers line
ADA is well know aquarium brand which is known from its creator Takashi Amano.
‘Takashi Amano (天野尚, Amano Takashi, 18 July 1954 – 4 August 2015) was a professional track cyclist, photographer, designer, and aquarist. His interest in aquaria led him to create the Japanese company Aqua Design Amano.’
ADA Green Brighty is a 3 step Liquid fertilizer technique. Each bottle consist a different formula, as the plants grows and need more nutrients. Step 1 are trace elements (micro) promoting the new leaf growth on the beginning as plants grows. Step 2 has more iron which plants need over the time as they grow. Step 3 is created as the planted aquarium matures and layout is a 1 year old.
Tropica liquid aquarium plants fertilizers
‘Tropica Aquarium Plants A/S is a world famous aquatic plant producer that since 1973 grows many species of plants for use in aquariums and ponds. They are based in Denmark and distribute their plants world-wide to retailers and online shops.’ Their most know liquid fertilizer is Tropica Nutrition for all planted tanks called PLANT CARE. It is a very good mix of microelements for demanding plants keepers. However with bigger aquarium volume becomes a little pricey, but you pay for a quality.
Thrive All in One Fertilizer and Thrive S for shrimps
At the moment the most popular all in one aquarium plants fertilizer. It is a brand created by Niclog, the same company producing dry fertilizers. Regular Green bottle thrive has all you need to grow aquarium plants in a singe dosage. Thrive S is meant for shrimp tanks and has much less macro nutrients especially Nitrates, and is not recommended for heavily planted tanks with high light and co2 without supplementing additional macro elements, or having high nutrient reach substrate.
Aquarium Co-Op liquid fertilizer
Planted tank fertilizer owned by famous Cory from Aquarium Co-Op, youtuber, fish store owner, breeder and plants keeper. His original formula is for sure worth trying. Plants will grow lush and benefit from it. His logo is a puffer fish known well from his YT videos.
2HR Aquarist APTC100 complete plants fertilizer
Typically new plant fertilizer produced by a well known from his professional videos and technical advice Dennis Wong. His website called 2HR aquarist states that it needs only 2HR reading informations from his pages, to have enough knowledge to keep a successful planted aquarium. This fertilizer is worth of trying because if it’s original formula built on empiric experience.
Aquavitro planted aquarium fertilizer line
This plant fertilizer line is meant to pro planted aquarium keepers. It is quite expensive to buy all the products and time consuming to dose each of them on a daily basis, but for sure worth it. I found that it is really useful for smaller aquariums, especially nano aquariums. Plants growth is amazing.
Seachem aquarium fertilizer line
Seachem is well known and consistent brand on an aquarium market. Their water conditioner The Prime and The Safe (powder) is used by most of the planted aquarium keepers. I really recommend their fundamental pack for beginners as it has everything what plants need at that time.
UNS Ultum Nature Systems All in One Plant Food, Aquatic Plant Fertilizer
‘Industry leading, premium grade aquarium goods with the everyday hobbyist in mind.’ Well know brand know from their top of the line equipement and products. I’ve never tried their aquarium plants fertilizer, but for sure it’s worth trying as a company is known for their good quality.
Easylife Aquarium Fertilizer Profito
Well known brand from UK. It is not easy to get their stuff in US, but possible to order online. ‘They distinguish ourselves in the market by the fact that our university-educated specialists have years of experience in keeping aquariums and, as a result, combine their practical experience and knowledge to produce innovative products.’ This aquarium plant fertilizer is used by many well known aquascapers from Europe. Easylife algae control is also know as a very efficient top of the line aquarium additive.