One of the ways to take your aquarium to the next level is using lush underwater plants to create a natural aquascape. Artificial plants just can’t compare to the real thing. If you want your plants to thrive, fertilizer is a must.
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Do Aquarium Plants Need Fertilizer?
Plants need a lot of things to survive which is one reason why it’s so important to keep the water in your aquarium balanced and healthy. Plants require a lot of macronutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. They also have to have smaller amounts of micronutrients, too, like iron and manganese. If any of these things is missing, your plants will not be at their best.
As far as fertilizer, macronutrients are needed in larger quantities than micronutrients. That said, macronutrients do not need to be added frequently in a tank that has fish. The waste created by the fish and leftover food typically provide enough macronutrients.
Even though they’re only needed in small quantities, you really have to pay attention to micronutrients when fertilizing.
When it comes to fertilizing your aquarium, keep your fish in mind. The water affects them, too, so make sure whatever you’re using as fertilizer won’t harm the fish you have.
Store Bought vs Making Your Own
There are some risks when buying your fertilizer; namely, you don’t have control over the ingredients. Chelating agents to bind with the metal and keep it suspended which is important for your plants to absorb the metals then need. Not all fertilizers use an effective chelating agent.
Be wary of water conditioners, too. A lot of them eliminate metals from the water, which are an essential nutrient for plant growth and completely counterproductive to what you’re trying to achieve.
If you want total control over what you’re putting into your aquarium, making your own fertilizer is the only way to go.
How to Make Your Own Liquid Aquarium Fertilizer
If you don’t want to buy your fertilizer from someone else, you can make your own so that you can tailor it precisely to your aquarium needs. Here’s what you need:
- 2 teaspoons potassium sulfate
- 1 teaspoon potassium nitrate
- 5 tablespoons hydrated magnesium sulfate
- 1 tablespoon chelated trace elements
Mix these ingredients with 1 ½ cups of distilled water and store the unused portion in the refrigerator.
There are chemical supply stores where you can find most of the ingredients. Aquatic stores or pet shops should be able to supply you with the rest.
How Much Do I Use?
How much you need to use depends on the size of your tank and the state of the water. The best way to use this fertilizer is to test a bit of your water first. Testing kits are available that give you the good picture of where you stand.
When it’s time to add the fertilizer to the tank, take some water out of the tank into a separate container. Add the fertilizer into the container then slowly add it back into the tank.
It’s important to continue to test your water regularly so you know how often and how much fertilizer to add. It will take you a few times of adding the fertilizer and testing until you can really determine exactly how much to add.
Doing It Right
By making your own fertilizer, you can create a recipe that is tailored to your tank and avoid all the things that could lead to problems. It might take a little trial and error and a lot of testing, but in the end, your plants will benefit and you’ll have an amazing aquarium.