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How to Choose the Best Fertilizer for a Planted Aquarium

How to Choose the Best Fertilizer for a Planted Aquarium

Posted by Modern Aquarium on 4 Oct 2021

Your aquarium plants truly rely on quality fertilizer to grow and thrive. While all plants require certain nutrients, there are others that need specific supplements. Learning which fertilizer will work for your existing plants is the key to finding the best fertilizer for a planted aquarium. If you’re looking for tips and advice about fertilizer for fish tank plants, check out this overview from Modern Aquarium.

1. What Are You Buying?

Not all fertilizers are created equal. You’ll need to check out the macro and micro-nutrients in the fertilizer to decide if it’s right for you. Macronutrients are what plants use in large amounts, while micronutrients are used in smaller quantities.

Essential Macronutrients

There are three essential macronutrients in the best fertilizers for planted aquariums, including nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Plants need nitrogen for stem and leaf growth, they need potassium for strong roots, and they use phosphorus for fruiting, flowering, and robust leaf growth, among other things.

Essential Micronutrients

There are many kinds of micronutrients you might see listed on your fertilizer, but the most common include:

  • Nickel
  • Iron
  • Cobalt
  • Manganese
  • Boron
  • Chlorine
  • Molybdenum
  • Copper
  • Boron

2. Types of Fertilizer

Depending on how your plants feed and how much fertilizer you need for your tank, there are several fertilizer options, including liquid fertilizers, prepacked substrates, and root tabs. Learn more about each of these here to determine if they’re the best fertilizer for your planted aquarium.

Liquid Fertilizer

Liquid fertilizers are among the easiest to introduce into your aquarium. You simply pour the liquid into your tank in the appropriate quantities. This is a great option for aquariums that have a lot of Java Ferns, Anubias, Mosses, and other plants. Most plants feed directly from the water column, so liquid fertilizer is easier for them to absorb. They are easy to use and will provide your plants with the nutrients that they need.

Prepacked Substrate

A prepacked substrate is a special soil that can also serve as the best fertilizer for your planted aquarium. This is especially true if your aquarium includes root-feeding plants, like Amazon Swords, Vallisneria, and Cryptocoryne. You can introduce this type of fertilizer to your aquarium, and it won’t cause water clouding or color changes.

Planted tank substrates, like Fluval Stratum, come packed with nutrients that your plants can easily access through their root system. However, the substrate will not release the nutrients into the water column so you do not have to worry about algae outbreaks in your aquarium.

Root Tabs

This last type of fertilizer is actually little pieces of compressed fertilizer. If you have inert substrate in your tank, this is the best fertilizer for your planted aquarium. You need to bury the root tabs into the sand or gravel around your root-feeding plants. As the tabs dissolve over time, your plants get the nutrients they need. Root tabs are very easy to use and give your plants nutrients for weeks without additional work by you.

Ready to get started? Check out the selection of fertilizer at Modern Aquarium to find the perfect choice for your tank!