Fertilisers. The vast number of fertilisers on the market can be quite bewildering, so what is the best option? The main factor to consider is if you are using CO2 or not. If you are, you’ll need to choose a variety of fertilisers but we’ll come onto that shortly.
What you need to look for in a fertiliser for a non CO2 tank is one that will not add any macro nutrients (nitrate and phosphate). These macros which although are essential for plants will be produced by fish waste. So buying a fertiliser with macros will just cause you problems in the form of algae. Some excellent fertilisers are Seachem Flourish, Tropica Plant Nutrition, Easy Life Profito and AE Design Aqua Nourish. All of these are particularly suitable for non CO2 tanks as they provide trace elements only. Those of you already using or are considering using CO2 it’s important to choose your fertilisers carefully because you will probably need more than one bottle. When buying fertilisers it is important to stick with one brand - by mixing them it can cause more trouble than it is worth so decide on one you like and stick with it.
With a brand such as Seachem which is very popular with hobbyists, you are given the option of using a variety of fertilisers to give complete control over the important nutrients which are essential for solid plant growth. The individual nutrients they provide are trace, phosphorus, nitrogen, iron and potassium. By using their range you can add as much or as little as you need according to what your plants require.
For some hobbyists, they are looking to reduce the number of bottles to dose to make life a little simpler. This is the primary reason why some manufacturers have designed ‘all in one bottles’. The latest product on the market is Tropica Plant Nutrition - although strictly speaking it’s not a new product but more of a rebranded one. Tropica Plant Nutrition supplies the nutrients plants easily run out of. These remaining nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) are excreted via fish. We therefore recommend Tropica Plant Nutrition for aquariums with few plants and a relatively large number of fish. It’s no surprise that this product has become very popular and for those of you who are using CO2 we recommended their + version. Tropica Plant Nutrition+ contains all the essential nutrients needed including nitrogen and phosphorus (macro nutrients) so it makes it suitable for tanks with high levels of plants relative to the number of fish.
It’s important not to be frightened by fertilisers and a common misconception is adding fertilisers cause algae - this is not the case. In the past when algae develops (and I regularly hear this), people stop fertilising. They decide nutrients are causing the problem. Starving your plants of nutrients, having a low flow filter rate and lighting on for excess periods causes algae, not the fertilisers. By making sure you do not limit the nutrients in your aquarium, you provide your plants with what they need, and as a result they repay you by looking great and growing fast. For those of you who are forgetful when dosing fertilisers I recommend AE Design Aqua Nourish and Nourish+ - these are designed to be dosed daily (perhaps when you feed your fish).