Learning how to fertilize aquarium plants naturally can be a scary task, especially for beginners. With so many different opinions online about what you should use to feed your aquarium plants, you can feel lost pretty quickly.
As you’re about to discover, fertilizing is pretty simple, and learning how to fertilize your aquarium plants naturally. Fertilizing aquarium plants can save you both money and time while allowing you to know what you’re putting in your tank.
What is fertilizer?
Roughly speaking, Fertilizer is food for your plants. It contains much-needed macro and micronutrients that will help them grow and thrive. Aquarium plant fertilizer usually comes in solid and liquid form. For fertilizing aquarium plants there’s a ton of different fertilizers available on the market right now, but learning to make your natural aquarium plant fertilizer will save you a lot of money, and you will be sure of what’s in your tank.
Even if fertilizers make plants thrive, like many things, too much of it can have dire consequences for both your plants and livestock. Always be sure of what you’re doing when using fertilizer and check the dosage you’re using if your fishes start acting differently or your plants look sick.
When do you need fertilizer?
Naturally, you most likely want a very developed aquarium, with tall and very green plants like all those gorgeous photos you see online. But do you need to use fertilizer to reach those results? You can feel lost considering all the diverging opinions on the subject, but in fact, it depends purely on what tank you’re going for and what goals you have.
You probably won’t need to learn how to fertilize aquarium plants naturally if going for a low tech tank contrary to a high tech one. Remember that fertilizing isn’t vital and that having a suitable substrate for your plants to grow on, the right amount of light and CO², as well as balanced PH, is far more important.
Plants need light to produce energy by photosynthesis, while CO² will help them utilize the minerals in the tank. A PH above 7.3 will make your plants unable to process the nutrients they need to survive, which can be very dangerous for them, it should be kept at around 6.5-7.0 for optimum and safe growth of your plants.
Any amount of fertilizer will never compensate for low light and low CO² supply, before adding any; always check that everything is in order. Generally, the lighter the leaves, the more oxygen it will require, meaning a more significant growth rate and more required nutrients.
Nutrients are divided into macro and micronutrients which can be used as a fertilizer for aquarium plants. Macronutrients are needed in large quantities by your plants, while micronutrients are only needed in small doses.
Macronutrients are composed of:
The food your fishes will eat carries a lot of different macronutrients that plants will benefit from. Your fishes will also naturally fertilize your aquarium plants. There’s a lot more to be said about this and learning about what your plants need to grow is important and can only benefit you in the long term.
Low tech tank
A low tech tank is pretty barebones. Its aim is not to have crazy growth and visuals. It doesn’t have much equipment added either. The goal is to create a system that can sustain itself without much human interaction. It should require very low to no fertilizer.
Using no fertilizer will cause plants to grow slowly and in a manageable way, making it very easy to maintain. It’s perfect for beginners since it will cost you way less in both money and time.
If you’re a beginner and have just started aquascape, you should really forget about fertilizer for now and learn the basics.
High tech tank
A high tech tank is the absolute opposite of a low tech one. Its main goal is growth at the price of maximum effort (both in money and time) It’s more popular than low tech because of the stunning visuals and atmosphere you can create, but it comes at the price of a lot of equipment, light, CO², and you guessed it: Fertilizer.
Luckily for you, when you know how to fertilize aquarium plants naturally, you end up saving a lot of money, and you have the confidence that the products you’re using aren’t dangerous for your animals and plants.
Fertilize aquarium plants naturally
Making fertilizer can be frightening at first, especially the first time. However, if you follow these instructions, you’ll easily make three different fertilizers for aquarium plant . Fertilizer is easy to make when you’re following a recipe and only comes down to preparing macro and micronutrients rich food for your plants.
Solid or Liquid fertilizer?
When looking to fertilize aquarium plants naturally there are 2 types of fertilizers you can use: solid and liquid. Solid fertilizer is mainly used for plants with roots. It will be placed under the substrate to enrich the soil which plants will feed on. Liquid fertilizer, unlike solid, is dispersed in the water and accessible to every plant in the tank whether or not it has roots.
The choice for your fertilizer should be easy to make, go with solid if you have plants with roots, liquid otherwise. You can go with liquid fertilizer only even for rooted plants, but you won’t have optimal results. Using a mix of both fertilizers can also work.
Make your Own natural liquid plant fertilizer
Monosodium phosphate is another essential addition to your plants’ diet. It will help them grow and reach their full maturity as well as helping with photosynthesis and energy storage.
A deficiency won’t be easy to spot, but the main clues will be difficulties to grow to average height or long maturation time. Defects need to be curbed early as it’s very hard to reverse the effects later on.
Magnesium sulfate is a crucial nutrient for every chlorophyll plant as it is responsible for vital functions such as photosynthesis, light absorption, and plant respiration. Since it’s so essential, a deficiency can lead to the plant quickly withering and dying. A slow growth, yellowish leaves, and dark or red spots can help you spot it before it’s too late.
All chlorophyll plants need iron to function properly. Iron is an essential micronutrient for plants to have a good oxygen supply. Most plants only need iron in small quantities, but it’s capital to be healthy. You can easily spot if a plant suffers from an iron deficiency (chlorosis) if they have a sickly yellowish colour.
Daily use liquid fertilizer
Since those nutrients are crucial to your plant development, they must be delivered regularly to make sure no deficiency happens.
To make 1L of fertilizer, you will need the following :
- 1L of demineralized water
- 60g of powdered potassium nitrate
- 10g of powdered monosodium phosphate
- 12g powdered potassium sulfate
- 2.5g of powdered magnesium sulfate
- 1g of powdered iron chelate
Making the fertilizer is easy. Just boil 1L of demineralized water, then mix all the different powders inside it and shake it until it’s completely liquid. You can use this fertilizer daily for a dose of 1ML per 15L of aquarium water once per day.
Natural fertilizer powder
As you know, aquarium water should be changed from time to time. The problem is that most of the nutrients that were in your water (given by your fishes or your fertilizers) will be gone. You should use this powder after changing the water to kickstart your plants’ growth and refill the nutrients and mineral reserves in the water.
The powder is relatively easy to make; it’s a mix of Epsom salt, potassium sulfate, and saltpeter for a ratio of 3:2:1. The dose is 1 teaspoon per 40L of aquarium water, use after every water change.
Natural fertilizer calcium balls
For your rooted plants, you will be making little balls of nutrients that you will put under them in the substrate. The plants will then feed on the nutrients by using their roots.
To make this fertilizer, you will need:
- 5 tablespoon of calcium montmorillonite clay
- 1 tablespoon of mixed powdered seaweed
Preparing it is pretty straightforward, but all the ingredients together and mix them until you get a clay-like paste. Make a small ball with it, dig a hole in the substrate near your plants and bury it there.
Now that you know how to fertilize aquarium plants naturally, you can make sure your plants always get the nutrients they need for optimal growth.
Using the 3 different natural fertilizers I showed you will save you a lot of money in the long run compared to buying fertilizers. Make sure always to respect the right dosage and watch for other critical things your plants need, such as light, CO², and balanced PH before adding fertilizer.