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Fertilising for beginners


15 Feb 2008
Hi there,

I have been fishkeeping for a few years, but I've just set up my first 'properly planted' tank. It is 16", 4.4 gallons, open top with 2 x 11w compact luminaires. Small internal filter, cheap tetraplant CO2 doser and 22 degrees C.

It has just been densely planted with bacopa monnieri, marselia q., lilaeopsis and glosso - also moss on bogwood.

Do I need to fertilise the tank? If so, what should I use and how? I am a student and cant afford to go 'all out' 😀

Any advice would be very welcome, cheers
Check this thread as it gives some basic daily dosing advice for a baseline 20G tank. http://www.ukaps.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=915

If your tank is half the size then just dose half the amount specified.

I would also suggest that you dose Easycarbo or Flourish Excel. Carbon is critical and I'm not sure how well your tetraplant doser works. 22 watts T5 over a 5 gallon tank is quite a lot I think. If you start to see algae then you may want shut down one bulb for a few weeks.


The link didn't work for me - what is the title of the thread?

This dosing lark seems v complicated, added to this i'm now wondering about how to improve my CO2 situation, as im sure the tetraplant diffuser isnt working properly. I guess this is all part of the fun!

I've heard of 'daily drops' which sounds like an easy method, also the fert bags that greenline supply. Are these viable solutions?

link works ok for me, the title of the thread is

EI daily methods or PMDD + PO4, posted by plantbrain AKA Tom Barr

You will need to dose something I would reckon, what will the plants live on?

You could also try Tropica plant nutrition+, this is an all in one dosing solution without the hassle of EI etc, just dose it daily, it would work well alongside cegs idea of dosing carboplus. A bottle of that would last a long time on such a small tank, but dry fertiliser dosing is the way to go for larger tanks, way more economical.
The link in Clive's post works for me. Just click on it and it should take you to the thread. Depending on which browser you use though it may try to launch it in a new window and if you've got a pop-up blocker on that might stop it working? Anyway the thread's called, "EI daily methods or PMDD + PO4" and it's in this section.

Personally I think the simplest dosing method available at the moment seems to be the Tropica Plant Nutrition range as it comes ready made with easy instructions for daily dosing. George seems to do ok with it! 😉
However as your CO2 levels are likely to be pretty low with the system you have I'd be very wary of adding macro nutrients to your tank. You could combine the Tropica fertilisers with dosing Excel/Easycarbo daily to ensure that the low CO2 isn't causing problems. I used Yeast based CO2 combined with Easycarbo and the plant growth and lack of algae was great so I'm sure it'd work with your Optimat system.

Edit: Seems you beat me to it Zig! Great minds eh?

Ive pulled out the tetra diffuser and im opting for a DIY system with a nano glass/ceramic diffuser now, hopefully it should keep CO2 levels more constant.

I'll keep an eye out for the tropica range.

Does anyone have experience of Aquatic plantation - 'plant boosta'? It claims to do all the right things and isnt too pricey.

I don't know "plant boosta".
I have got a 3 US G with a 20W desk lamp. I dose 0.2 to 0.3 ml of TPN+ and 0.3ml of Easycarbo daily. It work great and I don't think you will find more easy. 😉
I have a double-Nutrafin cannister set with 2xRhinox 1000 diffusers in the sale/wanted section, £15 the lot inc. P&P? Yeast included aswell, just add your own sugar and water.

I'd be tempted, with only 22w over that small tank, to stick with Tropica PN+, it'll cost pennies to use, a 250ml bottle for ~£10 will need something like 3ml per week or something silly....very easy to dose for such a small tank. Get a plastic syringe from the local chemist and you're away.
Thanks for the help!

Looks like TPN is the way to go for me, I'll try and get some. No sure about easycarbo, is it harmful to fish or shrimp? Im planning to stock with R. brittidae and cherry shrimp and concerned about getting CO2 right. I wont have night shut off valves for DIY so could levels creep up at night, becoming dangerous?

Sorry if this is becoming a CO2 thread!

Is easycarbo a daily dose regime? I may not be able to dose the tank every morning = fluctuating carbon levels. Reckon i'd be better off sticking with yeast?

Thanks again for the invaluable advice guys!
I would suggest EasyCarbo (shrimp and fish safe though some vallis and riccia may not like it) is more stable than DIY CO2. It can be dosed daily or you may be able to dose every other day or so.

You don't need to shut CO2 off at night, most people only do it to save gas which is irrelevant with DIY.
Yes, I can confirme Easycarbo is safe with shrimp, my RCS breed.
If you go for TPN make sure you get the TPN+ (with macro).
Tresbling said:
Thanks for the help!

Is easycarbo a daily dose regime? I may not be able to dose the tank every morning = fluctuating carbon levels. Reckon i'd be better off sticking with yeast?

Easycarb/Excel is a carbon source that is neither sensed or available to algae. The active ingredient is a derivative of Glutaraldehyde which is toxic to algae and some other plants such as liverworts and bladderworts. If you dose these products regularly, even if it's not everyday, you will get some benefit.

nry said:
You don't need to shut CO2 off at night, most people only do it to save gas which is irrelevant with DIY.

Actually, saving gas is only a side benefit of shutting down at night with pressurized systems. The real benefit of turning off the gas is that it gives the fish a break as the concentration is allowed to fall to residual levels overnight when CO2 is not used by plants. It is then possible to drive the CO2 levels to much higher values during the day.