Tropica, Aqua Essentials and Garden Direct Chelated Traces

Discussion in 'Aquarium Fert Dosing' started by JamesC, 17 May 2008.

  1. JamesC

    JamesC Member

    Bexley, Kent
    There's been a bit of talk about Aqua Essentials and Garden Direct chelated traces recently so I thought I'd compare the concentrations of the different elements with Tropica Plant Nutrition. I've always made up solutions from the traces I've brought using 15g of trace added to 250g of water. This is always what I've been led to believe is similar to the concentrations in TPN, but now I'm not too sure. Below are my findings.

    Aqua Essentials trace -
    Garden Direct trace -

    Tropica kindly supply a breakdown to whats in their trace solution:
    Boron (B) 0.004%
    Copper (Cu) 0.006%
    Iron (Fe) 0.07%
    Manganese (Mn) 0.04%
    Molybdenum (Mo) 0.002%
    Zinc (Zn) 0.002%

    Aqua Essentials trace:
    Boron (B) 1.06%
    Copper (Cu) 0.23%
    Iron (Fe) 8.2%
    Manganese (Mn) 1.82%
    Molybdenum (Mo) 0.15%
    Zinc (Zn) 1.16%

    Garden Direct trace:
    Boron (B) 0.88%
    Copper (Cu) 1.7%
    Iron (Fe) 3.35%
    Manganese (Mn) 1.7%
    Molybdenum (Mo) 0.023%
    Zinc (Zn) 0.88%

    Now the amounts when 15g is added to 250g of water:

    Aqua Essentials trace solution:
    Boron (B) 0.06%
    Copper (Cu) 0.014%
    Iron (Fe) 0.50%
    Manganese (Mn) 0.10%
    Molybdenum (Mo) 0.009%
    Zinc (Zn) 0.07%

    Garden Direct trace solution:
    Boron (B) 0.05%
    Copper (Cu) 0.10%
    Iron (Fe) 0.20%
    Manganese (Mn) 0.10%
    Molybdenum (Mo) 0.0014%
    Zinc (Zn) 0.05%

    As you can see these figures are much higher than the concentrations in the Tropica Plant Nutrition. Perhaps I've always been adding way more than I've needed. What I did next was to lower the concentrations in the two dry mixes by only adding 2.2g of trace to 250g water. I've put Tropica's figures in brackets after to make a comparison easier.

    With Aqua Essentials modified trace solution:
    Boron (B) 0.01% (0.004%)
    Copper (Cu) 0.002% (0.006%)
    Iron (Fe) 0.07% (0.07%)
    Manganese (Mn) 0.016% (0.04%)
    Molybdenum (Mo) 0.001% (0.002%)
    Zinc (Zn) 0.01% (0.002%)

    With Garden Direct modified trace solution:
    Boron (B) 0.01% (0.004%)
    Copper (Cu) 0.015% (0.006%)
    Iron (Fe) 0.03% (0.07%)
    Manganese (Mn) 0.015% (0.04%)
    Molybdenum (Mo) 0.0002% (0.002%)
    Zinc (Zn) 0.01% (0.002%)

    What does all this mean? Not sure really but it may mean that I've always been adding way more traces than I've ever needed to. I have suspected for some time my iron levels have been high as I get quite a red/brown sediment build-up in the filter which is indicative of high iron levels.

    Questions is shall I lower my traces and see what the effect is. I have loads of Garden Direct traces so might try it with that. The Garden Direct traces are lower in iron, but as I have some chelated iron lying around as well I may add this to make the levels the same as Tropica's.

    Copper levels in the Garden Direct trace is also quite a bit higher but the modified solution has the same amount as what I'm dosing now so don't see that to be a problem.

    Rather long winded but hopefully might be of interest to some.
  2. Martin

    Martin Member

    North Wales
    Top work James, as always. I love this forum. Hats off to you chemistry boffins on here, most of us would be lost without the likes of you and Clive. Cheers fellas :)
  3. fishgeek

    fishgeek Member

    west sussex
    as traces are the least important part of the equation, it probably makes little difference in the grand scheme of things

    other than overdosing is a bit more costly.. though overdosing with cheaper dry ferts is no where near as expensive as dosing appropriately with liquid trace fertiliser

  4. Themuleous

    Themuleous Member

    Aston, Oxfordshire
    Top work once again, James. I dose at 3x the suggested dose with my AE trace, as I found my H.poly showed signs of deficiency at the suggested rate in my high light tank, what that means for the levels of things in the tank I don't know!

    Might give the garden direct trace a try.

  5. a1Matt

    a1Matt Member

    Thanks James that is very interesting to me, as I switched to the Aqua Essential trace mix a couple of weeks back and wondered how it compared to the CSM+Boron trace mix I was using before that.

    For what its worth, here is the breakdown for the CSM+B trace mix:

    Plantex CSM is made up of the following:
    1.5% Magnesium (chelated)
    0.1% Copper (chelated)
    7.0% Iron Chelate
    2.0% Manganese
    0.06% Molybdenum
    0.4% Zinc

    To that … Boron is added to make the final percentages work out to be:
    1.40% Magnesium (chelated)
    0.09% Copper (chelated)
    6.53% Iron Chelate
    1.87% Manganese
    0.05% Molybdenum
    0.37% Zinc
    1.18% Boron
  6. GreenNeedle

    GreenNeedle Member

    Lincoln UK

    James. Are you sure you have been overdosing. All on here that use TPN+/TPN dose more than the suggested on the bottle. I assume we ignore the amounts on the AE or other sites too and instead go for the dosage suggested on a given regime's webpage etc.

    Maybe its the difference in plants that causes this redness in that some want different to others?

    I am about to move from TPN to dry powders for my traces as I have moved back from the TPN+ solo to the PMDD+P recipe again. It seems to work best for my lazyness on water changes (which means the CO2 reduces as the diffusor clogs) whereas the TPN+ didn't seem to like it.

    I have never used dry traces, previously using TPN as trace. Never seen any colour other than a dark wet soil like brown in my filter. lol

    I would be quite interested really as the Garden Direct is cheaper BUT I notice that the levels of some of the items being lower than the AE mix Would it last as long? and if not how much shorter. I know we are only talking about £15 or so for a couple of years worth but still its worth knowing.

    Also are the AE ratios more suited to aquatic plants than the Garden product? Just asking really because I am getting tired of waiting for AE to be 'In Stock' of anything I need and if I can source from elsewhere then I most definately will.

    Will keep watching this thread.

  7. JamesC

    JamesC Member

    Bexley, Kent
    Yes I do believe I've been overdosing massively. I've been looking at the EI guides and they quote 10mls of TPN 3x a week. The solutions I've always made up use 15g of trace mix to 250mls of water which I always thought was about the same as the concentrations in TPN and which I dose at the same rate as TPN, ie 10ml 3x a week. After doing the calcs it appears that I only need to add to add about 2.2g of trace mix to 250ml to get the same concentration as TPN. All my PMDD+PO4 solutions use this higher concentration of trace mixes as well. Don't actually suppose it does any harm though.

    I have just made up some new solution but using 1/2 the amount of trace mix so I'll see in a few weeks if there is any difference. If not I may half it again as this in theory would still be more concentrated than TPN. One thing that always puzzled me with TPN is why they added a brown food colour additive to their solution. Now I know why as without it it would almost look like you're buying water.

    Regarding dry trace mixes I think they are all aimed at terrestial plants and not aquatic ones. Does anyone really know what the best quantities of these traces are? Every mix seems to have different ratio's.

  8. GreenNeedle

    GreenNeedle Member

    Lincoln UK
    I might try the GD one then. I will try halving the amount too and probs do 100ml quantity at a time so I can up and down. As I say last time I did your recipe I was using TPN and at the mo I am using up the TPN+ (I assume they have the same trace content.) Therefore I will be dosing more than previous anyway.

    Let us know your findings. You show us yours and etc.

  9. ziggy_909

    ziggy_909 Member

    hi ..

    looking to start dosing with the whole dry trace get up.., which i will make into a solution for easy application, i have shrimps in both my tanks ... amano and crystals ... will the copper levels be ok for them...
  10. JamesC

    JamesC Member

    Bexley, Kent
    The Garden Direct traces do seem to have higher copper levels than most of the other traces that are used. If this is a major problem or not I can't say, but some people do seem to do ok dosing this with shrimp - not heard and negative effects yet anyway. Unfortunately the normal supply of traces that people use from Aqua Essentials seemed to have dryed up at the moment. These traces from Aqua Essentials have been dosed heavily by many people with no notable effects on shrimp.

    I have sourced some other traces that I may look into a bit more but the minimum order is 10kg. Or you could just wait and use Tropica Plant Nutrition (TPN) for the time being.

  11. ziggy_909

    ziggy_909 Member

    i have just ordered 500g of the AE mix...back in stock today...

    if i mix a solution from the AE mix,

    Boron 1.06%
    Copper 0.23%
    Iron 8.2%
    Manganese 1.82%
    Molybdenum 0.15%
    Zinc 1.16%

    For preparing a stock solution add 1 tablespoon of trace mix to 500ml of water.
    Then add 10ml per 100 litres as required.

    is this all the nutrition that my plants require..... or do i need to add other elements... apart from light and co2

    is it better to add dry or in a solution ... if dry will my filter remove it...
  12. LondonDragon

    LondonDragon Administrator Staff Member

    Thats half the solution, you will need to make another with KN03 (Potassium Nitrate) KH2P04 (Mono Potassium Phosphate) , and dose each 3 times a week on alternate days.
  13. JamesM

    JamesM Member

    The BIG End, South Wales
    Its early days, but I'm dosing GD trace and npk mix in my shrimp-only tank. Almost one week in and no deaths. I will try to remember to post updates over the next few weeks...
  14. ziggy_909

    ziggy_909 Member

    Thats half the solution, you will need to make another with KN03 (Potassium Nitrate) KH2P04 (Mono Potassium Phosphate) , and dose each 3 times a week on alternate days.[/quote]

    wont that cause algae to bloom in my tank .... i have always used the aqua care plant nutrition without phosphate based on my large fish load.... that why i got the trace powder to replace the aqua care solution...

    270 ltr tank

    3 clown loche
    2 yoyo loche
    1 rio del para plec
    6 rummy nose tetras
    25 neons
    1 black tail shark
    10 amano shrimp
    3 ottos
    3 S.A.E's
    4 Black tetras
    4 glow light tetras
    4 bumble bee gobies

    what will happen if i dont dose with the the phosphate, nitrate and potassium solution...

    i already do a 30% percent water change weekly .. and dont want to up my changes.... (conditioning 30% water in the short term requires a lot of overnight buckets as it is..)..

    is this getting into the realm of estimated indexing....
  15. Garuf

    Garuf Member

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but will the algae feed off the organic phosphate levels which inturn will become dangerous to fish but still insufficient to support higher plants?
  16. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Chicago, USA
    Well, we should back up for a second and do a reality check. It would be a good idea to review the Algae forum section, start at the top with the sticky that you see there and learn a little bit more about algae. That way there is no need to rehash previous discussions. In short, nitrates and phosphates have nothing to do with causing algae and in fact the situation is just the reverse. But read all about it in the algae section and respond to those threads if you've got more questions. In the Tutorial section you'll find a sticky thread discussing dry powder dosing and all it's implications.

    As regards your original question, the chelated trace element mix is directly interchangeable with the Aquacare TPN and is a much less expensive option. If you are not dosing NPK now and if your tank is doing OK with no algae then that means that for the moment you have sufficient NPK with the combination of your tap water, fish waste and feeding routine to satisfy the minimum requirements of your plants for the amount of lighting you are providing. Carry on using this trace mix alone if you wish but just be aware that you may need to supplement NPK at some point in the future. After you read the threads in the algae section you'll understand why not to blame NPK for any failures. :D

    A a side note why not investigate using lengths of garden hosing and small pumps to facilitate water changes in lieu of buckets? Do a search on "water changes". :D

  17. Egmel

    Egmel Member

    Guildford, Surrey, UK
    You can buy water conditioner/de-chlorinator which means you don't need to stand it overnight, just add it to either the water in the bucket, or if you follow Ceg's idea of hoses, the tank before you start pumping water in.

    I use Nutrafin AquaPlus, but if you've got a bigger tank and want a cheaper alternative then look for pond de-chlorinator - it's basically the same stuff ;)
  18. ziggy_909

    ziggy_909 Member

    Re: EI Less Technical approach


    Quick question..
    my Micro nutrients arrived in the post today and i have made up the solution to the strength i need .. approx. 30-ml fert to 500-ml of water ...

    the next thing i need to order is i think:-

    Nitrogen (N)
    Phosphorous (P)
    Potassium (K)

    with i think i get from KN03 (Potassium Nitrate) KH2P04 (Mono Potassium Phosphate)..? (three elements for 2 compounds..?)

    how much of the stuff do i need to add per week/dosing session..

    tank approx 275ltrs. with t5's 54W x 2 white x2 blue lamps .... do i need to replace one or both of the blue bulbs with white bulbs to get enough light in the tank...
    i think 108w of white hits approx. 1.5 w/gallon ( depends if its us or uk gallons..?)
  19. GreenNeedle

    GreenNeedle Member

    Lincoln UK
    How much of anything you need to add depends on the dosing the dosign reime you have chosen. Hava a read through the different ones (PMDD+P, EI, PPS-Pro) and then decide which you want to try and they should have a recipe in the same thread.

    You get 3 element because

    KNO3 is Potassium Nitrate, KH2PO4 is mono potassium phosphate. therefore both have potassium as well as their other compund. some people also add K2SO4 which is potassium sulphate. There are varying views wether this is needed or not.

  20. JamesC

    JamesC Member

    Bexley, Kent
    Just to update this thread I did dose with the Chempak traces from Garden Direct along with the chelated iron and found it worked just fine with no problems for my thriving shrimp population. I reduced the Chempak traces by about a half of what I was using with the Aqua Essentials traces because of the higher copper. I also tried lowering the levels right down to the amounts similar to Tropica's TPN and that worked fine as well.

    For those interested I've done a comparison of various commercial traces and powdered traces on my website -


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