If you are new to the planted aquarium hobby, most likely you have come across or have purchased an array of commercial liquid plant fertilizers. Although these products may provide your plants with the nutrients and minerals they need to grow, you will soon find that this will become an expensive endeavor. Due to the ease of use and growth results of using these commercial liquid fertilizers, there are some enthusiasts, who don’t take the costs of these products into consideration. On the other hand, an enthusiast like me will strive to find cheaper alternatives that keep costs down and at the same time provide aquarium plants a source of nutrients they need to properly grow. After realizing that using these commercial products started becoming expensive, I found a cheaper alternative and that was to start dosing with dry fertilizers.
In 2004, I purchased a dry fertilizer package for less than $30 and today I still have a little bit left. Based on this, you can probably assume that these dry fertilizers last a really long time or I am hardly dosing, or both. The truth is, dosing dry fertilizers is really cost-efficient and will last you a while.
Recommended Dry Fertilizers
These are the dry fertilizers that I use and recommend them to anyone who are planning to dose their planted aquarium using dry fertilizers. I also want to point out that these are not the only ones available, but are the ones that are commonly used among planted aquarium enthusiasts.
- KNO3 (Potassium Nitrate) – $3/lb.
- K2SO4 (Potassium Sulfate) – $3/lb.
- KH2PO4 (Mono Potassium Phosphate) – $5/lb.
- Plantex CSM+B - $12/lb.
These dry fertilizers can be purchased online at www.greenleafaquariums.com.
Benefits of Using Dry Fertilizers
- Cheap, very cost-efficient
- Lasts a while, a lot longer than commercial liquid fertilizers
- You can control how much of each nutrient you want to dose
- Create your own liquid solution
How to Use Dry Fertilizers
Now that you have your dry fertilizers, you are probably thinking how do I use them? You can dose them dry by dumping the fertilizers straight into the aquarium or create your own liquid fertilizer.
There are a few dosing methods that you can use to help gear you in a direction for providing your plants with the nutrients they need. The two methods are Estimative Index (EI) and the Perpetual Preservation System TM (PPS-Pro). The science and chemistry behind these two dosing methods is rather extensive, thus here are a couple links that goes into further detail and should provide you with some kind of background.
Perpetual Preservation System TM
Although these two dosing methods are the commonly used for the planted aquarium, they are not the only ones. The flexibility of using dry fertilizers allows you to experiment with different dosing regimes and find out what works for you. I will say that no planted aquarium enthusiasts dose their aquarium exactly the same way. The amount of dry fertilizers used can depend on many factors, such as: type of plants, size of aquarium, water changes, etc. Lastly I want to say that the best way of dosing is to let plants tell you what they need. If they are showing any sign of deficiency, then there must be a nutrient that is lacking.
You can also use these two calculators to help you formulate a liquid solution for your planted aquarium dosing needs.
I hope you have found this article helpful and gave you an understanding of how cost-efficient and effective dosing the planted aquarium with dry fertilizers can be. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask and I will answer the best way that I can.