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Aquatic plants in an aquarium are devoid of natural sunlight, which is essential for their growth, and it depends on the aquarist how well he balances the water temperature. These fertilizers help you in taking care of aquatic plants. If you want to see your marine-flora to flourish, then fertilizers are of paramount importance as they are the only source of nutrients.
Some might argue the decomposition of excrement is organic and way better than fertilizers, but it takes ages to decompose. Moreover, one has to change the water every week due to discoloration, which is a laborious task.
Some may argue that do-it-yourself fertilizers are better, which is true, but with time constraints and an arduous work involved, everybody prefers a ready-to-use solution. So, if you are looking for the best aquarium plant fertilizer for your aquatic flora, then you need to understand the two types, these come in.
Types Of Aquarium Plant Fertilizers
1. Liquid fertilizer
Also known as water column dosing, it is an easy way of fertilizing, where you can put a limited amount of dose say 10ml in 100 litres tank. The upside of this procedure is that you can be accurate and precise about the quantity of treatment.
It gets absorbed in the water easily, and provides the flora an ample amount of potassium. However,the reactive fertilizers like iron can evaporate rapidly depending upon the pH level of the water and temperature. Moreover, a consistent dosage is essential without any room for error.
Typically, a plant needs fertilization every alternate day, and liquid fertilizers can lead to discoloration of the water, creating a need to change the water more frequently.
2. Root Zone Or Substrate Based Fertilization
Substrate fertilization is relatively simple and biological where a tablet is put in the roots of the plant. The sole advantage of the root zone is that you can put ammonia based tablets in the roots which are not possible with water fertilization as it can result in an algae bloom.
Similarly, reactive substances like phosphates and iron, remain in the roots and help in plant growth. These root tablets or pellets take months to transform into sand particles. Hence, there is no need to feed the plants daily with these tablets.
The only disadvantage of this type of fertilization is that it lacks precision. You never know how much is the perfect amount of dosage, and the right duration of time until the need to give the next dose.
For the consistent growth of the plant and to make the roots healthy, one should use both types in a balancing method. A pro aquarist will use gravel based aqua soil where he can put the pellets in the roots of the plant, and also use liquid fertilizers every day to encourage the growth of plants and make them immune to diseases.
Once the foundation is set with a gravel bed, there is no need to change the soil bed for years and putting pellets one a month will do the job, so there is no hassle of digging the hole daily to insert the tablet.
Also, water fertilization is relatively easy and less messy, so even if you do it every alternate day, it won’t take much time.
Factors To Consider While Purchasing The Best Aquarium Plant Fertilizer
It is a common misconception amongst hobbyists that plants only need carbon dioxide (CO2) for growth because that is what they breathe. Yes, it is essential for plant growth, but it requires three significant nutrients that form the foundation of plant growth: Nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.
A balanced ratio of NPK is essential to make the roots of the plant more strong and full of vitality. A good all in one fertilizer will help in improving the plant productivity, and you will see a much healthier, greener, and flourishing aquatic plants and flowers.
Along with macronutrients, plants also need micronutrients, especially iron for proper synthesis of ferrous oxide, phosphate and a controlled amount of carbon.
The quantity of dosage is an essential factor, and differentiates the best aquarium plant fertilizer from the average fertilizers. If you have a small or standard size tank with just one or two plants, the quantity of the fertilizer required will be little.
A standard rule is 10ml of fertilizer in 100 litres of water. But, it varies because if your fertilizer is in concentrated form then just 500ml of fertilizer will be sufficient for 25000 gallons of water.
Although a standard liquid fertilizer is less effective than a concentrated one, it is advised to use the fertilizer according to the instruction manual, to prevent any harm to the fish.
3. Type Of Plant
Essentially, plants are of three types: easy, intermediate, and advanced. An easy plant is one that needs negligible CO2 and can survive even without fertilizers; it is a low feeding plant.
Whereas, intermediate and advanced level plants are high feeders and need an adequate amount of CO2 and essential nutrients for blooming and flowering.
Understand the anatomy of aquatic plants in your aquarium and only then purchase a fertilizer which is not destructive, but useful in plant growth.
4. Safety Of Aquatic Pets
An essential factor to consider while purchasing a plant fertilizer is the effect it will have on the aquatic fauna. If you want an aquarium that is a warm and comfortable habitat for the fishes, snails and shrimps, then you must choose a fertilizer that does not harm the aquatic animals.
There are many bio-liquid fertilizers or all-in-one compost that are animal-friendly. So, before purchasing a fertilizer, be sure to check the ingredients. Often, high amount of nitrogen or copper can have severe impact on the small fish. Hence, seek guidance and check what the label says, and judge if it is animal-friendly or not.
An obvious, but an understated factor is the economical aspect of the fertilizers. A best aquatic plant fertilizer is the one that has all the essential nutrients and is easy on the budget.
If your plant needs less carbon dioxide then a budget-friendly fertilizer is the better option, but if you have a proper aquarium décor done with live plants that need optimum temperature and high feeding, then the fertilizer with specific nutrients is necessary.
However, with the tsunami of variants available in the market, you can choose the one which is perfect for your plants and aquatic pets, and does not burden your economic condition. Also, there is no need to buy in bulk.
Top 11 Best Aquarium Plant Fertilizers 2019
1. Seachem Flourish Freshwater Plant Supplement
A rich assortment of various micronutrients, trace elements, and organic carbon, offered by a brand that is known for its power-packed performance. It contains 0.32% of iron which is essential for ferrous oxide synthesis that helps in the growth of the plant.
You will see a significant difference in the vitality of your aquatic flora. Another factor that makes it in the list of best aquarium plant fertilizer is that it kills the algae. A clean and freshwater environment is an essential factor for the health of aquatic animals, and Seachem Flourish Freshwater Plant Supplement helps in achieving it.
- Significant plant growth within a few days.
- Perfect for hobbyists who do not have soil-based tanks or Co2 set up.
- It is a multi-purpose fertilizer with enough micronutrients and ideal for low-tech flora.
- Live plants will be healthier and greener without affecting the fish.
- Stick to the dosage recommended else it can put the aquatic animals at risk.
- Macronutrients like Nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus are not enough for heavy lit or high-tech tank.
- The leaky cap spills the fertilizer while shaking, leading to the brown colour of the fertilizer.
Unlike other substrates, Flourite is a porous clay material in the form of gravel and need not be replaced. It is an excellent alternative to sand soil as it is dense and stable which makes the plantation easy in the substrate. Also, it is not coated with any chemicals whatsoever.
Thus, there will be no change in the pH level of the water. As it is not chemically coated, it behaves inert, one has to use additional fertilizers or root tabs for witnessing plants bloom. But, if you are looking for a substrate that does not breakdown and does not require rescaping, then Flourite is the best option in the market.
- It is dense and not chemically coated.
- The gravel does not breakdown into the sand. Therefore, you don’t have to change the substrate for years.
- It may cloud the water for the first two days, so avoid putting flora or fauna in the aquarium. Wait for clouding to subside.
- If the stems are not correctly planted in the substrate, the plants will flow to the surface.
- You may need additional root tabs or fertilizers as it is inert by itself.
3. API Leaf Zone Aquarium Plant Food
Plants need iron and potassium to stay healthy and green, precisely what API Leaf Zone Aquarium Plant Food provides. On the bright side, it is better than giving nothing to the plants and it will boost productivity, but it is limited on the nutrient side.
The quality of the product is impeccable and is a fairly inexpensive option, but it has only two ingredients, i.e. iron and potassium and plants need more than that. If you have low-tech plants and are looking for a cheap option then you can opt for this, else it is not the ideal one.
- It is pocket-friendly and is not much of a hassle as directions are relatively clear.
- It boosts the productivity of the plant.
- Safe for the fish and other inverts
- It comes in concentrated form
- It lacks the vital nutrients necessary for long-term sustenance of the plants.
- Absence of nitrogen and phosphorous
- It is not a one in all solution.
4. NilocG Aquatics Aquarium Fertilizer Shrimp Specific
The all in one solution is easy to use with clearly described dosage and won’t harm your aquatic friend. It is perfect for shrimp specific tanks and can treat 2500 gallons of water. It comes in convenient pump bottles that take the effort out of dosage, and your hands won’t get dirty.
Use the fertilizer every alternate day and witness the budding of the plants giving an aesthetic appeal to the aquarium. Ideally, one should change fifty percent of the water every week for the best results, if not possible, then change the water every fortnight.
The fertilizer is not sensitive to shrimps, also fishes and as it is loaded with essential nutrients, it won’t have any side-effect on the fauna.
- Meet your plant’s nutritional requirements without harming the shrimps or fishes in the aquarium.
- It is easy to use and gives significant results.
- You don’t have to worry about your monthly budget
- With a specific type of plants like Anubis’s won’t flourish as expected.
- Dosage should be as prescribed and frequent change of 50% water is necessary.
5. Winchester Gardens 80 Count Highland Rim Aquatic Fertilizer Bag
Who doesn’t want to see their water plants in full bloom? Winchester Gardens 80 count Highland Rim Aquatic comes in the ratio of 10:26:10 which means; it has a high content of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and is free from copper.
It is made especially for aquarium or water gardens with lilies and lotus flowers in it and is known to boost the vigour of the plants. The combination of NPK, i.e., nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, helps in making the plants disease-resistant, produces green foliage and lets the plant bloom in its full capacity.
It is a perfect solution for high feeder plants and flowers and easily dissolves in water. All you need is to feed your lotus a weekly dose and see them bloom in magnificent wonder of nature.
- It is a non-expensive option to keep water lilies and lotus healthy and blooming.
- There is no problem of algae bloom leading to contamination of water.
- These are non-toxic and safe for fish and other marine fauna.
- It is not much useful for vegetables, only restricted to water lilies and lotus.
- The tablets become powder if the seal is not properly closed.
6. Winchester Gardens 12 Count Highland Rim
The small copper-free wonder in the form of tablets from Winchester Garden is all you need if you have lilies and lotuses in your water garden. All you need to do is put the tablet in the aquatic soil and watch the baby lilies flourish.
The essential nutrients in the tablet are in 10:26:10 ratio that stabilises the plant growth by shielding them against plant diseases and increases productivity. It is not only beneficial for the flower, but the size of the leaf also increases and it gives a dainty look to the aquarium.
The downside of the tablets is that these are primarily formulated for only two types of plant and may harm the fish as the content of phosphorus is high.
- For a growing high feeder plant, it is perfect as the nutritional ratio is more than usual.
- It is economical, and the dosage is not rocket science.
- Even a novice can manage to soil the plant once a month, and there is no need for extra fertilizer.
- It works on small lilies in the aquarium but not in a pond.
- It mentions that it is non-toxic, but it can be harmful for fish.
- It lacks proper packaging, which leads to the crumbling of tablets.
7. CrystalClear Thrive
Only a gardener, whether land or aquatic knows, the extent of hard work goes behind a blooming and beautiful flower. CrystalClear Thrive was formulated to take the hard work away and in exchange, provide a flourished plant.
The formulation of 10:14:8 makes it the best aquarium plant fertilizer as it works exceptionally well for both flowering and non-flowering plants. These pellets can be used every two weeks, and all you need to do is put them one finger deep in aquatic soil.
The perfect time to feed the plant is when the water temperature is above 75°F. The only downside of the pellet is that it that it should be kept in cool places to ensure it does not get soiled.
- It can be used for both flowering and non-flowering plants.
- The formulation for the pellet is suitable for high feeder plants.
- It is pocket-friendly and non-toxic.
- It is beneficial, especially for lilies and does not harm the fish.
- It can lead to an algae bloom.
- Pellets can become powder with high temperature, so keep it in an air-conditioned room or a refrigerator.
What makes ThriveCaps a reliable and in-demand substrate additive is that it not only contains micro and macronutrients, even minerals. For a long-lasting growth and health of the plant, it needs essential nutrients in optimum quantity at regular intervals.
It doesn’t need any extra additive as it is available in concentrated form. A blend of iron rich clay, mineral, and Thrive mix makes it an ideal tablet that can be soiled in the roots every fortnight. It does not contain nitrogen or phosphate that makes it suitable for low feeding plants. It is less costly and can be easily used even by the new gardeners.
- It is effective on low tech tank and low feeding plants.
- It increases the productivity of the plant and makes them disease-resistant.
- Plants response to the substrate tablet is significant as they start producing more roots and leaves.
- It makes the tank green which can suffocate the fish and other marine animals.
- You have to push them into the substrate as it can quickly come on the surface which won’t serve the purpose of giving nutrients to the plant.
9. Plantabbs Pondtabbs Aquatic Plant Food
Are you planning to grow lilies? Then it is important to provide them with ample sunlight, a large water tank, and of course a nutrient rich food. When we talk about food, Plantabbs Pondtabbs is considered one of the best aquarium plant fertilizers in the pellet form.
With a controlled amount of nitrogen, it has all the essential nutrients like iron, manganese, boron, copper, etc that prevents the bloom of algae and helps the lilies grow to their full potential.
With the experience of 70years, Plantabbs know the right amount of NPK ratio essential for plant health, and hence, they have kept it to 10:14:8.
The treatment is not instant, as you need to put the tablet 3inches below the crown of the flower in the soil bed every two weeks, but it is worth the hassle considering your aquarium will look lively and beautiful.
- It includes all the essential nutrients vital for a heavy feed plat like lilies and lotuses.
- Not just for flowering, it also helps in the growth of non-flowering plants.
- Easy on the pocket and can be used for a long time.
- Tablets can become powder in humidity.
- The process is time-consuming and messy as you need to insert the tablet 1inch in the soil bed.
10. NilocG Aquatics
To ensure healthy growth of the aquatic plant’s micronutrients is also essential like macronutrients. With the numerous alternatives available in the market, it is confusing to choose the best aquarium plant fertilizer.
But what makes NilocG Aquatic, a reliable option is not just the brand,but also the micronutrient content that will increase the productivity of the plant. Being disease-resistant is one thing, but flourishing and being healthy is another.
NilocG Aquatics ensures that your aquarium flora is not just blooming, but also has strong roots and also, disseminates itself. Presence of copper in the fertilizer may alarm a few gardeners as it can be harmful for snails and fishes. NilocG Aquatics contains CSM+B, which is safe for marine life.
- The powder is water soluble and easy to use.
- It is mandatory to follow dosage instructions for plant growth and protection of aquatic animals.
- It is budget-friendly and contains essential micronutrients.
- The fertilizer does not contain essential macronutrients.
- It works for low feeding plants, but doubtful in case of high feeding plants or flowers like lotus or lily.
- It has copper that can be alarming for some.
11. The 2HR Aquarist
Is your aquarium a habitat to complex species of plants? Then think like a pro as you need to feed them with the best aquarium plant fertilizer that is a perfect mix off micro and macronutrients, minerals and is easy to use.
Everybody wants to see their plants grow and have vibrant colour texture. The 2HR Aquarist is your ally formulated with micro and macronutrients and trace elements that will restrict the growth of algae but won’t cease the growth of high feeding plants.
It is also animal-friendly and is adaptive, i.e. it can adapt to the changes in water pH level. So, wherever you live, it will adjust to the water temperature and help your plants flourish. It does contain copper, but the content is lower than the alternatives available in the market, to ensure the safety of shrimps and snails.
- It is an all in one solution that helps in saving the cost of buying separate micro and macronutrients.
- It is easy to use, as dosage instructions are marked.
- It can adapt to the water of any pH level and won’t harm the aquatic animals.
- Gives a rich texture and colour to the plant and does not lead to an algae bloom.
- You need to fertilize the plants daily and strictly according to the instruction manual.
- It contains traces of copper.
Best Aquarium Plant Fertilizers – Keep Your Plants Healthy!
To sustain healthy growth of the plant, we need to give it essential nutrients in the form of micro and macro, trace elements and minerals. It is also vital to check the toxicity level of the fertilizer as it can be hazardous to the living organisms in the aquarium and how well it works with the pH level of the water.
Keeping these factors in mind, one can choose a substrate in combination with liquid fertilizer or an all-in-one fertilizer that can fulfill the major requirements of the plant and also prevent algae bloom.
For some, API Leaf Zone is an all time favorite as it is available in concentrated form and is loaded with potassium and iron, but it lacks macros. Our inclination is towards Seachem Flourish Freshwater Plant Supplement as it is a trusted brand that helps in killing algae bloom and replenishes the plant with essential nutrients available in the right ratio.