Why wait to fertilize a newly set up tank? - Fertilizing - Aquatic Plant Central

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Old 10-12-2004, 01:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Why wait to fertilize a newly set up tank?

Several folks suggest that you do not fertilize a new plant tank for the first week/month. My question is **why** not?

I've done it that way for a number of years, I fertilize the first day, sometimes only 1/2 the norm, the plant biomass is low etc and I know the plant's needs are being met.

But I see advice on sites suggesting not to fertilize for the first month etc, Amano included I recall(?).

I see no reason for this. In terms of cycling, very much like the "silent cycling" we see in our tanks with respect to NH4/NO2/NO3, if you add enough plant biomass and plant heavy from the start like all the good advice suggest, then there's no NH4 anyway. Add enough CO2 and that addresses that issue.

So that rules that out.

So unless you assume NO3/PO4/Trace "excesses" etc cause algae in and of themselves, why would this make any difference and wouldn't this help the plants to get on their feet and pump up their reserves better?

Crank the CO2 and nutrients and keep up on water changes etc. Maybe doing 2x a week water changes for the first month seems like a better method and advice to me rather than "starving" plants for a month.

I did not know that starving plants grew any better

I think it gets back to the orginal premise here.
Take care of the plant's needs and you do not have problems.
Why would this be any different at the start?
Seems to be more important actually.

Peat/mulm will take care of the bacteria/substrate, the nutrients/CO2/light will take care of the rest. Adding lots of plants will remove the NH4.

I find this type of advice to contradict with the basic notion that you do not avoid algae by not dosing ferts. This selects for algae, not plants.

Adding more plants, lots of plants at the very start, gives any tank a leg up.
Providing the new plants with good CO2 and nutrients will give them even more of a leg up.

So can someone please explain to me why no ferts or less ferts is somehow preferable in and of itself at the start if the other issues such as enough biomass and mulm etc is added?

Why would this cause algae or be somehow "bad"?

Rotting plant material from new plants will not be that great if you trimmed them, got decent stock, have good CO2 etc.

I think getting the CO2 in good shape is much more important at the start, but excess nutrients(NO3, PO4 etc) are being blamed here and not NH4/poor CO2.

Deficient plant/stunted growth will cause algae.

Tom Barr

Last edited by Edward; 01-17-2005 at 10:55 AM..
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Old 10-12-2004, 03:53 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Ive always done well when planting heavily and dosing from the first day. I havent noticed any ill effects.
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Old 10-12-2004, 04:26 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Yes, this works for me too. A new set up needs Ca, Mg, NO3, PO4, K and CO2 present all the time. There will be some algae on the beginning, but not for long.

The only objection I have is about the way some people dose TE trace elements. There is no need to confuse trace elements with macro elements. TE are called trace elements for a reason. Only very small unmeasurable quantities are needed for plants to be happy. Any excess may cause problems. One of them is a strong and long algae bloom on new set ups.

Learn how to dose TE. Dose only when you see deficiencies, like white new growth. You will have faster start up and less problems.

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Old 10-12-2004, 06:47 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I agree that dosing from day 1 is ok.

But on the other hand I've had 3 or 4 tanks in which the plants grew like there's no tomorrow the first 4-5 days after set up. They were not "loaded with nutrients from the nursery" or something like that - just plants taken from my existing tanks.

So maybe there is some good reason to postpone the fertilizing if the plants are doing good.

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Old 10-13-2004, 02:20 AM   #5 (permalink)
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always dosed fert and co2 from first day (even before i turn on the lights on the first time) and never had any problems but small algae bloom on the front glass - thing that ive never worried about - the magnet and the algae eating fish always solve this problem in a matter of a few days.
i think that we must agree that all the above is true on high tech tanks only and in a low tech tanks with low light and no co2 we can start dosing ferts after a while - only when the NO3 and PO4 kits shows low values.
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Old 10-13-2004, 05:37 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Adding more plants, lots of plants at the very start, gives any tank a leg up.
It's all in the preparation. All except the highly experienced fail in one way or another to properly prepare for a new planted aquarium. The difference between the masses and the experienced (for instance, Mr Amano, Jeff Senske, Oliver Knott....) is that they have on hand all the equipment and plants needed to get things right from day one. Making changes as one goes along reduces the process to a reactive one - reaction to problems such as algae.

Many people advise the heavy planting of a new tank with expendable plants which can be replaced at a later time when the tank has settled down. I am much more in favor of working out a design in advance and then acquiring all the plants needed to fill that design properly. If, for example, one decided to use Eleocharis parvula for a foreground, I would buy more than needed to properly cover the foreground - rather than have odd tufts here and there and wait for them to spread out. Replacing plants is not easy, sometimes. It can entail ripping up substrate and causing large disturbances. It is much better to have a very good idea of what one wants planted to begin with and to make sure you have all of those plants on hand when it comes to the set up.

Fertilizing, be it CO2, NO3, PO4, TMG, Flourish, or whatever, is then a requisite of such a new set up. Plants are first and foremost. Don't save money by not buying enough.

Andrew Cribb
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Old 10-13-2004, 06:30 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thank you Tom. I have been trying to get this idea across on a couple of forums for a long time. People say things like "the plants need to use their reserves before they will use the fertilizers". HUH?

If you start a tank with fast growing stem plants and have the light and CO2 in place some of these stem plants can double their bio-mass in less than a week. How much reserve do they have?

I have always added a half dose of nutrients to a new tank.
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Old 10-15-2004, 01:24 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Well, I kept hearing this, Amano suggest something like this, I can not find a good reason to do it and I am looking for one.

If none is found and stands up to the critique, I'll go after this issue in a more agressive manner.

So why did I bring this up to begin with?


Folks, namely newbies and even seasoned sourdoughs have trouble with the new tank breakin peroid.

I hear this and sort of scratch my head.
While I am good at growing weeds and killing them(on purpose), I do not have a magic wand.

There are reasons for my success and another's failure/s.

I've talked a lot about mulm to get away from Fishless cycling, NH4 dosing, good start ups.

This notion that challanges algae bloom when there are excess nutrients sort of chaps my hide.

So I think the end result of this issue for me and why I bring it up is mainly to get folks to have the most probable chance at success from day one.

If this occurs, then we have more successes and better methods.
The other thing is cheaper methods that can be done anywhere in the world with whatever is available.

The more of you all that learn how to start up a tank right, the more folks will learn about how to and why it works.

I just don't like to accept things because someone says so. That never got me anywhere.

Tom Barr
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Old 11-08-2004, 02:25 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Yes, Amano suggests that some of the ADA liquid fertilizers should be used for the first time after 3-4 weeks from the initial set up. However, one must understand the basic difference between an Amano set up and a set up which is fertilized by liquids only before making this suggestion a general one. An Amano set up is heavily based on substrate fertilizer called Power Sand. This substrate is rich of everything which plant needs. It is so rich of these substances (e.g. NH4) that the first weeks are used only to dilute the overdose in the water column. This is done by frequent water changes and filtering with active carbon. After 3 weeks NH4 drops and you can put in fishes and get rid of the algae from the glasses and remove active carbon from the filter. This is the point you start dosing liquid fertilizers. So it is clear that you cannot follow this regimen when the only source of fertilizers is from liquid additives. If you do not have a rich substrate which needs time to settle, you should start dosing your liquids from the start. That's exactly the same thing that Amano is doing (i.e. fertilizing his plants from the start), his substrate is only more than enough to do the job for the first weeks.
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Old 11-16-2004, 01:42 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Sorry, we do not know what is in the power sand etc.
It may be filled with nutrients, it may not.
It's a clay product, there might be a small amount in there, not a lot.
I've used cat litter with similar results.

That's clay also, a bit messier though. You could add some moisture, some macro's, peat etc and cook it a little and like get something much more definiable.

But the notion that it prevents algae is a crock. Water column ferts don't cause algae when the plants have enough nutrients to begin with.

Why would the NH4 be high unless you added it to begin with?

It would not matter if you added NO3 and the other nutrients or not, NH4 is the key problem and good plant growth can easily be achieved via water column dosing without any algae issues.

So this entire theory is crap.

I've said this for close to 10 years and no one has ever come even remotely show me that I'm wrong.

You don't limit the algae by adding things to the substrate.
Doesn't matter if it's a new tank or not.
What does that have to do with it?

Plants will take the nutrients from the water column first, not secondarily.
Numerous studies show this.

You can believe you limit algae all you want and the method will still work, but to say it(nutrients in the water column) causes algae is patently incorrect.

NH4 is the exception, but unless you add it, it can't cause algae.

I don't sell sand, gravel etc, Amano has business interest and makes $ at this. So he has a reason to do this.

Adding a tad of soil to Flourite will do the same thing also.
A month or so supply.

.....But........ you gain nothing from this.
Just another way to dose but you may as well start doing the water column since you are going to anyway. Plants will take it from the water column first and therefore give better growth from the start.

NH4 will be removed anyway no matter which method you wish to do no matter what with big weekly water changes.

Tom Barr

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