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DIY Ferti-Plant

8543 Views 28 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  plantbrain
Hey gang,

I figured out how to DIY my own Ferti-Plant plus for pennies on the dollar:

The main active ingredients are Lignite, a low grade coal rich in humic acids, and also Laterite which we should all be familiar with. Many hobbyists are touting its efficacy, so this tells me that the humics are the key. This is especuially true for higher light tanks, though I suspect the this substrate enrichment would be great for low light, low maintenance, and non-CO2 tanks.

First, Ferti-Plant + is *mostly* a quartz or volcanic sand, (I can't tell which) which has been enriched. Any sand will do, but a finer grade is better as it will hold the laterite and other goodies down better, and ultimately will provide more surface area. I used #1 blasting grit, but any fine gravel or coarse sand will do. I suspect that Pumice sand in a similar size would produce the best results due to high porosity.

The big mystery is the Lignite. This is simply a low grade coal which means that it won't burn as well due to it not being as far along in the decomposition process as a higher grade coal (Google Lignite). IE: it is high in undecomposed organic matter. After a search, I learned that Leonardite is a special deposit of Lignite and has the some of the highest quantity of natural occurring humic acids known. This is a popular product for organic gardening, and hydroponics. I found Leonardite at a hydroponics store under the brand name "Diamond Black" and is a General Hydroponics product. 1lb was $10 where I got it and I'd bet you could get it cheaper shoppong online. A Google search yields many options.

Next is the laterite. I used Aquarium Products at the recommended quantity, but you could use any laterite. I learned from Jamie Johnson's web site that Aquarium Products laterite has the highest Fe content of any laterite on the market, although many hobbyists report inferior growth to Dupla Root. That shouldn't matter much in this case. At any rate, the quantity of laterite in FertiPlant + is low and in powder form.

Viola, DIY Ferti-Plant. I used significantly more laterite in my mixture than Ferti-plant does, and about the same amount of humics (Lignite or Leonardite) as FP. I figure it comes out about like this for cost for 100lbs of DIY ferti-plant:

-100lbs blasting sand- $5
-1lb tub of humics- $10
-110oz AP laterite- $30 from Big Al's including shipping. This is a generous helping of laterite. Add $10-$15 for Dupla Root substitute.
total: ~$45-$60 for 100lbs

Versus 11lbs of Ferti-plant + for ~$50 including shipping (Florida Driftwood)

So, you see, even if you wanted to add another pound of humics or use Dupla Root, the savings are still substantial.

Happy gardening.
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Would anyone see a problem using a Diamond Black & blasting grit/ laterite substrate under Eco complete African substrate mix? I have kept africans for years and have started thinking about trying some plants with them. I would like my african tank to have a sand substrate for ease of maintenance. It will be a lower light 2 wpg? lightly planted non co2 tank. I am wondering what effect the mixing/ uprooting of the digging habits of the fish would have as the Diamond Black comes to the surface. Any PH issues or other problems with it being mixed with the argonite in the Eco mix?
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