02-14-2011, 12:35 PM
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Wannalearn is generally correct, but the substrate itself will not usually impact the balance depending upon the whole.
To explain Flourite, which is manufactured by Seachem, it is a nutrient-enriched substrate intended for planted tanks. Eco-Complete is another similar product made by CaribSea. These are small-grain gravels (Flourite has one called "sand" which is the smallest) that contain essential nutrients. The nutrients are only released by the gravel as they are needed by plant roots coming into contact. An over-simplification, but the technical process is unknown to me and doesn't matter.
Plants need adequate light and nutrients. If any one essential nutrient is missing, or light is inadequate, plants can't photosynthesize fully and they either slow down or stop altogether. If the nutrients occur in the substrate, that is fine for substrate-rooted plants but of little or no value whatsoever to non-substrate rooted plants; these latter only benefit from liquid fertilization directly into the water column.
Having an enriched substrate such as Flourite or Eco-Complete may or may not mean less liquid fertilization needs to be added, all to balance the light. The type of plants, the level of light and the organics in the system all affect this balance.
The advantage of enriched substrates is that the nutrients will not dissipate into the water and thus feed algae, if the light is less than what is required. The nutrients are only released when they are needed, or so the manufacturers of both products claim. And given the success so many aquarists have had with these two products, the claim seems accurate.
Lighting should always be the minimal required to grow the plants in any given system. With that as the starting point, nutrients are then added to balance the light, remembering that natural organics will provide some nutrients in addition to any we add. The enriched substrates are perfect in this scenario because they only release the nutrients as they are needed.
I hope I've explained it, feel free to ask questions.
Last edited by Byron; 02-14-2011 at 07:25 PM..
Reason: correct spelling