Laterite and Root Tabs - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 4 Old 01-09-2012, 06:22 PM Thread Starter
Laterite and Root Tabs

I have a newer tank just recently set up about 4 months ago. I added laterite to the bottom 1" of gravel.
I have stem plants, egeria densa, and cabomba caroliniana growing quite well and doing just fine. Last week I added some hygrophila corymbosa which has just now started to sprout some roots at the nodes. I do not use C02 only Seachems liquid Flourish twice a week. I also have some java ferns.

My question is should I still add root tabs to help the plants grow healthier or will this promote the chance of a huge algae problem?

I am currently using Seachems root tabs in another tank that does not have any laterite and am quite pleased with the results the tabs promote.

Thank You
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post #2 of 4 Old 01-09-2012, 06:53 PM
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Being all the plants you just mentioned are stem plants with exception of Java fern (but will still apply to it). They will pull most of their nutrients from the water column. So I don't really see where the root tablets will really help. They won't hurt either and being in the substrate they won't cause an algae bloom either. So really its up to you. If it was me I wouldn't bother until you have some heavy root feeders though.
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post #3 of 4 Old 01-09-2012, 07:03 PM
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The root tabs will not have much impact over Flourish Comprehensive liquid with stem plants. Substrate fertilization is usually beneficial for substrate-rooted plants, by which I mean swords, crypts, Vallisneria, Aponogeton, Sagittaria, lily types, and so forth. These plants all have extensive root systems that remain in the substrate, and providing nutrients directly or close to the root systems will most benefit the plant.

Stem plants usually produce roots from the nodes along the stems, where leaves are also produced. Some stem plants do this much more aggressively than others, but in either case the nutrients must be in the water column to best benefit the plant. Many stem plants also assimilate nutrients through the leaves too, another advantage for using liquid fertilizer. And Java Fern assimilates best from the water. Adding substrate fertilizers may help some of these a bit, but the most benefit will certainly come from liquid fertilization and Flourish once weekly should suffice.

A word on Laterite. This is simply an iron-rich clay, so its benefit is limited to providing iron at the root level. Same scenario as above applies. Substrate-rooted plants will most benefit from this, but as only iron is involved, care must be taken not to raise the iron level beyond what the plants need. Iron is a heavy metal and highly toxic at increased levels. Plants might have difficulty with this, depending upon other nutrients. I used a layer of Laterite in one tank many years ago, but noticed little if any difference. I have since learned that supplying only one nutrient is not likely to benefit plants, unless that is the only missing nutrient without. And more importantly, an excess of some nutrients can cause other issues for plants.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]

Last edited by Byron; 01-09-2012 at 07:05 PM.
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post #4 of 4 Old 01-10-2012, 12:14 PM Thread Starter
Thanks for your responses.

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