Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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FreshwataFish 04-14-2011 03:51 PM

Flourish comprehensive vs. Flourish Trace
I have a 37g and have recently added many live plants (potted and non-potted). The guy at the fish store said i should get flourish trace because it lets my plants absorb needed metals easier, but i have stuck with the flourish comprehensive while i get it started. Should i switch to flourish trace and if so, what are the pros and cons? Also what would be best for plant growth and color?

Byron 04-15-2011 12:22 PM

The answer partly depends upon what nutrients you may already have, from the tap water, organics (fish load, fish species, fish foods used) and the type and number of plants.

Aquatic plants require a balance of 17 nutrients. Some are more important than others (macro-nutrients versus micro-nutrients), but all have to be present (available to the plants) or photosynthesis [growth] cannot occur, or it will be slower, depending upon what is minimal or missing.

Flourish Comprehensive contains all but 3 of the 17 nutrients. Those not included are oxygen, hydrogen and carbon. These three normally occur naturally in the aquarium, so there is no need to be dosing them. Except for increasing carbon, as one does in high-tech methods, but we can ignore that for the purpose of your question.

Flourish Trace contains only the micro-nutrients. You can see the list and the proportion on the Seachem website, here: Seachem. Flourish Trace

As they state, Trace may be used alone or with Flourish Comprehensive. As I mentioned at the outset, some nutrients may occur in your source water, and some certainly from organics, but I doubt any source water (tap water or well water) contains everything or even sufficient quantities of some, making it necessary to add them either as liquid or via the substrate.

I use only Flourish Comprehensive. It contains all those trace elements along with the macro-nutrients too. I have not experimented with adding Trace as well, simply because I am getting what I consider excellent growth from just the Flourish comprehensive, and I see no point in spending money unnecessarily. However, if I were to use Trace in addition to Flourish Comp, it may well be that my plants would respond even better. Next time I'm in the fish store I may look for a small bottle of Trace. Your question has intrigued me.;-)

So, to recapitulate the response to your direct question, I would find out what is in your tap water and then either continue with Flourish Comp on its own, or try Flourish Trace. If you'd like to provide information on your tap water, or a link to the water supply site that does, I'd be happy to take a look and offer my opinion. I know that in my case, there is nothing in my tap water in the way of nutrients and I absolutely must use a Comprehensive to supply the macros.

FreshwataFish 04-15-2011 08:47 PM

Whenever I add water i use conditioner to get rid of anything that is in the tap water so wouldn't any nutrients in the water be removed? And maybe I should just get the trace and do a combo :) Thanks for the advice.

Byron 04-16-2011 09:44 AM


Originally Posted by FreshwataFish (Post 649503)
Whenever I add water i use conditioner to get rid of anything that is in the tap water so wouldn't any nutrients in the water be removed? And maybe I should just get the trace and do a combo :) Thanks for the advice.

Water conditioners do not touch minerals like calcium and magnesium; these are the two that generally cause the "hardness" in the water. And both are necessary for plants. Water conditioners that specifically mention "detoxifying heavy metals" will neutralize certain minerals such as iron, copper, manganese, zinc and nickel, as these are "heavy metals" as well as essential plant nutrients. These are all trace elements or micro-nutrients, so they are included in both Flourish Comprehensive and Trace.

So we're still back where we were with my previous response. Flourish Comp is providing everything, and probably some of what may be missing, and certainly what is being neutralized. Trace would only add more of the micro-nutrients, but unless there is sufficient macro this will achieve little if any benefit. As mentioned before, there has to be a balance of nutrients for plants to respond.

One comment on the water conditioner; if it does detoxify heavy metals, make sure you dose the Flourish (whichever) the day following a water change. Most conditioners only work for 24 hours or so, and there is no point in adding nutrients only to have the conditioner make them ineffective. I contacted Seachem directly a while back on this, and their advice was to wait 24 hours.

On using both products, do you have reason to think your plants are not doing well? If they are growing fine with Flourish Comp, I would not waste money on Trace. I will have to experiment to see if there is significant value in both in a natural system, but given that Seachem also make other macro-nutrients and recommend using all of them--potassium, iron, carbon, etc--I would tend to think that Flourish Comp on its own is providing everything at that level, and increasing one (or some) is not going to benefit without increasing all, and then of course we get into higher light and CO2. I myself would not go down that road if your plants are fine now. Not just the considerable extra expense, but the effect of more stuff going in the fish water.


redchigh 04-16-2011 12:48 PM

I'm pretty sure that's a misconception.. No offense of course.

Metals are toxic when they are unassociated, and can bond with cells within the fish. To detoxify metals, you bind them to a chelating agent.

Plants are able to break that bond to assimilate the nutrients. (In natural planted aquaria even bacteria and plants can chelate metals, to make them less toxic and then use them later. Of course, this means wasted energy from the plants and should be avoided.)

Flourish comprehensive and Trace have many of the toxic metals chelated- iron and copper are only the ones I know of.

From my internet research and experiance, flourish comprehensive and flourish trace are nearly identical.
Flourish Comprehensive does include the macros (phosphate, potassium(potash), and nitrogen)... Macros are needed in higher amounts than the micros, obviously.

The phosphate and Nitrogen in comprehensive are in such minute amounts.. I'm not certain it's really making an impact. Of course, phosphorus and nitrogen are ample in most aquarums, especially natural planted tanks. I've been dosing CSM+B (micronutrient mixture) and Potassium, and been impressed other than the swords, the rest of the plants seem to be about the same.
I do use soil though, which may explain my different observations. After 5 years of not vacuuming the substrate in a normal tank, I doubt there would be much difference in nutrient levels.

Byron 04-16-2011 01:02 PM

I believe the iron and such in Flourish is chelated. Seachem responded to my question that Prime would make the "heavy metals" unavailable to plants for as long as it remains effective which they said is approximately 24 hours, so it was best to dose the fert later because the fert would be lost otherwise. I just took them at their word. I have since then been dosing Flourish the day after the water change. I mention this when it comes up, but from my observations before and after I can't say it is noticeable.

redchigh 04-16-2011 01:19 PM

I'm not really familiar with Prime, they may well use a different sort of chelation agent...

Many use EDTA, which is what my last comment was regarding... In Ecology of the Planted Aquarium, I believe EDTA is mentioned.

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