Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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artspidey 11-08-2011 11:55 AM

Need help with plant substrate..
First of all hi everyone I'm new to the site,... recently i changed my substrate in my planted tanks for eco-complete and they are doing well so far, but im wondering if anybody knows if this substrate has the capacity of taking all the nutrients out of the water and making them available to the plant root system..... cuz i added liquid fertilizer; including iron, but about two days after, when i test for iron the results are 0.0 ,you guys think I'm doing something wrong? it has happened several times, don't know what's going on... Thanks.:|

Calmwaters 11-08-2011 01:51 PM

It is my understanding that the substrate itself is what has the nutrients in it, not that it removes the nutrients from the water.

artspidey 11-08-2011 02:09 PM


Originally Posted by Calmwaters (Post 888127)
It is my understanding that the substrate itself is what has the nutrients in it, not that it removes the nutrients from the water.

yea i agree with you, but can't figure out where is my iron and nutrients going, i don't have my tank over stock to were i can say that the plants are using it right away, maybe i should try buying a new testing kit,the one i have doesn't have an exp date so it might be to old..

Calmwaters 11-08-2011 02:11 PM

Thats a good question maybe some one else will have some ideas.

Byron 11-08-2011 07:04 PM

Welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum. Nice to have you with us.

Now, to your questions. I am not exactly sure if you meant you are adding a fertilizer that contains iron, or if you are adding an iron-only product in addition to a basic general fertilizer. There is a big difference.

Iron is not necessary as an individual nutrient unless you are running a high-tech planted tank system, with CO2, daily nutrient dosing (of all necessary nutrients) and higher light. Iron is only a micro-nutrient, and an excess of iron can be very detrimental to plants and fish. Iron is after all one of the "heavy metals" that are very toxic to all life. If you are running a low-tech or natural system, with no CO2 diffusion, then a complete nutrient fertilizer is all that is necessary, once or twice weekly.

The levels of heavy metals in a good complete liquid fertilizer are minimal, balanced for the needs of most aquatic plants. I doubt a test made for aquaria would detect iron or much else. But there is sufficient iron in a product like Flourish Comprehensive to nourish a tank of plants for a week.

On the Eco-Complete substrate. According to the manufacturer, CaribSea, this product contains iron, along with other nutrients. These release over time to feed the substrate-rooted plants. I've not used EC myself, but some other members here have, so if they see this they will likely contribute. I have used Flourite, I have had a tank with this for 7 months now, and I still need to dose liquid fertilizer or the plants show signs of weakening. I cannot say if EC and Flourite are similar in this respect. I have read good reviews and bad reviews of EC on plant groups.


Calmwaters 11-08-2011 07:15 PM

I have used the Eco-Complete and still had to dose the liquid ferts.

Boredomb 11-08-2011 07:33 PM


Originally Posted by Calmwaters (Post 888407)
I have used the Eco-Complete and still had to dose the liquid ferts.

Same here I hac EC in my tank when I first started it up. I found that I still need to add fertilizers in the form of liquids and root tablets. I have since reside my tank and have just sand since I did not see any benefits of EC and it has sharp edges that bottom feeders won't like (also another reason I got rid of it.).

Calmwaters 11-08-2011 07:39 PM

I got rid of it for the same reason and because I did not like the way it was not really black more of a grey after a while.

redchigh 11-09-2011 05:04 PM

Plants absorb heavy metals from the water- faster than they can use it sometimes.

If you dose iron (within moderation), test the water immediately, and test an hour later, it will be lower.

I do agree, you shouldn't have to worry about individual nutrients in a low-tech tank.

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