Fertilizers for a newbie


Alright yall, in the last few months I’ve gotten into keeping live plants in all my tanks and my tanks are all decently planted at this point, most of the plants are doing fine but aren’t necessarily thriving so I would like to get a fertilizer for them but my problem and what I would love advice on is that one of my tanks has ghost shrimp, one has cherry shrimp, and one has African dwarf frogs so all sensitive to copper. The suggestion I get most often for a safe good fertilizer is thrive but it’s so pricy and I’d worry that if for any reason it didn’t work out I’d be flushing 30$ down the drain so does anyone have any suggestions for anything safe and cheaper? I’ve been using seachem flourish on a fully planted, non filtered tank with a single betta in it and it’s been fine but the amount of negative reviews and things I’ve heard about seachem makes me not feel so safe about putting it any of my other tanks. Not quite sure what to do so if anyones got any advice or opinions I’d love the help! Thanks! :)


Seachem is one of the more reputable aquarium products you'd find online, so I wouldn't doubt that. Most people either use flourish or easy green. Pretty much any fertilizer works, as they don't contain enough copper to harm the shrimp. (Btw, I use thrive too, didn't realize how relatively expensive it was... shot myself in the foot..) But yeah, I'd go ahead and use seachem flourish or easy green if you want, they definitely won't hurt the shrimp.


My guru tells me to use Thrive liquid and root tabs, that the are "complete". I do as she says and my plants do well.


In my experience, shrimps and such do fine with a little copper (like <1 ppm). Once you get much higher than that, you might start to see issues. I started loosing shrimps and snails when my source water had 1.3 ppm copper.

So, first you'll need to find out how much copper is in your source water. You can test this or read your city's water report. Then, choose a fertilizer that won't push you over about 1 ppm copper when you add it to your water. If you don't have much copper in your source water, pretty much any aquarium plant fertilizer is safe.


There are a couple of factors to take into consideration:
- your light system; strong versus moderate
- CO2 injection: yes versus no
- inert substrate versus active soil
- fish load

Your plants need all required micro and macro nutrients. You can find what these are online, but if you are a novice, it is advisable to use an all-in-one fertiliser, because if you lack one ingredient, it is bad news for plants and good news for algae.

The last two aforementioned factors determine if you need an all-in-one that includes nitrates and phosphates. If you have active soil and/or plenty of fish, you need an all-in-one without NO3 and PO4.

The first two aforementioned factors determine your dosing regime.

Seachem is popular in the US. Aqua Rebell is popular in Europe. I myself use APT 3 for just one of my tanks that has sand substrate, very low fish load, no CO2 and dim light. I dose lower than what is recommended for these conditions.

APT 1 is an all-in-one without NO3 and PO4.

APT 2...or is is called Estimative Index....not sure, but is an all-in-one used for the Estimative Index dosing regime. Meaning that you overdose followed by a significant water change.

I'm sure Seachem has equivalent products.

The easiest approach is using dim-to-moderate light intensity, no CO2, sand substrate and APT 3 with a very modest dosing regime. Also saves you money ;)

The main downside of this approach, is that plants that have the potential for reddish color, will most likely remain green.

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