Best Aquarium Plant Food For Growth

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aquarium plant fertilizer
To keep your aquarium  plants looking lush and full of life you definitely need to select the Best Aquarium Plant Food For Growth.
Some might argue the decomposition of excrement is organic and way better than fertilizers, but it takes ages to decompose.
Moreover, one has to change the water every week due to discoloration, which is a laborious task.

Some may argue that do-it-yourself fertilizers are better, which is true, but with time constraints and an arduous work involved, everybody prefers a ready-to-use solution.

So, if you are looking for the best aquarium plant fertilizer for your aquatic flora, then you need to understand the two types, these come in.

Best Aquarium Plant Fertilizers – Keeps Your Plants Healthy!

To sustain healthy growth of the plant, we need to give it essential nutrients in the form of micro and macro, trace elements and minerals.

It is also vital to check the toxicity level of the fertilizer as it can be hazardous to the living organisms in the aquarium and how well it works with the pH level of the water.

Keeping these factors in mind, one can choose a substrate in combination with liquid fertilizer or an all-in-one fertilizer that can fulfill the major requirements of the plant and also prevent algae bloom.

Factors To Consider While Purchasing The Best Aquarium Plant Fertilizer

1. Nutrients

It is a common misconception amongst hobbyists that plants only need carbon dioxide (CO2) for growth because that is what they breathe.

Yes, it is essential for plant growth, but it requires three significant nutrients that form the foundation of plant growth: Nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.

A balanced ratio of NPK is essential to make the roots of the plant more strong and full of vitality. A good all in one fertilizer will help in improving the plant productivity, and you will see a much healthier, greener, and flourishing aquatic plants and flowers

Along with macronutrients, plants also need micronutrients, especially iron for proper synthesis of ferrous oxide, phosphate and a controlled amount of carbon.

2. Quantity

The quantity of dosage is an essential factor, and differentiates the best aquarium plant fertilizer from the average fertilizers. If you have a small or standard size tank with just one or two plants, the quantity of the fertilizer required will be little.

A standard rule is 10ml of fertilizer in 100 litres of water. But, it varies because if your fertilizer is in concentrated form then just 500ml of fertilizer will be sufficient for 25000 gallons of water.

Although a standard liquid fertilizer is less effective than a concentrated one, it is advised to use the fertilizer according to the instruction manual, to prevent any harm to the fish.

3. Type Of Plant

Essentially, plants are of three types: easy, intermediate, and advanced. An easy plant is one that needs negligible CO2 and can survive even without fertilizers; it is a low feeding plant.

Whereas, intermediate and advanced level plants are high feeders and need an adequate amount of CO2 and essential nutrients for blooming and flowering.

Understand the anatomy of aquatic plants in your aquarium and only then purchase a fertilizer which is not destructive, but useful in plant growth.

4. Safety Of Aquatic Pets

An essential factor to consider while purchasing a plant fertilizer is the effect it will have on the aquatic fauna. If you want an aquarium that is a warm and comfortable habitat for the fishes, snails and shrimps, then you must choose a fertilizer that does not harm the aquatic animals.

There are many bio-liquid fertilizers or all-in-one compost that are animal-friendly. So, before purchasing a fertilizer, be sure to check the ingredients.

Often, high amount of nitrogen or copper can have severe impact on the small fish. Hence, seek guidance and check what the label says, and judge if it is animal-friendly or not.

5. Price

An obvious, but an understated factor is the economical aspect of the fertilizers. A best aquatic plant fertilizer is the one that has all the essential nutrients and is easy on the budget.

If your plant needs less carbon dioxide then a budget-friendly fertilizer is the better option, but if you have a proper aquarium décor done with live plants that need optimum temperature and high feeding, then the fertilizer with specific nutrients is necessary.

However, with the tsunami of variants available in the market, you can choose the one which is perfect for your plants and aquatic pets, and does not burden your economic condition. Also, there is no need to buy in bulk.

Top 10 Best Aquarium Plant Fertilizers 2020 (REVIEW &


1. Seachem Flourish Freshwater Plant Supplement

Seachem Best Aquarium Plant Fertilizer

A rich assortment of various micronutrients, trace elements, and organic carbon, offered by a brand that is known for its power-packed performance. It contains 0.32% of iron which is essential for ferrous oxide synthesis that helps in the growth of the plant.

You will see a significant difference in the vitality of your aquatic flora. Another factor that makes it in the list of best aquarium plant fertilizer is that it kills the algae.

A clean and freshwater environment is an essential factor for the health of aquatic animals, and Seachem Flourish Freshwater Plant Supplement helps in achieving it. It is considered one of the Best Aquarium Plant Food For Growth


  • Significant plant growth within a few days.
  • Perfect for hobbyists who do not have soil-based tanks or Co2 set up.
  • It is a multi-purpose fertilizer with enough micronutrients and ideal for low-tech flora.
  • Live plants will be healthier and greener without affecting the fish.


  • Stick to the dosage recommended else it can put the aquatic animals at risk.
  • Macronutrients like Nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus are not enough for heavy lit or high-tech tank.
  • The leaky cap spills the fertilizer while shaking, leading to the brown colour of the fertilizer.


2. Flourite


Unlike other substrates, Flourite is a porous clay material in the form of gravel and need not be replaced. It is an excellent alternative to sand soil as it is dense and stable which makes the plantation easy in the substrate. Also, it is not coated with any chemicals whatsoever.

Thus, there will be no change in the pH level of the water. As it is not chemically coated, it behaves inert, one has to use additional fertilizers or root tabs for witnessing plants bloom.

But, if you are looking for a substrate that does not breakdown and does not require rescaping, then Flourite is the best option in the market. It is considered one of the Best Aquarium Plant Food For Growth


  • It is dense and not chemically coated.
  • The gravel does not breakdown into the sand. Therefore, you don’t have to change the substrate for years.


  • It may cloud the water for the first two days, so avoid putting flora or fauna in the aquarium. Wait for clouding to subside.
  • If the stems are not correctly planted in the substrate, the plants will flow to the surface.
  • You may need additional root tabs or fertilizers as it is inert by itself.


3. API Leaf Zone Aquarium Plant Food

API Leaf Zone Aquarium Plant Food

Plants need iron and potassium to stay healthy and green, precisely what API Leaf Zone Aquarium Plant Food provides. On the bright side, it is better than giving nothing to the plants and it will boost productivity, but it is limited on the nutrient side.

The quality of the product is impeccable and is a fairly inexpensive option, but it has only two ingredients, i.e. iron and potassium and plants need more than that. It is considered one of the Best Aquarium Plant Food For Growth

If you have low-tech plants and are looking for a cheap option then you can opt for this, else it is not the ideal one.


  • It is pocket-friendly and is not much of a hassle as directions are relatively clear.
  • It boosts the productivity of the plant.
  • Safe for the fish and other inverts
  • It comes in concentrated form


  • It lacks the vital nutrients necessary for long-term sustenance of the plants.
  • Absence of nitrogen and phosphorous
  • It is not a one in all solution.


4. NilocG Aquatics Aquarium Fertilizer Shrimp Specific

NilocG Aquatics Aquarium Fertilizer Shrimp Specific

Why is it considered the best aquarium plant fertilizer? It is because it covers all the essential macro and micro-nutrients that will fill up your aquarium with lush green marine plants.

The all in one solution is easy to use with clearly described dosage and won’t harm your aquatic friend. It is perfect for shrimp specific tanks and can treat 2500 gallons of water. It comes in convenient pump bottles that take the effort out of dosage, and your hands won’t get dirty.

Use the fertilizer every alternate day and witness the budding of the plants giving an aesthetic appeal to the aquarium. Ideally, one should change fifty percent of the water every week for the best results, if not possible, then change the water every fortnight.

The fertilizer is not sensitive to shrimps, also fishes and as it is loaded with essential nutrients, it won’t have any side-effect on the fauna. It is considered one of the Best Aquarium Plant Food For Growth


  • Meet your plant’s nutritional requirements without harming the shrimps or fishes in the aquarium.
  • It is easy to use and gives significant results.
  • You don’t have to worry about your monthly budget


  • With a specific type of plants like Anubis’s won’t flourish as expected.
  • Dosage should be as prescribed and frequent change of 50% water is necessary.


5. Winchester Gardens 80 Count Highland Rim Aquatic Fertilizer Bag

Winchester Gardens 80 Count Highland Rim Aquatic Fertilizer Bag

Who doesn’t want to see their water plants in full bloom? Winchester Gardens 80 count Highland Rim Aquatic comes in the ratio of 10:26:10 which means; it has a high content of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and is free from copper.

It is made especially for aquarium or water gardens with lilies and lotus flowers in it and is known to boost the vigour of the plants. The combination of NPK, i.e., nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, helps in making the plants disease-resistant, produces green foliage and lets the plant bloom in its full capacity.

It is a perfect solution for high feeder plants and flowers and easily dissolves in water. All you need is to feed your lotus a weekly dose and see them bloom in magnificent wonder of nature. It is considered one of the Best Aquarium Plant Food For Growth


  • It is a non-expensive option to keep water lilies and lotus healthy and blooming.
  • There is no problem of algae bloom leading to contamination of water.
  • These are non-toxic and safe for fish and other marine fauna.


  • It is not much useful for vegetables, only restricted to water lilies and lotus.
  • The tablets become powder if the seal is not properly closed.


6. Winchester Gardens 12 Count Highland Rim

Winchester Gardens 12 Count Highland Rim

The small copper-free wonder in the form of tablets from Winchester Garden is all you need if you have lilies and lotuses in your water garden. All you need to do is put the tablet in the aquatic soil and watch the baby lilies flourish.

The essential nutrients in the tablet are in 10:26:10 ratio that stabilises the plant growth by shielding them against plant diseases and increases productivity. It is not only beneficial for the flower, but the size of the leaf also increases and it gives a dainty look to the aquarium.

The downside of the tablets is that these are primarily formulated for only two types of plant and may harm the fish as the content of phosphorus is high. It is considered one of the Best Aquarium Plant Food For Growth


  • For a growing high feeder plant, it is perfect as the nutritional ratio is more than usual.
  • It is economical, and the dosage is not rocket science.
  • Even a novice can manage to soil the plant once a month, and there is no need for extra fertilizer.


  • It works on small lilies in the aquarium but not in a pond.
  • It mentions that it is non-toxic, but it can be harmful for fish.
  • It lacks proper packaging, which leads to the crumbling of tablets.


7. CrystalClear ThriveCrystalClear Thrive

Only a gardener, whether land or aquatic knows, the extent of hard work goes behind a blooming and beautiful flower. CrystalClear Thrive was formulated to take the hard work away and in exchange, provide a flourished plant.

The formulation of 10:14:8 makes it the best aquarium plant fertilizer as it works exceptionally well for both flowering and non-flowering plants. These pellets can be used every two weeks, and all you need to do is put them one finger deep in aquatic soil.

The perfect time to feed the plant is when the water temperature is above 75°F. The only downside of the pellet is that it that it should be kept in cool places to ensure it does not get soiled. It is considered one of the Best Aquarium Plant Food For Growth


  • It can be used for both flowering and non-flowering plants.
  • The formulation for the pellet is suitable for high feeder plants.
  • It is pocket-friendly and non-toxic.
  • It is beneficial, especially for lilies and does not harm the fish.


  • It can lead to an algae bloom.
  • Pellets can become powder with high temperature, so keep it in an air-conditioned room or a refrigerator.


8. ThriveCaps


What makes ThriveCaps a reliable and in-demand substrate additive is that it not only contains micro and macronutrients, even minerals. For a long-lasting growth and health of the plant, it needs essential nutrients in optimum quantity at regular intervals.

It doesn’t need any extra additive as it is available in concentrated form. A blend of iron rich clay, mineral, and Thrive mix makes it an ideal tablet that can be soiled in the roots every fortnight. It does not contain nitrogen or phosphate that makes it suitable for low feeding plants.

It is less costly and can be easily used even by the new gardeners. It is considered one of the Best Aquarium Plant Food For Growth


  • It is effective on low tech tank and low feeding plants.
  • It increases the productivity of the plant and makes them disease-resistant.
  • Plants response to the substrate tablet is significant as they start producing more roots and leaves.


  • It makes the tank green which can suffocate the fish and other marine animals.
  • You have to push them into the substrate as it can quickly come on the surface which won’t serve the purpose of giving nutrients to the plant.


9. Plantabbs Pondtabbs Aquatic Plant Food

Plantabbs Pondtabbs Aquatic Plant Food

Are you planning to grow lilies? Then it is important to provide them with ample sunlight, a large water tank, and of course a nutrient rich food. When we talk about food, Plantabbs Pondtabbs is considered one of the best aquarium plant fertilizers in the pellet form.

With a controlled amount of nitrogen, it has all the essential nutrients like iron, manganese, boron, copper, etc that prevents the bloom of algae and helps the lilies grow to their full potential.

With the experience of 70years, Plantabbs know the right amount of NPK ratio essential for plant health, and hence, they have kept it till date. It is considered one of the Best Aquarium Plant Food For Growth

The treatment is not instant, as you need to put the tablet 3inches below the crown of the flower in the soil bed every two weeks, but it is worth the hassle considering your aquarium will look lively and beautiful.


  • It includes all the essential nutrients vital for a heavy feed plat like lilies and lotuses.
  • Not just for flowering, it also helps in the growth of non-flowering plants.
  • Easy on the pocket and can be used for a long time.


  • Tablets can become powder in humidity.
  • The process is time-consuming and messy as you need to insert the tablet 1inch in the soil bed.


10. NilocG AquaticsNilocG Aquatics

To ensure healthy growth of the aquatic plant’s micronutrients is also essential like macronutrients. With the numerous alternatives available in the market, it is confusing to choose the best aquarium plant fertilizer.But what makes NilocG Aquatic, a reliable option is not just the brand,but also the micronutrient content that will increase the productivity of the plant. Being disease-resistant is one thing, but flourishing and being healthy is another.

NilocG Aquatics ensures that your aquarium flora is not just blooming, but also has strong roots and also, disseminates itself. Presence of copper in the fertilizer may alarm a few gardeners as it can be harmful for snails and fishes.

NilocG Aquatics contains CSM+B, which is safe for marine life. It is considered one of the Best Aquarium Plant Food For Growth


  • The powder is water soluble and easy to use.
  • It is mandatory to follow dosage instructions for plant growth and protection of aquatic animals.
  • It is budget-friendly and contains essential micronutrients.


  • The fertilizer does not contain essential macronutrients.
  • It works for low feeding plants, but doubtful in case of high feeding plants or flowers like lotus or lily.
  • It has copper that can be alarming for some.


11. The 2HR Aquarist

The 2HR Aquarist

Is your aquarium a habitat to complex species of plants? Then think like a pro as you need to feed them with the best aquarium plant fertilizer that is a perfect mix off micro and macronutrients, minerals and is easy to use.

Everybody wants to see their plants grow and have vibrant colour texture. The 2HR Aquarist is your ally formulated with micro and macronutrients and trace elements that will restrict the growth of algae but won’t cease the growth of high feeding plants.

It is also animal-friendly and is adaptive, i.e. it can adapt to the changes in water pH level. So, wherever you live, it will adjust to the water temperature and help your plants flourish.

It does contain copper, but the content is lower than the alternatives available in the market, to ensure the safety of shrimps and snails. It is considered one of the Best Aquarium Plant Food For Growth


  • It is an all in one solution that helps in saving the cost of buying separate micro and macronutrients.
  • It is easy to use, as dosage instructions are marked.
  • It can adapt to the water of any pH level and won’t harm the aquatic animals.
  • Gives a rich texture and colour to the plant and does not lead to an algae bloom.


  • You need to fertilize the plants daily and strictly according to the instruction manual.
  • It contains traces of copper.



For some, API Leaf Zone is an all time favorite as it is available in concentrated form and is loaded with potassium and iron, but it lacks macros. Our inclination is towards Seachem Flourish Freshwater Plant Supplement as it is a trusted brand that helps in killing algae bloom and replenishes the plant with essential nutrients available in the right ratio

If you’re looking to set up your first planted aquarium, you might have heard that you need to dose fertilizers to keep aquatic plants healthy. A quick look into the world of anything that’s not a low-tech, low-light aquarium with easy plants can be pretty intimidating, though. Where to start?!

To make things easier, we’ve summarized all the basics of aquarium plant fertilization, different fertilizer types and dosing schedules. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know to provide your plants with the nutrients they need!


Why Should I Use Planted Aquarium Fertilizer?

We’re not going to pretend that all planted aquariums always need to be on a tight fertilizing schedule for any chance of success.

Some undemanding plants get by quite well on just the natural ‘fertilizers’ that fish and other aquarium inhabitants produce. The truth is, though, that without using fertilizers your planted tank likely just won’t be the same.

If you’re looking to grow aquarium plants successfully and would like to understand why fertilizers are a rather essential part of this, simply keep in mind that there are three main factors that influence your plants’ ability to grow.

These factors are light, Co2 and, yes, fertilizer!

  • Light – Plants need light in order to be able to photosynthesize and grow. Some aquarium plants can get by with very little light, while many others need special lighting systems to really thrive. However, blasting your tank with expensive LEDs is not going to give you any good results without…
  • Co2 – That’s because without this essential nutrient, your plants can’t actually do anything with all the light that’s provided to them. Algae will take over instead, which can result in massive blooms. The Co2 that’s naturally released won’t cut it for many of the advanced plants, so you’ll need to set up a system to supplement it. The combination of good lights and a source of Co2 can result in explosive plant growth, but only if you also provide…
  • Fertilizer – Plants require a number of substances to grow as they’re supposed to. We’ll tell you which in the next section (‘Micro VS macro’). For now, just keep in mind that without these substances, providing light and Co2 is just not really useful. Your plants can’t grow properly and will produce thin, spindly stems with pale and brittle leaves. Eventually they will likely die off.Macro vs. Micronutrients – The Secret to Healthy Aquarium Plants

There is not one single mineral element that can provide plants with everything they need to grow successfully. There are actually quite a few.

Some elements are required in relatively large amounts, so we refer to them as macronutrients. Others are only needed in trace amounts: they are micronutrients. So which elements are we talking about here?


Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potassium (also often collectively referred to as NPK). These are the most important components of aquarium plant fertilizers because larger quantities are needed. Other macronutrients include Calcium, Magnesium and Sulfur, but with the exception of Magnesium these are often not too important since they are already present in our water.


Iron, Chloride, Copper, Manganese, Molybdenum, Zinc, Cobalt, Nickel and Boron are some of the mineral micronutrients our plants need in small amounts to thrive. Although these elements are present in our tap water, plants will eventually deplete them and become ‘hungry’, meaning we’ll have to dose manually to make sure they do well

Types of Aquarium Plant Fertilizers :

In most cases you’ll encounter three different ways to provide your plants with their much-needed ‘food’ in your local aquarium store.

Additionally, you can give the DIY route a shot: it’s can be cheaper than buying liquid fertilizers, but is definitely a lot more work

Aquarium plants have two ways of absorbing nutrients.

Uptake happens through their roots and through their leaves. Most plants have evolved in such a way that their roots are responsible for the majority of nutrient uptake, just like with terrestrial plants. Others, though, rely entirely on their leaves because their roots are only meant to anchor the plant.

Aquarium plant fertilizer is usually either meant for root feeding or leaf feeding, not both.

Let’s have a quick look at the different aquarium plant fertilizer types out there, as well as some of their (dis)advantages.

Liquid Aquarium Fertilizer

  • CARBON PRODUCTION: All plants require a source of carbon, and Flourish Excel is a great and convenient source of bioavailable organic carbon.
  • IRON PRODUCTION: Flourish Excel also possesses iron reducing properties, thus promoting the ferrous state of iron (Fe+2), which is more easily utilized by plants than ferric iron (Fe+3).
  • PHOTOSYNTHESIS: Plants must produce longer chain carbon compounds (photosynthetic intermediates). By dosing with Flourish Excel you bypass the involvement of chain carbon compounds, and introduce the already finished, structurally similar compounds.

To provide plants with nutrients by means of leaf uptake, you can use one of the many liquid fertilizer brands out there. This is a popular option among aquarium plant growers because of the ease of use.

More or less all you have to do is measure out the correct amount and pour it into your tank. Although liquid fertilizers can get a little pricey and need to be dosed regularly they’re one of our favorite options because they supply everything a plant needs to grow properly.

For plants like Java fern, Anubias and floaters a liquid fertilizer is the only option, as they don’t absorb nutrients through their roots.

We recommend Seachem Flourish – it is tried and proven over many years to help keep plants healthy and stable!

Pre-packed Substrates

  • Complete substrate for freshwater planted aquariums
  • Contains major and minor trace elements to nourish aquarium plants
  • Substrate encourages healthy plant root growth

A great way to provide your aquarium plants with the required nutrients is to use a substrate that comes pre-packed with everything they need (such as Eco Complete shown above). We don’t mean dirt here, but actual gravel that you can use as the main substrate for your aquarium.

This is an easy option since you don’t have to cap the substrate with sand as would be needed when using dirt, but it does have a major downside.

Because plants gradually use up the nutrients in the fertilized substrate, it will eventually deplete. Although it still works just fine as substrate after being depleted, you’ll have to switch to dosing liquid fertilizer, using fertilizer tabs or changing out all of your substrate once this happens.

Aquarium Fertilizer Tabs

  • GROWTH TREATMENT: Seachem Flourish Tabs are growth stimulating tablets for plant roots which contain essential trace elements, amino acids, and vitamins.
  • VITAMINS: Seachem Flourish Tabs are rich in iron, manganese, magnesium, calcium, potassium, inositol, choline B12, biotin, and other factors that have been determined to be beneficial to aquatic plant roots.
  • NUTRIENTS: When inserted into the gravel, Seachem Flourish Tabs provide direct, time-released fertilization to the plants’ root zone. Nutrients are slowly made available through enzymatic action of the plants’ roots on the tabs.

Nutrient-loaded substrates are not the only way to provide your plants with fertilizer that can be absorbed through the roots. You can also manually add time-release fertilizer every once in a while in the form of small premade tablets usually referred to as root tabs.

These are probably the easiest option out there when it comes to aquarium plant fertilizer, as all you need to do is stick a tab into the substrate near your plants’ roots. One tab actually lasts quite a while!

That being said, the usefulness of many commercial root tabs is debated since they don’t usually contain all of the nutrients your plants need. Still, we like using then and they definitely help in giving your plants as many ways to absorb nutrients as possible.


Yet another frequently used way to provide aquatic plants with extra nutrients through their roots is dirt. If you’d like to go this route you can use specially formulated dirt for aquarium use, but you could also consider going for pond plant compost or even some types of regular potting soil.

Like the fertilized substrates mentioned above, dirt is a great way to give your plants a real boost. They’ll have all the nutrients they need at their disposal.

That being said, dirt seems to have gone ‘out of fashion’, as a lot of aquarists see it as unnecessary work and messy when disturbed.

If you’d like to try using dirt in your planted aquarium, make sure to cap it with mesh and then a layer of sand to prevent it from ending up all over the tank.

DIY Aquarium Plant Fertilizers

There are many commercial aquarium plant fertilizing products out there, most of which work perfectly well. They can be on the pricey side sometimes, though, which doesn’t exactly come in handy if you’re trying to maintain your aquarium on a budget.

If you’re DIY savvy you can consider making your own aquarium plant fertilizing products. Although it’s definitely not the most time efficient option, it will usually work just as well as commercial fertilizer.

DIY Root Tabs

DIY Root Tabs are very easy to make. All you’ll need are aquarium-safe time-release fertilizer grains and some gelatin pill caps. Simply place the grains into the caps, close them up and push the finished product into the substrate near plants that you think would benefit from the extra food.

aquarium fertilizer root tabs
Root tabs should be placed underneath the substrate directly near the preferred plant

DIY Liquid Fertilizer

DIY liquid aquarium fertilizer is another popularly used option.

All liquid aquarium plant fertilizers are essentially made from the same dry mineral salts dissolved in liquid, which means if you can acquire this base you can make the product yourself.

Tailoring the recipe to your own plants’ needs is a great way to ensure lush growth and much more economical, but do keep in mind that it can be a bit of a struggle to find and measure out the ingredients you need.

How to Dose Aquarium Fertilizer

If you’re using liquid aquarium plant fertilizers, it can be a bit of a hassle to figure out exactly how much to dose. Although commercial fertilizers generally list a recommended amount of product per dosing, it’s a good idea to not just blindly go off that. This is mainly because plants’ needs can vary greatly depending on the circumstances.

For example, if you’re just starting out with dosing, they might absorb greater amounts in the first few weeks to store away.

If your tank is more heavily stocked with fish the plants will need less. If you do very frequent water changes they’ll need more.

Measuring is the only way to really know what’s going on in the tank. Although you’ll get by with just following the instruction guidelines in many cases, it can really help to set up your own dosing schedule.

There are many different fertilizer dosing methods out there, all of them with their own philosophy and (dis)advantages. Which one will work best for your tank depends entirely on your own goals and preferences; if you’re not sure, just do some research and try different styles.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to follow one dosing method’s instructions to the comma. No two aquariums are the same and it’s best to simply go by what you see happening in yours.

We’ll discuss a few of the most popular aquarium fertilizer dosing methods below.

EI Dosing

Probably the most popular dosing method around today is Estimative Index, also known as EI. It was coined by Tom Barr and its basic philosophy is that if we overdose nutrients, our plants will always do well.

This means not just fertilizer, but light and Co2 as well.Not all aquariums are suitable for the EI method, but if you’re looking to set up a high-tech aquascape with very lush planting, it might be just right for you.

Remember that you’ll have to pull out the pruning scissors on a regular basis when using EI, and you’ll have to get the balance in nutrients just right to prevent algae from taking advantage. A large water change is needed weekly to remove excess nutrients.

ADA Dosing

This method relies not just on dosing fertilizer into the water column, but supposes you’ll be using an enriched substrate as well. It was developed by Aqua Design Amano (ADA) as a means of instructing aquarists on how to use their line of liquid fertilizers and fertilized substrates.

With the ADA method, you dose limited liquid fertilizers, which works because the plants can rely on the substrate for additional nutrients. This is said to help prevent algae explosions. ADA works very well if you don’t mind slower growth rates and a more clean, less ‘jungly’ feel.


Perpetual Preservation System – This dosing method is, according to its creator, is based on the fact that each aquarium is unique and that there is no one-size-fits-all.

However, that doesn’t mean you need to be stuck testing, maintaining and tweaking constantly. It involves a specific DIY method of creating your own fertilizer and dosing according to the PPS system.


Poor Man’s Dosing Drops – The PMDD method relies on the philosophy that restricting phosphate means restricting algae growth, which is something any aquarist desires.

The original method is now considered outdated, because it’s been proven that your plants do really need those phosphates to thrive.

That being said, some aquarists still use the PMDD method, especially on low-light tanks that can benefit from the ratios provided by the schedule. They just make some modifications to ensure things run smoothly, such as adding a little extra phosphate.

Types Of Aquarium Plant Fertilizers

1. Liquid fertilizer

Also known as water column dosing, it is an easy way of fertilizing, where you can put a limited amount of dose say 10ml in 100 litres tank. The upside of this procedure is that you can be accurate and precise about the quantity of treatment.

It gets absorbed in the water easily, and provides the flora an ample amount of potassium. However,the reactive fertilizers like iron can evaporate rapidly depending upon the pH level of the water and temperature. Moreover, a consistent dosage is essential without any room for error.

Typically, a plant needs fertilization every alternate day, and liquid fertilizers can lead to discoloration of the water, creating a need to change the water more frequently.

2. Root Zone Or Substrate Based Fertilization

Substrate fertilization is relatively simple and biological where a tablet is put in the roots of the plant. The sole advantage of the root zone is that you can put ammonia based tablets in the roots which are not possible with water fertilization as it can result in an algae bloom.

Similarly, reactive substances like phosphates and iron, remain in the roots and help in plant growth. These root tablets or pellets take months to transform into sand particles. Hence, there is no need to feed the plants daily with these tablets.

The only disadvantage of this type of fertilization is that it lacks precision. You never know how much is the perfect amount of dosage, and the right duration of time until the need to give the next dose.

For the consistent growth of the plant and to make the roots healthy, one should use both types in a balancing method. A pro aquarist will use gravel based aqua soil where he can put the pellets in the roots of the plant, and also use liquid fertilizers every day to encourage the growth of plants and make them immune to diseases.

Once the foundation is set with a gravel bed, there is no need to change the soil bed for years and putting pellets one a month will do the job, so there is no hassle of digging the hole daily to insert the tablet.

Also, water fertilization is relatively easy and less messy, so even if you do it every alternate day, it won’t take much time.

Final Tips to Keep in Mind

All the above taken together might lead beginning aquarists to think that running an aquarium with more demanding plants that need to be fertilized is going to be a nightmare. So many products, so many methods and so many factors to keep in mind?!

We’d like to assure any aspiring aquascapers that although there’s a lot of information to take in on this topic, the best way is to just start. Simply following the instructions listed on your preferred brand of the Best Aquarium Plant Food For Growth is already going to lead to much better results than not dosing at all.

Once you feel ready, you can consider reading up on the different dosing schedules and figure out which best matches the type of aquarium you’d like to own (high-tech jungle? Minimalist? Low-light? Low-maintenance?).

Don’t worry about getting things exactly right, just focus on getting them right for your tank.

Lastly, remember that although all aquariums are different, the key to successful plant growth is balance. As we discussed at the start of this article, it’s crucial that your light, Co2 and fertilizer levels are balanced to prevent algae growth and unhealthy plants.

As long as this rule is kept in mind, achieving aquascape success should be no issue with our list of the Best Aquarium Plant Food For Growth


Best Freshwater Aquarium Plant Fertilizer

Best Aquarium Plant Fertilizer

Best Growth Supplement For Aquarium

Best Aquarium Glass Cleaner And Algae Scrapper

Thanks for sharing!
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