Best Planted Tank Fertilizers

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There are so many things to take care of when you keep a fish tank. And, one of these is buying the Best Planted Tank Fertilizers for your live aquatic plants.

Your fishes are not the only valuable creatures that you need to look after inside the tank, if you hope to make your planted tank look more natural and impressive, then it is a must to invest in the best aquarium plant fertilizers.

Needless to say, having the right fertilizer will considerably help you in ending up with stunningly green fish tank plants.

Keep in mind that relying on the kind of fertilizer you get to utilize; this will always affect how the fish tank plants will look inside the aquarium.

The good news is that there are innumerable options on the market nowadays and you can select from the topnotch aquarium plant fertilizers to ensure that your fish tank plants are properly maintained.

With the detailed product reviews in this article, you can definitely pick the highly rated aquarium plant fertilizers that could help make your plants thrive well inside your fish tank.

Whether you’re a pro or still a newbie, this article will absolutely be a very useful guide for you!

Top 12 Best Aquarium Plant Fertilizer 2020 (review & guide)

 Here are the 12 Best Planted Tank Fertilizers that you can feed your aquarium plants:

1. Thrive Aquarium Plant Fertilizer All in One

What makes this alternative stand out from the crowd is the fact that it comes in a concentrated formula that can make one bottle of Thrive fertilizer the equivalent of 5 or 6 other standard bottles of other varieties.

This is why customers love this product, not only does it save you the in commodity of storing 6 bottles of fertilizers, but it also allows you buy just one 500ml bottle and have it last you a long time.

It is extremely convenient and that shows in the approval and the satisfaction that the customers have with this product.

The design of the bottle also removes the need of having to measure your dosage as each pressing of the pump will amount to enough fertilizer to deliver all the nutrients necessary for a 10-gallon tank.

The nourishing formula of this aquarium plant fertilizer will have you notice improvements in the appearance and growth of your plants from the first week. This one of the Best Planted Tank Fertilizers


Given that this is a concentrated fertilizer that has the same strength as 5 or 6 standard bottles, you can safely say that it’s a cost-effective solution for your needs.

The fact that it’s a highly convenient choice is proven by the many positive reviews it has, and by the fact that it’s one of the top choices among experienced users.

Thanks to the fact that the bottle is cleverly designed, you won’t have to struggle to determine the right measure for your aquarium.

If you decide to give it a try, you’ll see for yourself the many benefits this nourishing formula brings to the little ecosystem inside your home.


Even though this product is a highly effective one, you still need to measure the water’s quality to make sure that everything is in order.

You should also clean the tank whenever necessary, to prevent nitrate levels from rising too high.


2. Seachem Flourish 1000ml

The Seachem Flourish Aquarium Plant contains a rich assortment of important macro elements, trace elements and other nutrients that are designed to nourish, protect and keep your plants strong and healthy.

It also includes calcium, magnesium, and iron as well as other elements that have been proven to help aquatic plants flourish. Coming in a 1000ml bottle, the Seachem Flourish alternative is bound to last you for some time, this, of course, depends on the size of your aquarium.

Customers have immediately noticed that this product has improved the growth of their plants, besides of helping the plants get healthier and sprout new leaves, this product can also be beneficial in further encouraging the growth of new plants from the gravel or sand.

It can really turn your entire aquarium into a living and beautiful ecosystem, offering your fish an environment where they can thrive while also making your aquarium stand out in a beautiful and pleasant way. This one of the Best Planted Tank Fertilizers


This Seachem formula comes with a wide range of elements and nutrients for your plants to be nourished and protected, for healthy development.

There is a large number of satisfied customers who have already tried this product, which says a lot about its quality, so you can rest assured that you won’t regret trying it out.

The list of beneficial elements it ensures includes iron, calcium, and magnesium, in other words pretty much everything needed for aquatic plants to grow strong in your aquarium.

If you want to enjoy the sight of a great-looking tank, this Seachem product is a great choice, especially given that it comes in a large pack that is going to last for a longer time.


The large pack might also be somewhat of an inconvenience in case you simply want to give the product a try.

Make sure that you read the details on its concentration, to use the right amount.

3. Laguna Once-A-Year Mini Fertilizer Spike 

If you’re looking for a product that’s efficient and convenient to use, then you should look no further since this option packs a lot of nutrients to maximize the size and color of your aquatic plants.

It is a high-value purchase since the six fertilizer spikes in this pack will last for one full year.

It doesn’t have a negative impact on water quality, and this means that your fish and other aquatic life in the tank won’t even notice that you’ve added the plant fertilizer. This one of the Best Planted Tank Fertilizers

The well-balanced feeding formula in these spikes will turn your aquarium into a small patch of the ocean.

The spikes are built to be used for aquatic plants that have a root system contained in planting baskets. What’s more, while this option will provide maximum nutrients to beneficial plants, the fertilizer will not be absorbed by string algae, and that will help keep the aquarium clean.


The sticks are temperature activated, and this means that they will only release nutrients when the plants need them, namely at or above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the spikes are activated, they will release a feeding formula that is balanced to maximize the color and size of all aquatic plants and is compatible with all planting baskets.

It doesn’t have any adverse effect on water quality, and the nutrients used in the spikes are non-toxic to plant life, fish, or other types of aquatic life.

You can move the fertilizer sticks around your tank if certain plants are not growing as fast or as well as others.


The manufacturer doesn’t do a very good job of explaining to users that they need to remove the clear plastic off the stake before inserting the product in the aquarium.

The plastic wrapper is also very difficult to remove without damaging the spikes.

4. Brightwell Aquatics ABACOL250 Koralcolor

Providing 14 essential elements for the well-being, the growth, and proper colorization of your plants, the Brightwell Aquatics 810086011483 is a product that will keep your aquarium flourishing and make it beam with life.

It can be used to establish beneficial water parameters in an aquarium that has just been set up or you can use it to replenish depletion of the elemental concentrations in aquariums that do not receive a water change often.

It can also be used, of course, to re-establish the beneficial water parameters after changing a large quantity of water in your aquarium.

The Brightwell Aquatics 810086011483 is recommended for aquarium owners that seek a simple and affordable solution to all their requirements in the care and cultivation of aquatic plants by providing all the necessary nutrients.

This way, the Brightwell Aquatics 810086011483 can replace the need of using a wide array of products. Thus, you can have just one simple solution to nourishing and keeping your plants healthy. This one of the Best Planted Tank Fertilizers


What makes Brightwell Aquatics’ formula stand out among other similar fertilizers is the fact that it includes 14 different elements essential for the healthy development of aquatic plants.

As many reviews have already pointed out, the results it brings can be seen right away, and your aquarium is going to look great with healthy and thriving plants.

The versatile formula also makes this a fertilizer that can be used in more than one way, whether you want to get the right water parameters or simply replenish any substance depletion.

Brightwell Aquatics’ product is easy to use, being popular for its affordability and effectiveness among experienced aquarium owners.


The bottle might arrive with some damages, but in case the product itself cannot be used, customer support can help with a solution.

Make sure that you read the instructions provided, to add the right amount for the tank’s size.

5. API CO2 BOOSTER Freshwater Aquarium Plant Treatment

If you want a simple solution to the nutritional requirements of your plants, the API 579E can provide you with a carbon-based aquarium plant fertilizer.

If you can’t afford or don’t want a CO2 system for your aquarium this product can give your plants the required boost to grow and get that healthy green coloring.

If you have a CO2 system equipped to your aquarium but you’re not satisfied with the look and state of your plants you can still use the API 579E as the product is designed to work with CO2 systems without altering the pH levels of the water.

As we all know, carbon is an essential element used by aquarium plants during the process of photosynthesis and this where this product comes to play. This one of the Best Planted Tank Fertilizers

The API 579E supplies a concentrated source of carbon that comes in two forms: CO2 and simple organic carbon compounds for your plants to absorb from the water and grow healthy and make your aquarium worth admiring.


This effective product provides everything your plants need in order to thrive, so you can enjoy a beautiful-looking aquarium inside your home.

As many previous buyers have stated in their reviews, a healthy dose of this product which ensures the right level CO2 has really made a difference in the plants’ growth rate.

The product is also convenient, as it’s really easy to use, so if want to give your tank’s balance a boost, you shouldn’t hesitate to take it into account.

You may also want to know that this formula also works as an algae preventive measure, and it does a really great job at this, according to many reviews.


You should carefully read the measurements marked on the cap in order to add the right dosage as, otherwise, it might hurt the fish.

One customer received the product damaged and leaked, but this is not something that happens often.

6. Seachem Enhancer NPK – Best for lightly stocked small aquariums with live plants

I consider Seachem Enhancer NPK one of the best because it contains all the essential macro ingredients any aquarium plant could ever require from a fertilizer.

These are the three macronutrients that plants use up a lot of in their growth process, namely Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus(P) and Potassium (K).

If you are new in the game, this one suits you well because it is easy to use.

I definitely recommend this fertilizer for when you want to see your aquarium plants grow fast on short notice, but your planted tank is lightly stocked on fish.

It will make up for the insufficient nitrogen from fish waste.

You should have some time to do trimming if the growth gets out of hand, however.

This product can show significant results very quickly so monitor your tank after you start dosing.

Make sure to follow the instructions and control the dosing well. This one of the Best Planted Tank Fertilizers

If you have a browning aquarium plant or aquarium grass you want to see turn green, thick and beautiful like a well-manicured lawn, grab this food.


  • It contains all the macronutrients in one box.
  • It is highly concentrated, so a single bottle is ‘one too many’ for a small tank.
  • It is friendly to shrimp.


  • It is rather pricey so if you have a large tank (10 gallons or so) with high nutrient requirements, you may have to dig deeper into your pockets to keep up with it. It favors small, less-demanding planted tanks low on fish stocking.
  • It makes the plants grow so fast, so you have to create the time for pruning once in a while. (I don’t know about you but with me, that’s part of the fun of keeping an aquarium with live plants.)


7. All in One Thrive Aquarium Plant Fertilizer – Best Liquid Fertilizer for Beginners

I would probably say that the Thrive Aquarium Fertilizer is the best one overall.

It is especially ideal for the newcomers in the hobby because it takes minimal effort to use.

Combine that with proven results (at least for everyone I’ve seen using it) and that’s enough of a selling point on its own.

Again, you won’t have to purchase 3 or 4 different bottles of different contents because as a single product works wonders as an all-in-one fertilizer for well-planted freshwater tanks.

I said that when copper is correctly applied it will never harm your shrimp or any other pet for that matter. Still, if you are adamant it may, well, buy this product for your aquarium.

The copper content is so low it amounts to nothing, which is good if you have copper-rich tap water. I am somewhat trying to meet you on your own ground here.

I have used the Thrive in my shrimp tank without any incidents. This one of the Best Planted Tank Fertilizers

A bottle of this liquid aquarium plant food is also highly concentrated enough to equal about 6 standard bottles of other fertilizers.

In other words, you only need a 500 ml Thrive pump bottle for a 2,500-gallon freshwater tank. Talk of convenience.

I also like the way it is designed in that I do not have to measure every dosage I administer.

The design makes each pressing enough for a 10-gallon tank.

That’s convenient guidance if you don’t feel like measuring drops each time you add it to your aquarium.

If your tank is 20 gallons, you press twice and that’s it.

You will see a pretty significant change in your plants within 2 weeks of use.

In less than a month they will most likely double or triple in size and leaf diameters.

I recommend getting the All in One Thrive if you’re a beginner to feeding aquarium plants and aim for either a moderately or a heavily planted tank.


  • It is ideal for either high or low-tech setups.
  • No complicated procedures to make it ready.
  • It prevents algae from springing up in your tank.
  • A full refund of your money in case you are not 100% satisfied with the product.
  • Clear instructions on the bottle that’s easy to understand.
  • Up-close customer service by the owners. In case of anything, you can always reach out to them and get your feedback as fast as possible.
  • It is very affordable, considering what you get in return.


  • Like any other product with nitrogen, it increases nitrates in the water column so you have to schedule water changes.
  • I’ve realized some people use this product the wrong way, end up with excessive nitrates in their tanks and then rush to post negative reviews in pet fish forums.
    It doesn’t raise the nitrate levels at all as long as you perform all your aquarium duties like water changes.
  • Some users have complained that the pump top is somewhat difficult to operate for a tank less than 10 gallons (I don’t find that to be true, but I’m obligated to mention it anyway).


8. All in One Thrive+ Aquarium Plant Fertilizer – Top Choice for High-Tech Aquariums

Unlike its predecessor, All in One Thrive+ Aquarium Plant Fertilizer has increased iron and the second form of nitrogen.

On the other hand, it has all the essential micro and macronutrients except magnesium and calcium, which are usually found plenty in an aquarium with a couple of fish.

If you have fish I advise you ensure that your substrate is inert and contain neither micro nor macronutrients when you use this fertilizer.

Your ph should be 7 or lower otherwise part of the organic nitrogen in it would convert into ammonia.

At lower pH, the ammonia transforms into ammonium which is not harmful to aquatic inhabitants. This one of the Best Planted Tank Fertilizers

This product is ideal for heavily planted tanks with slightly acidic water. I should also point out that it favors high-tech setups.

Due to its super-concentration, it is best for a densely planted tank with demanding live aquatic plants.

One pump dispenses 2 ml, which is enough for a 10-gallon tank with high-requirement plants competing for food.

Like Thrive, a 500ml of Thrive+ will comfortably treat 2,500 gallons of water.

If you want to see your plants go green and look healthy, it’s probably a no-brainer to grab this liquid fertilizer for your freshwater aquarium.

For those of you who may be concerned about their delicate shrimp, you should know Thrive+ is safe for them.

It will increase your nitrate, not nitrite. I need to clarify that so take note and stay on top of water changes.

Definitely get this if you plant to look after a high-tech heavily planted tank.


  • Serves high-tech tanks with difficult aquarium plants
  • It is easy to use with the pump
  • It’s convenient and hassle-free, being all in one and ready for use.
  • Refund in case you are not satisfied. Such a guarantee is actually a surety that the product won’t disappoint if you use it correctly.
  • It’s pocket-friendly in the long run.
  • Instructions are simple enough.


  • It should be used in a tank with a ph of 7 or under if there are fish inside (it’s safe for tropical tanks with acidic water and low-pH shrimp tanks though).


9. Seachem Flourish Root Tabs – Low maintenance for Low-demand setups

Seachem Flourish Tabs Growth Supplement - Aquatic Plant Stimulant 10 ct

For me, Seachem’s plant feeding tablets are the best aquarium root tabs because they contain all the essential micronutrients, vitamins, and amino acids for vegetative growth.

These include calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, inositol, manganese, B12, among others.

The elements are especially of benefit to the aquatic plant roots. It is one of the Best Planted Tank Fertilizers

All you have to do is insert one Flourish tablet into your aquarium substrate so that it can directly and slowly release nutrients to the roots, aided by the root enzymes.

If you have a low-tech moderately planted tank then your substrate should be inert.

Only use in combination with aqua soil if your tank has very demanding plants.

I’ve found that this product is for those of you who do not want to be as diligent with dosing.

It’s a rather set-and-forget-it solution. This one of the Best Freshwater Aquarium Plant Fertilizer

The tabs should be changed once every couple of months.

Speaking of substrates, Seachem’s Flourish Tabs Growth is, in my opinion, the best fertilizer for aquarium plants in a tank with an inert substrate.

The tabs do not interfere with your water chemistry. Indeed, the water will always remain crystal clear for your fish to swim around and for you to have a clear view of their shoaling.

Meanwhile, your plants will finally take off within two weeks, putting on a healthy bright green color.

I probably should point out that although these root tablets do not alter the pH, they nevertheless have slightly acidic properties in highly soft waters.

Again, the amount of copper is too little to harm your invertebrates, if it ever does.

Seachem Flourish Root Tabs are also beneficial for controlling the growth of aquarium algae.

A standard-sized 5-gallon aquarium with a bottom of 16” x 8” requires 3 tabs.

Use that as the standard measure to determine how many tabs you need, depending on the size of your tank. The tabs are concentrated enough to last 3-4 months.

My recommendation here is to purchase this root tab fertilizer as the sole source of nutrients for low-demand plants in an aquarium with an inert substrate or as a supplement in a high-tech planted tank.


  • They are easy to use; it’s all about pushing them down the substrate as per the directions.
  • One tab lasts long so you do not have to apply it time and again.
  • A good catalyst for promoting the making of Ferrous Oxide, which is vital for the plants’ performance.
  • It helps for maintaining stable water parameters, which in turn help with keeping algae in check.


  • They lack enough macronutrients to be a sole source of food for demanding aquarium plants.


10. Thrive Caps Substrate Fertilizer – Works best in Tanks with Heavier Substrates

First, these are not tablets but rather capsules. Let that sink in.

I believe they are currently the best capsule fertilizers for a freshwater aquarium but take that with a grain of salt.

The use of this product is somewhat troublesome as the capsules are eager to float.

If your substrate is not dense or somewhat heavy, I recommend looking elsewhere, because each capsule starts degrading as soon as it is in contact with the water.

I don’t find that very convenient, however, the plant growth really is amazing with these.

One bottle of Thrive Caps Substrate Fertilizer has 60 caps, each of which weighs 1 gram and is a combination of mineralized topsoil and clay soil rich in iron.

Now, they are very low in copper content (0.0001%) so don’t hesitate to purchase for fear they could harm your invertebrates.

ThriveCaps is not just safe for your shrimp and snails, but the fish as well. This one of the Best Planted Tank Fertilizers

Its business is simply to feed macro- and micronutrients to your freshwater aquarium plants.

If you manage to fit the capsules in the substrate all the nutrients stay there, preventing algae growth or ammonia spikes.

Your plants will have a healthy look to them and their growth rate will be more than satisfying.

These capsules are suitable for both low and high-tech aquariums with plants.

Get them if your substrate is on the dense side (Black Diamond blasting sand, for example).


  • Each capsule contains all the essential micro and macronutrients.
  • Suitable for both high and low demanding aquarium plants
  • A very budget-friendly option, considering how long it will last you.


  • It can be annoying to use as the capsule floats effortlessly unless you find a way to keep them grounded into the substrate. (you’ll do it every 3 to 4 months so it should probably not stop you from getting these for your plants)


11. Seachem Flourish Comprehensive – Ideal for Highly Stocked Planted Tanks

Seachem Flourish Freshwater Plant Supplement

Firstly, I’d advise you to carefully read the directions before using this product.

This is where some people have unknowingly messed up.

With everything else in place, you should use a capful for every 20 gallons (that is 75 liters out of the US) of water.

I have heard of some people adding the entire cap, ending up with an overdosed aquarium.

Just stating the unfortunate incidents that happen occasionally. This one of the Best Planted Tank Fertilizers

Anyway, if you follow the instructions, the results are amazing.

Your plants will start greening fast while sprouting new healthier leaves.

You’ll also be surprised to notice new plants spring up from the substrate.

It is an excellent micronutrient fertilizer with an adequate iron supplement. It is one of the Best Planted Tank Fertilizers

It’s best used in an aquatic system that has low to medium plant density but still requires some fertilizers.

Nevertheless, you might say, “oh, but it’s only micro, not macro”.

Well, you don’t always have to add macronutrients into your aquarium.

If you have a heavy bioload, the fish wastes (let’s hope they poop much often) will supply part of the macros, namely, Nitrogen and Phosphorus.

You will have to provide only a Potassium supplement to your plants.

And, mind you, Seachem Flourish Comprehensive has traces of the macronutrients.

It’s just that they are too small to sustain your plants.

The level of the dreaded copper is only 0.0001 %. Of course, this amount of copper won’t harm your shrimp and other tank inhabitants provided you dose accordingly as per the recommendations.

You have nothing to fear if you use the product as directed

Buy this micronutrient fertilizer if your aquarium has lots of fish in the aquarium and if you know your tap water is phosphorus-rich.

Ideal for use in moderately planted tanks.


  • It does not interfere with the water parameters.
  • A splendid addition to a low-tech aquarium with fish but it’s also a must-have for a high-tech setup


  • You have to use it in conjunction with macronutrient (N, P, K) supplements if your aquarium is not near its stocking potential.


12. Osmocote Plus – The Budget-Friendly DIY Option


If you clicked the link to inspect the product on Amazon you probably think that it is somewhat expensive.

Just the opposite – this should be a lifetime purchase for your planted tank as the bag will literally last you for years.

I have three or four of those economical fellows who never let any DIY opportunity pass them by.

Osmocote Plus offers them one of those DIY opportunities. This one of the Best Planted Tank Fertilizers

I must admit some DIYs out there are tedious, complicated, and outright time-wasting for me.

I don’t know about you, but this is one of those I find satisfying and easy.

You buy some cheap empty gelatine capsules (just make sure they are a 00 Size, such as these here), order a bag of Osmocote Plus and make a pile of your own root capsules in minutes, which eventually last in your aquarium for half a year each.

Osmocote Plus contains all the macronutrients, i.e., nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (N, P, K) plus the micronutrients.

The original Osmocote’s NPK ratio is 19-6-12 while Osmocote Plus puts it at 15-9-12.

Another difference is that while each of the original Osmocote lasts only four months, Osmocote Plus granules remain active for six months, dutifully providing each aquarium plant with its food.

As far as I’m concerned, what makes the Osmocote Plus fertilizer stand out is its slow-release capability.

Each of its granules controls the timing of fertilizer release. How fast this is, depends on the temperature and how deep it is buried.

The warmer the substrate, the faster the process.

Each granule is covered by a resin coating, and it’s this that controls the nutrients release.

All you have to do is push a capsule of Osmocote Plus deep into the substrate. If you have a carpeting aquarium grass of some sort, bury a capsule between the patches of grass blades to promote a faster spread.

What I’d not recommend is that you crush the granules to dose your water column.

These granules are not designed to work that way.

Unfortunately, some people looking for a quick fix go that direction.

The result would be green water as the water column will be overly nutrified which causes microalgae to multiply explosively.

Long story short, just put the granules in gel capsules before putting them in your fish tank.

Whenever I bring Osmocote Plus up in a discussion about aquariums with live plants there is always someone to point out that it has a higher copper content.

The 0.05% contents of copper, however, are not nearly enough to be dangerous for shrimp.

As I cited some sources above, copper only becomes toxic to any invertebrate if overdosed.

By the way, Osmocote Plus contains 0.05% copper by weight, and not by PPM (parts per million).

From where I sit, Osmocote Plus is the best fertilizer option for people who do not mind a bit of super simple DIY in return of a never-ending, low-maintenance supply of quality food for their aquarium plants.

If you’re one of those people and aim for healthy plant growth in both low or high tech aquariums then I 100% recommend this product for you.


  • The slow-release mode enables the nutrients to last 6 months on average.
  • You cannot easily overdose your aquarium since the slow-release technology controls the dosage. There is no room for excess dosage that could burn your plants, provided you use as per the directions.
  • You do not have to dose your plants now and then.
  • Probably the cheapest option in the long run.
  • All of the common aquarium plants react positively to Osmocote Plus, be it high demand or low demand ones.


  • You need to make sure to deeply bury the Osmocote Plus capsules to avoid them floating or a turbid aquarium water
  • Higher initial cost (but it still destroys other competing products in the long run, so it’s definitely worth it)


            Frequently Asked Questions About The Best Planted Tank Fertilizers

planted fish tank

What To Look For When Buying The Best Planted Tank Fertilizers

There are some vital aspects for you to contemplate on before you make the final decision when it comes to the right type of fertilizer to use in your fish tank. And, a few of these considerations include the following:

Do they contain macronutrients and micronutrients? Nitrogen, phosphate and potassium are undoubtedly the most valuable components of a fish tank fertilizer since huge amount are especially required. What is more, the other vital macronutrients consist of sulfur, magnesium and calcium.

Hence, it is practical to check the label of the fertilizer product you are planning to buy to inspect if this is safe to use for your live aquatic plants and if it contains the required macronutrients.

On the other hand, please be guided that micronutrients are vital components too, but as compared to macronutrients, small amounts of these is already enough. Since micronutrients are already present in tap water, there is no need to add more of them.

Adding plant fertilizers won’t bring about algae growth. Some aquarium owners believe that fertilizers are the sole reasons for algae proliferation. For a fact, if you do not add fertilizer, your fish tank plants will be deprived of the indispensable components required for proper growth.

If your aquarium plants start to perform weakly, then there is a greater possibility of algae buildup. So, there is no reason for you to think twice whether to buy aquarium safe fertilizers or not now that you know the potential risk of not adding fertilizer to your fish tank plants.

If you weren’t able to provide the necessary amount of plant food that your plants need, it is will hard for them to grow healthily and they are more likely to produce flimsy, spindly stems that come with skimpy and pale leaves. And, they would be more apt to dying.

The required quantity. This shall rely on the number and type of fish tank plants you currently grow, how intense your aquarium lighting is and the number of fish you keep in the tank.

What is an aquarium plant fertilizer? How does it work?

Plant fertilizers are regarded as plant foods in that they contain macronutrients and micronutrients that live aquatic plants need in order to successfully thrive inside the tank. These are generally available as substrate or in liquid form.

The former typically lasts longer, while, the latter needs to be dosed more periodically. And, because there are really no evident distinction in terms of their efficiency, aquarium owners can choose which one to get to feed their fish tank plants.

In line with this, if you prefer, fertilizers can be made right at your own home or you can buy one as these are readily available on the market. Basically, adding plant foods to encourage aquarium plant growth must merely be considered in moderate to heavily planted fish tanks.

Fertilizers come with a number of the indispensable components required for the fish tank plant growth. They contain the most vital macronutrients that provide the necessary strength and health for your aquatic plants to grow prosperously.

The work of the calcium is to aid in imparting the plant’s colors. To put simply, this greatly helps in maintaining fresher-looking and greener plants inside the tank.

Various forms of fertilizers whether homemade or commercialized do a very substantial job at establishing the foundation for a well-balanced system and fascinating fish tank growth.

What are the different types of aquarium plant fertilizers?

Pre-packed Substrates

These types are special soils that are primarily designed for fish tank use. There is only a slight need to add additional fertilizers since these already contain the ingredients that root-feeding plants especially require.

These are ideal for plants that are heavy root feeders such as Dwarf Baby Tears, Amazon Sword, Dwarf Hair Grass, Sagittaria, Cryptocoryne and Vallisneria.

Therefore, if you do not prefer to add heavy root feeders in your aquarium, it is not necessary to utilize this type of fertilizer. If you are considering adding this to your current tank, it could put off adequate ammonia to exterminate all of your fish.

In such manner, it is necessary to keep your fish in a separate tank when you need to add the substrate again every few years.

Liquid Aquarium Fertilizers

These types generally dissolved in water when you pour them into the fish tank water. Moreover, they are highly recommended for plants that directly feed from the water column such as Anubias, Java Fern, African Water Fern, Brazilian Pennywort and Mosses.

Aquarium Fertilizer Root Tabs

These are known for being tiny pieces of compressed plant foods. They are especially intended to be utilized if you have an inert substrate in your aquarium, such as sand or gravel.

When using this, carefully bury the root tab down in the gravel, in a sphere surrounding the plants that feed from the roots. Afterwards, you will see that the tans gradually dissolve and the plant root consumes the nutrients they hold off.

Fundamentally, this is a stunning alternative if you wish to keep heavy root feeders; nonetheless, do not prefer the struggle and cost of a pre-packed substrate.

Why do you need an aquarium plant food? (Benefits)

As mentioned previously, fertilizers do wonders in providing the vital nutrients that live aquatic plants need in order to grow auspiciously. You cannot just leave your plants alone and let them live on their own without providing them the kind of care and maintenance they seriously require.

Not to mention, adding the recommended amount of fertilizer in your aquarium can provide the following benefits:

  1. Fertilizers help in warding off too much light absorption for the plants inside the tank.
  2. They provide the macronutrients and micronutrients that aquatic plants especially require to grow fresher, greener and more beautiful.
  3. These can block the rapid accumulation of algae inside the fish tank.
  4. Liquid aquarium plant fertilizers are very easy and convenient to use.
  5. They can help weak and almost dwindling plants to regain their strength and be replenished again.

Depending on your preference, you can make your homemade fertilizer or you may also opt for commercially purchased ones.

Whatever your choice may be, make sure that your homemade fertilizer contains only organic ingredients that won’t put your aquarium plants’ life in danger, meanwhile, if you decide to buy the commercial ones, carefully check out first if the brand you get comes with an “aquarium safe” label.

How To Choose An Aquarium Plant Fertilizer

Before you buy plant fertilizer for you tank, you need to understand what you’re actually buying.

They’re not all the same, so here’s what you need to know.

What Nutrients Do They Contain?

Here’s what you should look for:

Macronutrients Vs Micronutrients

These might seem like confusing terms at first, but they’re actually pretty simple.

Macronutrients are nutrients that plants use in large quantities.

Micronutrients are just as essential, but plants use them in much smaller amounts.


There are three essential macronutrients contained in aquarium fertilizers:

Nitrogen (N) – plants can get nitrogen in several different forms, not just pure nitrogen, including ammonium (NH4+) and nitrate (NO3-). Plants use nitrogen for leaf and stem growth and it’s an essential part of chlorophyll.

Phosphorous (P) – this is derived from monopotassium phosphate, a mix of phosphorus pentoxide (P2O5) and potash (potassium oxide K2O).

This actually gives you two macronutrients, since it also contains potassium. Plants use phosphorus for flowering and fruiting, but it’s also critical for any process where the plant uses energy.

Potassium (K) – this is derived from potash (potassium oxide K2O), a water soluble form of potassium.

Since tanks with lots of fish and/or invertebrates create their own nitrogen and phosphorus, it can be helpful to have just potassium. Plants use potassium to strengthen their roots, leaves and growing points.


Plants may use smaller amounts of micronutrients, but they are just as important.

The most common micronutrients in fertilizers are:

  • Iron (Fe)
  • Manganese  (Mn)
  • Chlorine (Cl)
  • Copper (Cu)
  • Boron (B)
  • Molybdenum (Mo)
  • Cobalt (Co)
  • Nickel (Ni)

There are other kinds of micronutrients, but they are commonly found in tap water. So no need to add extra.

Quantity Needed

It’s impossible to give you an exact number of how much of each nutrient your tank will need. It all depends on the type and number of plants in your tank, number of fish and how intense your lighting is.

How Do Your Plants Feed?

This all depends.

Some plants get a lot of their nutrition through their root systems. These are known as heavy root feeders, sword plants and Cryptocorynes are good examples.

Other species do not absorb nutrients through their roots at all, only through their leaves and stems, like Java fern.

And then, there are some that do a mix of both.

What Are The Best Planted Tank Fertilizers Are Available?

 Liquid Aquarium Fertilizers

Liquid fertilizers are just what they sound like, fertilizers dissolved in water that you pour into your tank water.

They are great for plants that feed directly from the water column, like Java fern, mosses, Brazilian pennywort, African water fern and anubias.

It will settle into the substrate somewhat, but it’s not the best for heavy root feeders like Amazon swords.


If you fertilize too little, your plants just won’t thrive and may even die.

Too much, and you could have hellacious algae outbreaks that are a giant pain in the butt.

The best advice I can give you is to start low and go slow.

I usually take a look at the recommendations from the manufacturer and start out by dosing half as much as they say. I do that for 2 weeks and see how the plants are growing.

I look for any algae breaking out and then decide if I want to increase the dose or how often I dose.

Since I’m super forgetful, I usually jot down some simple notes each week when I go to dose. Then I can look back and see how much I dosed, when I dosed and any observations I might have made.

Also, it’s a great idea to take pictures each week so you can compare the growth and get a better idea of how things are coming along. You might be surprised when you compare the pictures.

It might seem like plants aren’t growing that well. But then you compare the photos and see that they’ve actually changed quite a bit.

If you start to see algae increasing, up your water changes for a bit and back off the fertilizer.

It can take some patience and fiddling around with it, but you can find the right balance and have a lush garden growing in your tank using the Best Planted Tank Fertilizers.



Best Freshwater Aquarium Plant Fertilizer

Best Aquarium Plant Fertilizer

Best Aquarium Plant Food For Growth


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