How to Use Root Tabs to Fertilize Aquarium Plants
Your live aquatic plant is not growing or losing its leaves despite receiving plenty of light and liquid fertiliser. Although most aquarium plants can absorb nutrients both from the water and the substrate (e.g. gravel or sand) some species prefer one to the other. If your plant is a root feeder, it will need to be given a nutrient rich substrate or ground-based fertilizers known as root tabs.
What are Root Tabs?
Root tabs are dissolvable tablets or capsules that contain plant fertilizer. Aquarium Co-Op recommends our Easy Root Tabs. They are made with red clay and mineralized top soil, which contain essential plant nutrients such as:
– Magnesium – Nitrate – Phosphate – Potassium – Manganese – Zinc – Molybdenum – Iron
Easy Root Tabs come in green fertilizer capsules that are safe for fish even if they dissolve in the water.
Are root tabs safe for fish, shrimp, and snails? Yes, our brand of root tabs is safe for all animals. The reason is because we use actual soil in our root tabs that is nontoxic if the nutrients get released into the water column. Some people try to save money by making their own DIY root tabs or using fertilizers meant for houseplants and vegetables, but those terrestrial products can cause dangerous ammonia spikes in the water that may kill your fish and invertebrates.
What Aquarium Plants Require Root Tabs?
Root tabs will be of great benefit to cryptocoryne plants (or the crypts), sword and bulb plants, as well as carpeting and carpeting plants. Bacopa and moneywort, two types of stem plants, can either absorb fertilizer from water or the ground. However they seem to prefer the latter. Plants that don’t need substrate to grow – such as mosses, floating plants, anubias, and java fern – typically do not use root tabs as much.
How to Use Root Tabs
Root tabs can be water soluble. It is crucial to insert root tabs into substrates as quickly and as deeply as possible. It’s okay if Easy Root Tabs accidentally pop out or get unearthed by your fish because they won’t harm the water quality, but ultimately, we want the root feeders to have access to more nutrients in the ground. Therefore, use planting tweezers or your fingers to push the whole root tab to the bottom of the substrate. The fertilizer must not be removed from the capsule as it can dissolve in water.
Plunge root tab as far as you can into the substrate.
How many roottabs should you place? You need to place one tab every 5-6 inches (12-15cm) in a grid, so they cover the substrate. If your fish tank is very densely planted, you may need to add root tabs every 4 inches (10 cm) or closer. Root tabs should be placed underneath or close to the roots of your plants. For larger plants, such as Amazon swords, multiple root tabs might be needed to place in a circle around the base of their plant.
Root tabs floating in water? This is because there is air inside the roottab capsule. Make a hole at one end of the capsule with a pushpin to make it sink. Once it is underwater, squeeze the root tab. Your root tab will remain grounded and air bubbles will escape through this hole.
How Often Do You Need to Add More Root Tabs?
Nutrients get used up over time (even if you’re using a nutrient-rich substrate) and therefore must be regularly replenished. For healthy growth, we suggest adding root tabs every other month. This is especially true if the substrate you use is inert like aquarium gravel, sand or sand. Remember that plants will grow larger and require more root tabs. Although a baby Amazon sword might only need one root tab every six months when it’s new, it may require six tabs three months later to keep it healthy.
To determine whether or not your plants have consumed all the available fertilizer in the substrate, look closely for signs of nutrient deficiencies. You may notice a decrease in growth, yellowing, browning, or melting of leaves, even though the plant had been growing well. You can read the entire article linked below for more information about providing adequate plant nutrients. Enjoy your aquarium, and good luck!