In addition to
aquarium plants require
nutrients in the
substrate and the water for lush and healthy growth. The two basic categories of essential plant nutrients are macro and micro-nutrients. Macronutrients consist primarily of
potassium, while micronutrients include calcium, chloride,
iron, magnesium, manganese, sulfur, zinc, and other
Plants are able to obtain some of these nutrients directly from the water, (i.e., nitrogen in the form of ammonia or nitrate from fish waste and other organic materials, and micronutrients and trace elements from the source water) but these levels are often insufficient for healthy plant growth. Plants in aquariums that use purified water are faced with greater challenges – RO/DI water purification removes macro and micro nutrients.
Without supplementation, plants are unable to thrive since natural concentration of nutrients such as potassium is relatively low. The nutrients need to be replenished routinely to maintain adequate levels, especially micronutrients, since many of them are utilized quickly and do not remain available for more than a few days.
The two basic delivery methods of supplementing plant nutrients are substrate fertilization and liquid fertilization. Since some plants draw nutrients primarily through their roots while others draw nutrients through their leaves, each method has its unique benefits and application depending on the plant species. Proper supplementation leads to a balanced, beautiful planted aquarium that provides the added benefit of biological filtration and improved oxygen levels to your system.