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Thoughts on DIY Root tabs?


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Any of you guys ever try DIY root tabs? Don't have too much money to spend on root tabs, but I only have an inert substrate of sand and pea pebbles (yeah, I know, my mistake. Got the wrong pebbles.) .  I saw one day a few people were making their won root tabs (I was never interested in root feeding plants like swords) out of Osmocote Plus. Went in a little deeper and saw some people had great success with them and some people had little success with them. Obviously I also heard about people getting huge ammonia spikes with not digging them deep enough or planting too much at once, but I have about 3 inches of sand and gravel to plant them in and its a pretty shallow to dig in 10g so I'm not too worried about that (probably going to come back and bite me in the butt one day), and the deal sounds too good to pass up. I've also heard its a pretty slow release so you don't get quick growth, and I've heard other people say they worked quickly. I know it lacks iron but I'm not too worried about that, don't have many red plants or plan on getting too many. I already dose Easygreen, but I feel like some of my plants like my Jungle Val could benefit off of them (some people say they're root feeders, some don't). Also I already know that other tabs like Seachems are the best, but I like the little pills. Would love to hear your thoughts, although I feel like I'm not going to quite enjoy the answer.

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Water Lily fertilizer tablets are pretty cheap and usable in aquariums. I'm doing it in my thirty high with no trouble. I bury one deep near my root feeders every couple of weeks and so far, so good.  I decided how many to use by the volume of substrate I have. My tank should handle three of them, but I just use one every two weeks (or so) and the plants are doing fine, no ammonia spikes, no algae blooms, no real problems at all that I can see. You can get 25 in a pack for about $7. They're bigger, solid, and fish safe since people use them in their water gardens. They don't float or cause me any trouble. (At least not yet.) I was nervous trying them, but they seem to be working very well. 

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29 minutes ago, gardenman said:

Water Lily fertilizer tablets are pretty cheap and usable in aquariums. I'm doing it in my thirty high with no trouble. I bury one deep near my root feeders every couple of weeks and so far, so good.  I decided how many to use by the volume of substrate I have. My tank should handle three of them, but I just use one every two weeks (or so) and the plants are doing fine, no ammonia spikes, no algae blooms, no real problems at all that I can see. You can get 25 in a pack for about $7. They're bigger, solid, and fish safe since people use them in their water gardens. They don't float or cause me any trouble. (At least not yet.) I was nervous trying them, but they seem to be working very well. 

the API ones? Might need to look into them, seems like a good choice

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Yeah, it's the API ones I'm using. So far, so good. They're a whole lot cheaper than the aquarium ones and seem to be working well for me. They recommend using them by the volume of soil you're fertilizing, so that's what I did. In my thirty high the substrate should hold three of them, but I just do one at a time every two weeks and it's working for me. I put one in my left front corner. Then in two weeks one goes into the back right corner. Two weeks later one goes in the middle, then in two more weeks I'm back to the left front. This is an old established tank that's been set up forever (twenty plus years?) so if there is an ammonia spike (and I haven't detected one) the bacteria might just be gulping it down before it registers. The only drawback is those tabs have more phosphorous than aquarium tabs as they're made for flowering plants (water lilies and lotus) and flowering plants want more phosphorous. Higher levels of phosphorous can lead to increased algae, but I haven't seen that being an issue as of yet. 

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4 hours ago, gardenman said:

The only drawback is those tabs have more phosphorous than aquarium tabs as they're made for flowering plants (water lilies and lotus) and flowering plants want more phosphorous. Higher levels of phosphorous can lead to increased algae, but I haven't seen that being an issue as of yet. 

Hm, will look into that. but thanks for the lily fertilizer suggestion! Never seen that before.

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I looked into this at one point and didn’t end up going with it. I was mostly worried what would happen if my fish/shrimp tried to eat them. I have very inquisitive loaches who would dig them up if they wanted to. But since you have deep sand and (I’m assuming) no burrowing fish, you could certainly try it! If you’re an adventurous sort of person and like experimenting, then go for it. Use just one or two beads like you’ve planned, and keep an eye on the water parameters and your fish. And then let us know how it goes of course!

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4 minutes ago, Hobbit said:

I looked into this at one point and didn’t end up going with it. I was mostly worried what would happen if my fish/shrimp tried to eat them. I have very inquisitive loaches who would dig them up if they wanted to. But since you have deep sand and (I’m assuming) no burrowing fish, you could certainly try it! If you’re an adventurous sort of person and like experimenting, then go for it. Use just one or two beads like you’ve planned, and keep an eye on the water parameters and your fish. And then let us know how it goes of course!

you think a small school (6-7-8) of pygmy cories burrow that much? I just thought they slightly turned up the surface, but barely. Never kept any cories before.

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I made my own tabs a few years ago with the osmocote plus. I had issues with ammonia with tabs that I didnt get buried deep enough, the little balls of fertilizer are annoying if they work their way to the surface of the substrate. I stopped using them, because of the above but also, I didn't think the results vs the time and efort it took to put the tabs together was saving me a whole lot over buying ones from the co-op.

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I use the Osmicote Plus tabs and they seem to work well in my 29 gallon.  No ammonia issues so far.  They can be annoying as heck to bury though.  I have had several popup and just disintegrate and leave the little pellets dropping all over.  I only got them because as you pointed out they are cheap.  I believe I have seen better plant growth since I started using them about 4 months ago, but I also use some liquid ferts, so cannot prove it.

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I tend to avoid Osmocote - i know a lot of people use it with great results but i'm paranoid that it is not designed for fishes and might have long term impact on their health. I have several species of fishes that should be able to live 20 or 30 years easily and i would hate to introduce a slow toxic into their system. 

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To be honest i worry about this with fertilizes in generals - i do use some because the plants i have require it at times but i try to be modest. 

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Having said that i know a lot of people who use osmocote with great benefit to their plants and if you have common fishes with short life span like guppies i wouldn't worry about it too much.

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4 hours ago, Andy's Fish Den said:

I made my own tabs a few years ago with the osmocote plus. I had issues with ammonia with tabs that I didnt get buried deep enough, the little balls of fertilizer are annoying if they work their way to the surface of the substrate. I stopped using them, because of the above but also, I didn't think the results vs the time and efort it took to put the tabs together was saving me a whole lot over buying ones from the co-op.

That does sound a little annoying...but the Aquarium Co Op ones? I've never really considered them. I saw a video around a week ago that showed the Seachem Flourish ones were clearly superior- even if everyone's water is different. Unfortunately, it looks like with the QT he couldn't get the Co Op tabs through. Aquarium Co Op offers 20 for 10...Seachem offers 10 for 10 but those tabs are pretty thick. You think they're worth more?

 

2 hours ago, jadavis98 said:

I use the Osmicote Plus tabs and they seem to work well in my 29 gallon.  No ammonia issues so far.  They can be annoying as heck to bury though.  I have had several popup and just disintegrate and leave the little pellets dropping all over.  I only got them because as you pointed out they are cheap.  I believe I have seen better plant growth since I started using them about 4 months ago, but I also use some liquid ferts, so cannot prove it.

Oooh..the whole "popping out of the substrate" thing really just doesn't work with me. Maybe I won't get em, I can already imagine myself dying over them- trying to replant them in my 10g.

 

2 hours ago, anewbie said:

 

Having said that i know a lot of people who use osmocote with great benefit to their plants and if you have common fishes with short life span like guppies i wouldn't worry about it too much.

Hm...I plan to keep some honey gouramis (according to the Internet, ~8 years max) and pygmy cories (~3-4 years max). Kinda scared for the honey gouramis, maybe I should just get the pre made ones. Or maybe Im just realizing I'm too lazy to do all this when I can just get some for 10 bucks,

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39 minutes ago, Demobanana said:

Oooh..the whole "popping out of the substrate" thing really just doesn't work with me. Maybe I won't get em, I can already imagine myself dying over them- trying to replant them in my 10g.

so, the main reason this happens (with any capsule) is that there is air trapped in the capsule. You can solve this by setting a rock on top of the sand where you bury the root tab, or by stabbing each end of the capsule with a push pin to release the air.

Despite doing both of these things I have had albino corys and cichlids excavate a 1-2 inch hole in the sand to get to the gelatin (which is waht the capsule is made of), which they can aparently smell under the sand. tTey want to eat the gelatin, which doesn't harm them directly, but this is a good reason to stick to things designed for aquarium use.

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30 minutes ago, Brandy said:

Despite doing both of these things I have had albino corys and cichlids excavate a 1-2 inch hole in the sand to get to the gelatin (which is waht the capsule is made of), which they can aparently smell under the sand. tTey want to eat the gelatin, which doesn't harm them directly, but this is a good reason to stick to things designed for aquarium use.

You think setting aside like half a capsule with some food would distract them enough to make them forget about it? Or are they just really attracted to it?

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This sword plant of mine is over a foot high, not counting substrate. I started using Easy Root Tabs on it a few months ago when the plant wasn't doing well (you can see the hole in one leaf on the lower right). I use a safety pin and poke a hole on each end to prevent them from popping out, though I don't have fish that dig. I use 2 tabs on it once a month. I'm hoping to see this sword hit the surface of the 24" tall tank!! 

20210415_163858.jpg

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6 minutes ago, Maggie said:

This sword plant of mine is over a foot high, not counting substrate. I started using Easy Root Tabs on it a few months ago when the plant wasn't doing well (you can see the hole in one leaf on the lower right). I use a safety pin and poke a hole on each end to prevent them from popping out, though I don't have fish that dig. I use 2 tabs on it once a month. I'm hoping to see this sword hit the surface of the 24" tall tank!! 

You think I could use 1 like every month or even every few months? I feel like I would run out too quick since I want some in my val and crypts.

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