Aquatic Plant Fertilizer Guide — Using the STEP System
Growth of aquatic plants, and their requirements for nutrients, change over time in an aquarium. It is ideal to add nutrients based on the condition that the planted tank is currently in, without causing an excess (which can lead to algae outbreaks) or a shortage (which leads to poor plant growth). The unique STEP system for aquatic plant fertilization developed by ADA is uniquely designed for this purpose.
Every fertilizer in the STEP series is mixed with desalinized deep sea water, which fortifies the base component of the fertilizer with rich minerals that are not available in other fertilizers that use only purified water. The effect his has is an enhancement of leaf color, impacting the overall health of the ecosystem. Additionally, the fertilizers themselves are optimized for use with the unique nutrient composition of Aqua Soil, so that there is neither a shortage nor an excess in provided nutrients without you having to do a lot of math to figure out the exact dosage.
In the aquarium, three major nutrient groups (Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K)) and nine trace elements (Iron (Fe), Magnesium (Mg), Calcium (Ca), Manganese (Mn), Boron (B), Molybdenum (Mo), Zinc (Zn), Silicon (Si) and Copper (Cu)) are required for proper plant growth to thrive. Of these, only nitrogen and phosphorus are continuously added into the aquarium naturally (through fish waste, dead leaves, substrate materials and uneaten fish food). However, potassium and all of the trace elements do not renew naturally into the aquarium and thus tend to be deficient. Without these nutrients added via aquatic plant fertilizers, aquatic plants cannot grow effectively.
In Nature Aquariums, the condition of aquatic plants and their environment continually change over time. Everything from water quality, substrate condition and nutrient requirements changes as the plants grow and mature. ADA divides the growth of aquatic plants into three stages or STEPs.
Each STEP of the Green Brighty system is designed to be used alongside Brighty K.
Green Brighty STEP 1 (for the early sprouting stage, up to three months after initial planting) contains a formula of trace elements that protects and strengthens roots and leaves for the early growth phase. STEP 1 promotes the healthy growth of both stems and roots.
Green Brighty STEP 2 (growing stage, from three months to one year after first planting) has a formula that contains additional iron that effectively prolongs the healthy growth period.
Green Brighty STEP 3 (maturation stage, after one year of the aquarium’s establishment) accounts for the fact that the growth of aquatic plants becomes obstructed by an oxidation and hardening process that naturally occurs in the substrate, which reduces the efficiency of photosynthesis. Therefore, STEP 3 is fortified with additional potassium and iron, enhancing the photosynthesis process in aquatic plants and deters the natural aging of aquatic plants.
How Much Should You Dose Daily in Your Aquarium?
Daily fertilization is required for any planted tank, and every aquatic plant fertilizer from ADA contains an easy to use squirt bottle that is pre-measured for the exact needs of your aquarium. Every “push” or “squirt” of fertilizer contains 1ml of formula.
Dose 1 squirt of fertilizer per 20l (5 gallons) daily. This applies to all three of the STEP system fertilizers. For example, you would dose 1 squirt of fertilizer for Green Brighty STEP 1 per day in a 5 gallon aquarium, or 4 squirts per day in a 20 gallon aquarium. Over time, it is recommended that you gradually increase the dosage as the aquarium ages.