Understanding Aquarium Fertilizer & Planted Tank Fertilization Methods and Calculators


Fertilizer Dosing Methods:

  • PPS-Classic and Pro (Perpetual Preservation System)
  • Estimative Index (EI)

Fertilizer Dosing Calculator:


When to Fertilize, and Why Fertilize

Fertilize planted tanks that implement carbon dioxide (CO2) injection, pressurized or DIY, combined with moderate to high lighting. Macro and micro nutrients are essential to proper plant growth, coloration, and survival.

How to Fertilize

There are two major Fertilization Methods to follow – PPS (Perpetual Preservation System) and EI (Estimative Index). To properly fertilize your planted tank, you will need to research and choose a method that fits your needs and tank conditions. Always be sure to carefully observe the plant conditions in you tank to avoid over or under fertilizing.

How to Dose the Fertilizer

There are several methods you can use to get the ferts in your aquarium.

  • Measure out the predetermined amount of dry ferts and place the dry fert(s) directly into the aquarium water.
  • Mix the predetermined amount with a little bit of aquarium water in a container until it dissolves, and then pour the solution into the aquarium.
  • Check out our detailed PPS-Pro dosing instructions.


Macros / Macronutrients (NPK) – there are three major macronutrients: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), and Potassium (K).

Micros / Micronutrients / Trace Elements – the most popular include: Iron, Boron, Manganese, Plantex, Miller Microplex.

Nitrogen (N) – the most common source is Potassium Nitrate (KNO3). It is the staple nutrient of all plants. It helps plants produce enzymes, proteins, and amino acids. A lack of nitrogen halts plant growth and promotes decay.

Phosphorous (P) – the most common source is Mono Potassium Phosphate (KH2PO4). Assists in plant DNA and RNA replication, and growth related processes. A lack of Phosphorous can result in the decreased ability for plants to uptake or absorb nutrients, leading to excess nutrient in the water and potential algae conditions.

Potassium (K) – potassium is found in compounds such as KNO3 and KH2PO4. For tanks with potassium deficiencies Potassium Sulfate (K2SO4) provides the element of potassium. Potassium plays a very important role in photosynthesis optimization, while keeping plant processes and production in a constant state of activity.

Check out our newest Atomic CO2 Regulator – the V3

Throw out your last disposable CO2 cylinder, and move forward with the V3. No more need for costly, disposable cartridges. This tiny, revolutionary regulator is designed to fit your preferred CO2 tank size. It easily installs on CGA-320 cylinder valves, without the use of a wrench.

The Atomic CO2 Regulator V3 is designed specifically for use with our Atomic CO2 diffusers. Excellent for the beginner enthusiast or the planted tank professional seeking a sleek, compact, superior quality regulator. It features a fixed working pressure, precision needle valve and German-engineered solenoid.

Get to Know… AquaRay LED Solid State Lighting Tiles and Strips

Designed and manufactured by TMC in the UK, the AquaRay solid state lighting series, delivers a range of energy efficient LED lighting solutions and mounting possibilities for the planted tank….AquaBeam, Grobeam, and AquaHabits. In this quick article, we will help you get to know the best LED lighting options and lighting combinations to consider for your planted tank.

Before we get into the nitty gritty comparisons… first, let’s understand the features that each AquaRay LED series shares in common.

  • Built with the latest and brightest generation of solid state LED lighting technology, using CREE Compact Power LEDs.
  • Offers a minimum of 50,000 hours / 10 years lamp life – 6x that of standard fluorescent lighting.
  • Cool running with no noisy fans and minimal heat transfer to the aquarium water.
  • Low running costs and environmentally friendly – a very low carbon footprint and no Mercury.
  • Creates a unique and natural shimmer effect, with a wide-angle beam for optimum and even light distribution.
  • Perfect for planted tanks and ideal for plant growth.
  • Built-in compatibility for digital control – timing and dimming, dawn to dusk simulation, moonlight, storm function, and two channel control for up to 8 lights. Compatible with the AquaRay Power Controller and Multi Controller.
  • Features a compact design, and a sealed, water-resistant ABS and acrylic casing construction for safe use in all conditions. Corrosion proof and impact resistant.
  • 5 year guarantee.
  • Designed and manufactured by Tropical Marine Center in the UK
  • Modular Mounting System (MMS) compatible, offering an extensive range of mounting options for use with all aquarium installations.
AquaRay GroBeam 1000 ND LED – Natural Daylight – Solid State Lighting Tile – 6500K
  • Equipped with 10 ultra-efficient CREE XP-E LEDs.
  • Colour Temperature CT – Cool White – Natural Daylight, 6500K to replicate natural daylight conditions, ideal for plant growth.
  • Power consumption – 30 watts and dimmable.
  • Usage: 1 unit / tile per 2.5-3 ft sq.
  • Footprint: 198 x 198 x 47.5 mm
AquaRay GroBeam 500 LED – Solid State Lighting Strips – 6500K
  • Utilizes 5 ultra-efficient CREE XP-E 6500K LEDs.
  • Full spectrum, natural daylight, cool white color temperature.  Excellent for planted tank use.
  • Use a single strip or combine multiple strips.
  • 12 watt power consumption.
  • Footprint: 19 x 2 x 1.5 inches
AquaRay AquaBeam 1500 XG Ultima LED – Solid State Lighting Tile – 9000K
  • Built with 10 ultra-efficient CREE XP-G R+ PowerLEDs
  • Colour Temperature CT – Ocean White, 9000K
  • Spectral Quality – 405nm – 750nm
  • Lumen Efficiency – 700 mA, 1850 lm, 81 lm/w
  • Power consumption – 23 watts and dimmable.
  • Usage: 1 unit / tile per 3.5-4 ft sq.
  • Footprint: 198 x 198 x 47.5 mm
AquaRay AquaHabits Mini LED 400 – Natural Daylight – Solid State Lighting Tile – 6500K
  • Uses 4 OSRAM OSLON SSL high power LEDs
  • Colour Temperature CT – Cool White, 6500K to replicate natural daylight conditions, ideal for plant growth.
  • Mini LED tile perfect for Nano tanks up to 50L, combine multiple tiles for larger tanks.
  • Power consumption – 12 watts and dimmable
  • Footprint: 14.5 x 14.5 cm, 470 grams
  • There is no other nano LED quite like it…one of a kind technology.

GLA Substrate System

This week we will be bringing 2 new substrates to the planted aquarium keeper. Our first is a nice natural toned sand, perfect decorative sand for the foreground or the entire tank.

The second is one of my personal favorites. Crushed lava rock milled to the perfect size to accommodate any plant, even your favorite ground cover such as HC. Easy planting and plenty of room to host beneficial bacteria colonies in its micro pores. It will also work extremely well as filter media in a canister filter, hang on back or even in your sump.

You can also use the lava rocks to build up your soil substrate such as our Shrimp Sand from Up Aqua, or the Aqua Soil from Up Aqua. Using this as a base layer will help keep your slop in place and aid in securing any hardscape such as heavy stone or wood.

Not having a base layer under any soil substrate will eventually lead to your nice slope that you started out with flat and sad. So by adding a dense substrate such as lava rock will keep the slop in its place and prevent that dreaded substrate slide. It will also aid in colonization of needed beneficial bacteria colonization by making there home in the micro pores of the lava stones.

Atomic Paintball Co2 Regulator Nano – V1 and V2

The Atomic Paintball CO2 Regulator V1 & V2 series is a superior quality CO2 Regulator for planted tank setups using paintball cylinders. The nano regulators are designed specifically for use with Atomic CO2 diffusers. The V2  incorporates a 3.3 watt low voltage, high quality solenoid, engineered in Germany. The series features a super precise needle valve and speed-fit tubing connection for ease of installation. Features fixed working pressure, designed specifically for use with Atomic CO2 diffusers.

Nano Co2 Kit

This is our new nano co2 kit, the kit uses Atomic components from top to bottom. The regulator,cylinder stand,bubble counter and diffuser are all Atomic components.

This all in one turn key kit can also be upgraded with a solenoid for inline use. Most disposable co2 systems similar in look to this kit can not accept a solenoid due to the extreme high working pressure. This regulator has a preset working pressure that will allow you to incorporate a solenoid by simply applying one in line on the co2 tubing prior to the bubble counter.Everything you see is included except the rimless tank.

Up Aqua Soil

Coming in late October we will be carrying Up Aqua Soils new substrate. The reviews on this substrate have been awesome from the UK reports,Asia and Australia. This rich nutrient substrate has a lot to offer the planted aquarium hobby. Its a nutrient rich clay substrate loaded with iron and phosphorus as well as many other essentials for thriving planted tank. As soon as the cargo arrives we will be sure to follow up so stay tuned!