Anyone who has kept planted aquariums for any length of time knows the enormous expense that bottled nutrients represent. Many a fish keeper has visibly grimaced at the bill they received after purchasing a few bottles of high-quality nutrients. Nutrient dosing is a big expense for anyone involved in the planted tank hobby, especially if those nutrients are branded. Many people dose with branded nutrients, as this is an easy way to dose, with little chance of accidentally overdosing if you follow the instructions on the bottle. However, constantly dosing nutrients can leave a substantial hole in your pocket. For that reason, many hobbyists have invested time and effort in sourcing cheap nutrients in order to relieve stress on their bank accounts.
Nutrients Are Nutrients
Fortunately for hobbyists, the nutrients that you add to your aquarium are the same nutrients required by terrestrial plants. Therefore, the hobbyists with an eye for saving money soon started visiting garden stores just as much as they visited the local fish store. The gardener-come-fishkeeper, upon reading the back of an ‘aquarium nutrient’ bottle, would realise that the contents are identical to those found in terrestrial plant supplements albeit in liquid form. Many of the same nutrients can be purchased at garden stores in powder form.
The reason that many people opt to use branded aquarium nutrients is that the bottles come with instructions which stipulate how much liquid to add to so much aquarium water to achieve a desired concentration of nutrients. However, if powdered nutrients are used, then a bit of math is involved to work out those numbers. The technical term for this math is ‘stoichiometry’. For those who see math as the equivalent to climbing a mountain, don’t lose heart. Many of those numbers can be found online.
While not all nutrients found in branded aquarium plant supplements can be easily obtained, due to various restrictions which may or may not be present in the country where you live, there are a few, such as potassium, which can be easily obtained. In Australia, the most common form of potassium found at any garden or hardware store is Potassium sulphate. Unfortunately for those ‘down-under’, other forms of potassium, such as Potassium nitrate, are less common. A one-kilogram bag of Potassium sulphate can be bought at any local hardware store for about $7.
Depending on the country that you live in, you may be able to purchase all the nutrients that you would normally dose in the form of branded aquarium products in a garden or hardware store. So do your research and you may just find that you could be saving a lot of money in the years to come.