Aquariums are a fabulous addition to any home; especially planted aquariums are pleasing for your eyes. They provide hours of enjoyment and relaxation, but aquarium plants also require more attention than your typical fish-only aquariums.
One of the most vital aspects of maintaining a planted aquarium is fertilizing plants that live in it. Aquarists have plenty of options when it comes to choosing a fertilizer for their planted fish tanks, but not all fertilizers are created equal!
The best fertilizers for your aquarium plants are those that will provide the correct balance of nutrients and minerals. It must provide macronutrients, like Sulfur, Magnesium, Calcium, Potassium, Phosphorus, and Nitrogen.
However, the most critical nutrients for aquarium plants are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Nitrogen promotes healthy leaf growth, while Potassium helps build strong roots.
Phosphorus aids in plant cell division and hormone production to help maintain blooming flowers. Micronutrients like Zinc, Manganese, Iron, Copper, Boron, etc., are also essential for plant growth.
I will talk about the best aquarium plant fertilizer, and hopefully, it will help your planted tank be more vibrant.
Types of Aquarium Fertilizers
Aquarium fertilizers are a great way to help keep your fish tank healthy and thriving. They can be found in different forms, such as liquid fertilizers, root tabs, and substrates.
Liquid fertilizers are the most popular form of aquarium fertilizer when it comes to adding fertilizer as supplements.
They are applied directly into the water column or onto the substrate, where they will quickly dissolve and release nutrients for your plants to consume.
Liquid fertilizers are the most versatile type of fertilizer for aquarium plants. They provide nutrients to both water and soils, making them a great choice when you have more than one plant in your tank or if you’re not sure what types of plants will thrive best.
Liquid fertilizers work well because they can be used on all aquatic plant life – from stem-rooted species like Amazon Swords to rootless floating ones such as Hyacinths or Duckweeds that get their nutrition primarily from the water.
Root tabs are a type of solid fertilizer which releases nutrients over time when placed in gravel or sand at the bottom of an aquarium; these types of root tabs slowly release nutrients into the water column.
Root tabs are a great way of fertilizing your plant, especially if your plants have roots. But what about those aquatic plants that feed off the water column? Well, root tabs just don’t so effective for them!
I have an article on how to use root tabs effectively, which might help.
Substrates are one of the most popular forms of aquarium fertilizer because they provide food for plants while also helping to remove nitrogenous waste from the water column.
For those who are just getting started, substrate-type fertilizer for aquarium plants is also a good option. Once you set the substrate, it’s all done!
Why Do You Need Aquarium Plant Fertilizer?
Aquarium plants provide an essential function in the aquarium ecosystem; they help convert fish waste into plant food. This is accomplished through a process called nitrification, which converts ammonia into nitrates that plants can use.
However, fish excrete waste, which is the plant’s primary source of nourishment, but it may not be enough because they don’t produce much nitrate for plants at all times.
Fertilizer supplementation is sometimes a must-have for aquarium plants that you want to stay healthy. Without it, the resource of necessary nutrients in an aquarium would be limited, and your plants will have trouble thriving.
Getting nutrients isn’t as much of a problem in the wild because there are plenty more resources than what’s available inside an enclosed tank.
If you’re looking out for your garden or aquatic life from within their environment (aquariums), then fertilizer should never go ignored. FERTILIZE!
Besides getting nutrition from the water or the substrate, aquarium plants produce energy through the photosynthesis process. Plants need adequate light and CO2 for it.
How To Choose An Aquarium Plant Fertilizer
You need to buy the appropriate fertilizer to supplement so that it can meet your aquarium plant’s requirements. The most vital thing is understanding what these plants require to survive, thrive, and grow into a beautiful display of nature.
Aquarium plants rely on nutrients from their substrate and water sources; they absorb macronutrients such as Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Potassium(K), Magnesium (Mg), Sulphur (S). They also take up micronutrients like Iron(Fe), Magnesium (Mg), Copper (Cu), Zinc (Zn), Boron (B), etc.
When picking fertilizer for aquarium plants, you must ensure they contain a balanced amount of macronutrients & micronutrients. For better understanding, you can read my article on planted aquarium fertilizer guide.
Best Aquarium Plant Fertilizer Review
I have selected 5 liquid fertilizers for planted aquariums in my choice list.
Seachem Flourish Freshwater Plant Supplement (Best Entry Level Supplementation for Planted Tanks)
Seachem Flourish Comprehensive Supplement for the Planted Aquarium provides all essential nutrients required by freshwater plants. This liquid fertilizer does not contain a higher level of nitrogen or phosphorus, which makes it safe to use with sensitive plants such as Anubias, Cryptocoryne, and Java Fern.
It also makes it safe to use with shrimp and fish fry. However, excess nitrogen and phosphorus can lead to algae growth if not managed properly.
This product is intended for use with freshwater aquariums only and will assist in plant growth and coloration. It contains iron, which may stain some surfaces. Do not add this product directly to the aquarium; dilute according to directions before adding it to any aquarium.
Have you ever seen your aquarium plants that looked sad or unhealthy? Flourish can help your plants thrive.
So, get this comprehensive supplement for natural freshwater aquariums with everything from micro-elements to trace elements shown to benefit aquatic plants. You can read the detailed review here.
- Visible improvement-maker in newly planted aquariums
- Contain balanced micronutrients
- Suitable for all common aquarium plants
- Safe for aquarium fish
- Not suitable for shrimp & snail
- Can cause skin irritation
API LEAF ZONE Freshwater Aquarium Plant Fertilizer (Best Budget-Friendly)
API Leaf Zone presents a plant fertilizer that promotes strong and healthy plants. It contains all the nutrients that plants need to be healthy. You will get this product at a low price without compromising the quality.
The product contains both chelated iron to promote growth and prevent yellow, decaying leaves, and Potassium to aid in photosynthesis and cell pressure maintenance for strong, hardy, and colorful leaves.
It also contains a blend of essential macro-nutrients, including nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and trace elements. This formula is readily absorbed through the leaves of aquatic plants.
Leaf Zone is formulated specifically for use with freshwater aquarium plants. Use it as part of your regular aquarium care routine to help maintain the beauty of your freshwater planted tank!
- Very inexpensive product
- Readily available
- Provides Potassium & Iron
- Limited nutrients
- Run out fast
Brightwell Aquatics FlorinMulti – Complex Multinutrient Supplement (Best For Advanced Users)
If you’re a seasoned plant-lover, then this is the product for you! FlorinMulti can establish beneficial water parameters in any aquaria and replenish depleted elemental concentrations in an aquarium that rarely receives a water change.
Brightwell Aquatics FlorinMulti is a concentrated, complete liquid fertilizer with iron and trace elements for the long-term health of freshwater aquarium plants.
Brightwell FlorinMulti contains a full range of micro and macronutrients in ideal ratios to meet the daily needs of aquatic plants.
Brightwell Aquatics has combined essential minerals (a total of 14) into one product, so you don’t have to buy many different ones. So no more wasting money on supplements or having an unbalanced ecosystem if something goes wrong!
However, if your plants are looking tired after doing some major housekeeping on your tank, it’s time to try out this all-purpose solution. Just add one capful of FlorinMulti per 10 gallons of clean tap or distilled water, wait fifteen minutes before adding back into the tank.
- Contains a total of 14 nutrients
- The manufacturer brand has a good reputation
- Straightforward to use
- Suitable to use in a matured planted tank
- Do not contain adequate macronutrients
- Little pricy
Glosso Factory All in one Planted Aquarium Fertilizer (Best For Lightly-Stocked Tank)
Glosso Factory All in one Planted Aquarium Fertilizer is a highly concentrated formula that contains all the nutrients necessary for healthy plant growth.
It is easy to use and has clear instructions on the label. The balanced formula provides macro and microelements, including iron, calcium, magnesium, Potassium, and other essential trace elements.
Glosso Factory All in one Planted Aquarium Fertilizer also contains beneficial bacteria that help remove ammonia from the water column.
Just add one pump per 10 gallons of water every other week, and you’re done! You don’t have to worry about adding trace elements or any extra additives.
‘Glosso Factory All in One Plant Fertilizer’ is entirely safe for all freshwater aquarium plants, including stem plants, floating plants, flowering plants. However, It is safe for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums.
- Clear & easy-to-follow instruction
- Balanced all-round nutrients
- Delivers great result in lightly-stocked tanks
- Only a 16-ounce (500 ml) bottle treats over 4,700 gallons
- Need to shake before use as ingredients separate quickly
- Can make aquarium water cloudy
The 2HR Aquarist All-in-one APT Zero (Best For High Demanding Plants)
The 2HR Aquarist All-in-one APT Zero is a fertilizing solution that eliminates the need for any other fertilizer. It includes an all-in-one Macro+Micro formula (without nitrates and phosphates), supporting demanding species with richer colors.
This product is at a higher level of nutrients than many of its branded competitors on this list; it’s truly designed to meet the high demands of plants within aquariums.
When you have a high-demanding tank, it is hard to know what fertilizer will grow your plants successfully. This concentrate has been designed in the best interests of those who need something that works just right for their tanks.
The low copper level also makes it the best choice to keep your shrimp safe and happy!
- Specially formulated for demanding plants
- All in one comprehensive fertilizer
- Safe for shrimp & fish
- Don’t contain nitrates and phosphates
Here I have written reviews of my top 3 favorite root tabs.
Seachem Flourish Tabs Growth Supplement (Best Overall For Rooted Plants)
Seachem Flourish Tabs are the world’s highest-purity growth stimulating tablets for plant roots that contain essential trace elements, amino acids, and vitamins.
Seachem Flourish Tabs was developed with years of research to supplement aquatic plants for people who love plants but do not have enough time or space to care properly!
Made only from natural ingredients, including iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium inositol, choline B12 biotin (and more!), Seachem has mastered what it takes to keep your plants happy all year round without nutrients deficiencies.
Flourish Tabs are the perfect solution for beginner aquarium owners. They contain all of the same essential nutrients as Flourish, but in a dry, tabular form that can be directly inserted into your aquarium’s gravel bed.
This provides direct fertilization to your plant’s root zone and allows you to control how much fertilizer is released at any given time.
These tabs slowly release their nutrients through enzymatic action for weeks or months, depending on usage rates and water conditions. The result is organic, time-released plant food.
- Beginner-friendly & easy-to-use
- Contain essential nutrients, including trace elements
- Safe for shrimp & invertebrates
- Suitable for hungry plants
- Don’t contain adequate nitrogen (N)
Aquarium Plant Root Fertilizer Tabs 40 Count (Best For Beginners)
The right plant root fertilizer can make all the difference to your aquarium plants. Aquarium Plants Root Fertilizer Tabs are a safe and easy way to provide your aquatic plants with vital nutrients.
These slow-release root fertilizers dissolve slowly over time, releasing essential nutrients as needed by your live aquarium plants.
These root fertilizers contain a balanced blend of macro-nutrients, including Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K), and trace elements such as Iron (Fe), Magnesium (Mg), Manganese (Mn).
Root tabs are the most effective way to fertilize plants in aquariums. Unlike liquid fertilizers that can be washed away, root tabs slowly release nutrients directly to plant roots for up to 3 months.
Aquarium Plant Root Tabs is an excellent choice for all aquariums as it is an ideal blend of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (NPK) for healthy plant growth.
Each tab is pre-measured for a specific substrate depth (2 inches or 4 inches). Press the tabs into your substrate near the base of rooted plants or 3-6 inches apart or as needed. Replace tabs after 3 months.
Use in tanks with at least 1-2 inches of substrate. Press tabs deeply into the substrate. Depending on planting density, adjust the tab spacing.
- Slow-release tabs with balanced nutrients
- Easy-to-use for beginners
- No messy powders or liquids to deal with
- Good value for money
- Not perfect for floating plants
API ROOT TABS Freshwater Aquarium Plant Fertilizer (Best For Heavy Bio-Load Tanks)
API Root Tabs are the ideal choice for promoting robust root development in freshwater aquarium plants. I recommend these root tabs for tanks that handle heavy bio-load.
API Root Tabs containing essential nutrients including iron, potassium, and carbon provide your aquatic plants with everything they need to get off to a strong start and keep established plants flourishing.
Aquarium Plant Fertilizer from API is a superior aquarium plant fertilizer in tablet form. The iron-based formula promotes the lush growth of aquarium plants and supports the development of strong roots.
Safe for use with tropical fish, Aquarium Plant Fertilizer can be used to maintain healthy aquarium plants in freshwater planted aquariums.
Using this product is a quick and easy way to maintain the health of your aquarium! Add one tablet for every 30 square inches of gravel surface. Push it halfway into the bed, and add new tablets monthly for optimum growth.
- Inexpensive product
- Contains a wide variety of nutrients
- Easy to use
- Relatively long-lasting
- No guaranteed analysis
- Can make the water cloudy
I picked two substrates here. To get more reviews, you can read my article ‘The 10 Best Substrates for Planted Tanks.’
UP AQUA Sand for Aquatic Plants (Best Soil For Beginners)
UP AQUA Sand for Aquatic Plants is specially formulated to maintain the pH at 6.5, optimal for plant growth. Aquatic plants require a specific range of pH (6.5-7.0) to grow and thrive.
The pH measures acidity or alkalinity in water, and this product helps maintain this range to ensure optimal plant growth. This product does not contain phosphorus, so it can be used for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums.
UP Aqua Sand also contains iron which helps promote healthy root growth in aquatic plants by providing them with essential nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
This sand does not easily break down and requires no rinsing before use. The packaged weight of the product is 11.0 pounds.
- Don’t break down quickly
- Don’t leach ammonia
- Maintain water pH value ~6.5
- Can increase water hardness (Read how to soften aquarium water)
ADA Aqua Soil Amazonia Powder Type (9 Liters) (Best For Aquascaping Tanks)
The ADA Aqua Soil Series is a line of substrates for aquariums designed to reproduce the image of Amazon, creating an aquascape depicting the fertile South American rainforest with its dynamic alternation between rainy and dry seasons.
The Aqua Soil Series is a patented soil mix formulated to combat the difficulties aquatic plants have in accessing nutrients when water pH levels are too high.
The main ingredient, Soft Rock Phosphate (SRP), works by breaking down calcite and dolomite, interfering with plant nutrition at higher alkaline ranges.
By lowering the hardness of your aquarium or pond’s water using this product, you can enable easy access for all types of aquatic lifeforms such as fish, shrimp, and more!
Aqua Soil is a highly porous substrate for aquatic plants. It contains no chemical fertilizers or dyes, and its structure allows good circulation of water and oxygen through the substrate. This guarantees the healthy growth of aquatic plants.
The granules maintain their shape and density for long periods underwater. The unique composition of Aqua Soil makes it possible to develop hard-to-grow plants such as Tonina sp., which needs soft water conditions to thrive.
- Perfect for heavy root-feeding plants
- Ideal for carpet plants & aquascaping
- Contain balanced nutrients
- Aesthetically pleasing
- Pricy product
- Not suitable for tanks with too many fish
What Else Do You Need For A Healthy Planted Aquarium?
Plants need more than just fertilizer to thrive. Without these other elements, the fertilizer won’t do a lick of good.
Without them, your plants will not thrive as they should, and you’re wasting money on something that does absolutely nothing for it.
A CO2 system can do wonders for your plants! Plants need high enough levels of carbon dioxide to produce energy and grow via photosynthesis.
Without this, you’ll find that the plant will be dead in the water — literally (meaning it won’t survive)!
Aquatic plants need adequate light along with CO2 to produce energy via photosynthesis.
A broad-spectrum LED light is your best bet for finding the proper lighting setup that will provide optimal growth of aquatic plants in a planted aquarium.
The pH levels in aquarium water should typically fall between 6.5-7.0 with an optimal range at 7; this is where essential nutrients will work best. You may read what causes high pH and how to lower it.
Keep track of what these values might mean depending on which plant species you have in there, then go ahead and regularly test so that everything stays perfect inside.
Fertilizers are one of three major components that make a successful planted tank, along with lighting and substrates. There are many different fertilizers to choose from on the market today, but not all will be right for your situation or budget.
Knowing what type of plants you have in your aquarium and how demanding they are, it should become much easier to narrow down which product would be best suited for you–especially since I just told you about 3 things! (Liquid, Tabs, & Soil)
If there’s anything else I can do before we conclude this blog post together (which hopefully by now has helped point you in the right direction), please feel free to leave me a comment in the below box.