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Urine as a fertilizer

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by plantgut, Apr 7, 2008.

  1. plantgut

    plantgut Junior Poster

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    First let me state this is not a joke and I'm not trying to be funny. This is purely scientific. On the History channel they were showing how they use human waste as fertilizer for golf courses. It said urine contains Nitrogen, Phosphate, and Potassium. Upon further reading I came across that gardener's dilute their urine to 10 to 20 parts water: 1 part urine for plants. Obviously fish produce NPK from their waste as well but they don't produce enough which is why we dose with ferts. Instead of dosing with ferts, why couldn't we dose with urine? I posted this on TPT but it got shut down by a moderator that couldn't take it seriously. I got PM's from people requesting for the thread to be reopened so I've brought the idea here.
     
  2. orion2001

    orion2001 Guru Class Expert

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    Hey there. I'm no expert but one of the main reasons might be that urine has some ammonia content which is very bad for a tank because it will trigger and algae bloom (Also it isn't good for the fish). A quick google search led me to this page:

    The Skeptical Aquarist

    To quote from the page: "Urine has a specific gravity of about 1.017-1.020, owing to its dissolved solids, about 60% of which are organic substances. Besides ammonia, those organics include urea, uric acid, and creatine, which are all bacterially decomposed to form carbon dioxide--— and more ammonia."

    So it seems like there is a good chance that all the ammonia created/added from the urine will hurt the fish and also give rise to an algae bloom.

    I might be wrong or there might be other reasons. This is what seemed to make the most sense to me. Btw, I'm surprised that your thread got locked at TPT! That seems rather silly.
     
  3. plantgut

    plantgut Junior Poster

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    Well since you are diluting the urine the ammonia should be in very low concentrations. In a cycled tank the ammonia should be instantly converted to nitrates which is good since plants need them. Plus if it really worries you you could detoxify it with Prime. You also said it converts to carbon dioxide which would really help in low-tech tanks.
     
  4. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    This idea has come up before on other forums, and I still can't see an advantage to using urine instead of KNO3. There are certainly disadvantages, including the fact that only in a healthy person could urine not contain potentially harmful compounds. Even then, I believe it contains a lot of sodium. (I haven't googled to see if that is true yet.)
     
  5. plantgut

    plantgut Junior Poster

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    It's free and convenient. Why pay $20 when you can get it free in seconds.
     
  6. helgymatt

    helgymatt Guru Class Expert

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    Have you smelled your urine lately??? Do you want your aquarium smelling like a out house? You can get a pound of KNO3 for three bucks which will last you well more than a year. Save yourself the self pity of canning up your urine and then feeding it to your tank.

    Shop online at AquariumFertilizer.com
     
  7. creighton

    creighton Guru Class Expert

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    What about for ponds? It may be a little more suited for the outdoors. And with such an easy dosing method who wouldn't try it :D . Nature's Calling!!!
     
  8. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    It is already common practice for ponds. At least in my experience as a youth in rural Missouri that was the case. You wouldn't believe the great tasting fish and bullfrogs we used to catch in those ponds!
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    There was an old thread many years ago on the APD about using cat litter as a sediment, and then seeing if you get the cat to do it's duty in the tank to fertilize the plants via the water column.

    Some serious, some not.

    Golf course, well, I not too supportive of that.
    But the need to do something with all the wastewater is a big issue and to do it cheaply.

    Folks have long used manures, and compost for sediment ferts.
    Water column ferts are bit more troublesome when it comes to more organic methods.

    However, if you are really into the organic methods, why not simply have plenty of fish and feed them only organic foods? Then do not add CO2 gas, go non CO2?

    Fish excrete urine via the gills.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  10. tkos

    tkos Junior Poster

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    A big problem is that human urine actually contains very little ammonia (hence it should burn when you pee) compared to a concentrated source like KNO3. And KNO3 is a known value. Unless you test your urine each time you are dosing blindly. And human urine contains a lot of waste that you frnakly don't want in your tank. Take a multi vitamin? Well a lot of that goes into urine. Take birth control? In the urine. Human hormones? In the urine etc.... Just too many variables. Garden plants get rained on and you are dealing striclty with plants. In the tank you are dealing with fish that will be dealing with your waste products.

    Buying relatively pure hydroponic grade ferts seems so much easier and safer to me.
     
  11. plantgut

    plantgut Junior Poster

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    Well, many people like having few fish and a dedicated planted tank (Not me). For high-tech tanks people usually have to dose no matter how overstocked it is. BTW, how much co2 do fish breath out?

    tkos you bring a good point that whatever goes in must come out. What I was thinking is that urine could be a complete all-in-one fert since it contains NPK, although you'd still need to does micros. KNO3 has no phosphate and some potassium, urine has all three. As for the odor, it won't smell up your house. For the first few days I cycled my tank with urine. I'm willing to try urine fertilizing on a spare tank with plant clippings.
     
  12. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    Human urine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    Probably it would work fine as a fertilizer, but with all the extra compounds in it, besides the fact that the amount of NPK in each sample could be wildly variable, would make it not very useful for our application in a closed system with fish. Especially since $20 buys enough powder fertilizers for a year for most people's setups, I would have to ask, why?
     
  13. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Maybe your wife or significant other might let you pee in your tank, mine would have none of it. KNO3 it is or more fish/fish food.

    Why bother?

    I'm not talking about the implied baloney, but just practical stuff, we keep planted fish tanks.

    Perhaps some folks want plant only, no fish.
    I've done this, but found no advantage, actually less algae likelyhood without fish and similar growth rates on about 30-40 species of plants.
    I used KNO3 as the only input of N.

    I pay 22.50 for 50lsb of KNO3.
    That's easier, at least for me, than peeing, not knowing the concentrations I'm adding, without measuring and testing for total N, and the fractions of each type thereof.

    Suppose someone had to take care or dose, or you had a liquid standard pee solution near?

    "Drink water before you come over to feed and only pee for 10 seconds for 80 gallon tank"

    Uh huh............

    I see no advantage unless you simply cannot get KNO3 or Ca(NO3)2 etc.
    Some, if not a lot of the reduced N ends up converted by bacteria rather than removed just by plants alone.

    That's how they do the fishless cycling after all.
    NH4 oxidizers are very quick to respond.

    I just am trying to come up with a good enough reason to go this route.
    Let me ask another question, would you use your own feces for the sediment?
    If not, then why this?
    Also, there is a lot of Na in urine.

    Peeing in the wind it seems to me.
    And if you have a significant other living with you, they will certainly not go for this one. You do put your arms in the water and prune, clean etc do you not?

    Would you do this in toilet bowl as well?

    Some semi basic questions and sanitation and I really do not think you are get past those issues.

    If balanced systems are really your game, then a non CO2 method fits the bill much better than this.

    Thus far I've read nothing that would convince me that this is something I could ever suggest to any hobbyist.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  14. richardsantink

    richardsantink Lifetime Charter Member
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    I run a 125g saltwater tank with only macroalgae in it, in additon to a couple of crabs. I've tried the urine approach - twice. My take on it? Never again. Why?

    1. It stinks. I put only about 12oz in my 125g tank, and initially it didn't smell. After 12 hours it did.
    2. My macro's didn't seem to do any better, or worse.
    3. I did experience an outbreak of Enteromorpha (which I don't mind) and some others that I do mind!
    4. I think most of it ended up in the skimmer anyways (my skimmer usually has a distinct 'clean' smell, but not when I dose with urine.

    YMMV,

    call me Pee-free.

    RAS
     
  15. plantgut

    plantgut Junior Poster

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    Alright you've all convinced me that dosing urine isn't practical. I have KNO3, but the History channel made me curious. Although I still might make a test tank and try it.
     
  16. creighton

    creighton Guru Class Expert

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    That's awesome you tried it. I don't know if I could pour pee into my tank. That takes some serious curiosity :) .
     
  17. plantgut

    plantgut Junior Poster

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    I've only tried it on cycling a tank but I will try it as a fertilizer.
     
  18. richardsantink

    richardsantink Lifetime Charter Member
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    Good point.. I should have added in my post that my attempts were for cycling purposes as well... still, I won't be doing it again next time I have to cycle a tank!!

    R
     
  19. Dr.Tran

    Dr.Tran Junior Poster

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    Please let us know of the results. I really want to see for the sake of science to know if it is fesible.

    Its too bad they closed the thread in plantedtank. They are a bit conservative. They said I use foul language before for stuff that had nothing bad in it. Till this day I contest it.

    Anyway fish expell amonina through the gills, birds have uric acid, and we have urea. Urea is the least toxic and it seems it can be used.

    I know the point was already brought up about the rest of the stuff in urine but I say go ahead. Sometimes things in life arn't the same as they are on paper.
     
  20. plantgut

    plantgut Junior Poster

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    That's it! I'm done with The Planted Tank. They took off my thread and it was just an announcement. I'm joining spypet on APC. No wonder APC has more members.
     
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