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Why dont use (NH4)2SO4 for planted tanks?

Discussion in 'Aquatic Plant Fertilization' started by Brian20, Mar 1, 2010.

  1. Brian20

    Brian20 Guest

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    Hi, I have a friend that uses (NH4)2SO4 in his planted tanks. I try to find it but I not found it.(He lives in Mexico and I in Puerto Rico). Why bulk fertilizer dont make it or it is easy to found in USA???
     
  2. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    Many terrestrial plant fertilizers contain N in form of nitrite and ammonium, both better assimilated then nitrates

    However, Tom showed that ammonium can trigger algae in very small quantities. Furthermore, ammonium is very toxic to fish and invertebrae even in less than 1ppm quantities, while nitrate are much safer
     
  3. Wet

    Wet Lifetime Members
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    Expanding on jonny_ftm's post, there can be gains adding NH3/4+ in very small (~0.25ppm) quantities though. I've induced pearling in this way from Calcium Ammonium Nitrate, for example. Arguable if this is worth the risk to fauna. It isn't for me, for example, as I've also induced nasty GW this way :)
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Problem is that many add ferts very let's say.........with out much regard..........
    This is fine with KNO3.........but not with any NH4 based ferts.

    I do not think anyone has once show a decent different in a planted tank between the two forms of N.
    Nothing worth risking livestock or algae issues certainly.

    And some one will mess up and do this.

    However, we all add NH4............already.
    It's called fish.

    We feed them, they poo and there's my NH4, and plenty of it because, I have fish in my tank.

    I'd have to add a lot of Fish and food to meet the demands of the plants, so I use KNO3 and this provides several days worth of N for the plants at any given moment, you simply cannot do this in the water column with NH4, 2-5ppm of NH4?
    Try it with fish sometime, ones you do not mind killing.

    I've never seen any plant I cannot grow without NH4 also, so why worry? Use KNO3, poses far less risk.
    Sediments are the only place to bother considering using NH4, and mostly in osmocoat of embedded without clay so it's slow release only.

    Otherwise, add some fish and feed them, plenty of NH4 right there.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  5. Brian20

    Brian20 Guest

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    I know this can be lethal for animals, As you know I make solutions from dry ferts, so I can make a solution of this to make it less lethal. Or I can make a solution of it with KNO3 like Seachem Nitrogen. Im just curious tu use this. The problem is that I cant found it, I will try Garden shops.
     
  6. csmith

    csmith Guest

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    I was given this a while back.

     
  7. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    Sorry, but I don't support this at all, they are fish, but should be considered just like any living pet we have. Sadely, many don't and that's why they never succeed keeping their fish alive or showing nice original behaviour.

    As Tom points, there's already plenty of NH4, so no need to mess with it and kill fish, or remove fish and play with ferts and plants/algae
     
  8. Brian20

    Brian20 Guest

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    Dont worry, I never killed a fish in my experiments wit ferts (Math never fail) I know that a lot of people kill fish with accidents or because not read, but when you not have a lot of money to spend in fish (like me) you will care of them. However I have 17 planted tanks so I have 3 or 4 without animals where i can make my experiements.
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    So why bother is my question?
    What do you honestly, think you will gain by this?
    Don't you folks have fish?

    Do you see anydifference between fsih and non fish planted tanks?
    I haven't.

    Adding a small non lethal amount is fine, but then it really does not offer you any benefit.
    And that's the point I am making and have made for over a decade.

    Just use fish.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Then try sediment based, rather than water column.
    You can if you want, but.......my concern is that other newbies will read it, and then go out and dose and kill their fish and get algae.
    Good example is with fishless cycling using NH4.

    The other issue is simply comparaing fairly, between NH4 and NO3.
    This is extremely hard to do for aquarist, most do have fish..........many miss this point.

    Sediment based NH4 sources however do not have issues.
    Mineralized soil works well, but they allow bacteria to transform the NH4 to NO3 before the soil is added, worm castings as well, DSM also does this, and ADA As also requires about a month of cycling prior as well.
    Osmocoat works well too.

    I know KNO3 is widely available where you are at. Stump remover is sold and is very common in many places.

    The dosing or urea and other NH4 forms has been done for 2 decades to the water column.
    While it can be done without ill effects, and has been, the amounts added are very conservative.
    So it really does not offer much difference, while adding NO3 can at higher levels and is 100X less toxic.

    My question to you, given the differences in toxicity, why support and argue for NH4 dosing, while so many often say that high NO3, say about 20-30ppm are BAD, TOXIC, WASTEFUL, EXCESSIVE..........??

    I find it very contradictory particularly when given what we know about NO3 and NH4 toxicity differences.

    Sure plants can and do use both, there's some argument that there's a significant advantage to NH4.
    However, CO2 and light , NOT nutrients, will offer much better balance and plant growth than any subtle differences with ferts.
    Once plants are established and growing well, there's some recycling of organic N=> NH4 also.

    This occurs at low levels in aquatic systems naturally and in aquariums, very tough to follow and measure.

    I just little fruit from this, and it's not like I and many others have not done this many times in the past and manipulated things like light/CO2 along with NH4 dosing.
    I never had green water till after I tried this.

    Also, if you start dosing higher amounts of NH4, filter bacteria simply increase and transform most of it if it's in solution.
    Just like with fishless cyclying. Small low amounts, plants will get some.

    I suppose you could turn off the filter after you dose for an hour or two, not sure how practical all that really is.
    Even there, bacteria grows on plants and the sediment etc, lots of surface there. Those bacteria will increase and reduce the amount of NH4 available, particularly over time and what you end up seeing is an increase in NO3 due to that, not NH4 uptake, so the plants end up with more NO3, even if you add more NH4.

    These issues are rather hard to address for aquarist.

    That siad, we dosed terrestrial ferts to the water column, eg Schultz's plant food etc, a couple of drops here and there, mostly just to see etc, no one really found any difference.
    I guess if you are in a pinch and no KNO3 is available.....

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  11. Brian20

    Brian20 Guest

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    I know your preocupation Tom. Only people with experience and knowledge or crazy people do this experiments.
     
  12. Wet

    Wet Lifetime Members
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    Have you looked for Calcium Ammonium Nitrate, Brian20? Commonly available at many agro supplies, but, 2 cents:

    1) Get the exact type if possible. C.A.N. has a couple different forms. Most are in such a percent that it's not a bad N and Ca source. Except for the whole algae and dead fish thing ;)

    2) Agro stuff may have weird impurities. Here's an example from an old demonstration I did of different chemicals in solution. For reference, the C.A.N. was purchased from a local hydroponics supply who were reselling it from bulk. The CaCl2 is Pool Hardness Increaser from my hardware store.

    This is the C.A.N. from the top. It always did this and I do not believe it to be from any contamination since it was in my stash.
    [​IMG]
     
  13. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    No, stubborn folks love to do it as well, hehe. I'm stubborn.

    However, many do fishless cycling then have issues, mainly green water blooms.

    Plants can use up to about 0.8ppm per day of NH4.
    Bacteria plays a big role if you slowly add small amounts and increase, same as if you add a few fish at a time and increase the bioload slowly.
    The results as far as NH4 loading are no different.

    Unlike NH4 inorganic methods, fish dose the NH4 slowly over time also, so no residual it really measured, even with the inorganic sources, you end up seeign a rapid decline in a few hours from plants and bacteria.
    How much of the NH4 is bacteria and how much is plants? Well, hard to say, but slow increases will favor bacteria colonies increasing to match, sudden pulses will favor plants.

    If only roots can get at the sources of NH4, say folded into clay, then the bacteria cannot oxidize the NH4.
    So the plant gets most of the NH4.

    If you mixed say 3ppm NO3 and say 0.3ppm of NH4 per day and have other parameters in good shape, this is okay.
    You should not have any issues unless the CO2 is low and the light is very high.

    Othen times, the mircale grow fertilizer is all some folks have sitting around.
    So they dose that.

    If you are careful, keep things lower, then sure, why not.
    But if you have access to the other ferts, which are generally cheaper than these NH4 ferts, then there's no much need either way.
    The no fish/plant only crowd is certainly there, but is a rather small group.

    I'd suggets trying it more in the sediment, and NO3 in the water column, this is precisely what farmers do as well, they know the NH4 will be converted rapidly to NO3 in the aerobic soil. With rice flooded culture, they add NH3 directly to the soil, since it's anaerobic, the NH4 will stay put and the clay will help bind the NH4.
    NO3 is the mobile water column aerobic form, NH4 is more the fast uptake bound anaerobic form.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  14. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    BTW, I've used both (NH4)2SO4 and NH4Cl quite a bit in the past.
    Urea and NH4NO3 as well.

    Urea is often pretty cheap and not bad to add a mix of macro nutrients, some add a little to their KNO3/KH2PO4 "because it's sexy".
    Say 1/10th by volume of KNO3.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  15. Brian20

    Brian20 Guest

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    the problem is where I can find all this products???
     
  16. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I've found NH4Cl, and (NH4)2SO4 and urea are most places on line.

    http://www.ruralking.com/ammonium-sulfate-fertilizer.html?cvsfa=1908&cvsfe=2&cvsfhu=303137333230303136
    http://doitbest.com/Main.aspx?PageID=64&SKU=750903&utm_source=Froogle&utm_medium=FREECSE&utm_term=750903&utm_content=6790&utm_campaign=DATAFEED
    http://www.thegreathardwarestore.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=714124&click=2744
    http://www.sheepman.com/ecommerce/ecomm_product_details.asp?prodId=992&source=cat&catId=59

    Stuff is much cheaper than KNO3, that's why it's often used.
    The ammonium chloride will cause some burning when contacts moisture, so wear gloves etc.

    This is another reason not to bother, if it's available and all you can get, no issue.
    But if you already have KNO3.............

    Use soil, use fish etc.......then.

    How/where you get the NH4 really is of less importance.
    I really do not think it's worth the $ for shipping, but then again, I can go down the street and get 50lb bags for under 10$.
    Soil? It's dirt cheap, it's free minus labor.
    Fish? shrimp? There's money better spent for myself.

    I think you'll find better management and growth over all and over time using sediment approaches for NH4.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  17. Brian20

    Brian20 Guest

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    Ok finally, NH4 not is relevant to plant nutrition in a planted tank, so really this is a waste of time. Is correct to say that a KNO3 solution is better than a NO3 and NH4 solution, less problems and still is the same effect.
     
  18. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Well, it(NH4) is to some degree relevant, but the question is how much and how much difference will see?
    Plants will use it, but for dosing management, it's easier to add it to sediment, via fish waste since we only need small amounts relative to NO3.

    I think it's wise to use both........covers all the bases.
    Same thing with sediment and water column dosing etc......

    If you lack fish, adding say .3ppm to a typical liquid dosing of PMDD+PO4 is not a bad idea I think.
    I'd use (NH4)2SO4 or urea for that, urea should be available locally for you.
    If the tanks are small, try some Schultz's African plant food.

    Most garden centers should carry those items.
    I'd also investigate soils, DIY, worm casting etc.



    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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