Today we will be talking about shrimp safe plant fertilizers. In this article, we will discuss the best fertilizers for aquarium plants which are equally safe for shrimp. You might be surprised, especially if you a beginner aquarist, but you cannot use any plant fertilizer in a shrimp tank.
But first, why do plants need fertilizers?
Just like humans and animals need food for optimal growth, development, and survival, our aquarium plants also need this too but in the form of fertilizers.
The importance of fertilizers to the plants cannot be overemphasized, they need nutrients obtained from fertilizers for growth, development, vibrant coloration and other activities.
Plants need quite a wide range of crucial elements for healthy growth. Some of these elements are required in large amounts (macro elements) while some are needed in very little amounts (trace elements).
Macroelements include the popular trio- Nitrogen, Phosphates, and Potassium (NPK), other notable ones like Calcium, Magnesium, and Sulphur. Trace elements involve the totality of elements like Zinc, Iron, Copper, Chloride, Manganese, Boron amongst others.
Fertilizers, Copper and Shrimp
Next up is the controversial trace element- Copper and its effects. Copper (Cu) has a positive and significant impact on plants. It is a naturally occurring element in the soil and has a lot of benefits to plants which includes the following:
- Promotion of healthy and sustainable growth
- Helps in the development and maintenance of plant parts
- Aids respiration and plant photosynthesis
- Aids enzymatic processes
The contrasting side of this element has to be that it is detrimental to the health of invertebrates- shrimp, snails, crayfish, and crabs inhabiting in the planted tank. This is usually common when exposed to high concentration levels.
The presence of copper in higher amounts disrupts their respiration, inhibits reproduction processes, and harms the immune system. Copper also affects the metabolism of aquatic species, higher concentration affects osmoregulation, molting frequently, and ultimately its survival.
Important: When purchasing fertilizers for planted tanks, it is strongly advised that you only obtain the ones that contain the lowest concentration of the copper element or does not have it at all. A lot of manufacturers will term their products will tag their products as ‘shrimp safe’ but you must study the composition of these products and pick out the most suitable one for your aquarium.
Trust me, you wouldn’t like to witness a scene whereby you dose plants with fertilizers and the shrimps start exhibiting adverse signs, and in some cases sudden death. Bear in mind that although copper is harmful to shrimp, it doesn’t mean you should never use plant fertilizers at all because they contain it. Avoid this misconception, all you have to do is watch out for the concentration levels, pick those with little traces or no trace at all and act accordingly.
To that effect, we will highlight safe shrimp plant fertilizers you can use in your planted tanks.
Shrimp Safe Plant Fertilizers
1. Easy Green All in One Fertilizer
This is one of the best fertilizers to use in planted tanks inhabiting snails, fish, and shrimp. Go for this shrimp safe fertilizers if you desire a good fertilizer that will go easy on your shrimp. Easy green was specially made for a low to medium light kind of tank conditions. This is exactly what most plants in shrimp tanks need (read my article “Top 5 Plants for Your Shrimp Tank” or “Top 7 Nano Aquarium Plants”).
From the composition of the Easy Green plant fertilizer it is stated that copper (Cu) is 0.00%, thus it is totally shrimp and snails safe. The complete contents includes: N 2.66%, P 0.46%, K 9.21%, Mg 0.7%, S 0.80%, B 0.015%, Fe 0.13%, Mn 0.036%, Mo 0.00%, Zn 0.072%
According to the manufacturers – Aquarium Co-Op (check out his Youtube channel):
Recommended dosing of Easy Green plant fertilizer:
- 1 ml per 10 gallons (~40 litres) of tank water once a week and 1 ml per 10 gallons of tank water twice a week (medium to high light tank).
Note: You are required to store out of sunlight reach for optimal shelf life. This shrimp safe fertilizer can be obtained here.
On the website, a glance will point at the review section when you can see over 1500 reviews of this fertilizer of which most were positive. You will have no regrets about going for this shrimp free fertilizer.
2. Brightwell Shrimp FlorinMulti
This is yet another amazing shrimp safe Fertilizer for your shrimp and fish aquarium. It is copper-free and shrimp safe this won’t be toxic to your shrimp and snails.
The Brightwell Shrimp Line is a line specifically designed with shrimp in mind. The entire line has gone through extensive testing over more than a year. Shrimp FlorinMulti contains 13 essential elements for long term health and growth of aquarium plants. This fertilizer is available in 125ml, 250ml, 500ml, 2L according to your plant needs and requirements.
Recommended dosing of Brightwell Shrimp FlorinMulti:
- For the first 3-5 weeks, use 2ml per 10 gallons (~40 liters) twice a week.
- Dosing can also be adjusted to perceived plant nutrients requirements.
Note: Brightwell Company also works with another famous shrimp keeper Robert Lupton from Flip Aquatics.
|Brightwell Shrimp FlorinMulti (link to check the price on Amazon)|
3. Seachem Flourish
Seachem Flourish fertilizer is also shrimp safe. It contains a rich assortment of important macro elements, trace elements, and other essential nutrients.
Copper composition in this fertilizer is almost non-existent (0.0001%), it contains magnesium, calcium, iron as well as other vital elements needed by aquatic plants and animals.
Recommended dosing of Seachem Flourish:
- Use 0.2 caps (0.8 mL) for every 10 gallons (~40 liters) once or twice a week.
Note: For smaller doses, please note that each cap thread is approximately 1 mL. Refrigeration is recommended 3 months after opening.
|Seachem Flourish (link to check the price on Amazon)|
4. API Leaf Zone
This is a cost-effective shrimp safe plant fertilizer, it retails for as low as $7. API Leaf Zone is shrimp safe, according to the manufacturer.
Laboratory tests show that this fertilizer contains extremely small traces of copper (1 mg/kg), just for comparison, green beans and potatoes contain more copper than API Leaf Zone.
It is rich in iron and potassium to promote the growth rate and vibrant coloration of aquatic plants. This fertilizer is formulated for rapid absorption through the plant leaves.
Recommended dosing of API Leaf Zone:
- 5ml per 10 gallons of tank water weekly.
|API Leaf Zone (link to check the price on Amazon)|
5. ThriveS by NilocG Aquatics
ThriveS is a supplement formulated specially for planted aquarium tanks that inhabit freshwater shrimp. It is shrimp safe as it doesn’t contain copper which shrimps are sensitive to at high quantities.
This shrimp safe Fertilizer supports plant growth and provided the necessary macro and micronutrients.
Recommended dosing of ThriveS:
- 1 pump per 5g, 1-3 times per week.
Note: All the Thrive line (Thrive, Thrive+, ThriveC, and ThriveS) is a shrimp safe. However, according to the manufacturer, if shrimp are the focus of the tank then you want to go with ThriveS. If the focus of the tank are plants then go with Thrive, Thrive+ or ThriveC.
The point is that ThriveS is designed to not increase the necessity of water changes above what would normally be done with good tank maintenance on a shrimp tank. While Thrive, Thrive+ and ThriveC are shrimp safe they are concentrated to provide the plants with all the necessary nutrients, which also increases the need for frequent larger water changes.
|ThriveS – (link to check the price on Amazon)|
6. Some other shrimp safe plant fertilizers:
– JBL series of fertilizers (link to check the price on Amazon)
– Biovert Plant Fertilizer (link to check the price on Amazon)
– Dennerle series of fertilizers (Dennerle E15, Dennerle V30 Complete, Dennerle A1 Daily, Dennerle S7 Vitamix)
In the article about copper I quoted manufacturers that they are all shrimp safe.
Recommendation by Using Fertilizers in Shrimp Tank
If you are still worried about using fertilizers in your tank due to fear of the shrimp dying, you can skip the full dosage and begin at a ½ dose at first. Then gradually (in 2 – 3 weeks) increase the dose up to 3/4 if everything is okay. During this process, ensure you monitor the tank water parameters and inhabitants from time to time to make sure all is in order.
What to do in the case of overdose and shrimp starts dying?
Sometimes aquarists do not check for Copper composition in their fertilizers and use whatever they have. So, if you notice any event of shrimp dying in the tank, it might be due to an overdose of fertilizers. What should you do to save your shrimp?
- Use copper removers.
- Do water change.
1. I have two recommended copper removers which you can utilize for this case:
Seachem CupriSorb Copper Remover
This is a powerful adsorbent of copper and heavy metals. CupriSorb is ideal for emergency copper removal in the planted tank. It works by removing all kinds of copper from the gravel/substrate bed.
API Bio-Chem Zorb
This contains a mix of resins and activated carbon that eliminates aquarium pollutants (odors, colors, heavy metals, and toxic gases) from freshwater aquarium tanks. API Bio-Chem Zorb helps to make tank water crystal and free from toxins.
2. Massive Water Change
This is another effective method of removing copper from tank water. However, it is advisable to do only in the absence of copper removers.
This method is harmful to shrimp as big & frequent water changes cause molting problems especially the “White Ring of Death”. Frequent water changes alter the parameters and make the shrimp undergo a forced molt.