Re: Flourish and Flourish Excel
Flouirsh Excel is a carbon supplement whereas Flourish is a trace element, vitamin and ammino acid supplement.
Plants in general need a range of nutrients. Some of them are provided by the fish waste and others are not. There are three Macro nutrients: Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. If you have Ammonia, Nitrite, or Nitrate (5-30 ppm) you have enough Nitrogen. If not add Flourish Nitrogen. If you have a phosphate level of 1-2 ppm you have enough Phosphorus. If not add Flourish Phosphorous. Potassium is rarely provided unless you add it, I recommend Flourish Potassium.
The micro nutrients usually need to be added. Once or twice weekly additions of Flourish will take care of this. Plants also need a carbon source this is normally provided by carbon dioxide that the fish exhale or if you add CO2 to your tank. We also have a supplement that provides carbon to the plants it is called Flourish Excel. This is used when you have a planted tank and are not adding additional CO2 or when you want to supplement the CO2 your adding. Many people find that this product also helps the plants out compete the algae. Hard water plants (like swords) also need calcium and magnesium. You can test these in the water by testing your General hardness (GH). If you have at least 100 ppm of GH you should be fine. If not you can add Equilibrium. Iron is another important nutrient. Usually this is chemically removed by the roots from the substrate. So you will either want to have a nutrient rich substrate such as Flourite, Flourite Red, or Onyx. If you don't have a nutrient rich substrate you can add Flourish Tabs to your substrate to allow the plants to be able to get these nutrients. Plants can also take Iron up in the water. So we have Flourish Iron that you can add. It is a very usable Iron that is attached to a carbohydrate (a source of carbon).
Carbon in your filters can pull a lot of the Trace nutrients out so I would either supplement those twice a week or switch to an absorbent resin such as Purigen.
Another concern for most planted aquariums is pH. There are Phosphate base buffers that are very stable on the market. But those usually encourage algae growth and will also cause your iron, calcium, and magnesium to precipitate. You will want to use a carbonate based buffering system. This can be achieved by Acid Buffer and Alkaline Buffer. It is also recommended to use a carbonate hardness (KH) test kit.
Most of our supplements are designed to be added to the water. The Flourish tabs are meant to be placed in the gravel.
So the basics of what is recommended are: Flourish, Flourish Excel,Flourish Iron and Flourish Potassium.
If you do not have nutrient rich substrate you will want Flourish Tabs. If you don't have a General Hardness of 100 ppm or Higher you will want to add Equilibrium. If you don't have a Nitrogen source you'll want Flourish Nitrogen. If you don't have a Phosphate source you will want Flourish Phosphorus. To adjust your pH you will need Acid Buffer and Alkaline Buffer.