Category Archives: Plant Food

New Aquarium Soils & Substrates!

Tropica Aquarium Soil 9L

I am very pleased to say that we have added a exciting new range of aquairum soils and substrate to our ever growing number of products for planted aquariums…

  1. Tropica Aquarium Soil
  2. Tropica Aquarium Soil Powder
  3. Tropica Plant Growth Substrate

Getting things right from the beginning means starting with a good bottom layer for your plants to grow in. Tropica’s new aquarium soil is the perfect bottom layer for your planted aquarium. There’s NO NEED FOR CAPPING with gravel or sand, making this ‘all in one’ substrate a simple product to use.

First, layer the soil across the bottom of your aquarium 5-6cm deep, sloping towards the back to add depth. Next, add any hardscape such as wood or rock and fill the aquarium with 2cm deep of water. Now your ready for planting. Planting before you fully fill your aquarium with water makes the job much MUCH easier, and this is the way we recommend planting any tank. After your plants are in, fill the tank slowly with water, being carefully not to disturb any of the plants you have just put in. It really is a simple product to use. Tropica Aquarium Soil also helps promote healthy growth of your aquatic plants by altering the water parameters in the plants favour. It also promotes red colourations in your aquatic plants.
TIP: During the first 3-4 weeks of set-up, change 50% of your aquarium water 2 times per week. Aquarium Soil leeches ammonia initially which need diluting with fresh water. After this (around 4-6 weeks) you are ready to add fish. And you can slowly start to decrease the amount of water changes you do per week.

If you have a nano/small aquarium, Tropica’s Aquarium Soil Powder is the preferred choice, as the grain size is smaller which looks better in smaller tanks and with smaller plants. It is also useful in the foreground of larger tanks, and makes things easier when planting more delicate plants such as Hemianthus Callitrchoides and Eleocharis Acicularis.

We also now stock Tropica’s Plant Growth Substrate. This product is designed to sit underneath your chosen gravel or sand. It is a long term nutritious substrate ensuring healthy growth in the long term. You are required to layer 1cm of Tropica Plant Growth Substrate underneath 4-5cm of your chosen gravel/sand to ensure the substrate does not leak into your water column.

Top tips when purchasing aquarium soils and substrates:

      • It’s a good idea to purchase soils/substrate and any hardscape materials such as wood or rock before getting hold of your plants. This gives you time to plan your layout and make sure you have enough soil/substrate and hardscape materials before your plants arrive.
      • Remember to carry out 2 weekly water changes, 50% each time for the first 3-4 weeks. This is important in any new planted aquarium, but especially if your using aquarium soils.
      • If your wondering how much Aquarium Soil you need, 1 x 9 Litre bag per 60L of aquarium water is what we would recommend.
      • If your wondering how much Plant Growth Substrate you need, then this table will help you…

Tropica Plant Grow Substrate chart


TNC Plant Food and TNC Carbon…A Great Partnership!

I have to say, these two products work great together. TNC Complete and TNC Carbon provide everything your plants could ever want to grow and stay healthy. I’ve been using them for some time now. In terms of value they are some of the best out there. In terms of effectiveness… you will never look back. If your after a simple plant food solution for your aquarium plants with simple dosing instructions, then TNC is the product to go for.

TNC Complete provides all Macro and Micro nutrients required by plants. The Nutrient Company are experts at what they do. Their ingredients are exactly to the plants demands and dosing is a simple weekly task. You can also tailor the dosing to E.I. (Estimative Index) by simply dosing 3 times per week instead. Couldn’t be easier? And you will have piece of mind your plants are getting what they need.

Combine this with TNC Carbon and your onto a winner. Carbon is the backbone to life and makes up much of the plants dry weight. If your not injecting Co2 then levels of carbon in your aquarium will be low. TNC liquid carbon offers a affordable solution to carbon in the planted aquarium. Dosing is clearly explained on the bottle. With a tiny 1ml dose per 50L per day, the bottle will last you longer than you think! TNC Carbon also acts as a algaecide, you can even spot dose it straight onto effected areas and you will soon see it disappear.

On a final note…are you worried that these products could make your algae troubles worse? Then I can assure you these will actually help get rid of algae. The process is simple, if you provide all the elements required by your plants then they will flourish and algae will not. Take it from me, without a source of nutrients and carbon in the planted aquarium you will never solve your algae problems.



Plants Dying? Try using liquid carbon

We are getting lots of questions each week asking why your aquarium plants are dying or suffering from poor/unhealthy growth. The first thing we address is always Co2 levels. Carbon is one of the most important elements required by your aquatic plants for growth. The most common reason for poor plant growth is down to lack of carbon. Before I tell you how to address your co2 levels, let’s look into why plants need carbon:

How plants use Co2

Plants source the Carbon from CO2 absorbed through the leaves. Most plants contain chlorophyll – the pigment which makes plants green. The chlorophyll absorbs light and the plant uses the energy from the light to convert the Carbon together with water (H2O) into sugars and carbohydrates (CH2O) – a process known as photosynthesis.
The sugars and carbohydrates provide the energy for the plant to grow.

Many aquarium plants are cultivated emersed by producers. As there is much more co2 in the air than in your aquarium the plants grow much quicker and are in very good health. In your aquarium the available co2 underwater is far less, so you can see why it is important you have a co2 supply. It is especially important if you have medium to high lighting, as with more light becomes a higher demand for nutrients and co2 to fuel the plants growth.

Carbon Sources

Carbon can be supplied by: injecting Co2 into your water from a pressurized co2 bottle , using a yeast based co2 system, a DIY yeast based system or by using Liquid Carbon. If your new to planted aquariums we would recommend trying liquid carbon to start with. Pressurised co2 systems can seem expensive to the new aquarist. It may be something you want to invest in the future, once you become more confident with planted aquariums.

Here were going to focus on using Liquid Carbon.

If you cannot afford the initial expense of Co2 injection kits/regulators/solenoids, liquid carbon is an excellent alternative. It’s particularly great for smaller aquariums, say smaller than 100L as it can work out to be a cost effective method of supplementing Carbon.

You have to be prepared for daily dosing, however this only takes a matter of seconds and most liquid carbons only require you to dose 1ml per 50L of aquarium water per day. It is important to dose every day as the carbon is only active for 24 hours.

At Aquarium Gardens we supply TNC Carbon, at very competitive prices compared to other brands on the market.

Give it a go, you will the difference it makes very soon!

Can fertilizers cause algae?

NO! Is the short answer.

Many people are being given false information that fertilizers such as TNC Plant Food can cause algae. Furthermore people are being told if you have an algae outbreak then you should cut back on your fertilizers or stop dosing altogether in order to starve the algae.

The truth is, by not adding these vital nutrients to your planted aquarium you are actually starving your plants and you will cause nutrient deficiency. As soon as your plants stop performing well, algae swoops in. Algae is like a predator, it waits to find a weakness and then swoops in for the kill. 

The same can be said for Co2, if you starve your plants from Co2 (a vital component for photosynthesis) then your plants will start performing badly, start to decay, and then algae will start covering the leaves.

By providing good amounts of Co2 and nutrients your plants will be healthy and thrive. As long as you have healthy plants, you won’t see any algae.

Your plants need macro and micro nutrients, we recommend TNC Complete as a full nutrient solution for your plants. As a solution for carbon, we recommend TNC Carbon, an excellent alternative to Co2 injection, or the perfect partner for Co2 injection. Liquid carbon also acts as an algaecide, so for best results use both Co2 injection and liquid carbon.

We choose TNC Plant Food

I am pleased to announce that we now have the full range of TNC plant foods and liquid carbon in stock and available to purchase on our website.

We strongly advise providing nutrients for all aquarium plants. Whether you have a high tech or low tech tank, plants require a source of nutrients to thrive and become vibrant.

Here at Aquarium Gardens we have chosen TNC liquid fertilizers as they offer superb value for money and have been tried and tested with amazing results. For lightly planted aquariums we recommend TNC Lite. For aquariums with a high density of plants we recommend TNC Complete.

Carbon is essential for all healthy plant growth and can be provided by gas or in liquid form. Liquid Carbon is a great alternative to Co2 injection and also works as an algaecide. Can be used with or without Co2 injection. We recommend dosing TNC Carbon alongside TNC Lite or TNC Complete.

TNC Lite – For lightly planted aquariums or high fish load


TNC Complete – For densely planted aquariums and low fish load


TNC Carbon – a great alternative to CO2 injection


TNC Plugs (substrate nutrition tablets)


TNC GH Boost – for a softwater GH boost


You can find more details about each of these on our website at