Kiki’s Pancakes, from Kiki’s Delivery Service by Studio Ghibli!
Yes, this is an updated recipe based on my Drop Scones. But once you’ve tasted the airy, fluffy, tender moistness of these pancakes, you won’t even think about how derivative this recipe is!
[If you like my writing, please check out my book Dear Wolf! Guaranteed to contain fantasy, mystery, one dog of reasonable size and quality, humorous misunderstandings, elderly detectives, and one cake!]
Our green, red and orange photosynthesizing friends need care beyond being wet and I will elaborate what are the key points of aquatic plant nutrition.
Liebig’s law of the minimum states that the least available nutrient is the limiter of growth. Or positively put, fertilizing the scarcest nutrient(s) will improve growth, often greatly. Of the law is an gross oversimplification of the biological processes behind plant metabolism, but in the aquatic practice it makes an good estimate.
Derived from air and water: Hydrogen, Oxygen and Carbon as H2O, O2 and CO2. Water is obviously abundant underwater, Oxygen diffuses into water through the surface as well as produced by photosynthesis and thus most often abundant too. While Carbon Dioxide also diffuses into the water and is produced by the decay of organic matter, the conzentrations are rather low and in general the limiting factor of photosynthesis and plant metabolism. One can decide to artificially dissolve CO2 in one aquarium, enabling the use of high intensity lighting, leading to an much higher metabolic rate and growth but also to more demand for other nutrients, of course. Still, common aquatic plants are adapted to conzentrations found in aquaria without additional CO2 source, so you don’t have to do any work here.
Primary Macronutrients, Potassium, Phosphorus and Nitrogen, typically encountered as K+ , PO43- and as parts of the Nitrogen Cycle, NH3/NH4+, NO2-, NO3-. Nitrogen and Phosphorus are generally present in large amounts from fish food and certain substrates, but very heavy planted tanks and tanks under high light need additional fertilization here. Potassium is one minor cation in natural waters and found in traces in organic matter, but it is also needed approximately as much as Nitrate (NO3-), meaning it is in high demand. Water changes are thus the most notable source in home aquaria, but are often insufficient. Thus additional Potassium fertilization is a good way to improve growth in an otherwise unfertilized tank.
Secondary and Tertiary Macronutrients: Calcium, Magnesium and Sulfur. Calcium and Magnesium are as Ca2+ and Mg2+ the major contributors to the General Hardness, GH. They are abundant in all but the softest waters. Sulfur is as Sulfate, SO42-, is a common anion in natural waters and only in very low demand, thus abundant. Unless you plan to never do water changes or have extremely soft waters and lots of plants under high light and additional CO2, you will have no need to fertilize them.
Iron and the rest: They are all traces elements needed to ensure proper metabolism, and the only notable sources is organic matter, aka fish food (or certain substrates). While the demand is low, the supply is even lower. Fertilizing Micronutrients is often the best first step into fertilization and often leads to great improvements in growth and plant health.
The Delivery, fertilizing the water column and the substrate:
Contrary to terrestrial plants, aquatic plants not only can take up nutrients
from the substrate
through their roots, but also from the water column. There are many aquatic plants that have roots reduced to mere tools to secure themselves in the substrate or on rocks, some even having no roots at all. No aquatic plant will choose death over having to take up nutrients through the water column, thus fertilizing the water column will be enough to ensure survival and even decent growth. For the best growth however, nutrition through the substrate is also recommended, as there are still many plants in the hobby that root quite heavily, such as Echinodorus spp. and most carpet plants. There are three major types of substrates used in the hobby:
Inert substrates, such as sand or gravel: They contain no available nutrients not do they anything else. Nutrients are added as detritus/mulm gets in between the grains or when the aquarists add root tabs or other substrate fertilizer to them. Sand in particular hardly allows any detritus to get into it, therefore root tabs are highly recommended. Gravel will also benefit from them, of course.
Clay-based substrate, such as Eco-Complete or other substrates. These substrates are themselves just as inert as sand or gravel, but have a trick to get nutritious: Replacement of silicate through ions with lower charge diffusive processes gives clay particles in small negative charge, making adsorb cations, This is called Cation-Exchange-Capability (CEC), meaning in effect clay based substrates can collect cations like a sponge, just waiting for plant to pick them up. This is a notable effect and greatly increases the fertility of the substrate, but still not the best case.
Substrates with organics in it, such as aquasoils or an dirted tank. An dirted tank being an tank where the substrate is organic potting soil capped with a layer sand or gravel. These substrates contain actually nutrients themselves, though it’s mostly Nitrogen and Phosphorus. Still, hummus in a dirted tank has an even higher CEC than clay, is also all-around better. Aquasoils being pellets of compressed and burned volcanic ash have also a notable CEC, making it also all around better than clay-based substrates. Aquasoils in particular also buffer the water to a lower pH and soften it too, that is beneficial for many fish in the hobby and the lowered pH in the substrate helps roots taking up nutrients. On the downside, aquasoils are expensive and sometimes leech toxic ammonia in the first few weeks.
Making your own fertilizer
Buying bottled fertilizer in a fish store is not very efficient, you pay mostly for water. It is up to hundert times cheaper to buy a few substances from vendors such as GLA or TNC and mix up your own fertilizer. Or for those who want it simpler, using these substances for an fertilization system such as Estimative Index (EI). EI in particular aims to supply nutrition to densely planted tanks with high light and additional CO2, but downscaling it to one fourth is also suitable for tanks without additional CO2.
Simple recipe for EI-style fertilizer, the dosage is 5 ml of each solution daily per 40 liter/10 g of water:
Macro-Solution: Dissolve 60 g KNO3, 10 g KH2PO4 in 1 liter of reasonably pure water like RO or destilled water. If you have plants with a high potassium demand, you may dissolve 20 g KSO4 too.
Micro-Solution: Dissolve 1.9 g of TNC Micro-nutrient mix or 2.3 g of CSM+B in 1 liter of reasonably pure water. You may add some ascorbic acid to increase the shelf time, though I found that is often not necessary.
As a tip, you measure 5 ml easily with an syringe or and dosing pump (like from a dispenser)
Feel free to ask/PM me questions if you have some.
I’m so excited to start giving my brides and grooms these stunning keepsake boxes from @makeandstow with @artifactuprisingprints wrapped in the crazy beautiful @froufrouchic ribbon. It’s so pretty I can’t even deal 😍
An enormous thank you to one of the best artists I know @ashleylkesler for hand lettering Lauren & Madison’s vows for them to display in their new home. 👏