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Amano Pricing and Substrates

I found the Amano US - Yen rationale for the high cost of the product in the 
US interesting.  It's not a two way street. While an American will go broke 
in Japan on vacation because of the currency exchange ratio, the reverse is 
true of a Japanese tourist on vacation in the United States. So the favorable 
exchange rate (for the Japanese tourist) also work in favor of the Japan - 
based manufacturer who exports to the United States. Yes, you can add 
shipping costs, import duties, etc., but, these figures amount only to a 
small percentage of the total  on the shelf  cost of the product if imported 
by a qualified clearing house in sufficient quantities. Desho?  This does not 
hold true for foreign products exported to Japan. Why? NTBs or Non Tariff 
Barriers set up by the Japanese Government (MITI to be more precise) to 
insure that foreign products are unable to successfully compete in the 
Japanese marketplace due to pricing issues.  Except for the NTB issue. the 
analogy also holds true for Canadian - American trade issues, cost of 
manufacture import and export and exchange rate conversions. (before NAFTA 
anyway). So it seems to me that Amano's marketing problems in the US are self 
made: 1) no English Language catalogs or brochures 2) a failure to appreciate 
the American and Canadian consumer psychology which drives the consumer here, 
and which is significantly different from  Japan and 3) an uncompetively 
priced product that is not offset by a well thought out marketing campaign.  
You know, Americans are not the only culture to display arrogant disregard to 
cultural and marketing imperatives that drive certain products. Mr. Amano 
should learn from the marketing successes of Mr. Honda and Sony. et al.  
(Herein ends  introduction to bilateral trade 101a)

Regarding substrate. This is new stuff for me. For years all I had available  
was regular old common gravel that needed to be seasoned for months with fish 
crap and so forth. Now that I'm setting up my first tank in decades, I'm a 
simple minded person who wants to set up a tank in such a manner as to 
minimize future complications and or fiddling.  I'm going with Flourite in my 
120 gallon. Why? It's a one shot deal. Rinse, put it in, terrace it if you 
will, an inch or two of 2 mm sand on top for rooting (it will eventually mix 
in the Flourite over time I'm sure, and essentially forget about it save for 
the occasional plant spike etc.  It's stable and reusable, perceptually does 
not require replenishment or replacement with all the attendant 
complications. So for me and my needs and psychology, Flourite is the way to 

Besides this is my first tank in decades and I want to do it right the first 
time. Just my uneducated personal opinion of course.

David Napierkowski
Focaipoint at aol_com
Annapolis, Maryland