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Re: Snake Oil

I've been thinking about these various elixirs of life.

I've been doing "what if" scenarios in my head on 
how some of this stuff might plausibly work.  In this
pursuit it's important for you to realize that I'm after
how I could plausibly argue something could work,
and not whether or not it really works.  This is the
Devil's Advocate position... half truths sometimes 
sound so much better than a real truth.

Let's suppose we look back to the Krib on the various
substrates and their CEC (cation exchange capacity)
values, including Stephen Pushak's posting in Aug '95,
( http://www.thekrib.com/Plants/Fertilizer/laterama.html )
where oxides have a cmol/kg CEC of 4, kaolinite
in your McDonalds milkshakes has one of 8, but
vermiculite has a CEC of 150.  That's big.

Now, let's suppose we powder a very high CEC material
like vermiculite.  It's pretty cheap, and we have rocks,
so it's not that difficult.  Or, just run over it with the car
a few times or vacuum up from the fine living room 
carpet what's not eaten after giving some to your three 
year old.

Now let's suppose the material isn't charged with 
anything.  No "chemicals" as they say.  That's not
too hard since that's how vermiculite comes from the
vendor (since they just baked it at 1100+F for a while.)

Now let's add it to the tank.  What should happen?

The water would turn cloudy for a little while, until it
started settling out.  Depending on the nutrients in the
water column, it's likely a high CEC material with many
available sites would start binding these nutrients, which 
would help precipitate the material out.  It would settle 
to the bottom of the tank, water column nutrients absorbed, 
and would eventually work its way into the substrate 
making these nutrients available to plant roots.  

If I were to advertise this product, what could I say?

* Made from (classes of) minerals!
* Contains 0% organic material!
* Bonds with nutrients unavailable in the water column
that would go to waste (or to algae), and gives them back
to plants as they need it!
* Your plant fertilizer is used more efficiently!
* Adds a wide range of essential minerals and trace
* Enhances the growth of plants!
* Increases microbial activity!  (More surface area in the
* Removes heavy metals!
* Removes chlorine and chlorimines, even ammonium!
* Makes water crystal clear!  (suspended particles and 
nutrients precipitate out)
* Eliminate bacterial infections!  (Bacteria typically 
hang on suspended particles, not drift in open water)
* Greatly reduces fish mortality during transport and 

* Fe isn't present so add your own.

I'll have to think some more about how to argue in favor of
improving slime coats, but I'm so full of cr*p that I bet I could
do it.  I'm not ready yet to wimp out on the "improved
water quality, better fish health" answer.  However, if I go
with the wimpy answer for now, then we have a host of 
things under the "my fish are happier" category:

* Wounds heal swiftly!
* Prevent and eliminate stress! 
* Fish show improved physical resistance and become less
prone to disease!
* Fish show improved appetite!
* Fish show their colors better!
* Protects the slime coat of fish!
* Fish become more active!
* Stimulates the breeding of (sensitive) fish!
* Young fry grow much faster!  (Ok, I'll think about this one 
some more)
* Accelerates the healing process of bacterially infected
* After medical treatments the fish recuperate much faster!

Hmmm.... might this really work?

In general, I think it's a worthwhile idea, and I wouldn't
be too surprised if there were some scientifically measurable
results in a controlled experiment.  Remember that rainstorms
kick up a lot of silt and clay in runoff, and this is a more-or-less 
natural part of most freshwater systems.  I've never tried it, though,
and I have no idea if this is the mechanism touted with 
one or more products I may or may not have seen referenced
on this list or elsewhere with or without positive or negative reviews 
in which I have taken no part. ;-))   However, my opinions *are* 
that of my company.  ;-)))

I'll now start thinking about a good name and marketing
approach, and most especially, find myself a bunch of
lawyers in case people don't like my product.  ;-))))))))))

For a limited time only, before I retain lawyers, you can get
your bottle for the low price of $20.  Quantities are limited, though,
because I have no idea how much will be left over in the living
room carpet after my infant gets full.

charleyb at cytomation_com