re: Instant Amazon/Living Water Vital

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 01 Jan 1997 20:28:55 -0500
To: Aquatic-Plants at actwin_com
From: Neil Frank <nfrank at mindspring_com>
Subject: Re: Instant Amazon/Living Water Vital

I too have seen the article by Jeffries, was intrigued by the story and was
also not happy with the lack of explanation for the claimed success. That
did not surprise me, however, because Owen frequently falls short of
providing a complete, informative or properly presented story. Nevetheless,
I am not willing to concede so quickly that this product is 100% snake oil.

Maybe I am the eternal optimist, but new "discoveries" yet to be explained
are part of the scientific process. We often have to be patient, sometimes
do some detective work until the details are sorted out. On the other hand,
we might also solve the mystery or uncover the con by merely "reading
between the lines" and translating some BS or misunderstood/misused jargon. <g>

From: James Purchase <jpp at inforamp_net> and Nathan  
>>     Also, if the product was purely snake oil I would think it might make
>>great claims on the bottle itself, instead there is a disclaimer saying "Not
>>a trace element replacement or plant food. Not a medication, fertilizer or
>O.K., we now know what its NOT.
>>  Enhances ability of plants, microflora and microfauna to obtain
>> nutrients and energy from water and utilize light. Contains non-toxic
>> biological accelerators for freshwater microorganisms."

>Duh, gee Batman, sounds like fertilizer or trace element mix to me.
>What else is a plant growth accelerator if not a fertilizer? How does it
manage to do all of these "magical" (my quotations) things? Ya know, its
amazing what they find in the jungles nowadays.

Maybe biological accelerators and catalyts are Jeffries' code words for
BACTERIA (of which there are many types). Bacteria must be established in a
new tank, but "should" be available in a cycled aquarium. They are needed to
breakdown organic matter and ditritus, thereby making nutrients available.
Organic acids can bind with some elements making them more available to
plants. This is what chelators like EDTA do. Jeffries, perhaps derived from
Weiss' instructions, uses the term enzymes "needed to 'kick start' these
functions [nitrifying, denitriying, metabolizing phosphates, etc] and
maintain them".... and "catalytic action" allowing good microbe competition." 
So maybe the product contains bacteria and EDTA (or other organic
chelators). This can help in a new tank. Bacteria will help cycle nutrients
and can also generate CO2. It is not clear to me, however, when and if it
could be helpful in an established tank. Perhaps a tank's bacteria
population size can be temporarily enhanced and maybe a deficient one (which
develops for whatever reason) is related to plant tank's ill health. If the
populations fluctuate in size (say with seasonal changes), this could
explain the "cycles that occur in nature." I am temporarily willing to
concede this point.

>>     The claims it does make are that it is an "Aquatic Plant Growth
>> Accelerator,"

... already discussed above

>> a "Biological algae and ich control" and "biologically discourages algae
and parasites"  

... a healthy tank will naturally get rid of algae and allow fish to avoid
or even rid themselves of ich (in my tanks, I have let ich run its course
without chemical treatment and fish usually recover by themselves)

>> ammonia, nitrites and liberates nitrogen and enhances biological

.... suggests that it contains nitrifying bacteria

>>   In the "Directions" section, it states that "'Ich' becomes dormant in the
>> presence of this product."  After reading this, I can't help but wonder
>> whether the ich will become dormant if a bottle is brought within close
>> proximity to the infected aquarium.

....... ich may be always present in aquariums. It is for this reason that
drop in temperature or introduction of new weak fish bring on an outbreak of
ich. If the tank remains healthy, then the ich cannot find a host and
therefore remain dormant.

>Mark Weiss obviously doesn't get it - the best customer is an educated
customer. His product might, and I have said this all along, just might, do
what it claims to do, but why load a label with such pap? Give us the FACTS.
If these enzymes were indeed discovered in the Amazon, let us know what they
are made of. 

... does he say that they were discovered in the Amazon, or just found there
<g>. The most likely reason he doesn't put the ingredients on the label is
that they could be easily duplicated, and then no one would buy the product.
Would you pay for plain dirt. Well, maybe....if it were red. <g>

>Once more, I would like to say that my most vocal objection is not against
Mark Weiss or his company's products. I get disappointed when someone who
has set himself up as a journalist (Owen Jefferies in this case) attempts to
pass off blatant advertizing hype as anything other than what it is.
Regardless of what more experienced aquarists might do, a lot of neophytes
read columns like Mr. Jefferies' and believe everything they read. They
follow the directions on the bottle to the letter and more often than not
their tanks go from bad to worse, and they get discouraged, often leaving
the hobby. There are probably a couple of million empty 15 gallon aquariums
collecting dust in attics and basements all over the world because people
were led down the wrong path by so called "experts".
>I hope Mr. Jefferies makes a New Year's Resolution - to never endorse ANY
product in print unless he knows HOW and WHY it works, and is able to tell
his readers the FACTS.

Well said. I would not expect less from FAMA 

Neil Frank
TAG editor and FAMA contributing editor