Amano's Tanks/Products

Subject: Amano's Tanks

Since I came down on the other side of the fence on the idea that Amano had
any special corner on the market of growing beautiful plants, I felt that I
needed to respond to this subject as well.

Allan Tomkinson wrote:

>Amano.  I've been reading alot about his tanks for quite some time now, and
>I'm rather tired of it.  I will admit, he certainly does take photo's of
>beautiful planted aquarium's, but that does not prove that he knows how to
>keep a planted aquarium running smoothly.  It would not be too hard for a
>person to put plants in a tank, and take a photo after the water has

And anyone with any experience with plants could quickly see the difference
between a tank freshly set up (even with full grown plants) and one where
the plants have settled in well, and the tank has started to mature.
Remember too, that there are at least a few tanks that he shows photos of
at various points in their lives.  

As final "proof" on Amano's ability to grow _and maintain long term_
beautiful planted aquariums, I am fully satisfied with the first hand
reports I have received from both Neil Frank and Claus Christensen.  I know
both of these people well enough to trust their judgement, and both have
visited Amano and seen his tanks in person.

>I'm not saying that he does this, but what I have read of his
>texts (which consists of articles he has written to TFH and such) he is not
>very scientific about his methods of maintaining planted tanks.  

I'd like to point out that _lots_ of successful aquatic gardeners in the
past have not been very scientific.  I'm not saying that it's not good to
understand why things work, but some people have always had the knack for
getting it right.  I have photos and reports from the early 1900's of
beautiful fully planted tanks, and those people didn't have a _clue_ why
their tanks worked... they just knew what worked for them.  There are still
a lot of people out there like that.  

Take into consideration the language barrier too.  I suspect that a good
part of the seeming lack of scientific method is actually lack of good
translation. (a little tiny bit of the problem could be the publisher as
well ;-)

>Another thing that bugs me about his methods are what everyone is refering
>to "hocus pocus" fertilizers and etc.  He does not seem to list his
>ingredients on the labels or make them avalible since people on this list
>have requested someone to analyze his products to see what is really in
>them.  This makes me skeptical from the get go. 

Has anyone asked him?  ADA is available by E-mail, and I have found them to
be quite responsive to my questions.  Up until very recently, very few
companies listed ingredients.  Those that did should be applauded.  I agree
that I'd like to see ADA start listing ingredients.  I also don't like to
use products when I don't know what's in them.  But lots of people have
been using Dupla products with great success for many years now.   I'm not
sure that _just_ because a product isn't labeled the way I'd like it to be
that I'd call it "hocus-pocus".  

>Amano does not have a track record long enough to satisfy me.  

Actually, Amano is not new, he's just new to the U.S.  He's been working
with planted aquaria since 1972, how 'bout you ;-)

>Tropica has
>a track record of growing beautiful plants for many years, and selling the
>world wide with many people praising the quality of plants they recieved
>from Tropica. 

Did you know that Claus Christensen is quite proud that Amano uses Tropica
plants in his work?

>All Amano offers us are a buncha pictures, shotty text when
>looked at from a scientific point of view, and a buncha products that are a
>shot in the dark as far as knowing what you are putting in your tank (and
>that bugs me with Geo-Liquid also, but I'll save that for another day.)  

Geo-Liquid and Fresh Water Vital are in a whole different categories.
Amano doesn't claim that his products will make your fish swim faster, cure
diseases and make you live longer.<g>  He says that his system will grow
nice aquarium plants.  So far, I've heard nothing to the contrary.

One thing that I think that advanced hobbyists, especially the DIY types
need to recognize is that there will _always_ be some people who feel more
secure with a packaged, commercial system that they can follow by rote and
produce good results.  They don't _want_ to learn the chemistry or biology
behind it, they want a pretty tank for the corner of the living room.
While that's not my approach to the hobby, nor is it probably the approach
of most of the people on this list, it _is_ a valid approach to what, after
all, is a leisure time activity for most of us.  

If a company wants to position themselves at the high end of the market and
cater to this kind of hobbyist, good for them.  Someone has to do the hand
holding!<g> As long as that company is marketing a complete system that
really does work, and is not making false claims about what their system
can accomplish, I see no harm and a lot of good in what they are doing.  If
people can have initial success with their planted tank, even if it cost
them an arm and a leg, they are more likely to stay in the hobby and decide
to really _learn_ about the plants and animals in their care.
Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Association