Re: Amano discussion

Hi All!

As I have talk with Mihir Sapru of ADA for quite a long time and have
done some translations for their product manuals, I feel compelled to
put in my 2.5 cents.
> Justin wrote:
> I couldn't agree with Tomlinson more when he says that he is skeptical
> of Amano's products ... especially when compared to Tropica's. Pretty
> tanks are one thing, data is another. Amano is long on pretty and very
> short on data.

I too would like to know what Amano uses in his products, just like
Pepsi would like to know what formula Coca Cola uses.  Amano has been
keeping plants for quite a long time.  Over the years, through study and
experience, he has found a combination of elements that he feels grows
plants well.  He bottled it and began selling it.  The end product
(Brighty Series) is a result of many years of experience and a big
manufacturing expense.  Why would he place the Amano formula on the
bottle so that it can be copied (PMDD)?  This would NOT make any
business sense.  We should not condemn him for being a good business
man.  He is not misleading us.  He simply tells you to try it.  If the
plants don't grow better, then stop using it.  If they do grow better,
then continue to buy.

I respect Tropica for placing the details on their bottle.  They make a
wonderful fertilizer.  However, let's remember that Tropica's bread and
butter is selling aquatic plants not selling fertilizer.  It is only
good business sense to sell a quality product that will keep those
beautiful plants healthy (=happy customers).

Roni wrote:
>   You're right, you're gonna hear a lot about this.  If you read carefully,
> you'll notice that many of Amano's tanks that are displayed have been set up
> for years.  Additionally, though he doesn't disclose the ingredients of his
> fertilizer, what he uses isn't "hocus pocus".  Amano has spent time
> formulating a good fertilizer and doesn't feel compelled to share the
> formula...I wouldn't either.

I whole heartedly agree.  

George wrote regarding substrate heating:

> Ah, but he *sells* it!  He offers machined stainless steel plates (!)
> for use in a substrate heating system.  Why would he sell it if he
> doesn't use it?

He does use substrate heating occassionally depending on the plants and
the layout he is envisioning.  He does not feel that it is absolutely
necessary.  In fact, many of his tanks do not use it.

If I were in the business of selling aquatic plant hardware, I would
want to diversify my line of products too.  Why not sell to that group
of people that feel they need substrate heating?

Someone wrote:

> One of the things I would be
> really interested to know is whether Amano is fertilizing his substrate
> fairly heavily?  Or is it just laterite and/or other non-macro nutrients?

Amano uses a product called PowerSand as the substrate additive.  It is
a combination of pumice stone, peat and nutrients.  It's main purpose is
to stimulate the rapid growth of microorganisms in the substrate.  Amano
also uses laterite pellets which are inserted into the gravel bed by the
roots of plants.  There are also nutrient pellets.  This method is good
for plants that take their nutrients through their roots.

I have PowerSand in one of my tanks.  Aside from a larger than normal
organic load (probably caused by the peat) my deep root plants
absolutely love the stuff.  Root growth is equivalent if not greater
than when I use laterite.

Karen wrote:

> 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 ;-)

This is 100% correct.  Aqua Design Amano only has two fluent english
speakers that do 100% of the translating.  This is why they are so slow
in translating material.  I personally know of several occassions the
lack of a good translator caused problems.  It took them several months
to translate the word "Substrate".  And until I began dealing with them,
they still referred to aquatic plants as "aqua-plants."

> 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".

Here Here!
> 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.

Speaking as a person with very little time on his hands, I completely
agree with this statement.

I personally think that the lack of information about Amano and ADA is
causing more harm than good.  I do know that they look to enter the US
in the near future, so let me begin  by stating that I've used their
products with great success.  I have used Dupla and Tropica in the
past.  Their products comparable to these in quality.  I do think that
Mr. Amano has the respect of Tropica and Dupla for his contributions to
the hobby.

Lastly, I once interviewed Mr. Amano for an article I was going to
write.  However, doue to lack of time I have not been able to write it. 
If anyone is interested, in order to get some information about Amano
out to general public, I would gladly post up his responses to the
questions I asked.  

If anyone wants to contact ADA by email, please direct your emails to
Nozomi Hayakawa (nh3-ad)as Mihir and Mr. Amano will soon be leaving on a
photography shoot.


Art Giacosa