Flourish, snake oil, etc.


> >> On the cap of my bottle of SeaChem's "Flourish" there is a sticker that
> >> says to refrigerate after openning, which I did.  Well, I was wondering; Is
> >I suspect that Leo has vitamins and probably some chelated calcium in the 
> >mix.  Both are labile.
> Who or what is Leo.  The question was about Flourish was it not?

Yes, the question was about Flourish, which is a SeaChem product.  Leo 
Morin is the president and responsible for most if not all of the 
formulations from that company.

Snake oil:

> I was a bit surprised to see how many people on the APD wanted to defend
> the product.  They kept saying that it might have something in it that does
> what is claimed.  

I didn't see anyone on the APD defending the product.

> I feel that when someone makes claims that are beyond
> established science and, especially, when he misuses scientific
> terminology, the burden of proof is entirely on him, and he is guilty until
> he proves himself innocent.

What he says is very nebulous.  If the product has some sort of yeast 
extract in it, it might well have some enzymes.  Whether or not they do 
anything is an open question.  Calcium gluconate is a favorite magic 
elixer from both SeaChem and apparently Marc now. Whether or not it does 
anything good in a freshwater tank besides give some calcium, CO2 and 
bicarbonate when bacteria degrade it is an open question.

Your comment about organic nutrients was just inaccurate.  Almost all 
aquatic organisms can take in carbohydrate from the environment.  Whether 
or not that would do plants any good in an aquarium situation is an open 
My personal suspicion is that the primary impact (if any) of the various 
"Vital" products is through chelating agents that are present in the 
product.  Chelating agents can have large impact on aquatic systems.  Not 
always in the way you want, either.  They do increase productivity, and 
if algae are competent to take up those chelating agents, then they can 
grow as well as target species.  

This all reminds me very much of some long and acrimonious arguments that 
I had with Leo Morin several years ago over calcium gluconate in reef 
tanks.  People reported the same sorts of things, hair algae takes off, 
cyanobacterial blooms, etc.  Most of that was probably because the 
gluconate increased the availability and stability of iron and other 
trace elements in the aquarium.  

Where does that leave us with respect to the claims of the various Vital
products?  Well, in some ways, they probably do something vaguely like
what is claimed.  Photosynthetic systems need iron, and although the
product does not apparently contain a substantial quantity of "trace
elements" if it is what I think it is, it can increase their
bioavailability.  That could kick a tank through the algal succession that
some people describe.  It also might make plants grow better, but how much
better is completely open to question. 

Yes, I think that the burden of proof is usually if not always on the 
mfrg of most products, unless the contents are explicitly indicated so 
that the buyer can make an informed decision about what is being added 
the the aquarium.  IMO either a product needs to be tested by an 
impartial third party (in the case of secret ingredient potions) or it 
needs to have a complete list of ingredients.  Preferably both, but some 
products so very transparently do what they say, it isn't really 
necessary to have third-party testing.  The vital series of products fail 
both of the above criteria.

I'm also not sure why some people want to legislate things like this.  It 
is very, very difficult to prevent ignorant people from throwing away a 
lot of money on things that don't do what they say it does.  The 
"government" isn't always going to "save" us.  A lot of the time, we just 
need to use our own brains.  This is certainly one of those cases.