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Re: Aquatic Plants Digest V3 #341

Hi Steve,

I would like to second your suggestion to use ONLY metric units. There
are only two years left to do it in the 20th century!

As to what one can do to convince manufacturers of aquarium analytical
kits to switch? Why, there ARE some manufacturers that did it on their
own. I own a LaMotte water hardness kit and it is calibrarted in ppm,
with directions on how to convert the reading to "degrees". There must
be more such manufacturers.

Very often I read in different posts "which kit should I buy" questions.
One should ALWAYS answer XYZ kit, BECAUSE it is calibrated in ppm -- the
generally accepted units! Similar minded people should change the write
ups on their web pages, and so on... It is quite OK to recommend a
specific product -- or give it a negative rating -- if in some way it is
superior (or inferior) to others. "Consumer Reports" do it all the time!

All of us have seen products that have directions in 17 or so languages.
That was NOT done because the CEO is a polyglot -- they just want to
sell more widgets around the world! 

So, let's use the power of the press, and of the purse, to "drag" all
kit manufacturers and hobbyists into the 20th century, at least in
respect to analytical units used.


George S

> Date: Wed, 24 Jun 1998 02:52:10 -0700
> From: Steve Pushak <teban at powersonic_bc.ca>
> Subject: The "best" way to measure calcium and other minerals
> At the moment you will find that most books and a lot of websites quote
> units of degrees of general hardness (GH) when referring to the
> appropriate measurements of mineral content in aquarium water for
> plants. For SHAME!!!
> While GH has some meaning for people washing clothes and steam engine
> operators, it has little to do with a meaningful measurement of
> minerals. The units of GH are entirely contrived and you will always
> have to apply some conversion to mg/L or molar concentration in order to
> calculate the appropriate concentrations of minerals.
> If you get a water analysis you will find that the units for
> concentration of all mineral ions are always quoted in mg/L or parts per
> million. This is as it should be because the engineering, chemical,
> scientific and industrial community has adopted a uniform set of
> measures for such things.
> The problem in the aquarium industry is that Joe Q Public, the consumer
> is relatively ignorant of what it is that he should be shopping for when
> he looks for products and test kits. Since the literature refers to GH
> and KH and he only finds test kits calibrated in these arcane unit, he
> continues to BUY those test kits.
> It's not that the aquarium industry wouldn't LIKE to get with the 20th
> century (now that its nearly over) but their products are entirely
> oriented towards what the public thinks it wants. So if the great
> unwashed masses (pun intended), thinks that they need test kits which
> are suitable for doing laundry, then that's what the industry is going
> to provide them with.
> What can WE do about it? I'm a pragmatist so I'm going to be honest with
> you: precious little. I can't foresee the aquarium industry changing
> because a handful of APDers say they should.
> But I have some suggestions:
> 1) We can talk about it and try to agree what are the most appropriate
> and USEFUL measures for mineral content in water.
> 2) We can lobby the aquarium industry to provide us with USEFUL test
> kits and products. By the way, I strongly suspect that all of the big
> aquarium product companies DO have folks who read the APD just to keep
> an ear to the ground.
> 3) We can hope that the people who WRITE aquarium literature and
> websites read the APD and agree that its time for a change and we stop
> using units for SOAP to measure minerals in aquariums.
> I know on my website I use measures like cups, teaspoons and GH for
> specifying amounts of chemicals. Mea culpa. I plead guilty. My excuse is
> that I'm only pandering to the whims of the public who only have access
> to such measures and tools. (gosh, I feel so CHEAP and TAWDRY!)
> I suppose I should join the 21st century and provide the measures in
> metric. I've deliberately NOT quoted both measures because it only seems
> to confuse folks.
> What are the chances of having an impact? hmmpfff - we can't even seem
> to get folks to stop posting HTML onto the APD; small chance there'll be
> a consensus amoung any of us except for the botanists, chemists,
> limnologists and the free radicals like me. (pun intended)
> Another point while I'm on my SOAP box; those of you who are using the
> rule of thumb that 1 tsp of CaCO3 raises the GH of 10 gallons of water
> by 2 degrees GH should be aware that this method has an error factor of
> 2 or 3. One tsp could raise the GH by as much as 6 units of GH depending
> upon how fluffy or fine the calcium carbonate powder is ground. Since
> calcium is required in such large amounts, its probably a harmless
> error.
> Steve Pushak                              Vancouver, BC, CANADA
> Visit "Steve's Aquatic Page"      http://home.infinet.net/teban/
>  for LOTS of pics, tips and links for aquatic gardening!!!