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The science behind ADA additives

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16 Aug 2010
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Penac, Tourmalne etc. What's the science behind it? Are there any tests to see how exactly they improve plant growth?

They all seem rather expensive to do a job that would ideally be covered by a good substrate, no?
 

Garuf

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There's not really any, there was a huge post on the barr report with a full break down, they're little more than snake oil.
Tourmaline is a mineral and non-soluable and offers no benefits.
Penac are pumice stones with a very low cec, so low infact that it could be called negligable and dried organic matter, both have no benefits.
There's many more but my account on barr report has expired and as such I can't read it, with any luck Tom himself will chime in with the full break down and their relative usefulness.

What ever the case, it's safe to say they're not needed and are nothing but a waste of money.
 

ceg4048

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flyingfish said:
What do you need the in your substrate out of the ADA system?
Well, if you had to take a guess, wouldn't it be any of the the products that contain significant quantities of NPK+Traces? Isn't the answer to these questions always the same? Start with Aquasoil Amazonia. It contains extremely high levels of NPK+Traces and this is one of the things that make it such an excellent choice for both low tech and high tech tanks. On top of that factor, there is an ergonomic factor. This substrate is fabulous on the hands with a velvet feel unmatched by most. This sediment also has a high retention of nutrients, simply because it's a clay product. If you dose the water column as well then this gives an even longer endurance. This is the product that does the lion's share of the work within this system. I don't think there is any secret with regard to that.

Some also prefer to add the Powersand which is also high in NPK, but whose nutrient retention is very low, petering out after a month or so. After these two, you'll be hard pressed to find significant improvement in performance with any of the plethora of other products in the system.

Few bother to actually test the performance of each component being offered. If there are say, 10 sediment products that comprise the system, then at a minimum you'd need to set up 10 identical tanks, one tank with all 10, another with 9 and so forth. At the end of a certain time period the plants would be collected and their total dry weight, root dry weight and stem dry weight would be measured and compared. One might even want to test various combinations of the products. This is all very tedious and expensive so either the consumer goes whole hog and buys everything or is more frugal and just gets the very basic necessities. It just depends on your budget and on your dependence on "cachet".

Cheers,
 

Morgan Freeman

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flyingfish said:
What do you need the in your substrate out of the ADA system?

Nothing, I couldn't see the reason to add anything other than the standard plant substrate. Just ordered a 3L bag of Amazonia 2, I was just interested to know if there were any good reasons to effectively triple the amount I was paying with extras. If I were paying that much I'd want some pretty concrete guarantees that this stuff is worth it.

Maybe it's my Yorkshire blood :oops:
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I must admit I'm a sceptic as well. As Clive says to scientifically test every new product is impossible for the home aquarist, and even in fully replicated "identical systems" you can only really test a maximum of 2 independent variables at the same time. As a bare minimum you need 6 replicates for any one treatment and the number of tanks required pretty soon become truly astronomical.

My approach is to look a the claims made for products where I'm fairly confident about my level of expertise and experience. Therefore as soon as light manufacturers start talking about "special phosphors" etc for the fluorescent tubes that they are selling at 3 or 4 times the going rate, my own personal bullsh*t meter comes into operation.

When I came back to fish-keeping I found that for the areas that I was familiar with (from my work with hydroponics and waste water treatment) the only explanation, for some of the claims made by certain manufacturers, was that they were engaged in a competition to find who could tell the most outrageous lie and get away with it.

cheers Darrel
 

Morgan Freeman

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Well you wouldn't need to test every additive individually if you only wanted a general idea.

One set up with substrate only, one set up with all the additives. You'd only need to do further testing should the identical set up plus additives prove to result in greater/improved plant growth. If they prove to be just the same, no further testing required.

But still, pretty ££££.

A sceptic I shall remain, thanks for all the replies.
 

Ian Holdich

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I have just had a look at how much these products cost!

OMG thats a lot of money for some dust.
 

Garuf

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Exactly. I've been searching but with no avail to find the break downs of the additional "vital" ingredients but can't for the life of me find the blog I'd seen them on.
It really bothers me that these products are peddled as being vital to producing a beautiful tank when the reality of it is that you just don't, they're little more than new ager, pseudo-science non-sense, the people who are adamant you do are often sucked into the marketing and respond with the same feverishly religious response as people who buy into apples marketing scheme or religion itself and accuse you of bashing their beloved company rather than accepting that though some products are good, a lot are bad, and though some aspects of the ideology are good, others too, are just as dogmatically wrong as dupla, dennerle or jbls were 30,20 or 10 years ago. The only difference being now is that we understand plants needs, we understand the mechanisms at play and we know exactly what's needed and not through quantitative, scientific testing yet this common sense is shrouded out by market leaders promoting the use of snake oil treatments and fraudulent claims.
 

Mark Evans

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So, if these products done work,...and some say they dont.

Could you explain the, when people set up tanks with just...let's say...plain old ADA amazonia or columbo for instance, the tank fails...which I've seen on occasion's...does this then mean ADA amazonia is all 'Hype' and doesn't work?

Surely the proof, for me at least is in every single Aquajournal, ADA Nature aqrium gallery tank, online images of Amano tanks....Mmmm...maybe it doesnt work :lol:
 

Garuf

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I would suggest the tanks fail for a myriad of reasons and certainly not because you chose not to kneel at the alter of amano, normally poor husbandry ailed with too much light or some other element that must be at play, that and most people don't have a small army of people meticulously manicuring their tanks daily either, do they?!

The "proof" you provide is sadly purely anecdotal, you're buying into their patter, if a product does nothing detrimental then it's presence will not inhibit a good show, correct? You simply can't say "because they used this it must work" That's not how these things work, if we can prove it does nothing then it doesn't belong there and it's presence meaning a success can simply be ruled out, it's that simple. If the product was small ceramic horses would you buy into it then?! The systems you idolize and have rolled out as proof are simply not comparable systems in the way we run our tanks because they have a regime that we do not adhere to as a general rule, identical, sucessful systems exist without amanos magic dust, how do they work if you need to spend on a mineral that's cations aren't even able to release in water nor posses any benefit to the plants?

You also simply can't say "well x product wasn't present that's why you failed", that's as poor a statement to make too, because it's absence means nothing if it does nothing, the failure of the system therefore must be some other element because it can be isolated as not having any role within the system nor with it's downfall.

If it's as simply as pointing at a system and saying it works because x is present then I'm going to start selling my own snake oil ceramic horses for people to needlessly shell out on and claim that they're vital, it costs nothing to question why you're really doing something.
 

Morgan Freeman

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Mark Evans said:
Surely the proof, for me at least is in every single Aquajournal, ADA Nature aqrium gallery tank, online images of Amano tanks....Mmmm...maybe it doesnt work :lol:

That's proof of good filtration, correct lighting, flow, co2 and meeting the nutrient requirements of the plants. If ADA substrate meets all the NPK requirements and the fert regime provides the right amount of NPK plus micros via the water column, what else is needed? I understand I'm very new to this, so I'm willing to admit the possibility of being wrong.
 

Garuf

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You forgot co2 but essentially you're right. There's also extremely low levels of organic matter in an ada tank too which also helps, low stockings, tubing is cleaned daily as are lily pipes, the filters bi-weekly, low levels of light mean lower demand and less chance of algae, large water changes daily, the glass cleaned daily... Like I say, manicured in ways our tanks just aren't.
 

viktorlantos

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I guess the main issue here is the cost, that's why many guys could not test them at home. However only a minor ammount needed from each. Would be ideal from ADA to have a starter package for 45P, 60P, 90P, 120P tanks. As most of these additives has enough content for 10+ tanks.

For example: To test Penac additives on your 60P tank you only need 6gramms (3 spoon) of Penac not 200g as the product has. This also means that the volume you add to your tank just to play the ADA way is really a small investment. Unfortunatelly you can't get smaller amount, but you get the idea.
 

Garuf

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It's not so much the cost, it's more that it's a product marketed as vital when the reality of the matter is that it's simply not, it's highly misleading and it gives fan boys the idea that because other people don't use such and such's products that the over all outcome must be inferior or that any issues are instantly down to your choice in magic powders, rather than more correctly aligning issues to poor husbandry.
 

George Farmer

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Garuf said:
... it gives fan boys the idea that because other people don't use such and such's products that the over all outcome must be inferior or that any issues are instantly down to your choice in magic powders, rather than more correctly aligning issues to poor husbandry.
Have you seen evidence of this on UKAPS, Gareth?

I'd like to think not, and that the vast majority of the UKAPS community are aware, through the highly constructive posts from the likes of Tom Barr, Clive, and your good-self, equivalent results can be achieved using non-ADA products combined with appropriate maintenance etc.

The truth is we'll never know if the Penac powders etc. make any real difference without proper experiments.

I remain open-minded.

I was very impressed when I used the entire ADA system a couple of years ago, but I will never know for certain if I would have achieved as impressive growth using other products.
 

NeilW

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Even if these products only work on a placebo level then surely they've still justified their value/cost to the people who have bought into them?

I have no issues with the 'evil marketing' of ADA as the products themselves are all luxury goods to begin with that people choose to buy for their own hobby and enjoyment. You take it or leave it :)
 
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