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Snake Oil


  1. Snake oil/cycling your tank
    by "II, Thomas Barr" <tcbiii/> (Sun, 23 Apr 2000)
  2. Aquatic Plants Digest V4 #309
    by krombhol/ (Paul Krombholz) (Sun, 28 May 2000)
  3. More snake oil
    by Thomas Barr <tcbiii/> (Sat, 10 Feb 2001)
  4. Marc Weiss carbonator product
    by KTM10500/ (Kyle) (Sun, 11 Feb 2001)
  5. Avoid adding seaweed fertilizers
    by Jeff Dietsch <dietsch/> (Mon, 22 Jan 2001)

Snake oil/cycling your tank

by "II, Thomas Barr" <tcbiii/>
Date: Sun, 23 Apr 2000

>Date: Sun, 23 Apr 2000 15:24:29 -0400
>From: "Adam Novitt" <>
>Subject: Mark Weiss Living Water
>As long as we are on the topic I was wondering what the thoughts are on Mark
>Weiss products, particularly Living Water Vital.  Does anyone know what this
>ALGICIDE."  Weiss products seem to have an air similar to that of ADA stuff,
>people seem to think that it is "good" but what is it?

Snake oil. I have used it and played with it quite a bit. I want my money
It has never helped in any way ever in any tank I have ever used it in. I
gave it several chances. Other folks  may see things differently but its
pure 100% genuine snake oil IMO. I think its enzymic activated calalysts and
bacterial food ......supposed growth enhancement for bacteria. These don't
do dittlely generally........try using old mulmy gravel vac'ed water from an
old established tank.
It'll do the same thing..... actually better and it's free. If you wish to
cycle your tank add this old mulmy water. It's the best stuff out there.
Work on CO2/KH/PH first. Stay away from magic bullets or pills that cure
"all your problems". Read the Krib instead, it's lots cheaper! Thanks to
Paul for bringing up the term "snake oil". 

Tom Barr

Aquatic Plants Digest V4 #309

by krombhol/ (Paul Krombholz)
Date: Sun, 28 May 2000

Gitte Wrote:

This morning, in the June issue of FAMA, I read an ad containing a sales
pitch for something called "Natural Aquarium Vital", apparently a carbonator
for freshwater aquariums.  It claims to provide liquid, time-released CO2
production without the need for cylinders, controllers or monitoring
devices.  BTW, I am not in any way affiliated with this product or the
advertiser, but I must admit to being curious about it.  Does anyone know
anything about it, or has anyone used it?

- ----------------------------------------
What it very likely is, (if it has anything at all in it that releases CO2)
is a sugar solution.  There was a long discussion on this product about 3
years ago on the APD, and I think I recall someone who actually bought some
of the stuff saying that one of the ingredients was dextrose.  Dextrose is
just another name for glucose.  Put some sugar in your aquarium, and
bacteria will rapidly break it down, releasing CO2.  However, if you put in
enough sugar to release a significant amount of CO2, you will have cloudy
water and fish gasping at the surface.

There are lots better ways to provide CO2 than adding sugar.  Just feed
your fish.  If you don't have fish, throw in a few flakes of oatmeal.
(Don't throw in too many, or you will get low oxygen, low pH and dying
plants.  Adding CO2 directly gives higher levels than you can get by having
organic matter break down in the water.  You can't add very much organic
matter without using up the oxygen, but you can add lots more CO2 from
yeast cultures, or one of the various regulated systems that supplies CO2
from pressurized tanks.  See The Krib for all the details.

Paul Krombholz, in dry central Mississippi, where we got about half an inch
of rain last night.  

More snake oil

by Thomas Barr <tcbiii/>
Date: Sat, 10 Feb 2001

> The article makes a case for the Marc Weiss Co. "Natural Aquarium Vital"
> "carbonator" product as a better choice than CO2 injection for planted tanks
> with fish. The article contends that CO2 is a metabolic waste product of
> fishes and is toxic to them.

You can say that, but at what level is CO2 really toxic? Same analogy can be
said for fish food. Too high of levels of any waste will cause problems.

> It suggests that CO2 is an immunosuppresant,
> causing respiratory stress, osmotic imbalances and other pathologies.

At high concentration so are many things....
> The
> article also suggests that the often-photographed "Asian natural aquariums"
> are hostile environments to fish. As an alternative, Marc Weiss offers their
> product, which they classify as an optically active conductive polymer
> (OACP). Among other claims, this product is reported to offer "liquid,
> time-released CO2 production as needed..."

One thing that really bothered me about the article: **More fish = more CO2,
so if you need more CO2 then add more fish**. This is going to grow plants
And he wishes to say that this is a "natural" approach? Even at the low
densities that Amano or one of us does it is still extremely dense compared
to natural settings in fish loads. Low fish loads = less toxins of all
kinds. Low fish loads are also much better for the fish. It seems like he is
trying to appeal to what the consumer wants(a ton of fish in a plant tank)
here rather than what the tank needs for plants and the fish.

> Are Marc Weiss products generally well regarded?
> Does anyone have any knowledge of, experience with, or opinions regarding
> this specific product?

Not by me.
More snake oil. Plants need three things, Light, CO2 and nutrients. These
are plant "food". Not just one of them - but all three in a balance.

 Personally, I would take advice on plants from someone else. SeaChem makes
a product called Excel that adds carbon and makes no such claims or says a
bunch baloney, unlike this write up.

This almost seems like a used car sales pitch. SeaChem came out with their
product some time prior to this and Greg is willing to get in here and
explain and defend his product.
I have tried Weiss's products(living water vital) and it did absolutely
nothing to help. I tried it many times as I had a large amount of it and
have keeping plants for many years. I gave it more than a few chances.

I like how he compared commercial growers to us. Growing 5 acres of plants
outside in shallow water is a completely different endeavor than growing
them inside in artificial light in our low surface area to depth tanks. Many
growers do not grow plants underwater at all.........(gee why would they do
this?) ....Tropica and most/many others.

If you know much about plants......I don't think you'll buy much from this
company. Non CO2 injected tanks are possible and quite nice. You certainly
do not need this product to that either.... Walstead's book addresses that
method much more soundly and accurately.
Tom Barr

Marc Weiss carbonator product

by KTM10500/ (Kyle)
Date: Sun, 11 Feb 2001

I want to thank all you guys who have spoken on this topic. I was
suckered for too long by the claims made for these products. 

I had to stop using them for financial reasons and also due to those
reasons I let my maintenance slip also. For way too long. Some plants I
thought were dead and gone. 

When I resumed maintenance a few months ago I decided to eliminate these
miracle elixirs(Living Water and Amazon River Vitals) and see how it
went. No results to speak of as far as plant growth.  
I did use Leaf Zone and Seachem Iron. Still no results. know
what's coming, right?

Started adding yeast generated CO2. Upped my wattage to 3watts/gallon.
Katie bar the door! Plant growth and appearance are spectacular to say
the least. 

Still tweaking and I know I need to get a handle on the nutrient thing,
but for now I have awesome growth and the only algae is the occasional
green dot and the hazy green stuff(the plecs like it) on the glass. What
the plecs don't eat only takes a swipe with the twister magnets to
remove maybe once a week. Hair algae plague nonexistent and BBA in hasty

Moral of the story: There is no need for a 'magic bullet(the Vitals) if
you get the basics right! And you can do it for less $$$.


Avoid adding seaweed fertilizers

by Jeff Dietsch <dietsch/>
Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2001

    I think I am emerging from my denial phase regarding the death of my 
loaches and coming to grips with my bad judgment.  This little indiscretion 
I am about to describe has caused the death of many old loaches.  While I 
am a plant nut, my fish of choice are loaches and I have been keeping them 
together for years.  I'll admit the relationship is imperfect, the loaches 
seem to get the better half of the stick.  I mean the plants uptake of fish 
waste and have provided the fish with an excellent environment for 
years.  Along with that clean water, my swords provided, the loaches 
specifically, with hours of leaf popping fun.  Anyway, this aquatic 
playground all came crashing down one day this past summer ('00) when I 
screwed up.  While I was outside tending to the gardens I had an idea.  I 
had thought of this on a few occasions before, but discounted it for the 
fear of the unknown.  I had a nice bottle of organic "wonder potion" that 
will revive the most pathetic of plants.  If it's so good on the stuff in 
my yard why not try a little on the plants in the tank!   Damn if I hadn't 
talked myself out of this the few times in the past, but in the moment of 
weakness or daring, I went for it.  The solution was an organic form of 
trace elements, an elixer of sorts, the extract of kelp.  Hell, take a ton 
of kelp, make a kelp tea and then reduce it to a concentrate, what a good 
booster for the common house plant. Add a teaspoon of this liquid plant 
life to a 90 gal plant tank, and well, it was certain death for my 
loaches.  Within a day or two they ALL developed Ick!  Now I am sure there 
are a few of you here shaking your heads saying, of course it does.  If I 
had erred on the side of caution like I had done so many times in the past, 
I too would be shaking my head today listening to this from someone 
else.  But this time I did it, and there is the stress indicator!  I 
quickly did water changes, added carbon and did more changes.  I feed them 
medicated foods, and did more water changes, but to no avail, they are all 
gone, Clows, Botia rostrata, and B. striata.  Surprisingly enough, through 
all this pain, not a lick of stress in the other fish.   I have a 4 year 
old Farlowella no issue, a trio of panda cory, still spawning to this day 
even the ottos are fine.  There are two bristle nose plecos, a plekolota, 
an angelfish, and a 3 year old hummingbird tetra that all made it through 
this onslaught of heavy metals.  I did however loose 2 of my 4 year old 
SEAs while one of them managed to survive.  I was surprised at what 
happened and then again I was annoyed that I could be so stupid.  I am 
writing this to get it into the archives, that it is a bad idea to add 
Liquid Kelp Concentrates to your plant tanks if you have fish in 
there.  Without a little more research into the root cause I will place 
this very high on the "never do" list.  During all that death, I paid 
little attention to the health of my plants.  I never noticed any 
appreciable improvement, and I know they look none the worse for ware.  I 
would say that, understanding loaches to be a particularly sensitive 
species, if the application of kelp stressed them to the point of ick, then 
I am sure it was a load on the other fish as well.  It has been said that 
Botia are sensitive to Copper and I know there is Cu in the elixer, maybe 
that was at to high of a level for them.  Maybe it was Cu and another 
metal, maybe it's a bunch of them I am unsure.  I am relatively confident 
that the kelp was the primary environmental change that brought on the 
ick.  My water parameters all were within normal ranges, and the 
temperature stable, also my pressurized CO2 setup was producing with normal 
parameter.  I am not going to try it again in an attempt to disprove my 
supposition, but anyone else is welcome to prove me wrong:)  I will stick 
to my normal PMDD mix and leave the kelp for outdoor use.

  Thanks for listening,

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