Shilling Hikari Aquarium Sponge Filters for Amazon

Hikari Sponge Filter from Amazon

Shilling Hikari (Chinese) Aquarium Sponge Filters for Amazon while attacking industry professionals

This “Aquarium Opinions” article deals with an article that is a clear example of what is destroying our aquarium hobby and industry. I have to admit that I was floored when I was sent an email from a friend in the industry that has also worked for my mentor in the aquarium industry as to this article and the author’s attack upon my friend and mentor.

Article in question:
wwwDOTfishlab.com/sponge-filter
“Sponge Filters: Cheap Mechanical and Bio Filtration for Your Aquarium”

We have this author promoting Hikari Sponge Filters, which is nothing more Hikari placing their name on the Chinese XY-380 knock off of the AAP/ATI Hydro Sponge Aquarium Filter.

If this author had really done his homework, he would have known this as pointed out by my friend. I might add that my friend [Steve] did this in a polite & respectful manner.

Instead the author of this article makes a ridiculous attack attempting to point out that the AAP Sponge Filtration article [by Carl Strohmeyer] has had an update that included “Hikari” being added to the content in what appears a way to divert attention from his shilling for Amazon. This diversion is known as a “RED HERRING ARGUMENT” which this guy sadly uses quite effectively.

What is worthy of note is that the author AAP & “Aquarium Answers” aquarium/pond keeping articles updates his many articles DAILY to make sure content is a clear and accurate as possible, NOT to discredit shill articles such this one attacking him [regular followers or those who do their homework would know this, so his attempt to discredit is laughable].
Sadly he continues to try and discredit Carl since Carl obviously recommends the AAP Hydro Sponge Filter which he sell on his professional based web site as attempt to cover his own alleged shilling of Cheap Amazon Sponge Filters via well known aquarium industry destroying Amazon [which is all this article is about with every outside link going to Amazon].

He posts a link that he claims shows that Carl only had two updates in the last year which it does not, and in consulting for this “Aquarium Opinions” blog post, I spoke with a “techie” friend who also stated that the web site used in a libelous way to discredit Carl cannot detect all updates since it only crawls a web page limited times. I also spoke with Carl himself, who stated his HTML edit logs showed multiple edits per year for this particular article. Stupidly on my part, by bringing this point up, really only buys into his libelous attempt discredit Carl, all the while to divert from his own alleged credibility issues as a poser who clearly know little about the aquarium industry, unlike Carl who has given so much to the industry/hobby and taken very little out [I know for a fact he makes less than minimum wage from his business].

The author of this article later states that he could not find the patent, even though Steve provided him a link that had the name of owner of the patent. I will admit that I am not Internet savy [I am not a poser here], yet it took me little time to find the patent [which I do believe is recently expired, however these knock offs have been around for at least 15 years, well before the patent expired].
In my opinion, this shows even more alleged credibility and honesty issues for the author of this article, as while it is obvious that he has little to no knowledge of the aquarium industry and products there in, it appears that he is quite tech savy and uses this to attempt to divert attention from his shilling of Chinese products via Amazon over USA product sold by professionally sources.
Sadly this alleged shilling author then attempts to discredit this blog Steve shared about the history of the AAP/ATI Sponge Filter just because Carl & Steve both collaborate on this blog-site [another ad-hominem attack]. Again this shows this author’s lack of knowledge and respect for the true pros in this industry.

This attack upon Carl & Steve is no different than attacking a friend and eye-witness to President Kennedy who wrote a bio about Kennedy just because he is the author of the bio. Ditto Carl, he personally know the inventor of the ATI/AAP Sponge Filter and is a known and credible expert on the subject.

Here is a quote from Steve in the comments section:
“Ian, this is not my article, however I do in fact know the author the respect he has in the industry and community.
Your comment that it is not reliable information is really nothing than an Ad Hominem argument.
If you read his bio, you would know that he arrived at what he sells via decades of experience & research. So why should he not sell what he recommends? This goes for all his articles.

As for the Hikari, I did a quick re-read and he does mention this sponge filter.
Moreover I know that this is well known in the industry as a Chinese knock off [via the XY-380 filter] that infringes on the patent, so supporting this over and American made one really makes me respectfully question your intentions too, especially when you link to Amazon which again is well known within the industry for the harm they are doing to the industry.

An article that addresses what Amazon is doing to our industry (there are more, including one I co-wrote):
https://aquariumopinions.com/2013/08/27/purchasing-aquarium-pond-equipment-via-amazon/

As you said, I mean no disrespect, but I simply pointed out a fact, & you used it as a way to attack someone who has given much to this hobby and industry, often in ways many except those close to him could know”

See this screen shot of this Amazon promoting article in response to my friend’s comment above where he clearly avoids the REAL question and instead attacks based what appears to be a lack knowledge on the subject while he promotes patent infringing Chinese made product over USA made product:

Shilling Hikari Sponge Filter

I will lay my cards out on the table in the next few paragraphs, unlike the author of this alleged shill piece who in my opinion is very rude and condescending to both Steve & Carl.

The person [Carl] in the Aquarium Sponge Filtration article being questioned for his integrity in this alleged “Amazon Shill” article is highly respected in this industry. He [Carl] has and continues to give most of his free time helping others with their fish problems for free.

Carl’s knowledge is well known and many in the industry, including Disney World, consult with him regularly.

Yes, he supports himself with sales of products, but only products he would use and recommend professionally, as do I. I also know for a fact he makes very little from his online business too.

Attacks made upon him such as by the author “Sponge Filters: Cheap Mechanical and Bio Filtration for Your Aquarium” accusing him as unreliable because he sells a certain product is a common Ad Hominem attack that Carl himself addresses as this is a common tactic when someone does not know the subject matter.
The fact the author of this article attacks Carl in this way also proves he is nothing more than a poser using this tactic to cover for his alleged shilling of Cheap Chinese Sponge Filters for aquarium industry killing Amazon.

My relation is I began working for him around 1983 and later took over his aquarium maintenance route when he had to move to Oregon to protect his family from a predator. He also stood up for me in an incident that cost him his largest account, so obviously money is not his main motivator. Carl has also helped me financially too and has given me tips on blogging [admittedly setting me up here too]. So for this author to attack Carl’s credibility is beyond disgusting.
As for Steve, he is an expert in photography and also has worked for Carl and writes some blog articles, sometimes with Carl [I do not collaborate].

Since I have a policy of not linking to pages that sell products, but not for Ad Hominem attack reasons, I will not link to Carl’s excellent article on the subject, but it is readily found online.
However I will link to other articles such as this one by yet another friend, this time a techie who Carl helped and built this website to make more simple versions of the information Carl has provided for years to this hobby and industry for free:
What is an aquarium sponge filter?

Here are related articles as to purchasing via Amazon, which include one from this blogsite:
Buying Aquarium Products via Amazon (& Chewy, eBay)
Purchasing Aquarium & Pond Equipment via Amazon

In summary, I would ask readers to look at where links go when reading articles such as “wwwDOTfishlab.com/sponge-filter”. If you see links to Amazon, you will know this is likely nothing more than an Amazon Contributor. Does this mean the article is bad? No, but unlike the authors Ad Hominem attacks, this is simply a program by Amazon meant to provide Black Hat unnatural SEO to keep Amazon at the top of searches.
What is also worthy of note is that the real expert in the subject is clearly attacked by the author of the article in question when it is so obvious he is highly knowledgeable and well respected in the industry & hobby.
Just think about the many who cite his material from Steve, myself, Nippy Fish, Fish Beginner, the Spruce, and many many more.

What is also noteworthy, it the author of this web site has many other articles, all very general in natural, and in my opinion, very well written too, making for a good “hook” for less experienced readers.
He seems to have enough knowledge to appear to know what he is talking about, but to a pro who has not just kept four aquariums, but professionally maintained 1000s between myself & Carl, it is easy to spot that much of the information is borrowed and very incomplete [example Columnaris].
As an example, in one of his “Fish Lab” articles, he notes AAP Wonder Shells, but it is ovious he has little knowledge of this product and worse, he links to Amazon yet again for the product. This link is but another glaring example that he knows little of the industry since Amazon is NOT AN AUTHORIZED source for this product!!! When someone buys this product from Amazon, they are getting clearance product and not the full line at that. The problem with clearance product is that that AAP Wonder Shells loose their charge of mineral Cations over time and are therefore a less effective product.

G

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AAP Professional Aquarium Treatments; For Columnaris, Ich, more

This blog post deals with a product line that was well known by most professionals in the aquarium industry going back to the 1970s.
My mentor in aquarium design, maintenance, & care was heavily mentored by the scientists who developed this line of products for aquarium conditioning and disease treatment/prevention.
Unfortunately this line went away around 2003, but thankfully this line has been mostly been brought back as “AAP Professional Treatments”

AAP Professional Treatments

I will not provide a link as per my policy of not linking to selling pages, but it is easily found in searching the internet, just be aware that their are still some sellers of old product via discount outlets. So look for the ONLY online seller of “AAP Professional Treatments”
I will also “borrow” (copy & paste) some information from AAP Professional Treatment’s website to make writing this blog post easier/quicker.

A few highlights of products from this line that I personal use professionally:

  • AAP Res-Q & Shieldex.
    This are two of the best water conditioners available that I would ad to a short list including Seachem Prime.

    AAP Res-Q is the ultimate water conditioner when fish have frayed fins or have visible abuse. A most effective product with seven way action. RES-Q detoxifies and conditions water by polymeric complexing (bonding) of metallic ions. Coats the fish with a slippery medicated bandage, balances osmotic processes, removes chlorine, clarifies water and aids in safe shipment of fish.
    Res-Q does not color the water.
    Used in lieu of other water conditioners if medication on the fish is indicated such as after injury or introduction of new fish.

    As per AAPs founder who has used this product in 1000s of professional applications, Res-Q is excellent both as a first aid and a water conditioner of choice when minor injury is present. It can also be directly applied via new fish introduction, as well as netting or “cupping” the fish.
    In our founders controlled test, the use of Res-Q improved the results of Super Ich Plus and sped healing of minor fin & body damage as compared to Stress Coat which had zero effect.

    AAP Shieldex is a Vitamin E fortified protective, stress relief and disease preventing slime coat treatment for ALL fish (freshwater/saltwater).
    As per AAPs founder, whom has used this product & similar products in large quantities in his 1000+ aquarium maintenance business, Shieldex is far superior to StressCoat. For one it allows for more natural slime generation and does not tend to “blob” on the bottom of the tank.

    Shieldex has a specific use when setting up a new tank. Nitrifying bacteria enjoy clinging to the slime coat it produces. Success in cycling tanks has been achieved by squirting the liquid directly into the filter bed prior to adding water.

  • AAP Dyacide (Dylox).

    This is an excellent substitute for Clout.
    AAP Dyacide treats: Gill Flukes, Anchor Worms, Fish Lice, Parasitic Copepods, Pinpoint Sores, Tricodina, Monogenetic, and Digenitic Trematodes.

  • AAP Spectrogram.

    This is THE ORIGINAL Columnaris treatment that is still superior to purchasing Kanaplex and Furan 2 separately

    AAP Spectrogram is the widest spectrum, gram positive and negative medication treatment available in the industry. It is indicated for all persistent or undiagnosed conditions (other than parasitic infestations).
    Spectrogram is MUCH easier to use than the traditional Kanaplex/Furan 2 combination as there is no conflicting dosing schedules which also allows for this synergistic combination to work MUCH better since both antibiotics are required at THE SAME TIME for optimum results.
    As well this blended combination overcomes the draw backs of using Nitrofurazone in higher pH aquariums
    Far superior to Maracyn II too.
    For ALL fish (freshwater/saltwater)!

    AAP Spectrogram is the treatment of CHOICE for Columnaris!! More effective when already combined, as well as this product being pharmaceutical grade. Why settle for less for your Columnaris treatment or Aeromonas Treatment too?

  • AAP Super Ich Plus.

    AAP Super Ich Plus is second to NONE as the most effective freshwater aquarium fish Ich treatment with its unique/synergistic Malachite Green/Quinine combination

    AAP Super Ich Plus is an effective external treatment Freshwater fish for: Freshwater Ich/White Spots (Strongest available choice!), Scratching & Darting, Collapsed Fins, General external parasites

  • AAP Wound Control (Merbromin).

    This was a product that made my “Fish Doctor” calls more difficult until AAP Professional Treatments brought it back as it was and is an essential part of fish treatment that there was NEVER any true substitute for; not Methylene Blue, not Potassium Permanganate.

    AAP Wound Control/Merbromin is a swab or paint-on disinfectant with PVP emulsifier for: wounds, scrapes, and abrasions as well as opportunistic bacterial infections that often result from these problems.
    A scrape against rocks or a bite on the scales can result in a serious infection. The simple process of catching the fish and painting the affected area will often prevent more serious problems or aid in an in tank or hospital tank treatment with antibiotics for more serious infections.
    As well, a direct swab of Merbromin has been very helpful from my experience for Columnaris external lesions of all kinds, except for those within the gills. The effectiveness of Merbromin lies in the fact Merbromin is an organomercuric disodium salt compound and a fluorescein that is effective on external infections because of its permanence, and lethality to bacteria, IN PARTICULAR COLUMNARIS!

  • AAP Discomed

    AAP Discomed is a unique anti-parasitic (internal & external) medication to use to make a medicated fish food for Freshwater and Marine aquariums.
    Specific Treatment for Cichlids suffering weight loss.

    For treatment of Nematodes; Including Camallanus, Capillari, & Eustrongylid
    Treats parasitic causes of Color Loss, Weight Loss and Wasting, Darkened Body Color, Skinny Body, & Concaved Abdomen

  • AAP Marex

    Another product that there was really no good replacement when it disappeared from the market in 2003

    AAP Marex is a colorless antibiotic blend of Pyrimethamine and Chloroquine Phosphate. The first effective copper substitute treatment Marine/Saltwater Oodinium.

  • AAP Myacin; Superior Erythromycin Phosphate Treatment

    While API and Mardel provided Erythromycin products, these were inferior Erythromycin sulfate products.
    AAP Professional Treatment’s pharmaceutical grade Erythromycin Phosphate is a superior product that is stronger and more wide spectrum.
    Only a fool would purchase one of the others with this product now available!!

FURTHER RECOMMENDED READING:
#Fish Diseases | How to Treat Sick Fish
#My Fish are Sick, What do I do?

Information courtesy of AAP Professional Treatments

YouTube & Facebook for Aquarium Keeping Information

While Youtube and Facebook along with more traditional online forums have made getting help and information much easier, and arguably more “fun”; it has also allowed for the resurrection of long discredited information/methods to suddenly become popular again.
I think part of this phenomenon is that hobby seems to want to run in ever tightening spirals of repeating poor or downright incorrect information when it comes to social media since it is so driven by popularity.
Additionally, many in these tight circles no longer respect mentors or those who existed even a few years before they got into hobby with their Facebook pages and Youtube channels.
So it seems many are more interested in just being the teacher, while they refuse to learn from others or simply take the time read good research.
I guess it is easier to watch a 10 minute video, and then produce your own and presto, you too are an expert. Actual research that takes the time to read the many good articles such as found on web sites such as Aquarium Answers or Aquarium Article Digest is simply asking too much these days.

Often correct information is interwoven with incorrect information in our social media version of the “telephone game”.
Telephone Game/Chinese Whisper; Definition

Often the term TL;DR is used [too long, didn’t read], which is a poor excuse for lack of education. This often then leads to personal attacks or bans when someone comes along with some experience they do not have with good information to back them up. In the end all these people want is to become the biggest fish keeping YouTube channel or Facebook page, so if anything other than ‘love’ is forthcoming, bans or personal attack are typical.

An example as per the sudden Youtube revival of feeding beef heart. Experience from respected fish keeping author Martin A. Moe & others seems to be, but a foreign language to these people who should know better as the use of beef heart was LONG AGO discredited as a fish food source.
Here is a Quotation from Martin A. Moe:
“Fish are cold blooded and all digestion reactions take place at 70 to 80F, the temp of aquarium water. Thus they may not be able to efficiently digest or use the types of fats present in the flesh of warm blooded animals. They are much better off with the flesh of animals that are similar to their normal prey.”
So BEWARE please do not make this mistake.

Another recent phenomenon is the reemergence of persons, especially in aquascaping circles confusing Planaria with Detritus Worms.
Often these get it half right such as correctly attributing the identification of Planaria, but then applying causes, treatments, and what they feed on to Detritus Worms. Keep in mind that these worms are not even from the same phylum with Detritus worms in the phylum “Annelida” while Planaria are from the phylum “Platyhelminthes”. The only thing in common is they are both from the kingdom “Animalia”, but hey, so are we, so beware if a human suddenly shows up growing in your aquarium pretending to be a worm!!

Planaria or person in aquarium

Ref: Aquarium Planaria; Wiggly Detritus Worms, in Tank Water, on Glass

There’s circle of people who seem to feed on each other without much outside information or any mentoring whatsoever.
These people seem to not be willing to acknowledge there is information beyond what they know and will actually personally attack people in the industry that have more experience in one year than they have had in their combined lifetimes.

The regrettable part of a few of these people is in their lack of practical aquarium keeping experience and failure to truly look beyond their circles. They instead lash out in personal attacks of those with more experience that just try & bring aquarium keeping into the 21st century with subjects, such as aquarium Redox Balance and the importance of lowering oxidative stress in fish.
Instead we suddenly see persons incorrectly being told they need a RO/DI system when all they need is a well designed RO system instead of the lower quality RO/DI systems that will cost more long term. Even then, often all that is needed is just enough RO water to “cut” the tap or well water when used for freshwater applications.
Ref: Use of RO, DI, Softwater in Aquariums

There seems to be a sort of solar system where there’s a tight inner circle of Youtubers and FB groups/forums, which operate while refusing to learn little from outside their circle.
On the outer perimeters, we have vastly more who do attempt to provide quality information and are genuinely trying to help others, while they expand their channels, but still let pride get in their way and will still unfortunately defend the more hateful Youtubers.

This is not to say these channels do not provide correct information, but it is often mixed with incorrect information along with failure to follow simple scientific information and go even a little beyond their small circles and seek input from long term experts in the field of aquarium keeping.
The hook is often many are friends with each other, posting back & forth compliments in each others Youtube videos or FB pages.

There’s examples of people with entertaining channels with excellent presentation, especially when there’s couples as in one entertaining Youtube channel out of Canada. This is an example of this “outer circle” of honest, helpful persons, but also seems to have some real issues in who he wants to associate with and procedure. As well it is obvious this Youtuber has little mechanical aptitude and he reminds me of another aquarium maintenance person that sold herself to my then employer as an experienced aquarium professional, but in reality could not solve most issues that would arise.

There’s further examples of popular Youtube channels, which provide interesting generally very thoughtful information and certainly has a lot of potential for educating others, but yet again still fails to follow scientific method.

Another example of genuine person who clearly wants to help others, but also clearly has little in depth experience, resulting in him mostly just reading off the box.
In a video forwarded to me one time, it was obvious that a stand built was not at all safe, especially here in Southern California.
There’s talk about the AquaClear filter and compares it to others such as the Whisper, not at all knowing how these work and clearly demonstrating any practical long term experience in stating the Whisper/Tetra does not provide bio filtration, which is incorrect.
They also miss that especially in a planted aquarium where bio filtration is less needed, that the Whisper/Tetra actually provides vastly superior mechanical filtration. I should note in my aquarium service, which I use many HOB filters and generally do not promote the Whisper/Tetra [I prefer the newer AAP Tidal HOB filter], I am just pointing out the flaws in these circular reasoning and obvious lack of experience.

Finally a popular Youtuber who I will name just because she has made rude comments and blocks persons that might know something she does not and that is Rachel O’leary. What is unfortunate is she has a nice educational Youtube channel in so many ways, but it is also obvious she runs in small circles, is “bought and paid for” in these circles, and has little in depth experience as to the “mechanics” of aquarium keeping and CLEARLY has no respect for those who might know something she does not by her actions.
An example is a video she made about the use of Sponge Filters where she claimed the Swiss Tropical was her favorite, but never explained it. Many aquarium professionals already know that these square sponges simply do not have the capacity and are simply not as versatile as the AAP Sponge Filter. I know a mentor told me he made a polite comment as to his vast experience with thousands of these filters over the years and she never allowed this comment among the many ankle licking comments that showed little knowledge of this subject.

Outside of Youtube and Facebook, there are still some forums and websites also putting out bad information

There’s an example of the aquascaping crowd at “The Planted Tank” that will actually recommend a cheap discount/economy Fluval LED over an AAP Aquaray Grobeam. While they seems to be a highly intelligent people that many can learn from, they struggle with some of the of most basic of information by making statements that Aquaray claims to have “magic patented emitters” when in fact TMC makes no such claims. As a user of the AAP Aquaray products, which FAR exceed any Fluval LED, I know what they claim is that the Osram Oslon NP emitters are indeed patented and that they have licensed emitters from specific Cree bins. These emitters simply produce better more usefil spectrums and are more efficient.

Then they make another simple mistake that easily proves the point of efficiency in that if you do the simple math, the AAP Aquaray Grobeam requires much less energy to produce an equal PAR.
Fluval Fresh & Plant 2.0 A3990 which uses 32 watts of input energy with a PAR output about 70 µMol•m²•sec at 400mm which comes out to .46 watt of input energy per point of PAR.
While the 30 Watt AquaRay GroBeam 1500 produces a PAR of about 150 µMol•m²•sec at 400mm using 30 watts input energy which comes out to .20 watt of input energy per point of PAR.

Ref: Aquarium LED Reviews; Fluval LED

The Planted Tank, Bad math for LED aquarium lighting

There are so many other factors that set these two lights “light years” apart.
In the end they might claim they has no ax to grind, but since in reading many of their posts, I have to rule out that they are this stupid, rather they clearly DO HAVE AN AX TO GRIND, which is unfortunately typical in a small circle within the aquascaping crowd that actually think planaria are detritus worms and vice versa, believe the hype/lies put forth by a popular retailer that a DI unit is needed for their water quality over just a good RO system, and many, many other myths.

Recommended Reading; Common Aquarium Keeping Myths

There are more negative examples, which out of respect of these people and my sources will not mention… with the exception of Dennis Wong [Xiaozhuang Wong] who although clearly is intelligent, instead trolls experts with very personal attacks and failure to learn from the most basic of aquarium keeping history, in particular when it comes to aquarium lighting. Besides Youtube, found in these FB groups: “High Tech Planted Tanks”, “Low Tech Planted Tanks” & “Aquascapers Collective”.
Refs: PUR or RQE, YouTube Video Fail- Guide to lighting a planted tank
PUR, PAS, PAR in Aquarium Reef/Planted Lighting; LED Wavelengths

SUMMARY:

As with all my posts, I have really little gain other than knowing that people have the best aquarium with the least hassles, with as little expense as possible.
I’m certainly in no place to judge the intentions of the majority of these Youtube, Facebook, forums, etc., but at the same time when I spot information or persons not respecting others in the hobby and industry as I have, I feel it is important that I make such posts.
I also know how extremely invaluable the mentoring I have received and continue to receive, and when I see the more hateful Youtubers attack those who have given so much to this industry and hobby, I will also “cry foul”.

My goal is that some of these persons will learn to reach out and READ, not just watch others Youtube channels or Facebook forum snips.
I think the majority of those who maintain Youtube channels and FB forums have a lot to offer and can offer much more if they simply move away from the haters, read more, respect mentoring, and realize that just maybe, many have come before them that have taken the time to apply scientific method and more to ideas/concepts that were proven to not be the best.

G

Modern Aquarium Supplies Marketing; My Aquarium Box, etc.

Modern Aquarium Supplies Marketing; My Aquarium Box, etc.

In speaking with others in this industry, especially those I admire and trust who have mentored me to where I am today, it seems we have entered a new era in this hobby & industry where listening to those with more experience, trusting those who have paved the way, and promoting honest products is no longer what matters.

I will list a few points and let readers decide for themselves:

  • Mentoring. This is how I learned and continue to learn. Yes, I gain a lot of experience from my aquarium service route, but I still ask questions and read, often well beyond the 3 minute Youtube video or 4 paragraph copy/paste aquarium blog.

    Mentoring, Freshwater Aquatics Marine & Ecosystems, Northfin, Rachel O'leary

    However of late, this seems to not be the case with how many get their information.
    You see popular Youtube channels with otherwise knowledgeable aquarium keepers promoting products such as Poly Pads that are excellent when used properly, but ignoring the proven affect these products have on aquarium redox. Yet this information is easily found if they just try and expand outside of their circles of friends!!

    You have a Facebook group [F.A.M.E.] that one mentor shared with me, that invited him in, only to edit anything he brought into the group to expand their understandings such as again aquarium redox, and prevention of common aquarium diseases. This group even attacked him when he corrected their misunderstandings about fish foods and a certain brand in particular.

    Further Reading:
    Redox in Aquariums

  • Deep Blue Sponge Patent Infringement, My Aquarium Box, Kens Fish

  • Patents/Copyrights I have seen patents copied, mostly with products coming from China, where they brazenly copied modular designs of products such as the AAP/ATI Hydro Sponge Filter. One notable example here is the Deep Blue Sponge Filter. The Deep Blue along with the Aquarium Solutions filters are infringing upon the patent rights of ATI (originally Lustar), so when you purchase these filters, you are in fact receiving stolen goods!!
    Worse, is you have marketing ideas such as “My Aquarium Box” that promote this product. What in the end is this going to this hobby/industry if no one can develop a product without the fear their time is wasted by someone in China copying their design and then promoted those with popular marketing ideas, but clearly no interest in the future of the hobby/industry and reliable content!

    In fact speaking of content and “My Aquarium Box”, I know in speaking with a friend/mentor in this industry that when it comes to fish food, they most definitely are all about the marketing and not at all about the facts in that they spewed back incorrect information about Paradigm, all the while showing no class in how they backed out of a deal to market a truly science driven food developed by fish food guru Clay Neighbors that utilized my friends years of experience too. My jaw dropped when he shared his communications with this marketing company.

    Later “My Aquarium Box” used a plagiarized formula from Paradigm [not Clay Neighbor’s updated energy optimized formula either] and branded it as their own. Then they claim there are multiple dehydrated fish foods available when is fact there is really only Clay Neighbor’s formula.
    In my thinking, this shows their character, and that they are NOT about good information driving good products. AVOID “My Aquarium Box like the plague!

    Resource:
    What is an aquarium sponge filter?

  • Inexperience Posing as Experienced You have websites and Youtube channels where persons who have been in the hobby and industry sometimes only a few months and often just a year or so posing as experts in everything. For experienced aquarium keepers, these persons are easy to spot, but for the undiscerning or inexperienced, these people are sharks!

    A good example is NorthFin USA where the owner also has a Youtube channel and poses as a fish food and fish medication expert.
    He simply reads labels of fish medications like this is going to solve everyone’s problem when in fact if you looked at most API Antibiotic treatments such as Triple Sulfa and Furan 2 you would see that everyone of these matches the next! So what kind of information is this??

    You need to first look at causes and parameters, then symptoms, then finally what to treat with, which may also include changing how you feed, house, filter, etc. your aquarium.
    No wonder this guy pushes a fish food with energy levels that long term are not all that healthy for fish!

    A good place to start for REAL information in fish medications/treatments:
    Fish Diseases | How to Treat Sick Fish
    My Fish are Sick, What do I do?

Why Aquaray LED Light Fixtures, Review?

Revised June 22, 2016

Why Aquaray LED Light Fixtures, Review?

As readers already know, I clearly have a bias toward the TMC-AAP Aquaray LED lights.

For a little background, most of my aquarium service customer contract with me AFTER purchasing their equipment elsewhere, so I get to use many different products from many different manufacturers. This pattern has been prevalent since I started in about 1986, at first working for another.
In the end, some products are so bad that I cannot do my job well and I have to tell the service customer that they will need to change this product or I cannot continue or even start a new contract.

Why Aquaray LED Light Fixtures, Review, by TMC AAPWhen it comes to lighting, I probably have at least some experience now with about 70% of the popular LED brands now available. Some others I have not but I have listened to others I respect and have applied common sense and have not recommended those 30% I have yet to use.

Nonetheless, most of the lights that I do have at least some experience with work well and these lights do the job they were intended for such as keeping a reef, planted or just plain fish tank. A couple of exceptions include the Marineland Double Bright, Aquatop, and a few others.
So my experience is not that there are not many capable LED lights, as the majority are more than capable!!

My practical experience as well as common sense has eventually brought me to my favorite when it has come to LED lighting.
This without a doubt is the Aquaray line of LED lights, so let me list off why I feel this way. Readers may not always agree, nonetheless, much of these reasons I list are based on factual reasons, not just simple subjective opinions.

  1. The highest water-resistant rating of any major LED (IP67).
    This means your electronic lighting device that is placed in a wet aquatic environment has a chance of lasting more than a couple years.
    From Aquarium LED Lights, Lighting:
    “LED fixtures are NOT aquarium lights in the traditional sense, even the emitters are not a “bulb” as many people think. They are computer chips making micro-explosions, emitting photons in frequencies of waves. Some of these waves, we know as light.”
  2. The longest and best warranty of 5 years for the fixture. This warranty is also for full replacement, not what can be a weeks long repair, nor are there exceptions as with many others requiring a certain percentage of emitters be out before a warranty can be utilized.
  3. Highest output light energy per input energy, in other words the electrical input required to produce both the quantity and quality of light needed to keep reef or planted aquariums in particular.
  4. Similar to the above, the highest PUR using patented designs and licensed emitters that provide optimum light energy with less need to mix emitters to achieve this.
    The result is a light that has an optimal man-made light energy, not a CRI that might look better or brighter to the user.

    Ref: PUR, PAS, PAR in Aquarium Reef/Planted Lighting

  5. Most options for light spread and more; Large and small tiles, strips, patented mounting system also optionally available.
  6. History; the Aquaray line of aquarium LED lights has been around since 2007 and has locked in some of the best patent designs, licensing agreements. Many of the new fixture while quite nice still has to operate around these designs which includes using multiple emitters to achieve what Aquaray can do with one or a few due to patent and licensing rights. Those who in 2015 & beyond who have never heard of this brand show that they have had their head up their a## in some forum that clearly spews out the same garbage over and over.
    Part of this reason too in my opinion, is many of these persons live on the Internet where the same information is passed back and forth, so they never see what the down and dirty professionals are using.
    The FACTS are the Aquaray line has always been marketed to the professionals, not forum sponsorships, so this results in a brand that is well known among many in professional circles and many brick & mortar retailers, but less well known among forum readers [with a few exceptions]

The above reasons are quite self explanatory and frankly hard to argue with.

In the end, while even the better economy brands such as Finnex or Fluval can keep your planted aquarium going nicely, any up-front savings is lost quickly as per my list of reasons and I have already witnessed early failures of these lights, in particular the Finnex.
When one of the brands I “inherit” with customer who purchased their aquarium set up elsewhere go belly up, this is often when I replace the light with an Aquaray.
I have already replaced lights for customers for total failures. Often moisture damage is a reason, although failed fans have killed a few LED fixtures too.

Another issue I have found is less than optimal emitter combinations, both for marine and freshwater applications.

An example is a freshwater BML LED strip fixture with three blue emitters. The amount of blue has a higher tendency to grow more algae.
This is nothing new either as both I and the person I purchased my aquarium service company from have used actinic blue fluorescent lights in combinations over the years and this almost always resulted more algae growth versus the use of a good pure 6500K trichromatic or Triton lamp.
Changing out to a pure noontime tropical sun 6500k emitter LED such as the Grobeam improved the algae issue. More subjectively I think the more natural daylight color looks better too.

Ditto some of use of amber emitters to make up desired light kelvin colors. This gets close to optimal light wavelengths for cyanobacteria, something warm white fluorescent lamps years back also had more issues with. In the end, changing lights improved cyanobacteria issues too.

Below are a couple of examples to make my point. Please note these are generic aquariums as my contracts protect privacy of my customers aquariums which I cannot use publicly.

This first pic is from a BML showing the too high blue color for most planted aquariums.
Please note that BML is now out of business as per aquarium LEDs. Be wary if purchasing one of these lights used, as they have issues due to heat causing silicone to separate from the fixture since these fixture often produce to much excess heat.
Build My LED Freshwater Light with blue tint

This pic shows GroBeam 600 strips over an aquarium and the more natural color
GroBeam LED lights with more natural daylight color

Lighting a Planted or Reef Tank: Understanding PAR & PUR

The subject of PUR in particular has become rather controversial of late when it comes to lighting a high light requiring planted aquarium or reef aquariums.
Regrettably, this controversy is not well deserved when one looks at this from a scientific point of view.

This in part stems from persons who attempt to use scientific terms and knowledge, but overlook some of the most basic tenants of what PUR is and what we know about it.

We have NickMach007 in his YouTube video from Science Alliance making what I would call snarky, but totally incorrect statements about PUR. All the while, vainly attempting to appear scientific:

What you want to know for aquarium leds
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THuDHw7BLhI

In this video NickMach007 makes some incorrect assertions about PUR, which I will address in this article. This is not to pick on this person, as I am not attempting to judge his intentions, rather his lack of using any real science and proven references to back up his claims put forth.
Making snarky comments such as “folks, PUR is simply not going to replace PAR” is a good example of how he deals with science that he for some reason, does not seem to grasp, or maybe refuses to grasp as it might make some of his lighting choices look bad?
No one who understands the science of lighting or at the very least has investigated it, is stating that PUR is going to replace PAR, only that one should and MUST consider this parameter, since it’s possible to have a light high in PAR, but actually have (0) PUR [example, an all green LED Light-making up PAR, but not PUR].

What’s interesting, is that in one of his video resources, the article clearly disputes what he is saying, so it’s obvious he’s not even reading what he recommends or cherry picks through the information.

  • “We do not know what each plant [or coral] needs as per PUR, therefore it is useless as a parameter”

    Planted reef lighting PAR PUR

    Yes, we do know. Specifically for every “sweet spot” of a photosynthetic organism maybe no, but generally a most emphatic YES!

    There are many aspects of science both past and present where the basics were/are known, but the mechanisms behind this knowledge were not known. We know the photosynthetic responses of plants and corals.
    As an example, by the end of the 1800s we knew a lot more about diseases, which we simply did not know just a 100 years earlier and some things we still don’t know 100 years later.

    Using this as an example/analogy, should we have abandoned Louis Pasteur (discoveries of vaccination) knowledge to this point just because we did not understand the mechanism? Many lives were saved by his investigative research long before we knew more of the specifics!! In the same why, should we abandon the known science of plants and corals?

    aquarium lighting plants and corals
    Picture Reference

    What we do know, is that plants and corals in general use specific energy wave lengths (nm), WHICH HAS BEEN PROVEN! This is one of the reasons plants are the color they are.
    So to utilize lighting, which has much more emphasis in the UNWANTED middle spectrums of light (not the photo response A or B), whether it be most fluorescent lights or LEDs with green, amber, yellow, warm white, and even cool white emitters is simply folly and BAD science.

    lighitng spectrum poor science LED

    Reference:
    PUR vs PAR in Aquarium Lighting (LED); Fresh & Saltwater (Reef)

  • The above reference/link totally explodes NickMach007 points with cited facts [he would do well to read this, yet one of his one cited resources gives a multiple references to this article, so he really has no excuse].
    We already have horticultural businesses [aka vertical farming] following this PUR curve, which he shows in his video, one such business is cited in the above reference article.
    By doing this, these businesses are also running a more efficient operation.

    Here is a resource citing vertical farming and specific LED light wave length, with wavelength being another way to state PUR which is “Photosynthetically Useful Radiation”:
    Vertical Farming’s Forefront at Green Sense

    Here is another respected source/reference:
    Captive Aquatics; PUR and Reef Aquarium Lighting: What is PUR?
    QUOTE: “PUR is a much more useful way to compare LED lighting than any other method. Most LEDs emit excellent PAR, but often only ~50% of the PAR is PUR. The higher the PUR:PAR ratio (check the spectrograph!) the more effective the LED will be for lighting photosynthetic reef invertebrates. “

  • “Quoting Tom Barr who simply disagrees with the premise of PUR”

    Tom Barr Aquarium LED Lighting

    While Tom Barr is considered a guru by some [including himself], he does not give any good evidence to dispute his disagreement with the science behind PUR. In fact while Tom Barr may have an excellent record of designing aesthetically pleasing planted aquariums, he also has a record or refusing to acknowledge new science and learning from others [I would call this being a narcissist].

    Tom Barr’s idea of PUR, which Nick quoted in his video states, is that PUR is not a useful measurement, because we would have to know the useful energy per each organism. Since there are so many plants and corals out there, we just cannot possible know the PUR of everything. While, this has a small amount of truth, Tom leaves out the important science we do know, which is the photosynthetic responses of all plants or corals. This can be measured.

    This is all coming from a man, who has a popular reputation, but has attacked the newer science behind both aquarium Redox balance and UV Sterilization use. Often in inflammatory words too, so I give this many very little credit when he makes any statement when it pertains to science.

    Further Resources:
    #UV STERILIZATION; UVC Irradiation for Pond, Aquarium
    #REDOX IN AQUARIUMS

  • Here is just one of Tom Barr’s comment about the observations into Redox, which has much of it coming out of human studies too:
    “the part about “water ionization” is frigging rubbish. That’s quackery marketing.”

    Apparently investigative research that he may not agree with is “quackery marketing” despite THE FACT Tissue redox activity has been shown as a hallmark of carcinogenesis: from early to terminal stages of cancer.

  • “Likely plants [corals] will adapt to the PAR light provided anyway”

    Plant or coral adapting to light, PAR PUR

    Where is his proof here? Any such evolution is certainly not going to take place in our lifetime unless he is planning to live several millenia.
    In fact, we already have an organism that has adapted to these middle less efficient light spectrums for plants and corals; they are called Cyanobacteria (Yellow light spectrum).

    Is this what his goal is? I doubt it, but his lack of understanding of the basics of science allows him to make such absurd statements as this.

    Reference:
    Cyanobacteria; Blue Green/Red Slime Algae in Aquariums & Ponds

  • “Measuring PAR”

    Here he gets his facts correct as stated, however he suffers here from the omission of information.
    What he omits is that PAR measuring devices tend toward the middle of the PAR scale. Thus these devices miss some of the most essential spikes of PUR and thus any measurement that compares a light that has emphasis in these areas of light spectrum will be inaccurate.

    defined quantum response of PAR verus PUR, aquarium lighting

    Even when comparing apples to apples such as the TMC 12 Watt Fiji Blue LED fixture versus the TMC 12 watt Marine White LED; the Fiji Blue has a PAR of 38 at 400mm while the Marine White LED has a PAR of 50 at 400mm!!
    Both these lights has exactly the same input energy, and the same circuitry, and are both well within the defined quantum response of PAR, YET there is a 20% + drop in measured PAR!

  • This means different light can add up to different PAR, so caution needs to be taken when one PAR from one fixture to another PAR. Higher PAR does not mean a better reading for growth.

  • “We are in a hobby where we would expect to spend more money”

    Again he makes a half right assertion.
    Yes, we certainly should not go on the cheap, but when it comes to lighting that would mean using lights with better circuitry, PWM, and ones that do not require fans that can and do fail, often due to moisture or over heating.

    Using the logic he implies, why not go back to using six 40 watt T12 Fluorescent light tubes over a 60 gallon aquarium as my mentor has pointed out, which he did for some of his planted aquarium customers in the 1970s. This is simply a shot gun approach to lighting, NOT ADAPTATION as he would have you believe.

    We have evolved in this hobby/industry where more efficient lights have allowed us to better target our light sensitive aquarium specimens.
    Whether is be SHO lights, T5 light, or the even more efficient, but often ignored by the ignorance of many in the hobby; T2 lights.
    This of course should also include LED lights such as the AquaRay, which employ the most efficient technologies. To say this is going cheap is absurd and frankly ignorant of the science of lighting.

    More Resources:

    AQUARIUM LIGHTING BASICS; Parameters, Lights Technology
    PUR or RQE, YouTube Video Fail- Guide to lighting a planted tank

Amazon Reviews for Aquarium Products

Amazon, Review, Opinion, Aquarium, Current LED

User Reviews- Opinion

I will look at how Amazon.com can be helpful and how they can be mis-leading.

Important- for more of an understanding about Amazon, please see: https://aquariumopinions.com/2013/08/27/purchasing-aquarium-pond-equipment-via-amazon

Revised 11/25/16

OVERVIEW

The point of this article is to determine if Amazon is a reliable source for reviews of different products, specifically aquarium products. These reviews have become very popular, but what are their pros and cons. So, do these pros or cons lean us to use the reviews or not? Some people think so, moreover I lean more to NOT SO MUCH. Understanding my aquarium background and the work I’ve already done on the subject of Amazon, anyone can figure out how I feel about Amazon. Lets get some understanding.

The Reviews

The way Amazon has set up their website, it allows for anyone to come onto the site and leave a review any way they want. There are zero requirements for being able to leave a review, other than you have to have a log-in for Amazon. Amazon was one of the first to have this style of review format, and now many other retailers have followed in Amazon’s footsteps. Are these free-for-all reviews worth it though?

The general format of the reviews are to first leave a star rating (1-5) of the overall product being reviewed. Then the customer (or non-customer) leaves verbal discussion on what they think about the product. Over time, these reviews add up and Amazon averages all these reviews to give an overall rating. Other users can then rate the review and also ask questions. Seems like a good idea, but what’s really happening?

Amazon, LED, Review, User, Professional, Current, Satellite, Good, bad

User Reviews Star Rating

The Pros

This format of reviews does give an idea of the quality of a product and what people are thinking about the use. A very quick reference can give a buyer a feeling of if the product is good or not. If there’s a consistent poor rating of a item, this would quickly be seen when checking the reviews. If there is overall success, this can also be seen quickly. Users can view the overall ratings or can spend some time reading the reviews from others. For a given product, someone can get some idea how the product looks, feels, and operates. Seems prefect right, so what’s the problem?

In talking with many other aquarium keepers, being in the hobby for so long, and having experience with many aquarium products LONG-TERM, I’m finding hidden problems with these reviews.

I strongly recommend using Amazon reviews as only a PART of your research, when determining if an aquarium product is right for you. Here are the cons.

Amazon, aquarium, reviews, user

Ratings

Words from Another Professional

It’s a double-edged sword. Obviously, Amazon now sells home networking equipment. While the vast majority of reviewers have no technical expertise, the reviews themselves are valuable in aggregate when trying to determine things like failure rates. You simply cannot take individual reviews and utilize them in a specific manner because they don’t provide specific, technical information. However, a device that has 150 reviews that say “failed after 30 days”, there’s a good chance the device has manufacturing issues. The informed consumer would use that as a cue to go do more research before purchasing. Unfortunately, the opposite does not work. Dozens of positive reviews does not guarantee success for the individual consumer. Again, the utility of consumer reviews comes in aggregate.

I understand that aquarium chemicals and things of that ilk are a different ballgame and unscientific reviews can be particularly damaging but there is a usefulness in consumer reviews that is better than not having any reviews at all.

The Cons

Please again, Amazon reviews should be only one aspect when researching aquarium products. Please consider other sources and look for reviews done by professionals with experience. Also, please consider using something other than Google to find these reviews. Google has been known to bring up user reviews like Amazons and burying quality reviews under websites, which Google brings to the top just to pay their bills. Consider using search engines such as https://www.duckduckgo.com/ for quality searches. Please see these cons to understand why I think this.

One of the major problems to these Amazon reviews is how well a user gets to know the product, before they leave a review on it. There is no telling if they leave the review a week after they got a product or five years after. The use of the product is key to understanding it. We also don’t know if someone has just used the product once, or a few to many times unless they state it. More use of a product is BETTER. I guess the question comes down to, do you want to be taught from someone who’s a newbie or someone who has experience. Which of these people would you want to teach you CPR? I’ve found learning from people who have long-term experience, with many uses of a product, is far better than learning from someone with a one time use. Both prescriptive are important, but we need an understand of which prescriptive we are working with here, which Amazon only provides if reviewer states it.

Some people have no real understanding what they are reviewing. They think they are helping, when in reality, they don’t know what they are talking about. Here’s a prefect example from a Review of The Current Satellite aquarium LED.

“The LED was super bright, more than I was expecting. It’s just want my plants need.”

Current USA Satellite LED Amazon Reiew

The lack of understanding comes down to plants not needing bright lights, but USEFUL light. This user thinks the LEDs is a good one, because of the brightness of it. What the user doesn’t know, is you can have a not as bright LED, but have it have so much MORE useful light. Brightness doesn’t equal good for plants or corals. Someone without an understand, would think the bright LED is good. If this person asked someone with good experience, they would know, this is not good, but now Amazon is showing the product to be good.

Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Professional Review

More over, this also leads into an understanding of not just the product, but the aspect of hobby. Something can have an overall rating of good, but when compared to other similar products, the item might be very poor. Using some simple science, these flaws can be spotted right away. Many more aspects can be brought into the understand of a product, which someone with little experience would know very little about. Take the LED example, where a cheap LED is rated 4 1/2 star on Amazon, but with other expert reviews on the product, they can show the cheap LED to be a poor quality compared to other LEDs. Instead of looking at lighting as a aspect, the product is the only aspect and the concept of quality lighting is missed.

One other area these review really lack, which is on the flip side of good rating, is the bad rating. I’ve seen many, many times a product get a poor rating on Amazon, only because the item was MISUSED! Having long-term experience surely proves this. Some items take an understanding to know how to operate them. If the user of the item does not know something about the product, then has an issue, because their lack of understanding, all the sudden a good product and turn into a “bad” product and this is shown on Amazon. The hope is this doesn’t happen to often, so the averages of the ratings on Amazon would reflect this rare experience. This is the hope…

Another idea of these reviews is that it takes a “certain” type of person to leave these reviews. Not all people leave reviews and I’m not saying all people who leave a review are these type of “certain” people, but there’s also a feel to these reviews. All because of the people leaving the comments. Is it experts leaving quality reviews on Amazon or is it first time users, who spend a lot of time on the internet, prone to issue kind of people? Maybe people who get a sense of worth leaving reviews for others to see, which makes the person feel important. Does they lifelines depend on understand the product they are reviewing. Most likely not. The point being, we don’t know who’s reviewing. Which is why I strongly recommend getting reviews from people we can know more and know their history in the hobby, with their experiences.

Conclusion

Amazon is a major retailer on the internet and have some serious ties to Google to make their webpages come up for many Google searches and advertising.
Many times, Amazon is used, because they are considered the cheapest [which is not always true due to Amazon fees to the selling entity].
Know the down sides to buying on Amazon and buy with caution. If the purchase is something important, consider the support you get and if it’s worth the price.
Reviews done by other customers are a resource for research if a product should be purchased. But really, it should only be used as one of the aspects of the research.

Considering using other resources, which are quality, because of experience. If you are looking for a honest quality retailer, please look further than Amazon.com.

amazon_logo_RGB