Aquatic Plant Forum banner

Penac - out of the box thinking?

6555 Views 34 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  MiamiAG
Hello all,

DISCLAIMER: Admins, Mods, feel free to squash this thread if you like. People have become somewhat hostile when this topic has been discussed in the past. I'm attempting only to give some updates being that our friends at ADA seem to be carrying some of the Penac line now. Besides, I have my fire extinguisher handy in case I get flamed.;)

I have used some of the Penac products in the past and have had very good results. Better than when I didn't use the products? Hmm...probably. I can tell you I had less algae and the plants were stronger and brighter. Does that mean you should use Penac products? Well, no. What I hope you do is find out more about it. If it's interesting to you, test it out.

I found that Penac has a bad rap because of the "mojo-like" marketing pieces that are out there. One needs to understand that most of that was written for markets where people are much more receptive to such things than the US. Dig deeper and you may be intrigued.

Here is a piece on research that is being done: This website also has decent English descriptions:

Lastly, look into the use of organics and minerals in hydroponic culture.
21 - 35 of 35 Posts
I nominate Art as the Aquatic Plant scientist to do that test.;) It would produce some very interesting results. To be fair to ADA I suppose the test should be done using all ADA products, other than those that are just for looks.
So there are Penac products that could be actually beneficial to ones tank, they are just rather bad at disclosing what they are and how they work. I can buy that. The question then is, what benefit is there of using Penac A, which is a tidy $56?
...Similarly, Penac products (German engineered, btw) are tagged with a lot of mysticism that we are not accustomed to. However, most of the products do have some tangible benefits we can measure and appreciate. For example, Penac W is essentially a type of bentonite clay that, when added to your substrate, will increase it's CEC and add needed micro nutrients/minerals. Penac K adds minerals plus organics.

In my opinion, what Penac has done is taken items that are very beneficial and sprinkled some marketing pixie dust on them in order to sell more of them in certain parts of the world. That doesn't work here.
OK, this, to me, says it all. Penac, or their distributors, have basically taken something which is beneficial when used as intended, and put a marketing spin on it, to appeal to those who will be appealed by it. Is clay beneficial in the substrate as an additive? Of course!

If we had the marketing skills, knowledge, and financial wherewithal to do it, we could all do similar things with ridiculous claims, and someone would find them irresistable. Let's see, I'll get some kitty litter, soak it in some of my healthy tank water, then market it. It could be 'power clay with aquatically aligned water molecules from a healthy tank to remind the water of the new tank how to be healthy'. :)
LOL, Bert! That's awesome.

While I would love to conduct a proper study, I fully admit to not having the $$ to do it correctly (i.e., all ADA products). Besides, if I may borrow a phrase from some friends that play World of Warcraft, the experiment would quickly "pull wife aggro resulting in immediate pain and, likely, death."

The point of this post, however, was to remind folks to think through products as they come to the market. I can't tell you how difficult it was for me when I first brought ADA products to the US. Can you imagine trying to sell "Brighty K", Phyton Git and ECA? Yet, these are some of the best products I have ever used.

I remember a time when we all thought the Internet was some crazy thing between nerds...
Well I'm a scientist and I have to admit that the world is a lot more complicated than anything science can predict.

There is a lot of interest recently in the power of prayer in medicine. The classic study was done in 1999. Here is a reference:

If prayer can improve the outcome of cardiac patients, I'm not surprised that penac can help plants.

OK here is a suggestion. Set up two identical aquariums. In the first, control all the inputs as carefully as you can but don't use penac. In the second, do the exact same thing but use penac. Report your results periodically. If there is a difference, note what it is. This way everyone can repeat what you did and decide for themselves if penac works.
I think ray has it spot on. If one has to prove that penac is actually of some benefit then you have to use a control tank which has everything exactly the same (or as close as possible) as the original tank with the exception of Penac. Without a control to compare against, any inferences from the behaviour of a single penac enriched tank is quite meaningless. Whether you like Tom Barr or not, he does carry out all his experiments using control tanks. Of course he could still have done them wrong, or if you don't wish to believe him, that is fine too, but you need to carry out the experiment for yourself, with a control tank and then prove to yourself (and everyone else) that the Penac was actually beneficial.

Art, you mention that your tanks seem to have done very well with Penac. However we all agree that planted tanks are extremely complex and plant health and growth is dependent on a vast variety of factors. Without having your control tank it is a little meaningless to ascribe the perceived better plant health to the single new variable of Penac since it could very well be down to a combination of other factors and have nothing to do with the Penac.

If we can't perform this experiment (lack of money and time are of course valid reasons) then an attempt at understanding it's effect can only be made if ADA were open about Penac and we could actually know exactly what it is. At least then we could try to deduce what possible advantages it could potentially have for planted tanks. But without that knowledge, the only proof can be from a controlled experiment as suggested by ray. Tom carried the experiment out and it didn't seem to do anything much for him. If others manage to do similar experiments and find that the Penac is actually beneficial then I will believe in the usefulness of Penac.
See less See more
In the end, of course, this is a circular argument. The scientists will demand to know what is in Penac. The "believers" will state that science isn't capable of understanding the benefit. We could discuss this until the cows come home.


And Art, the Internet never stopped being a crazy thing between nerds. It's just that the entire planet jumped on the nerd ship last time it came to port.
In the end, of course, this is a circular argument. The scientists will demand to know what is in Penac. The "believers" will state that science isn't capable of understanding the benefit. We could discuss this until the cows come home.

Mooooo! Moooo!
By golly, I would swear those are cows at my front door.
In the end, of course, this is a circular argument. The scientists will demand to know what is in Penac. The "believers" will state that science isn't capable of understanding the benefit. We could discuss this until the cows come home.
Actually it is not a requirement to know what is in penac or how it works!

Most pioneer scientists had no clue about what something was or how it worked but easily deduced that it could do something. The classic example is aspirin.

Willow bark was known to reduce fever as long ago as 400BC but it wasn't until the 1970's that anyone knew how the naturally occurring aspirin substances worked.

Here is an interesting link:

Whining about what it costs reminds me of the arguments against a renewed space program.

For $65 you could be the avante garde of a new science! Or maybe just wasting 65 bucks. The future belongs to those who can take risks.
See less See more

I confess that I did not conduct a scientific analysis of my use of Penac with the eye of having others replicate. I did, in fact, observe a difference when I used it. The two tanks I used it on have been my best growing tanks to date.

I've been doing planted aquariums for a long time so my variables tend to be pretty steady. Moreover, subsequent tanks to the above where setup with mostly ADA products and shoots/trimmings from the plants used in the above tanks. Everything was re-used except the Penac products because I simply ran out of one and misplaced the other.

In the end, I think my point has been flushed out.
Hey Art,

It could very well be that Penac does work and that it did help in your tanks. Of course you are much more experienced at planted tanks than a newbie like me. However, for the sake of establishing that Penac is indeed beneficial for planted tanks, more than one person needs to try to replicate such controlled experiments. Not just one person because it could very well be that one persons setup, while controlled might not 'work' for Penac, but in another person's setup (such as yours) it could work due to a combination of other factors. In the end I would highly encourage you to try such an experiment when you have the time and resources for it. You could prove everyone wrong after all and then we could have some more heated discussions ;)
What if you found out that the clay you dumped in merely provided extra iron or something retardedly simple? Would you still feel good because if your going to bent over and charged $56 for a $10 iron supplement, at least its by the one and only Amano-san. This is just a hypothetical question. People do this though, buying his products. Isnt green brighty simply extra iron? In fact, Im even more impressed with his marketing prowess then I am by his tanks. And dont get me wrong, this guys an artist, and was waaay ahead of his time in terms of aquascaping so im not selling him short in any way. However I cant bring my self to really grasp any other concept then that magic behind the ADA products has more to do with their mystical powers of growing Mr. Amano's bank account more then plants. :banplease
It seems to me that you would need 4 tanks to test this out. Since Penac is said to raise CEC value because it is primarily bentonite (I "think" I understand this to be true...), you would have to test it against a substrate that also has a high CEC value (the fired clays such as Flourite or SMS). You would also have to test it against a strerile substrate (like pea gravel).

So, anyone have 4 tanks they want to experiment with? Fired clay alone, fired clay + Penac, pea gravel alone, and pea gravel + Penac...same plants, lighting, ferts, etc...

Dang! I would totally love to run this test, but don't have the tanks! If anyone volunteers, I'll donate plants.

Oh sure, it's out of the box thinking... Like:

9/11 Truthism
and Creationism

But you're better off avoiding such muddle-headedness.
Oh sure, it's out of the box thinking... Like:

9/11 Truthism
and Creationism

But you're better off avoiding such muddle-headedness.
You forgot to mention Evolution. ( gotta run, my uncle the orangutan is calling)
I think you're missing the point and getting caught up in the marketing mumbo jumbo.

Nobody is telling you to spend any money on ADA or Penac products. And, like you, if I don't understand what's in something, I won't add it to my tank. However, I won't discard a product unless I put some thought into it, especially if it comes from a respected company such as ADA.

The reality is that one of the Penac products is simply bentonite. Wonderful! Go do some research in the field and you'll find plenty of research studies conducted on the material. It is beneficial for your substrate.

The next step is simply to determine if you want to give it a try. If you do, you have a choice- purchase the product with bentonite or purchase bentonite directly. Obviously, purchasing bentonite directly will be cheaper. However, you will not have the benefit of all of the homework that ADA has done on such things as quantity, etc.
21 - 35 of 35 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.