Wonder Shells, Mineral Supplement; Aquarium Forums Hall of Shame
Aquarium Forums Hall of Shame 9; Wonder Shells from "Aquatic Community" (& BettaFish.com)
I will apologize in advance if I offend anyone who reads this. It is not my intention. However I should say, I was offended by the anecdotal comments thrown around in the Aquatic Community forum posts (as well as BettaFish.com) I reference later in this blog entry.
Please read this article/post in FULL.
Rather than have discussions of the scientific benefits of Wonder Shells or examine the evidence behind why Wonder Shells might be beneficial; the forum post became a "free for all" for non-scientific, mis-informed statements in which it was clear most people read little or did not understood what they read.
Many resorted to "straw man" personal attacks.
These people clearly did not read the provided referenced sources in the articles on Wonder Shells.
It is also noteworthy the articles that referenced Wonder Shells do NOT attempt to point to the need of this product, rather explained the benefits.
In fact, the Aquarium Chemistry Article cited notes as a disclaimer stated the Wonder Shell are a useful tool for aquarium husbandry, but is not a cure all or a magic fix all.
Reference: Aquarium Chemistry, Beginner to Advanced
Even more importantly, in March of 2011, I met with another researcher (not in the aquarium industry) who discovered my Aquarium Redox article dealing with how much aquatic life (and all life) is affected by a properly balanced Redox (magnetically balanced is a term he used).
He noted how badly out of touch the aquarium hobby is with current scientific research.
He was surprised to find such a well researched and "current" article from an aquarium hobby web site.
Further Reference: The Importance of Redox and Magnetic Balance of Aquarium, Pond Water
This ties directly to Wonder Shells.
Unlike many anecdotal, poser experts who never even noted the importance of Redox Balance; this researcher understood how a Wonder Shell could aid (again not a cure all) to establishing this Redox/Magnetic balance of aquarium water.
To call Wonder Shells part of a "snake oil" scheme (as one person put it) is ignorance at its most profound!!
There is no way an honest person can read either the Wonder Shell article or the many articles I've referenced and make the statements that they are just scheme.
I was also made aware of another post from this same aquatic forum about the use of aquarium salt. This too was "ripe" with anecdotal information.
Reference: Aquarium Answers; Use of Salt in Freshwater Aquariums
This is how my Wonder Shells, Aquarium Forums Hall of Shame came about, it was suggested by a friend, where-by I call these people out for incorrect statements.
I will also add that the referenced aquarium chemistry article I suggested had nothing to do with selling these shells, which further discredits the many extremely shameful scheme references.
This is why forum posts containing personal attacks or lack true research to back up their statements, exampled here, display the "dark side" of the aquarium hobby.
This also confirms the opinion of a few researchers I have consulted with over the years and a good friend who retired from the industry in 1999.
In fact, my friend (mentioned above) who ran a large aquarium supply distributor, believed this type of misinformation from such places as this Aquatic Community forum thread harms the aquarium keeping hobby.
The problem is, new hobbyists often get frustrated by conflicting information and use this bad information which results in losing fish which should not have happened. This is not what people who keep "fish as pets" desire and why I have posts such as this!
Before I respond to the misinformation put forth in the aquaticcommunity.com, let me point out that since Wonder Shells are so popular, other large online sellers are selling them.
However, this new online seller is simply selling the product without knowing the correct information about their use. As well these retailers are ONLY selling the older Weco version, not the unique upgraded versions sold only at AAP
Instead, I would recommend purchasing from a seller with decades of experience AND the correct information for use such as:
Wonder Shells, unique upgraded versions sold ONLY at American Aquarium Products
POSTS IN THIS THREAD (snips):
(1) “As with most aquarium products, the write-up on Wonder Shells makes them sound absolutely vital for the health of your fish.
I've been using them for about 6 months now, and haven't seen anything that would indicate my fish are better, or worse, with them in the tank.”
My Comment: Neither the Aquarium Chemistry Article nor the Wonder Shells web page state they are essential.
In fact, the web page states “NOT a cure all for poor water management, but a useful tool in proper aquarium maintenance.”
The Chemistry Article also states this.
It makes similar points within the article with other recommendations such as: “Before I over promote Wonder Shells, these can aid in proper water management, but they are not a magic bullet in an aquarium for poor aquarium husbandry. It will not aid in such conditions as mulm build up under gravel or decorations.
However the Wonder Shells can be one more piece of the water quality management puzzle and sometimes fish such as Livebearers and Goldfish benefit from dramatic.”
Reference: Aquarium Chemistry; GH, KH, pH, Calcium, Positive Mineral Ions
The benefits of using Wonder Shells are not always readily noticeable. Though, fish which are more sensitive to poor mineral cation levels are often easier to spot.
It is also noteworthy that poor Redox is a CUMULATIVE EFFECT on aquarium fish, shrimp, etc. Unless a scientific comparison is performed, ones anecdotal observations are not all that accurate.
Reference: Aquarium Redox
As I stated in many places in my articles, good aquarium husbandry will make Wonder Shell use less necessary (if at all) and a person who takes excellent care and has fish less sensitive to poor mineral cation levels, are not as likely to notice any benefits.
This is not the case for many aquarium keepers. HOWEVER, my controlled tests in the 1990s showed less incidence of disease and longer lifespan when mineral cations were maintained on a regular basis. Reference: “A Healthy Aquarium; Disease Prevention”).
(2) “Never heard of them so guess they aren't too vital. lol”
Not knowing of a product means nothing nor proves nothing.
This is a plain ignorant answer IMHO that employs the worse kind of logic.
It's similar to stating that “I have never circled the earth on a plane or ship, therefore I doubt the planet is a sphere.”
(3)“Scare tactic marketing. I wouldn't pay that sort of thing too much mind. Most of that type of stuff doesn't do very much IME. Just another gimick to get a few dollars from you.”
What scare tactic marketing?
Did this guy even read the scientific articles referenced?
Never does my articles state if you do not use this product your fish will suffer and die!
It is sadly typical of so many in the aquarium hobby to post opinions without even reading the subject of which they are speaking.
(4) “Provides crabs, snails and turtles with an easily available source of calcium for healthy shell growth."
The above is the only reason I would even consider buying it. All the rest sounds like a bit of hooey.”
Again, did this person read the references to back up my statements or see the links containing scientific references to even more .edu scientific studies?
I'll also add that when I am down in Los Angeles for my business trips, I'm often sought out by many experts which run some of the largest outlets for marine and freshwater supplies/fish.
It is because of my knowledge in such areas like Wonder Shells as to why they seek me out.
Such companies included Quality Marine and Tideline.
As well, I even had a call in 2009 from a ph.D researcher complimenting my research on the Redox Balance. He has seen few outside of the medical community that even were aware of its importance in “life processes.”
Reference: The Importance of a Healthy Aquarium Redox Balance
(5) “They are not vital for anything. The calcium would help snails or possibly Rift Lake African Cichlids that need calcium for harder water, but other than that they're non essential. They don't do anything that regular water changes won't take care of.”
This is not quite so out of line. He is correct in that water changes can and do many of what a Wonder Shells takes care of.
However, Wonder Shells or similar liquid drips can provide important mineral cations which are useful for both osmoregulation and Redox balance in between water changes.
This can be quite noticeable with fish such as livebearers, African cichlids, & goldfish.
However, even with fish such as Bettas, this still can have a beneficial effect on the fish health (otherwise why would others such as Atkinson’s Spa include calcium in their Betta formula?)
References: *Proper Osmotic Function (Osmoregulation) in Fish
*Atison’s Betta Spa Indian Almond Leaf Extract
(6) “I'm familiar with the site NG. There is a lot of good information there and at the links, but he does tend to promote the products he sells. And, IMHO, his review of Aquaclear HOBs is very inaccurate.
I don't know, to be honest, just how much the Wonder Shells would raise pH. But if there's calcium in them, the pH is going to go ^.
And I would trust Seachem's Paraguard before I ever used medicated wonder shells!”
It appears that at least this person has read some of the information/articles (& is more polite), but he's still off base in more than one area.
First of all, my review of Aqua Clears in my filtration article even states that these reviews are both facts and opinions, & I acknowledge that many have positive results (including the aquariums I have installed these on for clients). HOWEVER I have also had higher break down and other issues, based on the use of literally dozens.
I am glad this person is happy with his 2 or 3 Aqua Clear Filters (as many are), but this does not compare to the many (100s) I have maintained, nor the feedback my colleagues in this business have given me about these filters.
I did this for a living for over 30 years and employed others in this business. I'm sorry to sound smug (as this is not my intention), but using a few AC filters simply does not compare to the dozens I have used.
His statement, “his review of Aquaclear HOBs is very inaccurate,” does not hold water when you factor in experience (kind of like a passenger of a jetliner critiquing an airline pilot with 30 years experience based on his (the passenger's) first solo flight in a Cessna).
Reference: Aquarium Filtration; Aqua Clear Review
Secondly, although he is not stating there is something wrong with me promoting products I sell, it sure seems inferred.
What is wrong with this? I provide FREE information, answer emails, and phone calls seven days a week and often work 14 plus hours per day all for small income. Am I not entitled to make any profit?
Does he work for free? Maybe he should before he makes such a ridiculous personal attack!
Reference: Aquarium Information; FREE
As well, 90% of what I sell I have used and tested (This is why I sell them!).
In particular, these Wonder Shells are an item I have used for almost 30 years and many of my clients have commented that I should try promoting them on the internet. This is all based on their positive results.
Thirdly, no where does it state Wonder Shells raise pH?
He should read some chemistry basics because it is carbonates that primarily affect pH, which Wonder Shells have very little of!!
My comment here is not meant disrespectfully, however this is a very basic principle of KH and pH. It is carbonates which contribute to a higher pH/KH, not calcium.
By making this statement that gets one of the very basics of aquarium chemistry wrong, one has to question his basic aquarium keeping knowledge.
Fourth, my Wonder Shells web page (as well as my Ich article) states SeaChem ParaGuard is a first choice for Ich.
References: *Aquarium Ich; Identification, Treatment, Prevention
(7) “I'd never heard of them but looking at the website they sound like snake oil.
That's the place I've EVER seen anything suggesting trying to harden the water for discus and rams. To me it looks like a fad product that will do nothing but mess up my tank water. No thanks, even if they paid me I would not add it to my tank based on their claims.”
There is little I can say to this post as this person’s comments show he has little understanding of chemistry and cannot learn anything which is beyond his myopic, close minded views.
He obviously has NO understanding of bio-chemistry and worse, is unwilling to learn either. This guy would rather disgustingly label others (such as peddling snake oil) as well as totally show his lack of basic knowledge of aquarium biochemistry and aquatic product history.
Stating “That's the place I've EVER seen anything suggesting trying to harden the water for discus and rams” really shows his strange reasoning.
Not knowing about a subject does not make it false. As well, he should research Marc Weiss: he is one of the first to prove the need for positive mineral ions such as calcium.
I've learned from some of Marc Weiss's articles dating back to products he collaborated with the Premier Aquatic Chemical company with; Aquatronics (which sadly went out of business earlier in this decade due to changes in the aquarium industry ethics, not product quality).
Marc Weiss and others in the field of Discus and similar soft water fish have proven the importance of calcium in Discus. Even more recently, others have shown that keeping the water “charged” with positive calcium ions is important.
I have also demonstrated (after using one of Marc Weiss’s Aquatronics products) the addition of calcium cations to the aquarium water can alleviate HITH Disease in Discus.
So much for never seeing anything about the FACT that even Rams and Discus require Calcium for long term health!
*Aquarium Chemistry; Amazon, SE Asia River Water
*Hole in the Head Disease (HITH) in Fish, Discus, Cichlids
The term "snake oil" can only be applied to a product which provides no scientific benefit.
The articles and the references within my own aquarium articles prove there is science behind Wonder Shells and similar products.
Sadly this guy does not even know how to apply the term "fad" because this product has been around for more than 30 years with NO marketing, promotion, or even good packaging.
Why are Wonder Shells still around then?
Because they work! 30 plus years of poorly marketed product does not make for a fad.
(8) "It's sad that you have to research everything for its safety. I will remove the shell immediately! just b"ought it today. Thank you for posting your experience and very sorry for your horrible experience with this product!"
Actually if this person had done their homework and researched what these Wonder Shells actually do, they would not have made such a comment.
The FACTS are in my literally thousands of uses, including controlled tests, this product is safe to use as directed. However as with ANY product, when you go the cheap route and purchase via Amazon or others where the product is not properly supported and you get false information as clearly demonstrated by this BettaFish.com website thread, you are not going to get good results.
Anyone can purchase a product and use it incorrectly or not know how to perform a controlled test then make all sorts of ridiculous claims.
This type of miss-informed statement that contradicts professional experience and known science is analogous to purchasing a bicycle for the first time after a Doctor tells you to get more exercise for your heart, then having a heart attack and stating bicycles cause heart attacks!!
When persons state these are sold for raising pH or KH, they are clearly not purchasing from the correct source, the correct product, nor reading the correct information.
Example, this miss-informed statement from BettaFish.com:
"There are gentler natural ways of raising pH. They have to do with increasing the KH buffer."
Professional use of the AAP Wonder Shell (not purchased via a discounter such as Amazon) shows this is a mute point as there are no claims this product is for this purpose (stability of pH/KH at most).
From the ONLY professional seller of this product (AAP):
"Please note, Wonder Shells do NOT generally raise KH or pH, despite some incorrect claims by Weco and other websites that have not used these AAP Wonder Shells properly. They more aid in maintenance of these parameters by neutralizing harmful acids, which result from organic decomposition."
In Summary, here are just a few websites members of aquaticcommunity.com or bettafish.com should read, Including the many references cited therein:
- Aquarium Chemistry
This article & the Redox article below are must reads because many aquarists simply do not understand the importance of mineral cations- even for fish which prefer softer water.
Since Wonder Shells use calcium as the main carrier of mineral electrolytes, the constantly regurgitated mantra that too much GH is always bad (which is simply not true) often confuses many well-intentioned aquarium keepers.
Here is an email sent to me that is an example that demonstrates this confusion. The person even admits that the Wonder Shell has helped improve fish vitality.
“I have used the WonderShells. I have 2 tanks, one 30gal. for goldfish and one 10gal. with a beta and catfish. They also raise the GH way over 30 drops, sometimes when I test for GH I have to drop 37+ drops in the tester for it to turn green. Is this still ok? because my fish seem more active when I use the Wonder Shells”.
As noted in the Aquarium Chemistry article, the use of Wonder Shells (or similar) will cause an increase in GH. However, this is not the problem. Please read the GH section, & the sub section "Depletion of Positive Ions" in this Aquarium Chemistry article.
This article uses the example of a car battery (both charged and discharged)to explain how a GH test cannot provide an accurate picture of aquarium electrolyte health.
Reference: Aquarium Chemistry, Depletion of Positive Ions
- Aquarium Redox Balance
- Osmoregulation in Aquariums; Minerals; Use of RO Water, more
- A Healthy Aquarium; Disease Prevention
- Aquarium Lighting; Importance to all Aquatic Life
For those who stick to the closely held anecdotal beliefs which so badly permeate the aquarium keeping hobby. Rather than read researched articles such Aquarium Chemistry, Aquarium Redox, Aquarium/Pond Answers, or similar RESEARCHED articles, it's best summed up by another mentor of mine, Reggie.
I met Reggie at an aquarium supply wholesaler where he finished his business career there. After spending most of his decades of business in different industries specializing in making poorly managed businesses successful, he told me this:
"I have never seen a more dishonest and back stabbing business than the aquarium industry".
This thread from Aquatic Community certainly fits into what Reggie (& others I know at Quality Marine and elsewhere) have pointed out:
Persons will ignore facts and take others out of context just to hold tightly onto anecdotal beliefs rather than admit maybe they do not know something.
I know that I have been forced to change my understanding of aquarium concepts when either new evidence surfaces or I'm corrected with more complete facts.
The Redox Balance is a good example where I would have started 180 degrees from the opposite of what I know now. It's still very misunderstood part of biochemistry.
Finally, for those that read all the articles, blog posts, and related information which represent years of use and decide to purchase, be careful of a VERY dishonest business that sells these product, See Parasite Retailer; Pet Mountain.
Please have the courtesy for those who have worked hard to provide free and honest information, to avoid this business.
Consider your local retailer or online consider American Aquarium Products; Wonder Shells; Unique Version sold ONLY at AAP.
Recommended Aquatic Sites for Information, Products
Freshwater Aquarium Cares; Basics to Advanced
Volcanic Rock Bio Filter Media
An economical aquarium or pond filter media that is still very effective for both aerobic AND anaerobic bio filtration.
Controls ammonia, nitrites, and even nitrates once filly "seasoned" (usually 6-8 weeks)
AQUARIUM AND POND ANSWERS
*PUR vs PAR in Aquarium Lighting
*Aquarium Silicone Applications
*Power Head, & Water Pump Review; Aquarium & Pond
Aquarium Fish Keeping Forum
Freshwater Aquarium and Pond Fish Profiles
Saltwater, Marine Aquarium Help, Basics, Information
Copyright; Carl Strohmeyer
Labels: aquarium chemistry, Aquarium Forum, aquarium minerals, Aquatic Community, BettaFish.com, cations, GH, KH, mineral ions, pH, positive mineral ions, Wonder Shell, Wonder Shells, Wonder Shells are evil