ADA Aqua Soil – Amazonia (ADA Amazonia) is one of ADA’s popular products for planted aquarium layout and red bee shrimp breeding among the hobbyists.  It has come to our attention that, recently, a soil product also named “Aqua Soil (Hong Kong Aqua Soil)” has been sold in Hong Kong.
Some of the retailers handling Hong Kong Aqua Soil were told that the product was approved by ADA.  However, ADA has no concern whatsoever about this product, and it is NOT the same product as ADA Aqua Soil Amazonia.  Here, we would like to give our customers a warning that there is a possibility of distribution of the product in countries other than Hong Kong.

●Appearance of Hong Kong Aqua Soil
Hong Kong Aqua Soil looks blackish brown color similar to ADA Amazonia.  It comes in 9L and 3L bags, and also offers normal gain type and powder type products.  As you see, the product lineup is same as that of ADA Amazonia (the photo shows a 3L bag).
Hong Kong Aqua Soil says “Made in JAPAN” on the package and describes its benefits as follow:

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・Long term nutrition for Aquatic Plants and Redbee Shrimps.
・Rich in humus.
・Produce mild acidic water condition.
・Highly porous granules structure encourage growth of aerobic bacteria.
・Iron combined with vital elements ensure healthy growth and rich green leaves.
・Rinsing not required before us.
・Remove cloudiness and maintains water clarity, thereby improving both the water quality and health of Fish.
・Natural black soil underlines the beauty of redbee shrimps, aquatic plants and fish.

●Product Comparison between ADA Amazonia and Hong Kong Aqua Soil.
ADA Amazonia’s ingredient, natural plant-based black soil, is made when leaf mulch becomes further decomposed.  In Japan, it is a sparse resource, and can be found in only limited areas.  The remarkable characteristic of this type of black soil is rich in organic elements and nutrients.   And, ADA Amazonia which contains plenty of those nutrients promotes the growth of aquatic plants and has a good influence on physiological function of fishes and shrimps.

On the other hand, Hong Kong Aqua Soil was expected as an “adsorbent type” soil product made of volcanic ash-based black soil with only a small amount of organic elements.  Thus, we conducted the extraction experiment using alkaline solution to compare the content of humic acid contained in each soil sample.  Humic acid is a principle organic acid which is contained in natural black soil and beneficial to physiological function of the growth of aquatic plants root, fishes and shrimps.  As a result, a lot of humic acid (brown colored material) was extracted from ADA Amazonia, but none from Hong Kong Aqua Soil (please refer to the photo).  It demonstrates that ADA Amazonia is the product of quality, natural black soil, and the major ingredient of Hong Kong Aqua Soil is a soil having only a small amount of humic acid (volcanic ash-based black soil). It also corresponds to other brands’ soil products categorized as “adsorbent type soil” which are mostly made of volcanic ash-based black soil.

Moreover, ADA Amazonia had a soil pH of 5.66, and Hong Kong Aqua Soil had the similar 5.77, but there was a difference on TDS and COD value. TDS value mainly shows a measure of inorganic substances dissolved into water, and COD is used to measure organic matter in water.  ADA Amazonia had a higher value for both TDS and COD than Hong Kong Aqua Soil. It means that ADA Amazonia contains more inorganic and organic matters, which are necessary nutrients for aquatic plants, than Hong Kong Aqua Soil.  
 Accordingly, the characteristics of water quality using Hong Kong Aqua Soil are similar to those of other brand soil products sold as “adsorbent types”.  Thus, unlike ADA Amazonia, Hong Kong Aqua Soil hardly gives good plant growth if used as substrate for aquatic plants.