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Substrate Heating

Tom Brennan wrote:

>BTW, (diatribe coming, skip if you think you need to),  I am convinced
>(while not a pre-requisite), substrate heating works. Why? I fertilize
>heavy, feed heavy (planted discus tank), do lots of water changes, but
>hardly vacuum ever, well maybe once, I lightly vacuumed 1/2 the tank last
>year and the other half just last month while doing some minor re-design.  I
>think my available Phosphate and Iron levels would be much higher if it were
>not for the steady convection and cation exchange and element reductions
>(divalent state) going on in my substrate making elements (Ammonium, K, P
>Fe, Ca, Mg and other trace elements) available to plant roots.  ALL plant
>root systems are prolific, nice structures, all nice color and no black
>root-rot syndrome anywhere.  Maybe it's too early to tell.  NO Algae except
>what was clearly induced by me and stupid...er/or learning stuff which
>cleared up quickly like in 2-3 weeks.  Anything I plant develops great roots
>and does well.   

It's very tempting to attribute all things great and wonderful to a piece
of equipment you've paid a lot of money for, but all of the above also hold
true for my tanks, many long term, and none with sustrate heating. (except
that I don't vacuum my gravel as frequently as that ;-)

>If jumping-fish is a concern than a glass/plexi-glass cover would make the
>tank retain more heat and MHs may be a problem.  

I haven't really had much of a problem with jumping with my open 125.  I
keep it filled very near to the top, and have lost only 2 fish since the
tank was set up.  Both of these were lost during the first week that the
fish (respecitvely) were in the tank, and I think they had not yet settled

>IMHO open-top tank
>advantages far out weigh covered tanks.  Plant aerial advantage (more
>efficient use of aerial Co2->better growth->use water-column nutrients->
>less for algae!) is the first that comes to mind, easier to get in/out of
>and work in the tank, I think there is also a better gas-exchange
>environment,  besides pure aesthetics and the cool "shimmering" effect MH
>has on moving water in the tank is nice.

I love my open topped tank.  I love being able to watch everybody from the
top, to enjoy the shapes the plants make when seen from above, and the fact
that you see many more flowers this way.  I also love being able to poke
around in the tank any time I walk by.  

I don't really see any advantage to plant health/growth however.  Assuming
you are using supplemental CO2, you can easily make sure that your plants
are not carbon limited, with or without a cover.

The one thing that I _do_ find a pain in the neck is the need to add water
for evaporative losses between water changes.  I never need to do this in
my other tanks.