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Re: Substrate Heating

In all of the pondering that has gone on over the years on the subject of
substrate heat, very little attention has been paid to the fact that unless
ambient room temperature is relatively low, the heating coils/pads/whatever
will rarely, if ever be "on".

Since they were originally developed in Europe, how prevelent is Central
Heating (in winter) and Air Conditioning (in summer) in Germany - both now,
and 15-20 years ago when these things were first introduced?

It is quite possible that given a non-centrally heated house in a cold
climate, an aquarium substrate, not to mention the room in general could get
quite cool in the winter. Having grown up in such a house, I have a many
memories of waking up on frosty winter mornings - we didn't have much need
for ice cubes, your best friend was a hot water bottle. Under these
conditions, a substrate heater, regardless of the exact mechanism through
which it works, might be very beneficial in order to maintain tropical
aquatic plants which in nature rarely, if ever, experience such low

In the same vein, anyone located in a subtropical/tropical area (or even the
Central U.S. or Southern Canada in summer) knows that unless you have air
conditioning, interior household temperatures can easily hit 80-90 F in the
summer and stay there for weeks on end. Under those conditions, a
thermostatically controlled substrate heater is not going to be of any
benefit because it won't be "on" while the temperatures are in that range.
The Singapore based mailing list Plantnutz (spelling?) constantly has
discussions on how to cool a tank down, not heat it up, due to the high
temperatures they experience over there as a matter of course. Yet, they
manage to be pretty good aquatic gardeners and I've seen some stunning
photos of the members' tanks.

I say this because I just installed a substrate heating system in my biggest
tank and it hasn't switched "on" since the summer temperatures arrived here
in Southern Ontario. I don't expect that it will switch on until late
September or early October, when autumn arrives. The plants in the tank are
doing wonderfully....

It might be that what was or seemed like a good idea once upon a time, is
not really relevant any more, unless you live under conditions where ambient
room temperatures can and do regularly fall into the shivering range for
large portions of the year.

James Purchase