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Cables, RFUG's & flourite

James wrote:
>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".

George responded to this as a "Ayep" also but went on to say that to be
truly high tech you should have air conditioning in your house essentially
going all the way with the high-tech approach<g>. My question to George: Do
you have a Dupla air conditioner on your house<G>?

1) This is the biggest bone I have to pick with cables. In order to work
""consistently"" the ambient temp needs to be a cool stable rate(like George
and Karla's place). Otherwise you have varying flows from too much to too
little going through the substrate depending on ambient temp. This always
bugged me. Maybe I can come over and set up my tank at George's? Please?

2)Cost is another bone I have to pick with cables. I built my own and they
worked as well as the Dupla and Sandpoint models IMO for peanuts. They
didn't look as nice but they preformed IMO the same. Folks should be very
careful building these. If your not sure about it: don't try this.

3)Simplicity is yet another bone I have to pick with cables. The flourite
method is the simplest method there is. It will not wear out or break ever.
No adding two different things in layers. No old nutrient poor substrates.
No worries that the substrate might be to blame for poor growth. Nothing to
plug in (the wall sockets have enough things plugged into them already). No
wearing out. No over/under dosing something. A no brainer. 

4) Aquascaping..........ahhhh forgot about that one didn't you? Cables and
RFUG require the same depth to work as do most other layering substrates and
keeping things layered properly over time can prove very difficult. I can
keep my gravel level down to 1/2 inch in front and 6-7 inches in back. With
cables? Yes you could but you would have to pull the cables back from the
Front edge. Using most sands and gravels this will not last long. Flourite
of all the substrates out there moves around the least. It stays put. **The
usefulness of the same depth is quite debatable using cables I admit.** Some
of the areas are shallow and some are deep & these pose little issue for
currents......if you can keep them consistent. That's why I went back to the
RFUG's. At least things were all the same in the substrate and with flourite
also this is the case. A nice homogenous substrate is a nice thing<g> for
aquascaping and terracing-sloping that doesn't move. Amano has some plates
that sort of may help this out keeping the the substrate from shifting.

5) replanting/trimming/hacking/attacking/disturbing the substrate. Try doing
this with Dupla laterite (I think it should be called "Dupla dust") and
sand. Or a nice soil or peat tank if you have good growth were you need to
remove lots of plants sometime/weekly etc. It can be done but care is
certainly needed IMO. I don't worry with the flourite. The cables get pulled
up when replanting many times due to roots being entangled in them so the
level they are placed in shifts and moves around also. I can push them back
down some (if I see it..... and notice it) but they do move somewhat over
time and use. I'm much too aggressive to take this much care when I
prune/hack n attack my tanks to wish to deal with this.

Germans may use them. Many Dutch tanks don't. Amano and many others have had
super tanks without them. I have had better success without them. 

There are many methods for a substrate involving flow but I think overall it
makes little difference. All of them work and can do well. So why not use
the simplest method? I really liked the RFUG and the cables. I have used all
three methods for several years with many different species of plants. 

Of the three general types of substrates only one doesn't have many trade

1) Hi-flow(RFUG's)-not much nutrients in the substrate, good for high fish
loads, trouble adding jobes sticks etc to it. Another thing to set up in the

2) Low Flow(cables)-cost lots (see above for more) don't have even flows due
to temps variations.

3) No flow (osmosis) soil, flourite, peat, sand etc..........

Heating pads, other outside heat devices seemed to do well. Hard to say due
to the ambient temp affecting things again. Cables did do better than these
devices FWIW IMO.

Soil and or peat tanks do well for a more low tech approach as does
flourite. Beyond this, I find extremely hard to find a good reason why I
would use something other than the flourite on a high tech/low tech tank. If
your going to set up a new tank that is...........if something is all set up
now would I tear it down? I doubt it. I think you can add things to the
substrate and or the water column dosing to get your balance and levels back
up to snuff.
Tom Barr