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Re: [APD] Who here uses cable heating? -- or - Is there a convection convention

Successful aquatic gardening does not in the least
*require* a heating cable or any other method of directly
electrically heating the substrate. While cables can be
part of an overall method that successfully grows aquatic
plants, I know of no method which cannot do equally as well
without the cables.

Even those that manufacturer and sell cables can't agree on
how they should operate -- high heat and strong water
currents vs mild heat and weak water currents; continuous
operation vs cycled operation. So how much hard data
supporting them can there be?

I suspect that most folks that tried them back when they
were "new" and Dupla was successful with aquatic gardening
products have since quit, or at least not used them in
subsequent planted tanks.

If your aquarium stand has an open top, which is to say the
part on which the aquarium sits is open to the air so that
your aquarium bottom is exposed to the air, then you might
want to put some rigid foam insulation under the tank to
help keep the bottom of the substrate from becoming too
cold and preserve a bit of the heat. However, if you set up
two identical tanks -- one with and one without the
insulation, then I'll wager that you will be hard pressed
to account for the diffs that develop between the tanks to
the insulation -- the diffs will be overwhelmed by other
factors -- Unless the tanks are in an *especially* chilly

Some folks report better long term maintenance with
substrate heating but many report equally good results
without using cable heating. 

They are expensive (imo, rediculously and unnecessarily 
so) -- tube heaters, while more complicated in design and
to construct, are much less expensive. You can get them
with titanium tubes if you're concerned about breaking a
glass tube. Heating cables only operate if the ambient
temperature is low enough that your tank requires added
heat -- which for many of us means only a few of the cooler
months of the year. Their benefit to plants or planted tank
health is not well demonstrated and certainly whatever good
they provide a planted tank can be achieved in less
expensive ways -- e.g., using plants with roots to
circulate things through the substrate seems to work just

Otoh, it can be an efficient way to heat an aquarium,
applying the heat slowly and at the bottom so that
convection can carry it up through the tank. However, the
strong currents we tend to have in planted tanks to sensure
that waterborne nutrients reach all of the plants probably
makes this convenction effect negligible at best.

Save your money for your Eheim. Or buy a Filstar or Via
Aqua filter and save even more and use all the savings for
a CO2 system, which would be much more helpful to your
planted tank, or for plants, or even some nice fish, etc.
There are plenty of ways to spend money on a planted tank
if you have the itch to spend and the pocketful. Of course,
one can do things quite economically too. ;-)

Good luck, good spending, good planting,
Scott H.

> Who here with a heavily planted tank uses cable heating?
> I've never tried a heavily planted tank without cable
> heating so I'm
> wondering if it is really required for my next tank...
> (this would make it
> easier on the wallet to buy that Eheim I've got my eyes
> set on).

It's the contest that started international competition in aquascaping
planted aquaria! AGA's 2004 Aquascaping Contest is open for entrees:


Novices and experts alike show their skills. Past winners have been
novices and experts, too. You can view all the entrees at The 5th AGA
Annual Convention. Details/Registration at www.aquatic-gardeners.org &
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