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[APD] RE: cables and such

>One of the reasons I ask (besides trying to slim the new tank budget down!)
>is that if you look at pictures of really nice planted show tanks on sites
>like the Aquatic Gardeners Association, there is usually a description of
>?the tank and the equipment used.  I don't remember ever seeing a
>for these tanks that included cable heating. They talk about CO2,
>substrates, filtration but not cable heating.  

Because very few people use them anymore. They are not needed nor have
folks found them to help to produce a nice planted tank.
The cables tend to cost a fair amount but folks have cheaper versions out
today but they still just do not do a lot.
Some have claimed subtle effects, but nothing siginficant. More significant
is using something like Flourite or Onyx sand, add a little ground peat,
some mulm and you are set.   

That type of substrate will give you significant results vs sand/laterite
A small amount of peat and mulm will help start any substrate.

>However, from all I've read (Dupla, Dennerle, George Booth etc) I would
>towards the idea that cable heating is beneficial for the plants and is
>worth installing.

Well these guys developed and sell cables so............I've used cables
for about 10 years and used Sandpoint, Dupla and made my own cables.
Saying what is from the cables is near impossible, if it's that hard and
subtle to find any benefit, what good is it? Not much.  

>Several questions:

>- Is it beneficial? Is it necessary for lush growth?

Not beneficial near as I can tell after using them for years, but the other
arguement is that do they harm a tank? Not that I can tell.
Necessary? No way.

>- If so, does one absolutely need a temperature controller connected to it
>or can one leave it on all the time?

I'd highly recommend one.

 The heating I have in my 200L is
>connected to a temp controller that also controls the main tank heater and
>gives priority to the cable heating.

Sounds fine.

>  But it costs over US$ 200 here!

So don't use it.

>- If not, should one put in a rich substrate anyway? Or will that not be
>very useful without cable heating under it?

"Rich" substrate is vague. I'm not sure what that means. I would not call
onyx, a little peat, some mulm a rich substrate at all personally.
I have not found any need for more. 

You can add soil, earthworm crap, leonardite, more peat, jobe sticks and
other macro nutrient based/organic matter based material under there if you
want, just hope it does not come up when replanting, tends to get messy and
some NH4 can come up and cause real issues and algae blooms.
These types of substrates I tend to refer to as "rich".
Some folks will add trace elements tabs or laterite also down there only,
without macro nutrient sources.
I call these and the onyx/flourite, florabase etc "moderate" as far as
Then you can go to the poor nutrient substrates, RFUG with nothing but sand.

I've used all three over the years and cables also. 

Richer substrate is not better. More light is not better.
Some methods that want to rely less on water column dosing and less
lighting can reply on the substrate more as a source of nutrients. 
You can go the other way and reply mainly on the water column or
exclusively on the water column. 

I view the substrate as a back up plan for in case the water column is
Plants will take nuttrients from the water column first, then once the
nutrients are depleted from there, they will then take nutrients from the
Water column nutrients also permeate/flow into the substrate and flow into
the root zones so roots can still take up water column nutrients as well.
 If you have bad habits for maintenance, lazy, just plain curious, don't
have the time, don't move or replant often etc more relianace on the
substrate is more likely a better method. Less light for that matter also.
You can still go either way with the CO2 part though.................low
light, good sized fish load, semi rich substrate, + CO2 planted tanks work
amazingly well.

Tom Barr



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