Thank you Karen for your candid observation on the fact that ssh may not
be cost effective. I just got out the July '95 article on a DIY warm
water system (written by me). When I wrote the article I had doubts as
to the value of ssh and pointed that out in the sidebar are temperature
profile through the substrate.
While I don't think I mentioned it in the article, the only way to get
steady convection currents would be to have the heater on all te time and
then manage the "real" temperature of the water with auxillary heater
and/or chiller. Where I suspect ssh does some good is if the tank is in
a very cold room and there is no way to get heat to the substrate. If
the heat loss through the bottom is high then the roots could be quite cool.
The variables involved make a simple conclussion inappropriate. One
person will not get the result of another unless all the variables are
kept constant and there are too many to deal with.
I have found the discussion on alternate methods of heating interesting
too. How often we come up with original ideas that are not very
original. We had five ways to heat the substrate and I have seen others
posted here. IF ssh were really effective then I would get a sheet of
aluminum and place the tank on top of it. I would then mount my MH
ballasts or another other lite ballasts under the tank on the plate. If
this proved to be too much heat one could cool the bottom with a fan, put
a spacer between the ballast and the plate, etc. Those of us with racks
of tanks are indeed heating the upper tanks from the light heat below
them. As mentioned in the article, "while we do not propose to turn the
substrate issue into chaos, we suggest that there are inconsistencies in
theory that can be challenged and te3sted. An ongoing forum of
controlled experiments could be of interest."
--Earle Hamilton from northern Michigan where coral once grew