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Re: substrate heating

> Date: Tue, 22 Jul 1997 00:15:25 -0700
> From: healer <healer at global_california.com>
> About substrate heating, I finally have the time to try substrate
> heating.  I know there is a lot of talk still about this, so I thought
> I'd ask some Qs about it.
> 1.  Would a heating pad, like the type one puts under an aquarium for
> reptiles effectively create convection currents?  My sources say no.

IMHO, no.
> 2.  Could someone gauge (roughly) the average cost to use heating coils
> as substrate heating?

Depends on your tank and environment. Not counting the original cost
of the setup, it's roughly the same cost as running a regular heater
of the same wattage in the tank.  The substrate heater generally
replaces the normal submersible heater but it's good to also have a
backup heater for cold winter nights (if it's applicable).

> 3.  Where could I find some articles about DIY substrate heating?

The Krib and http://www.frii.com/~booth/AquaticConcepts.htm

> 4.  What are its general effects on fish and plants (I know its supposed
> to speed up chemical reactions in the substrate -- but is there a
> notable difference in growth)?

No direct effects on fish.  Some plants do better with a warm
substrate (Barclaya longifoilia for one).  They will NOT affect growth
rate, all other things being equal.  IMHO, they WILL provide long term
stability, especially compared to a "rich" or "fertile" substrate

A rich substrate (one with dirt, peat, humus, earthworn castings,
manure, fertilizer sticks in clay balls or a general over abundance of
organic material) will be too "rich" to start with and will cause
serious algae problems.  At some point, a year perhaps, things will
settle down and good growth and little algae will result.  Later on,
the plants will exhaust available nutrients from the muck, growth will
decline and algae will again be present.  

A properly done substrate with heating coils will support good initial
growth WITHOUT massive releases of phosphates and nitrates and will be
sustainable over the long run because the convection currents will
bring nutrients back into the substrate to replace those used by the