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Following Path vs. off-road, Heating Cables, 2.5 gallon lighting

> From: "Alysoun McLaughlin" <alysoun.mclaughlin at ncsl_org>

> If you follow a previous example or a standard 'system', then what I was
> saying doesn't apply so much.  I'll agree with that.  And if you're careful
> about it, and research what you're doing, there's no reason a beginner can't
> go ahead and set up an extremely complicated, high-input, high-yield system.

> The danger, as I see it, is in trying to jump from "I can't keep plants" to
> "I'm going to max out on every factor I can, and make the plants really
> happy".  In the process, it's just so easy to screw with the balance of your
> tank, and end up out of control.  I'm urging caution, and trying to correct
> a misperception that more of everything is necessarily better.

Well said!  I've seen more than my share of people trash their tanks
with things like Laterite AND kitty litter ("just to be doubly sure"),
or too MUCH lighting (something I currently have on a new tank I'm
experimenting with; if I were a beginner, I'd have been so frustrated
by the green algae I'd have torn it down months ago).  Even in my main
high-tech tank, I do not follow the Dupla Regimen to the letter (I
forget to fertilize a lot; no filter; etc), and it has always taken me
a few months to get it settled in after a move or teardown.

Justin Collins wrote:

> Would heating cables be worth the added expense?  Are they
> much of a hassle?  Is it difficult to do DIY (I'd probably buy the
> Dupla cables and hold-downs, and cobble the rest together).  Having
> searched sites and done other research, there are enough voices for
> both sides of the issue that I reamain unsure of their effect. 

They are not much of a hassle; generally, you buy them, install them,
and leave them alone.  It is not difficult to DIY the transformer if
you can do basic electronics construction.  I locate a beefy
transformer and a box, and wire it up to a pair of banana jacks on the
outside.  DIY of the wires is more complicated; I'm one of those
voices that says to just buy the darn cables from Dupla
($100something), use a lower wattage than recommended, and wire the
transformer right into the cables.  But see my above paragraph about
results on my tank. :)

I think the best summary about what they do is George's analysis,
which is why I added it to the FAQ:


Finally (lost the original message), someone wrote in shock and awe
about 35 watts over a 2.5 gallon tank.  Check out my summary of
lighting level (www.thekrib.com/Plants/Tech/Lighting/) done based on
Amano (who seems to be the only one with lots of 2.5 gallon planted
tanks), this group, and others.  Basically, the whole "2-4 watts per
gallon" rule appears to fall apart when the tanks are smaller than 10
gallons or larger than a 55.  35 watts is right on the money for
Amano's "high light" 2.5 gallon tanks!

    - Erik

Erik D. Olson
erik at thekrib.com