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Substrate Questions

> Kevin Zippel wrote:
> Hi Karen, thanks for the reply. I guess then that you are getting what 
> you consider long term stability in your tanks without cables? 

I know many people, including myself who have had beautiful tanks set up for
upwards of 10 years without any form of substrate heating.  I've played around
with several methods and have not been able to convince myself that I saw any
improvement in growth could be attributed to substrate heating, and since I've
never had a problem with longevity in a tank, I don't see how heating cables
would benefit me.  I _do_ think it's important not to let the substrate become
substantially COOLER than the water column, but this is an easier issue to

> Has 
> anyone played with external heat tape or wire (as seen at 
> http://www.beanfarm.com/heating.htm#Heating Supplies or 
> http://www.bushherp.com/heating.html), which are easily controlled with 
> a cheap rheostsat? It seems that these could be set up with similar 
> spacing.

Some people have.  I haven't heard anyone who's used them long term who feels
that they are of a definite benefit to the tank.  The only person I know of who
frequents this list who has used heating cables long term, and _does_ feel that
they benefit his tanks is George Booth.  I'm sure he'll chime in with his
comments.  There is no question that his tanks are beautiful.

> Moving up, laterite. Now that we are Dupla-less, what is the acceptable 
> substitute for 100% laterite? "First Layer?"

There are several commercial substances that people are using and liking in
their substrates.  I've been using Karl Schoeler's Substrate Gold for several
years now in both my own tanks and our school project tanks.  It works as well
for me as Dupla laterite (which was my old favorite) and is much less
expensive.  I'm sure others will chime in with their favorite products.