Input requested on new set up...

From: Mike Bateman <vandi at well_com>

> Q: Is it correct to compare 100W of cable heating to a standard 100W
>    aquarium heater?


> The 100W cable is much shorter than the 150W and I have found that it is
> going to be difficult to space the wire evenly using Dupla's anchors.  A
> shame considering what Dupla thinks they're worth. :)  I've read of
> people using eggcrate.
> Q: Does anyone have a revolutionary way of dealing with this?  I would
>    appreciate any ideas. 

Turn the anchors "sideways" and use nylon "cable ties" (available at
hardware stores) to secure the coils to the anchors.  Don't pull the
cable ties tight until the coil is arranged to your satisfaction.  

> Having looked at several different brands, I must say the Mandrin is by
> far the highest quality in construction and design.
> Q: What flow rate should I aim for?  The pump I purchased is rated at
>    540gph @ 4'.

540 gph.  You should aim for something "clever" for the water returns.
We have had good luck with two returns; one on the bottom and one on
the top.  I was also thinking about using home-made "spray bar" (ala
Eheim) that was placed just above the gravel at the rear of the tank.
Having a current across the bottom keeps detritus from settling in
among the roots.  With your discus, you don't want a strong current
like you would get from a single outlet.  You will probably need two 
ball valves (one for each outlet) to split the flow.  I've found that
it won't split evenly by itself :-).

> Having read George's comparison of different bulbs, the first thing that
> I noticed was that the MH bulbs had a much higher intensity at the same
> depth than 40W flourescents.  If I remember correctly it was over twice
> the intensity. 

In our tanks, the MH bulbs are suspended 14" above the water; the FL
bulbs are 3" from the water.  The intensity *at the water surface* is
roughly the same and the intensity at various depths is about the
> Q: Does anyone have any ideas on how to make your wiring job look nice a
>    neat?  IceCap only provides a mass of individual wires.  What a mess!

Use cable ties.  Radio Shack also sells some split plastic tubing that
you can use to enclose the wiring. 

> Lastly, I will be using RO/DI water since my distric water comes out at
> 250+ ppm Hardness, 220+ ppm Alkalinity & pH 7.8.  It takes a TON of pH
> Minus to have an effect on our tap water.  I'd go broke trying to lower
> my KH!
> Q: What should I use to regenerate my RO water water for plant use?
>    Currently I use Kent's products.

Mix a little tap water with the RO water to get the right levels.  Or
invest in Duplagan - we've been very happy with it.  Of course, you
need to be rich ...