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substrates, and heat

On Tuesday, Feb. 9, 1999, Roxanne Bittman wrote:

<My opinion on substrate heat:  I'm going to be a
<heretic here:  I don't believe that heating cables set up
<little convection currents which benefit plants by
<making nutrients available.
<I do believe that bottom heat of any kind is valuable
<because otherwise you will find the substrate
<temperature is quite a bit cooler than the upper water
<temp.  I think that reactions at the root level go
<"better"  (i.e. faster) with warmer temperatures.  In
<simple terms, plants like warm roots.

<I have had planted tanks with submersible aquarium
<heaters and alternate setups with bottom heat (I use
<"herp heat" plastic, wire-impregnated strips under the
<whole tank - not in the water) and the plants do
<observably better in the bottom heated tanks.

<I look forward to James Purchase's experiments with
<different substrates, and cables vs no cables!


I am currently in the process of setting up a 75 gallon tank and hold
the same opinion as you, that the heat in the substrate and "warm roots"
are the thing that is the primary benefit to the plants, not the
convection currents that supposedly take place with heating cables.

As I am setting up my tank using Karl Schoeler's Substrate Gold products
and methodology, and he has been using under tank heating elements of
this type on his plant tanks for about 7 years with great success, I
think there is at least some circumstantial evidence that this
hypothesis has some validity.

It would be interesting if James included in his study a comparison of
an under tank "Herp Heating Pad" and a Dupla style undergravel heating
cable and see if there is a significant difference in their
performance.  My guess is that there will not be a significant
difference, but to really do a full and fair test, the comparison tanks
may need to be set up and observed for several years to see if one or
the other of the two substrates finally give out, as one of the primary
benefits attributed to Dupla style undergravel heating cables seems to
be long term stability of the aquarium.


Jay Bickford
Savage, MN