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Substrate Heating Cables

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by jonathan11, Mar 23, 2005.

  1. jonathan11

    jonathan11 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Any thoughts on the use of substrate heating cables? Pros and cons? I tried one, but really wasn't able to determine it's effectivity. My plant growth was zit- I wasn't using Tom's methods- and really wasn't able to give it a fair evaluation.
     
  2. travdawg

    travdawg Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Substrate Heating Cables

    I think they woud be great if you had a small tank, or an overabundance of cash. I dont think I could ever get past the exorbitant price however. I would likely go with a hydor inline or two instead.
     
  3. Ian H

    Ian H Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Substrate Heating Cables

    I don't think anyone has determined their effectiveness. If the cost was little then it would be worth a try. But as a good set-up is quite expensive...........Spend your money on more effective tank issues.

    Ian
     
  4. Peter

    Peter Junior Poster

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    Re: Substrate Heating Cables

    Jonathan:

    Well… I fell for the heating cable thing a few years back. I seriously doubt I would consider doing it again.
    For me, the perceived benefits just don’t outweigh the headaches. First off, the cable manufacturer stated to “take note of the cable placement because this will be the last time you get to see them” (presuming you bury them with gravel). What a bunch of hooie!

    Imagine what will happen when it’s time to up-root an Amazon Sword plant or some other similar rooted plant. Regardless of how carefully I remove plants I find (no big surprise here) that the roots have grown around the cables, so the cables come up along with the plants. Even an aggressive vacuum job can bring up the cables. I get an opportunity to see my bright orange cables each and every weekend! A real thrill, especially since they’re very difficult to re-bury. Once the suction cup cable fasteners come loose under the gravel there is little chance re-fastening them, and the problems begin.

    My last observation (complaint) in using heating cables centers on the additional equipment added to the tank. For whatever reason, should you care to remove all equipment from the tank, you are stuck with having to leave the cables in place. The alternative being undergoing a major (at least for me) project to remove the cables, which will wreak havoc with plants, gravel, and fish... My Plant growth has changed little since I added the cables, and my population of MTS has seriously declined. (The snails may have suffered some other mysterious malady)

    For an example, I had pretty much eradicated a BBA out-break with the exception of the power cord leading down to the heating cables. The power cable was covered with algae. I would have been nice if I could have removed the cable and cleaned off the last bit of BBA in my tank….bummer.

    I feel my hard earned greenbacks could have gone to a better cause.

    If I had it to do over, I would at least glue the cables to the tank bottom.

    Peter
     
  5. travdawg

    travdawg Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Substrate Heating Cables

    I had read on another forum, the idea of putting the cables on the underside of the tank.. on the bottom of the bottom glass. Someone else had the idea of trying to use a waterbed heater on a large tank... I thought that was pretty brilliant... Maybe sandwich it between the bottom of the tank, & another piece of glass for added fire safety.
     
  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Substrate Heating Cables

    Those reptile heating pads had the same idea.

    Nothing novel certainly, folks have been doing it for many years.

    Heating cables are not bad for heat distribution, which was the main reason I felt they were useful way back when, prior to using them for planted tanks.

    You can search my comments off the APD from year's past.
    I have done my part to save folk's $ and see the cable go the way of the dodo. They are not bad per se, but they do not work according to the maker's claims, and they cannot support these claims other than with "the tank's long term stability is improved" beliefs.
    If the effect is that subtle, is it really an effect?
    How can you suggest it is significant without a control?
    Is the control really a control?

    More often it is not.

    I'd never suggest anyone to use one.
    Yes, I've used them for 10 years, had 7 of the god forksaken things.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr









    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  7. Cornhusker

    Cornhusker Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Substrate Heating Cables

    :) too many tanks out there doing just fine with out cables. just another gimmick. i'm finding that working at getting the right amount of co2 and a little fertilizer is doing it for me. we have to keep this hobby simple or we are going to scare all the nubby's away. we should spend that money on good substrate like flourite,onyx, and ec , then you SEE results. regards, cornhusker :) :)
     
  8. jonathan11

    jonathan11 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Re: Substrate Heating Cables

    Overall, I was not pleased by its performance. However, until you experiment with something, you never really know. Would anyone like some cable heaters at a good price? Tom, you sure you don't need another one?
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Substrate Heating Cables

    I sold off my last Dupla set back in 1997 to some chump that still thought they were the cat's meow.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  10. jrneuzil

    jrneuzil Expired Subscriber

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    Re: Substrate Heating Cables

    sure wish i had read this thread a month ago. :(
     
  11. shane

    shane Lifetime Charter Member
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    I have never actually used the dupla substrate heaters but I do own a used set. I also own the hydor inline heater. The hydor works fine in terms of heating the aquarium.

    If I understand the Dupla substrate heater theory correctly, substrate heaters are suppose to create micro currents in the substrate correct? Do these micro currents help aereate the substrate and thus help long term substrate health? Is this the only benefit (wether it s benefit or not is debatable) of the substrate heaters?

    It sounds like most people here are against the substrate heater. Some reasons are mechanical ones (cables being uprooted) and others are just a lack of seeing any difference in plant health/growth.

    How long have the people who don't care for substrate heaters used them for? Has anybody seen evidence that it helps keep the substrate healthier longer?
     
  12. Professor Myers

    Professor Myers Guru Class Expert

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    I've used them over a 15 year time span...

    I don't believe I've honestly witnessed any benefit at all ? Properly sized they merely establish a 4* temperature difference between the substrate, and the water column. This fascilitates mean heat transfer setting up a convection current.

    Here's the thing...If your tank were already on top of a closed cabinet, and the filter and components were contained within that cabinet you will probably experience a 4* temperature difference from beneath the aquarium very much in the same way. Other than that if no noticable difference can be appreciated from their use the additional expense is 100% waste. Certain plants with large root sytems may benefit from increased gaseous exchange, and organic activity, but I believe that is a short cycle without any real long term benefit. I presume the theory is carried over from conventional horticulture. Prof M
     
  13. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Shane, I used cables for about 10 years total.
    I had 2 clients that used them. We removed them and changed the substrate to flourite about 7 years ago.

    The tanks have done enormously better and no longer require me and the clients are able to handle the tanks on their own now days.

    I used 2 sets of Dupla cables, a Sandpoint Cable system, made my own cables from raw electrical parts for 5 tanks.

    I live in CA, it gets hot in ther summer here, 100F etc. At least it's a dry heat:D

    But the cables are not on for most of the spring and summer.
    Any notable growth differences?

    No.

    I see no practical reason biologically, and we are talking about Bioloigy here, to why they would work say, any better than a Reverse flow UG filter, see the APD on my old post on those. And folks have better or at worse: similar results without the cables to begin with.

    It's something very easy to test, you simply have them and turn them on/off and note any changes, differences etc in the water, the plants, fish etc.

    I've never seen anything I could attribute to the cables.

    I think 10 years and 8 tanks is long enough and should see something by then don't you?

    George Booth finally fessed up to what the cables do in his arguement with me on the APD years ago.

    He said that the effects of the cables is stablity over long time frames and that it is subtle. I argued right back: if it is subtle and provides this stability over long time frames(months or years according George) as you say, I can say that about a great many thing and it would become nearly impossible to distingush whether tank A and tank B's "subtle long term stability is due to fish load, feeding, plant biomass differences, water changes, filtration etc, or actually due to the eeffects of the cables themselves."

    I think George realized he'd been duped and was using the "weasle words" to support something that really never had support. He bought into the marketing mythology from Dupla.

    It works because you believe it works, not because there are anything that you can test or not easily. To date, I've never found any supporting evidence in any literature search for hydric soils that suggest this would be helpful of speed the process up any more than heating the tank itslef, or heating a filter.

    The flow in/out is regulated just fine by active root growth, that pumps O2 in there for the bacteria to decompose things, and the roots remove and export lots of nutrients/waste up and into plant biomass or leach out into the water.

    It's not a purly mechanical process, there is a very very significant biological component.

    Another point against the cables theory: When the cables do increase the flow rate through the gravel, it'll simple exchange water through it at a faster rate. This means more mulm will get trapped in there and it'll axct more like a sand filter. That will add the mulm faster to a new tank and thus you could argue that will help the bacteria and reduce the aerobic nature of the sediement.

    Or you could simply add some mulm from an established tank already and be done with it:cool: That adds precisely what is there in a established tank and addresses that issue easily. I do suggest folks to add mulm to any new tank anyway.

    Claus from Tropica has told me the optimal flow rates for sediments for aquatic plants is about 0.49 liters/m^2/day. This is regular exchange rates without cables.
    Adding more would not be optimal.
    I'm been friends with Ole and Troels and they feel the same.
    It's a bit of a joke within our group about such monkey business and weasle word marketing.

    We know there's no support for it.
    Its the ignorant (no offense to anyone here) that get taken on such marketing schemes.

    And Dupla or other companies might not be willingfully misleading folks to sella product, they might believe it works.

    But few companies test these products critically.
    So I come along and do such test to see.

    Then I see what does work vs what does not.
    If something is "subtle and long term", that sends my radar up right away.
    Those are weasle words.

    Dupla did bring CO2 to the hobby is a big way, but hardly the first, I DIY CO2 methods going back to 1962 in a hobby magazine, CO2 did work, adding traces, while they claim they brought it, folks had been using it for years.
    But the cables did not.

    So they helped the evolution of the hobby, even if they got a few things wrong, now we know today and the hobby has evolved and become better and better.

    So while I come off very critical at times about methods/ideas/company products, it is not out of malice for them in anyway, rather to make things better later for hobbyists.

    Less guessing and more confidence in what and why things work in the hobby.
    Science is ever evolving and getting better and adding to what is known.
    It's not absolute. There's awlays room for doubt.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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