Substrate Heating. - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 4 Old 04-03-2013, 09:00 PM Thread Starter
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Substrate Heating.

Setting up a 6X2X2 180 gallon planted tank. Looking for suggestions on substrate heating.
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post #2 of 4 Old 04-03-2013, 09:40 PM
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You might want to consider something like this.

10g Fry / Hospital / QT tank (as needed)

75g Saltwater Reef, Ocellaris Clownfish, Lyretail Antias (baby), Lemon damsel, Longtail Fairy Wrasse, purple dottyback, snails, crabs and a few LPS corals.

220g Still sitting empty (come on Lottery I need the numbers to come up!)
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post #3 of 4 Old 04-03-2013, 09:45 PM
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what type of filtration do you have now? if your looking to hide equip you could do inline or even sump if your going that route. ither then that I couldn't see a huge difference from a few submersible heaters and some circulation pumps which your going to need anyway. I couldn't imagine the benefits being particularly much greater for root development vs a submersible. kinda like using florite vs sand, yes it makes a difference but not big enough to warrant the price tag
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post #4 of 4 Old 04-04-2013, 11:35 AM
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Substrate heating in planted tanks is another of those "fads" that come and (generally speaking) "go" after a time. Obviously, they fade away because the benefit is minimal, if there even is one.

The principle behind it is that in natural water systems, water percolates down through the substrate. Due to the bacterial processes ongoing in the substrate, namely the breaking down of organics, heat is produced and this warms the water. The water then rises (as warm water and warm air do), back up into the water column. The cycle continues. The benefit of this is that the cooler water brings with it the nutrients plants need at their roots.

This will occur in any planted aquarium, much as in nature. Heating cables on the bottom of the tank under the substrate were intended to quicken this water circulation, thus improving plant growth by increasing the nutrient supply. While this seems logical, the idea never really caught on at least for "natural" or low-tech systems, which suggests to me that the benefit is not significant. Hiscock mentions that in tanks where thin layers of nutrient-rich substrates are used, heating cables underneath will improve nutrient flow; but "substrate heating is not a vital part of a good planting substrate."

Most will agree that heating the substrate is only beneficial in high-tech setups using CO2 diffusion. Walstad for instance mentions that in such systems, allelopathic chemicals released by plants can very quickly build up in the substrate, and after about a year the plants usually begin to fail. Heating cables prevent this by moving the water faster, thus "washing out" the alleopathic chemicals. All substrates lose their nutrient value in time, and nutrients must continually be replaced no matter what the media. In tanks with CO2, more nutrients are needed to sustain plant growth, and here the increased water flow would benefit.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]

Last edited by Byron; 04-04-2013 at 11:40 AM.
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