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Dacotah7
12-17-2010, 09:02 AM
In another recent post we are discussing some tank and system upgrades for my 125g. My single biggest goal is to improve the plants and their success.

I decided to follow Lady Hobb's substrate recommendation: http://www.aquariumplants.com/Freshwater_Aquarium_Plant_Substrate_p/ss.htm

According to their recommendation and my calculations, 11.25 gallons of subtrate should be 3" deep, or I need Two each 6 gallon buckets .

As long as I am replacing the substrate, now is the ideal time to install a substrate heater, if it is a worthwile investment. Is it? If so which one and how many watts and how many feet of heater strip for a 125g with a 6 foot x 18 inch foot print?

Lady Hobbs
12-17-2010, 12:37 PM
I can understand the reason for using one but I just never have. It always seemed to me in the days of using gravel, it was always cold under the gravel but I've never found that to be true using this substrate. Maybe stone is just colder for some reason.

One 5 gallon bucket is enough to do 55 gallons so what you are thinking sounds right to me. This same place is said to have very, very good fertilizer pellets much cheaper than the others we see. His are like 75 for $11 versus the flourish tabs at 10 for $8.

If you plan to have a pleco in the tank, not sure how he will do with plants. They tend to tear things up. I'll be buying this substrate again even for my non-planted cichlid tank just because I like it.

dragoonwoman
12-17-2010, 02:48 PM
The idea of a heating cable is to move the nutrients from the substrate into the water column to make them more available to the plants. This is supposed to simulate the natural flow of water up through the ground into streams and rivers. I haven't used one, but I'm fairly new to planted aquaria.

I can definitely vouch for the aquariumplants.com fert pellets. I've been using them for nearly 2 years, and my plants always respond to a fresh pellet under their "feet." I haven't tried their substrate yet, but will when I redo my tanks.

Dacotah7
12-17-2010, 05:38 PM
I can understand the reason for using one but I just never have. It always seemed to me in the days of using gravel, it was always cold under the gravel but I've never found that to be true using this substrate. Maybe stone is just colder for some reason.

One 5 gallon bucket is enough to do 55 gallons so what you are thinking sounds right to me. This same place is said to have very, very good fertilizer pellets much cheaper than the others we see. His are like 75 for $11 versus the flourish tabs at 10 for $8.

If you plan to have a pleco in the tank, not sure how he will do with plants. They tend to tear things up. I'll be buying this substrate again even for my non-planted cichlid tank just because I like it.

Good point about the Pleco. Mine is large and like a bulldozer. He gobbles up gravel and spits it out like bullets, sometimes against the glass, LOUDLY. He places soccer using the largest snails as the ball. He is crazy-funny. But after a major re-scaping of the tank substrate with nice hills and valleys, he has it mostly leveled within a week or two.

So considering everything and what I would like to accomplish, I am thinking of trading him and the ugly as sin, and larger than a bus (ok a small bus), African Upside Down fish. The African is ugly, shy and timid, scared of his own shadow, and eats and poops like a horse; messy and a big bio-load. We have a local Mom & Pop Fish Store that accepts trade-ins one morning a week, at 50% of the retail price of comparable livestock. They do not pay cash; but apply it to in-store purchases. That is a great service for fish that have grown too large for their home, or for people discovering they bought incapable fish, or bought something they really did not know enough about and don't like or can't properly care for. As I bought both of them at Petsmart or Petco when they were small, I should at least get my money back if not make a profit.

Lady Hobbs
12-17-2010, 10:38 PM
Good idea or else you'll be facing a losing battle.

Dacotah7
12-18-2010, 10:37 AM
The idea of a heating cable is to move the nutrients from the substrate into the water column to make them more available to the plants.

I'm not sure I agree with the reasoning as one could skip the heater and the fert tabs, and go with liquid fert directly into the the water column.

It seems from what I've read, the serious plant enthusists favor feeding tabs at the root over liquid at the leaves. I suppose it varies by species and does not apply to rootless plants like Java Moss or Hornwort.


This is supposed to simulate the natural flow of water up through the ground into streams and rivers.

That is confussing. I have trouble making the correlation from streams to aquariums; natural streams without substrate heaters, who's flow is down, saturating the ground under them.

From plant and substrate heater enthusists, it seems the reasoning is warmer plants, especially at the root level, grow more vigorously. From years of farming and gardening it has proven true, most plants do nother or litte until the soil warms; the exception is early Spring, cool weather plants like strawberries, rhurbarb, tulips, etc.

Understand, I am not an aquatic plant expert. If I knew all the right answers, there would have been no need for me to post the questions. I am trying to learn and understand the concepts, what works and why.


I can definitely vouch for the aquariumplants.com fert pellets. I've been using them for nearly 2 years, and my plants always respond to a fresh pellet under their "feet."

I am going to order their complete kit when I order their substrate. They guarantee good (or excellant?) results if you follow their instructions.

dragoonwoman
12-20-2010, 02:33 PM
As far as the reasons for having substrate heaters. In order for me to fairly judge the issue, I'd have to set up 2 tanks whose only difference was having a heating cable or not. They'd have the same plants, same substrate, same stock, same lighting otherwise.

I did say I'm new to planted aquaria, and I've had very much mixed success. One tank looks very good, one tank is okay, one tank is Algae Central. I'm stil trying to balance the light/fert equation in that one....

Dacotah7
12-21-2010, 08:00 AM
As far as the reasons for having substrate heaters. In order for me to fairly judge the issue, I'd have to set up 2 tanks whose only difference was having a heating cable or not. They'd have the same plants, same substrate, same stock, same lighting otherwise.

I did say I'm new to planted aquaria, and I've had very much mixed success. One tank looks very good, one tank is okay, one tank is Algae Central. I'm stil trying to balance the light/fert equation in that one....

A controlled test would be the right way to prove the advantages of having a substrate heater.

Since you posted and I questioned some of that content, I too have been reading more on the topic. I found at least one source that supports much of what you wrote. A few things about that; I'm not totally sure the source is 100% creditable; in some ways they write things I question and they say one thing, and later provide conflicting information. Not everything in books and especially on the internet is correct or accurate.

I'm not saying you are wrong, I just question the reasoning. I want to research the topic in greater depth.

I am starting to form an opinion, that is substrate heaters help plants grow better and may do a few other good things. What I have not found yet is many things, how it works, why it works, the recommended watts per gallon or a given tank size, the length and spacing of the heater cables, recommended temperatures and more.

I am not finding many manufacture's either; so far Hydor and Tunzee. The Tunzee Controller is expensive and the accuracy is not great. I think I read the temp can vary +/- 4-6 degrees F. To me that seems inacurate, like a crap shoot.

I think I am going to buy and try one. Still it seems not right, not knowing why I am buying one, or if I am buying the correct size.