coil heaters - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-11-2002, 07:34 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
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I've read about these coil heaters before somwhere, but have never seen one till I saw a picture of one at . I think they would be pretty sweet in a planted tank, but I don't know how well they work. Does anybody have any experience with these heaters?? I think they would conseal nicely as I like to conseal all the equipment.


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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-17-2002, 04:23 PM
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Check out George Booth's site(, besides Dupla, he is the net's biggest advocate of heating cables.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-17-2002, 09:13 PM
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Here's an idea for a DIY project I've been kicking around but haven't tried:

Hardware stores sell "Heat Tape." It's a flexible wire with adhesive tape that you wrap around outside water pipes and plug in to keep the pipes from freezing in the winter. Why couldn't you put this tape on the bottom outside of the glass and do basically the same thing as heating cables in the substrate for a tiny fraction of the cost? You would be warming the glass, which should warm the water at the bottom of the aquarium.

The unanswered questions I have are:

How hot do the cables get?
How far apart under the glass would you put them?
Do they put off enough heat to need a thermostat?
If they need to be thermostatically controlled, I've seen 110Volt thermostats that are designed to control something like a space heater in your garage but I don't know if the thermocouple would be sensitive enough.

Just something to think about.


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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-18-2002, 02:28 AM
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Don't you think the glass would act as a insulator? This may require higher heater input and maybe inefficient.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-18-2002, 02:48 AM
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The other problem with that setup, is that the glass would heat up pretty evenly which is kind of counterproductive to what heating coils are supposed to achieve. Heating coils are supposed to be spaced apart 1 1/2- 2" . This allows cooler water to sink between the coils and rise above the coils creating small convection currents slowly circulating water thru the substrate.

I've thought of doing something with gutter heating wires buried under the substrate. They're used to de'ice the gutters on your house in the winter time. I'm really not sold on substrate heating coils yet, and that seems to be the opinion of a lot of planted tank folks. Some people have tried to achieve the same effect with a reverse flow UGF. I think that for most of us who replant once a year or more the benefit of heating cables is negligible. The only advantage I've heard about heating cables is that they seem to prolong the life of the substrate by circulating oxegenated water below the substrate. I think most tanks will get root bound before the substrate dies, which will warrant a replanting anyway. IMO the money and time is better spent on lighting and CO2.

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-19-2002, 07:02 AM Thread Starter
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Thanx very much for those wonderful posts!! I actually like Ianstars idea for some of my bare bottom cichlid fry rearing tanks. I'll have to try that out and let you know. If it works out then mabee someday we can work up to heating a planted tank in this manner - baby steps - gotta crawl beforre we can jump off a bridge. I'm not sure either how it would work for a planted tank? Water movement is important for the substrate, but is it absolutely essential - Or does it even really make that big of a difference - If not then this idea might actually work quite well. Anyhoo - I think it would be great for my rearing tanks - Thanx for the great idea!!


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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-24-2002, 12:56 AM
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I bought the substrate coil heater from

I like it a lot, and it was one hell of a lot cheaper than Dupla!
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