Anyone use undergravel heating cables?
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Old 12-03-2006, 05:16 AM   #1
crazie.eddie
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Anyone use undergravel heating cables?


I belong to another forum and I'm curious if anyone uses those undergravel heating cables? Also if you think that there is a bigger benifit to use them?
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Old 12-03-2006, 03:25 PM   #2
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I have them. There ony real advantage is that they are hidden. The only thing you see is the cord that runs from the top of the tank to the gravel. That is easier to hide than the larger traditional heater.

I don't think there is a large advantage otherwise. It is theorized that the gentle heat coming from below the roots would help imitate the natural environment that aquatic plants thrive in, but I have doubts about this. At least in southern california where it rarely gets cold enought for the heater to be needed.

The big disadvantage, if you like to change your plants, would be that the plant roots entangle the cord. If you pull one plant it will most likey bring the cord with it. Now you have a cord above the gravel and it is a pain to get it baried again and any plants that were close by are probably half uprooted also.

In conclusion. If you are conserned about the ability to hide your hardware and you don't plan on changing anything around undergavel heaters might be your ticket. If I had it to do allover again I would go with the inline heater or the canister filter with the built in heater by ehime.

Hope this helped,
dale
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Old 12-03-2006, 03:39 PM   #3
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If the goal is to eliminate the heater for the tank a in-line heater would be a much better choice.
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Old 12-04-2006, 01:44 AM   #4
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I've long argued against them.
Heating water is one thing, helping plants is quite another.
They do the first but not the second and I've challenged everyone and anyone to show that they do, the best I've heard is they work because the person believes they work. The worst is they are waste of your money that would be better spent on good CO2, lighting, auto water change set ups etc.

Folks are welcomed to believe they work all they want.
I belive they do not work and have shown they had no effects in 9 tanks I've had them in the past, in some cases for up to 10 years.

Fortunately, I was able to sell the remaining Dupla Cables and the pairs 2 clients had before many caught on.

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Old 06-10-2012, 01:19 AM   #5
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I have used them for years, and for me they work. Others believe they dont, the theory behind them is simple and makes sense. in nature the ground always hold more heat than the water, so the theory makes sense. I dont move my plants around, so for me thats not really an issue. I always use 4inches of substrate starting with fine sand at the heating cables. then laterit/florite then pea river gravel. my tanks are beautiful in my opinion. so for me they are a go. I figure like this they arent hurting anything and even if they only help a little bit every little bit counts. I think the biggest trick is not to use any other heater in the tank if your using cables or you will be working against the use of the cables. I hear people say there is no proof they work, but on the same hand never seen any solid proof they dont work!!
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Old 06-10-2012, 12:17 PM   #6
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Do this experiment. Go to a body of water with aquatic plants growing close to the shoreline, wade in if you have too. Make sure it's July too when you do this. Now stick your fingers into the substrate. Very likely you'll find the substrate is cold just a few inches down.
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Old 06-10-2012, 05:41 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airbagged View Post
Others believe they dont, the theory behind them is simple and makes sense. I hear people say there is no proof they work, but on the same hand never seen any solid proof they dont work!!
I can say the same thing about any placebo effect, I add sugar pills, makes my plants grow great, can you prove that is does not??

Plants use sugar, adding sugar means they can take it up and do have to make as much right? Makes sense no?

The onus is not against me or those that have long criticized heating cables, the onus is upon those that sell them and tout their benefits.

And in that area, the evidence and support is painfully lacking and has been for the last 20+ years. Not one real supportive bit of evidence. Not even one.

Back when Dupla Fan boys ran around guessing what does what, these were popular. Since then, Dupla has been abandon for the most part and ADA is the high end product line. They obviously can grow plants as well as the methods and product line, however, they do not use cables.

Instead, they tout the same muck that cables claimed about flow in the sediment.

Neither Dupla nor ADA seem/ed to be willing to address their claims with any support nor seem to have an understanding that plant roots act like a network of pipes adding and transporting O2 to the bacteria in the soil/sediment/root zone.

It's(Cables/power sand) an engineers approach, not a plant Biologist(they realize that plant roots define the system and flow).

Commercial grower have tested the best flow rates for large scale growing.
No heat or special layering is required according to them. So why would it NOT apply to the very plants we buy from these growers?

Again, the onus is not on me, it's on the proponents and sales people touting these claims, which as far as I can tell, are just telling you what you want to hear vs anything factual or supportive.

But, what do I know.......
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3VNwfNtNA0

Tank is 7 years old in the sediment.
No power sand, no cables and I've harvested 5000$+ worth of plants and do so monthly. A nice scape does not define a method or makes it better or worse, good care does. Can a product make that easier? Perhaps, but heat cables or powersand have never show that it does, and I'm not selling them or asking for your money either. The onus is on them, not the critics.

If belief is enough to get your $, then belief is all you get out of the product.
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Old 06-18-2012, 08:27 PM   #8
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I guess I'm going to have to be the voice of support for heating cables, in any system there's going to be exceptions to the 'rule'.

I started doing 'Dutch style" heavily planted tanks back in the 1990, My first dedicated 29G tank was set up with an always on, 12 volt transformer powered set of 60 watt DIY heating cables, and was the first tank I was able to get really good plant growth out of.

This was also the time that Dick and Karla Booth had their planted tank series in Aquarist Magazine. My experience mirrored the Booth's. Since my system was undersized, wattage wise, I had a 100 watt supplemental heater in addition to the heat cables.

My 29 gallon tank, other than the heating cables and the HO fluorescent lighting, was unexceptional. I had it stocked with a moderate school of small Characins and a couple Otto's, and a forest of Rotala Rotundifolia, Ludigia, Red Swords, with some bog wood with clumps of Java fern. I would often end up bringing gallon bags of the Rotala and the Java fern to our Aquarium Club meetings for auctions. It could be argued that the lighting and water quality were somehow better for this tank, But my 40 tall tank was also set up with even higher lighting levels and used the same water for water changes. And it grew plants not as well.

There is some scientific speculation that what the cables really did was provide a increased temperature and really slow water flow to optimize the ionic exchange of ammonium and Fe at the hair roots. All I know is it never caused any harm to the tank, the plants grew like crazy, the water from gravel vacuuming was always a lot nicer smelling than the larger tank's changed water and my garden loved to be watered with the old tank water.

What cinched it for me was when converting to a 100 watt Hg Vapor lamp lighting on redoing the 40 tall, I decided to make a gravel heating system that used the fairly warm Mercury Vapor lamp's ballast core as a heat source for a water heating 'cable' made of silicon air tubing and the 40 tall was quite suddenly, as in a matter of just a couple weeks time, started to flourish with the same growth levels as the smaller tank.

Once again nothing exceptional about either tank except the gentle gravel heating of both systems. Both of these tanks remained good plant tanks for several years.

I will probably be dissmisse as some two post noob on a user forum, but I took a keen interest in what Gorge Vierke was saying in his book "The Natural Aquarium" in addition to reading all I could about successful Dutch style tanks. I just tried to put into practical application what was being said about gently heated gravel systems in this literature.

It seems to have worked, for me, YMMV...
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Old 06-22-2013, 10:48 AM   #9
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What i know from my Biology II class in high school is that in aquatic ecosystems the soil or sediment will be warmer then the water as result of energy release from decomposition and release of humic substances. Stick your thumb in a book, not the mud.
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Old 06-22-2013, 11:33 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaleMac View Post
What i know from my Biology II class in high school is that in aquatic ecosystems the soil or sediment will be warmer then the water as result of energy release from decomposition and release of humic substances. Stick your thumb in a book, not the mud.
I did way back when Kasper Horst and Horst E. Kipper released their book "The Optimum Aquarium" However, in practice actual examination of a near shoreline substrate certainly indicated the substrate was cold even though the temperature of the water column was in the eighties F. The heat from the water column only penetrated down an inch or so. Below that it was cold.
Go test this theory for yourself and let us know what your observation is.
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Old 06-22-2013, 12:53 PM   #11
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If nature starts using undergravel heat coils, then ill try then...
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Old 06-23-2013, 04:56 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrampsGrunge View Post
I guess I'm going to have to be the voice of support for heating cables, in any system there's going to be exceptions to the 'rule'.

I started doing 'Dutch style" heavily planted tanks back in the 1990, My first dedicated 29G tank was set up with an always on, 12 volt transformer powered set of 60 watt DIY heating cables, and was the first tank I was able to get really good plant growth out of.

This was also the time that Dick and Karla Booth had their planted tank series in Aquarist Magazine. My experience mirrored the Booth's. Since my system was undersized, wattage wise, I had a 100 watt supplemental heater in addition to the heat cables.

My 29 gallon tank, other than the heating cables and the HO fluorescent lighting, was unexceptional. I had it stocked with a moderate school of small Characins and a couple Otto's, and a forest of Rotala Rotundifolia, Ludigia, Red Swords, with some bog wood with clumps of Java fern. I would often end up bringing gallon bags of the Rotala and the Java fern to our Aquarium Club meetings for auctions. It could be argued that the lighting and water quality were somehow better for this tank, But my 40 tall tank was also set up with even higher lighting levels and used the same water for water changes. And it grew plants not as well.

There is some scientific speculation that what the cables really did was provide a increased temperature and really slow water flow to optimize the ionic exchange of ammonium and Fe at the hair roots. All I know is it never caused any harm to the tank, the plants grew like crazy, the water from gravel vacuuming was always a lot nicer smelling than the larger tank's changed water and my garden loved to be watered with the old tank water.

What cinched it for me was when converting to a 100 watt Hg Vapor lamp lighting on redoing the 40 tall, I decided to make a gravel heating system that used the fairly warm Mercury Vapor lamp's ballast core as a heat source for a water heating 'cable' made of silicon air tubing and the 40 tall was quite suddenly, as in a matter of just a couple weeks time, started to flourish with the same growth levels as the smaller tank.

Once again nothing exceptional about either tank except the gentle gravel heating of both systems. Both of these tanks remained good plant tanks for several years.

I will probably be dissmisse as some two post noob on a user forum, but I took a keen interest in what Gorge Vierke was saying in his book "The Natural Aquarium" in addition to reading all I could about successful Dutch style tanks. I just tried to put into practical application what was being said about gently heated gravel systems in this literature.

It seems to have worked, for me, YMMV...
Not to dismiss a single observation, however, you say it did not harm the tank, but we really have never seen evidence they help the tank. I can add monkey spit to my tank also and it very likely will do not harm also, but that's not a valid argument to suggest it helps either.

I've really never seen much test or approaches to measure plant health/growth or any metric to support the Heating cable claims.
It's been a good 20+ years now.

I've offered more methods to test and isolate heating cables, from heat, to flow, to cycling them on/off for a few months at a time etc, redox measurements with and without them etc. No one else has even bothered, including that old meanie George Booth(I can call him this because I've known him for many years, very nice guy).

Quite a few folks fall into the same group as yourself using them. One of the simpler methods was simply turning them on/off for a few months and see if you can determine any difference. So it's often up to the Hobbyists to determine if the "latest marketing thing" works or not, or is pretty much a waste of time, $ and has little benefit. Obviously, it best not harm the tank if they want to sell it. But does it benefit the plant growth?

That's really the focus of the question at hand.

I think the Optimum aquarium was ahead of it's time when it came out, they made some mistakes, sure..........but....they did get MANY things correct.
CO2, filtration, lighting, etc, but cables and low/absent ferts, no so much. They did introduce CO2 gas systems to the hobby in a big way. But most knew little about it. But look today?
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Old 06-23-2013, 05:00 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaleMac View Post
What i know from my Biology II class in high school is that in aquatic ecosystems the soil or sediment will be warmer then the water as result of energy release from decomposition and release of humic substances. Stick your thumb in a book, not the mud.
How does this work in a wetland soil where there's hardly any O2?
It doesn't really, which is why they flood soils to prevent decomposition in rice paddies in the off seasons, why wetlands sequester sediments and they find old preserved leaves, bog people even even etc. Aquatic Plants will grow in aerobic soils also. But if they are aerobic, then the sediments have water coming in and taking the thermal energy away.
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