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Re: [AGA-Member] undergravel heaters -- or

--- Nora Charney <noracharney@yahoo.com> wrote:
> I'm setting up a 55gal. tank with an undergravel
> heater. I can't seem to find anything but a no name
> brand from Pet Solutions and am wary of spending 160$
> on something I know nothing about. Does anybody have a
> recommendation of a very reliable undergravel heater
> and where I might get it. 

The one Pet Solutions sells is well made -- I've handled
them but never used them. There are only two kinds of peole
I know that will pay extraordianry amounts of money for a
wire -- a few audiophile freaks that haven't paid any
attention to double-blind test and people that use
undergravel heaters. I don't use any undergravel heaters
even though there is one still under the gravel in my 150
gallon tank. I suggest, and I can't say this strongly
enough, that you *not* get an undergravel heater and
instead spend the money on plants or lights or CO2
equipment, or any of the other things that will make a real
diff on how your tank looks and performs. 

If you're interested in a quality reliable heater, many of
the glass tube heaters are very reliable (ebo-jager, for
example). If you're nervous about glass, the stainless
steel and titanium heaters have gotten reasonably
inexpensive -- the Via Aquas I've used have worked well. I
like that they have the thermostat out of the heater
housing and directly in the water -- but that's not
essentially, the glass ones work just fine. 

If you just want to keep the heater out of sight, you can
get self-contained external heaters -- for example, Pet
Solutions carries Hydor.

> While I'm here I might as
> well ask if anybody knows how long and at what temp.
> you "bake" a piece of wood you want to use in your
> tank that you found in the woods (to kill the bacteria
> and whatever). 

Not my area at all but I do know that diff bacteria can
withstand diff temps and even boiling for a few minutes
won't kill them (consider Pasteur's famous first public
demonstration of sterilizing a hay infusion).

More than heating it, I'd want to soak to see if leaches 
into the water.  If the wood is soft, I wouldn't use it; it
will decay very rapidly and make more mess than most folks
would like. If it's hard, I'd soak some for day or two to
see if the water changed color. Then I'd decide if I like
the color of the water, or else boil the wood for about an
hour to reduce most of the tannins.

> Also how do you pack 120 watts of light
> over a 12 inch wide tank? I guess that's enough for now!

If it's a standard 55g, than it's about 4 foot long. An AHS
reflector for a 55watt PC is about 4 inches wide. So it
wouldn't be too hard to get 4 55watt PCs over the aquarium.
However, that would be a huge amount of light. You could do
a single pair of 55watt PCs and have a very nice amount of
light. If you have one four foot single-tube hood or two
two-foot single tube hoods on your tank now, you can gut
those plastic reflectors and other innards and replace with
an AHS 55 kits. If you don't yet have a hood/light, then
you could make your own boxes for the lights, get some
ready made hood with standard lights and gut the lights
from the hood and replace with an AHS kit (not hard to do
at all), or get ready-made PC hoods. Ready-made lights just
cost more.

have plants, have fun,
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