How to Choose the Right Aquarium Heater
One of the most common questions we get is, “Does my aquarium need a heater?” Well, most fish are cold-blooded animals that rely on the surrounding waters to regulate their body temperature, and most freshwater pet fish are tropical species that enjoy balmy temperatures around 78-80degF. If your home is kept at a lower temperature than this, then yes.
The majority of aquarium fish can withstand cooler temperatures than recommended. However, keeping the water at a steady warm temperature is less stressful on your fish and therefore helps prevent diseases. Some species – like goldfish, Japanese ricefish, and white cloud mountain minnows – enjoy cooler temperatures and would be fine without a heater. Other fish like discus and certain Apistogramma Ciichlids prefer heat around 85°F.
Which size aquarium heater do I need?
A general rule of thumb states that 5 W of heat is required for every 1 gallon water. This applies if the water needs to be heated to 10 degrees above normal temperature and if you use an aquarium lid to retain heat and prevent evaporative cooling. The recommended heater size for a 29-gallon tank is 100 watts. However, if your home is on the colder side at 65degF and you need to raise the water temperature by 15 degrees, then consider adding a second heater.
Different types of aquariums have different heater requirements.
Other factors that impact a fish tank’s temperature include its location in your home. It is best to place it in a sunny area, in the basement or next to an air conditioner. The bottom tanks of an aquarium rack will stay cooler because heat naturally rises. Furthermore, equipment such as lighting and filtration contribute to the total heat produced in an aquarium. Fluval FX4 canister filters, for example, run on 30 watts and heat the aquarium water slightly as it flows through them.
Two 100W heaters are better than one 200W heater if your tank is larger and requires 200 watts. Using multiple, smaller heaters reduces the damage caused by equipment malfunction. If one heater gets too hot, it is unlikely that it will be enough to heat the entire aquarium. A second heater can be used to prevent water from freezing if one heater fails.
What is the best place to put my aquarium heater?
There are many kinds of aquarium heaters, but we’re going to talk about the most common type – submersible heaters that operate completely underwater. The water current helps to spread the warmth from the heater to the rest of the tank, so ideally the heater should be placed right next to the filter output or pump for maximum flow. Install a thermometer opposite the heater to ensure heat is reaching other sides of the tank.
Some heaters should be placed vertically while others can be laid horizontally. We recommend that heaters of long and tube-shaped designs be mounted at 45 degrees to ensure the best heat distribution. The heater can be hidden by placing decorations or plants in front of it, or in the sump if it has one.
Attach the heater to a 45-degree angle and hide it with tall plants or other decorations.
Do you leave the aquarium heater on all the time?
The heater can be left on all day. Aquarium heaters have an internal thermostat that turns off the heat when it reaches a specific temperature, thus keeping the water temperature within a few degrees of the desired setting.
When first installing the heater, let the equipment acclimate to the aquarium water’s temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before plugging it in, to prevent breakage from temperature shock. Also, the heater must always be submersed in water when it’s turned on. (Sometimes you’ll see a line on the heater that marks the minimum water level.) Otherwise, it cannot accurately read the water temperature and correctly control the heating. If you leave the heater running while exposed to dry air, it may burn out or crack, so don’t forget to unplug it or turn off the power strip when doing water changes.
Thankfully, heaters do not require much maintenance unless you want to use a toothbrush to gently scrub off algae. However, if you have to remove the heater for some reason, manufacturers advise waiting at least 30 minutes for it to cool down before handling.
What is the Best Aquarium Heater?
Out of all the supplies you need to buy when setting up a new fish tank, the aquarium heater is not one to skimp on. You want to find a good quality brand that is safe and reliable because unproven brands may fail by overheating, shutting down, or cracking – all with disastrous results. We wouldn’t recommend buying a used heater as you don’t know what the previous owner did to it.
Our Aquarium Co-Op 100W heater was designed with high quality features and an extensive range of features in mind.
– The compact, lightweight design makes it easier to place in an aquarium without having to hide it behind rocks or decorations. The digital display displays a large temperature reading which can be easily read. The heater guard prevents fish from tripping over the heater. (Yes, this is true. I have seen fish die in this manner. This enclosure protects the heater against larger fish species that might crash into it. – The adjustable temperature feature is useful in case you need to raise the temperature to treat diseases or lower the temperature to induce breeding. Unlike most heaters that use temperature dials, the Aquarium Co-Op heater has a simple button controller that is located outside of the fish tank so you don’t have to get your hands wet to change the temperature. – The extra-long, 11.8-foot power cable makes it possible to reach faraway wall outlets, even if you have a deep aquarium. The suction cup allows you to attach the heater to the aquarium wall. There are four additional suction cups that can be purchased as replacements. The 1-year guarantee and automatic temperature protection offer you security against heater malfunctions or manufacturing errors.
Fluval 25W Submersible Heater is recommended for nano aquariums with 6 gallons and less. This heater can maintain a temperature of between 76 to 78degF.
Bottom line: Don’t save money on heat. Give your aquarium fish a warm and comfortable home, and they’ll thank you for it with hours and hours of entertainment.