AQUARIUM HEATER GENERAL INFO
Almost all aquariums require a heater to maintain a consistent water temperature. Aquatic life such as fish, coral, and other invertebrate need to be kept at certain stable temperatures. If the temperature of your aquarium gets below the required temperature of the organisms in your aquarium, the results could be very costly.
What temperature should your aquarium be? Different aquarium fish and invertebrates will need different temperature requirements. Fish, corals, and other invertebrates come from many different environments all over the world. To be the most successful with keeping these organisms the aquarium must replicate the environment they are from as closely as possible.
The temperature for tropical fish should be kept close to 78F/26C. Marine aquariums should also be kept at 78F/26C.
Some fish that are referred to as tropical are really subtropical. Some of the more common fish that fall in the subtropical category are; Cardinal Tetras, White Cloud Danio, Rosey Barbs, Variatus Platy, Dragon Gobies, and some marine Blennies. These subtropical aquariums should be kept at 72F/22C.
Discus fish should be kept in 82F aquariums .
Goldfish, Sunfish, Bass, and Kio are examples of coldwater fish. Coldwater aquariums typically are kept anywhere from 55F to 68F. An aquarium heater is typically not necessary for these fish, but aquarium chillers are used instead.
If your aquarium inhabitants are not kept at their proper temperature they could suffer, get sick, or even die. Your aquarium can give you signs that it needs a heater. The most common would be sick fish or lethargic fish. The most common disease is Ich (Ichthyophthirius multifilis) which can easily break out and become visible because the aquarium temperature has become too low. If you are not sure the heater you have is keeping the correct temperature it would be a good idea to use an aquarium thermometer.
What aquarium heater is best for you? The basic rule of 3-5 watts per gallon is recommended for keeping your aquarium at optimal temperatures. Cold rooms where the aquarium is kept will require more watts per gallon. For example, if you house is 75F and you need to heat a 55 gallon reef aquarium, then a 200 watt heater would be best. However, if the room is 68 degrees you may need a 300 watt heater.
Using more than one heater is advisable because heaters can fail and having a backup heater will keep your tank temperature from fluctuating wildly if one heater stops working.
When changing the temperature of your tank, proceed slowly. Do not turn the heater on for at least 15 minutes so the heater may reach the same temperature as the water. This is a good idea for all heaters and with glass heaters it will prevent the glass cracking from a massive temperature difference.
Sudden temperature changes will also stress fish and corals. Change the aquarium temperature over a period of days, even weeks if it is a dramatic change.
There are different heaters to be used in different applications. The most common is the submersible dial-in heater. Usually made of strong glass or sometimes titanium metal, these heaters can be placed completely in the aquarium near an area with high flow.
If you have a wet/dry filter, sump, or refugium the heater will do well if it is placed horizontally in the lower areas of the filter.
Planted tanked will often have cable or undergravel heaters. These are placed in the substrate to heat the roots of the live plants.
Inline heaters are plumbed into the water line of the aquarium filtration, often with canister filters such as the Fluval or Nu-Clear filter.
For tanks less than 5 gallons try an easy to use preset miniheater.
For larger tanks over 100 gallons, it can useful to use an heater with a separate controller. More versatile heaters will have a separate digital controller for the more professional aquatic setups.
If you have aggressive fish you might want a heater enclosed in a cage that protects the heater and the fish. Some fish like eels and knifefish like to rest against the heater--and a caged heater will protect these fish.
Different Types of Heaters:
For 2 to 5 gallon tanks we carry the Hydor 7.5 Watt Slim Heaters. These micro heaters are a great choice for 2 to 5 gallon bettas, bowls and micro tanks.
The Eheim Aquarium Heaters are very precise and come in 50 watt, 75 watt, 100 watt, 150 watt, 200 watt and 250 watt sizes. These heaters are made of Pyrex glass and can only be submerged to just below the point of the temperature controller.
The Hagen VuTech Heaters display the actual water temperature and have an LCD display that will alert you when the temperature is too low or too high. The temp can be set in 0.5 degree increments and the heaters come with mounting brackets and a housing to keep the heater and the fish/invertebrates apart. The Hagen VueTechs come in 50W, 100W, 200W and 300W models.
The Hydor 200 Watt and 300 Watt In-Line Aquarium Heaters are placed inline with a water line outside the tank. This serves the purpose of removing a potentially unsightly heater from the tank.
The Hydor Theo Submersible Aquarium Heaters are made of shatter-proof glass and can be completely submerged. They come in 50 watt, 100 watt, 200 watt, 300 watt and 400 watt versions.
For smaller tanks we have the Marineland Visi-Therm 25 Watt, and Hydor Mini 7.5 Watt & Mini 15 Watt aquarium heaters.
The ViaAqua Titanium Heaters are more resilient than glass heaters. The ViaAqua Titanium Heater has an easy to read external temperature indicator.
The JBJ True Temp Titanium Heaters are top of the line heaters that are much more expensive than the other heaters we carry, but include a controller and remote sensor for highly accurate temperature control.