Aquarium Heaters And Thermometers 101 (Beginner’s Guide)

Aquarium Heaters And Thermometers 101 (Beginner’s Guide)

Aquarium heater in an aquarium

Aquarium heaters and thermometers create a comfortable environment for your aquatic pets by keeping the water at an ideal temperature range.

In this guide, we’ll explore why using aquarium heaters is vital, discuss different types of heaters available, help you determine the right size heater for your tank, and delve into the importance of aquarium thermometers along with various options to choose from.

So let’s dive deep into the world of aquarium heating and monitoring systems so that you can create a safe haven for your aquatic pets.

Why Should You Use Aquarium Heaters?

Aquarium heaters are essential for maintaining a stable and comfortable water temperature for your tropical fish.

Tropical fish species are accustomed to living in warm waters, typically between 75°F to 80°F (24°C to 27°C).

In their natural habitats, these temperatures remain relatively constant throughout the year.

By using an aquarium heater, you’re able to replicate this environment and ensure that your fish thrive.

In addition to providing suitable habitat for your fish, maintaining a consistent water temperature also prevents stress-related illnesses and promotes overall health.

Sudden fluctuations in temperature can cause stress on your fish’s immune system, making them more susceptible to diseases and parasites.

A quality aquarium heater maintains the desired temperature range with minimal fluctuations, ensuring that your tropical fish stay healthy and happy.

What Are the Different Types of Aquarium Heaters?

There are 3 types of aquarium heaters:

  1. Submersible heaters,
  2. Nonsubmersible heaters, and
  3. Digital heaters.

Submersible heaters are designed to be fully submerged in water. Nonsubmersible heaters, on the other hand, sit partially in the water.

Digital heaters offer precise temperature control with their advanced technology.

1. Submersible Heaters

Submersible heaters are watertight devices with a glass tube containing an electrical element wound around a ceramic core, all designed to be completely submerged in your aquarium.

These heaters come with an internal thermometer built into them. So it’s easy to monitor and maintain optimal temperatures for your aquarium inhabitants.

To adjust the temperature, simply rotate the valve at the top of the heater until you’ve set your desired temperature.

As you install your submersible heater, keep these essential tips in mind:

  • Placement: Position the heater diagonally across the rear piece of the glass in your aquarium for even heat distribution.
  • Model Matters: Double-check that you have purchased a submersible model before fully immersing it in water.

With these guidelines and proper care, submersible heaters offer an excellent solution for maintaining a stable and comfortable underwater temperature for your aquatic pets.

2. Nonsubmersible Heaters

Nonsubmersible heaters are designed to hang on the outside frame of your aquarium, with only the glass tube submerged in the water.

This old-style heater offers you a more straightforward way to control the water temperature without having to reach inside the tank and disturb your aquatic pets.

Though nonsubmersible heaters may not have an internal thermometer, they do allow you to make precise adjustments by turning a valve located above the water line.

Bear in mind that you might need to repeatedly check and adjust the temperature until it reaches the desired level for your fish.

To ensure accuracy, consider investing in a separate thermometer specifically designed for aquarium use.

3. Digital Heaters

Digital heaters come with easy-to-read displays showing both the current and target temperatures.

The heater is submerged in the tank while the digital temperature controller hangs outside of the aquarium, making it easy for you to make any necessary adjustments without disturbing your fish or plants.

Some models even come with fully submersible LED display units, allowing for versatile placement within your aquarium.

These advanced heaters provide precise temperature control. This helps you maintain consistent water conditions that are crucial for the health and well-being of your aquarium fish.

How to Determine What Size Heater Is Needed for An Aquarium?

To figure out the perfect heater size for your fish, simply follow the 5 watts per gallon rule and consider having a backup heater in place for extra safety.

This means that you’ll need to multiply the number of gallons in your aquarium by 5 to determine the wattage required for your heater.

For example:

  • A 20-gallon tank needs a 100-watt heater (20 x 5 = 100).
  • A 50-gallon tank requires a 250-watt heater (50 x 5 = 250).
  • A 75-gallon aquarium calls for a 375-watt heater (75 x 5 =375).

As previously mentioned, it’s wise to have a second, backup heater in case one fails.

In this setup, you can use two heaters of the same type or even use two different types of heaters.

Place them on opposite sides of the tank to ensure even heat distribution.

Now that you know how to determine the right-sized heater for your aquarium, remember to always let it sit in water for at least 20 minutes before turning it on.

Similarly, let the heater cool down for at least 20 minutes after unplugging it while removing it from the tank.

What Is the Use of Aquarium Thermometers?

Aquarium thermometer in an aquarium

Aquarium thermometers help you monitor the temperature of your aquarium, ensuring it stays within the appropriate range for your fish species.

By keeping track of the water temperature, you can quickly identify any fluctuations caused by equipment malfunction or external factors.

This will help you to take corrective action before it leads to illness or becomes fatal.

Always keep an eye on your aquarium’s temperature and consider investing in a heater controller with an alarm feature as an extra layer of security.

Types of Aquarium Thermometers

There are 5 main types of aquarium thermometers:

  1. Hanging thermometers,
  2. Floating thermometers,
  3. Stick-on thermometers,
  4. Wireless thermometers, and
  5. Digital thermometers.

Hanging thermometers are a popular choice as they hang on the inside of the aquarium glass, providing an accurate temperature reading through a mercury-filled capillary tube.

Floating thermometers float around your aquarium and display temperature with a mercury line similar to wall-mounted home thermometers. These can be tricky to read due to their constant movement but add some visual interest to your aquarium tank.

Stick-on thermometers stick on the outside of the aquarium glass. These flat thermometers use degree panels that light up as temperatures change. While stick-on thermometers are hard to read in low-light environments and can’t be moved once attached, they eliminate any risk of mercury leakage within your aquarium.

Wireless thermometers monitor water temperature by sending radio wave signals from remote sensors inside your aquarium to an outside digital display unit. With this setup you can have multiple sensors in the tank, all sending their readings to one display unit on the outside. These thermometers are perfect for monitoring large tank setups – and provide easy-to-read results without any obstructions in your aquarium.

Digital thermometers run on batteries and use probes attached to the inside of the tank with suction cups to measure the water temperature. Many models also display room temperature, offering added versatility.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Aquarium Plants Need A Heater?

Most aquarium plants don’t need a heater as they tolerate a wide range of water temperatures. The ideal water temperature for aquarium plants ranges between 72°F to 82°F (22°C to 28°C). However, you will need a heater if the ambient temperature drops below 50°F (10°C) or rises above 86°F (30°C).

Do Aquarium Shrimp Need A Heater?

Aquarium shrimp need a heater as it maintains warm and stable water temperatures. This helps increase the shrimp’s lifespan, mimic their natural habitat, and control the reproduction cycle. However, the heater must function correctly. Otherwise, it affects shrimp’s growth and even be fatal.

Do Aquarium Heaters Have Thermostats?

Aquarium heaters either have a built-in thermostat or a remote one. The thermostat turns off the aquarium heater when the water temperature reaches the set limit. It then turns on the heater once the water cools down to maintain the ideal temperature range in the tank.

Do Aquarium Heaters Go Bad?

Aquarium heaters go bad if they’re not maintained or installed properly. However, you can minimize their chances of going bad with proper installation, handling, and regular maintenance. You can also get a high-quality heater with a capacity greater than the tank size so that it lasts long.

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