Do Aquarium Heaters Have Thermostats? (How Do They Work?)

Image of an aquarium with a heater having a thermostat

Thermostats control the heating and cooling devices by turning them on or off to maintain the desired temperature. So, do aquarium heaters have thermostats?

Yes, aquarium heaters have thermostats. They 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.

Let’s now understand this in a bit more detail.

5 Main Reasons Why A Thermostat Is Required In A Heater

Given below are some of the main reasons why you need a thermostat in a heater.

1. Maintains stable water temperature.

If your aquarium heater runs all day long without a thermostat, the tank water can exceed the ideal temperature range.

On the other hand, if you switch off the heater, any significant drop in the water temperature can stress the fish.

So you need a heater with a built-in or remote thermostat so that it can maintain the ideal water temperature in the aquarium.

2. Prevents damage to the heater.

A heater will remain switched on in the absence of a thermostat. So it will exceed the ideal temperature range required by your fish tank and damage the heater parts.

The thermostat can turn off the heater once the preset temperature is achieved.

Besides, maintaining an ideal temperature increases the heater’s lifespan by reducing the stress resulting from continuous usage.

3. Keeps the fish healthy.

Tropical fish are sensitive to temperature variations and need an ideal temperature range between 76°F to 80°F (25°C to 27°C).

With the help of a built-in or remote thermostat, aquarium heaters can effectively provide a stable temperature range to keep your aquatic pets healthy and happy.

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4. Maintains the aquarium.

A thermostat maintains the required water temperature by turning on and off the heating system as per the changes in the water temperature.

In the absence of a thermostat, the heater can make the aquarium water warmer. Besides creating stress on the aquarium inhabitants, warm water supports algae growth. So your aquarium can become a messy place in no time.

A thermostat provides a stable temperature that avoids algal bloom and helps you maintain the aquarium’s health and aesthetics.

5. Reduces energy cost.

The thermostat controls the heating inside the tank and maintains a stable water temperature.

As a result, it helps reduce energy costs compared to aquariums that don’t use a thermostat-controlled heating system.

Thermostats are vital for controlling and maintaining a constant water temperature.

How Does A Thermostat Work In An Aquarium Heater?

Most aquarists use an immersion heater to maintain a stable water temperature in the aquarium. It consists of a glass tube with heating elements wrapped around a ceramic or glass insert.

Below are the steps describing how a thermostat works in an aquarium heater:

  1. The thermostat is located inside a glass tube. The dial or knob on the outlet allows us to set the desired temperature at which the thermostat will switch on and off.
  2. The dial or knob connects to the temperature sensor (a bimetallic strip) through a circuit.
  3. The bimetal strip contains two separate metal strips of brass and iron that are fastened together.
  4. Iron expands less than brass as the temperature increases, thus making the bimetal strip curve inward when heated.
  5. The bimetal strip is used for measuring the temperature and forms a part of the electric circuit.
  6. The strip remains straight when it’s cool and acts as a bridge, allowing the electricity to flow through it. That’s how the circuit switches on and heating takes place.
  7. When the strip becomes hot, it bends and breaks the circuit. This means no electricity can flow through it. So now, the circuit is off, and so is the heating.

A thermostat measures the temperature and controls the heating element. It also regulates the electricity flow to maintain a stable and uniform water temperature in the aquarium.

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What Kind Of Thermostats Do Heaters Have?

Aquarium heaters come with built-in or remote thermostats. In addition, some heaters require you to purchase a separate independent thermostat.

1. Built-in thermostats.

Most aquarium heaters come with inbuilt thermostats. This means they already include an automatic way to keep the water at the desired temperature.

The thermostat is usually located on the top of the heater in the form of a flat knob. In the case of a submersible aquarium heater, there is a small knob or dial near the unit’s base.

You can turn the dial clockwise to raise the water temperature and counterclockwise to lower it.

2. Remote thermostats.

Some aquarium heaters come with a remote thermostat that is separate from the heater and is placed at a different location.

Aquarium heaters with remote thermostats usually do a better job of keeping the water within the desired range.

In general, maintaining an accurate water temperature in a fish tank isn’t necessary because most natural environments don’t maintain constant temperatures.

Setting the desired temperature range ensures that the temperature variation is tolerable and doesn’t stress the tank inhabitants that are sensitive to temperature changes.

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3. Independent thermostats.

There are aquarium heaters that don’t come with a thermostat. So you have to purchase a separate thermostat for the heaters to work efficiently.

Independent thermostats are extremely useful for people living in locations with significant temperature variations during the summer and winter.

You can use them to control both the heater as well as the chiller in the aquarium. An independent thermostat helps maintain the desired temperature range and provides healthy living conditions to the aquarium inhabitants.

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