Pet lovers who spend most of their day outdoors, should never choose a big pet like a cat or a dog. It is not to undermine your capability as a pet parent, but to make you realize that getting a pet means you should be ready to take the responsibility. Fish make a truly convenient pet for people who can provide minimal maintenance to their pets. That being said, it is not that your pet fish won’t require care and look after, it when compared to other pets these colorful aquatic creatures require a lot less attention. To maintain a healthy aquarium environment and to make sure your fish comfortable and happy, you need to take care of a few things. There are a number of utilities required to set up a truly hygienic and healthy aquatic habitat. In this review, we will be discussing about aquarium heaters.
Why an aquarium heater is important for fish tank?
You might be wondering, why of all aquarium supplies we choose to discuss the fish tank heater. It is simply because you cannot have a healthy aquatic habitat without maintaining a constant water temperature. If you want your fish to live and above all survive for long, you need to make sure that the temperature of water in the fish tank is constant at all times. Aquarium heaters help you to achieve this goal without much effort.
Fish needs a constant water temperature to survive because they are poikilothermal creatures. Such beings do not have the biology that enables them to produce their own body heat like humans and other mammals. Therefore, their body temperature is adjusted according to the surrounding environment. Many aquarium owners fail to understand that it is not just the hygiene of the fish tank and proper diet that affects the health of the aquatic creatures, but temperature control is also an important factor to ensure that your aquatic creatures thrive and flourish.
The best aquatic heaters will enable you to regulate the temperature of the fish tank according to the required tuned habitat needed to make your fish comfortable and healthy. Even when we advise people who want to build their own aquarium, they often argue why they need a fish tank heater when they can see fish living in water at room temperature. It is true that some fish can survive in water with room temperature not all species can have the same luxury. There are some fish that require water to be warmer while there are some that thrive in cold water, so whether you need aquarium heaters or not depends on the kind of fish you have in your fish tank.
Pro note-It really doesn’t matter what kind of fish you have but installing a fish tank heater is always recommended. Even if your fish is able to survive in water at room temperature, you still will need aquarium heaters to keep the water temperature up when it is winter and drop it when it is scorching summer. Evidently, you cannot control climate which means you most certainly cannot ensure that the water temperature in your aquarium will be constant.
Different types of aquarium heaters
Most probably we are able to make you aware of important aquarium heaters are for comfort and survival of your fish. Now it’s time to talk business. Not all the fish tank heaters are created equal. There are varieties to choose from. Don’t worry about the jargon filled advertisements filled with selling pitch. Here are the different types of aquarium heaters in layman’s terms.
The most common kind, these aquarium heaters are also known as the hanging heaters because of their heating element glass tubes that are immersed in the water while the electric component housing hangs above the aquarium top. People new to fish keeping are often advised to go with the immersed fish tank heaters. The prerequisite to use this heather is that you need to have an aquarium with an open hood top. Safety is a major concern here, you need to ensure that the immersible heater is properly fixed in its place to avoid it from electrocuting your fish. If you have a brackish or marine fish tank this is not the ideal immersible heater for you.
A much more efficient alternative to immersible heaters are the submersible aquarium heaters. As the type suggests these heaters are entirely put into the aquarium water that makes it easier for them to regulate water temperature. If you get a submersible fish tank heater, then there are two things to consider. First, your aquarium should be big enough to accommodate this heater and yet there is enough space for your fish to roam around. Second, make sure the heater is not in contact with the gravel at the bottom as difference in heat conductivity between water and gravel can crack the glass.
Fish tanks that have a strong gravel bed like the plant fish tanks, can use substrate aquarium heaters to maintain constant temperature. These heaters use wires as heating elements that can be buried in the gravel bed. This will transfer heat from the bottom to the water.
Now if you are a huge fan of keeping fish and has a large aquarium you need the in-line heaters. Not, only they are efficient at maintaining water temperature in larger aquariums, but also safest as they prevent any contact between the fish and the heater. These aquarium heaters have a sump or filter that is used to provide a safe water heating environment.
A variation of the in-line fish tank heater, the in-slump heaters are larger but easier to maintain. If you don’t want to maintain the sump or filter often and also have enough room in your aquarium to accommodate a giant fish tank heater, it is the ideal type.
Factors to consider when choosing an aquarium heater
We explained above what all kinds of aquarium heaters are available in the market, but it is not the only factor you need to consider when you are choosing a fish tank heater. The placement, ease of maintenance, size of the heater and price are some other important factors.
Type of fish tank heater
We already explained what kinds of aquarium heaters are available. Based on the kind of aquatic habitat you have, you can choose from immersible, submersible, substrate, in-line and in-sump fish tank heaters. There are prerequisites of each type that determines whether it is ideal for your aquarium or not. Materials vary in all these types. Some are built from glass, while other use titanium or plastic. Some of these materials are shatterproof while others offer shock resistance.
As not all aquarium heaters are created equally, their materials and type decide how they can be placed in a fish tank. There are fish tank heaters that can be placed in the middle of the tank or at the bottom or immersed from the top, size and type of the aquarium decides what placement is best for it. Usually a heater that can be mounted near the inflow or outflow of water in the fish tank is ideal, as it can heat water uniformly from such a position.
Fish keepers choose these aquatic creatures because they require minimum attention. There is no point in buying a fish tank heater that will require high maintenance. Know this fact that aquarium heaters have an underlying maintenance that ensures they are working efficiently without compromising on the safety of comfort of your fish. Fortunately, the fish tank heater market is very competitive and there are heaters available that are easy to maintain and clean. There is no way you want to spend hours struggling to keep it clean and working. Now there are some additional features to look for in a fish tank heater that makes it easy to maintain. Does it have an LCD display that helps to keep the track of temperature at all times? How about aquarium heaters with thermometer? Do you want the heater controller to be above the tank? All these choices highly personal and you have to decide on your own how easy it will be for you to maintain the fish tank heater based on its advanced features.
Aquarium Heater size
Depending on the size of your aquarium the ideal water heater size will vary. This is decided on the wattage of the fish tank heater that is a direct indication of how much water can it heat up. If you have a small or a medium fish tank than most of the water heaters will be able to maintain a constant temperature, but when the tank size starts getting big it becomes difficult for a single small unit heater to manage the water temperature. If you are willing to use more than one heater it will require coordination and attention to ensure all heaters raise or lower the water temperature equally. You need to first consider at what temperature you will keep the water of the aquarium. Based on that number you will choose a fish tank heater.
To make your choice easier here is table illustrating the ratio between a fish tank heater wattage and the aquarium size.
|Heater Wattage||Aquarium Size|
|25 Watts||up to 5 gallons|
|50 Watts||up to 15 gallons|
|100 Watts||up to 40 gallons|
|150 Watts||up to 50 gallons|
|200 Watts||up to 65 gallons|
|300 Watts||up to 100 gallons|
In layman’s term this is also known as the strength of the water heater as well.
We kept the price of a fish tank heater as the last factor to consider because people often make the mistake of taking price tag as the primary factor to decide which heater to choose. Aquarium heaters don’t come cheap, but that doesn’t mean they are highly expensive. A quality fish tank heater will cost you enough to keep your fish comfortable.
Altogether you can get a powerful fish tank heater at the cheapest price that meets all these considerations on online marketplaces like Amazon. We have listed our best picks that are available on Amazon. Here are the top five aquarium water heaters that you should consider.
Top five aquarium heaters on Amazon
1.Aqueon Pro Aquarium Heater
This five star rated fish tank heater is one of the best selling products in its category on Amazon. You need not to worry about the size of the fish tank as this aquarium heater is available in five different voltages of 50 watts, 100 watts, 150 watts, 200 watts and 250 watts. Depending on the aquarium size and the amount of water it holds you can make your choice.
It is one of those few quality aquarium heaters that come with electronic thermostat to ensure failsafe constant water temperature even in most adverse climates. You can set the Aqueon Pro Aquarium Heater to most accurate temperature settings without the use of any controller.
Aqueon Pro Aquarium Heater Features:
Suitable for fresh or saltwater fish tanks
Thermostat for accurate temperature regulation
With Power monitor light
Durable and rigid heater with shatterproof material
The monitor light provides you an easy indication of whether the heater is working (green light) to warm the water or is off (red light) when water reaches desired temperature. It is a submersible type fish tank heater that comes with shatterproof casing that ensures safety.
What you need to take care of when choosing this water heater is to select the right wattage. This is important as buying wrong wattage heater can cause overheating of water, putting life of your fish at risks.
2.Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm Heater
Not an ordinary aquarium heater! This is what first expression people have when they look at the Neo-Therm Heater. Its elegant design makes it one of the most gorgeous decorations of your aquarium even when it serves the purpose of making the water temperature comfortable for the fish.
The advanced thermostat of this fish tank heater can be set anywhere from 66ºF to 96ºF with an accuracy of ±0.5ºF. This is the main reason to consider this heater as it keeps the temperature of aquarium in close proximity of the fish’s natural habitat.
Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm Heater Features:
Advanced and accurate electronic thermostat temperature control
Shatterproof with standard quality European build
Small sized and compact, just 1/3″ thick
Covered under 3 year warranty
There are two lights indicating the desired temperature and current water temperature. The current water temperature light keeps flashing till the temperature matches the desired setting. For unprecedented protection the heater is provided with thermal protection circuitry. It is a submersible aquarium water heater, which is designed to be water and shatter proof. Due to extremely slim design you can put it in any size of aquarium. The only problem with the Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm Heater is, it is only available in 25 watt size that makes it difficult to use with large aquariums.
3.Jetsu 300W Submersible Glass Heater
Cobalt Neo-Therm might not be able to handle large aquariums, but the Jetsu 300W Submersible Glass Heater is a massive beast that is designed to warm water up to 75 gallons. If you have a large aquarium with many colorful fish that require a suitable fish tank heater, then this 13 x 1.8 x 1.8 inches heater is the real deal.
Easy setup with a suction cups that hold the heater in place. Set it vertically, horizontally or diagonally depending on your aquarium design. Most aquarium heaters cannot survive saltwater, but this heater is designed to be used in saltwater aquariums as well. The only resent is there is no temperature display.
Jetsu 300W Submersible Glass Heater Features:
Fully submersible 300W aquarium heater
Electronic temperature control maintains solid desired temperature
Set any temperature between 20°C~34°C (65°F~93°F)
Easy to clean and maintain
Covered under 1 year warranty
Made from strong quartz glass this fish tank heater is suitable for saltwater as well as freshwater aquariums. With a one year warranty and 30-day money back guarantee, you need not to worry about anything. Just try the new Jetsu 300W Submersible Glass Heater and if you are not satisfied you will get your money back.
4.EHEIM Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater
Another legendary inclusion in our list of top aquarium heaters on Amazon, the EHEIM Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater is available in watt size of 25 watts, 50 watts, 75 watts, 125 watts, 150 watts, 200 watts, 250 watts and 300 watts.
There is nothing new with the design, but the overall make of this fish tank heater is kept to be sturdy and durable. The digital temperature control is not only easy to read, but also equally easy to use. Backed with the advanced Tru Temp technology the thermostat of this heater is designed to provide failsafe regulated temperature control.
EHEIM Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater Features:
Available in watt sizes of 25 watts, 50 watts, 75 watts, 125 watts, 150 watts, 200 watts, 250 watts and 300 watts
Tru Temp thermostat technology for more accurate temperature control
Shock resistant body and shatterproof glass heater
Suitable for marine and fresh water aquariums
5.Fluval E Electronic Heater
Taking the technology in aquarium heaters to the next level, the Fluval E Electronic Heater is provided with dual sensors to adjust the temperature based on real time water temperature. You can maintain any temperature between 68 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit with this heater. It comes with some stunning security features like safety shut-off to avoid overheating and integrated fish guard to keep the invertebrates safe.
It is available in watt size of 50 watts, 100 watts, 200 watts and 300 watts and is suitable for use with fresh or marine water aquariums. Its rigid casing is built to withstand corrosion. The USP of this fish tank heater is the VueTech Technology that enables the LCD display to change color based on water temperature.
Fluval E Electronic Heater Feature:
Dual temperature sensors
LCD display for both Fahrenheit and Celsius temperature indication
Suitable for large aquariums holding up to 100 gallons of water
Integrated fish guard
Covered under 5 year warranty
How to set up an aquarium heater?
All the aquarium water heaters we have listed above are not only most advanced and high quality heaters, but also very easy to install. Mostly all the aquarium water heaters can be installed using the steps we are listing below, only slight variation may be needed depending on the heater you choose.
1.Examination of the fish tank heater for any tampering, damage or exposed wire is necessary before you can start with installation. Casing of the heater should be intact.
2.Locate the ideal placement area in your aquarium depending on the size of the aquarium and how big or small the heater is. If you are placing the fish tank heater on the glass make sure it is clean to avoid the heater from detaching. Also, your fish should not be in the tank when you place the heater.
3.While placing the heater you need to make sure it is at a location where no plants or internal decorations come in contact with it. It is favorable to place the heater in an area that leaves maximum space for your fish to roam.
4.Don’t turn on the fish tank heater immediately after putting it into the aquarium. Wait for at least 30 minutes to allow the casing of the heater to adjust according to the surrounding temperature to avoid risk of any cracks due to sudden change in water temperature.
5.If the aquarium heater does not have an inbuilt thermometer, you should put an external thermometer opposite to the heater and note the initial temperature of water.
6.Turn on the fish tank heater now and adjust its temperature setting till the desired level is reached. To do this, first let the heater operate continuously for 24 hours and then check the thermometer for temperature. Based on the reading adjust the heater every four or six hours till you achieve the desired temperature.
7.Now, the final step is to put your fish in the tank. It is important that you adjust the temperature of the tank after taking out the fish because high levels of fluctuations initially when the heater is adjusting itself, can cause irritation to aquatic life.
What kind of fish need an aquarium heater?
Fish tanks need a heater or not depends on the type or species of fish you are going to keep in them. There are all kinds of fish and if you don’t want to kill your pet it is important to know about its natural habitat and living environment. Most cold water fish specimens can survive in a fish tank without a heater, but they will need no aquarium heaters to protect them. But not all freshwater fish are able to tolerate cold, there are some tropical and sub-tropical fresh water specimens that require controlled environment. The tropical fish can never survive the temperate climate without a fish tank heater. The sub-tropical fish can tolerate cold water to an extend.
Freshwater Tropical Fish
If you choose the species like the bala shark, the angelfish, the blue danio, the black neon tetra, the banjo catfish, the Australian rainbowfish or the the black phantom tetra, then you are definitely going to need a fish tank heater as all these are classic examples of freshwater tropical fish. Such fish cannot survive in water with a temperature below 74 degrees.
Sub-tropical fish can withstand cold water at slightly more ease. These fishes originate in regions like southern China, Arizona and India. These are the places that are warm and cold depending on the climate, but the temperatures never going down enough to cause snow or ice. Theredore, sub-tropical fish like freshwater blennies, dragon gobies and ruby barbswill require aquarium heaters to protect them against too cold temperatures.
In case you have chosen not to invest in the aquarium heaters, we recommend you only put the freshwater non-tropical fish in the tank. These specimens can withstand a varied range of water temperature. Some examples of such fish are the common goldfish, the clown loach and common guppy.
Fish lovers’ testimonials
Keeping the water temperature in the fish tank constant becomes mandatory to keep the aquatic life healthy and happy. Aquarium heaters are indispensable to achieve this goal and it is not just us who agree to this fact, but other fish lovers also quote a fish tank heater as a fundamental device to keep the aquatic fauna flourishing. We are closing this review with some testimonials from the fish lovers themselves.