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How to Choose the Right Aquarium Heater

aquarium heating controler

”Does my aquarium require a heater to regulate the temperature of the water?” Well, YES if you want a successful saltwater aquarium!

Fish and critters are cold-blooded animals who depend on the tank environment to regulate their body temperature. This means that it’s your responsibility to regulate the water temperature as it’s less stressful for them.

Depending on factors such as your setup, heating power, and heater capacity, you can use one or multiple aquarium heaters from several options available. In this article, you’ll discover how to choose the right aquarium heater for your water.



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Types of Aquarium Heaters

Before we talk about how to let’s discuss what aquarium heaters are.


Just as it sounds, these types of heaters are mounted onto the rear of the aquarium with suction cups or hooks. Usually, they are partially submerged and less efficient when compared to other types available. They work best in smaller tanks.

Submersible Aquarium Heater

These types of heaters are submerged totally in the water either horizontally or vertically. They are either mounted to the back of the tank or near the substrate. Generally, they offer more efficient performance than other types, especially in larger tanks.

Heating Cable

A heating саblе іѕ placed under thе gravel or ѕubѕtrаtе and іѕ соnnесtеd tо a control unіt. The heating cable is not always the best choice of heater for saltwater aquariums because you’d have to remove the substrate if it needs a repair.

Finding the Right Aquarium Heater Size?

Finding the right size of heater for your tank is based on three factors, which are:

  • the volume of your aquarium,
  • the average room temperature,
  • your preferred tank water temperature, and
  • the location of the tank in your home.

As a rule of thumb, using between 2.5 and 5 watts of heat per gallon of water volume works best. However, if you need to heat the water above room temperature, say up to 10 degrees, use 5 watts. Keep in mind that if you’re using multiple heaters, the sum of individual heating capacity should equate to the needed wattage.

Do You Leave the Reef Tank Heater on All Day?

YES, you can have your aquarium heater work all day. Thankfully, modern heaters come with an inbuilt internal thermostat that regulates the heat when it reaches a set temperature. So, you don’t need to worry about turning it off when you’re going about your day.

Keep in mind, however, that when first installing the heater, place it in the aquarium for about 20 to 30 minutes before plugging it. This way, it acclimates to the temperature of the environment and helps prevent breakage from shock.

Also, ensure you abide by the manufacturer’s instructions and correctly control the heating.

Tips for Using Aquarium Heaters

  • For large tanks, it’s better to use two heaters with a small heating capacity than to use one with a bigger capacity.
  • If using multiple heaters, install them at opposite ends of the tank to ensure even heating.
  • Use either hang-on or submersible heaters, or both if needed.
  • As a rule, the heater tube should match the height as a backup.
  • Always unplug the heater when you’re draining the reef tank to prevent overheating when the heater is not inside the water.
  • Ensure to use a tank thermometer to confirm the heater is actually working and regulating temperature efficiently.


Concluding Thoughts

The reef tank heater is one of the most essential items needed for a successful saltwater hobby. Follow the tips in this article and you’ll have a good start.

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