What are the different types of aquarium heater
A heater that needs to be fully submerged into the water to work, submersible heaters can usually be placed vertically or horizontally within the tank. Submersible heaters are so popular because they work in both freshwater and saltwater tanks and can also efficiently heat all different sizes of tanks.
External heaters are installed outside of the aquarium and often have a small hose as its heat source which hangs over the edge at the top of the tank. However, due to this very reason, they do not always distribute warmth so well. For small and medium-sized tanks though they are a good option, as they don’t take up room in the small space you have.
Inline heaters are similar to external ones except they need to be attached to the tank filter system, heating water as it is pumped back in. This can make them fiddly and complicated to set up. They also may need additional parts for them to work properly.
If you’re looking for something a little more aesthetically pleasing, substrate heaters are often disguised as something like rock, sea bedding or other sealife plants which can be heated via a cable hidden beneath the tank’s sandy base. However, these aren’t particularly practical ways of heating an aquarium and are quite rare.
Is a heater required for an aquarium?
If you have tropical fish, you will definitely need a heater. A heater will not only make the water warmer (tropical fish should be kept at around 76° to 80°F or 25° to 27°C) but will also keep the heat consistent.
This will make your life much easier, as the water won’t be affected by changes in your room temperature, such as cold in winter or heat waves in summer.
How safe are aquarium heaters?
People often worry about heaters because the idea of placing an electrical device into some water seems completely at odds with everything we know about electrical equipment.
However, what you have to remember is that these products have actually been designed for that very purpose and so are actually perfectly safe.
Like with anything though, they can become dangerous over time if they start to become faulty. So make sure you regularly check over your equipment to ensure they are no broken parts or frayed wires!
If you’re concerned about whether an aquarium heater could harm your fish, know that this is very rare if they’re set up correctly. It may be worth purchasing a plastic heater guard which is compatible for your heater, so they can’t get anywhere near the hottest part.
How much does it cost to run an aquarium heater?
Electricity is expensive in the UK, but the important thing to remember is that your fish tank temperature must be right for your fish, or they will suffer.
Thankfully, a heater for your aquarium isn’t that expensive to run. The average cost of electricity in the UK is capped at 34p per kWh (March 2023*) meaning that you pay 34 pence for every 1000 watts you use in an hour.
A 50W heater would therefore cost 1.7p per hour to run. Heaters are generally only on for around 12 hours per day, so this is 20.4p per day, £1.42 per week, or £74 per year.
More powerful heaters for larger tanks will cost more, but as you can see, fish tank heaters won’t add too much on to your annual bills. Remember to factor in lighting too, but this is usually only under 10W.
If you’re concerned, position your tank away from draughts which could affect the water temperature and make the heater work harder.
Can I keep my tank warm without an aquarium heater?
You would have to keep your central heating on in the colder months and at night when it cools down, and the tank would need to be situated in the perfect place in your home with no draughts or direct sunlight. And you’d have to keep a constant beady eye on the thermometer and make changes if there was something wrong.
If this sounds complicated, it is because it would be. An aquarium heater could make your life much easier. If the thought of this setup sounds like it is too much, you may be best with coldwater fish.
Can I use a large heater in a small tank?
Worried about buying a heater that is too powerful or large for your tank? Don’t be concerned. If your heater automatically switches off when the water is too warm, its size and power won’t have a detrimental effect on the temperature.
However, you don’t want it to take up too much space, so bear in mind the size and shape of your tank too.