How to choose and install an aquarium heater?


Aquarium heaters  are an extremely important piece of equipment for people who have tropical fish. Even in the case of marine aquariums, the water temperature needs to be regulated at around 22 – 30 degree Celsius. To aid this process, there are different types of heaters available and each has its own set of advantages. While the type of heater is important, it is also essential to understand the temperature of the room in which the fish tank is placed.

How to choose the best aquarium heater

The traditional electric heater is the kind that hangs on the side of the tank, slightly immersed in water. While these are cheaper, they are less effective as compared to other heating devices such as the submersible heater. Submersible heaters are placed at the bottom of the tank and can heat up the tank quite evenly.

Best aquarium heater

There are other versions of submersible heaters are known as substrate heaters. These can be placed under the gravel and concealed quite easily. The aquarium heater has two heating cables that are placed under the substrate and are also known to be extremely beneficial for plant growth. However, installing or servicing them is a big pain as the entire tank needs to be disassembled and re-assembled each time.

Heating mats are also quite popular. These mats just need to be placed under the aquarium and do the trick. These mats end up using more energy than the other forms as they need to heat up the glass, the gravel and then reach the water. The latest deal in heaters is the filter heater. Hard to come by, these heaters are placed within the body of the filtration system and as the water flows through it, it gets heated and sent back to the tank. They are expensive but are completely outside the tank, making them quite convenient.

Once you have decided the type of heater you want, you need to start thinking about how much power you need. Now, there’s a little math involved here but if you aren’t a big fan to it, let us assure you that it’s quite simple. Check the temperature of the room where the aquarium is placed; does it fluctuate to more than 10 degrees up or down? If yes, then equate 5 watts for every gallon of water in the tank. If the temperature is more stable, then just equate 2.5 watts for every gallon.

It is extremely important to maintain a steady temperature and while you can choose to buy a heater with a temperature gauge, they can end up being quite heavy on the pocket. So, just look at buying a thermometer separately but make sure you have one as it is extremely important for your fish’s survival.

How do you install and use an aquarium heater

Most heaters available in stores today are pre-assembled and for someone picking one off the shelf, there isn’t much work to do once you get home and get about installing it. What is important is the manner in which you install the heater in terms of placement and positioning.


If you have an immersible heater, then the task is quite simple as all you have to do is hang it off the edge of the tank so that the water level reaches the permissible mark on the heater. Plug it in and you are ready to go. For submersible types, the heater needs to be placed at the bottom of the tank and simply plugged in. Servicing this type of heater is harder as the case is completely sealed so as to allow submersion.

Substrate heaters are a little more complicated when it comes to installation. The heating cables need to be placed under the substrate and that usually means that they are the first things that go into the tank. Once in place, the gravel and substrate can be placed over it, concealing the cables completely. The only major drawback with this form of heater is that each time the heater needs to be serviced, the entire tank needs to be broken down.

Mat and filter heaters are extremely simple to install. While one goes under the aquarium (Mats), the other is placed within the filter, also placed outside the tank. As a result, servicing is extremely simple.
Getting a aquarium heater and installing it is just one thing, maintaining the appropriate temperature is more essential and for that purpose, thermometers are quite essential. Another important point is that the fish should never be place into the tank as soon as the heater is installed. There needs to be a 24-hour break in period for the heater, after which the fish can be introduced.

A last word of advice, remember to keep a spare heater, either in the tank or outside, especially in winters. Heaters can conk off quite easily and there needs to be a back-up ready just in case. Temperature changes can play havoc with the fish tank and its inhabitants.


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