The best heaters to keep your fish warm this winter

A high quality quartz aquarium heater

A heater is one of the “life support systems” that keeps tropical fish happy, healthy and alive. With this in mind, make sure that you choose the right heater or heaters for your fish tank.

Heating systems

There are two main types of heating available for aquariums:

  1. All-in-one heater and thermostat
  2. Separate heater and temperature controller

All-in-one heaters are a popular option for in the tank heating

All-in-one heating includes both the heating element and the thermostat in one unit. These are very popular in freshwater aquariums. They are normally placed near to the main filter flow so that the heat can be dispersed around the aquarium.

Our top choice for all in one heating (especially if you already have a filter running) are the VisiTherms. These have a warranty of 5 years, which is better than many other heaters on the market.

Have a look here to see Vanessa’s review:

Filtration with integrated heating

Next up, Oase filters come with an optional heater (an all-in-one heater and thermostat called HeatUp). These are mounted inside of the filter to hide the HeatUp and spread the heat around the fish tank more efficiently.

For smaller aquariums of 200 litres or less, people often use internal filtration. The internal BioPlus Thermo systems are ideal if you want to both heat and filter a smaller tank at the same time.

For larger tanks most people use external filtration. You can also use external on small tanks where you would rather not see the filter inside the tank. Oase BioMaster Thermo filters will sit neatly underneath in your aquarium cabinet.

BioPlus and BioMasters are both very clever designs because the heater is completely hidden away and protected by the filter unit. Incase you’re worried about heat loss – Oase’s external filters are well insulated!

How often should I change my heaters?

We reccomend changing your heater when its warranty expires. Depending on the make of heater, you should change them every 1 – 5 years.

Often times cheaper range models, only have a short guarantee. So heater changes can add up to more than getting a good quality heater to start off with.

Our most popular heaters:

VisiTherm heaters come with a 5 year warranty – so we would recommend changing them after 5 years.

Oase HeatUp come with a 3 year guarantee so we would advise to change these every 3 years.

Separate heater and temperature controller

Separate heater and temperature controllers are popular when a tank is connected to another (sump) tank and the heater can be placed in the sump away from your main display. They are very popular for marine aquariums, especially reef tanks.

We stock D-D Titanium heaters in 150W, 250W, 350W and 650W sizes. These must be run with a separate thermostat to control the heating. We also stock both D-D Dual Heating & Cooling Controller and Reef Factory’s Thermo Control. For more information about these please click here.

What size heater do I need?

Heater recommendations vary depending on the make of heater and on the way that it is used. As a general rule of thumb, most tanks require 1 watt per litre of aquarium water. So, if you had a 100 litre aquarium, the 100 watt heater would be the choice for you. However, heaters work more efficiently inside of filters so you may not need as much wattage with the Oase BioPlus Thermo and BioMaster Thermo.

Another variable is room temperature. If you have a very cold room, the heater will have to work harder so bear this in mind when choosing your heater. In a very cold room, an aquarium that is 100 litres may need a 150 watt heater.

How many heaters do I need in my fish tank?

Most people just have one heater per fish tank but there is always the option to have two. In this scenario, a 100 litre tank in a normal room temperature could have two 50 watt heaters instead of one 100 watt.

The benefit of having two would be that if ever one stopped working the tank would still be heated a little. Also, if ever a thermostat went faulty and the heater stuck on, the other heater should cut out. This means that it would be harder to over-heat the tank.

The best way to avoid these problems altogether is to use a Reef Factory Thermo Control. These clever controllers will cut the power to a heater if the tank gets too hot. You can even install a fan or a chiller so that they can turn on cooling too. They can be set to send an alert directly to your phone if there is a problem with the water temperature too.

Lastly… thermometers

It is a great idea to get a simple thermometer in your tank. This way you can quickly check the temperature whenever you feed the fish or are looking at the aquarium.

Here at Cornwall Aquatics we rate the simple JBL Slim Glass in tank thermometer.

Thanks for reading!

Keep your fish warm this winter 🙂

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