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As fish are not able to produce their own body heat, their health depends on an effective aquarium heater. Most pet fish come from warm waters and need to live at a temperature warmer than room temperature, so an aquarium heater is an essential component of a home aquarium environment.
Types of Aquarium Heaters
Aquarium heaters come in four basic types, and the choice of heater often comes down to cost and aesthetics. The four types of heaters are:
- Immersible or "hang-on" heaters, which hang on the side of the tank and sit partially in the water, with the control portion above the water line. The main advantage of this heater is its low cost.
- Submersible heaters, which can be fully submerged in the water and are generally pricier than immersible heaters. These heaters can be readily concealed behind decorations, making them a good choice as small aquarium heaters.
- Substrate heaters, which have their heating components located on the bottom of the tank below the substrate. These heaters are particularly effective for promoting plant growth and also heat the water uniformly.
- Filter heaters, in which the heating mechanism is located within the aquarium filter. No heating equipment is located inside the water tank, which makes this type of heater aesthetically pleasing, although it is more expensive and sometimes harder to find for sale.
Aquarium Heater Power Considerations
To determine the size of the heater you need for your aquarium, compare the temperature at which you want to maintain the water with the average temperature of the room in which the aquarium is kept. This difference is the number of degrees that the aquarium water must be heated and translates into the wattage your tank requires from its water heater. A good rule of thumb is that a heater needs 5 watts of power for each gallon of water, so 200-gallon tanks require 1000w aquarium heaters.
Aquarium Heater Tips
Some other things to keep in mind when looking for an aquarium heater are:
- Most aquarium heaters, such as Otto aquarium heaters, can be used for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums.
- In case of a power outage, battery-operated aquarium heaters can save the lives of your fish.
- DIY aquarium heaters, unlike other DIY aquarium components, can be expensive to make and unreliable to operate, so it is recommended to purchase a reliable heater instead of attempting to make one.
Many fish are particularly susceptible to changes in water temperature, so a reliable heater is an important part of keeping your fish healthy.