How to Choose the Best Aquarium Heater in 2020

. in Equipment

fishes in a marine aquarium

 

No matter your needs or which type you select, the best aquarium heaters have three things in common: They are safe, reliable, and easy to use.

Tropical aquariums need to be heated, not only to keep the fish from freezing but to keep them healthy, and for this, you need an aquarium heater – even if you live in a warm climate.  Hot water keeps the fish active, and their immune system healthy to prevent the fish from becoming sick.

How do you go about selecting a heater?  This depends on what you need; an adjustable aquarium heater allows you to change the temperature of your fish tank and vary the heat ranges within your habitat—useful feature for several reasons. You are keeping your fish tank at a higher heat when you need to cure eek and other diseases.  This type of heater will allow you to make adjustments depending on the temperature of the room and season.  

There are safety considerations that vary between models, and your choice will depend on the system you have.  At a minimum, you will need two, the first as a standard feature for your fish tank and another small aquarium heater to heat the water you are preparing to use.  You won’t go wrong, keeping a spare for emergencies, it will cost you extra money, but it could save you more in the long run.

You get two basic types of aquarium heaters to choose from; submersible heaters that are placed directly into the tank and inline or external heaters that are connected to your filter.  Placing heaters directly into the tank is by far the popular choice, but there are benefits and good heaters for both options.  We will review each of these to help you find which is the best aquarium heater for you to buy. 

Submersible Aquarium Heaters

Submersible aquarium heaters are the most popular choice for most reefers.  You attach the heater to the glass, and it heats the water from inside your fish tank.  Submersible heaters may not be the best aquarium heater option for large tanks, as it may create hot and cold spots.  In addition, you may experience the heater turning off too early.  Hot water flows up, and if it drifts around the thermostat, it will incorrectly read that the fish tank has reached its desired temperature, whereas it is not heated sufficiently.

The problem of uneven heating can be mitigated using various methods.  The correct placement or using an inline water heater aquarium are only two of these.  Details of each and other options you have are covered later in the article.

How to Choose the Best Aquarium Heater in 2020

#1 – Eheim TruTemp Heater

The Eheim TruTemp Heater is, without a doubt, one of the best options on the market.  It has a sleek, elegant design easy to blend away into the environment, making it invisible.  This fish tank heater checks all the boxes.  Easy to use and calibrate, reliable, and keeps your tank at a precise temperature.   It has a wide temperature range making it suitable for most aquariums.

This heater is made from shatterproof glass and has thermal safety control for run-dry protection as its safety features.  The extra-long cable is useful, which gives you the freedom to place it almost anywhere in your fish tank no matter where your plug point is.

Rating
4/5

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Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

The price of this glass may put many people off, but it may cost you less in the long run as this one is durable.  Flexibility is essential and the design flaw with no extra safety features to protect the glass, although important, can be forgiven.  The glass is superior quality, and it reliable, making this one hard to beat in the field of the best fish tank heaters.

#2 – Cobalt Aquatics Flat Neo-Therm Heater

Rating
4/5

It was hard to decide which of the following heaters is better, Cobalt Aquatic Flat Neo-Therm Heater or the Eheim TruTemp Heater.  In the end, it was the price of the Eheim TruTemp that gave it the edge to rank for first place.  If you have a bit of extra money to spend on an aquarium heater, I would have a close look at this one.

The broad but flat design looks different from most of the other submersible aquarium heaters that make this list, but that adds to its appeal.  It is flat and easily hidden from view.  If you hang it sideways, it will disappear behind anything, but the design looks cool you may not want to hide it at all

Reversible to face the display either inward or outward, depending on your preference.  Many people like the digital display of the actual and set temperature, but an external thermometer is recommended making that point mute.  Safety features a robust protective casing that is hard to beat and reliable.

Manufactures recommendations for this model include

 

Water per gallon
Recommended watts
6
25
12
50
20
75
29
100
40
150
55
200
100
300

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

Don’t be fooled by only one con; it’s a big one.  Many other fish tank heaters offer similar features at a fraction of the price.  It is safe, but if the thought of mixing electricity, glass, and water puts you off, some of the inline options are as safe and cheaper.  The select design is the only one that makes it unique enough to warrant spending this kind of money.  If you like the design and can afford it, buy it.

#3 – Eheim Jager Aquarium Thermostat heater

Rating
4/5

The Eheim Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater is brilliant, with a submersible heater and safety control shuts off the heater in the event of the water level running low.  Useful if you forget to turn it off before cleaning sadly a quick mistake made by all reefers. 

The temperature should be calibrated for more precise readings and offers a wide range of temperatures; this product has added shock resistant and built from shatterproof glass.  This heater, like many other modes, has an on/off LED light for monitoring.  The cable is 5 ½ feet gives enough length to suit most people.

Manufactures recommendations for this model include

Water per gallon
Recommended watts
5 – 7
25
7 – 16
50
16 – 26
75
26 – 40
100
40 – 53
150
79 – 106
200
106 – 150
250
150 – 264
300

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

This aquarium heater is sturdy and well-made and, without a doubt, a bargain.  The Eheim Jager Aquarium checks all our safety boxes. Has features that are hard to beat and will suit more experienced hobbyist at the same time it is well-priced.

#4 – Fluval M Submersible Heater

Rating
4/5

As for quality heaters, the Fluval M Submersible Heater is a possibility with an interesting feature.  The mirror finish, reflective surfaces will mimic the other elements in your fish tank, making it one of the best aquarium heaters to hide than most others.  Made in Europe and is reliable and durable.  Easy to grip adjustable gauge with a computer collaborated thermostat.

This heater has been made with shock-resistant glass. The ceramic heating element gives this heater an edge over many others in its price range.  Reliable, in a reasonable price range and comes with a 3-year warranty, this product a good choice.

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

The Fluval M Submersible Heater is reliable and durable makes this heater a good choice.  The reflective covering makes it a good choice if you are focused on hiding your heater.

#5 – Tetra HT submersible aquarium heater

Rating
3/5

It is hard to beat the Tetra HT Submersible Aquarium Heater on its price and reliability.  Sleek, although it carries more bulk than the sleek design of the Eheim TruTemp Heater, remains compact and easy to hide.  It is not an adjustable aquarium heater, which is its biggest detractor, but keeping a constant temperature of 78 degrees Fahrenheit is suitable for most tropical fish tanks.

The safety features include a strong tube with the added feature of a shock-resistant tip an auto shut off that will keep your heater from overheating.  The indicator light informing you that the tank is being heated or not is a convenient feature. 

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

This product is a bargain, affordable enough to place a few in a large fish tank giving it appeal, and it is understandable why this product is a popular choice. 

#6 – Aqueon Pro Submersible

Rating
3/5

Black and sleek the Aqueon Prop Submersible is a good option. It is made of Shatterproof glass, which is great.  It is a submersible aquarium heater and has an auto shut off switch to prevent overheating are all good safety features.

The heat setting is adjustable between 68 and 88 Degrees Fahrenheit is a respectable range and gives you options.  The best feature is the LED light, which is always on.  Red if it is heating, green if it is not heating, and off when the device is not working.  Quick and easy to see makes this a safer option.

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

The price out ways its usefulness, and if you keep a thermometer in your tank, the need to display the LED light is not that important.  The temperature range is less than experienced reefers would like, and its price is outside of the range most novices are willing to pay. 

#7 – Hygger submersible aquarium heater

Rating
2.5/5

This submersible heater has an attractive black casing contrasting the clear glass covering, making it one of the more attractive options on this list.  In addition, this model has a convenient external dial allowing users to adjust the temperature of the fish tank near the plug point without disturbing your fish or getting your hands wet.

The affordable price range with variable heating settings makes this an excellent choice for aquarium uses.  It has a built-in thermometer, but this should not be used as your only temperature gauge.  The power cord is only 5.4 feet, but it is attractive enough to add to the aesthetics of your fish tank.  Warning:  This heater is not suitable as a turtle tank heater.

Safety aquarium heater features are essential and this one comes with an auto shut off but is made from quartz glass.  The external casing makes it more durable than heaters made from quartz glass, but shatterproof is better. 

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

The external control of this heater is cool, and the casing is attractive.  The cord length has its limits but not enough to be put off by the device as a whole.  This fish tank heater would rank higher if it were made of shatterproof, and the casing is not enough to improve the device for us.

#8 – Orlushy Submersible aquarium heater

Rating
2/5

The Orlushy Submersible aquarium heater is the unsung hero of the aquarium heater reviews, outranked in popularity by the Aqueor Pro Submersible. This heater is not only cheaper but offers extra features with an adjustable heater and a 6 feet cord.  The adjustable thermostat will have to be calibrated with an external thermometer but keeps a constant temperature.  It offers a wide temperature range from 68 and 89, suitable for a product at this price.

The difference between the Aqueon Pro Submersible and the Orlushy Submersible Aquarium heater is the material the glass casing is made from; shatterproof glass is more durable than Quartz glass.  Shatterproof glass withstands higher temperature and is less likely to break; with aquarium heaters, safety is vital and having broken glass in the fish tank is dangerous for both you and your fish.

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

The Orlushy Submersible aquarium heater has several features, and its low price makes it an acceptable option.  The temperature range is not suitable for precise aquarium, and the glass being created out of quartz and not shatterproof is a problem.

#9 – Inline Aquarium Heater

Rating
2.8/5

An inline aquarium heater is an external aquarium heater and is the first possible solution to uneven fish tank heating.  This method of heating the tank the aquarium heater is attached to the inflow pipe of your filter heating water before it enters the fish tank.

The benefits of external aquarium heaters include:

  • The ability not to mix electricity and water
  • Heating the water before it enters the fish tank will help keep the heat inside stable, and this is better for delicate fish
  • These types of heaters are easy to hide as it is attached to your intake pipe making it easy to use while keeping your hands dry
  • This aquarium heater is not made of glass and it safer overall

With all these benefits, it may be hard to understand why this option is not the most popular.  The problem with this type is that it may not be the best fish tank heater for larger tanks.  The larger your fish tank, the more water you must heat up. 

This type of heater may struggle to heat the fish tank efficiently and maintain the temperature.  You can overcome this problem by keeping the heat in your tank by using a lid or acrylic and not a glass tank.  It should be said that this aquarium heater is for external use only.

Tip: To reduce the maintenance by attaching it to the outflow pipe and not the inflow pipe as it will keep it cleaner.

#10 – DaToo in-Line Fish Tank External Heater

Rating
4.5/5

The DaToo in-Line Fish Tank External Heater has precise temperature control to maintain a stable environment.  Has replaceable tubes giving the ware and tare items longer life that make it a great deal. Durable but only has a one-year warranty, and additional safety of ceramic glass is a bonus.

The precise heating with the two heat sensors, on the inlet and outlet, and this makes it a perfect addition for aquariums for delicate fish and flora that need a steady atmosphere.  This aquarium heater has a wide temperature range the same as either the Eheim TruTemp heater or the Cobalt Aquatics Flat Neo-Therm submersible aquarium heater.  This heater has 12,16 inches and 20mm options.

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

Made of sturdy plastic and with replaceable parts makes it one of the best inline aquarium heaters you can buy.  The additional tube size choices give uses more options.  The kit from amazon comes with a cleaning brush making it a money saver and a bargain.

#11 – Hydor Inline/External Heater for Canister Filters

Rating
3.5/5

Hydor Inline/External Heater for Canister Filters is sleek with red detailing making it an excellent addition to other black filters.  It has precision temperature control making it suitable for most fish tanks. This hose has three different sizes to choose from 1/2 and 5/8 inches, and both come in 200 and 300 watts.

 

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

It has a sleek design but lacks options users may want.  It is easy to use and attached to your system and is durable.  If it fits the need of your aquarium, it is an affordable option.

#12 – inline External Heater Aquarium Heater

Rating
3.8/5

The inline External Heater Aquarium offers a lot more options.  The 5/8 inch comes in 150, and 300 watts and the 1/2 has 200 and 500 wat selections with this range of alternatives most reefers will find an aquarium heater that will suit their needs.

Adding weight to the heater will cause problems, and it is not as durable as horizontal external heaters.  The inline heater is designed to be used vertically, which will look better on most systems, but it may have to be adjusted to make it compatible with your filtration system.

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

The structure and vertical alignments add to any filtration system creating a sleek look.  The modifications are easy to make but will add to the cost by such a small fraction that this shortcoming is easy to overlook.  Durability could be better, but overall, it is hard to beat.

Tips and Tricks for Aquarium Heaters

  • Match the flow of the water in your aquarium to the amount of heat you need
  • Remember fish are tolerant of temperature changes that occur naturally, and you can allow for a broader range of temperature changes
  • All submersible aquarium heaters need to be acclimatized to the fish tank. All you have to do is leave the gadget in your tank for 30 minutes and check no water has entered it before you turn it on.
  • Keep the water above the minimum level to keep the heater from exploding. Exploding heaters are unlikely these days as most have built-in shut off the system but was a problem in the past.
  • Use an external thermometer to confirm and collaborate aquarium heaters

Using Your Aquarium Heater Correctly

Using your aquarium heater correctly will not only extend the life of your heater but will keep the environment stable for your fish.

The first method you can consider is using more lower watt heaters in your fish tank than using one heater with a higher wattage.  The benefits include having backups and will keep your fish tank warm even if not at the ideal temperature.  Shorter heaters are simpler to hide in your aquarium.  If you decide to implement this method, you need to keep an eye on your external thermometer; if the temperature range falls outside of your prescribed settings, check that all of them are in working order.

The best way to prolong the life of your heater is to keep it from turning on or off as infrequently as possible.  To achieve this broader, the temperature range of your heaters setting if your fish and flora are not delicate and tolerate temperature fluctuations.  Keeping a lid on your aquarium will decrease the number of times your heater will turn on and off.  Doing this will not only extend its lifespan but will use less electricity.

The next step to take to keep the temperature in your fish tank stable is by attaching your heater at an angle.  The water will flow evenly around the element for more even heat distribution than using it vertically or horizontally.  Or attach the heater to the inflow pipe, which will push the hot water away from your thermostat.  Both methods will prevent premature heater shutoffs caused by a false temperature reading.

The temperature in the room and other elements will influence the amount of heat in your fish tank.  Your heater will not account for the additional heat sources; therefore, collaborating your aquarium heater is central to keeping the environment stable.  Keeping your temperature lower will increase the heater’s life.

FAQ on Best Aquarium Heater

How to Calibrate Pre-Set an Aquarium Heater? If you have a separate dial to show the temperature on the heater, you can calibrate it.  First, turn off and remove the heater from your fish tank.  After this, use a thermometer to take the temperature of the tank.  Turn the dial pointer to the same number as the one displayed on the thermometer.  Because of the several heat sources and the environment that can affect the temperature of the fish tank, you need to check the calibration of any heater.

What Size Heater for 55-Gallon Aquarium? The watts of the heater means the amount of power it has and determines how much water it can heat; this is variable depending on the brand you select, always check the manufactures guide first.  The general guide to heating an aquarium is 3 to 5 watts of power in your aquarium heater per gallon of water in your fish tank.  For a 55-gallon tank, you will need between 165 – 275 watts.  Placing more lower wats is not needed for this size tank, but you could consider it as an option.

How Do I Know if My Aquarium Heater Is Working? Not knowing if a heater is working or not is essential and there are three different methods you can use to detect this.  The first is the most obvious purchase a type of heater where the LED light is on, and if it is off, you know it is not working.  However, if you already have or want to use another type of thermometer, you may not have this option.

Another indicator you can use is watching your fish.  If the temperature falls too low, you will notice a change in the fishes’ behavior as they become slow and less active.  Unfortunately, by the time you noticed this, it may already be too late for your fish. 

It is recommended that you keep a separate thermometer in the tank always and reading it when you feed your fish. Suppose you notice any significant changes you need to check that your heater is working.  Keeping a backup will allow you to choose the one you want at the price you are willing to pay, and you don’t have to take what you can get in an emergency.

Where Should a Heater Be Placed in an Aquarium? The placement of your heater depends on which type of heater you have.  The best option for a submersible heater is near the inflow of your aquarium; this will prevent a false turn off by pushing hot water away from the heater and thermostat. For an inline aquarium heater, attach it to the inflow pipe; this will help keep it cleaner.

Final thoughts on aquarium heaters

You don’t need the most expensive aquarium heater.  You can choose one according to the type of fish you are planning to keep in the fish tank.  Fish are tolerant of changes in temperature, and the sensitivity of 0.2, for the most part, is not required.  Select the sensitivity and other requirements that you need.

No matter which brand you decide to go with heaters efficiency are diverse, check the manufactures instructions about how much water the heater can heat. If your heater fails, it will decimate your tank.  Keeping an external thermometer checking it daily, and this will let you know not only if it is working but if it is working effectively.

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