Buying new heaters, what setup would you recommend?

Dark Sky

HI all,
Just a quick background, this will be the first winter I've had an aquarium setup since moving to this house, which gets darn cold ( <10c some nights). Recently my tank temp dropped to 15 overnight, which I thought was a little too low for comfort! I have used aquarium heaters for years for work, hearing water baths to keep chemicals stable, I have popped one of these in my aquarium (after a serious clean!) for the time being, but will need it back where it belongs later this week. It is a fairly cheap 200W which at this stage is having no trouble heating my 100L tank.

I am wondering, at what size would most people consider having two heaters instead of one? This 200W is quite large, so I'm almost tempted to buy two 100W units hoping they will be smaller and less obtrusive in the tank. My tank is 24" long (x14"w x 18"h), is that to small for any practical benefit in having two heaters?

The shop I'm heading to tomorrow has standard Aqua One heaters for $17, Aqua One Thermosafe for $20 and Eheim Jager for $45, all 100W. Reading the claims and ratings for the Jäger, I'm very tempted to get one of those, however, since everyone seems to say that ALL heaters will fail at some point, I'm wondering whether 2x Aqua one heaters (standard, as I read some scary reports on the Thermosafe) would be a more sensible option, since they carry a 3yr warranty. Many thoughts you'd like to share? If the Aqua Ones are considerably smaller than the Jäger, that will also make them more attractive to me.

If it makes any difference, I have a canister filter with the outlet close to the middle of the tank, pointing towards the front. The back wall has plants growing along it, so any heaters could be at the ends.

Thanks!
 

Jomolager

Decisions! Decisions! Two is better than one in my book, and whatever you buy make sure it is not glass. Good luck.
 

VWTDI02

Two heaters is better than none since helps keep an even temperature gradient across your entire tank. For figuring out how powerful of a heater you need the general rule is about 3-4 watts per gallon. 100 liters ends up being about 27 gallons. I would suggest getting a single 150 watt since your area is known to get pretty cold. I'm a big fan of the Aqueon Pro line since it has an automatic switch that turns it off when the water level drops too low. For a back up I recently bought one of these off of eBay for very cheap and it works very well so far. I really like how short the heater is.
 

Dark Sky

...whatever you buy make sure it is not glass...

Thanks for the tip, what other options are there? I've only ever seen the traditional glass type, or pads for little tanks. A non-glass option would actually be ideal for the heaters I use for work, so I'd be very interested to find out!


...For figuring out how powerful of a heater you need the general rule is about 3-4 watts per gallon. 100 liters ends up being about 27 gallons. I would suggest getting a single 150 watt...

Having grown up on an imperial farm, in a metric country, I happily swing between the two, but this is one case where I'll happily side with metric alone... 1W per 1Litre, so easy!

That's actually why I was considering the Jäger, 150L (claimed) heating out of a 100W package, that is very attractive, especially if the size is somewhere between other brands 100's & 150's.

I'm thinking also of power efficiency, I imagine two 100's would switch on less often than a single 150(or a single of any wattage I guess), so would two heaters actually become more efficient in terms of their power usage?

Thanks again for the insight, I really appreciate it.
 

VWTDI02

Glass heaters still work just fine. Yes you do risk it breaking which is an issue but you also risk breaking the side of your glass aquarium. I'm not sure if you can really compare the two setups in regards to efficiency. I'm honestly not sure exactly how they work. If they work either 100% on or 100% off then I would think that it would be equal because having only one on for twice as long as having two on would be the same. On the other hand does it take exactly half the time with two heaters? Water flow and a bunch of other variables that I don't even understand. Honestly, I don't think anyone can answer that accurately without doing an actual experiment.
 

Dark Sky

Honestly, I don't think anyone can answer that accurately without doing an actual experiment.

Experiment? NOW you're talking my language... That sounds like a challenge to me!!
 

Dark Sky

One other attractive point of the Jäger I forgot to mention, is their low minimum setting. I was searching last week for a low temp heater, these go down to 18c, which is about where I would like it. I bought a little (25w) 'Tank Maid' heater (by Blue Planet I think) for my sons little tank he keeps at his mums house, it went down to 18c too, but the shop I'm headed to today, which is a discount wholesaler, has the 100w Jagers for the only a few dollars more than I paid for that little one, otherwise I'd get one of those in a larger size (for which I could get Two Jagers at this other place!)
 

VWTDI02

In order for an ideal system, you would need two identical tanks in separate but identical areas. Inside of them the same water at the same temperature would need to be added. One tank with one heater and then the other tank with two heaters. Have a kilowatt meter on each outlet where the hearers are plugged in and let them go for some time. Repeat a few times and see what kind of data you get. Haha. Multiple temperature probes would also be helpful in order to better record the temperature at different parts of the tank.
 

Adam55

There are lots of options when it comes to heaters, but I'm a heater snob. I'm all about the Cobalt heaters. They cost a little more, but they work, they're easy to read and set, and they look like a heater from a spaceship of some sort.
 

Dark Sky

Well, we've got all the tools right here, just sounds like a good excuse to get another tank to me!
 

VWTDI02

I wish I had the space and money for a new tank. I've been day dreaming a bit on glass cages with tanks between 90 and 150 gallons.

This cobalt heaters do look pretty interesting. They look a lot like square versions of the aqueon pro line. Love the black
 

Dark Sky

There are lots of options when it comes to heaters, but I'm a heater snob. I'm all about the Cobalt heaters. They cost a little more, but they work, they're easy to read and set, and they look like a heater from a spaceship of some sort.

Now they DO look nice, except for the price, I think they should redesign that... If I had fancy tropical fish, or a marine tank, they would be fantastic, but for just keeping the chill off my boring old fishes, it's probably overkill. I do really like the black casing though, that would disappear nicely against my black backdrop, which is exactly what I want
 

VWTDI02

Now they DO look nice, except for the price, I think they should redesign that... If I had fancy tropical fish, or a marine tank, they would be fantastic, but for just keeping the chill off my boring old fishes, it's probably overkill. I do really like the black casing though, that would disappear nicely against my black backdrop, which is exactly what I want

I'll say it again then. The Aqueon Pro line is also black and looks great. Can be found on eBay as well. I've just recently started buying stuff on eBay and I'm learning that it is very dangerous for my wallet...
 

Dark Sky

...The Aqueon Pro line is also black...

I know you mentioned that earlier, but when I looked I can only find regular glass looking ones (yes, looking at the 'Pro' line). Hard to tell from the pics if the glass is perhaps a 'smoke' rather than clear...?

I found two great storefronts through eBay, one with a FANTASTIC selection of fish and equipment (so good is their fish room setup that I have taken my son there a number of times in leu of a visit to the aquarium in the city. It's free, most things are at his eye level... And the staff have gotten used to is taking an hour or two to buy a tin of flakes if you quote their online prices they honour them too, which is grey, but shows just how much of a mark-up goes on the gear, like most things in Australia unfortunately.
 

VWTDI02

Aqueon PRO 100



Aqueon PRO 200




The PRO line has a matte black finish. The Aqueon line is clear glass and not smokey. They do seem a bit more expensive than the ones you were looking at. I would just go with the two 100 watt ones for $10 each.
 

Dark Sky

Yeah, adding on the $25 postage to Aus makes them a bit beyond what is like to pay
 

BRP

I can't advise you on the heaters but might have something else for you that could help a bit with keeping the heat int the tank (plus it will lower the electricity bill).
I used insulation around the hoses that are between the tank and the canister. I used these https://www.klusidee.nl/Forum/userpix/5508_climaflex_cvbuis_isolatie_1.jpg

Maybe you can add some insulation under the tank if you have an 'open stand' or cabinet, some insulation behind the tank and maybe under the hood. These places are not very visible and this way you have 1/2 of the tank insulated. You do want to heat the tank, not to room

I never insulated the tank but I'm setting up a larger tank and am considering insulating the tank because during winter room temperature drops dramatically.

Nicole
 

Dark Sky

I can't advise you on the heaters but might have something else for you...

...now there's a person who thinks outside the box, brilliant! I have my canister under a wooden box I made to look like a little set of drawers. I lined the inside with towels, to cut the sound (yes, my house is quiet and I have good hearing, not a good mix) with the added hope that it might insulate it a little. Genius me didn't even consider the hoses, the most exposed part! Sounds like a job for the weekend to me.

Just a little follow up, I ended up getting a Jäger 150W, what attracted me was:
It's slimmer, and shorter than the 200W currently in the tank, is rated for 200-300L, goes down to 18c, and the big seller... Was only $3 more than the 100W, so only about $5 dearer than getting 2x Aqua One 100W units... Which weren't quite as small as I was hoping.

Thanks again for the input, especially the insulting ideas, definitely some good thoughts there.

Cheers
 

Dark Sky

Right, one last question on heater placement... Is it obvious yet I've never needed a heater in any past tanks??

Regarding heater position and proximity to plants. To get the heater in the best flow are, it's either on the front wall where a single spout points (obviously not an option), or along the rear wall where the rest of the spray bar gently flows down. I've got a wall of Elodia along the back, so to put the heater there it will come in contact with the plants from time to time, I presume this is not a good idea?
 

Adam55

Placement depends a little on whether or not the heater is fully submersible. if it is, I place it horizontally across the middle of the tank, midway down. If it's not, middle of the tank vertically up to the water line. I often see heaters set off to one side and I don't know why. You want to disperse the heat evenly.
 

BRP

It depends I think. I have the heater in a corner but I have even flow from a spray bar from one side to the other, I can see the heater 'rock' in the flow. The flow in my tank goes from the right top (spray bar) to the other side of the tank in a what I think is 7% angle down. When it hits the left side of the tank it's forced down and back towards the right side of the tank, with the strongest flow back close to the substrate. The only spot where I have less flow is on the right side between the filter intake and the spray bar. The heater is close to the back and left side.

You want the heater where you have good flow. If there is no flow the heat won't get distributed resulting in one warmer spot in the tank. The heat stays around the heater and shuts off before the entire tank is heated.
Good flow around the heater is important but IMO also a good flow in the entire tank. Dead spot won't warm up as quick as where the flow is..

Just my 2 cents
Nicole
 

Dark Sky

...Good flow around the heater is important...

Absolutely, much like heating anything really. His past week I've had the heater near the filter intake, partly because I figure there must be flow heading out to the heater (this is where your idea of insulating the hoses is going to work wonders), but mostly because the left side of the tank has all my hoses and cables, so I had thought it might look better if all the unsightly stuff were to be kept off to one side with a tall plant at the very front to hide it all.

I have my spray bar running along the back edge (coming in from the left corner) with the jets angled up and forwards, then a 90deg elbow also angled up and forward. The spray bar jets are more a gently 'burble' giving some gentle surface agitation with the elbow and creating a but of a waterfall that pushes forwards to the front edge. I settled on this because any other configuration seemed to blow the plants around too much. I've got a Nautilus 800 getting a turnover of just under 500L/hr (last time I measured), tank probably has around 85-99L, so I figured there must be plenty of water movement in there. I placed my digital thermometer probe in all areas of the tank last night, it was even (within .2 of a degree) throughout the tank, even back between a rock and the plants, so hopefully it's all working alright at the moment. Definitely will be insulating those hoses though!!
 

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