Review: 25W nano heater that will fit in a Fluval Edge HOB filter (4" long!)
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Old 03-25-2010, 05:33 AM   #1
tuonor
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Review: 25W nano heater that will fit in a Fluval Edge HOB filter (4" long!)


For whatever reason, its tough to find a properly sized, fully featured heater for 2-5 gallon nano tanks.
  • The hydor flat heaters (7.5 and 15W) have no thermostat and don't really generate enough heat for anything over a gallon or two
  • The shortest 25W heater I can find is the VisiTherm original, which is still 6.75" long. This is gargantuan on a relative scale, considering a 200W conventional heater that can heat a 4 foot long 55g tank is only twice as long
  • There are a couple waifish 10W and 25W heaters from Tetra and Marineland but they have fixed thermostats (and reviews for the Tetra one at least are terrible)
  • The best compromise I'd found until recently is the Catalina 50W titanium heater which has a 5.25" heating element. However its overpowered for a sub-10g tank, leaving little tolerance for any thermostat issues. In addition, its just a nudge too big to fit in an ACMini HOB, which is my intended use.
Anyway, I recently decided I wanted a proper heater (ie one with a reliable thermostat) that was appropriately sized for my Fluval Edge and would also fit into the stock HOB filter.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon the Up Aqua line of heaters: link. These are intended for the Asian market; a quick search on ebay turned up a vendor in Hong Kong. The cost was reasonable; just over $20 shipped, helped by how the Pound has gotten pummelled in recent weeks.

It seemed to fit my specs: 25W (perfect for a 5ish gallon tank); thermostat (remote located to boot) and tiny (4" long heating element). However, it was also 220V, so I'd need a voltage converter.
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6g Fluval Edge journal
45g ADA 90p (early days)
2g Do!Aqua cube (unplanted for now)

Edge Tuning: 26W lighting conversion - concealed pressurized CO2 - HOB CO2 injection - nano HOB heater - lunar lights

Last edited by tuonor; 04-28-2010 at 02:09 AM..
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Old 03-25-2010, 05:42 AM   #2
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This is what I ended up with:


I'm pretty sure you could get by on a lesser voltage converter but I wanted to get one that wouldn't burn out (ie has significant overage capacity and a thermal protector) and was, at least in theory, safe (ie UL or CE listed). I got this one on Amazon.

The heater is truly nano (precisely 4" long):


Shown versus the Catalina 50W titanium heater and the Visitherm 25W (you can tell I've wasted alot of money trying to find the perfect heater for this application):
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6g Fluval Edge journal
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Edge Tuning: 26W lighting conversion - concealed pressurized CO2 - HOB CO2 injection - nano HOB heater - lunar lights
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Old 03-25-2010, 05:52 AM   #3
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I'll do more testing soon and figure out how to shoehorn this into the AquaClear mini HOB filter on my Fluval Edge (which is 4.75" wide). But the initial run was promising (I didn't burn anything down and the heater warmed 2.5 gallons of water to a reasonably consistent 80-81 degrees).

Also, according to my trusty KillAWatt meter, the converter consumes minimal power (0-1W) when the thermostat is off and ~26W when it turns on. I was concerned the voltage converter might somehow cause excessive power consumption but this doesn't seem to be an issue.
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6g Fluval Edge journal
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2g Do!Aqua cube (unplanted for now)

Edge Tuning: 26W lighting conversion - concealed pressurized CO2 - HOB CO2 injection - nano HOB heater - lunar lights
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Old 03-25-2010, 06:58 AM   #4
hybridtheoryd16
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This is very awesome as I have went thru several heater headaches as well for my nano apps.

Now if we could get one of the electronic guru's floating around to figure out a way to DIY this thing to run on 110v it would be even better.
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Old 03-25-2010, 04:46 PM   #5
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Great find! Most other 25w nano heaters, are twice the size of this and yet they all do the same job!! This would be perfect for my 30litre nano aquarium and it's HOB filter!! Would it be at all possible if you could PM me the link if you still have it to hand?
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Old 03-25-2010, 05:23 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tuonor View Post
  • The best compromise I'd found until recently is the Catalina 50W titanium heater which has a 5.25" heating element. However its overpowered, leaving little tolerance for any thermostat issues. In addition, its just a nudge too big to fit in an ACMini HOB, which is my
Just curious as to what you meant by this point. Are you saying if a 50w heater got stuck "ON" it'd boil up the 6.6 gallons more than a 25w heater? Has the Catalina been known to have thermostat issues?

I figured I ought to ask, as I'm considering a couple Catalina for an upcoming build. I need something small, but enough oompf to heat 12 gallons.

Thanks for being the guinea pig for us all!
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Old 03-25-2010, 06:10 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prototyp3 View Post
[/list]Just curious as to what you meant by this point. Are you saying if a 50w heater got stuck "ON" it'd boil up the 6.6 gallons more than a 25w heater? Has the Catalina been known to have thermostat issues?

I figured I ought to ask, as I'm considering a couple Catalina for an upcoming build. I need something small, but enough oompf to heat 12 gallons.

Thanks for being the guinea pig for us all!
In theory i) the excess heating capacity means it can heat the water to a higher temp relative to room temps (been way too long since I took physics but IIRC temperature differentials are proportional to energy applied, so if a 25W heater can increase a given mass of water's temp by 10 degrees, a 50W heater can increase it by 20) and ii) this will happen faster so you have less time to notice signs of distress in your fish.

Importantly, this is NOT intended to be a knock on the Catalina (mine has proven to be reliable, quite durable and generally the next best solution I've found), but its just a point on sizing heaters properly relative to tank volumes.

For a 12 gallon tank, 50W is probably just right if your target temp is within 10 degrees of room temps.
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6g Fluval Edge journal
45g ADA 90p (early days)
2g Do!Aqua cube (unplanted for now)

Edge Tuning: 26W lighting conversion - concealed pressurized CO2 - HOB CO2 injection - nano HOB heater - lunar lights

Last edited by tuonor; 03-25-2010 at 11:07 PM..
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Old 03-25-2010, 10:18 PM   #8
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Thanks for the clarification. I just wanted to be sure there wasn't some secret info about Catalina duds circulating that I was oblivious to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tuonor View Post
In theory i) the excess heating capacity means it can heat the water to a higher temp relative to room temps (been way too long since I took physics but IIRC temperature differentials are proportional to energy applied, so if a 25W heater can increase a given mass of water's temp by 10 degrees, a 50W heater can increase it by 20) and ii) this will happen faster so you have less time to notice signs of distress in your fish.

Importantly, this is NOT intended to be a knock on the Catalina (mine has proven to be reliable, quite durable and generally the next best solution I've found), but its just a point on sizing heaters properly relative to tank volumes.

For a 12 gallon tank, 50W is probably just right if you're target temp is within 10 degrees of room temps.
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Old 03-25-2010, 11:09 PM   #9
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I'm a big fan of the Catalina 50 watt heaters. I've got several of them running and never had a problem. But I like this little UP heater, nice and small and adjustable. Only down side is the voltage converter but once you have it, its done. Let us know how it works after you get it all hooked up. Also how much did you have to spend for the heater and converter?

With the popularity of Nano tanks I'd still like to see a company come out with a 2-3 inch, small diameter, externally adjustable, nano heater. It really can be that hard to produce just shrink the existing technology.
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Old 03-31-2010, 06:09 PM   #10
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This is an extremely interesting topic for me. How/where do you plan on fitting the heater into the AC Mini?
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Old 03-31-2010, 08:40 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by King Friday View Post
This is an extremely interesting topic for me. How/where do you plan on fitting the heater into the AC Mini?
Haven't done it yet. Options are to place it vertically (would need to cut out a corner of the sponge filter at the bottom) or horizontally such that it lays on the impeller cover then extends into / across the filter basket (would need to cut a notch in the basket).

Leaning toward the latter as I want to avoid any bypass of the sponge and this would also place the heater close to my bio media (nitrogen processing bacteria like heat supposedly).

Will post more pics when I get around to this.
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6g Fluval Edge journal
45g ADA 90p (early days)
2g Do!Aqua cube (unplanted for now)

Edge Tuning: 26W lighting conversion - concealed pressurized CO2 - HOB CO2 injection - nano HOB heater - lunar lights
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Old 04-06-2010, 05:04 AM   #12
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Update: this thing works as well as a conventional 25W Visitherm heater...

I had time to run some tests over the long weekend in my 4g test rig (seen previously in this test of the 15W hydor heater). A few preview comments:
  • Over a 24-36 hour period, establishes the same (actually slightly better) temp differential to room temp as a 25W Visitherm
  • Did not burn down my house (disclaimer: in no way is this intended to be a representation of the safety of this setup, it merely reflects my personal experience)
  • Did not blow up the voltage converter (ran slightly warm to the touch and this is with continuous operation of the heater -- ie thermostat continuously on -- for 24-36 hours which is unlikely in normal use)
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6g Fluval Edge journal
45g ADA 90p (early days)
2g Do!Aqua cube (unplanted for now)

Edge Tuning: 26W lighting conversion - concealed pressurized CO2 - HOB CO2 injection - nano HOB heater - lunar lights

Last edited by tuonor; 04-06-2010 at 02:22 PM..
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Old 04-06-2010, 05:47 AM   #13
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Looks like a great find. I currently have unplugged my hydor heater after a water change a while back and haven't put plugged it back in. My tank is around 70-72 degrees (apartment temp) and everything is working out ok. I like this heater that you are using now.
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Old 04-06-2010, 04:33 PM   #14
hathj29
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Hi again,
Could you possibly tell me how wide the heater is?
Thanks,
hathj29
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Old 04-09-2010, 03:08 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hybridtheoryd16 View Post
Now if we could get one of the electronic guru's floating around to figure out a way to DIY this thing to run on 110v it would be even better.
Best I can tell its not possible without a step-up converter. I went down this road in the DIY forum, considering whether the 50W version of this heater could just run on 110v. My thinking was if the heater was made for 220v and you plugged it into an outlet with half the voltage, it would output half the wattage...but apparently the math actually works out to 1/4 the wattage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AquaDean View Post
Let us know how it works after you get it all hooked up. Also how much did you have to spend for the heater and converter?
Heater was around $20 shipped and converter was $12.50 (free shipping at amazon if you order $25 of stuff).

Quote:
Originally Posted by hathj29 View Post
Hi again,
Could you possibly tell me how wide the heater is?
Thanks,
hathj29
The diameter of the glass heating element is ~1/2", the diameter of the plastic ends is 15/16" and the length is 4"


A few pics from testing:

Power consumption of power converter without heater (or thermostat off):


Power consumption of power converter + heater when thermostat is on:


Temperature differential to room temp after 24 hours (generally achieved after ~12 hours):
__________________
6g Fluval Edge journal
45g ADA 90p (early days)
2g Do!Aqua cube (unplanted for now)

Edge Tuning: 26W lighting conversion - concealed pressurized CO2 - HOB CO2 injection - nano HOB heater - lunar lights
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