Where not to put your heater
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Old 01-25-2011, 06:47 AM   #1
GoldieATX
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Where not to put your heater


Under the gravel.

Here's a story (I typically write too much). I set up my 60 gallon tank a little over a month ago. I have one heater stuck to the back like normal, but in an effort to hide some of the equipment, I decided to bury an extra 150W stealth heater (in true stealth fashion) beneath an inch or so of gravel. I figured water circulates enough through the gravel, and if anything, this would help facilitate that process (a la a standard UG heater cable). Poor decision on my part.

My girlfriend called me at work. "Something is happening. The power flickered off and on, and the light on the aquarium made a weird noise, and it was smoking, and now it smells weird."

Many things went through my head. Namely "I just got that brand new Coralife 2x96W fixture in the mail to replace the one that stopped working after 2 months. How bad are these things?"

I ran home, and after some investigation, I apologized to the light fixture, which seemed to be working just fine. If anything, the water smelled a little weird, but not so much the light. I just happened to notice part of the buried heater sticking up out of the gravel. It looked cracked. I unplugged it and pulled it out.






So, my theory is that a power surge (the "lights flickering" in the house) came through the lines, past 2 [cheap] protected strips. The heater, perhaps weakened by repeated expansion and contraction under extra external pressure, couldn't handle the spike, and it popped. I mean literally exploded. It blew itself out of the gravel, and itexpelled some rank chemical smoke, which was caught up by the intake fans of the coralife fixture, giving the appearance of a smoking light.

What's the silver lining? Well, so far everything else is ok. The fish--amazingly--survived. I don't have any RO water on hand, so I can't do an emergency change, but I'll take care of that tomorrow. The light is fine. And the tank is intact. With a pressurized explosion underwater, I hate to think of what could have happened. For example, the shock wave could have killed the fish or collapsed my log mountain upon them. Or it could have expanded down, blowing a hole through the bottom of the tank, presenting a 60 gallon tsunami upon all of my home theater equipment (which I acknowledge is too close for comfort).

So, all in all, I came through the emergency ok. But I got lucky. Let this be a lesson to you all: use underwater electronics the way they were designed to be used. Don't bury your heater in the gravel.

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Old 01-25-2011, 06:49 AM   #2
accordztech
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Man I seen a few heaters latley on this site that went boom, and it wasnt fun. Im glad you caught it early enough.

Go with a inline heater if you have a canister filter, you wont be sorry.

You should also run a gfci just incase things like this go unnoticed.
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Old 01-25-2011, 07:19 AM   #3
neumahrs
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Glad nothing serious got affected but as the previous poster said, go get an inline heater .
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Old 01-25-2011, 07:20 AM   #4
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I feel like the heater cracked and when it shorted out thats what cause the lights to flicker. Probably no "explosion". Still a disaster though. The electric current wouldn't have bothered your fish...
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Old 01-25-2011, 07:35 AM   #5
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Glad to hear that none of the fish were harmed.

Like other posters have said, if you have a canister filter, I would also reccommend a inline heater from Hydor. I have one that I am running with my Eheim 2213 on a 10gal, and I have not had any problems with it.
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Old 01-25-2011, 07:42 AM   #6
GoldieATX
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Yeah I've already planned for an inline heater on the new 20L I'm setting up with a canister filter. I really don't know what happened first--the heater blowing or the lights dimming. I guessed we were having trouble with the power because there was a truck from the electric company at a neighbor's when I got home; but it could certainly be a coincidence. I'm definitely getting a GFCI plug after this as well, if not a full line conditioner. Crisis averted. I just hope the inhabitants aren't adversely affected by any chemicals released during the event. Maybe the plants will enjoy some heavy metal trace nutrients.
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Old 01-25-2011, 11:39 AM   #7
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There is a long thread on this forum about Stealth Pro heaters exploding.

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/eq...ro-heater.html

Apparently the bad behavior is confined to a specific lot of serial numbers. I believe Marineland made good on the damages to the poster in the thread above.
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Old 01-25-2011, 12:18 PM   #8
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Good advice. I'm still new to the planted tank world, and all I have is a 15 gallon, but I don't use any heater at all. I've heard too many horror stories. Luckily, I have baseboard heating in my house, which keeps things nice and cosy, and my tank seems to stay between 74 and 76 degrees Fahrenheit.
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Old 01-25-2011, 03:41 PM   #9
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Reading threads and I noticed a influx of heater problems.

I need to ask a silly question!
What temperatures do everyone keep their homes at?


I have a few aquariums and none of them require heaters.
The temperature of the room plus pumps,lights and filters is more then enough to keep water in the mid 70s. If anything they would like to be cooled/ chilled.
And for reference, all my systems 50 gal + in size, all have open tops, and a couple have been setup for more the 10 years. Now I am not saying heaters are not required for aquariums,"maybe small aquariums" .
But IMHO I would like to point out from many years of experience that in some cases they are just added electrical equipment that does little or nothing for the health of the aquarium!!!!


MD
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Old 01-25-2011, 03:54 PM   #10
Eden Marel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mountaindew View Post

i need to ask a silly question!
What temperatures do everyone keep their homes at?


Md
55*f
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Old 01-25-2011, 03:55 PM   #11
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Room temperature in my basement where I have 3 tanks can be in the 50s. Soon to have five tanks down there. My wife insists all tanks stay down there. Heaters aren't an option for me. They are mandatory. Never had an issue with any of mine and they run almost constantly...

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Old 01-25-2011, 04:02 PM   #12
Powchekny
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mountaindew View Post
I need to ask a silly question!
What temperatures do everyone keep their homes at?
MD
66 degrees in the winter, during the day if I'm home. (if it isn't too cold out)

I regularly drop the heat to 55 degrees during the day when I'm at work, at night, or when it's under 20 degrees F outside.

My tetras would probably find 60 F markedly uncomfortable.

Tom
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Old 01-25-2011, 04:10 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eden Marel View Post
55*f

Wow, sorry for hijack of thread.
You must be kidding.
I would need my north face fleece 24/7 at those temps in the house.
md
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Old 01-25-2011, 04:14 PM   #14
Eden Marel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mountaindew View Post
Wow, sorry for hijack of thread.
You must be kidding.
I would need my north face fleece 24/7 at those temps in the house.
md
Nope, my dad is cheap. He wants to save money, but I just moved back with my 4 tanks so I jack up the bill hahaha.

Okay it is 60*f during the day, and 55*f at night. 65*f when my DAD is at home and awake.
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Old 01-25-2011, 05:03 PM   #15
Jadelin
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I have the thermostat set at 60 during the day, but apparenetly it doesn't work right because my house is usually 68-70. I put it to 50 at night, which probably means it's around 55. My 29 doesn't have a heater, but it has cold water fish in it, and is usually around 65-70 degrees, even at night. My 10g shrimp tank has a heater set at 73, just to keep the temp constant.
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