Heating disaster, almost 100F
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Old 07-27-2014, 09:37 PM   #1
StrangeDejavu
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Heating disaster, almost 100F


Not trying to bash any specific brand or seller as much as trying to raise awareness. When setting up new tanks and you go to buy a heater, please be aware of the dangers of the Top Fin brand. I recently acquired the 150w model on clearance for about $9. What a bargain, or so I thought... Right out of the package, it was defective. The tank being heated housed a juvi Convict who was showing strange symptoms including running into things, shy behavior and finally labored breathing and laying in the sand. When I shot the IR thermometer into the water, I couldn't believe when I saw 98F. She's doing better, heater removed, lid removed and a fan blowing on the water is gradually bringing the temps down and she's up and swimming around again- I just hope there wasn't any long-term damage done. I think it goes without saying, you truly get what you pay for.

Here's the temps about 10 minutes after removing the Top Fin heater:

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Old 07-27-2014, 10:00 PM   #2
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That's the reason I always recommend 2 heaters at just over half the wattage.
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Old 07-27-2014, 10:36 PM   #3
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Was just going to buy a heater today for my new tank. Might just get two weaker ones now as suggested. And also will avoid the top fin brand. I've had Jager's in the past, are they still as good as they used to be?
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Old 07-27-2014, 10:43 PM   #4
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It has long been known that you get what you pay for. Especially with aquarium heaters. The cheaper brands are just that: Cheap junk.

Get a name with a reputation, not linked to any store:
Jaeger or Ebo-Jaeger has been good, and I think they still are.
Tronic is a good name.
I have had several Penn-plax that were good, though I do not see many reviews of that brand.
There are others, look around several aquarium sites and see what they say in forums that might be called 'equipment' or 'product reviews' or similar.
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Old 07-27-2014, 10:45 PM   #5
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Quote:
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That's the reason I always recommend 2 heaters at just over half the wattage.
This x10000000.

You'll be way better off with two (or more if your tank is huge) smaller heaters. That way you'll stand a better chance to catch one of them before the whole tank boils.
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Old 07-27-2014, 10:57 PM   #6
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There are ways of keeping this from happening. Over the years, I've seen this thread many times. I've come to the conclusion that I either don't use a heater anymore or I use one with a controller that keeps track of the temps and can run the heater on its own.
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Old 07-27-2014, 11:32 PM   #7
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Failing heaters which kill fish was a problem when the first tank was built! Still is so we have to find a way to avoid the real harm. I have long tried to size the heaters way below what charts will say. I've proved that 5 watts per gallon will kill all the fish in a ten gallon while you sleep or while you are gone to work.
My work around is the small digital heaters from the auction site. They can be found in the $15-20 range and provide the fail-safe mechanism we need. If the heater sticks the controller turns it off. If the controller sticks the heater should turn if off if you are paying attention to not letting them both go bad before replacing one.
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Old 07-28-2014, 12:02 AM   #8
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weird, all my tanks ive had besides my nano ones run on the top fin heaters and ive never had a problem with em. I had one for my 55g for about 3 years now and its still running fine.....could just be a bad batch
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Old 07-28-2014, 12:33 AM   #9
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I have had the same issue with Tetra heaters. Same idea, bargain brand, seems like a good idea. Took 3 times of failing before I got the message. Luckily, the only time I had livestock, it failed off. One tank got to over 100, like 103 or something. Every single plant died, that's how hot it was. The problems with the Tetra ones is they are so small, making them very appealing.

I have had various luck with various heaters, I only have one heated tank but from now on, I am just going to avoid them, I don't need them, will keep them around for winters out of town but that's it.
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Old 07-28-2014, 12:36 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldpunk78 View Post
. . . I use one with a controller that keeps track of the temps and can run the heater on its own.
Someone else I talked to also recommended the controller so I think i'm going to go that route. I use Eheim on all my tanks and have always had stellar performance, I guess that single digit price got the best of me, lol.

Also a great idea on the 2x half wattage, that's another route to consider.
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Old 07-28-2014, 08:31 AM   #11
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failed two, top fin, both of them worked about a year then uncontrollable.
I believe the iron side of the metal strip which stick on and break off according to the desire temp setting, magnetized.

got an Eheim since then, now it is the fourth years with the first Eheim, still works like it just came out of the package.
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Old 07-28-2014, 03:05 PM   #12
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This is a problem that none of the heaters I have used has found a way to solve. Basic problem is in the design of heaters with all the controls inside the heater tube. That makes the space small and the controls small as well. In electronics, when you make it small, you make it difficult to control higher voltages like 110AC that are needed for heat.
This combo requires contacts which open and close. Each time they open there is a tiny arc which eventually welds the contacts together just as a mini arc welder would. More expensive heaters use more electronics to reduce this arcing but few actually stop the arcing. So higher priced will last longer but still fail at some point so you are left to decide how you want to deal with the question of sticking contacts.
Your choices seem to be two. Pay upfront for better heaters or a controller or pay later when the fish die. After three total wipeouts, I favor the cheap controller option as I hate the smell of hot dead fish! Twice I smelled it when coming in from work and once when I woke up. Never again!!!!
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Old 07-28-2014, 03:22 PM   #13
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Do any of y'all remember the old school, non-sealed heaters with the rheostat type control that lacked any discernible way to judge where you were on temp? You just plugged it in and adjusted the dial over the course of a couple of days until you had it within four or five degrees of your target temp.

Remember the part about it not being sealed? It collected moisture in the tube from day one. I had one that would arc like a welder and pop every time it clicked on.

But yes, two smaller heaters is way better than one overkill one. The other advantage to that is they heaters should stay on a little longer, which is good. As discussed, the switch is the weak point.
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Old 07-28-2014, 03:22 PM   #14
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Rich, that may work for a few tanks but as you get up in numbers a controller for each tank gets expensive.
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Old 07-28-2014, 03:47 PM   #15
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Well I must be blessed for the only problems I have had with heaters is when I used the dial on the heater rather than a thermometer to see what the heater was actually doing.
I have always used visi-therm or hydor theo.
Dial on heater might say 75 degree's f while thermometer might read actual temp as 85F.
Other than afore mentioned problem with dials on the heater is when I need to increase the temp during winter and forget to dial back the heat when spring,summer arrive.
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