Heater musings - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-08-2019, 06:46 PM Thread Starter
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Heater musings

Just something I have been tossing around after reading countless threads on many forums as to the "best" heater. Or "My heater failed and fried my fish". Or a myriad of other similar woes.

First off do you really even need a heater?

Sure everyone says you do but do you really?

Fish can live in a range of temperature yet we seem to think it always needs to be exactly "X".
In their native waters water temp can drop a lot with a good rainstorm.
But, But, our fish are not wild!!!
True. most aren't. Most are grown here in Florida. I know quite a few of the farmers. Hint. They really don't use heaters. In fact much of the grow out happens in either casket vaults of ponds. Breeding is usually in a greenhouse. Some have gas heaters and they heat the greenhouse. Some don't. Some will have individual heaters in breeding tanks for certain fish.

I don't generally run heaters in the fish house. I do run a/c set to 82 though. Most of my fish will stop breeding during high temps.

The tanks I have in the house only one has a heater plugged in.
We all heat and cool our homes. In most case the fish will be just fine without a heater.

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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-08-2019, 07:27 PM
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I JUST watched a video by Cory from Aquarium Co-op about this! And then I unplugged the heaters from my guppy aquariums (for the spring/summer/fall, anyway). It just makes sense!

Here is the video:
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-08-2019, 08:21 PM
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"Room Temperature" is considered to be 72 deg F. I keep my tanks about 76 deg F. I don't heat my house to 76. (Unheated water will almost always be 1-2 deg F cooler than ambient air). My unheated water (pre-filtered for water changes) is below 70F. Might be barely okay for some fish, not so great for others. Some fish do best at 78-82F and nobody heats their home that high!
Heaters just don't have to work much (sometimes not at all) in summer, no point in unplugging a heater since it's thermostatically controlled. In the dog days of summer we have the AC on in the LR to keep a temp of 70F. Still a bit cool for some fish.
I have [insulated] tanks in my unheated basement (55F in winter) - heaters are a necessity.
In my 60g display tank I do a weekly 20g water change using that unheated (68F) pre-filtered water. The tank temp will typically drop to 74F.

I would think that in the south there's a greater concern for high temps...but here in the northeast, a heater (or rather warm fish room) just makes sense.

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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-08-2019, 10:08 PM
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Needed? Often times, no. Beneficial? IMO, often times, yes.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-08-2019, 11:27 PM
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multiple heaters

Everybody has a different need for heaters.

Most people working with tropical fish and plants live in the Tropics and they don't use heaters. Probably, if you lived in the Arctic, you would have a box of extras. Freshwater fish species have a range of optimum temperatures. White Clouds at 65F? Discus at 82? Julimes pupfish at 114F?

One thing I have seen some people do to avoid the Heater Cooked My Fish Tank story is to use multiple smaller wattage heaters.

If you buy one undersized heater for your tank, it would, by definition, not heat the water sufficiently. If you placed more of those "undersized" heaters in your tank it would heat the tank to whatever your parameters may be.

IF one of those heaters failed (on), the other(s) would cycle less. IF one failed (off), the others would cycle more. In neither case, would temperatures endanger the living things.

For example, you calculate that you need a 400w heater for your 100 gallon tank. Plug four ugly 100w heaters in there. If one fails the others compensate accordingly.

Like most things in the hobby, your best bet to keep a close eye on the water, fish, and plants while maintaining your equipment! But ... has anybody else tried this?
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Last edited by wardgillette; 04-08-2019 at 11:43 PM. Reason: mis cap
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-08-2019, 11:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wardgillette View Post
Everybody has a different need for heaters.

Most people working with tropical fish and plants live in the Tropics and they don't use heaters. Probably, if you lived in the Arctic, you would have a box of extras. Freshwater fish species have a range of optimum temperatures. White Clouds at 65F? Discus at 82? Julimes pupfish at 114F?

One thing I have seen some people do to avoid the Heater Cooked My Fish Tank story is to use multiple smaller wattage heaters.

If you buy one undersized heater for your tank, it would, by definition, not heat the water sufficiently. If you placed more of those "undersized" heaters in your tank it would heat the tank to whatever your parameters may be.

IF one of those heaters failed (on), the other(s) would cycle less. IF one failed (off), the others would cycle more. In neither case, would temperatures endanger the living things.

For example, you calculate that you need a 400w heater for your 100 gallon tank. Plug four ugly 100w heaters in there. If one fails the others compensate accordingly.

Like most things in the hobby, your best bet to keep a close eye on the water, fish, and plants while maintaining your equipment! But ... has anybody else tried this?


Iím also a big fan of using a thermostat for your heater. Even if it were to be stuck on, the thermostat would cut power to turn it off. Just another failsafe.


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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 12:11 AM
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I use heaters since many aquariums are in the basement-without a heater in tank it would be 64F at the warmest. I keep sme tropical fish in that tend to like/do better in warmer waters.
That said most of my heaters are on a temperature controller. So I set heater to at most 2* above the temp I want then set controller at temp I really want.. so there should be no issue with overheating unless both flake out. If the heater gets stuck on/sensor thinks its too cold, the controller keeps it in check. If the heater dies, controller's large red light display makes is very obvious temp is down.

Due to photobuckets new bs cost for use of images on forums I have deleted all photobucket accounts. I apologize if you enjoyed or found my photos helpful.

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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 12:49 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cinnamonamon View Post
I JUST watched a video by Cory from Aquarium Co-op about this! And then I unplugged the heaters from my guppy aquariums (for the spring/summer/fall, anyway). It just makes sense!

Here is the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GO74_ShYgtg
Every time I read a thread it ran through my mind. That video just made me post here about it. Got me to type what I was thinking.
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Dilution is the solution for the pollution.
Quote me as saying I was misquoted.
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Here's to our wives and sweethearts - may they never meet.
If you agreed with me we'd both be right.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 01:04 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wardgillette View Post
Everybody has a different need for heaters.

Most people working with tropical fish and plants live in the Tropics and they don't use heaters.
Well I live on the west coast of the east coast. AKA Tampa FL. Tampa Airport's largest export is tropical fishWell north of that but I work in Tampa. Those farms are about 20 miles south of Tampa. Segrest is there. Many of our society members work for, or have worked for the farms here. Contrary to what you may think it gets cold here. Back in the 80s we were as low as 20. And rolling blackouts. Yet I lost no fish. The farmers did have great losses in the ponds however.

This winter the fish house was as cold as 65. I did put a space heater in there and kept it at 72. A couple of my more sensitive tanks I did toss a heater in but none of the rest.
As I said in my OP the farms here don't use heaters. Unless it stays cold for an extended period we won't lose fish.

Who really wants us using heater? Yuup. Heater manufacturers. You fish will do fine at 72-74.

Mollys, many cichlids, many other "tropical" fish can do fine at low temps. How do I know for sure? Because some morons let tropicals go into waterways, ponds, lakes and do fine. So much so that a few have become invasive.

Bump:
Quote:
Originally Posted by wardgillette View Post

IF one of those heaters failed (on), the other(s) would cycle less. IF one failed (off), the others would cycle more. In neither case, would temperatures endanger the living things.

For example, you calculate that you need a 400w heater for your 100 gallon tank. Plug four ugly 100w heaters in there. If one fails the others compensate accordingly.

Like most things in the hobby, your best bet to keep a close eye on the water, fish, and plants while maintaining your equipment! But ... has anybody else tried this?
I've been espousing multiple lower watt heaters for decades. Well before the internet.

Not much to do maintenance wise with heaters. Any heater used long enough will fail. Although I do still have a 1980s Supreme heater I use in one tank.
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Dilution is the solution for the pollution.
Quote me as saying I was misquoted.
Once you get rid of integrity the rest is a piece of cake.
Here's to our wives and sweethearts - may they never meet.
If you agreed with me we'd both be right.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 11:40 PM
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Lol....try keeping discus in the Midwest without a heater. No brainer. Surprised you ask this question without any type of reference to the fish you plant to keep.
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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-10-2019, 12:42 AM
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Look, learn and adapt as needed! Fits for almost everything we deal with in the hobby and that includes heaters and how to control them to protect against failures. I find much better for me is to add a cheap temperature controller, rather than clutter the tank with multiple sources of failure! One big reason, besides the added safety, is that I can buy one controller much cheaper than most heaters.
The thing that makes it possible for tropical fish to get by in the Florida winter is that much of the water is coming from springs in the locations where I see them and that means they can just move around to the better temperatures during short cooler spells and it is also true that they can reproduce quickly enough in the good times to offset any massive die-offs in the bad times. Not something I want going on in my tanks! Not many folks to keep track of how many tropicals die in the Ocala area when it freezes.
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-10-2019, 01:29 AM
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Originally Posted by PlantedRich View Post
Look, learn and adapt as needed! Fits for almost everything we deal with in the hobby and that includes heaters and how to control them to protect against failures. I find much better for me is to add a cheap temperature controller, rather than clutter the tank with multiple sources of failure! One big reason, besides the added safety, is that I can buy one controller much cheaper than most heaters.

The thing that makes it possible for tropical fish to get by in the Florida winter is that much of the water is coming from springs in the locations where I see them and that means they can just move around to the better temperatures during short cooler spells and it is also true that they can reproduce quickly enough in the good times to offset any massive die-offs in the bad times. Not something I want going on in my tanks! Not many folks to keep track of how many tropicals die in the Ocala area when it freezes.


What temperature controllers are you using?


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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-10-2019, 03:14 AM
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What temperature controllers are you using?


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I have used two and both are things I will almost refuse to set a tank without one or the other. But make me feel I won't lose the whole tank due to heater failures but each has their own appeal.
First is the Inkbird ITC-308 as found here:
https://www.bulkreefsupply.com/therm...hoC7mMQAvD_BwE

Great controller that has lots of small points that make it great. Things like setable alarms, a nice big screen and a totally well designed item. When I was stocking up I could not find it at near this price and had already been using a different one from the auction site whi9ch I could find much cheaper at that time. Done over, I might totally go this one?
But when stocking lots of tanks, saving ten dollars on each is worth my time to do a bit of DIY to add cords for both in and out AC supply. It takes a bit to get it formed up the way I want, but the price was around $12-15 to get one which reads in Fahrenheit and I was willing to go that way. Celcius can be found cheaper but then it makes my head hurt to see a tank at 28 degrees!!! Be warned that it does take some care to find the one which fits what you want and shopping combined with the adding wiring is not everybody's game. For the difficulty of reading the directions, wiring and shopping, the inkbird can be a real deal if time is a factor or we only need a couple. One big point on the cheaper? I find the probe may not actually be waterproof but tends to leak and go bad, so I now seal all those probes in something like a plastic straw to keep them dry. I found setting a straw on fire and then crimping it out with pliers is a quick way to seal the ends. The straw also works to make the probe easy to stick in a corner, etc. to hide it.
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-10-2019, 04:23 AM
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Originally Posted by PlantedRich View Post
I have used two and both are things I will almost refuse to set a tank without one or the other. But make me feel I won't lose the whole tank due to heater failures but each has their own appeal.
First is the Inkbird ITC-308 as found here:
https://www.bulkreefsupply.com/therm...hoC7mMQAvD_BwE

Great controller that has lots of small points that make it great. Things like setable alarms, a nice big screen and a totally well designed item. When I was stocking up I could not find it at near this price and had already been using a different one from the auction site whi9ch I could find much cheaper at that time. Done over, I might totally go this one?
But when stocking lots of tanks, saving ten dollars on each is worth my time to do a bit of DIY to add cords for both in and out AC supply. It takes a bit to get it formed up the way I want, but the price was around $12-15 to get one which reads in Fahrenheit and I was willing to go that way. Celcius can be found cheaper but then it makes my head hurt to see a tank at 28 degrees!!! Be warned that it does take some care to find the one which fits what you want and shopping combined with the adding wiring is not everybody's game. For the difficulty of reading the directions, wiring and shopping, the inkbird can be a real deal if time is a factor or we only need a couple. One big point on the cheaper? I find the probe may not actually be waterproof but tends to leak and go bad, so I now seal all those probes in something like a plastic straw to keep them dry. I found setting a straw on fire and then crimping it out with pliers is a quick way to seal the ends. The straw also works to make the probe easy to stick in a corner, etc. to hide it.
I agree that is indeed a good controller. I currently use one on my planted tank. I did pick this one up, the Willhi WH1436A controller (https://smile.amazon.com/WILLHI-WH14...-1-spons&psc=1) because it says that it can controll temperature differences as little as .1 degrees. It's for a planned nano shrimp build so it seemed prudent to keep things as steady going as possible. Haven't used it yet, though, so I can't comment on real-world function.
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-10-2019, 01:46 PM
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@PlantedRich - Interesting idea on sealing the thermocouple (probe) with a straw. I was thinking silicone might be as good or Plastidip even better!?
(might make lesser expensive models that indicate the probe is not to be put in water, to work fine in water?)

Note: I currently have a couple of the Finnex Temperature Controllers, one to a 500w titanium heater (60g) and the other to an 800w titanium heater (110g stock tank, basement). They both work GREAT.

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