Winter months - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-11-2015, 04:44 PM Thread Starter
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Winter months

Hey guys just a quick question..... I live in Maine and winter is just around the bend.
Right I have a 40 gallon planted tank in my room and has been running since last May and it's been running good, my only concern is the my apt temp fluctuates a lot in the winter months ranging from 75 to 60 and right now I have a cheap 200 watt heater I got from eBay in the tank right now, it's been doing a really good job till this month...it really has been struggling. What I mean by struggling is it's constantly staying on just to keep the temp almost were is needs to be or maybe the heater is dying. Now my question is would it be okay to put a 300 watt Heater in there just to get the job done or is that to many watts? I just want something to put in there so I don't have to worry.
And just to clarify the 40 gallon planted tank is my very first tank ever.
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-11-2015, 04:54 PM
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In a standard room temperature setting, 5 watts per gallon is usually enough. You have found that with the cheap heater you have been using through the summer.

It won't be enough through the winter.

I would get the larger heater, and make sure it is a high quality one, not a cheap store brand sort of thing.

Other ways to conserve the tank temperature:
Wrap the tank in a thick towel, especially between the wall (probably pretty cold) and the tank, or in whatever position protects it from cold drafts. Be very careful the towel does not get wet, or cover any electrical item that needs the air movement.
I did this for a year or two with several tanks, and it really made a difference- the wimpy store brand heaters could keep up with the demands when the tanks were wrapped at night.
Instead of a towel, you could put some Styrofoam around the back and sides of the tank, and a removable piece for the front.
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-11-2015, 05:00 PM
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I would get the larger heater, and make sure it is a high quality one, not a cheap store brand sort of thing.
Agreed on the quality heater, however putting an over sized single heater in a tank I disagree with. I personally suggest splitting the difference with 2 heaters. That is to say that since your considering a 300w heater, you instead go with two 150w heaters and place one on each end of the tank. That way IF something does go wrong with a heater and it sticks on you don't over heat the tank.

Just my .02


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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-11-2015, 05:12 PM
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^^ Good point. I face that every year and I have 2 100W heater in my 20G during winter months to keep up with the temp in winter. Since these have thermostats, you will save power bill rather than having a low powered one which will run 24hrs. If over heating is your concern, it will not. It will heat upto the temp and shut off.


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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-11-2015, 05:50 PM
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That is to say that since your considering a 300w heater, you instead go with two 150w heaters and place one on each end of the tank. That way IF something does go wrong with a heater and it sticks on you don't over heat the tank.
@FatherLandDescendant, that is incorrect. Now you have doubled your risk of failure by adding two sources of heat. If the internal thermostat fails (rare case, but DOES happen) the heater will do one of two things; Permanently be off, or permanently on. Having two heaters is a good thing as it adds heating surface area, as well as allows you to heat the tank equally in larger tanks. But the draw back is now you have two devices which may fail. Catch 22.

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^^ Good point. I face that every year and I have 2 100W heater in my 20G during winter months to keep up with the temp in winter. Since these have thermostats, you will save power bill rather than having a low powered one which will run 24hrs. If over heating is your concern, it will not. It will heat upto the temp and shut off.
@plantetra, like the user above you're incorrect. The internal thermostat is generally a good thing, but they do fail. I wouldn't ever, again from my experience, bank on an on-board thermostat as a fail safe.

@JD_Aqua, if you want to do the smart smart thing, invest in two quality 150W heaters and a thermostat that can support two heaters. This will give you two phases of failsafes. The initial heaters can be set to say 75 in this test case and will turn off once that temperature is reached. The thermostat that these will plug into will have a temp probe of it's own that will be reading temps. Set it to say 78. If a heater fails and is stuck on and the tank temps raise up to 78 then the standalone thermostat will kill power to BOTH heaters.
DaveK, DaveK, Soxfandowd and 1 others like this.


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Last edited by Tihsho; 10-11-2015 at 05:51 PM. Reason: grammar
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-11-2015, 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Tihsho View Post
@FatherLandDescendant, that is incorrect. Now you have doubled your risk of failure by adding two sources of heat. If the internal thermostat fails (rare case, but DOES happen) the heater will do one of two things; Permanently be off, or permanently on. Having two heaters is a good thing as it adds heating surface area, as well as allows you to heat the tank equally in larger tanks. But the draw back is now you have two devices which may fail. Catch 22.
Disagree with this. Having one small heater stuck off is not catastrophic. The aquarium is indoors, and with one working heater, there will be time to notice the dropping temperature before anything drastic happens.

OTOH, one big heater stuck on would be catastrophic.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-11-2015, 06:39 PM
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@randym, I'm basing my comment off of first hand experience. About 7 years ago when I was on a breeding kick of Cichlid's, specifically Flowerhorn's, I ran dual 250w heaters in my breeding tanks as to keep the temperatures constant on two halves of the 90 gallon tanks I was using for breeding. I didn't run thermostats because I was oblivious to heater failure and didn't think much of it with the lack of experience. One day I came home to a 90 that was running at 98 degrees with a dead female and a male that was gasping at the surface on his side. The female's side of the tank had the failure. Once you have a failure that kills a couple hundred dollar fish that were producing a couple hundred dollar offspring and you're selling them... Well your mind changes when it comes to heaters. At that point I changed from using heaters to a room that had a controlled heat so everything was at the same temperature. Other tanks I had setup used heaters in sumps with agricultural thermostats. I've also had one heater fail in a sump but was able to catch it in time before any destruction.


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Last edited by Tihsho; 10-11-2015 at 06:39 PM. Reason: edit
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-11-2015, 06:59 PM
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@FatherLandDescendant, that is incorrect. Now you have doubled your risk of failure by adding two sources of heat. If the internal thermostat fails (rare case, but DOES happen) the heater will do one of two things; Permanently be off, or permanently on. Having two heaters is a good thing as it adds heating surface area, as well as allows you to heat the tank equally in larger tanks. But the draw back is now you have two devices which may fail. Catch 22.
Having two undersized heaters, should one fail in the on position it isn't enough to over heat the tank, it would take both heaters failing at the same time, in the on position, to over heat the tank. While not impossible, the odds of it happening are astronomically unlikely.

But everyone is entitled to their opinion.


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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-11-2015, 06:59 PM
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@Tihsho

It depends on what he is asking. Maybe I misunderstood the question. From what I understand, he is not concerned about the failure of the product. I think his question is - If you increase your aquarium from 200w to 300w will it overheat.

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Having two undersized heaters, should one fail in the on position it isn't enough to over heat the tank, it would take both heaters failing at the same time, in the on position, to over heat the tank. While not impossible, the odds of it happening are astronomically unlikely.

But everyone is entitled to their opinion.
I agree to this. An underpowered heater working continuously will not overheat the tank. thats the reason why we call it underpowered.


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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-11-2015, 07:03 PM
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Having two undersized heaters, should one fail in the on position it isn't enough to over heat the tank, it would take both heaters failing at the same time, in the on position, to over heat the tank. While not impossible, the odds of it happening are astronomically unlikely.

But everyone is entitled to their opinion.
This is dependent on a lot of factors we don't know, such as the average temp of the room, open/closed tops, etc etc.

Running undersized heaters is a good thing, but I wouldn't claim it to be a cut and dry fail safe.

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@Tihsho

It depends on what he is asking. Maybe I misunderstood the question. From what I understand, he is not concerned about the failure of the product. I think his question is - If you increase your aquarium from 200w to 300w will it overheat.
Per the OP's question of the increase in wattage, yes the tank has a risk of overheating if there is a failure. Otherwise all it will do is heat up the aquarium at a faster rate and reduce temperature fluxes. I wouldn't go oversized without a standalone thermostat though.


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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-11-2015, 07:17 PM Thread Starter
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Okay let my give you the run down of my tank set up, 40 gallon with an aqua clear 70 with a Hydor koralia 240gph, currently with the eBay 200 watt heater the tank is heavily planted idk if the matters or not. As for heaters suggestion the dual heater with a thermostat sounds like a great idea but I was also looking into the fluval E series, the M series also made by fluval, jager heaters and the Finnex Hang-On Electronic Controller Aquarium Heater, Titanium Tube as reliable heaters to go with. The temp of the room in the winter time is 60-75F
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-11-2015, 07:20 PM
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This is dependent on a lot of factors we don't know, such as the average temp of the room,
Actually we do have this information, it was given in the OP

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Originally Posted by Tihsho View Post
open/closed tops, etc etc.
Given the OPs concern this information is irrelevant.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tihsho View Post
Running undersized heaters is a good thing, but I wouldn't claim it to be a cut and dry fail safe.
See my previous post as to the explanation as to WHY I gave this advice. I don't really see how I can make it any simpler.

Though I will agree with you on your point regarding a separate probe based thermal controller, and that would/could be another route should the OP choose to buy only one 300w heater in this case. But unless they are willing to buy a thermal controller ALONG WITH the 300w heater, IMO the better course of action are 2 heaters slightly undersized as opposed to 1 over sized heater. At least if it were I and my 20+ years of experience (not all planted tank based) in this hobby needing to find a solution such as the OP has queried about.

As for me personally I now have the heater on my main tank tied into my Apex controller, and as for the heater in my bedroom tank... For now I'll trust the BRAND NEW Jager I installed 2 weeks ago, that tank isn't as heavily invested in that I'll loose sleep with worry.

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Okay let my give you the run down of my tank set up, 40 gallon with an aqua clear 70 with a Hydor koralia 240gph, currently with the eBay 200 watt heater the tank is heavily planted idk if the matters or not. As for heaters suggestion the dual heater with a thermostat sounds like a great idea but I was also looking into the fluval E series, the M series also made by fluval, jager heaters and the Finnex Hang-On Electronic Controller Aquarium Heater, Titanium Tube as reliable heaters to go with. The temp of the room in the winter time is 60-75F
Jagers have an excellent reputation, I was running Marineland heaters and both crapped out after a year so I suggest staying away from those


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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-11-2015, 07:29 PM Thread Starter
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You guys have been really helpful thank you
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-12-2015, 12:41 AM
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North country of NH here. I run 3 heaters in my 75 g. 2 heaters in my 29g. My home can swing from 80 to just above freezing with only wood heat. I burn through heaters.

Most just shut off when they die. I have only had one stay on when it malfunctioned. With live plants I'm plucking loose leafs at least once a day so I noticed it before I had guppy soup.
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-12-2015, 12:51 AM
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North country of NH here. I run 3 heaters in my 75 g. 2 heaters in my 29g. My home can swing from 80 to just above freezing with only wood heat. I burn through heaters.

Most just shut off when they die. I have only had one stay on when it malfunctioned. With live plants I'm plucking loose leafs at least once a day so I noticed it before I had guppy soup.

Do you have all heaters capable of heating the whole tank if kept alone?

I am surprised it overheated. The reason is, if that single heater is not capable of heating the whole tank, then as soon as it malfunctions, the other two should have stopped heating as the water temp is above the required range. Once that happens, this malfunctioning heater will maybe raise the temp by 2 or 3 degrees before it reaches its max capacity.


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