School me on heaters - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-13-2019, 09:46 PM Thread Starter
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School me on heaters

So, as I mentioned in my other thread - getting back in to the hobby after a layoff. Still looking for a heater for my new 29g. During my last stint in the hobby, seems like I remember VisTherm being the "go to" heater brand. It looks like MarineLand has bought them out or something. What's the good heater brand these days?
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post #2 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-13-2019, 10:31 PM
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Visitherm Stealth were my absolute favorite heaters until that big recall 6-8 years ago. AFAIK they stopped making them after that. The Aqueon Pro looks similar but I've yet to try one. Ebo Jager used to be great, but folks report that in the last decade they've dipped in quality and lots of mine (and others said the same online) got water inside the units. I have some Fluval E's that have been running for several years, as well as cheap Aquatops. The next heater I buy I may well pony up for the JBJ titanium. But it's pricey! https://www.amazon.com/JBJ-Titanium-...dp/B00D6EFR5U/

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post #3 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-13-2019, 10:34 PM
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I use Eheim Jager and have for years with no issues , but I use and recommend using a controller with heaters . You can DIY one with InkBird parts or InkBird sells a ready made one .
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post #4 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-13-2019, 11:23 PM
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Cobalt is supposed to be accurate and reliable.
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post #5 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-13-2019, 11:33 PM
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I've used fairly generic heaters without issue, but I use inkbird controllers with mine as well.


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post #6 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-14-2019, 12:44 AM
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Ive got the aqueon pro in one tank and it works well. Have a generic in the other tank that is also working well (think its tetra or some sort).

The aqueon has a lifetime warranty if I remember correctly but have not used it yet (hopefully wont).


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post #7 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-14-2019, 01:04 AM
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Heaters are among the worst items we deal with and looking at names is not really as reliable as it used to be as things are no longer made even in the countries where they are known to start. That leaves me to go for specific features that I have found help to prevent trouble, rather than name brand.
A temperature controller is now a priority on all my tanks---if I value the fish!
For heaters, I go for these features. Metal tube, controls outside the tube so that they are not heated every time the heat comes on as electronics and heat or water are not good combos and ceramic heating elements seem to last much better than the common wire coil. I go for one of the cheaper heaters that has all these features and then back up my protection with a controller, letting the heater thermostat do it's thing but the controller stopping it is if sticks.
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post #8 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-14-2019, 02:50 PM Thread Starter
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Wow, thanks for the info guys. I think I'll go with the Fluval "M" and one of the Inkbird controllers. Sounds like quality in the heater department has really gone downhill, and a controller would be a smart investment. I've had tanks for many, many years and never experienced a "nuked" heater. I've had them fail, but never stick open. Crazy.
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post #9 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-14-2019, 02:52 PM
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One thing about heaters. They will fail. Whether they fail on or off matters not when they fail. When I use heaters on display tanks (the fish house I control air temp and tanks have no heaters) in the house I go for two. Each one rated at about half the wattage I need. Why? If one fails on it can't cook the fish. If one fails off the other will maintain a livable temp for the fish.
I've bought many different brands over the years I've been keeping fish and every brand I got had failures.
That being said I am still running one of my original Supreme heaters I bought brand new in 1981.

For just a couple of tanks I would investigate Rich's controller idea.
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post #10 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-14-2019, 04:16 PM
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When speaking of any equipment, we do need to adapt things to fit what we each have in our personal situation. Some lucky folks don't even need heaters!
But there is a great deal of difference in how we need to deal with heater failures in many of our tank situations. Two things happen to heaters and I find they are somewhat more reliable than 40-50 years ago as things do improve slowly. But they still can stick on and overheat or break down and fail to heat, each of which is not good but the most danger comes from sticking ON.
We tend to be trained to worry about the heater failing and the fish get too cool but it is far worse when they get too hot. Two big items most of us need to be aware of are how fish are effected when the heater doesn't work right.
A tank with broken heater will cool but it is often a pretty slow process as the tank temp and the room temp is often not that far different. A 76 degree tank in a 70 degree room, will cool but slowly. Not good as the fish may thing be stressed and need treatment/meds, etc.
A tank that has a heater stuck in the ON position will often heat quite quickly as the heater is often way oversized if the suggested sizes are used. I've lost three tanks to stuck heaters and I can vouch for how quickly it happens! A 50 watt heater can totally kill a ten gallon tank in less than 6 hours! I now worry little about a failed heater as it gives me a pretty long time to notice and correct plus I can almost always treat any fish and not loose them if they do get cool enough to bother them.
However, I now use the controllers to assure myself they are not overheated as it happens much quicker and is much more deadly. Warmer/hotter water, does not carry O2 and fish die very fast. No meds to treat dead fish!
The Inkbird 308 is my ( more expensive) choice for the high value tanks as it gives me alarms for high and low. But the lower value folks get the much cheaper controllers off E-bay that do not give me audible alarms but will cut off power to the heater if it goes too high.
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post #11 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-14-2019, 04:55 PM
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I think all of the Supreme heaters I bought in the 80's are still working well. However, I do keep an eye on them!
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post #12 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-15-2019, 08:40 AM
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Get an inline heater to avoid looking at one in the tank. As others have said, heaters are the worst part and are almost guaranteed to die at some point.
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post #13 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-16-2019, 01:56 PM
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I use the Cobalt Neo-therm heaters since you can easily see not only the temp that you have set for the tank but the actual temp of the tank - slow flashing light if actual temp is below your setting and fast flashing if temp is above. Steady light for your set temp.

But since all heaters will fail at some point, I have had these fail also. I had 2 fail after water changes when they stuck on at 94F after a water change and being plugged back in. This was easily caught as they flashed red on 94F. Another failed similarly after a power outage. When power was restored it stuck on at 94F. In all cases they were unable to be reset. 2 of these were within the 3 yr warranty and readily replaced by Cobalt; the 3rd was over 3 yrs.

As others have said, this is the most annoying piece of equipment I have. But because these are so easy to read (and set), I make sure to check on them everyday.
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post #14 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-16-2019, 02:23 PM
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still rolling with eheim and ink bird controller


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post #15 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-16-2019, 02:44 PM
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I've had an eheim too, but being a bit mechanically challenged, I was never able to recalibrate it properly. I read so often about the benefits of heater controllers - and I believe it - but I fear that for me that's another piece of equipment that will just challenge and maybe frustrate me again. I need simple.
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