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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks,

After about six months of very steady temperature regulation in my 90 gallon tank, my 250W Ebo-Jager heater (yes, 20 years old, but out of use for 16 of them) seems to have suddenly overnight become less effective. Everyday, my house temperature varies from 70 overnight to 73 or so during daytime, regulated by a thermostat. My heater is set to the upper 77.x range, and shuts off when the water hits about 77.6 degrees. But when the house is cold it can't keep up, so at night the temp drops a degree or so, with the heater on full-time. I do have my Apex set to shut off the heater if the temperature of the water hits 78.0, but it has never happened.

Anyway, yesterday, out of the blue, the temp dropped lower than usual and didn't rebound. Last night it dropped even lower. Here's the log:

Rectangle Slope Font Line Screenshot


Notice the longer than usual drop Saturday morning with weak recovery, and further drop last night. Note, I've verified that the temperature actually is lower (I have a separate digital thermometer in the tank, and it is indeed reading lower). Also, I've verified the house temperature range is ranging normally. The house is not colder than usual.

Is this failure mode typical?

I've ordered a replacement heater (300 W, since the 250 wasn't quite up to the task previously, despite the gallon recommendations from the Eheim site). It gets here tomorrow. Meanwhile I moved a 125 W heater from one of my water holding tanks up into the aquarium to supplement the failing 250W. Both are on a power strip plugged into the APEX which will shut them off if the temp hits 78, so I'm not worried about some excess rebound effect or anything.

The weird thing is I didn't do any maintenance on the tank since Wednesday (I did shut off power to the heater on Wednesday, for 15 -20 minutes while changing water).

The tank has already started to trend warmer, though of course 90 gallons doesn't change temp fast, and we don't want it to, since it would stress the fish.

Anyway, this is freaking me out a bit... anybody seen anything like this before? I am used to heaters that get stuck on, and stuck off, but this intermediate "partial function" seems weird to me.

Thoughts?
 

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It's in the death throes.

When heaters have failed on me over the years, when it wasn't a catastrophic failure where they failed "on", they basically did what you're seeing. One day they're heating the water, and the next they aren't. At 20 years old, I'd say it's impressive and speaks to the quality of those heaters, but if I get 10 years out of one I'm happy.

The one thing I'm a firm believer in after having a couple reef tanks with Apex's is I'll never use a heater in an aquarium without either an Apex or Inkbird controlling them.
 

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I certainly wish they still made them that good. Thankfully you have a controller should it stick on. When you replace it I highly recommend getting multiple smaller heaters as a safety precaution. I quit the hobby for almost a decade because my tank got cooked overnight. I sure wish I knew about temperature controllers back then lol.
 

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Hi @Marc_G

The heater is undersized for the tank volume. Normally a good guesstimate for a heater is 5 watts per gallon (for a 90 gallon that would be 450 watts) which will keep a tank about 10 degrees warmer than the room ambient temperature. How to Size a Heater for Your Aquarium

I have a 75 gallon discus tank on the lower level of our tri-level home. In the winter we turn the heat down at night and that level can get down to 62 degrees F. on the cold nights. I have to run 475 watts of heaters on that tank to maintain 82 degrees F.

Hope this helps solve your mystery. -Roy
Plant Botany Natural environment Underwater Organism
 

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I run 4 heaters all set to 85 deg F and let the Apex control them to the 80 degree set point. i run all 300Watt Ebos which i have had good luck with. I can’t say the same for Inkbirds, i had two of those. They lasted less than a year on a 40 breeder with a single 250 W. Apex has been perfect for over ten years.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks all for your great inputs.

I stuck the 125W in the tank yesterday around 4 or 4:30, to supplement the failing 250W heater. Given the 73 degree ambient air temp, it was plenty to bring the tank back to upper 77.x range in a speedy but not dangerous amount of time:

Slope Rectangle Line Font Parallel

It took about six hours to bring it from ~75.5 where it was (up from a low of 74.0 bottoming out over the previous night) to the normal 77.6 range. It stayed there all night (70 air temp), with minor variations, until the room started warming up back to 73. It's now up to 78.1 in the tank, despite me trying to manually adjust the 250W heater down a degree. It seems stuck on. The 125W turned itself off around the desired set point. If the tank temp rises to 78.2, the APEX will shut off power to the heaters until the tank drops to 77.8. So, everything is safe for the moment, and I keep watching it periodically. I will pull the 250W as soon as the new 300W gets here later today.

Longer term, I will plan for a second heater for the tank for the winter. In winter we run the house around 70-71 during the day but 65 at night. Maintaining a ~12 degree differential will be too much for the 300 W heater I think, consistent with posts above. I will investigate adding maybe even two smaller supplemental heaters for redundancy. With power to heaters controlled by the APEX, not worried about cooking the tank.

What I need to do is set up email alerts and audible alarms for when things are out of range. The ONE DAY I wasn't watching my tank stats due to other things going on, is the day the heater started going wonky. At least I was home for it; I was on vacation in late July and couldn't have done anything.
 

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Thanks all for your great inputs.

I stuck the 125W in the tank yesterday around 4 or 4:30, to supplement the failing 250W heater. Given the 73 degree ambient air temp, it was plenty to bring the tank back to upper 77.x range in a speedy but not dangerous amount of time:

View attachment 1045908
It took about six hours to bring it from ~75.5 where it was (up from a low of 74.0 bottoming out over the previous night) to the normal 77.6 range. It stayed there all night (70 air temp), with minor variations, until the room started warming up back to 73. It's now up to 78.1 in the tank, despite me trying to manually adjust the 250W heater down a degree. It seems stuck on. The 125W turned itself off around the desired set point. If the tank temp rises to 78.2, the APEX will shut off power to the heaters until the tank drops to 77.8. So, everything is safe for the moment, and I keep watching it periodically. I will pull the 250W as soon as the new 300W gets here later today.

Longer term, I will plan for a second heater for the tank for the winter. In winter we run the house around 70-71 during the day but 65 at night. Maintaining a ~12 degree differential will be too much for the 300 W heater I think, consistent with posts above. I will investigate adding maybe even two smaller supplemental heaters for redundancy. With power to heaters controlled by the APEX, not worried about cooking the tank.

What I need to do is set up email alerts and audible alarms for when things are out of range. The ONE DAY I wasn't watching my tank stats due to other things going on, is the day the heater started going wonky. At least I was home for it; I was on vacation in late July and couldn't have done anything.
I'm assuming you've done this but if not, I'd program in a variable to shut power to the heater off if the temp exceeds a parameter and send you an email/alert. It's usually quicker for the Apex to notice a problem and take action while it's alerting you versus alerting you and waiting for you to take an action like going into the dashboard and manually turning something off.

I use to do this with pressure tubes in my sump....I basically took an ATO pressure tube and used it for a low water level in sump warning. I blocked my intake and tested to see how much water could be pumped into the tank before it either flooded (near flood) or the sump drained to where the return pump would run dry. I set the pressure tube slightly above that level in the sump to prevent both incidents from happening by programming a variable that if float is X open, then shut power off to the return pump protecting it and my tank from overflowing. The Apex is such a great tool. I just found the bag mine was in yesterday as I was cleaning up my laundry room. I'm saving it for use on another reef tank that I'll probably set up later this year or early next year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm assuming you've done this but if not, I'd program in a variable to shut power to the heater off if the temp exceeds a parameter and send you an email/alert. It's usually quicker for the Apex to notice a problem and take action while it's alerting you versus alerting you and waiting for you to take an action like going into the dashboard and manually turning something off.

I use to do this with pressure tubes in my sump....I basically took an ATO pressure tube and used it for a low water level in sump warning. I blocked my intake and tested to see how much water could be pumped into the tank before it either flooded (near flood) or the sump drained to where the return pump would run dry. I set the pressure tube slightly above that level in the sump to prevent both incidents from happening by programming a variable that if float is X open, then shut power off to the return pump protecting it and my tank from overflowing. The Apex is such a great tool. I just found the bag mine was in yesterday as I was cleaning up my laundry room. I'm saving it for use on another reef tank that I'll probably set up later this year or early next year.
Yup, exactly.

My two heaters are plugged into a power strip; the power strip is plugged into one of the APEX power outlets. I've got the outlet output set to turn off at 78.2 and turn on at 77.8.

Rectangle Font Screenshot Electronic device Multimedia

Once I get the new heater in and settled, I will probably adjust programming so that the temp maxes out in the late afternoon and drifts a bit cooler overnight, which is what was happening up to this point just due to the single heater not being able to maintain more than about 6 degrees of delta T. Fish were happy with it and it probably mimics natural environment.
 

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Yup, exactly.

My two heaters are plugged into a power strip; the power strip is plugged into one of the APEX power outlets. I've got the outlet output set to turn off at 78.2 and turn on at 77.8.

View attachment 1045913
Once I get the new heater in and settled, I will probably adjust programming so that the temp maxes out in the late afternoon and drifts a bit cooler overnight, which is what was happening up to this point just due to the single heater not being able to maintain more than about 6 degrees of delta T. Fish were happy with it and it probably mimics natural environment.
Wow, they've made programming WAY easier lol. The last time I programmed anything into my Apex was probably over 10 years ago and I never touched it. I didn't realize that they upgraded the dashboard. Imagine manually programming a day/night cycle for a Kessil lol. I laugh now but I was swearing when I had to do it because it was so tedious lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Scary:

So, I had my system configured to turn off the heaters at 78.2 degrees, but it didn't happen. Surprised, I went in and changed the temp to 78.1 for shutoff (thinking it was a rounding issue). Still didn't turn off.

Turns out I had the output set to ON rather than Auto. This whole time, I wasn't actually protecting via the APEX. I could have had a fish boil.

It's now set to Auto, and is properly evaluating the temperature, and controlling the heaters. It shut them off, and will drift down a bit before turning on. I will be monitoring...

So, Amazon sent me a heater in a water damaged box, without the plastic centering pieces that keep the heater centered in the box, and missing a suction cup. The bottom of the heater box was not even there and the top was clearly retaped.

Obviously I'm sending it back, and they are sending a replacement.

But meanwhile I've had a bit of change of heart and decided to go with two 200 W heaters instead, for redundancy. I've ordered them, will be here in two days. Hmmm. Now what to do with the 300W replacement being shipped...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
In the end, I was able to cancel the 300W. It got delayed in shipping and that opened up another cancellation window.

Currently I have one of the new 200W heaters in the tank, along with the 125 W from my water storage. I'm actually going to take the OTHER 200 W heater, and put that in my water storage for now, using that opportunity to calibrate the heater. I had not bothered to calibrate the one that is currently in my aquarium. Once I get this other one calibrated, I will put it into the tank, and calibrate the first one. I will have the heaters set to turn off at 78F, while using the APEX to regulate to about 77.5.

Question: does it make more sense to use the APEX to control the actual temperature, with the heater thermostats as "backup" should the APEX fail on (due to temp probe failure), or is it better to let the heater thermostats do the work, with the APEX as backup?

I presume the former, as it makes it easy to adjust tank temp setpoint via APEX UI, plus saving wear and tear on the thermostat contact points in the heaters.
 

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In the end, I was able to cancel the 300W. It got delayed in shipping and that opened up another cancellation window.

Currently I have one of the new 200W heaters in the tank, along with the 125 W from my water storage. I'm actually going to take the OTHER 200 W heater, and put that in my water storage for now, using that opportunity to calibrate the heater. I had not bothered to calibrate the one that is currently in my aquarium. Once I get this other one calibrated, I will put it into the tank, and calibrate the first one. I will have the heaters set to turn off at 78F, while using the APEX to regulate to about 77.5.

Question: does it make more sense to use the APEX to control the actual temperature, with the heater thermostats as "backup" should the APEX fail on (due to temp probe failure), or is it better to let the heater thermostats do the work, with the APEX as backup?

I presume the former, as it makes it easy to adjust tank temp setpoint via APEX UI, plus saving wear and tear on the thermostat contact points in the heaters.
Hi @Marc_G

I use an Inkbird ITC-306A as the controller for the heaters on my 75 gallon discus tank. The Inkbird is the main control for the heaters turning them on and off. The heater thermostats are set a couple of degrees higher than the Inkbird maximum so if the Inkbird were to fail the heater thermostats would act as the backup. -Roy
 

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Question: does it make more sense to use the APEX to control the actual temperature, with the heater thermostats as "backup" should the APEX fail on (due to temp probe failure), or is it better to let the heater thermostats do the work, with the APEX as backup?

I presume the former, as it makes it easy to adjust tank temp setpoint via APEX UI, plus saving wear and tear on the thermostat contact points in the heaters.
My APEX controls my heaters but, yeah, if the APEX were to somehow fail you'd want the heaters to shut off of their own, too, so you should set the heaters' thermostats a bit higher than whatever the max cutoff is via the APEX
 
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