Are Aquarium Heaters Safe—Are They Necessary
By Jecinta Muturi @aquariawise
Aquarium heaters are, for the most part, safe and necessary, but you need to take precaution, as directed by the manufacturer, to get the most from your unit.
The risk of fire hazard is not too much, plus I’ve never heard anyone get electrocuted by a fish tank heater in my many years of fish keeping.
Once in a while, you’ll have a heater touch and crack the aquarium glass or a fish swim around (or get stuck between the heater and aquarium walls and get hurt, but even these cases are far and wide apart.
Aquarium heater burns are pretty rare, but they do occur from time to time. Sometimes a fish will get trapped between the tank wall and the unit, or a somewhat sedentary fish will choose the heater to rest on: Askinglot
If you think your finnies run the risk of getting burned by your heater, I recommend getting a cover for the unit, plus always keep your filter submerged to avoid accidentally burning yourself when working on the tank.
Submerging your aquarium heater ensure the heating element remains inside the tank, leaving only the unheated part and plug above the water level.
Turn off your heaters when doing a water change to be safe when the tank is halfway full.
What is The Safest Aquarium Heater
Away from the rosy and somewhat questionable product reviews, I do not think there is any one aquarium heater that is consistently safe (or unsafe).
Perhaps reputable brands, such as Fluval, Tetra, Eheim, Vivosun, and Freesea, are more likely to make a safer heater since they’ve been in the market long enough. But it’ll still come down to individual units and how well they’re made.
Having said that, I’ve used different Hygger aquarium heaters in my tanks without much ordeal and is what I recommend to other aquarists.
Orlushy (budget heater), Free Sea, Eheim, and Tetra HT heaters are also quite popular and an ideal choice for most fish tank setups.
Please note I have not come across any compelling safety comparison between different aquarium heaters, so this conclusion is purely based on my personal experience.
Below is a quick-scan list of reasonably safe aquarium heaters I would consider if I needed to buy a new unit today.
- Eheim subermersible heater
- Fluval M series aquarium heater
- Fluval E Series aquarium heater
- Tetra HT aquarium heater Vivosun submersible heater
- Orlushy submersible aquarium heater
- Free Sea fish tank heater
Why Do Aquarium Filters Explode
Aquarium heaters do explode, but it mostly happens with cheap, off the shelve units. Sometimes it does occur with better quality heaters from reputable brands, but it often has to do with a manufacturing glitch on specific units.
If the above is not the case (a heater with inherent weaknesses), your heater exploding must have something to do with the way you were using it.
For instance, if you operate a submersible aquarium heater without enough water in the tank, it could explode. The heater needs to be below the water surface with only the code and plug outside the aquarium.
Your unit heaters will also explode if exposed to open air for an extended time while plugged in.
This usually happens if, for whatever reason, you remove your aquarium heater from the water and fail to unplug it or plug it in but leave it outside the tank.
On lesser instances, a substantial difference in the temperature between your aquarium water and the heater may cause your unit to explode.
I have heard this happen when a heater is placed in cool water and then plugged in before the owner allows the glass element enough time to adjust the water temperature.
Idelly, the best practice is to let your heater sit in the tank for 20 to 30 minutes after installation before you plug it in to allow the glass and heater element some time to adjust.
Below is a list of scenarios in which a fish tanker heater would explode.
- Inherent weaknesses while the aquarium heater was made.
- Low water level in your fish tank
- Temperature difference between the heater glass, element and water column
- Exposing your heater to open air while plugged in
- Cheap aquarium heaters
Now, if your aquarium heater explodes in your fish tank, it is easy to consider pouring everything out and starting your setup from scratch, but I do not recommend it.
I would suggest doing a 50 percent water change, so you don’t lose all of your healthy bacteria. If you are not satisfied with the water quality after the first change, schedule another 2 or 3 days later.
Use a gravel vac or aquarium net to clean up glass shards and other heater debris, then do a thorough vacuuming of the substrate. You may also need to dust your plants, decorations, and rocks.
Are Fish Tank Heaters Necessary
Most tropical fish kept in home aquariums are tropical species native to equatorial water bodies in Africa, South America, and Asia.
Because of the temperatures the fish are accustomed to in the wild, most need to live in a heated tank, which can only be achieved by adding a heater in your fish tank.
The only way you would keep fish in your tank that is not heated is when you have fish from cooler regions like goldfish.
Danios, white cloud mountain minnows, and weather loaches are also part of a small group of freshwater fish that will survive in an unheated aquarium.
These fish will survive in a fish tank with a temperature as low as 55 degrees Fahrenheit, though the recommended range is anywhere between 62 and 69 degrees Fahrenheit.
A majority of the other common tropical aquarium fish prefer a temperature setting anywhere between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit, albeit some like discus will survive even in 86 degrees, as long as the tank is properly aerated.
Thats all for this post, see you in the next one.
Have fun keeping finnies🐠🐟.