Tropical fish are best kept at a temperature ranging between 22 and 30 degrees Celsius. In most climates this temperature is not constant throughout the seasons so an aquarium heater is used. These devices warm the water to the desired level enabling tropical species to be kept none the less.
In the past heating the water of fish was achieved using gas flames. The fish tanks would be made with a slate bottom and underneath the burner would be placed. Modern fish heaters use electricity to directly heat the tank from within.
What is an aquarium heater?
If you have a heater in your room, think of it as the same thing, but instead of dealing with the temperature in your room making you feel more comfortable, aquarium heaters make aquariums warmer. Those who are serious in fish keeping hobbies look around for the best aquarium heaters they can find to make the water temperature aquariums warmer and more comfortable for their fishes. Since most of most tropical freshwater and marine fishes must swim around in warm temperature, glass immersion heaters, under gravel heaters, heating mats placed under the aquarium are used. They help in making the water warm enough, with temperatures ranging from 23-30 ºC or 72-87 ºF.
Getting a heater for your aquarium is very important. It is need if you want to keep your fish alive longer, especially if you want them to reproduce. Aquarium heaters keep the temperature constant and stable – no matter if its really hot or cold in the room, outside, or wherever your aquarium is. Heaters for your aquarium can be found in malls and stores near you and are relatively inexpensive. You just need to decide you want a glass immersion heater, an under gravel heater, or heating mats that are placed under the aquarium. This article will help you decide.
How an aquarium heater works?
Glass immersible aquarium heaters are the most common among the three. It’s a tube made of glass that contains a heating element inside made of ceramic, metal, or glass materials. The glass tube makes use of a thermostat that can be adjusted, which in turn controls the heating element. How does it work? The thermostat in the tube that is submerged in the water keeps up the required set temperature. The most common type of thermostat available is the one made of metal. The metal strips expand and bend when the temperature goes up. When the metal strips bend, the water flow stops until the set temperature based on the thermostat is reached. More advanced and hi-tech types of glass immersion heaters make use of advanced thermostats and microchip technology.
On the other hand, under gravel heaters do the heating by using a heating cable that is buried under the aquarium substrate, placed beneath the gravel. When you have a heavy planted aquarium, under gravel cable heaters are better to be used. Also, another type of aquarium heater, undertank heaters or heating mats is used to maintain desired water temperature. Heating mats are placed underneath aquarium, generating the heat from below. Certain studies show however that undertank heating is not very effective. Since glass is a poor conductor of heat, the heat coming from the pads are reduced one it reaches the water, making this method of heating less effective.
Lastly, it is very important to always take note of this rule: the water you place in a tank, the more stable the water temperature and the aquatic environment will become. So basically, it would take more time for the temperature to drop in a 60-gallon tank compared to a 15-gallon tank.
Thermostats in aquarium heaters
The thermostat measures the temperature of the water and switches the heater on and off accordingly. By doing so a specific temperature can be maintained.
You can often hear a small click as the thermostat switches the heat on and off. Many aquarium heaters will also have a small light which indicates weather the thermostat has selected the on or off mode at that given moment.
Most thermostats for heaters use a bi-metal strip. The strip uses two types of metals that expand and contract at different rates. Though fairly simple in principle a fairly accurate device can be manufactured.
Some thermostats are also manufactured as separate units to the rest of the heater. In this case the heater plugs into the thermostat which has a probe that sits in the aquarium water. Often these will utlize a computer chip rather than the bi-metal strip method.
If a heater element does not turn off and the water is hotter than the set temperature this can be a sign of heater thermostat malfunction.