Best Aquarium Heaters 2018: Maintain Water Temperature with No Trouble

An aquarium heater is one of the crucial elements of any aquarium because health and general well-being of fish depend on it to a large extent. A submersible aquarium heater is the most popular type – it is an inexpensive and ubiquitous device that is easy to use and maintain. With so many heater models on sale, it can be quite a challenge to choose the best one. In our buyer’s guide, we’ll review ten best submersible aquarium heater models of the year 2018.

Table of Contents:

Why do You Need a Heater?
Best Aquarium Heaters of the Year 2018: a Comparative Chart
Benefits of Using a Heater in Your Aquarium
Things to Consider When Buying an Aquarium Heater
How We Picked Out the Best Models in the Category of Aquarium Heaters
Top Aquarium Heater 2018: Our Choice
1. - ViaAqua 50-Watt Quartz Glass Submersible Heater
2. - FLUVAL E 300 watt Advanced Electronic Heater
3. - Neo-Therm Aquarium Heater - Cobalt Aquatics
4. - Aqueon Pro Heater Aquarium Heater
5. - EHEIM Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater
6. - Tetra HT Submersible Aquarium Heater With Electronic Thermostat
7. - Songjoy Quartz Glass Submersible Aquarium Heater
8. - Hydor In-Line External Heater
9. - Finnex Hang-On Digital Controller Aquarium Heater
10. - AquaTop Quartz Glass Submersible Heater
Interesting Facts about Aquarium Fish and Aquarium Heating
How to Care about an Aquarium Heater: Tips for Aquarians
How and Where to Place a Heater Correctly: Facts to Consider
Aquarium Water Temperature for Different Species of Fish
Frequently Asked Questions
Verdict and Recommendations

Why do You Need a Heater?

Unlike mammals, fish can’t maintain their body temperature; they are cold-blooded, which means that their bodies do not produce heat. That’s why fish are entirely dependent on the environmental temperature. Some species feel good at room temperature, and others (especially tropical fish) need warmer water. Even if your fish live at room temperature, you need to keep in mind that the temperature in your room is not constant. It tends to fluctuate throughout the year and even throughout the day. So, a fish aquarium heater is a must-have anyway.

Types of Aquarium Heaters

Though all heaters perform one and the same function – regulating water temperature – they can significantly differ in terms of their construction. They are chosen based on the aquarium size, fish species, and personal preferences of a fish owner. Here are the main types of these aquarium devices:

  1. Immersion heaters that are hanged over the tank’s wall. Their heating element is hidden in a glass tube that is placed into water.
  2. Submersible heaters that are fully placed right in the water. They are safer and more convenient than immersion-type heating devices.
  3. Filters with built-in heaters. Two-in-one devices can be convenient but beware that you won’t be able to regulate the temperature, and if a heater goes down, you’ll have to replace the entire unit.
  4. External in-line and in-sump filters. The first one is placed between the sump and the tank, and the second one – inside the sump. They are used for larger aquariums and are more expensive than compact devices.

Immersion and submersible heaters are most popular in the market. They are affordable, easy to use and compact. Submersible models are safer and more efficient, so they are more frequently recommended by experienced aquarists.

Best Aquarium Heaters of the Year 2018: a Comparative Chart

      Brand

 

Type of a heater

Type of water

Power (W)

Applicable tank size (gallons)

Build quality

Temperature range (F)

Warranty

 

ViaAqua 50-Watt Quartz Glass Submersible Heater

ViaAqua 50-Watt

BUY NOW AMAZON Submersible Fresh or  salted 50 Up to 13 Good 68-93 N/A

FLUVAL E 300 watt Advanced Electronic Heater

FLUVAL E 300 Watt

BUY NOW AMAZON Submersi Fresh or  300 Up to 100 Excellent

68-93

5 years

Neo-Therm Aquarium Heater - Cobalt Aquatics

Neo-Therm Aquarium Heater – Cobalt Aquatics

BUY NOW AMAZON Submersible Fresh or  salted 50 Up to 12 Good 66-96 3 years

Aqueon Pro Heater Aquarium Heater

Aqueon Pro Heater

BUY NOW AMAZON Submersible Fresh or  salted 150

Up to 50

Excellent 68-88 Limited lifetime warranty

EHEIM Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater

EHEIM Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater

BUY NOW AMAZON Submersible Fresh or  salted 200 Up to 100 Excellent 65-93 3 years

Tetra HT Submersible Aquarium Heater With Electronic Thermostat

Tetra HT Submersible

BUY NOW AMAZON Submersible Fresh or  salted 50 Up to 10 Medium Non-adjustable, around 78 N/A

Songjoy Quartz Glass Submersible Aquarium Heater For Tropical Fish with Suction Cup 100~500W

Songjoy Quartz Glass Submersible

BUY NOW AMAZON Submersible Fresh or  salted 300 Up to 50 Good 65-93 1 year

Hydor In-Line External Heater - Original ETH

Hydor In-Line External Heater

BUY NOW AMAZON External Fresh or  salted 300 Up to 100 Good 62-94 N/A

Finnex Hang-On Digital Controller Aquarium Heater, Titanium Tube

Finnex Hang-On Digital Controller

BUY NOW AMAZON Submersible Fresh or  salted 100

Up to 30

Excellent 68-92 6 months

Aquatop Quartz Glass Submersible Heaters (50W-300W)

Aquatop Quartz Glass Submersible

BUY NOW AMAZON Submersible Fresh or  salted 50 Up to 13 Good 68-93 N/A

Benefits of Using a Heater in Your Aquarium

In fact, there is one major benefit of using a heater: it helps to maintain the needed temperature of water in your aquarium without any efforts. It is crucial for the life of most types of fish. So a heater can be rightfully called a mandatory element of an aquarium. Another benefit of this device is that it creates an optimal environment for tropical plants (if there are some) in the aquarium. Finally, it makes filtering of the water easier, which is also a benefit.

Things to Consider When Buying an Aquarium Heater

To make the most of using an aquarium heater one needs to choose the right type and model of a device. Thus, if you have a large aquarium, a small unit will be inefficient. In turn, a large and powerful heater will be equally inefficient and even dangerous for a small tank. Here are the main characteristics that need to be considered.

Type of a Heater

Submersible filters are most frequently chosen by relatively small home aquariums. In some cases, an external unit will be a preferable option. Choose the heater type depending on the aquarium size and location, as well as your climate zone.

Size

Apparently, the heater size and power depends on the size of an aquarium. You can roughly calculate what power you need, using a formula: 25 W per every 5 gallons of water. Thus, for a 50-gallon tank, you’ll need one 250 W heater or two 120-150 W heaters.

Ease of Maintenance

Basically, all submersible filters require minimum maintenance. All you need to do is to clean them gently from time to time and check for the signs of rust. Though modern devices are commonly quite long-lasting, you’d better to change them at least once in two or three years.

Placement

Think in advance where and how you are going to place the device. Some models can be placed only vertically; others – only horizontally. If you are placing two small submersible heaters in a large aquarium, you’d better put them in the opposite corners of the tank. If you choose a single heater, try to place it closer to the water inflow to provide even heating.

How We Picked Out the Best Models in the Category of Aquarium Heaters

To choose the most popular and most reliable aquarium heater models of the year we made a deep analysis of this segment of the market. We’ve studied several hundreds of aquarium heater reviews of real customers. It helped us to single out main pros and cons of every heater and nominate prospective leaders.

The second stage of our research was real-life testing of the chosen models. To test the samples we used two standard aquariums 15 and 30 gallons (without live fish, just with water). One of them was filled with salted water, another – with fresh water. Our goal was to estimate the build quality, design, the accuracy of temperature measuring, the consistency of water temperature and some other key parameters. As a result, seven best models were chosen. All of them are efficient and reliable enough, and all of them are highly estimated by real customers.

Interesting Facts about Aquarium Fish and Aquarium Heating

tropical fish in an aquarium

1. Though fish are mute they are extremely sensitive towards light, smells, touches, sounds, and tastes. Taste buds cover their entire body.

2. Fish are extra-sensitive towards water temperature. Even 2-3 degrees can be crucial for them and even cause death of some species.

3. Never try to heat an aquarium in a natural way by placing it under direct sunlight. It is dangerous for its inhabitants.

4. In 95% of cases, fish die because of improper feeding and housing conditions.

5. Fish are not animals, but like all living beings, they can experience stress, pain, and fear.

Top Aquarium Heater 2018: Our Choice

Here is our list of best aquarium heater models. For every brand, we tried to single out pros and cons. Read and decide what top-rated aquarium heater is the best.

ViaAqua 50-Watt Quartz Glass Submersible Heater with Built-In Thermostat

ViaAqua 50-Watt Quartz Glass Submersible Heater with Built-In Thermostat

Review

This is a simple small aquarium heater that is able to maintain a fixed temperature in a 10-13-gallon tank. It is fully submersible and can be used in both salted and fresh water. It is sturdy and durable, thanks to its quartz glass shock-resistance case. But for larger aquariums, this 50-watt aquarium heater can turn out to be insufficient.

What we think

It holds temperature pretty well but not excellent. We don’t recommend it for ultra-delicate fish species that can die from the smallest fluctuations of water temperature. That said, it is a decent inexpensive options for Guppies.

Pros:

  • adjustable temperature;
  • for salted- or freshwater aquariums;
  • convenient temperature setting;
  • high-quality materials: sturdy plastic and quartz glass.

Cons:

  • the temperature needs to be adjusted manually;
  • sometimes doesn’t cope with the heating of a 13-gallon tank;

tends to turn off before the temperature reaches the preset value.

FLUVAL E 300 watt Advanced Electronic Heater

FLUVAL E 300 watt Advanced Electronic Heater

Review

This powerful 300-watt aquarium heater can maintain constant temperature in a 100-gallon tank. It is equipped with dual sensors for quick and precise temperature measurements. The VueTech Technology indicates an increased risk of overheating with the help of a flashing LED monitor.

What we think

In our tests the device worked consistently. What is really great is that it doesn’t overheat water unlike some cheaper options. The device seems to be well-made and durable. In our opinion, it’s a good value for money.

Pros:

  • smart and powerful;
  • dual sensors for temperature measurements;
  • a readable LED display;
  • easy to set and use;
  • the heating element is hidden deep inside so that fish can’t contact it.

Cons:

  • it is a bit pricey.
Neo-Therm Aquarium Heater - Cobalt Aquatics

Neo-Therm Aquarium Heater – Cobalt Aquatics

Review

This heater is notable not only for its design, which is really sleek. It is very handy, easy to set up and use, and efficient. The Neo-Therm heater provides precise temperature measurements and has a function of an automatic switching off if there is a risk of overheating.

What we think

Actually, we have almost nothing to complain about. The heater does its job very well; it is easy to use and holds the temperature correctly. The only small downside is its poor suction cups.

Pros:

  • a very accurate temperature reading and displaying;
  • the “one touch” system is really handy;
  • two bright indicators – the preset temperature and the current temperature;
  • maintains the temperature very well;
  • shatterproof and shockproof.

Cons:

  • can be placed only vertically.
Aqueon Pro Heater Aquarium Heater

Aqueon Pro Heater Aquarium Heater

Review

This is another terrific aquarium heater with thermostat (electronic). It is lightweight and compact but very robust and, as the manufacturer claims, 100% shatterproof and shockproof. It is a fully submersible heater; easy to use and reliable.

What we think

It is a good price quality ratio. On the plus side, it is lightweight, compact, and inexpensive. One the minus side, it is not powerful enough: it takes much time to heat up an average tank.

Pros:

  • an exceptional build quality;
  • the accuracy of temp measurements and displaying;
  • electronic thermostat;
  • lifetime warranty from the manufacturer.

Cons:

  • tends to rust over time;
  • sometimes (though rarely) doesn’t maintain the preset temperature. The solution is a more powerful option.
EHEIM Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater

EHEIM Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater

Review

The EHEIM Aquarium Heater is a great example of a reliable modern medium-priced device. It has a conventional design, sturdy shock-resistant construction, and a standard feature set. The good news is a wide range of watts available – from 50 to 300 W.

What we think

There is little to complain about. This heater is a “working horse” – reliable and consistent, though a sort of slow. It takes time for it to deliver the needed temperature, but once reached, the temp is maintained.

Pros:

  • easy setting;
  • the proprietary TruTemp system provides more precise measurements;
  • a decent build quality, shock-resistance;
  • durable and reliable;
  • it turns off automatically when there’s a risk of overheating.

Cons:

  • it is taller than usual;
  • sometimes doesn’t cope with the claimed tank size.
Tetra HT Submersible Aquarium Heater With Electronic Thermostat

Tetra HT Submersible Aquarium Heater With Electronic Thermostat

Review

The Tetra HT submersible aquarium heater is a fantastic low-budget option. It can seem a bit plain and too small but, on the plus side, it is a really cheap aquarium heater, which does its job well, especially in small tanks. Keep in mind that for a larger tank, you’d better buy a more powerful device.

What we think

If you are looking for a low-budget option, that’s what you need. It is recommended for unpretentious fish species that can bear minor temperature fluctuations. Despite its entry level price, the device is quite well-made.

Pros:

  • very affordable;
  • easy to set up and use;
  • fully submersible;
  • a shatterproof construction;
  • an electronic thermostat.

Cons:

  • not very durable;
  • for smaller tanks only.
Songjoy Quartz Glass Submersible Aquarium Heater For Tropical Fish with Suction Cup 100~500W

Songjoy Quartz Glass Submersible Aquarium Heater

Review

This 300w aquarium heater suits for heating larger aquariums – up to 50 gallons of water. Beware that other options are also available (from 100 to 500 Watt). The heater is affordable and does its job well.

What we think

We love the heater’s flexibility in terms of is placement – it allows both vertical and horizontal mounting. The device works consistently though, again, a bit slowly. The suction cups could be better.

Pros:

  • fully submersible;
  • fast and accurate heating;
  • a bright indicator;
  • adjustable temperature;
  • can be placed vertically and horizontally
  • one-year warranty.

Cons:

  • suction cups are not perfect;
  • sometimes doesn’t cope with the claimed tank size.
Hydor In-Line External Heater - Original ETH

Hydor In-Line External Heater

Review

This is a powerful aquarium heater for an external use that suits for the heating of relatively large water tanks – up to 100-120 gallons. The device is equipped with an electronic thermostat and allows precise temperature control and a 5/8 inch hose.

What we think

It works as expected; no major complaints about the heater’s performance or consistency. The two downsides, in our opinion, are its hose that doesn’t fit to any tubing and it’s a sort of cumbersome design.

Pros:

  • powerful and reliable;
  • easy to set up and use;
  • precise temperature settings;
  • consistent performance.

Cons:

  • large and cumbersome;
  • the hose attachment can require some DIY work.

How to Care for an Aquarium Heater: Tips for Aquarians

Though for the most part aquarium heaters are quite easy to use and don’t require special maintenance, don’t forget that they are electric devices. It means that you need to observe basic safety precautions to prevent possible dangerous situations. Here are some tips for everyone to consider.

  • Choose an aquarium heater size suitable for the size of your aquarium tank. This information is usually provided in the list of the product’s specifications.
  • Read a user manual before switching on a heater. It helps to reduce risks. For example, from the Top Fin aquarium heater instructions, you’ll know how to mountain the device correctly for its maximum efficiency.
  • Keep in mind that even the best saltwater aquarium heater models tend to rust over time in the salted water. If you see the signs of rusting, replace the heater. If water gets inside, it can result in a short circuit.

Also, try to prevent shattering of the aquarium. Though modern heaters are considered shock-resistant, they still can break. Breakage of a heater inside a tank can be very dangerous.

How and Where to Place a Heater Correctly: Facts to Consider

Beginners in the sphere of aquaristics often wonder where to place aquarium heater inside the tank. In fact, there can be several possible variants. An important thing here is to adhere to some principle rules.

Submersible heaters must be covered by water completely. Some models are mounted only vertically, other – horizontally, and still others can be mounted in any position. If you use several heaters (in a large tank), place them in the opposite corners of the aquarium in order to let water be heated evenly. If you don’t know what size heater for aquarium is best, read the product’s specifications.

Aquarium Water Temperature for Different Species of Fish

Different types of fish have different demands to water temperature. Moreover, some of them are more sensitive to the temperature fluctuations, while others are more immune to slight changes throughout the day. These factors need to be considered when you are choosing the fish for living in one aquarium.

Coldwater Fish

Coldwater fish are considered the least demanding, due to which they are rather popular, especially with the beginners. Well-known examples of coldwater aquarium fish are the goldfish, the coi, and guppy. These fish feel comfortable at the temperature of 65-68 F.

Warm-Water or Tropical Fish

Tropical fish can’t live in cold water. The comfortable temperature range for them is 75-80 F, which can’t be maintained a special aquarium heater. These fish are also more demanding in general, so if you have no or little experience in fish breeding, you’d better begin with coldwater species. Examples of tropical fish are the danios, barbs, angelfish, and others.

Verdict and Recommendations: Aquarium Heaters

We’ve reviewed seven great models of submersible aquarium heaters. Your final choice will depend on your particular needs. For example, the Tetra aquarium heater, as well as the Top Fin aquarium heater, will not fit into a large tank, so you’ll better choose a large aquarium heater like FLUVAL E 300 Watt. If you are looking for a good 50-gallon aquarium heater, consider Aqueon Pro Heater, which has an excellent build quality and a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer. Finally, if you are looking for the most affordable option for a small tank, try the ViaAqua heater – it is cheap but effective, and does its job really well.

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