Jump to content

Reliable Longterm Heaters


Tihshho
 Share

Recommended Posts

When I setup the room 3 years ago I started with new equipment, I figured it was time to let go of heaters I had for 15+ years and that was probably a big mistake. I decided to go with Aquatop heaters as they were within the budget and I had not heard any complaints about them. When I got them, they worked out well enough. Being the old analog style of setting nothing was precise, but if it looked like it was set to 78 the tank would run around 76-80. It seems that 3 years of continual use some of these heaters are just not keeping up. I generally turn have the heaters on for hot species and run them at 77 on other tanks just incase the room temp drops for some reason or my space heater kicks. 

After noticing the humidity levels rising in the room a few months in I decided to setup a dehumidifier and the output from that aided in keeping the ambient temps in the room in the high 70's with the heater and since I never noticed the tanks heater lights on.

While revamping the room, moving things around and checking tanks post moving them and filling them I noticed some of the tanks I was setting up to be at 82 were not right. The tanks were cold... At least in comparison to a tank running at that temp should feel like. Shot them with the IR gun, checked them with a probe to confirm, and well tanks are at 75. Went around and checked a few other tanks and compared them to their settings and a few of them are under running the settings by at least 4 degrees, and some on the bottom shelves are even 7 degrees off. With that in mind I'm now on the hunt for new heaters. 

Now that AquaTop have failed me, I've had failures with Cobalt consistently when I was using them in my reefs, and even Ehiem Jagers seem to not be holding up or working, I'm trying to find a reliable heater to be able to get in a decent volume. Anyone have recommendations? I just need a range of 50W, 75W and 150W heaters. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I used AquaTop on several. Never got more than 2 years out of them. Last year I started upgrading to Aqueon pro metal cased heaters. I can’t speak on longevity my oldest is a year and a few months but I have 3-100 3-50. I run dual lower wattage on 20 gallon and up because we keep it cold in our house and they run less it seems. So far I really like them. They are pricey though. That’s why the slow upgrade. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the whole hobby feels your pain. As near as I can tell "ya pays your money and ya takes your chances". There are work-arounds, Inkbird Controllers that shut off a stuck-on heater and heating the room are the only ones I know of that are more or less completely reliable. Hopefully someone with a bunch of experience will respond.

Edited by Ken
.
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/3/2021 at 9:23 PM, Ken said:

I think the whole hobby feels your pain. As near as I can tell "ya pays your money and ya takes your chances". There are work-arounds, Inkbird Controllers shut off a stuck-on heater and heating the room are the only ones I know of. Hopefully someone with a bunch of experience will respond.

Agree I use inkbirds on all mine too

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It’s kind of scary to recommend heaters because if they fail, they can fail spectacularly instead of the quiet failure you’re describing.

If you promise not to hold it against me,I will tell you I’ve got an ancient Eheim that still works.  I’ve been buying Hyggers that seem to be working well, but they’re only about 1.5 years old, so . . .  I’ve got Marinas that are also about 1.5 years old and seem to be doing OK so far except for one that the gauge was super inaccurate.

All the other old heaters I still had from “back in the day” have given up, one overheated but only slightly and I caught it before there were problems.  I’d been in the habit for years of quickly touching the glass of each tank and picked right back up when I restarted keeping fish.  It’s not an accurate measure but I know what each tank is set at and if there’s not the appropriate temp difference between specific tanks, I can tell.  Even when it’s only a few degrees difference, like the pea puffer at 77 next to the Betta at 80 and the shrimp tank at room temp.  Subtle, but real.  I couldn’t walk up to someone else’s tank, touch the glass, and tell you it’s exact temp because there’s too many variables - are my hands cold because they keep their house frigid, did I just come inside from 100 degree heat, etc.  But it is a first alert for my own tanks, especially if I have a comparison tank adjacent.  Odds are low for 2 spontaneous failures.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/3/2021 at 9:23 PM, Ken said:

I think the whole hobby feels your pain. As near as I can tell "ya pays your money and ya takes your chances". There are work-arounds, Inkbird Controllers that shut off a stuck-on heater and heating the room are the only ones I know of that are more or less completely reliable. Hopefully someone with a bunch of experience will respond.

This is exactly the problem. Heaters I had for years I decided to get rid of, even though they had nothing wrong with them minus being cosmetically worse for wear. 

I've played the controller game in the past and I can say that the Finnex units are not built for life, and from what I can tell they are identical to the InkBirds with different labels (if I'm picturing the InkBirds correctly.) The problem I have with controllers are that a lot of the consumer grade ones you cannot calibrate and since I can't calibrate it the display on them does nothing more than confuse me so "I takes my chances" even though it's a coin toss. 

On 9/3/2021 at 9:31 PM, Odd Duck said:

It’s kind of scary to recommend heaters because if they fail, they can fail spectacularly instead of the quiet failure you’re describing.

If you promise not to hold it against me,I will tell you I’ve got an ancient Eheim that still works.  I’ve been buying Hyggers that seem to be working well, but they’re only about 1.5 years old, so . . .  I’ve got Marinas that are also about 1.5 years old and seem to be doing OK so far except for one that the gauge was super inaccurate.

All the other old heaters I still had from “back in the day” have given up, one overheated but only slightly and I caught it before there were problems.  I’d been in the habit for years of quickly touching the glass of each tank and picked right back up when I restarted keeping fish.  It’s not an accurate measure but I know what each tank is set at and if there’s not the appropriate temp difference between specific tanks, I can tell.  Even when it’s only a few degrees difference, like the pea puffer at 77 next to the Betta at 80 and the shrimp tank at room temp.  Subtle, but real.  I couldn’t walk up to someone else’s tank, touch the glass, and tell you it’s exact temp because there’s too many variables - are my hands cold because they keep their house frigid, did I just come inside from 100 degree heat, etc.  But it is a first alert for my own tanks, especially if I have a comparison tank adjacent.  Odds are low for 2 spontaneous failures.

Oh I feel you there. I'll be the first to say when it comes to recommending something, as soon as I do I tend to be on the hook with "well, you didn't say it would have this issue" when it comes up. 

The old school Eheim Jagers is what I had. They worked flawlessly and were pricey back in the day. Issue is, to find new old stock of them is a dice roll. Plus I like when my tank hardware matches, so running X quantity of one heater brand and Y quantity of another heater brand is going to drive me nuts. 

I touch my tanks constantly when I'm in the room. Everything gets a glass touch when I'm inspecting as well as when I'm feeding. 

On 9/3/2021 at 9:35 PM, Mmiller2001 said:

I think they all are like playing the lottery. Inkbirds on all of my tanks and the fancy WiFi ones on my CO2 tanks. 

Are you talking about the heaters themselves or the controllers? At this point I'm just after the heaters. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Literally knocking on wood while I type this. I've noticed that some heaters when I've been disassembling them after they eventually fail actually have a thermal fuse built into them now. Rather than a tank boiling, the issues I always run into are in the opposite side of the spectrum and the heaters just die or lose capacity to generate heat or trigger to turn on to heat. I plan on running thermostats on some of the tanks, as I'm looking at getting into a few fancy plecos again (since LFS had some Zebras hidden away) and possibly some Discus again since my oddball project list is falling short on availability. 

At this point the main goals are to get the new heaters in, central air loop installed, and reorganizing the layout and adding some more tanks for functionality. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/3/2021 at 10:11 PM, lefty o said:

if you have more than a few tanks, its best to heat the room. aquarium heaters, are not reliable, and like to cook fish.

As I posted above I do heat the room, the heaters are in the tank as a backup incase the room heat fails as well as to allow me to crank up the heat on demand if projects go in that require more heat (previously those projects were Discus, Apistos, Rams, and various Pleco species.)  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/3/2021 at 10:07 PM, Mmiller2001 said:

Maybe this can help you.

https://youtu.be/JAqU-gCwiKE

I love the quantifiable testing that BRS does, but sadly there are a handful of heaters from that video that I've used in my reef tanks and have had them fail. Only saving grace for them was my APEX's, but sadly I'm not going to be setting up an APEX per tank in this room... 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/3/2021 at 8:36 PM, Tihshho said:

I love the quantifiable testing that BRS does, but sadly there are a handful of heaters from that video that I've used in my reef tanks and have had them fail. Only saving grace for them was my APEX's, but sadly I'm not going to be setting up an APEX per tank in this room... 

It is sad. Imagine the killing a company could make just by producing a cheap reliable heater. It's 2021 for Pete sakes!

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The issue isn't just with the heater, it's with everything nowadays. Everything is designed to have a finite life so that you're forced to buy something new. But you're right, if someone made a perfect heater they could charge almost whatever they wanted and people would still buy them. The people who didn't buy them would be shaking fist full of money at them after their 'other' brand heater failed. 

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/3/2021 at 10:50 PM, s1_ said:

I have been using sicce scuba heaters. 50w in my 10s and 20s I bought several on closeout. On new setups I buy aquatops which are the cheapest available to me at the fish farm store. I get the 200w for about $13 300w is $18 I think.

I use them as heating elements run on the inkbird controllers.

I'll have to look into the Sicce's, I have a few of their other products and they seem reliable. The Aquatops are what I have and they are all slowly giving out after 3 years, so those are the ones I'm looking to replace. That said, the issue with them are the loss of heat generation, if they keep up for 3 years they might just end up being a consumable that I need to put on a calendar to replace every 2-3 years especially for the price. Where I am the Aquatops are cheap, but not as cheap as the prices you listed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/3/2021 at 6:12 PM, Tihshho said:

When I setup the room 3 years ago I started with new equipment, I figured it was time to let go of heaters I had for 15+ years and that was probably a big mistake. I decided to go with Aquatop heaters as they were within the budget and I had not heard any complaints about them. When I got them, they worked out well enough. Being the old analog style of setting nothing was precise, but if it looked like it was set to 78 the tank would run around 76-80. It seems that 3 years of continual use some of these heaters are just not keeping up. I generally turn have the heaters on for hot species and run them at 77 on other tanks just incase the room temp drops for some reason or my space heater kicks. 

After noticing the humidity levels rising in the room a few months in I decided to setup a dehumidifier and the output from that aided in keeping the ambient temps in the room in the high 70's with the heater and since I never noticed the tanks heater lights on.

While revamping the room, moving things around and checking tanks post moving them and filling them I noticed some of the tanks I was setting up to be at 82 were not right. The tanks were cold... At least in comparison to a tank running at that temp should feel like. Shot them with the IR gun, checked them with a probe to confirm, and well tanks are at 75. Went around and checked a few other tanks and compared them to their settings and a few of them are under running the settings by at least 4 degrees, and some on the bottom shelves are even 7 degrees off. With that in mind I'm now on the hunt for new heaters. 

Now that AquaTop have failed me, I've had failures with Cobalt consistently when I was using them in my reefs, and even Ehiem Jagers seem to not be holding up or working, I'm trying to find a reliable heater to be able to get in a decent volume. Anyone have recommendations? I just need a range of 50W, 75W and 150W heaters. 

If you can find them fluval e series 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I remember Cory doing a video on "why heaters fail"... It's basically the constant switching on and off. If the heater kicks in when it drops a degree below, and shuts off when it hits the target, it'll be doing a lot more switching if it's a cooler room, and likely a shorter lifespan. If it takes a few degrees, on both ends, it may stay on longer, but it'll switch off and on less. 

I have no idea when my Eheim decides to turn on, but I've tried to keep the temp just a little above room temp so it's not constantly switching.  When I had to raise the temp to 80, it kept having to turn on more frequently.  Thankfully it survived.  So far.... 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The argument he has from a design perspective makes sense. The case of under sizing a heater, ehhh I guess that depends on an application. Some setups I'd rather have a bigger heater for what I'm doing for the consistency of heat and the reduced time it takes to get the heat. I generally run my heaters near a sponge filter or an airstone specifically to reduce hotspots and to make sure the tank(s) are getting even distribution of heat. IMO, my professional engineering background is saying the companies need to move away from round heaters as overtime the electronics are probably going through a ton of heat soak. Cobalt did it right with the flat design to maximize surface area, too bad those heater in practice just happen to fail more often than not in my experience. 

One option I've been toying with was using controllers and leveraging the heat mats used in the reptile world. Slap one on the bottom of the tank and heat the base so that the heat radiates up from the base of the tank. The issue then lies in the reliability of the controller as those heat pads can get out of hand otherwise.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/3/2021 at 8:34 PM, Tihshho said:

The argument he has from a design perspective makes sense. The case of under sizing a heater, ehhh I guess that depends on an application. Some setups I'd rather have a bigger heater for what I'm doing for the consistency of heat and the reduced time it takes to get the heat. I generally run my heaters near a sponge filter or an airstone specifically to reduce hotspots and to make sure the tank(s) are getting even distribution of heat. IMO, my professional engineering background is saying the companies need to move away from round heaters as overtime the electronics are probably going through a ton of heat soak. Cobalt did it right with the flat design to maximize surface area, too bad those heater in practice just happen to fail more often than not in my experience. 

One option I've been toying with was using controllers and leveraging the heat mats used in the reptile world. Slap one on the bottom of the tank and heat the base so that the heat radiates up from the base of the tank. The issue then lies in the reliability of the controller as those heat pads can get out of hand otherwise.

That and the amount of heat you lose trying to heat through glass. While the R value is only about 0.92 heating water directly is still preferable.

 

Are eheim jager and hygger titanium heaters still the bee's knees? I've been out of the hobby too long 😋  

 

Also as for the aqueon heaters they are definite junk. I've replaced 3 and 1 actually shocked me because the circuitry became exposed on the top

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do not envy those of us who chose/need to run heaters. When I first started looking into keeping fish I was glad to see in my set up and chosen fish they wouldn't be required. (my tanks run from 76-80 without assistance mostly in between those) They're ugly and as you see here, unreliable. The only think I would personally do if I did have to run a heater is run 2. It seems you need to in order to have one be the failsafe, setting it just a little lower than the other. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share


×
×
  • Create New...