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DaveP
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I'm trying to figure the minimum size heater I need for a 180 gallon  aquarium in a basement room that is 69-70 degrees F and will contain African cichlids. The post on heaters does not address aquariums of that size and I'm finding conflicting information - 3 watts vs 5 watts/gallon - elsewhere.  I understand that two heaters rather than one large one may be best. Is it?

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How hot do you want the aquarium?  The biggest factor is how much hotter than room temp you want and if you have a lid.  I'd start with a smaller heater and add a second if you need it.

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@DaveP I would start with 2 100watt aquarium coop heaters. If one fails for some reason, you still have the other as insurance. If you have lids and lights, you should be ok. I would modify after that if it doesn’t meet your temp, but this is what I have in my 180 with no issues. 
PS do not pay attention to the equations and formulas on how many watts you need, it’s as silly as the 1” of fish per gallon rule. 

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On 2/26/2023 at 8:42 PM, DaveP said:

I understand that two heaters rather than one large one may be best. Is it?

yes, to explain it think about eating lunch.

If you have 1 hamburger for lunch, and it falls on the floor, you have no lunch.

however if you have 2hotdogs instead, and 1 falls on the floor, you can still eat a small lunch.

so to with heaters. if you have 1, and it fails, its very bad

but if you have 2 and one fails you will at least have a heating source in the tank.

 

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Good to hear from someone with the same tank. The COOP article says three 100-watters for a 75 gallon. But I'd really rather not buy three and my tank is more than double the size. I'll be putting them into a sump. Both sump and tank are acrylic.

I like the idea of two both for back up and  to limit overheating from a malfunction.

But I'm also interested in the concept that we all tend to overheat our tanks. I'd like to at least try temps in the low to mid 70s for African cichlids.

So if I go the two under-powered heater route, what size heater do I need for a 180 gallon in a  69 degree basement room? I'd like to get temps up to around 74-75ish.

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On 2/26/2023 at 8:01 PM, DaveP said:

The COOP article says three 100-watters for a 75 gallon.

I have 2 running a 75, with a lid and it's definitely more than is necessary. My room gets to about 13 degrees F colder than the tank at night, and it's on an exterior wall.

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@DaveP just to give you an idea, I currently have a 300 gallon stock tank in my garage. It only has 2 ACO 100 watt heaters. I just need it to get to 75 and it does this perfectly. Now granted, I’m in Florida, but this is what I do for our winters when it gets in the 40’s and I’ve never had an issue. 

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On 2/26/2023 at 5:42 PM, DaveP said:

I'm trying to figure the minimum size heater I need for a 180 gallon  aquarium in a basement room that is 69-70 degrees F and will contain African cichlids. The post on heaters does not address aquariums of that size and I'm finding conflicting information - 3 watts vs 5 watts/gallon - elsewhere.  I understand that two heaters rather than one large one may be best. Is it?

What is your plan or setup for circulation?

For a tank of that size you might have plants for how to get water around the tank and that would play into how you do your heating.

If you run a sump vs running a few canisters or whatever the plan is that's going to change the answer to the question.

As far as 3w vs. 5w per gallon I would (and have) viewed it as whether or not your ambient temp is above or below 10 degrees from your desired operating temp.

If the room is at 68 and your plan is to heat the tank to 78, 3w per gallon should work, but it's right on the edge and may run non optimally.  Aqueon actually has a pretty useful chart that you can extrapolate out for the tank in question.

For instance, let's say the chart or math says you need 300-400w on your heaters. I would right at least 2, potentially 3 heaters if you're running a pair of canisters or HoBs. If you're running a sump, I'm not sure what makes sense. It's probably a large single heater and having a backup on hand.

On my 75G tank, because it's 20+ degrees below ambient I run a pair of 200watt heaters.  I also have ran it with one 300 and one 200.  This would give me enough room in terms of the heaters being on less often, but I could also balance out the heat so that the tank doesn't have dead spots (or hot spots for shrimp). Heater goes right where the HoB output is and pushes a lot of strong flow around the heater.  Tank only needs one, but I'd rather cut the load and spread the heat out for that specific setup and stocking. If I was running one canister, I'd run just the 300W.

On 2/26/2023 at 6:01 PM, DaveP said:

Both sump and tank are acrylic.

I'd run one heater, have a spare, and use a heater controller. (Heater located in sump)

For reference, this is useful.

 

Aqueon-Preset-Aquarium-Heater-Size-Chart.jpg

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You say that the tank is 180 gallons in a basement room that is roughly 90*.A lot will depend upon how much higher than the 70* that you want to heat the tank, but I wqill tell you what I have done in the past and what I would do if I had the same situation. I did have a 180 gallon tank before, and we kept our house at 70* in winter, 72 in summer so the HVAC system didn't have to work so hard. I used a 300 watt ebo-jager heater in the tank and kept it 82-86* for discus. If I was going to set up another 180 in a room that is 70* if I was going to keep it at the "normal" tropical temps of 74-78* I would start with a 200 watt and see if it could maintain the correct temp, if not, bump up to a 250 watt and see. If you are planning to keep it warmer for say discus and rams, then I would start with the 250 and if that doesn't work bump up to 300. It will help a lot to use lids on the tanks as well, I do for all my tanks except for a few now. It not only helps hold in heat, but also will help keep down evaporation so you won't have to top off the tank as often. 

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Another wrinkle to keep in mind is that an 800 gallon tank above ambient temp is going to be a significant radiator.   
 

Hence the insulation in the room will come in to play.

 

the room might not be 70 degrees after the tank is in there running..

 

I keep 2, 29 gallon and one 20 gallon aquarium in my well insulated bedroom.  Exterior walls R30, single Window R 8. (Insulated panel in it at night). Basement below is 65 and room above is 70.  I keep the Thermostat for the apartment at 62 degrees from 4:00 to 6:00 AM and PM and it is set to 41 the rest of the time. It just pops up to manageable temps the few hours I need to be in kitchen and bathroom.  Other than the coldest days it maintains in low to mid 60s simply from heat radiating up from basement and down from unit overhead…

 

The design heat loss of my bedroom is around 750 btus per hour when it is zero degrees outside.  My bedroom is usually around 74 from heat of the tanks, my body heat and the dehumidifier running…

The tank lights consume around 30-40 watts each and air pumps, water pumps maybe around 7 watts each…

my tanks have lids and inkbird controllers.  Heat turns on when tank drops to 74 and off when they get up to 76.

a dehumidifier keeps humidity to 40% in the winter. That dehumidifier adds a fair amount of heat too as it condenses water.  It uses about 300 watts.run time is about 15-20% of the time….

 

honestly the tank heaters are not on much…

 

if the room is well insulated and you run a dehumidifier which I would heartily endorse, you might find it significantly warmer in that room… and hence you might not need much in the way of tank heaters.

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