Are Aquarium Heaters Safe?

Are you worried about your aquarium heater? If so, don’t be! Aquarium heaters are safe and reliable, so you can rest easy knowing that your fish are getting the perfect temperature. Some of the most common questions about aquarium heaters that I’ve been asked over the years include: can these things explode? Can they cause fires in my home? And will they hurt my fish? The answer to all three is no – they’re completely safe. I’ve been caring for tanks for years and have never seen a single incident. If you want to know more, read on!

What is an aquarium heater and why do I need one?

An aquarium heater is a device that provides heat to your aquarium, which in turn keeps the water at a stable temperature. Fish are cold blooded and must be kept in temperatures just right for them to survive and thrive. If your aquarium (or home) gets too warm or too cold, it can kill your fish. You need an aquarium heater to maintain a safe aquarium temperature.

Can aquarium heaters burn fish?

If a fish was to be directly touching your aquarium heater, it has the potential to burn but this is extremely unlikely. It’s important that you read your aquarium heater instructions thoroughly to know exactly where it is safe for the aquarium heater to be placed. It’s worth remembering that aquarium heaters are designed for the exact purpose of warming a fish tank and are made to be as safe to fish as possible. I have personally never come across a case where a fish has been hurt by a heater.

Can aquarium heaters cause fires?

An aquarium heater won’t cause a fire in your home. Most aquarium heaters have safety devices built into them, designed to protect your aquarium from overheating and catching fire. The exception is if you use an exceptionally old aquarium heater – these could, although still unlikely, malfunction and be dangerous. But new aquarium heaters are perfectly safe and are built tough enough to withstand normal use and last for years without trouble.

Can aquarium heaters explode?

No aquarium heater is going to explode on you! If they’re correctly sized for your aquarium and operated according to the manufacturer’s instructions, aquarium heaters are safe. Aquarium heaters work by converting electricity into heat (like with a hair drier or blow dryer). They don’t use flammable gas, so there’s no risk of an explosion. (source)

How do I know if my fish tank heater is bad?

You will know if your tank heater is bad if it doesn’t seem to be keeping the aquarium warm enough. If you can touch the aquarium glass and your hand still feels cold, the aquarium heater is not working properly. And if you’re worried about an aquarium heater malfunctioning, always buy from a reputable company so that if there is any issue with your aquarium heater they’ll give you a refund or replace it.

Are aquarium heaters reliable?

Yes – aquarium heaters are very dependable, especially if you choose a reliable brand from a reputable dealer. Small aquarium heaters tend to be most unreliable because they’re often poorly built and not worth buying in the first place. You’ll do best with a larger, professional aquarium heater that can handle your tank – these aren’t just bigger and better, but generally more reliable too.

Why do aquarium heaters fail?

Aquarium heaters fail if they’re not properly sized for your aquarium or are operated incorrectly. If an aquarium heater is too small it will overheat and shut down, and if it’s too big you may not be able to set a proper aquarium temperature with the thermostat. You must be careful about aquarium heater size and make sure that it is appropriate for your tank – then you can enjoy years of use.

How do I know if my aquarium heater is the right size?

First, you must have a clear idea of how much heat your aquarium needs. There are formulas you can use to determine this – some pet shops have charts that include recommended aquarium heater sizes based on gallons or litres and degrees Fahrenheit or Centigrade.

Different types of heaters

There are three main types of aquarium heaters:

  • undergravel aquarium heaters (UGA)
  • submersible aquarium heaters
  • hang-on aquarium heaters

Undergravel Aquarium Heaters (UGA)

UGAs are aquarium heaters that work by distributing a temperature-controlled current through an aquarium substrate (sand or gravel). This is the most economical aquarium heater but it can’t be used for aquariums with sensitive plants and may not provide enough heat for larger aquariums.

Submersible Aquarium Heaters

Submersible aquarium heaters are the most common. They sit inside your fish tank and use electricity to generate warmth for your fish tank water. Submersible aquarium heaters should always include a built-in thermostat to regulate temperature so that it doesn’t get too high or too low – this is what makes them safer and more dependable aquarium heaters.

Hang-on Aquarium Heaters

A hang-on aquarium heater sits outside your aquarium and is hung over the aquarium water with a clip, chain, or wire – it’s usually connected to an aquarium water pump for circulation. These aquarium heaters are often not strong enough to warm larger aquariums

How often do I have to replace my aquarium heater?

Aquarium heaters don’t need to be replaced very frequently at all. The only reason why you would is if it were damaged by power surges or temperature spikes, but that doesn’t happen very often. Many aquarium owners keep their aquariums running for years and years on end without buying a new one ever! Aquarium heaters are made to last!

Is it safe to leave Aquarium heater on?

Yes! Aquarium heaters are designed to be left on 24 hours a day – they’re not like aquarium lights, which you will only want to turn on when you are at home. The aquarium heater should be left on so that your aquarium water maintains an even temperature and doesn’t go up or down too much. Unstable aquarium water temperatures can cause stress to fish and other aquarium life

Examples of fish that require a heater in their tank

There are many species of fish that require aquarium heaters for their tank, including: Discus fish, Angelfish, Neon Tetra , Black Mollies, Siamese algae eaters and shell dwellers – aquarium heaters are also a good idea for aquariums with live plants. Without a heater aquarium water temperatures will be too cold for these fish and for most plants to survive.

many neon tetras swimming around a green plant against a blue background
Neon Tetras need a heater in their tank

How to install an aquarium heater correctly

Here are the steps to follow when installing an aquarium heater:

  • Pick an aquarium heater that is appropriate for your aquarium. Check aquarium charts or ask at your pet shop to be sure. Avoid undersized aquarium heaters – they will overheat and break down.
  • Make sure that plugs and aquarium heaters are compatible with each other in terms of voltage.
  • Do a quick test run to make sure everything works properly and plug aquarium heater back in when aquarium is full of water.

When installing an aquarium heater you should follow the aquarium heater manufacturer’s instructions exactly – they will tell you if it needs to go in before or after your aquarium filters and other aquarium equipment. The aquarium heater must be attached securely so that it doesn’t fall into your aquarium water!

Can aquarium heaters burn plants?

In order to ensure that your plants are not damaged by aquarium heaters you should not place the plants too near to the heater. If the leaves of the plant were to be touching the heater they may get damaged. This could also potentially affect the heat circulating around the tank and make the temperature unstable.

How much does aquarium heater cost?

Reasonable aquarium heaters can range from $10-$100 or more, depending on the size you need, brand name, etc. The most economical aquarium heaters tend to be UGAs- they’re very cheap but they cannot provide enough warmth for larger aquariums or even some tropical fish species. Submersible aquarium heaters for smaller tanks can be bought for around $10-$20, and submersible aquarium heaters suitable for larger fish tanks can be bought for $50-$100 and more.

How long does it take for an aquarium heater to heat up?

This depends on aquarium heater size and what aquarium water temperature you are trying to achieve. Small aquarium heaters can take up to 24 hours, while larger aquarium heaters can be set for a specific aquarium water temperature and will raise aquarium water temperatures much more quickly – within 6-10 hours or so. Similarly shaped aquariums with the same volume will also maintain certain aquarium temperatures at nearly identical rates– it doesn’t matter that much if one aquarium is twice as large as another.

What else should I know about aquarium heaters?

Aquarium heaters come in different styles and shapes depending on how large your aquarium is. You need to make sure the size of your aquarium heater matches the size of your home aquarium – don’t try putting a small heater inside of a huge fish tank! If you’re using an aquarium heater with multiple temperature settings, always adjust it so that it’s set to an appropriate temperature for the fish and plants that you have in the tank.

Are Aquarium Heaters Safe? - Conclusion

Aquarium heaters are an essential and safe aquarium tool to have in your fish tank. Whether you have a saltwater aquarium or freshwater aquarium, aquarium heaters are the easiest and most economical way to keep your aquarium water warm and healthy for fish – especially tropical fish! Home aquariums will be healthier with aquarium heaters because they promote a stable aquarium environment where the temperature is controlled by people instead of the weather. You should buy an aquarium heater that matches the size of your home aquarium – it’s best to get one that is somewhat large so you don’t have to worry about over-heating or under-heating your pet fish in the future.