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Top Five Beginner Heaters

So a heater’s a heater’s a heater right?  For the most part you would be correct. Some are made of glass, some are plastic, some of titanium.  But they all work…granted you don’t break them and they are manufactured well.

I have exclusively used glass heaters for my entire saltwater aquarium career, and yes, I have broken several.  They are made of glass, and if you hit them on things or drop them, they will break. But glass heaters also heat the water quickly and efficiently.

The biggest thing to remember about heaters is to purchase the correct size, and even better, buy two of the correct size.  

The reality is that all heaters will eventually fail.  If it fails on the “on” position and you bought a heater that was oversized for your tank, then all of your livestock may overheat and die before you know it.  And if your heater fails on the “off” position, your livestock could slowly freeze to death on a cold winter’s night!

So best practice is to buy 2 perfectly sized heaters, set one for 78 degrees and set the back up for 76 degrees.  Not only that, but do yourself a favor, and buy an inexpensive temperature controller. My favorite is this Bayite.

If you are going for affordable, then I recommend a glass thermometer.  I exclusively use Eheim Jager heaters on my display tanks, but there are more affordable options out there.

All thermometers either need to be calibrated, or are often just off 1-2 degrees.  So purchase an inexpensive thermometer.

If you are worried about breaking your heater, you might want to consider one of the other, non-glass options.  Happy browsing!

5. ViaAqua Quartz Heater 50W-300W ~ $14-$18

Starting things off at #5 is a heater that I have never personally used before.  It is inexpensive and needs to be installed vertically. As with all heaters, I highly, highly recommend purchasing a temperature controller.

All thermometers, unless they are ridiculously high end, allow for 1-2 degrees of temperature swing.  While that is not necessarily bad, the more consistent temperature you can have for you livestock, the less stress it will cause them.

The Via Aqua Heater comes in four sizes.  Be sure to buy the properly sized heater, not an oversized one.

  • 50 watt: 8.2”, up to 13 gallons
  • 100 watt: 10.7”, up to 25 gallons
  • 200 watt: 12.5”, up to 50 gallons
  • 300 watt: 14.8”, up to 80 gallons

4. Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm Heater 50W-300W ~ $60-$81

Here’s the thing with this Cobalt heater: it is expensive and seems to have the same failure rate as other heaters.  But it is shatter proof, displays both the actual and set temperature, and has a slim design so can fit into tight places.

I would still purchase a temperature controller, which means you will be out almost $100 by the time you are through.

Is it worth the money?  Personally I would say no, but some people love it.  It is accurate up to 0.5 degrees, so if you want a shatter-proof heater with a unique design, this may be right for you.  

  • 25 watt, up to 6 gallons
  • 50 watt, up to 12 gallons
  • 75 watt, up to 20 gallons
  • 100 watt, up to 29 gallons
  • 150 watt, up to 40 gallons
  • 200 watt, up to 55 gallons

3. Orlushy Submersible Aquarium Heater 100W-300W ~ $17-$20

This inexpensive glass heater comes in at #3 and I currently use this in my 40-gallon quarantine tank.  I like it better than #5 on the list because the glass seems thicker, and it comes with a rubber bumper on the bottom for extra protection.

It is fully submersible, but like all glass heaters is somewhat fragile.  Do yourself a favor and buy two of these and the Bayite Temperature Controller.  These are also handy because they are easily available on Amazon.

  • 100 watt: 9”, up to 30 gallons
  • 150 watt: 9.5”, up to 50 gallons
  • 200 watt: 11”, up to 60 gallons
  • 300 watt: 11”, up to 80 gallons

2. Hygger Titanium Heater & Controller 50W-500W ~ $50-$93

If I hadn’t used Eheim Jager heaters for years with great success, this Hygger Titanium heater would easily be my #1!

There are only two downsides as I see it:  #1 is that the temperature probe on the controller is not replaceable, so when it malfunctions, you have to buy a new controller.  And #2, the controller can only be used for one appliance. With the Bayite controller, you can plug in both a heater and a fan for cooling.

Being made of titanium, this heater is virtually indestructible.  And the fact that you can pick up a 100 watt heater and controller for under $60 is just a little bit more than you would pay for an inexpensive glass heater with the Bayite.

But if you are like me, you will break glass eventually, so why not pay the few extra bucks for a titanium heater?

  • 50 watt, up to 10 gallons
  • 100 watt, up to 25 gallons
  • 200 watt, up to 45 gallons
  • 500 watt, up to 120 gallons

1. Eheim Jager TruTemp Heater 50W-300W ~ $24-$33

What can I say about these except that I have owned about 10 of them, they have never failed me (except when I drop them on the ground and they shatter!), and they are affordable.

There are some mixed reviews on Amazon, but the same can be said of all heaters.

Every heater will break and/or fail eventually, and every heater is not totally accurate.  That’s why I keep saying the same things over and over:

  1. Buy the correct size heater
  2. Buy a second backup heater and set it two degrees cooler, and
  3. Invest in the Bayite Temperature Controller to keep protect your livestock.

Fully submersible, the Eheim Jager comes with a calibration dial for a more accurate reading.  A great heater at a decent price, what else could you ask for?

  • 50 watt: 9”, up to 16 gallons
  • 75 watt: 10.2”, up to 26 gallons
  • 100 watt: 12.2”, up to 40 gallons
  • 125 watt: 12.2”, up to 53 gallons
  • 150 watt: 13.4”, up to 79 gallons
  • 200 watt: 15.7”, up to 106 gallons
  • 250 watt: 17.3”, up to 159 gallons
  • 300 watt: 19.6”, up to 264 gallons