How to Choose the Right Aquarium Heater
Some of the most common questions regarding aquarium heaters are "How do I choose the right aquarium heater?" and "Will this aquarium heater work for my tank?" Both are excellent questions and need to be taken into consideration when deciding which aquarium heater is right for your aquarium. Here are a few more factors to consider to help you make and informed decision when purchasing an aquarium heater.
The most important thing to consider when choosing an aquarium heater is the total volume of water in your aquarium system. When you know how many gallons of water you will need to heat, you can select the proper wattage of heater for your aquarium's total water volume. Just because your tank is 55 gallons doesn't mean that you have 55 gallons of water to heat. Factors such as water displacement caused by corals, live rock, sand, and decorations and reduce that original 55 gallons down to 45 gallon or less! Also, if you have a sump, wet/dry filter and / or refugium plumbed into your aquarium system, this will add to your total water volume. As with the main tank, take water displacement into consideration when calculating the water volume in your filtration.
Once you know how many total gallons of water are in your aquarium system, you need to decide if you want a glass or titanium heater. Glass heaters are fairly inexpensive and reliable, making them a top choice for most aquarists. Despite using heat tempered glass, these heaters must be submersed in water when plugged in. If they are exposed to the air while the heating element is active or if the heater is still hot, they can break. This can cause a hazardous situation in that it exposes your tank inhabitants to undesirable and sometimes lethal electric shock. In the vent that you have a glass heater that breaks, be sure to unplug it first before removing it from your aquarium. also use caution when removing broken glass from the tank.
If you want a very accurate heater that is not prone to breaking, then a titanium heater is your best bet. While titanium aquarium heaters can be a bit more expensive than their glass counterparts, they make up for it in safety, accuracy and reliability. Titanium heaters never break and almost never malfunction, and most come with a digital, electronic controller so that you can set the right temperature with the push of a button.