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FAQs about Marine Aquarium Heating, Methods, Gear 

Related Articles: Heater Impressions (Reviews) by Steven Pro, Marine System HeatingColdwater SystemsControllers

Related FAQs: Heating 1, Heating 2, Heating 3, & FAQs on: Rationale, Heat Controllers (Fans et al.), Measuring/Thermometers, Heating Troubleshooting/Repairs, Makes/Models by Manufacturer, & Chillers, & FAQs on: Fans For Cooling, Chiller Rationale/Use, Selection, DIY, Installation, Maintenance, Troubleshooting, & Water Temperature

Don't fool with cheap heaters... the cost in electrical, new livestock, heart-break, just doesn't make it worth it. Placement of systems, insulation... alternative methods are all worth consideration

DIY Heater in Canister 11/8/2013
I tried searching your site for this info but only came up with a blank page. Just my computer or does this happen to everyone?
<Not to me; and I hope not others>
I ask because my computer is over 10 years old and does some weird things with certain websites.
Alright, what I'd like to do is install a Cobalt Neo Therm 25 watt heater in a Fluval 106 canister filter. I plan to cut the cord and run it through the side of the canister... So in your opinion, what's the best way to seal the hole?
<Well; you could get/use a compression coupler... rather than some sort of grommet... But I wouldn't do this install... too much chance of trouble if the heater fails somehow, water stops going through the canister. There are in-line heater holders... I think Lifegard has a graphic.
The  cord on this particular heater is flat so I don't think a watertight cord-grip would work. I'm thinking about using either RTV 103 silicone sealant or some sort of epoxy that's safe to use with saltwater. If you think epoxy is the way to go, could you please recommend a specific product?
<Either a commercial one as shown, or submersible, hang on the side... don't do this. Bob Fenner>
Re: DIY Heater in Canister     11/10/13

I've been meaning to plug my power strip into a GFCI for a while now but never got around to doing it.
Thanks for reminding me. I'm going to order a duplex receptacle this weekend.
<Ah good>
I've been thinking about all the things that could go wrong with this install but the only thing that I can think of is that it might leak a little from where the cord would exit the canister.
<... what if the power goes off to the canister or it's motor fails... you won't have heat... OR worse, the heater fails, melts the canister; or cracks the heater's glass... stray electrical potential... real trouble. Let alone, the voiding of warrantees for the heater and canister; your insurance company not backing damage stemming from your modifications>
That doesn't seem too risky and could be fixed. I don't see all the potential problems you see - hopefully you can help me to understand. You mention that if the heater fails there could be trouble. I don't see any trouble except that I would probably have to replace the heater. And you mention trouble if water were to stop passing through the canister; doesn't seem like a big deal other than I might have to clean out the filter media... or, if it stops passing water due to pump head failure I might have to replace the head or the entire filter. But there would still be plenty of water in the canister to keep the heater submerged (I think) so it (the heater) wouldn't run ''dry''. I constantly monitor my tank with an in-tank thermometer so I'll know if something is amiss with the heater.
One thing I have considered is that due to all the pressure created by the canister filter, it might break/leak through the seal on the top of the Neo Therm heater where the temp. control button is but have no idea how much pressure that seal can handle nor do I have any idea how much pressure is created in such a small filter. Think I'll have to contact the manufacturers on these two items. And when you made mention of Eheim's struggle with producing a resistant heater, were you talking about pressure resistance?
<... just heater failure period>
Any info you could provide to help me understand why this project is such a bad idea would certainly be appreciated.
Thank you,
<W. B>

Quick question. Heater, thermostat arrangement    3/20/13
Hiya Bob,
<Nate, we should share this/these communications w/ the folks through WWM>
I just finished building my very first sump from scratch. Its going with my 60 cube. Using a reef octopus Diablo dc 5500 return pump turned down quite a bit. sea side aquatics es5 skimmer. Lighting is up in the air right now. I build my own led light, its powerful and quiet but limited to blue and whites only.
<I'd add some other color LEDs here>
Last up is heater. I have an old BlueLine 500w
<Yikes! Oversize>
with BlueLine controller. No stray voltage. My sump is nearly a cube. 23.25 front to back, 19 wide, 20.5 tall. Drain/skimmer section is back left, fuge in front, return in back right and water obv flows in that order. Im expecting my turnover rate to be 4.5-5 times an hour. I would like to go with a Neptune apex jr lite
<Nice controllers... Just met the owner, originator of Neptune last week... at Next Wave in DFW>
in the future to have a more precise temp.  I can never remember if its more precise or accurate here. But i don't want a +/- 1.0 deg. I want like +/- 0.25 deg.
Is it better to have my temp probe in the skimmer section and heater in the return section. Or visa versa?
<Not really important where either is really>
Or does it really even matter.
<Ah, no>
Do I take the temp of display water from the skimmer chamber and then shoot up warm water. Or by putting the probe in the return chamber to send water to the display that is of a specified temp?
<All will be about the same per the arrangement and flow rate you mention.>
I could always move the probe and heater around. But i want to silicone in my probe holder now rather than later. Although i suppose i could put probe holders in each haha. Your thoughts?
<Leave both in the sump; wherever is convenient there. Bob Fenner>
Re: Quick question, Heater... size     3/20/13

Alrighty! The heater fits like a glove in the return section so I'll be going with that. The 500w heater is from a fish room i had years ago. I most certainly did not purchase it for this application haha Are there any disadvantages to running a XL heater?
<None that I'm aware of... can be disadvantageous should "something" go wrong w/ the setting, controller...>
Thanks Crew!
<Thank you, BobF>

Heaters 2/14/12
Hello Sirs,
<Hello Ed>
I am trying to figure out my heater arrangement and I am hoping on some advise. I have a 125 gallon tank with a 35 gallon sump. I am using a 300 watt Ehiem <Eheim> jagger <Jager> heater but it does not fit in my sump. 
My chiller is a Current USA 1/3 chiller with dual stage controller however, I am also using a ReefKeeper Lite system.   Can I place the heater in my overflow box which is deep enough for the 19-3/4" heater?
<As long as it does not empty should you have a pump problem.>
and should I plug it into the chiller?
<Is this just an accessory receptacle on the chiller or is the heater also controlled by the thermostat?>
or run it separately?
<If the receptacle is controlled by the thermostat, than I guess the choice is yours, whatever is more convenient.  If using the ReefKeeper you could monitor temperature swings through the day/week/month and set up an alarm.>
Maybe I can run 2, 150 watt heaters one that will lie in my sump and the other that plugs into my chiller. What would be the smartest way to use the heaters in conjunction with the ReefKeeper system?
<If it were mine, I'd use the ReefKeeper to control heating for reasons stated above.  You paid for the features, why not use them.>
Thank you,
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Heating Holding Systems. 2/6/11
Hello Crew,
<Howdy Mike>
I have a couple of quick questions to ask today in regards to heating my livestock holding systems. We are looking to move our fish room to a 1200 sq/ft. location that is heated with propane.
Multiple systems for coral, fresh and saltwater fish. The systems are currently heated individually on each central system, but with the move we are going to being adding a section of individual tanks run off of a blower for some holding and quarantine for freshwater stock.
I am interested on your thoughts as to the pros and cons of simply keeping the building temp. up to heat the systems.
<Mmm, cheaper to heat the environment for the aquatic charges, not so enjoyable for humans working in the space>
Could we possibly maintain the building at 78 to 80 degrees F and be able to run the systems without heaters or would it be a better idea to just heat the systems and keep the room temp at a more comfortable temperature?
<Up to you... I'd heat the space/air>
Another consideration that I had was evaporation.
Would it make sense that we would see less evaporation by heating the room vs. heating the holding systems? Thank you in advance for your time.
<You can add exhaust fan/s (again the simplest, least expensive route), and run them on an automated basis, or just turn on for a bit ahead of entering "the barrier"... or dehumidifiers of various sorts>
Michael P. Gillespie
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>
Aquatic Creations LLC
Re: Heating Holding Systems.
Hello Bob,
Thank you for your quick response! I figured that heating the room would be a
good way to do it. Do you think that I would see less evaporation by heating the room?
<Mmm, yes. "All is relative"... higher humidity in the air above the water interface, results in less evaporation...>
I will also be able to vent the room and run a dehumidifier.
<And do water proof the walls... other surfaces, devices (like phones) IN the contained room>
What are your thoughts on the comfort level of doing this?
<Not hard to do... Have done so, worked inside such facilities myself... for years>
This would be open to the public and I would not want to make the heat of the room a deterrent.
Although, in New England this time of year it would be an attraction!
<Mmm, do have/run a vent during the early AM... when folks will be present; seal the place in the PMs>
In doing some research on WWM it seems as though you are not a fan of the individual tank systems.
<Not in many years, no. Too much work... and equivalents... labour, money... to do so>
Do you think that this would be a mistake to do?
<I do>
In an effort to be as efficient as possible, I was thinking that it would be good to have the blower running to power as much circulation as possible. For water mixing towers, additional filtration and for a freshwater rack system holding 24 small aquariums.
<... but not too small>
My plan is to collect my RO/DI system wastewater as I do already and use it for regular water changes on the individual tanks. I was
also thinking that this would provide some versatility in holding for water types in holding and quarantine. For example, if I need more tanks for rift lake cichlids one month and then the next month more tanks for discus, I could easily make the change for water types. Do you think that it would be worth the extra work involved?
<Don't know if I can guess what you're referring to here. I would run separate sub-systems, that are mixed, recirculated... per water types/quality. See here:
and the linked files above. BobF>
Michael P. Gillespie
Re: Heating Holding Systems.
Hello Bob,
That sounds easy enough to do to make for a comfortable shop!
Thank you for sending the link. My basic idea was that I would be able to change the water type of each individual tank as needed, but I guess that after reading and thinking a little more, it does make more sense to run these as central systems as well. Multiple central systems would still be easier to maintain than a bunch of individual tanks.
<Ah yes>
It would probably make sense to still consider individual air driven filters run off of a blower for
treatment of tanks if and when needed.
<Yes... if your business volume justifies this>
Before I got the idea to run the tanks individually, I had a design for a system to be run off of a header tank. Do you have any links to information on how to set up a central system fed by a header tank?
<Mmm, do follow the linked files... B>
Thanks again for all of your help!
Michael P. Gillespie
Re: Heating Holding Systems. 2/7/11
Hi Bob,
Thanks again for all of your help! Back to the drawing board, but I think that my back will appreciate it!
Michael P. Gillespie
<I know it will. Cheers, BobF>

Titanium heaters   5/2/10
Hi crew!
I need your help. I've got a 240 gallon aquarium with three heaters
<Mmm, I don't generally "trust" small "aquarium heaters" to their own controllers... I strongly suggest you look into an external controller to plug two heaters into, give up on the third, or use it in the intermediate
sump suggested below>
in my sump. These heaters are capable of maintaining its temperature, except while I'm doing a water change. I have my 1/4" tap water filtration plumbed into the discharge side of my sump, and a 1 1/2"
drain plumbed into the intake side of the same sump.
So my dilemma is that during the water change my temperature goes down.
<I'd pre-heat, heat the new water before introducing it... and have some sort of "fail safe" mechanism/s built/engineered into this water refill system. That is, I would, do not trust the one quarter inch delivery to
"stop"... I suspect it is actuated/controlled by a single "float switch" mechanism... I would use an "intermediate sump" for your make-up water... Heat, do whatever treatment you want there... and have this finite volume of water available to do your changes... re-fill it periodically>
If I do a trickle, the temp. could take 8 hours to go down, If I do full force (rapid WC), the temp. goes down in about 2 hours. We're not talking about a huge temp. drop, about 3 to 4 degrees.
<Depending on the livestock, this drop may not be a big deal>
It then takes another 12 to 16 hours to regain the original temp. So I'm restricted as to the duration of my water changes.
So my thought was to get a 800 watt Titanium heater to cure the problem. I'd be happy if I was restricted to doing a trickle change for 24 hours if the temp. stayed the same. I've heard these types of heaters heat faster
than the conventional glass tube types. Does anyone have experience with these. What brands are better? Anyone been using one for years? Best prices?
Thanks for your help.
<See Aquatic Eco-Systems site for their offerings if you go the Ti heater route. T'were it me, I'd do what I outline above instead. Far safer, less energy consuming. Bob Fenner>

Heating and Filtering a Freshwater Central Filtration System  3/28/10
Hello Mr. Fenner, how does it go? Long time reader, first time writer?
<Ahh, J. You are a stranger here but once>
I've decided to start up a freshwater section for my store. After speaking on other forums with other store owners, most recommended going with freshwater tanks each setup independently of the others.
<Really? I would definitely not do this>
I was going to go this route with a blower, sponger filters, and a heater in each tank. But at the same time I'm trying to do this in the most cost effective way possible (is that an oxy moron when coupled with this industry?)
<Not at all>
so when I got to thinking, the initial expense of all the heaters plus the cost of them all running at the same time I decided the best way to go would be a central filtration system after all. The setup will be 51 20g longs sharing a 150 gallon stock tank sump. I will add a uv sterilizer to the system to help overcome the biggest con to central systems which is the spreading of disease.
The problem I'm running into is this, heating that amount of water efficiently. Obviously I don't want bunch of 300w heaters all bunched up in the sump. Slight variations in the settings on the heaters would surely leave some running with others off and it wouldn't be very effective.
Where do I find a single heater to heat this amount of water?
<These are available... I'd look at Aquatic EcoSystems site:
Second, I will go with a trickle filter for filtration
<I would not go this route...>
which will be fed by a second, submersible pump that will send water up to the top of the filter where it will simply cascade back into the sump.
This will allow me to start the lowest row of tanks slightly higher than the top of the sump and not have to worry about having the bank of tanks (stacked three high) too high for customers to peruse because I'd have to
be elevated enough to get all the draining water into the trickle filter.
Where do I find a trickle filter that would be large enough to handle the bio load? The standard sized ones geared towards the average hobbyist would be much too small.
<Please read here:
and the linked files above... and where you lead yourself>
Thank you, I appreciate all the time and effort you and your crew put into helping everyone out for absolutely nothing in return.
<Oh... I do receive the greatest amount of self-satisfaction in knowing (high confidence) that my efforts help others to be successful in their aquatic endeavours. This is value beyond remuneration>
Thanks again,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Temp... Reef... Heating, insulation of remoted sump of volume  3/15/10
Good day crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have a temperature problem that I need help with.
First off, I have a full 75g reef set up in L/R, with a 55g barrel located in the garage that water is sent to from the inside tank.
<That's a 130 gallon aquatic environment>
It goes through my concoction of filtration, then back to the tank.
<Plus a few more gallons>
<Before I suggest anything else, I want to make a comment about a reservoir that is 42% the size of the main tank: What you have there is a 130 gallon "aquarium" with all the inhabitants confined to the 75 gallon portion.
Water quality and environmental conditions are all based on 75 gallon's worth of fish in a 130 gallon system. This is an EXCELLENT ratio. Until you have a power failure or a pump malfunction. Now, suddenly, the fish find themselves in a 75 gallon "system" with significantly less ability to absorb waste byproducts, etc. You might think of adding a very small circulation-only pump and putting it on a very small UPS (uninterruptible power supply) like they sell for home computers. At least, that's what I have>
Needless to say, I have an extreme temperature swing in the winter. Trust me, you will freak if I tell.
<You'd be surprised what we hear>
I use (1) 300 watt heater, and (2)150 watt heaters (in the tank). The summer months I can control the temp to 78-80 degrees without a chiller.
I have had no fish, LPS/SPS and soft coral damage at all.
<That could be luck, or it could be proof of the adage that what does not kill them makes them stronger. Either way, not a situation we should count on>
Should I increase the wattage of heaters and place all of them inside the tank or can you suggest something else.
<The problem with increasing the wattage of the heaters is that if a heater thermostat fails by sticking in the "ON" position, an oversized heater can and will cook your corals and kill your fish. At least, that's the argument for a larger number of smaller heaters. The flip side is that with multiple smaller heaters you can never quite get them in 'sync' and so one is always working harder than the other which might make it more prone to fail in the first place. So there isn't any real answer to that part, but if it was me I'd gravitate toward multiple 200 Watt heaters rather than anything bigger>
<Now as far as the swing in temperature, what have you done to done to minimize that? I'm guessing you have a polypropylene drum in the garage with PCV pipe connections. Does the tank sit above the hard floor on something as thick as 1 inch plywood? (I'd build a platform of 2x4's that are built ON a 1 inch piece of plywood and then capped by another piece to insulate the drum. Is the drum wrapped in Water Heater insulation blanket? Have you made a cap for the drum out of another water heater blanket that slips over the top and over the insulated sides? Are the PVC pipes themselves covered in that water pipe insulation sold at home supply stores? Same goes with the filter and pump assembly -- if they are in the garage to minimize noise in the house, are they properly shielded and insulated?>
<If all of that has been addressed, then the next logical thing is to build an micro-enclosure (like a tool shed) within the garage to house all this equipment. If you can do that, then a single inexpensive space heater could be employed to keep the ambient temperature around 65 degrees, which would allow the water heaters(s) to pick up the slack>
I appreciate your help.
<Yer welcome>
Take care.

Re: temp. Reef sys.    3/17/10
Hello Darrel,
Thank you for the information. I guess it is time to build a micro enclosure, and I honestly thought that it was I was going to have to do.
Stay well, I will keep you posted on my building adventures.
<Take pictures and write a narrative ... you never know what we might do with it!>

Heater Wattage Required/Heater Selection 3/9/10
I am about to purchase a heater for my 120 gallon reef tank. I recently had a heater stick on, and it raised my temperature to 86.8°F. I did not lose any fish, but it did it's damage to my prized corals.
I am planning on purchasing a Finnex titanium heater with controller, and am undecided as to what size wattage I require. My tank is located in an area that gets warm during the day, and holds off that night. I need to run two small fans over the surface during the day when the lights are on in order to keep the temperature down. At night however, in the winter, the tank temperature will go down 76+ degrees Fahrenheit.
<The basic rule of thumb for wattage is to use between 2.5 and 5 watts per gallon of actual water volume in the aquarium. This will depend largely on what the night time ambient room temperature is.>
Without the fans running during the day, the temperature will go up to 81+ degrees Fahrenheit. I know that it is most desirable to keep the temperature stable, therefore I would like a heater that is strong enough to maintain the desired temperature at night. I plan on setting the fans on the light timers so that when the lights go on, the fans also go on, and likewise, go off when the lights go off.
I am currently using a 400 W heater, and that is not keeping up with the temperatures at night.
<Mmm, that should be a pretty good match unless night time temperatures drop significantly, or the heater is located in an area of poor circulation.>
I also noticed here that it stated that using two heaters instead of one is a good safety measure in case one fails so that the temperature does not drop down significantly.
<Yes, is always best to have redundancy.>
On the other hand, I read that when a heater fails, it is usually not because it is not working, it is because it has stuck on an overheated the tank, which is the problem I just encountered.
<Electronically controlled heaters rarely have that problem. The cheaper bi-metal contact operated units are prone to this.>
I would greatly appreciate your input.
<Here is a link to a basic aquarium heater calculator where you can get a fairly accurate heater size based on your tank size and the biggest difference you encounter between tank temperature you wish to keep and your night time room temperature.
A more accurate calculator can be found here.
<Cheers. James (Salty Dog)>

Need your EXPERT advice on heaters for nano reefs :-) 01/11/09 Are there any new heaters out there that will really keep a 6 gallon reef at a consistent decent temp? I was into reefs for about 12 years - got out of it for a while - recently got back into it with a friends 6 gal nano cube. The heater she gave me will not keep a consistent temp and goes anywhere from 78 - 84 plus degrees. Your EXPERT advice on heaters would be appreciated :-) thank you! <I've always been a fan of the Hydor products. They make this mini-heater that I've used myself. I don't know if it would work for you, but it worked for me and I like it. http://www.petco.com/product/102429/Hydor-Mini-Aquarium-Heater.aspx They also make other heaters that haven't disappointed me. Best, Sara M.>

Re: Need your EXPERT advice on heaters for nana reefs :-) 01/12/09 :-( That's the one I have.... the temp is swinging really bad... will check my thermometer... <Hmm... strange... have you tried a second thermometer? Thermometers are notoriously inaccurate.... try 2 other thermometers. They don't have to be for aquariums necessarily... can be the cheapo outdoor ones from Home Depot even. Just anything you can dip in water will work... Sara M.>

Marine substrate heating 12/18/07 Hi Crew, <Hello.> Thanks for all your previous good advice. Every day and with your assistance I am getting a step closer to my dream tank becoming a reality. <Great!!> I would like your opinion on the use of under gravel heaters in marine tanks. (the long rope type that go inside the tank under the substrate, as apposed to the large flat ones that sit under the glass bottom). I am planning a 900L mixed tank with a 6" DSB and sump. I have a digital Thermostat I was planning on using to power two or more heaters but have am unsure where to place the probe or heaters I have plenty of traditional heaters as well as an under gravel on the shelf from previous years of hoarding in preparation for this big marine setup. Working on the idea that I do want to keep the unsightly traditional heaters out of the main tank. Would you use an under gravel in the main tank? Would this cause problems with "burning" life close by in this relatively tightly packed (1mm crushed coral sand) or stop it getting cold areas in such a DSB? if sticking to traditional heaters in the sump would you put the stat probe in the main tank or keep things simple and just put the lot in the sump ? <I would stick with traditional heaters here. Just not enough water flow through a DSB this thick. You will end up heating the substrate, not the water in it. Put the probe upstream of the heaters in your sump. This will give an accurate reading of your tanks temperature, keep the probe out of your display and make things simple for you.> Thanks again and regards Steve H <Welcome, have fun, Scott V.>

Re: New Tank And How. Heaters  9/23/07 I could not either, but here it is: http://www.customaquatic.com/customaquatic/itemdetail.asp?itemid=PS-PCRPS-3000 I wonder how we should maintain the proper heat for this size tank. I have a feeling several 100, 200 watt stick heaters will not maintain a very accurate temp. I am looking for no more than +/- 1F in a 24-48 hour period. <Any quality heater should give you this. The Jager Temperature Sensor Heaters are said to maintain an accuracy of +/- .5 degrees. Temperature swings of +/- three degrees are not harmful as long the change is very gradual. The lighting system should pose no heat problems with the chiller you have on your quote from Tenecor. James (Salty Dog)>

Won Bros. Heater Failure (A Common Tale?)...What's A Good Replacement? -- 08/20/07 Hello WWM Crew! <<Hey there Adrian!>> I currently have a Won Bros. 1000 watt Power Heat II Titanium Heater in my 300 gallon aquarium. <<Mmm...that's a big heater...>> Unfortunately the digital temperature reader went out on me a couple days ago. <<I had this same problem with a couple of the 300w heaters from this manufacturer...cheap circuit boards I imagine>> Is there a heater the crew recommends which is more reliable and won't die on me? <<I make no guarantees, but I did a little research/heard good things about the Finnex electronic titanium heaters so I purchased a couple of these (year or so ago I believe) and they have performed well/are still working well for me at the moment>> Would it be advisable to use two heaters instead of one? <<In my opinion, yes...is safer/less chance of damage should one 'stick' on...also provides some backup until you get a replacement should one fail. I use a pair of 300w units in my 375g reef and they have proven quite sufficient...but if you want 'more power' they build units as large as 500w>> Your assistance is appreciated. <<Happy to help>> Your website is great . . . has taught me many things. <<Very good to know>> Thanks, Adrian <<Regards, EricR>>

Closed-Loop Musings...And Some Particularly Helpful Ebo-Jager Heater Info From a Reader/User of Our Site -- 05/17/07 Hello, <<Greetings>> This is my first email to the "Crew". <<Welcome!>> I usually just search the site for information.  I am fairly new to the world of saltwater tanks, but I have had a freshwater tank of some sort for over 15 years.   <<Cool>> I converted my 125 gallon freshwater to a saltwater tank almost a year and a half ago using the wealth of information from the WWM site.  I had four 3-inch holes (two on each side) drilled on the back of the tank to accommodate 2-inch bulkheads. <<Excellent>> The glass company only had 2 or 3 inch bits.  I also plumbed a ¾-inch closed-loop around the perimeter of the tank with 8 outputs. <<Very nice...and will require a very large/powerful pump to operate efficiently, something in the range of 4800gph after headloss>>   I ended up capping one output off due to it's proximity to the Remora Pro Skimmer. <<Mmm, an excellent skimmer...but I would have gone for something a bit larger for this size tank>> I bought the skimmer before I decided to have the tank drilled.  After reading about the numerous floods and the statement that it wasn't a question of if, but when, I decided it would be in my best interest to have the tank drilled. <<Yes indeed...though many such calamities could be averted if hobbyists would employ some redundancy to their overflow systems (i.e. -- use 'two' hang-on overflow boxes but supply only enough flow to max out 'one')...but still, my preference is to drill for 'gravity' drains as you have done>> I used 2 of the bulkheads for drains for the closed-loop, and one for a surface drain to the sump.  The forth bulkhead is reduced down to 1-inch PVC and then down to ¾-inch PVC in the tank. <<This last is the sump return line then?>> The Remora Pro utilizes a Mag Drive 3 pump.  I have a Mag 7 to pump water from the sump to the tank via a one-inch PVC pipe that over hangs the back of the tank. <<I see...then obviously the fourth bulkhead is 'not' for the sump return>> I also added a Mag 5 to pump water in a loop through a Coral 18 watt 6X UV sterilizer and then back to the sump.   I am only supplying all the details of my setup because I read on the site is better to have a lot of information than not enough. <<Yes>> I also plan to reduce the number of pumps I am utilizing.  I bought a Mag 3600 to run the closed-loop. <<You will likely have to cap a few more nozzles to achieve strong enough flow from the remaining nozzles.  Figure on 550gph-650gph per ¾' nozzle...much less than this and the flow from the nozzles is too weak to be of much use>> At first,  the pump was unbearable.   I called the company and they sent me a new impeller. <<Good>> This did quiet the pump a lot, but the pump was still way too loud for a living area. <<This is often the case...and the reason I turned to Tunze to meet the flow requirements of my large SPS dominated reef system>> Also, the pump was mounted externally, but the heat transfer was way too much. <<This seems to be another common issue with this otherwise reliable/good value for the dollar brand of pump>> I have since read some of the postings on the site of people that have heat problems and/or noise problems with this same pump.  Most all have the same problem I did.  Way too much heat transfer and way too much noise. <<Indeed...common as stated>> The other 3 Mag pumps I have are submersed and are no problem whatsoever.  They work great. <<Ah yes...and also stated, a reliable/good value pump brand>> However, I think it would save some people a lot of problems if they avoided the Mag 3600 altogether if they are planning on using it in a living area and/or do not own a chiller. <<Maybe so...though adding a lot of pumps/pumps of large size of most any brand will cause heating/noise issues in varying degrees (no pun intended), especially in concert with the intense/high power lighting associated with reef systems.  Employing ancillary equipment/methods to deal with heat buildup is something reef hobbyists must consider as a matter of routine in many cases>> Also, my tank has about 10 feet of head-loss and the Mag 3600 just doesn't pump enough to run the 7 ½-inch outputs on my closed-loop. <<Ah, ok...you didn't state the nozzle size previously.  For ½' outlets/nozzles you still need to figure 350pgh per nozzle...or in this case, a minimum of 2500gph after head loss>> They all have flow, just not enough. <<Yep>> 2 of the 7 have sufficient flow. <<All will work fine with a large enough pump>> Recently, I replaced the Mag 3600 with a Dolphin Amp Master 4000/3000 pump. <<These are popular pumps for closed-loop systems>> I was pleasantly surprised.    This pump is super quiet and also, the tank is no longer too hot. <<Excellent...and apparently worth the extra cost>> I was amazed that I actually needed my heaters.  Due to some dumb mistakes in my calculations, I ordered the wrong pump though. <<Really?...still too much head loss eh?>> I should have ordered the Dolphin 5600/4700 pump. <<I see>> Marine Depot stated that if I tried the pump I could not return it.  However, Dolphin Pumps stated that I should go ahead and try the pump and if it wasn't pumping enough they would upgrade it.  Well, they took care of me.  I did have to pay the shipping so I did waste about $20, but Dolphin Pumps is sending me the 5600 pump for the difference in price plus shipping. <<Very nice...and so good to hear of such service>> It will also line up exactly with the pipes I have plumbed for the 4000 pump since the pumps are the same size and dimensions. <<Handy>> Now that I actually need my heaters, I kept noticing that my Ebo Jager heaters were set almost 10 degrees cooler than the temperature in my tank, but were still coming on.  I have two 250 watt  heaters in my 25 gallon sump.  Well, after checking the temperature in my sump with my digital thermometer I realized that my sump wasn't a different temperature than my tank like I thought. <<Why would it be?>> I just assumed that the water was somehow losing heat on its way to the sump. <<Ah, I see...nope, doesn't happen that quickly>> It became obvious to me something wasn't right when the heaters were set lower than the room temperature, but were still coming on.  How could the water be 73 degrees in the sump when  the room was 75 degrees? <<Could possibly happen under certain conditions (a large system with lights out and fans on, providing evaporative cooling), but in most all cases the pumps/equipment keep system water warmer than ambient room temperature as you surmise>> I don't own a chiller and the pumps and lights create heat. <<Indeed>> Well, after a little searching on the net, I found out that the Ebo Jager heaters needed/could be calibrated. <<...?! ...really!>> After measuring the temperature of the sump with a accurate thermometer, I turned on the heaters and then turned them off just till the light went off.  This temperature should have matched the temperature of my digital thermometer.  Of  course, it didn't.  Now I realize this isn't rocket science, but it is very informative and useful for anyone having similar problems.  After turning the knob on the heaters slowly just to where the light goes off, you unplug them.  Then, you pull out on the knob at the end of the heater all the way, turn the dial to the correct temperature, and then push the knob all the way back in.  "Presto"!  I now have two heaters that work correctly.   <<Wow...great information, thanks for sharing>> I also found that my sump and tank do have the same temp. <<Hee-hee!>> So in the course of about a week, my heat problem was solved, my pump noise problem was solved, and my fish should be a lot happier with the extra flow from the new 5600 pump. <<Excelsior!>> Also I read somewhere on the site not to put a shut-off valve before the pump. <<Can be used for maintenance purposes in conjunction with a union fitting, but should never be used to 'starve' the pump.  If a valve is wanted/needed to temper flow it should be plumbed on the output side of the pump>> This ended up being a pain when it came time to service the pump because I had to block the drains and then drain water out of the pipes.  It is definitely worth whatever head loss there is to have a shut-off valve before and after the pump.  It's a hundred times easier to service or remove the pump. <<Much agreed>> Thanks so much for the wealth of information I was able to find on your site. <<Is our pleasure to serve/share>> I have learned a lot in the past 18 months or so and I just wanted to pass on some helpful information.   - Jeff <<It is much appreciated, thank you for your contributions.  Eric Russell>>

Quartz Emersion heater   4/24/07 I am looking for a Quartz Emersion <...? Do you mean immersion?> heater 3 or 4 kw.  Could you give me a cost for one? <No... we don't sell heaters... Use your search tool/s. BobF> Karen Burgess

Black sea cucumber burn   2/10/06 Dear Mr. Fenner,     While reading your article at wwm.com re: sea cucumber, you mention masking the heater to prevent disturbing them.  Could you be a little more specific? <Yes... mostly the use of "sleeving"... at the simplest, plastic pipe over the unit/s, that is/has been drilled with numerous holes> Our black sea cucumber recently burned itself on the Visi-therm heater and eviscerated ( we believe ). <Yikes...> There were sticky strings in the water and a brown patch on the cuke that later came off.  None fo our other livestock were harmed.   <Fortunate> I believe the cuke is regenerating, and I would like to prevent any further harm to it.  I have looked on the web and called my local store regarding some form of heater guard without success.  My husband is handy if given some direction.  Thank you for your time and consideration of this matter. Respectfully, Amy Smith <Mmm, folks/companies have made these over the years, but they were never very popular... log sorts of designs principally... I'd fashion your own if you can't remote these heaters... as to a tied-in (plumbed) sump/refugium. Bob Fenner> Heater Positioning - 2/28/2006 Hi Folks, <<Hi Johnny.>> Quickie for you, Can submersible heaters be positioned vertically? I read that they need to be positioned horizontally to prevent the heater switching off too early due to inconsistent heating. None of the manufacturer's instructions mention this. <<I position all of my heaters vertically, in a high water flow area.  Shouldn't be a problem.>> Johnny. <<Lisa>>

Fwd: heater costs I would appreciate any information on how much power (kw/h) is used by your heaters. I have eight aquariums and am trying to get an estimate of heating costs.  Thank you  <We don't sell heaters... most uses call for 2-3 watts per gallon... kilowatts per hour depend in turn on insulation values, differences in external/internal values... You can hook up devices which will monitor, measure your electrical consumption... or guesstimate how long each are on... multiply the wattage times the time... to get kilowatt hours used... multiply this in turn by cost per kilowatt (see your electrical bill)... to find cost. Bob Fenner>

If you can't take the heat, stay out of the tank.. 2/17/03 Thanks Phil!<No problem man!> That heater thing... I have no problem adding more heaters, but where? I figure the 350 in the sump of the wet/dry....can I put more than one in there and have them accurately assess the temps or should I just get a controller for heat/cool and put the probe in another part of the system and let the two heaters run in the same sump? <If you go the route of more than one heater putting them on one controller would be best and they can be place near near each other!  A dual controller is rather costly at Pet Warehouse I believe it's nearly $200.  But of course it's up to you.  If you want to do two heaters w/o a controller they need to be IMO placed at different ends of the tank.  If they are together they may overheat one area and under-heat the other.  Hope this helps!  Phil>

Sump melted by heater? >Hello to all at WWM: >>Good morning, Marina here. >This might sound like a silly question but here goes. I currently have two 200w Visi-therm heaters in my sump. I have always been concerned if the suction cups did not hold and the heater actually was laying directly on the acrylic can it in fact melt the sump? Always wondered......never asked until now.  Thanks a million, Gene >>If the sump is acrylic, and the heater were to become stuck in the 'on' position, yes, it could happen.  Is it *likely* to happen?  Not very likely at all.  But, if really concerned, then you could simply slip them into a sleeve of PVC, with many holes/notches cut into it, they won't usually be sufficiently hot to melt PVC.  I would like to suggest spacing the heaters, though, to help reduce temperature differentials.  I like having one hidden in the tank, and one remotely located (the sump).  

Lifeguard heater modules Is it possible to use two of the heater modules together with one canister filter, or would this be to much pressure for the pumps to deal with? If it is to much to use two on one filter, should I shoot for using two filters and two modules? I'd rather not, but gotta do what's best. <Good question. I would use a larger wattage heater first here (likely there are up to 300 watt units that will fit), and if you need to use two, set them up in parallel (not series) to save on induced resistance. And after located after the canister filter of course. Bob Fenner>

Re: lifeguard heater modules What do you mean by setting up two heaters in parallel? James <Running water through a "tee" to each module separately, rather than (in series) one after the other... Bob Fenner>

- Ich & Kerosene Heaters - Hi. Two questions, if you have the time. I have recently set up a new salt water tank, going great, except for some ich.  I got a cleaner shrimp and he seems to be keeping it under control. I want to try this before I catch all the fish and return them to the QT, and let the system go fallow. Is this ok? <In the interim, sure... but there's really no guarantee that the cleaner shrimp will actually keep things under control. In the long run you very well may end up fallowing the tank.> I really do not want to resort to chemicals if I don't have to. <I don't blame you, but this may be what's necessary if the fish go back to quarantine.> I have not done any fresh water dips as of yet.  I am not sure how to raise the pH to 8.3. <Baking soda.> My fresh water pH adjuster can only get it to 8.0 and then not for long.  Beside I have no idea what the chemicals that raise the PH will do to the fish.  Only two fish have a couple of spots on them and they keep going over to the shrimp. He is not eating all the white spots but spends a lot of time on the gills. Neat to watch. They are not breathing rapidly or acting strange such as darting, scratching, or hiding, they eat well.  I am not sure what made the ich appear. <Hmm... under the worst-case-scenario, the parasites have dropped off to breed in your sand bed. They'll be back.> I have no temp fluctuations as I use two heaters it is always 78F day or night even if the basement gets cool. Ph 8.3, alk high (I know get a better test for that), ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 0, calcium?, LFS is having trouble getting this test kit for some reason.   I did quarantine each fish for 4 weeks, and let the tank cycle for 6 weeks with 45 lbs of live rock, before I added my first inverts and corals.  Anyway I read your ich pages.  I am a little confused, some say let the system go fallow, and others recommend what I am doing. <Personally, I think cleaner shrimp can get overwhelmed, not be able to get everything and the problem blows out into epidemic proportions. Do keep an eye on things and keep that quarantine tank ready to go.> Lots of opinions about it though. <It will always be thus.> The big question though is this.  I heat my basement (this were I keep the tank) with a kerosene heater, as it is much cheaper than running my electric baseboard heaters. Is there a danger in this, and if there is, what is it, and what should I look out for? <Egads, there is most certainly a danger of primarily carbon monoxide which can kill you. It has no odor and can build up in an enclosed space like a basement. If I'm not mistaken, kerosene heaters aren't meant to be used in enclosed spaces. There are other toxic byproducts of combustion that should be worried about, but those will only make you sick - CO will kill you. So yeah... there are issues with using this in your basement not just for your fish but for you as well.> Is there a test kit I should be using? <There are electronic CO detectors, I would plug in at least one of these.> I cannot afford to upgrade my whole house heat as that will run into the thousands of dollars, last quote I got was 8 grand and some change. <Then get some big heaters for your tank.> Thank you very much in advance Craig B. P.S.  Is there a web site where I can download a log book designed for salt water tanks? To use with Word. <I've not seen any products like this, but I'll refer you to Aquarium Journals who makes a log book for keeping track of such stuff. http://www.aquariumjournals.com Cheers, J -- >

- Heat Solution in Event of Power Loss - Just a quick suggestion. <Sure.> During loss of power (electric), aquarist loose the heater function... my suggestion is to use hot water bottles...(Rubbermaid one's)... stick em in the tank... this should work right..? <At least for a little while, but if the hot water is generated by electricity then there would be trouble. It's a good suggestion, but I also suggest wrapping the tank in blankets to help slow the heat loss in the first place.> Jess <Cheers, J -- >

Saltwater Pond in SoCal? Dear WWM Crew,  <Sean>  First, and foremost, thank you for staffing such an incredibly informative site! Between WWM and ReefCentral I've been able to answer countless questions over the past three years that would still be mysteries without you... On to the topic -- I'm evaluating the feasibility of adding a saltwater pond to the 1000+ Gal reef system I am in the process of installing.  The indoor portion of this system will consist of a 575 Gal display tank in my office, and approx 500 Gal of refugium/grow out/sump volume. The pond I am considering is roughly 12' x 8' x 4' deep, or ~3000 Gal. The two would be plumbed together via the 200 Gal sump.  <Okay>  The display will have roughly 6500 GPH of flow, and I was planning on the same amount of flow to the pond/lagoon via a separate pump. My idea is to keep SPS coral in the display, and run the lagoon as a large FOWLR section of the system.  <So far...>  My area of greatest concern is around temperature.  After researching this for the past two months it seems that a gas fired heater and heat exchanger would be the most economical way to keep the system warm in the winter months. Unfortunately, I am having trouble sizing this. These systems are rated in BTU/hr, but I can't gauge my requirement without local (to SoCal)  pond anecdotes on temp in Koi/Shark setups... specifically, I'm curious to know what fluctuations folks experience in their ponds that are NOT heated/cooled. I've found a good deal of information on your site, but no specifics as to average seasonal  pond temps in this region.  <And so a bit more info. on historical temps in the area would help... but a rough guess... 100-200 BTUs... There may well be a better long-term thermal regulation mechanism in the way of plumbing a recirculation line through a line that would through an exchanger and your gas-fired water heater... with a thermostatic mechanism to set the temperature. Bob Fenner>  Any help you can provide in that area would be GREATLY appreciated.  Regards, Sean

Heater Question hi, I was wondering what sort of watts for my heater should I be getting for my 4 ft tank? <Hi, Ryan with you.  I'd recommend at least 3-4 watts per gallon of water in your aquarium, although with more flow, I'd recommend 5 watts per gallon.  If you use a sump, don't forget to factor that in to the total water volume!  Good luck, Ryan> thanks

Heating an aquarium? - 11/17/04 So, my tank is 55 gallons, the sump is in three compartments, 1st is the skimmer part (kind of the actual sump) about 10 gallons, the next is the refugium about 10 gallons, next is the exit out to the main tank with a pump about 3 gallons.  Anyway, I have put the heater in the refugium part (ok?) now, <Should be fine. Curious as to why you would think it shouldn't be placed there?> should this heater be 200 watts or only 50 watts cause its in only a 10 gallon area? <Is the heater responsible for heating the total of all gallons in the aquarium? From what I can tell you have a 55 gallon tank with another 23 or so underneath, correct? So, now you need to ask yourself is this heater to heat the entire volume of the tank? If the answer is yes, then you need about 5 watts (my personal preference) per gallon. So in your case, you would need to heat 75 gallons (I rounded the numbers a bit), so 75 gallons times 5 watts per gallon equals 375 watts of heater to efficiently heat 75 gallons of water. Understand where I came up with the numbers here?>  And would 200watts be too much for a 10 gallon area. <If a heater works properly it would be fine. However, if the thermostat were to malfunction it would easily overheat the tank in a very short amount of time.>  Would the heater heat that area too hot for a refugium and its Chaetomorpha and worms and such? <See above answers.> I have a euro reef skimmer and it recommends that is should be 6-8" of water, what if I have say 9-10" would it not work well. <Not sure what you are asking> Also, how high should the intake pipe be, to the top of the container, or up into the neck? I should probably ask euro reef, huh? <I do think that would be a better place to ask as I am slightly unfamiliar with their product. Plus, why wouldn't you want tech help from the manufacturer first? In any event, I hope I was able to help shed some light on your issue and help you gain some understanding regarding heating an aquarium. Thanks for participating in the greatest underwater community....WetWebMedia. ~Paul> anyway Thanks Mark

Thermal question I am moving to topsail, NC....however, there is no place for my tank in this person's house....he does, however, have a downstairs that is not insulated.....would it be possible, if I spent the right kind of money (but not too much), to keep it down there for about two months....I am assuming it would not be that hard to heat?  I could buy 3 or 4 heaters for the tank....a digital thermometer....would it even be possible?  any advice or suggestions would be great..... <Actually, most places in NC aren't "that" cold. Should be able to get by with five or so watts per gallon... if it were mine, I'd also stock a "thermal blanket" (such as those sold for water heaters) to aid in insulation. Bob Fenner>

Re: Thermal question I was thinking of putting 3 nice heaters in the tank....putting one on 78, one on 76, and one on 74... and purchasing a digital thermometer.... any particular brands you suggest for heaters? <Ebo-Jager and the new Aquarium Systems products. Bob Fenner>

- Heater Won't - My Jalli 500 watt heater keeps quitting on me. <That's not good.> I have a 90 gal tank with a 20 gal sump, the heater is in the sump, has never come out of the water while plugged in, is not covered by anything, the control head is properly mounted and connected, temp probe is in the middle of the tank.  I just got the entire heater replaced 4 weeks ago, under warranty, because of the same thing. <Nice to see they're batting 1000.> Is this a cheap heater? <I'm not a huge fan of Jalli, but I know someone who is and swears they [Jalli] try very hard to get past problems like this. If it were me, and I'd had two heaters broken, I'd ask them to buy me a new heater. There seems to be a flood of heaters with electronic controls coming from Asia... I think each one needs to be well tested before tried on your main tank as you might be in for a surprise.> Would I be better off with 2 -250 or 350 watt units? <In the cold parts of the country, I would suggest having two 350's with one set a little lower as a back-up should the main one fail. With larger heaters, they tend to be 'on' less often, can heat a given volume of water quicker and I think [in my own weak non-scientific study] they will last longer. Any under or exactly-sized heater that is 'on' all the time will break eventually, regardless of brand - is just my observation, but have seen it happen often enough.>  I do have a 250 watt backup working now, it struggles to keep 78 degrees. <Using two 250's would guarantee the failure of one, and then the other.> Chilling here in Pa, thanks... Mike <I believe it. Cheers, J -- >

Heaters I have a question about heating the tank. <sure> My main tank is a 50 gallon and I have a 29-tall underneath serving as a sump.  In the main tank I have a 150 watt Ebo Jager and a 100 watt Ebo Jager heater.  These heaters stay on most all the time.  Sometimes one or the other will go off briefly.  My question is, does it hurt anything for them to run almost continuously?  I have a large ritteri, an ocellaris, and a bicolor blenny.  I keep the tank around 81 F.  The temp is very stable.  The room is usually in the mid-70's.  Is it okay for the heaters to run so much? <Shouldn't be a problem, seeing as that's what they're made to do.  Ebo-Jager heaters are very durable, so I wouldn't worry about it.  Also, for future reference please capitalize "I" as well as the first letter in every sentence.  M. Maddox> Re: Temperature Fluctuations Hi Bob, <Walt> Thanks again for the response. I took your advice and returned my heater. It was only a month old and I still had the receipt so they refunded my money no problem. <Great> I tried in vain to locate a Eheim Ebo Jager heater but to no avail. <Strange... should be available from online etailers... Ken Wong/Marine Depot, Bayside distributes Eheim in the U.S.... they must list them. Wow, actually, they don't! In fact, I don't see them listed by anyone... must be a demand/request of the manufacturer... now owned by Eheim... which ARE sold by discounters...> I did a bunch of "consumer review" searches on-line and found consistent positive reviews for the Aquarium Systems (Marineland) Visi-Therm heaters. <Ah, yes, also fine products> My local pet store stocks them so I went and bought a 250 watt unit. It held the temperature to within one degree overnight and that is saying something as it was very cold up here in upstate NY. Have you had any experience with the Visi-Therm models? Thanks again. Sincerely, Walt <Yes, a great deal... have even been to Italy where they're made... Bob Fenner> 

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