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FAQs about Marine Aquarium Heating, Troubleshooting/Fixing

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

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

All rates of reaction, physical, chemical, bio-chemical are thermally influenced... 1/2mv squared...

High Temp.     7/31/17
Hello, this is Kim. In one of my rooms, I have a 29g macroalgae tank. So far it's only growing a baby Snowflake Eel that I'm going to give my friend. The room is decently warm in the summer although it's poorly ventilated, however the tank shoots up to 90 degrees!
I installed an air pump, fan, and I point the powerhead up at the surface. I know high temps kill fish because of lack of oxygen, not heat (unless really high).
<A combination of both...
Higher temperature results in both lower/ed dissolved oxygen and higher metabolism>
This only lowered the temp. to 86 degrees and it's been like that constantly.
<Likely okay>
I don't want to buy a chiller as I dropped so much money into this hobby (bought a 700g recently), kind of broke at the moment. However, everything is doing fine, although the eel has been swimming a lot lately. Breathes normal though. Can I keep it at this temp. throughout the summer, or would it be detrimental in the future?
<As stated, you're probably fine. I would leave the light/s off during the day, all the time (even nights) IF it's this warm>
The room cools down a lot after the
summer. Thank you.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Heater condensation       6/7/17
I can only seem to find mixed reviews on this topic, however I would like to have yours.
I bought an Eheim Jager heater around Xmas time, and when I took it out to clean, I couldn't help but notice this bubbly, condensation near the top.
Doesn't appear to be near the coil.
It is a 300 watt heater, and the build up of liquid is definitely inside the glass.
Some say they all get this, others toss it, they are supposed to be great heaters, not sure why this happened.
Your opinion would be appreciated.
Thanks, bob
<The integrity of this heater has been compromised. I would NOT use it. I would write Eheim/Jager:
and ask for replacement. Bob Fenner>
Re: Heater condensation

Thanks bob. I will toss it.
I have emailed Eheim, it is under warranty, however they want you to ship it back to them first (25 inch long box shipped fed ex would be about 23 dollars) and then they determine if it is covered under warranty.
So 23 bucks to ship it, wait for a reply then hopefully replacement seems like more aggravation then just going out and buying a new one for 30 bucks.
<Mmm; have you tried the dealer/outfit you got the unit from as well?>
Surprising, this happens a lot with heaters, all this led technology and skimming performance we have far out weighs the reliability of the equipment available for something simple as maintaining thermal energy in the water.
Perhaps Aqueon heaters are worth a shot.
Thanks again bob
<Welcome. BobF>
Re: Heater condensation       6/8/17

Hey Bob,
<Hey BobH>
I called the place I bought it from and they insisted I go thru Eheim.
<<You didn't buy it from them...>>
Probably not worth the trouble of shipping it back with the costs.
Fwiw, here is a response they sent somebody on a cichlid forum in regards to it:
"The condensation you see inside the heater could be created by oil that is used during the assembly of the unit (see attached pictures #1 and #2 for normal condensation). If there is too much water condensation or if water
was to enter the unit, the entire glass will be filled and the heating coil will rust (see attached pictures #3, #4 and #5). At this point the unit will stop operating.
<Mmm; there may be electrical shorting; shocking if this filling occurs.>
If water inside your unit looks like pictures #3,#4 or #5, please forward us the proof of purchase (receipt) of the unit via e-mail (scan, picture or electronic copy) to support@eheimna.com or by fax at 514-624-2227."
That contradicts what they said via the phone to me, rather than play games, probably best to just buy new.
<I do agree>
Thanks your help, bob
<Welcome. BobF>

Hawaii: no heater?      1/2/17
Happy New Year Bob and crew! We live mauka at about 850ft. Temp for the 200+ gal system is dropping to 66 degrees at night. I read corals stop making cal carb skeletons at 65 degrees.
<Yes; many of the species kept by aquarists. Oh, I owned a SFR w/ two friends at 1,400 ft (above the salt line) Palani, up in Holualoa... much colder at times>
Is this maybe why my Zoas aren't making more polyps? We're Kona side and in about to pick up a heater. Not sure my batteries in my solar system can handle a 200-400 watt heater. Prob not. Is my reef doomed?
<Mmm; not doomed, but I'd be doing a bunch more research here. Too expensive to heat the mass of water outdoors unless you have free-ish power from solar or such>
It's about to heat up and I'll inevitably get into the 80s soon. Prob a 10 degree max temp swing.
<That's too much diurnal fluctuation...
Sorry. B>
May okay if I just keep softies or Aussies? Mahalo.
Sky Kubby
Re: Hawaii: no heater?      1/2/17

Well since I do have solar I could get creative. One thought is if I shut off the remote 150gal DSB from the system at night, I can hear less water.
But then mixing the water temps later might cause a shock.
<Try it and see? Measure both at intervals (hourly?)... if no more than 2, 3 F.... I wouldn't be concerned>
I'll just see about keeping the temp at the minimum (78) on the Aqueon heater. I could also insulate the tank outside.
<Yes I would>
I'll do more research.
<Ditto. B>

Sky Kubby

Re: Dry rock question
Now Temperature, ideally     10/25/13

Hello Mr. F.
How are you?
<Fine; thank you>
One question about temperature: ( I would have changed the subject of this email but this new yahoo mail is so strange .. ) on my 250 g SPS reef tank what should be the ideal temperature?
I have installed the refugium in the basement where is cold, so I put some heaters inside, then on the return line there is a chiller connected.

 If I setup the chiller for 26 degrees ( 78.8 F) on my Apex I see that in the mid sump where the sensor is I got 27 degrees and pretty much stays there. And during night goes to 26.3. That ( the 27 ) seemed high for me so I tried setting up the chiller to 25 degrees, so I got 26.4 when the MH are on and 25.4 during night. Is this ok? Which situation is better?
<The first; 27 C is likely fine... for whatever mix of life you have... the diurnal change (fluctuation) in temperature is better kept to the smaller range>
Should I install the heaters in the mid sump located upstairs under the DT?
<I wouldn't >
thank you very much, your advice is always appreciated.
<Cheers, BobF>

snowflake eel and fish in shock    11/27/12
We came home from a week long vacation to find that our heater quit working and our tank was extremely cold.  Our snowflake eel and fish are in shock.
Our eel is stretched, leaning backwards, and looks as though he is breathing only from the right side.  Our tomato clown and trigger are really lethargic, and laying sideways. We did a 50% water change out and got the temp back up to where it should be.
<Very good.>
Our PH, nitrate, and ammonia levels are where they should be.  Is there anything else we should do? Please help.
<Do measure ammonia and pH once or twice per day for the next few days.
Cold temperatures can kill off bacteria as well as (in)vertebrate life, which can lead to high levels of organic pollution and a new cycle of the system. If you have any corals or other larger invertebrates in there, which seem clearly dead remove them. Also have enough salt at hand in case this happens. If you measure any ammonia do another water change and provide sufficient oxygen supply, because of apparent decay processes.
Severe die-off and a new cycle is one extreme of what can happen. If you are lucky you may notice nothing or only a small diatom bloom and might find you fishes back to their old-self within a day or two.>
Thank you,
Cassandra Gaskins
<Good luck. Marco.>

Heater still heating above set temp.     8/7/12
Hello all,
I have a new 55 gallon reef tank set up that is having what I perceive to be temperature problems.  I am currently using a 250 watt Marineland Visi-Therm submersible heater and we have an air conditioner in the room that keeps the air temperature around 72 degrees.  I have been monitoring the temperature with a Vernier probe and a laptop, as well as an standard alcohol lab thermometer (I’m a high school chemistry/biology teacher).  At night the temperature stabilizes right under 78 degrees where I’d like it to stay.  The heater kicks on and off all through the night as one would expect to keep the temperature stable.  The trouble starts during the day, when the lights (I’m currently just using my HO t5s until I get this figured out) kick on.
<Mmm, unusual...>
 It’s as if the heater’s thermostat doesn’t compensate for the change in thermal input.  Even though the temperature begins to go up, the heater continues to kick on.
<Do you actually feel (as with your hand on the glass tube of the heater) that it is actually on/heating?>
  It will continue to kick on and off until the temperature is way over the set point, stressfully so.  I have unplugged the heater before and the tank’s temperature actually drops, even with my lights on.  For example, today the temperature was stable at 77.8 degrees when the lights came on.  eventually the heater drove the temperature all the way up to 79.7 and it was still coming on when I unplugged it to let the tank cool back down.
<Mmm, good test.>
 I plan on installing two fans into my open back canopy so that I can eventually use my metal halides, but for now I wouldn't think I would need them.  I just need my stupid heater to realize when enough is enough!  I’ve been keeping freshwater tanks for many years, but I’ve never noticed this infuriating variance before.  Any suggestions?  will  the heater eventually “settle down?”  Should I bite the bullet and invest in a temperature controller?
<The controller is an excellent idea, always... w/ systems of valuable (expensive or affective domain) cost... but I would return this defective product for a new one... Contact Marineland re if necessary, or have your source (retailer, etailer...) do so for you>
Some extra detail about the system in case you’d like it.  It’s a 55 gallon with a 20 gallon sump/refugium, NW-110 reef octopus skimmer,  2 HO t5s, 2 150w metal halides (not currently in use), 2 Hydor Koralia 750 powerheads, around 90 lbs of live rock, clean up crew of 3 Astraea, 3 Ceriths, 3 Nerites, 20 Nassarius, 4 scarlet hermits, 1 peppermint shrimp, 1 skunk cleaner, 1 lonely Discosoma (taking it slowly!) and 4 blue green Chromis.
Thanks in advance for a great resource and excellent help,
<Certainly welcome. Bob Fenner (an olde H.S. chem., physics and bio. teacher)>
Re: Heater still heating above set temp.     8/16/12

Hi all!
I just wanted to send you a follow up.  I called Marineland.  The representative that I spoke to told me that the thermostats on these heaters operate within a range of +/- 2 degrees F around the set point.  In other words, the water temperature must drop two degrees below the set point before full on, and it must rise 2 degrees before full off.  I actually confirmed with the representative that a heater set at 77 could get down to 75 at night and up to 79 during the day and the heater would be operating under expected parameters.  That hardly seems good enough for a reef system!
<Agreed... one degree swing above and below is what I'd engineer>

4 degree temperature swings?  Stress city!  It looks like I'm in the market for a temperature controller.
<A good idea in any case... I think Sanjay Joshi's article/s on such are posted on the Net somewhere... Bob Fenner>

Electricity in water and heaters     2/23/12
Hi Bob,
Good news, my fish are doing fine. One of the tangs still has spots from time to time but that is the least of my worries at this point. Since installing the UV sterilizer I am now receiving quite a shock when I put my hands in the sump and also in the main tank.
<?! And so is your livestock! Unplug this device! Read here re GFI use:

and the linked Related FAQs files>
The sterilizer is mounted in line above the sump which is under the cabinet (stand). I wasn't sure that it was the sterilizer but I leaning towards it.
I had an electrician install gfi outlets so at least I will not fry (i hope)!
<IF installed, there should be no detection of stray current>

 I noticed my 300 w heater was fully submersed and passed the recommended water line, so I removed that heater to eliminate that from the possible shocking. But I am still feeling a bite when I stick my hand in the tank, the weird thing is that it is intermittent and gets stronger at times. I am scared to put my hands in the tank!!!!
<You should be>

 I am looking to get a volt meter for the water to use before doing maintenance. Any recommendation?
<Either have a real electrician over to check all, or systematically test all gear through a plug in GFI>
 I also would like to know if this is common as a result of a uv sterilizer.
<Some brands, makes, yes... a crack in the tube surrounding the lamp, poor insulation at the connections....>
 I have read much on this topic on your site and others and people go back and forth about the ground probes. What are your thoughts?
<Posted. Most all are worthless>
 Like I said, I never noticed this before adding the UV.
 Now that I have a damaged heater I am looking to replace it. The one I am looking at is the JBJ True Temp Titanium Heating System 500w or the 800w.
Do you have an opinion on this model and is it better to have more watts than I need?
<I don't have any first-hand experience w/ these, but do like this company's chillers. I'd seek input from the larger bb's, hobbyists who actually have used them. AND wire through an external (extra) thermostat/regulator>
I am mainly concerned with my safety at this point, and this heater appears to be the safest one I have found yet, although very expensive.....please offer your personal thoughts. One day I believe this hobby will be a source of relaxation for me......I just hope that day comes soon :)
<Me too. Bob Fenner>

Extreme Overheating Question   7/23/11
Dear WWM Crew,
I've been maintaining a 5500 gallon fish only saltwater system with 4 display tanks. This past week we had a heating malfunction and the heat pump unit ran the system temperature up to 104 degrees for about 18hrs.
Of course everything was a complete loss. The temperature is now back to normal (77-78 degrees) and changed 10% of the water volume today and preparing for another soon. Now my question is, what else needs to been done prepare the system for replacement fish and how does this extreme high temperature affect the biological system that was in place.
<Mmm, perhaps the use/addition of chemical filtrant for the possibility of the last>
System is as follows: All tanks have a 2-3" sand bed, the main display (4000-gallons) has about 2000-lbs of base/live rock, the filter system is sump with filter socks (14), two large inline pool type sand filters with carbon in each (appro-200lbs of carbon in each filter), a RK2 PE-150 protein skimmer with Ozone Generator (2500-MG/day), and a 330-gallon bio-sump filter with kaldness media for the
biological and a Emperor Aquatics inline UV sterilizer. I have never had this happen before, never heard of this extreme of a case of overheating, so I am very unsure how to recover from this.
<Really just time going by>
I will test the water daily and would assume I need to do several water changes, just needed advise and an expert opinion. Thanks for the help in advance and look forward to hearing from you.
<Take your time re-stocking... and all should be fine. Bob Fenner>

Heater Recall   4/24/11
> Bob, Marineland is recalling multiple heaters for safety concerns, Here is the link http://www.upi.com/Business_News/2011/04/22/United-Pet-aquarium-heaters-recalled/UPI-51601303507601/  thought you might want to put it in the dailies for those that aren't aware.
> -Adam J.
Thank you Adam. Will post/share on WWM. B

Temperature 12/21/10
Hello there gang,
<Hello Jamie>
need some more advise. Recently my tank experienced a spike in the water temperature in the range of 5 to 6 degrees. I have a 150 gallon FOWLR setup. All of the equipment appears to be functioning as always with no unusual sounds, pumps no longer working, heater seeming to function properly, etc. The temperature in the tank went from its usual 78 up to around 83 degrees for a period of about one week. Then, just as unexpectedly, the temperature came back down to its usual 78 and has stayed there for the last month or so. All in all I'm not that concerned about it, however am wondering what might have caused the change.
<Mmm, possibly a digital thermometer glitch and/or sensor not completely submerged, malfunctioning heater thermostat. James (Salty Dog)>

Exploding Heaters  4/14/10
Hello Again,
<Hello Pavlo>
So we went away on holidays for 2 weeks. Just before we left, I did a water change.
<Mmm, I would do any maintenance of any kind at least two days before leaving.. no knowing what you may inadvertently change/ disturb that Murphy can get his hands on..>
Afterwards I refilled my s/w curing tank (Rubbermaid), not realizing that I hadn't unplugged the heater. Unbeknownst to me the heater exploded & sat there - current running, elements rusting for 2 weeks.
<! Dangerous!>
When I came back from the vacation, I started to do a water change. I opened the cover on the tank to do a salinity test, and I noticed something odd in the water (piece of the exploded heater), so I stuck my hand in to get it out. Yowza!!! That was quite a shock.
<Ouch! Have experienced this myself>
Luckily I am still alive, and now have learned to ALWAYS unplug the heater, before a change and especially before putting my hand in the water.
<Learning by experience'¦the best way>
(I'm getting to the question)
When I pulled out the heater a lot of sediment came out of it into the tank (I am assuming rust and other metals)
<Yes. Probably mostly Iron>
I dumped the water, rinsed the tank, dried it, rinsed it again, and then filled it with RO & mixed in the salt. Last night - 24 hours after mixing in the salt, I went to do my long overdue water change. The water smelled burnt & metallic.
So I dumped the water and rinsed the tank again. It still has that burnt metallic scent. I filled it with RO again, and put a bag of charcoal it there. Is it safe to use, or should I just buy another container?
<It probably would be safe. Iron in small amounts is sometimes added to systems as a supplement, but from the information given it is impossible to say if this is the contaminant. Do you know what the element was made of? In time, this will be removed from the container, with continued emptying/ carbon usage, but the safest immediate route is to replace the container>
Thanks for all your help!
<No problem. Simon>

Tank Stocking, Blenny Incompatibility   8/5/09
Hi guys I love your site.
<Hello, I kind of like it too.>
Been reading for like 6 months. Since I discovered your site and still have a long way to go. I upgraded from a 30 gallon to a 55g marine aquarium. I would like your help with my stocking list. Let me give you my tank specs.
Ph 8.3
Nitrite 0
Ammonia 0
Nitrate 5
Calcium 400
Carbonate hardness 10
Temp 85 (I know it's high but I don't have a Chiller)
<Everything looks okay, except for the temperature. Please save up for a chiller before you spend money on livestock.>
55g saltwater
Aqua c remora skimmer
30g sump/refugium with Chaeto
Quiet one 3000 return pump
Skilter 400 filter with Chemi pure
2 Koralia #2 for water movement
4x 54w t5 ho Odyssea fixture
60 pounds of live Caribbean rock
4 inches of live sand in the display
6 inches of live sand in the refugium
Pair of clown fish
Sand goby
Skunk cleaner shrimp
Fire shrimp
6 emerald crab,8 hermits,4 brittle starfish (all came on the rock)
2 feather dusters
I love Blennies and goby's.
I will add 3 fire goby, a Midas
Blenny and a Red lip Blenny.
<Hmm, the 3 Firefish sound reasonable, but I would only add one of those two Blennies. In fact I wouldn't add more than one type of Goby, but the sand goby and fire goby occupy different niches.>
I would like your suggestion on other Blennies and Goby's that you would think will get along with the stocking list or maybe a small wrasse and some soft Coral that could survive the temperature.
<Between the clowns, the 3 Firefish, and the Blenny, I would say your tank would be about full. But please do not add anymore fish or corals until you solve the temperature issue.>
I was thinking of adding a Flame Angel but I don't think there is enough space on a 55g.
<Good choice.>
Thank you for your time and I am sorry for all the grammatical errors but English is not my first language and the spelling check on my Black Berry is not that great.
<Your welcome, Josh Solomon.>

Re: Tank Stocking, Blenny Incompatibility   8/5/09
Thank you for the quick response and the advice.
<Your welcome.>
I will see what I can do about the chiller because I live I an apartment and the tank is in the living room. And I read that the chillers produce a lot of heat.
<It is really not as bad as you might of heard, for a big tank maybe, but for a small chiller on a 55 in should not be to large of a problem in an air conditioned apartment.>
I guess I will have to add some fans to see if I can lower that temperature.
<I had assumed you already had fans over the tank, but you know what they say about assuming... A couple of fans will likely serve you well. What is the difference of temperature between at night just before your lights turn off, to in the morning just before they turn on?>
Again thanks for your time and advice.
<Your welcome, Josh Solomon.>

Temperature variance, SW  03/11/09
Hello crew! Again, sorry about all the question marks, for some peculiar reason my e-mail system tends to place them randomly (only to your site, I can't figure it out!).
<Me neither>
Anyway, I have a JBJ 24 gallon nano. It has 32.5# live rock (Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga) and 40# of pink Fiji sand. The system is a little over a month old and only has one fish, a pearly Jawfish.? I have one Ricordea polyp and a Blastomussa frag that seem to be thriving well.? Inverts consist of a small serpent banded starfish, a cleaner shrimp, 1 orange Astrea, 4 Nassarius snails, 1 blue knuckled hermit crab, and 1 blue legged hermit crab.? I dose 2 part B-ionic daily for a 10 gallon volume (I believe much of my water is displaced by liverock and sand).
<Of a certainty, this is so>
I do about 10% weekly water changes with premixed R/O saltwater.? I do keep a Polyfilter in chamber 1.? I had the lid recently upgraded with a 3rd 36w watt bulb, bringing the total wattage to 108w.? SG 1.0255, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 10 ppm, pH 8.2? There is a Koralia 1 power head in the display and a maxi 1200 for the return pump.
I've been reading over the temperature FAQ's and read that 84 degrees is the average tropical temperature of the oceans in the world.
<Mmm, no... this is not so... There are areas... shallows, lagoons, what have you, with restricted water movement... that get this warm, but the vast majority of the surface of tropical seas (between twenty degree north and south latitude) is in the upper 70's F... even in these "heated" times.
It's rarely in the eighties F., and the reasons for keeping our aquariums cooler are gone over... Here: http://wetwebmedia.com/heatrat.htm
and as much of the linked files above as you would like>
Well that gave me some comfort, considering my tank, tends to peak at 83 degrees (I'm betting it will spike to 84 in the summer).? At night, the temp drops to about 79 degrees (heater is set at 79).? Should I be setting my heater to 80 or 81 degrees??
<Yes, I would>
At first, I was worried about how high the temperature gets; however, after reading through the FAQs, now I am more concerned about the 4 possible 5 degree swing it takes when the lights turn on.
<I share this concern>
So if I was setting the heater to 80 or 81 that would minimize it to 3 or 4 degrees.
<Likely so>
So, should I set the heater to 80 or 81?
<Try it at the lower value to start... and consider either shifting your lights on" period to later in the day/eve, or even using a timer to have off a good period of time during the day when no one is about... This will help to reduce temperature variation/flux>
I'm sure you will share some thoughts on this. Again, thank you for your time and sharing your knowledge!
Danny N.
Tampa, FL
<A pleasure. Bob Fenner>

Re: temperature variance
Hello there!? Well, last night I had set my heater at 80 first, as you suggested, to see how that would affect and hopefully stabilize the temperature.? The lights run from 7pm to 3am at night (a half an hour after sunset here).? I was biting my nails as the temperature actually started rising to 84, but it peaked there at about midnight.? I came home today (lights have been off for about 14 hours) and observed the temperature was still higher than I expected, at 82 degrees (house temperature is at 75).?
Either the settings on the heater are off, my heater is an inappropriate size for my 24 gallon (50w),
<Mmm, no... it's undersized/wattage>
or the placement of the heater in the 3rd chamber sets it off unnecessarily (perhaps water cools through the overflow, live rock rubble, etc)??
<Shouldn't matter>
Perhaps it's a combination of all those things?!? The third chamber is the only chamber with any room left (has the return pump in it as well).? I do have a back-up 100w heater.? Do you think that would that be more stable for my tank??
<Mmm, I'd use it instead, but it is not the wattage here, but the other sources of heating that are at issue... mainly lighting>
The only reason I did not use that initially is because it's rated for up to 30 gallons; moreover, I thought much of my water is displaced by live rock.? My goal was for the temperature to fluctuate from 80 to 83, not 82 to 84!? Do you suggest I use the 100w heater at perhaps 79?? I foresee much trial and error here...? Again, thank you for your time!
Danny N.
Tampa, FL
<I'd try setting the 100W at 78 F... And adding a bit more air circulation above/across the top of the water, perhaps raising the height of the light fixture. BobF>

Re: temperature variance 3/14/09
Hello again!
<Hello Danny, Scott V. with you this go round.>
So, I actually became skeptical about my thermometer.
<Many are off quite a bit.>
So I got a glass standing one and a digital in addition to the one I already have (glass suction cup). I put them all in the same location. The original one said 82, the standing one said 78, and the digital said 80!
I know the digital ones become inaccurate over time, but I'm leaning towards that one for the moment. I'm just very distraught over the inaccuracies over my thermometers. I know you usually don't make a brand recommendation. However, can you lead me into the right direction please??
<Ok, this drove me nuts a few years back too. I managed to get several aquarium packaged thermometers in the most common brands. I tested them vs. a "lab grade" thermometer borrowed from a local university (not suitable for aquarium use, many of these contain actual mercury in fragile glass).
The most consistent from thermometer to thermometer within one line and the most accurate line I found were the cheap little Coralife digital units.
For the price of the things I always ran two of them...that way if one starts to read oddly it is obvious.>
I know that in such a small volume, accurate temperature readings is critical!? I know this is not the most riveting e-mail, but this is a big problem for me...I'm so detail orientated.
<Tis a good thing!>
Thank you again for your time!

Heater Breaking -- 2/21/09 Hello. I would first like to say that I love your website. I have a 29 gallon that used to house two Sepia bandensis (they were still in a net breeder). We keep our house in the upper 60's, so I had a heater. One night I noticed a metallic smell and a cracking noise in the room that the tank was. I found that the heater had, well, exploded. The cuttlefish and the clean-up crew were dead. There were shards of glass all over the sand bed <!? Wow!> and the water was tinted yellow/brown. In the area of the heater, all of the sand had turn black and it was still plugged in. It was a old heater (4+ years?). I removed the heater remains. It has been a few weeks since the incident and I have cleared the water up with a carbon filter. My question to you, the all knowing oracles of aquarium wisdom, is what sort of toxins/chemicals did that leak into the water? Will the aquarium be usable again? Will the live rock? The live sand? Carbon filter? Thank you for your time. <Just to make sure... I'd bleach, wash, rinse all (in place if you can open a window to dilute any fumes) read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/clnornart.htm> ... toss the old and run some new Carbon, drag a magnet (an algae scrubber is fine) over and through the old sand/substrate (to search for ferrous metal bits), add a unit of PolyFilter to your filter flow path (note any color changes)... and start slowly (testing) with new livestock. Bob Fenner>

Strange Situation, heater breakage, concern re toxicity  12/30/08 Greetings, crew. <Hello Pete, Minh at your service.> I have a saltwater tank that is in the cycling stage. It is a custom 50 gallon flat thing (as tall as a 30 breeder, but a lot longer). It contains 3 salt-water feeders and 1 damsel. Anyways, last night, my heater exploded in the tank, and the black powder contained in the heater got mixed into my sand. I obviously unplugged the heater and stopped the filters until I could suck most of the powder out. What I wanted to know is what the powder is? Graphite? Some type of carbon? <The powder that came from your broken heater would most likely be carbon from the heating element shorting out.> placed a magnet next to it to see if it was iron, and it isn't magnetic. I don't know if it is toxic to my tank, and if I should tear everything down, dump all of my sand, and drain all of my water. I really don't want to do that, the tank has been cycling for two months, but I will if I have to. <I do not think this is necessary. Although one brand of heater may differ from another, the majority of the cases of broken heaters I've seen rarely end in catastrophe if the initial danger of shocking the tank inhabitants or owner is averted.> would understand if you don't know what is in the heater, but I don't have the box for it anymore, and I was hoping that you might know what they usually fill these things with. Cheers, Pete Hi, crew. I just mailed you about a heater. I wanted to add that it is the type that has no temp adjustment feature; it is a set-heater. I don't know if that helps. <I believe the majority of commercially available heaters do not contain toxic materials such as possible mercuric compounds in the thermometric elements. However, if you wish to err on the side of caution, running granular activated carbon in conjunction with partial water changes can help dilute any possible contamination. Furthermore, I would like to offer a recommendation for an excellent heater that has served me well over the years with never a problem, the Eheim Jager heaters (formerly known as Ebo-Jager). --Pete <Good luck. Cheers, Minh Huynh>

Re: Strange Situation, heater damage    12/31/09 Thanks for the good news about my heater. The fish seem to be fine two days later, so all is well. --Pete <Glad to hear everything is well. Cheers, Minh Huynh.>

Broken thermometer  5/25/08 Hi, I was wondering if you could help me please. The thermometer in my fish tank has cracked and I am wondering if this will now harm my fish - they are tropical fish. Could you please get back to me as soon as possible. Thanks, Geri <If we're talking about a plain red alcohol thermometer, then the risk to your fish is minimal. Certainly do a 50-75% water change ASAP to dilute any toxins, and perhaps another within the next day or two. But beyond that, you should be fine. Consider using an LCD thermometer next time. May be less accurate, but they don't break. Cheers, Neale.>

It's Getting Hot In Here'¦Water Temp Issue -- 05/14/08 Hello Crew! <<Hey Mark!>> Well it's been over a year since I started designing custom cabinets to house my new 90 gal Acrylic tank and DIY sump. It's finally done! <<Yay!>> I cycled the tank and moved my Lights, Live Rock and Fish from my 55 gal. I have incorporated many things I've learned from WWM into this new system including a 1.5" stand pipe, closed-loop system, and a unique sump with a DSB/refugium. <<Excellent>> It turned out great, wife species is pleased, tank is running very quietly ...however, I have a temperature problem. <<Oh?>> One of the reasons for making the new system was to hide all of the H.O.T. stuff from the 55 that the wife species was complaining about. You know....lights, skimmer, filter box. <<Indeed>> This all starts with a digital thermometer that was reading 3 to 4 degrees F lower than actual. Piece of junk! During the initial cycle I was monitoring the temperature to see how much heat the pumps were transferring to the water. I'm running a Mag 7 (in sump) for my return pump, a Mag 5 (in sump) on my Aqua C EV-120 Skimmer, and a Mag 18 (out of sump) for my closed loop. <<I see>> The temp was reading 74 to 76 degrees throughout the day without a heater. I thought hey, this is great, my lights will probably add a couple of degrees and I can control that with fans. I'm running 2, Coral Life H.O.T. 150W, 10K HQI's for a total of 300W. I mounted them to the wall, inside my custom cabinet, 10" above the water, with a flipper door for access. <<Sounds like a very nice setup>> However, there are still cabinets above the lights so heat can't rise out. <<Perhaps you can install some exhaust fans to push/pull air out through the 'back' of the cabinet>> I moved the fish at the same time I moved my lights. I started to notice that the water felt warmer than the temperature displayed. After you've stuck your hand in 78 deg water for years you kind of get a sense for what it should feel like. <<I suppose so>> I went and got my floating thermometer out of my change water storage bin to check the tank, and it read 84 degrees not 80. <<Still'¦not terrible. During the warmer months (May to September here in SC) my system runs from 83F at night to 85F during the day>> It seems that I have underestimated the amount of heat being transferred to the water by the pumps. <<The Mag-Drive pumps are known for this. Switching to cooler running Eheim pumps for your sump return and skimmer feed pumps would help with this>> I have been running the system with the flipper door open to keep the lights from overheating the tank and I'm currently reducing my photoperiod slowly. <<Mmm'¦>> I'm also using a fan to get some evaporative cooling in the sump. <<Better to add more fans to the sump/display, than to reduce the photoperiod'¦in my opinion>> I will be installing (2) 12V fans (168 CFM total) above the lights to vent heat out the top. Running the tank with the door open and a fan blowing heat out the front, and a fan in the sump, the tank has stabilized a bit and fluctuates from about 79-80 in the morning to 81-82 in the evening. <<These are quite acceptable temps/ranges>> I have a heater in there now, and it does come on at night to try and keep the swing to 2 degrees. <<Okay>> My hope is to be able to maintain this with the flipper door closed and pull heat out through the top of the cabinet with the fans. <<Yes'¦and/or the back maybe?>> I could probably squeeze another degree out by taking the lids off and putting some egg crate material over the tank, but given the drastic increase in water evaporation I didn't want to do that until I can make an automatic top off unit. <<Ah'¦but this would certainly have an effect on lowering the temperature'¦and again'¦is preferable to reducing the photoperiod>> I want to keep corals in the future, hence the lighting. <<Oh! Okay'¦assumed you had them already. Not so much worries re the lighting duration then>> I have two False Perculas, one Coral Beauty, one 6 Line Wrasse, and one Sail Fin Tang. <<Mmm'¦this species of Tang really requires a much larger tank>> Haven't gotten a clean-up crew yet due to tank situation. My questions are: Is 82 F too high for the long term? <<Nope'¦not in my opinion >> Am I going to have to get a Chiller? <<Sounds like the fans should do the job>> Would a 1/4HP Chiller be enough to keep it 78 F in the tank? <<You don't need to keep your tank this cool but yes, even a 1/5HP unit would likely suffice for your tank>> I know I can get one at a reduced price, was $750, dropped to $500 recently. <<Ah'¦but think of the improvements/livestock you could purchase with that money How much of the heat is being generated by the Mag 18? <<Touch it and see'¦>> Suppose I should just shut the closed loop-off and see how much it drops...duh. <<[grin]>> Thanks guys...and gals Mark <<Happy to share. EricR>> RE: It's Getting Hot In Here...Water Temp Issue - 05/15/08 Thanks Eric. <<Quite welcome, Mark>> WWM and the crew have been a great help in this project. <<Ah, good to know>> I selected the AquaC skimmer based on the information on the site and I'm not disappointed. <<Indeed'¦aside from a fine product, Jason and Steve from AquaC also provide first-rate customer service>> Was always skeptical if the performance would be that much different....it is! <<Different from a cheaper, poorly designed and engineered product? Oh yes'¦>> Glad I spent the extra money. <<Indeed'¦ It sometimes startles me to think I have about $1,600 invested in my skimmer (my system is about 500g en toto), but I don't regret it at all. This is a vital piece of gear in my opinion'¦especially considering our tendency as hobbyists to put more livestock in our systems than they can support, without such ancillary filtration devices>> The lesson here is don't doubt the crew! <<Ha!>> I wanted to purchase locally and they said they would order it but what they had on the shelf was just as good and less expensive. <<Hardly ever the case>> The ones they had were the ones you'll find here in the FAQ's that people are disappointed with. <<Well, there ya go>> Went to Marine Depot...bought one....not disappointed! <<Mmm'¦I could take many dive trips with Bob for the money I have spent there [grin]>> I also read the FAQ's about Mag's being heat generators, reliable but add heat. <<Yes'¦ I've used these pumps for years (decades?) now with great service otherwise'¦though in the past couple years I've made a switch to Ocean Runner pumps as a reliable but quieter option (just wish they weren't so darn BIG) over the Mag-Drive pumps. But if quiet AND cooler running is what you want'¦along with amazing reliability'¦then the Eheim pumps are the way to go (as long as the limited sizes available fit your need)>> Wish I had not doubted the crew! The MAG 18 isn't running hot...warm...but I wouldn't describe it as hot. <<Okay>> Is a contributing factor though, no doubt. <<Yes>> Ok...I'll try to let the tank find it's "center" regarding temperature. <<There are 'boundaries' to consider for sure'¦but can sometimes be over-emphasized I think>> I usually don't see much of a seasonal change in tank temperature here in northern Indiana. I have Central Air so the house only runs 3 or 4 degrees warmer in the summer and that temperature is 6 to 10 degrees cooler than the tank. It will be interesting to see how this tank does over the winter. I did forget to mention I do have a large individual rock with green star polyps. So, I do have some coral....all though these things would survive a nuclear attack. <<Lol! Ah yes, and some folks look at/feel about them invading their tanks the same way most folks do about cockroaches invading their homes too>> They didn't like the move to a warmer/deeper tank...but opened back up within 3 days. The concern I have is for the daily swing of 2 or 3 degrees. <<This is acceptable'¦in my opinion/experience>> If I increase the heater temp to keep the tank temp from falling over night it will just increase by the same amount the next day. It seems that no matter what the lower temperature is, the daily high is always the same number of degrees higher, i.e.: the delta-T remains the same regardless of the initial temp. Which makes sense...the energy input remains the same. <<Hmm..maybe so, but should still have an upper limit I would think. Your new cabinet must have some great insulating qualities>> I'm concerned that the Tang is going to get stressed with the temp swings and get Ich eventually. <<I have five Tangs from four different genera in my system, and the temperature swings at least two --degrees in a 24-hr period. Keep your fish well and properly fed, water quality optimum, and choose tank mates wisely, and I think you will have little concern re. In other words, reduce the other stressors in the system'¦health complaints are often the result of a domino effect in my opinion>> I learned a while back, it needs a bigger tank, <<Yes'¦about three times bigger, really>> of course after I found WWM. <<Of course [grin]>> I've had it now for about three years and it was getting crowded in the 55. <<I'll bet!>> It's about 5" long now and seems to be much happier in the 90, doesn't swim back and forth so much. <<Mmm, yes'¦and that's the issue here. It's not just about 'being in a tank too small for the long-term''¦but about the social/behavioral and health issues associated with just 'growing up in a tank that is too small, period'>> I may have to see about a trade at the store. <<Excellent>> Now...I need to develop a fan placement that allows me to close the flipper door and still get the heat out. <<Yes'¦and will likely require a little creativity>> This weekend is supposed to be cool outside so I think I will stay in and make my modifications this weekend. The Coral Life lights have a very cheap internal 12V fan. Love the lights....hate the fans. They lasted about 6 months before I unplugged them due to bearing noise, and I don't think they move enough air in the fixture to do much good anyway. <<Any air movement helps>> I still have the 12V transformers and can use them to drive a larger fan. <<Maybe, if the output is enough to drive the larger fans. But'¦obtaining both transformers and 12v fans on the NET is not expensive>> The 2 Radio Shack fans I have are a good match for these transformers and I have bench tested them to make sure they work. <<Ah, good>> You suggested pulling air out the back. Problem...can't, without drilling holes through the wall into the Kitchen cabinets. <<I see>> The wife wouldn't be happy with this solution! <<I imagine not>> The tank is sitting in a Great Room along an internal corner wall with the back adjacent to the Kitchen and the right side is adjacent to a closet wall. The left side has a window cut out for viewing the tank. Above the tank is a space for access through the flipper door and above that are integral cabinets. <<Perhaps some ductwork through these, then>> It's really like a large entertainment center built into the corner of the room, except the TV is the tank. <<Sounds very nice>> When I get corals it will be better than HDTV! So...anyway...my options are to vent up through the cabinet space and out the top, (will lose some storage, not that concerned about it), and or go thru the right side into the closet, under the stairs....or both. <<Venting out the top will be sufficient and sounds like the easier of the two>> I have the (2) 4.75" 12V fans and would have to mount them in the bottom of the upper cabinet directly over the lights, and then cut a hole in the top of the upper cabinet to let air out. <<I would install ductwork from the fans to carry the hot air out of the cabinet entirely>> Since heat rises, I would be taking advantage of that as well as helping it a bit with the fan. With the crown molding around the top, nothing would be visible...this thing is 7' tall. <<Big indeed!>> You suggest one blowing in and one sucking air out. I could put one fan in the upper cabinet, over the center of the tank, between the lights, sucking air out. Then place the other in the wall on the right blowing air from the closet across the tank under the lights. <<This would work>> Or I could put both in the upper cabinet one blowing in, one blowing out. <<Mmm'¦if both are placed over the lights I think having both pull air out would be best. I wouldn't blow air in unless from a cooler (lower) source>> To do this I'd probably want to make a "duct" inside the cabinet to pull room air from outside the top of the cabinet instead of just blowing the hot air back in from the fan pulling air into the cabinet. <<Better to pull air from somewhere other than above the tank, if you take this route>> I may need 2 more fans? <<Dunno'¦maybe>> 2 over the top pulling and 2 on the right blowing air from the closet? <<If the noise isn't a bother'¦it can't hurt!>> It's all a big experiment...isn't it? <<Indeed>> I just thought of something else that may be contributing to the heat. The ballasts for the lights are inside the bottom cabinet under the tank with the sump. They are over 12" away from the sump but the heat is contributing to the warmth in the cabinet. <<Indeed'¦as is every other energy consuming device in the cabinet>> I can relocate these to the closet. <<Would help>> I don't know how much difference it will make, but every little bit helps here. <<A cumulative effect, yes>> Again...thanks for the feedback....love what you guys/gals provide. It is appreciated. Mark <<Most welcome, mate. Good luck with your (continuing) project. Eric Russell>> R2: It's Getting Hot In Here...Water Temp Issue - 05/16/08 Thanks Eric, <<Very welcome, Mark>> I'll just have to start experimenting with ventilation as well as move the other sources of heat away from/out of the sump and see where it all settles out. Should be easy enough to create a duct from 6" PVC inside the cabinet for air flow out the top. <<True'¦But using the flexible insulated duct from Home Depot or Lowe's might be easier to work with>> I was looking at the Eheim pumps and did notice that the size/flow options are a bit sparse. I also noticed that they all have integral pre-filters. Wouldn't that affect skimmer performance if you were using them on one? <<Might'¦when it begins to clog>> Can they be removed? <<Very easily>> I don't use them on my Mags....have to clean them to much....they become crap traps! <<Agreed>> I think the insulating properties of this system are mostly due to the acrylic tank and sump. Other factors are that air can't circulate in the sump area because it's completely enclosed. <<Some fans in this area to promote further evaporative cooling might help>> The lower cabinet is made of 3/4" ply with the face and panel doors being solid 3/4" Hickory. <<A beautiful wood (woodworking is an avocation of mine too)>> The doors don't let much air in at all. The heat in this area from the equipment just works as stored heat for the tank above it....but it's quiet and that's what my wife pleaded for! <<I do understand'¦I had similar requirements when I built my in-wall system>> Next project is an RO/DI system and an auto top off unit in the closet! <<Do have a look at the Tunze Osmolator for this. I have used one for more than four years now'¦ A beautiful piece of gear'¦>> Looks like my wife just lost a closet! <<Ah well'¦offer to let her pick out a fish or two (making sure their compatible with your setup, of course)>> I'm tired of carrying jugs of water from the store. <<I'm sure'¦>> Can't use tap water...municipal well...agricultural runoff. <<Yikes!>> Phosphates are high along with TDS and probably silicates. <<Mmm'¦and who knows what else!>> It's good for growing algae, found out the hard way! <<Hmm'¦you may want to consider a whole-house RO unit>> Thanks again....Need to start reading the RO FAQ's now! Mark Gustin <<Let me know if I can be of further assistance. Eric Russell>>
Emergency!!!!!!!!! Help Temp is way too high -- 4/11/08 My reef tank temp is in the 90's what can I do to save my tank and coral/live rock hermit crabs are dead and the 1 fish I have is dead heater must have stuck while I was at work please re as soon as possible anyone <Mmm, depending on the size of this system... float a bag of some size/volume of ice cubes... sealed... in the tank... bring the temp. down slowly... five or so tonight, a degree or two F. per day later... Bob Fenner> Re: emergency!!!!!!!!! Help Temp is way too high -- 4/12/08 Upon checking the temp with a more accurate thermometer it was 100 or close to it the temp could have been at that extreme for around five hours. <Yikes!> During my freak-out I did a 6 gallon change on the 28 gallon tank and added some cubes in a sealed zip lock bag. This brought it down to approx. 92. all fish are dead and some corals are looking odd. Is there any chance that any of my coral will survive and what should I do now. <Is... and just be patient. Nothing more to do that will help more than probably hinder...> Also I have some stress coat for my freshwater tank would it be good to add some and as far as the heater goes it had came loose and got bumped all the way up so should I set it lower than normal or just leave it inactive? <Set it lower> I have some rare corals (LPSs mostly) and I am very worried that it is not going to survive. <I do hope they rally. Again, lower the temp. a further degree or two (F.) per day... BobF>

QT Setup 1/10/08 Good morning from Boston! <Hello Boston> I hope this finds everyone at WWM well. As always, thank you for all your time and effort with WWM. I don't know what many of us would do without you! <We try...> My question is probably a very simple one. I have a 55 gallon FOWLR tank that is about a year and a half old. As is my usual practice, I am in the middle of starting up my QT tank for a planned new arrival. Last night I added 50% tank water from my main tank to the 50% "new" water that has been circulating in the QT for a week. I have a sponge that has been seeding in my main for a week or so that I planned to add to the QT when I bring home the new fish. <Ok> Here is my dilemma: The heater in my QT died last night, so the temp in the QT this morning was down in the 60s. Do I now have to get rid of this water and start again because of the temperature drop? <No> (I'm thinking any beneficial organisms in the water that came from the main are now dead) Luckily, the sponge is still in the main tank. <There are not really many organisms in the water that are of a concern here, your water should be fine to use once you warm it back up.> I had planned on using Seachem's Stability product to cover my bases in case the sponge doesn't have enough life in it to support the QT. <Ok> Thank you so much for your time. Regards, Kim <Welcome> <Chris>

Heater Problems 1/5/07 Hello again... thanks for being such a great source of information! <Hello Laura, glad to be of service.> Our fish continue to do great but our invertebrates, unfortunately, not so well. Our little Discosoma disappeared shortly after we cleared all the algae away from its area. Could we have stirred up something that was toxic to it, or was this probably just another one of those coincidences? <Likely coincidence, they are generally pretty tough.> In any event, the main reason I'm writing is to ask a question about heaters. We have two titanium heaters and the thermostats on both of them do not seem to work at all. <Uh-oh.> We have to crank the thermostat up ridiculously high (over 80) to keep the tank at 76 degrees. We've asked our LFS about this a few times and they say the thermostats on those titanium heaters are just really poor quality. <Some of them, especially if they get moisture in the unit.> One guy said he switched his own tanks back to Stealth heaters because he was having the same problem as us with the titaniums. I tried looking around online but haven't found anything about this at all. Is this really a characteristic problem with titanium heaters or is our LFS just selling a lousy brand of them or something...? <Did they ever work correctly? If you have two doing the same thing I would have to say either moisture got into the thermostats or it is the brand, at least the lot that yours came from. If they worked like this from the start, they probably just read high. If this is a newer development I would not trust these heaters. New heaters are fairly cheap insurance. > Thanks for any advice, Laura <Welcome, good luck, Scott V.>

Tank too hot 12/28/07 <Hola!> Our tanks are running at about 86 degrees. We've unplugged the heater - It is multi tank system; the main tank is 55 gallons, there is a smaller 25 gallon tank and a sub tank of 25 gallons; where the heater is. There is a skimmer. We have live rock about 40 corals, a couple of anemones and12 fish. Having read a lot of your email articles on heat problems we've unplugged all - floated ice bags. opened the lids. Today we scraped a lot of the hard red algae off the walls of the tanks - would that contribute to the heat? More light getting in to heat up the water? Recently (a month ago) we bought a Kpra;oanano pump and the heat seems to be coming from that area. It is space efficient. Have you heard of any problems with that type of pump? Appreciate any suggestions you may have. Thanks. <The pump is easily a large source of the heat. Lighting, if metal halide is used would also contribute to the problem. To control the heat, first use a fan blowing across the tank and see if it controls the temperature. If this does not remedy the problem, than try controlling the ambient air temps in the room that the tank is in. If this also does not fix the problem, than a chiller would be needed. A 1/3 hp unit would be what I would recommend. Hope this helps-Rich...aka...Mr. Firemouth>

Broken Heater 12/25/07 Hi Folks! <Hello Claudia.> Thank you for being here to answer all these countless questions. I happen to have a Heater question: <OK> I currently have a 45 gallon marine set up with 20lbs of indo pacific live sand and about 50 lbs of Fiji live rock. I also have Corallife Lunar Aqua Lights (Compact Fluorescent) At this time I only have 2 Damsels and they are doing just fine. Today, I did my bi-weekly 15% water change, changed the wadding in my Tunze skimmer/Filter, and in the process, broke my heater. :( <Ooops.> My question is: How long can my 2 Damsels survive without a heater? My home stays at a constant 75 degrees, and I know that the lights on the hood of the tank will generate some heat. I won't be able to go into town and purchase a new heater for a few days. Will this cause my fish to die? <If your house is truly 75 deg where the tank sits, and not near any drafts or windows, your tank will stay at a reasonable temperature. If you have a top for the tank close it to limit evaporation. Monitor your tanks temperature, space heater if you have/need them near the tank.> I anxiously await your response, Claudia <Good luck and merry Christmas, Scott V.>

Temperature Problems 11/17/07 Love your site. So much info that has helped me over the years. <Good to hear.>Finally have a question that I can ask. I have a 75 gallon reef setup. I had a leak in a 42 gallon and so did a VERY quick upgrade. <Yikes, I guess so.> I bought a beautiful new light I'd been planning on for a while (Outer Orbit HQI T5HO ... and probably other letters I'm forgetting at this point). I have the tank FINALLY set up properly and it's been in operation for a day or so. I know you don't recommend temps as high as 85, but I'm finding that by about noon (2 hours after the brights have been on) I'm up at 85 already. I haven't checked the temp at night yet, but I'm concerned about how hot it's getting. I'm wondering if taking the glass top off the tank will help with the cooling, but also wondering if that might not pose a problem with escape artists. I don't have any in the tank now, but I'm concerned for the future when I finally start stocking it to full potential. <I would definitely remove the glass cover and even get a little fan to blow across the surface of the water, as well as a fan to blow over your sump if you have one. This will decrease the heat transferred from the light to the tank and drastically increase your evaporative cooling (you will be topping off the tank more often). Do be sure that your light is far enough off the water surface to prevent water from splashing it, as well providing less heat transfer. How far off the surface is one of those ask 20 people and get 20 answers, I generally shoot for 8' or so. As for escape artists, you can go to just about any hardware store and get egg crate light diffuser panels in the lighting section. You can cut the middle out to allow your light to penetrate without shadows, leaving a perimeter around your tank to keep the inhabitants in. Some reefers don't cut out around the light, I don't like the look, but you can try it first and decide for yourself. The increased cooling from doing this will definitely help. Depending on where you are located you may have to consider a chiller come summer. 85 is definitely too high, especially if the temperature is fluctuating up and down so much. You're welcome, good luck and congratulations on the new tank, Scott V.> Any advice you've got would be great. Thanks!

Oh No!! Heating Disaster.... Feeling Hot! Hot! Hot! -- 9/24/07 Bob~ <Nope ya got Mich, the night owl, coming to help ya out.> Help!! Apparently my heater went kaput. Basically it looks as though it just would not shut off. <Happens, but is never good!> The tank was reading around 93!! Yikes!! As you know it is 55 gal with a Chocolate Chip star, a camel back shrimp, 5 turbo snails, and 3 blue green Chromis. I have removed the heater. Killed the lights and removed the top as well as pointed the power heads toward the surface and turned a fan on them. So far I have brought the temp down about 5 degrees. do you by any chance have any other suggestions? <Ice, double bagged in Ziploc type bags, floating in the system will help bring down the temp. But you might want to remove the critters you can easily get a hold of and try cooling down a smaller volume of system water, until the temp of the main system can be brought down. You obviously will be able to cool a smaller volume more quickly.> I have no idea how long it had been like that although definitely less than 24 hours as I check it nightly before I go to bed. The fish and the shrimp seem ok all things considered. Poor chip is at the top (who can blame him? He's probably looking for an escape route) I had planned on doing my weekly 10% change tomorrow. Should I hold off if the temp is still high so that I don't shock the poor things? <I would do the water change.> Also any idea how long it may take it to drop? <Are ways to calculate, but I won't go totally nerdy on you... but will likely be back into a reasonable range by tomorrow.> The room temperature is right at 72. If that helps. What should I be watching for as far as stressed behaviours? <Erratic behavior, quick breathing, signs of Ich...> Thanks again for all your help. I tried searching for posts about bringing them temp down but couldn't find anything. Of course in my haste I may have overlooked something. <Easily done when in a stress reaction mode.> Thanks again, <Welcome! Mich> Melissa
Re: Oh No!! Heating Disaster.... Feeling Hot! Hot! Hot! -- 9/24/07
I have gotten my temp down to 86. <Good.> My thinking is I should stop here and gradually lower over the next few days. <If you don't have a heater in the tank it will cool to room temp within several of hours> I was concerned about a rapid temp changed but got to thinking that maybe it is better than letting them cook for several days. <I would bring it down slowly from here. You are in a safer, reasonable range now.> I really am not sure. Now I am worried that I cooled it down too quickly. <Perhaps, but I think it is best to get it out of this high temp range and I think the quicker the better at these very high temps.> And yes I did overlook the temp pages. Apparently I was searching only for the chocolate chip star temps. <Ooops> Thanks again for everything you guys do. I have gotten my temp down to 86. <Good.> My thinking is I should stop here and gradually lower over the next few days. <If you don't have a heater in the tank it will cool to room temp within several of hours> I was concerned about a rapid temp changed but got to thinking that maybe it is better than letting them cook for several days. <I would bring it down slowly from here. You are in a safer, reasonable range now.> I really am not sure. Now I am worried that I cooled it down too quickly. <Perhaps, but I think it is best to get it out of this high temp range and I think the quicker the better at these very high temps.> And yes I did overlook the temp pages. Apparently I was searching only for the chocolate chip star temps. <Ooops> Thanks again for everything you guys do. Please advise me on how best to proceed. <Slowly, gradually bring down the temp from here.> Melissa <Mich>
Re: Oh No!! Heating Disaster.... Feeling Hot! Hot! Hot! 9/26/07
Mich~ <Hi Melissa> Thank God you share my night owl tendencies. <Boy, you don't know how seldom I hear that! My fellow crewmate Brenda is also a night owl... She told me to tell you that we are vampires and that "normal" people are scared of us. > Sorry I sent the same email twice. <No worries!> I think I am alright for the moment. <Yes.> Cooling pretty quickly. <Yes.> Down to 84 now. <OK.> Chip has started moving around. <Good.> (I'd like to say he isn't my primary concern but really I'd be lying) <We all have our favorites.> Shrimp looks fine. <Good.> Snails are just being snails <Typical.> however I don't see the Chromis. <Uh-oh!> They sometimes get up under the rock to sleep so I am hoping that is the case and they haven't considered it a fine burial chamber. <Yikes!> I will be back up in a few hours with the kids <I'm sorry.> so will monitor it further. <Very good.> Thanks again for EVERYTHING!! <You're very welcome Melissa... glad to be you're 24 hour help line! Mich> Melissa
Re: Oh No!! Heating Disaster.... Feeling Hot! Hot! Hot!   9/28/07
Well Mich the saga continues. <Uh-oh!> All my critters are ok at this point and eating. <Impressive!> Chip seems all right. <Glad to hear. I know he is your buddy!> Now I have another issue although I can honestly say I was not surprised. (That in itself shows I am at least learning a few things) <Glad to hear! Never stop!> I have had a return of diatoms and what appears to be a red maroonish algae looks like hair or stringy slime). <Sounds like Cyanobacteria, a blue-green algae.> I had it once before but managed to seemingly get rid of it. Now it has returned. I have the skimmer going. Producing well. More so the last few days. I was wondering what if anything else I could do. <Add a refugium if you don't have one, increase the volume and frequency of your water changes and feed less. Some links here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/scottsh2ochgart.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeasfriend.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/maralgae.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water.htm > Also I have been pondering on some crabs. Any suggestions? <Yeah... not getting any... Not to be trusted IMO. Won't help with BGA either> will they help with my algae? <Mmm, not as much as you'd like them too! Most generally aren't herbivorous. They are scavengers, and most all can be predatory.> Melissa <Mich> Mich~ I forgot to add, tell Brenda that regardless of night owl status, I think the freakish fascination with fish kind a scares them too. Melissa <Heehee! I think I'm in agreement with you! Mich>

Tank Temperatures a Bit Warm? -- 8/20/07 Hey all, <Hello Noah, Brenda here> I have been running my tank trying to solve this issue for a while now (Only has LR in it at the moment). The problem is that my tank will either stay too hot, or it will fluctuate rapidly. The highest temperature I have seen is 83 degrees Fahrenheit. <A temperature of 83 is actually not too bad.> The fluctuations usually happen in around a 4 hour period, and the temperature can swing as much as 5 or 6 degrees. I am pretty sure this is a problem, and I think the heat is coming from my power heads and pumps. <It does contribute. What kind of pumps are you using? Some pumps are known to generate more heat than others.> I have tried running with two power heads, and without the light, but the temperature is still unstable. <What kind of lighting are you using and how far are they away from the surface of the water? What size tank?> I am hoping you guys have an answer for me, because my parents don't want to buy a chiller. <There are a couple of things you can try. Having a fan blow across the water surface is the best option. You can also try freezing water in small plastic pop bottles and floating in the tank or sump during the warmest part of the day. Using an auto top off will also help. If you are not using an auto top off you can keep your top off water refrigerated and top off manually throughout the day. If you currently do not have a sump I suggest getting one to add to the volume of water. <More information found here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/temp_faqs.htm > Thanks a ton! Noah <You're welcome! Brenda>
Re: Tank Temperatures a Bit Warm? -- 8/20/07
I am using Rio aqua 1400 powerheads, and a Quiet one pump. The tank is a 50 gal, and the lighting is a Coralife halide fixture, 36" 150W, 2 fluorescent. It's about 8" from the top of the tank. I was going to try a sump, but my parents rejected that idea. I have tried adding ice, but it did not work well in the least, it brought the temperature down, but melted quickly, <Ice will melt quickly at 83 degrees.> and the temperature shot back up again. <Every little bit helps. However, a fan blowing across the surface will help the most. Your temperatures are not too far off from where you need to be. Try something like this: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=17884&Ntt=fans&Ntk=All&Ntx=mode+matchallpartial&Np=1&pc=1&N=0&Nty=1 Brenda>
Re: Tank Temperatures a Bit Warm? -- 8/21/07
Ok, I'll try a fan, hopefully that will help. I also was thinking about making a sort of radiator for the tank, but am worried about corrosion in metals, know any that are safe? <You have to be very careful with metals in saltwater. I personally would not trust anything that wasn't manufactured specifically for saltwater aquariums. There have been many who have made their own chillers. A quick search on the internet for 'DIY Chiller' will bring up many results. I personally would save my time, money, and frustrations and put my efforts into a sump/refugium before going through the trouble of building a home made chiller/radiator. There are many benefits to a sump/refugium. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm> Thanks again! Noah <Good Luck to you! Brenda>

Overactive Heater, SW  8/10/07 Hello, <Hi> I have been into the hobby of salt water aquariums for about 3 years now, and have never experienced this before now. I have a problem where my tank stays far too hot (it's currently not populated so not an urgent issue). The heater is calibrated and adjusted correctly, and I have even gone to the extreme of introducing in bags into the tank. The tank is 50 gallons, and I have a 200W Eheim heater. I don't know if it is just bad luck, because my last heater had the same issue, or if it is something else. When I unplug the heater, the tank temperature goes down as expected. The heater is adjusted to 75 degrees, the tank stays at 80 degrees, and the tank cools off to around 65 degrees when the heater is unplugged. Thank you for your help! Noah <Well, first off 80 is not too hot at all, many reefs in the world have temperatures that normally exceed that. However, do not count on the heater's temperature gauge, they are very inaccurate. If setting it to 75 causes 80 degrees just turn it down until the desired temperature is maintained and you should be fine.> <Chris>

A Tale Of Heater Woe (Marine Tank Meltdown) -- 07/14/07 Hello all - wonderful site, fantastic resource. <<Greetings Tony'¦happy to hear you like the site>> Not sure what advice you can give, more of a 'woe is with me' story... <<Ruh-roh>> I have a 90-gal tank with a variety of LPS and soft corals. Zoo's, Frog Spawn, mushrooms (Ricordea yuma), brain corals, lobo's, etc. <<Ah yes, the typical 'reef garden' variety system>> Two Tomato Clowns, 1 Niger Trigger, <<The trigger needs a much larger environment>> 4 PJ's and 1 goby. 5 Crocea calms. Temps here have been around 105 outside lately. I had turned my heater down last week; the tank temp was up to 81. Last night something happened. I got up to the smell of bad water and the tank water was at 103. <<Yikes!>> The heater was cooking! <<Indeed'¦>> I pulled it out, did an immediate 25-gal water change. Most of my corals - bought it. <<Mmm'¦not surprising>> I lost one of the clowns also. <<Consider this lucky I think>> Pulled what I have left to my QT. The rest of the fish, some zoo's, Xenia, two clams and 1 brain coral are left. They seem to be fine, happy actually. <<Time will tell mate'¦any lasting/worsening damage may take a while to manifest>> I think the live rock is toast, the sponges and mushrooms are just rotting on there. I want to pull it out, re-cure, and start over. Not sure what else to do. <<I think this is your only option here>> The heater is about 18 months old. Should I have replaced it by now? <<Not in my opinion, most are quite reliable. You may want to consider a different model/manufacturer, and do consider utilizing a model with an 'electronic' controller'¦still no guarantee a malfunction can't happen, but much more reliable than those units employing metal 'contacts'>> Any advice on restarting the tank? <<Hmm, pretty much as you have already outlined'¦keep your remaining livestock elsewhere while you re-cure the rock and re-cycle the tank>> Thanks for any sympathy in advance... <<Sorry to realize your travails. EricR>> Tony

It's hot (no surprise there!). Hot Tank 7/13/07 Alex (who always knows best!), <Hello, Chris with you today, Alex is away for a bit.> Thanks again for all the wonderful info on the site! We have a temperature question. Just to refresh your memory (what? you don't remember our tank specifically???). We have a 120-gallon reef tank, fluorescent lights (don't know details), protein skimmer, the usual stuff. No problems there. All tank tests are fine (ammonia 0, nitrates 0, nitrites 0, pH 8.4, phosphates 0). Before we get to inhabitants, let us ask: Our tank gets too hot. We have no room for a chiller and no money for central air. We keep a fan blowing across the top of the tank and, on all but the muggiest New York days, we are fine. <Ok> On those muggy days, however, the temperature spikes at 85-86. From reading your site, we feel that although those are high temps, they are not killer temps. <No, but large swings are tough on the livestock.> What's bad is that at night, or when the weather breaks, the tank settles back to its usual 78. <Big swing.> That large a swing is too much. <Agreed> So, the question: During the summer, when we know we cannot keep the tank within a two-degree swing, is it safe to set the heat to 82 and keep the tank between 82-85? <Yes, I run mine at 82 year round.> And then, in the fall when the weather is more stable and cooler, we can drop the heaters a degree every few days until it's back to the usual 78. Is this an OK scenario? <Yes> We have tried floating ice (our entire ice-maker bucket ... enough for a decent cocktail party .... melted in baggies within 15 minutes and didn't change the temperature at all). We have tried shortening the lighting cycle, also to no avail. <I'd skip the ice unless it gets really hot, cutting back on lighting will help a little, but with just normal fluorescent it will not make a huge difference.> In the last three weeks we have lost our beloved Foxface, several hermit crabs and one yellow tang. All our coral is miserable. We have red slime. Life is not good in our tank and we suspect a lot of it is temperature related. <Make sure to have lots of circulation, as the water warms the dissolved O2 level falls, and this is obviously not good.> Thanks for the help .... we hope you can answer soon ... it's 70 outside today but within three days we'll be back in the 90s!!! Gratefully, as always, Michael and Dianne <Stay cool.> <Chris> Temp., nano, SW   6/25/07 Thanks for the quick reply! <your welcome> I have two more questions, please... My temperature ranges from 74.8 - 75.3. I the new nano chiller (with a compressor, built for nanos!) so it keeps it at a constant even on the hottest days. Is that too low for a reef tank? <I prefer temps closer to 78F when a chiller is used. Your temps are a little lower than I would normally run a reef tank. Temps above 82F start to stress corals and cause bleaching, etc.> The other question: About 3 months ago my first chiller malfunctioned and stayed on the entire night (about 6 hours) before I realized it had lowered the temperature of my tank to 53.2 degrees. YES, I know...I was devastated to say the least. I thought everything was lost. The fish were floating on their side, the corals looked horrible, and the inverts were frozen in place (so it looked). I warmed it up very slowly with a heater I had-it took nearly 5 hours to get it back into the 60's. Everything recovered, the fish swimming. I did not lose a thing. Could this traumatic event has lasting effects on the corals? <You did the right thing by bringing up the temp slowly and letting the tank recover naturally! Once an episode of stress has been eliminated and the root cause removed in this case a new chiller) the corals will rebound and continue to flourish if the right tank conditions for a reef tank exist. There should be no long term issues from the cold exposure for any of the survivors. Just check your water parameters daily/weekly and maintain proper water chemistry and temps and everything will be fine.> <thanks Rich aka Mr. Firemouth> Thanks again for being there!

Tank Crashed! Heater Went Out! Help! -- 5/30/07 Hello, <Hello Helene, Brenda here> I am so sorry to bother you with what might be somewhere on your site but I have been looking for hours and still am not finding what I need. I have a 75 gallon tank which you all helped me with originally. It has been wonderful, with a few mishaps along the way but doing quite well. I have few fish, just a clown and yellow tail and some corals. Also, a beautiful brain, some polyps, assorted soft corals, a brittle star, lots of crabs, snails, live rock and sand. For the past year we have had a lot of mushrooms growing and we were starting to realize that they were taking over. We also have a Condylactis anemone. He has been with us since the tank's live rock came 8 years ago. We have a nice 50 gallon sump, good protein skimmer, occasionally run a little charcoal in a backpack filter just to make the water sparkle. The heater broke 2 nights ago. I am not sure if something from that affected the tank or if it was coincidental with the death of the anemone. <When heaters start to fail they can cause the temperature to rise pretty high, or drop pretty low, or both. This can cause the death of an anemone. The death of an anemone can wipe out an entire tank over night. You have likely experienced the domino effect here!> The result has been a massive die off of all the animals with the exception of the fish. Very sad. <Yes, very sad! I'm so sorry!> We are not sure if they got electrocuted or something in the heater affected them. Just not sure. As soon as we noticed what was happening we began a water change. We always have premixed water waiting. But we only had 7 gallons. We knew we needed more changes. We have done about 65 gallons of water change in 2 days. Our water is not chlorinated but we were not able to aerate the water for the next changes....we did it for a few hours and then did the change. The ammonia was up but now ammonia is at 0. <Keep checking ammonia daily until you are out of the woods. What are the rest of your water parameters?> The tank is just grey and lifeless with the fish swimming around and doing alright. I think all the corals are dead but some of them just look closed up and I hate to take them out if there is a chance that they are alive. There is a little green left on the brain but I am not too hopeful. The mushrooms are all closed and just hanging around. What is the proper action to take now? Should I order some new rock? <I wouldn't start replacing your live rock. You can buy a few pieces and use it to re-seed your tank if you wish. Use only fully cured rock. Did you also loose your snails and crabs?> Should I wait and see? Should I keep up water changes? <Keep cleaning filters, changing filter pads, emptying skimmer. I would run as much carbon as you can. I suggest running it in something like a PhosBan reactor, similar to this (without the PhosBan media): http://www.thatpetplace.com/pet/prod/207695/product.web Perfect water conditions is going to be the key for any recovery.> Should I try to dislodge the mushrooms and get them out? <They may recover. I've seen some pretty sad looking mushrooms bounce back. Send us a picture if you can.> We never found the anemone. <It has likely dissolved.> We found the star and got him out. <Good!> I am just not sure what to do....... Any help would be appreciated. Thank you. Helene <Hope this helps Helene! Brenda>
Re: Tank Crashed! Heater Went Out! Help! -- 5/30/07
Hi Brenda, Thank you for your fast reply. <You're welcome!> I have said many times that having an aquarium would be impossible without you guys....Just having you to listen is a help..... <Happy to assist!> Yes, I think that the snails and crabs died too. I am not seeing much alive except a little florescent on the brain and one of the other corals....so long ago gotten that I forget the name. It is closed but not looking bad. He may be dead but just looks better than the other kinds. I will try for a picture if it helps you guys with others in sorry shape like we are. Again, thank you so much for being there. I will tell you the other water parameters when I check them in the morning if they are weird. They probably will be. <Lets hope not! I'll keep my fingers crossed! Brenda> Helene

Heater sticking protection and controllers 10/8/05 We have a 200 gallon reef tank and travel for work. After reading horror stories, I am worried about the possibility of a heater sticking on while we are gone. We put 2 heaters in the sump, one 350 watt and one 150 watt to try to ensure there would not be a problem.  <Good strategy. If one of these heaters stuck, it would take a while to overheat the tank. It would be a long shot for both of them to stick.> We thought about a dual controller for the heater and chiller... but then, what if the controller sticks on or off and all the heaters were connected???  <A controller is even better, and they are far more reliable than the thermostats inside the heaters. The possibility of a controller failing is remote. There really is no better solution. Also remember that if you set the heaters thermostats to come on a degree or two higher than the controller, you now have redundant control over the temperature and TWO devices have to fail for the tank to overheat.> Our house usually stays around 75 degrees (air conditioned in room with the tank/sump in an insulated basement that never gets below 68 degrees). With the heaters in normal operation, the tank does not exceed 84 degrees without the chiller (we keep the tank at 79 degrees with the chiller). My question is... should we ditch the 350 watt Titanium (Won pro) and go with 3 150s instead (or possibly a 250? and two 150s)? I love the digital display on the Won Brothers Pro... but don't want to fry anything if the wattage is too high. How can we calculate how much each of the different wattage heaters would raise the temperature in a worst case scenario? <Using a larger number of smaller heaters adds a safety cushion, but gets expensive. Here is a test for how fast any one heater (or any combination) can raise the tank temp: Turn all of the heaters off and let the tank temp drift down a couple of degrees. Read the temperature. Turn the heaters to be tested back on at a high setting (88 degrees perhaps) and let them run several hours during the day (while lights are on) and re-read the temperature. After the test, be sure to turn the settings back down on the heaters! You will probably find that the lower wattage heaters would take several days to overheat the tank.> Also, are we wrong about considering the controllers a hazard (it would be great to eliminate the 1-2 degree shift the chiller allows)? Thanks in advance! Peggy  <I don't think a controller is a hazard at all. Quite the contrary, I think it is a beneficial safety device. As for temperature shift, a daily range of 1-2 degrees is fine and is tighter than most of us can accomplish. Best Regards. AdamC.>

Tank Overheating With Many External Pumps - 04/25/06 Good morning all, <<Hello!>> I've spent at least a couple hours every day looking over the problems that others have had, and this has helped me beyond words in setting up my new 150 gallon tank. <<Mmm, yes...not repeating other's mistakes...>> So, first I just want to say thank you for taking the time to help all of us! <<A collaborative effort...you're quite welcome>> I've been battling a problem with my external pumps overheating my tank.  My water temperature reaches 85+ degrees in the winter time when the ambient room temperature is 64. <<Wow!>> I have an office fan blowing cool air on low from behind the canopy to keep the temp at around 79 degrees. <<Sounds fine...I utilize fans and a small chiller to maintain my tank at around 80F in the winter, and around 83F in the summer>> Yesterday, we finally broke the 70 degree mark outside, and our house heated up to around 78 degrees.  I had to use both office fans on high to keep the tank below 84 degrees, and that's without my halides! <<Does seem excessive>> I know that 84 degrees is tolerable by many animals, but this seems to be an excessive amount of heat exchange when it's coming from just the pumps, and 20 degrees of heating without lights or a heater makes for a huge hurdle going into summer.   <<Indeed!>> Here's some info about my tank:  Dimensions: 48x24x30 (LWH) Canopy and stand are made from MDF and 2x4 constructions. The canopy has an open back for more air flow, and 4 Ice Cap variable fans in the canopy top exhausting any heat in the canopy.  Ebo Jager 250-Watt heater - removed to determine that this was not the cause.  Pumps: - Blueline HD70 - 1750 Gal/Hr - 290 watts (Panworld 200PS-MD70R) - Closed Loop at the rear of tank to 1" spray bar with 1/2" tees. - Blueline HD30 - 590 Gal/Hr - 90 watts (Panworld 50PX-MD30R) - AquaC EV180. - Iwaki WMD 40RLXT - 1080 Gal/Hr - 1.9 Amps (218 watts?) - Tank return tee'd off to two SQWDs so each corner of the tank has random flow towards the reef. - Dolphin AmpMaster 4000/3000 - 3000 gal/hr through 1.5 inch pipe -1.21 Amps (140 watts?) - Closed loop at the bottom of the tank, 1.5" tee'd into (2) 1" pipes the go to opposite ends of a spray bar with 1/2" tees. True flow is probably about 2000 gal/hr because of the way it's plumbed. Lighting: - (3) 95 Watt VHO (custom hood lacks room for 46.5 inch bulbs) (2) 50/50, (1) Actinic - (2) 250 Watt HQI Ice Cap reef pendants with (2) 10K bulbs (halides not being used yet) Chiller: - Pacific Coast 1/4 HP Chiller (not used yet, because I don't want to mask the problem), it's rated to cool 150 gallons about 20 degrees. This won't be big enough if I'm using it for my pumps & halides during summer. <<I'd still give it a try before going "bigger">> Sump: - Sump - 25 Gallons (a little small for the evaporation rates I'm getting which is approximately 3 - 4 gals/day. <<May seem like a lot for this size system, but is not excessive...contributed to by the fans...low relative humidity in your house/area>> So, a lot of info for an implied question. <<Mmm, yes...and no real "clues" that anything is abnormal regarding your equipment/setup>> Is this a normal amount of heat given my pump selection? <<Is a lot of pumps...some heating would be expected, but generally not to the extreme you describe>> Are any of these pumps known for heat issues? <<As compared to some others...no>> I've tried plumbing my AmpMaster 4000/3000 with 2" PVC and not use the Blueline 70HD, but with 2 spray bars in different locations it was nearly impossible to achieve the flow rates I was hoping for, because of all the Tees & 90 degree elbows. <<Understood>> I've cleaned all of the intake screens, and I've positioned the pumps so their exhaust is not impeded.  None of the pumps seem hot to the touch, more like a warm cup of coffee. <<Hmm, curious...what about the impeller housings?>> Any ideas would be of great help, <<I think first you have to isolate the source causing the problem.  Shut down all but the return pump and see if the water temperature falls.  If it does, fire up the other pumps one at a time and evaluate each pump for its heat exchange/transfer capacity.  If you find the offending pump, perhaps it is an aberration and fixing the problem will be as simple as changing it out with another (gee, it's easy for me to spend your money <G>), or maybe scrutinize the plumbing for something that may be contributing to excessive heat...like excessive head/back pressure.  You're only/best option at the end of the day may be to fire up that chiller>> Thank you! -David <<I'd be interested to know what you discover.  Regards, EricR>>
Tank Overheating With Many External Pumps II - 04/26/06
Thanks Eric for your quick reply, <<Quite welcome David>> I have checked all of the impeller housings, and they all seem to be clear. <<Okay>> I started shutting down the pumps individually and waited several hours to see if I could isolate the problem.  I found that the Blueline HD70 was probably the biggest contributor with a temp drop of around 5 degrees. <<a lot>> I went back to reading WWMedia about plumbing pressure rated pumps, and I came across an article from Mr. Fenner explaining that these pumps want to push rather than pull which makes sense, but it got me thinking about the plumbing.  I have more bends and elbows on the intake side than the output side, and now I'm flashing back to a problem I was originally having which was cavitation on the intake vinyl tubing I originally installed. It was completely cutting off the intake flow after a few minutes of operation. <<Ahh...maybe on to something here...have to think starving the pumps would certainly cause a rise in temperature>> Now I'm planning on replumbing the intake to 1 1/2" from the bulkhead like this: 1 1/2" Bulkhead fitting---Ball Valve---barbed nipple---spa-flex---barbed nipple---Union--1 1/2" to 1" threaded reducer---Blueline. This will give me more to draw from, and get rid of the elbows. <<Much better my friend...with one observation.  Unless you have the valve here to allow removing the pump (for service/replacement), I recommend you place your valves on the "output" side.  If the valve is there for servicing the pump, then I would place it as "close to the pump" as possible>> Anyway, thanks for putting me on the right track with isolating the problem, and thanks to everyone there for your collaborative efforts! <<Have no doubt you would have figured it out...but you're very welcome>> Just a quick side note:  Don't mount this pump on the backside of your stand, because there's a lot of low-end vibration that resonates though the cabinet and even the floor like an electric raiser on a bass drum. <<Very true>> Also, to further minimize the vibration from these pumps, go to a computer store and buy a gel-filled mouse pad that would normally go under your wrist to keep it straight when using a mouse.  I put one of these under the pump, and voila!!!  Nothing but a quiet fan. <<Indeed, I even use vibration dampening pads under my submerged pumps...this, combined with a 'short' run of spa-flex or flexible vinyl tubing at the pump inlets/outlets can make a world of difference.  EricR>> -David

Temp Swing! Hey crew, <Scott> I'm stumped!  I don't really expect you guys to fully diagnose my issue because of all the factors involved but here goes.  The problem is temp swings from 78 to 80 - 81 degrees during the course of a day.  I have a 55 gallon seahorse tank.  I have a slightly oversized sump with a Mag 9.5 inside the sump as a return.  I have a Hydor inline 300 watt heater that has truly been great.  It's been cycled and very stable and consist for about 3 - 4 months.  At one point my skimmer crapped out, and I purchased a My Reef Creation MR1 with a Mag 12.  That's the only change I made to the tank. All of a sudden temp started rising one day. <Mmm, think about this... isn't the gear listed... as it runs continuously... what doesn't? The lighting and ambient, diurnal temperature changes...> Wasn't a terribly hot day outside.  The heater wasn't kicking on from what I could tell.  I thought it might be the addition of the Mag 12 which was at first placed inside the sump.  I plumbed the Mag 12 outside the sump but still had the temp swings. Next I thought the heater might have malfunctioned so I unplugged it for a few hours.  Still the temp rose.  I thought maybe the digital thermometer was bad or the battery was going but the strip therm on the side of the tank read the same.  I've tried keeping the light off, no luck. Most times it makes it through most of the day and then around late afternoon the temp raises. I am truly stumped.  I know a simple solution is getting a chiller.  I just have no reason why all of a sudden the temp would raise.  My concern is for the pair of ponies.  From what I read (Seahorse.org) the species of seahorse I have don't care much for temps above 78. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Scott (Sorry for the long email) <No worries... here at all likely, the daily swing of 2-3 degrees F., even with this species is not a problem. I would not necessarily buy/use a chiller, but might change the "lighting period" to more in the evenings, off during the midday hours... as the season warms. Bob Fenner>

Temperature Swings - 03/17/06 Hello from Tennessee, WWM crew! <<Back at ya from South Carolina!>> I have a few temperature questions for you guys (and possibly  gals).  I've recently slowly (few days time) lowered my 95 gallon reef tank temps from very low 80's to the high 70's (78-79 to be more  exact).  I've read dearly about temp swings in the FAQ's, and I know a lot is subject to situation, but I'm asking for my situation since I am having trouble applying other situations in the FAQ's to mine.   <<Um...ok <grin>.>> Last night around 12:00 my temp as per Coralife digital thermometer was 79.3 F, glass suction cup thermometer said 79.0 F, close enough. <<Agreed>> This  morning at 8:30 digital read at 78.0 as well as glass thermo.  Is this too much of a temp swing given the time period? <<Not at all, quite typical really...and perfectly fine.  My tank typically swings about 3 degrees in a 24-hour period.>> I don't know at what time it bottomed at 78.0 so I don't know how fast it dropped. <<Probably within a few hours after the lights went out.>> In your opinion, what is the least amount of time that it is acceptable to drop 1 degree F? <<Hmm...speaking for myself here, a drop of 1-degree Fahrenheit over the course of an hour should not prove detrimental.  But keep in mind, any deleterious effects may be a result of more than temperature swings.  In other words, if the tank is already stressed from other factors (poor water quality, fish bullied by other fish, malnutrition, etc.), then a rapid change in temperature of even one or two degrees may manifest in ways it wouldn't if the tank were otherwise stable/healthy.>> Also, which should I trust more, glass or digital?  The digital and glass have disagreed many times at the higher temps by as much as a degree. <<Use whichever you like best (I prefer digital for ease of use).  The "exact" reading is not so much important as monitoring the changes...it's the same logic as that applied to the inexpensive "swing-arm" hydrometers.  Of course, you could always shell out the bucks for lab-grade hardware.>> The  digital is also infamous to me for jumping up and down rapidly example:  showing 80.5 F and then showing 80.0 two minutes later. <<Is likely just that the digital-thermometer registers the change faster then the other.>> The probe is  installed in the Megaflow overflow part of my tank. The tank is heated by a 250 Watt Visi-Therm Stealth in the sump, set to 79 F (give or take), and was functioning last night before lights out @ 12:00 a.m.  Should I remove it from the sump and place it in the main tank? <<I wouldn't>> If so, what would be an ideal location? <<Where it is is fine/my preference for all such hardware.>> Near the overflow?  With a powerhead pointed at it?  Or with one of the return nozzles from the sump pointed at it?  Mid-tank on the back, or is it OK to put it on  the side? <<Just leave it in the sump.  My only recommendation would be to replace the 250w with two smaller 150w heaters for redundancy/safety.>> I apologize for all the questions, but I am a firm believer in  creating a great place for my fish to live comfortably with minimal, if any changes, and I need some advice.  Thanks for all your help and for tolerating my many questions.  It is greatly appreciated, as is your  website and FAQ's. <<No worries mate...am happy to assist.  Regards, EricR>>

Broken heater & resulting contamination 2/1/07 <Hi, David. GrahamT with you tonight.> Hello, I just did my weekly water change and realized after I poured the new water in that my heater had broken inside the bucket. <Uh-oh!> I quickly stopped before the brown cloud at the bottom of the bucket poured in. <I would be willing to bet that any of the water was fouled.> Within an hour EVERY coral closed up. <Not at all surprised. Who knows what exactly is in there...> (not the way I see my corals normally close after a water change) I'm not sure what could have been in my heater to contaminate the tank. All the fish seem fine but the zooanthids and leathers and Heliofungia looked terrible. I quickly made another 10% water change and replaced the carbon after reading WWM. <Would think something along the lines of 75% or more would be on the menu here.> Funny I found the same thing happened to another aquarist only they were smart enough not to use the water in the bucket. DOH! <Relax, it only means they looked in the bucket a little closer than yourself. Can't beat yourself up...> I learned during that research trip that we shouldn't worry about the innards of a thermometer these days but what about the insides of a heater? <That is what you need to act on, IMO. Not sure how much/how fast carbon will remove the chemicals here, but would help to do a LARGE water change.> I'm really going to sound stupid when I say this explains why the breaker in my son's weight room was popping. < "It popped AGAIN?!?" I can see you now. ;) > I'm wondering if the electricity that was probably charging the water before I caught it could have done something more to the water than just the heater parts leaching. <I can't answer that question, though I suspect not. I think your main problem would be the electronic components/circuitry that went supernova with your water as it's "atmosphere" to absorb the toxins. You must be able to picture (through experience or my imagery) an electronic device smoking as it burns up? That foul-smelling smoke is burnt resin, epoxy, rubber, plastics etc. Each heater has their own makeup, but many are made with more than just a coil and tension-style temperature control. These models have semi-complex regulating circuits built-in that would provide the fuel for some nasty toxins in your water if burnt... but I digress. Whether you have toxins or not, or some odd chemical transformation from the prolonged exposure to current is mott at this point. You are well-served to perform as massive a water change as you are equipped to do.> I guess a lil time will tell now what is to happen. <Let us know how it turns out! -GrahamT> David Conway

Nitrifying Bacteria Wipe Out? (Heater Breakdown)  3/16/2007 Hello to all, <Hi.> Need to ask one question on the bacteria, I've recently lost a marine aquarium to a heater malfunction. Of course it stayed on instead of off. Like they usually do. <Sorry to hear that, recommend going with two heaters next time, lower wattage. There is still a risk but if one goes awry again...it's less likely to cook a tank since it's not as powerful....and less likely two will go down simultaneously.> My question is how high a temp. can the bacteria take before dying? <Unless the tank literally boils for a sustained period of time, it is not likely you will kill all of the bacteria. There will however be a die off and it will take time for them to procreate and return to optimal levels.  Think of it as restarting your nitrogen cycle.> Thanks so much for your answer. <Of course.> Jim  Jesko <Adam Jackson.>

Heater Hazard! 2/27/07 I have (actually had) a 75 gallon reef tank with a variety of soft corals (zoos, mushrooms, polyps, etc), a jawfish, blue/red wrasse, Clarki clown, Blue goby, and the cleaner crew.  It was beautiful! This past weekend when I came home, my heater was shattered in the tank, the top of my aquarium was cracked, the plastic was broken away, and there was a black substance splattered on the wall all the way up to the ceiling. <Oh boy, sorry to hear.>  All the snails and crabs were dead, all the corals were withdrawn and the wrasse was dead.  <Painful loss I'm sure.>  I did an immediate water change, not knowing if there were any chemicals in the water from the shattered heater, but I lost all the corals anyway. <Not unexpected unfortunately.> The temperature did fluctuate and dipped to around 72 degrees. <Left and right hook.>  The heater was not touching anything, and I can't figure out what happened. <Have seen this before, does happen from time to time, weakness in the glass gets worse over time with repeated heating and cooling until it gives way catastrophically.> I always unplug my heater for water changes and have never had a problem before.  <Not really avoidable, sort of a ticking time bomb.> I immediately removed all the dead creatures.  Since then, I have a consistent ammonia reading in my tank and have done daily water changes to try to save the fish. <Good.> Do you have any other suggestions regarding the ammonia? <Doing all you can currently, the die off from the LR is probably causing the ammonia spike.> Obviously I am completely devastated and am contemplating reverting back to a fish-only system because I can't afford to restock the tank. <Discouraging for sure, but I encourage you to continue, would have had the same problem in any tank.>  Any suggestions on how to avoid this in the future? <Avoid the glass heaters, got with one of the titanium ones.>  Do you think there are chemicals in my tank still? <Yes, run lots of carbon and Poly-Filters.>  Was it the temperature change, electric shock, or chemicals that killed everything? <Yes to all, a triple whammy.>  Are there heaters that don't contain damaging chemicals or will automatically shut off if there is a problem? <Putting it on a GFI outlet will help, although the bigger culprit is the metal inside the heater.>  Or are some heaters just doomed to shatter. <All glass heater have this possibility, go with a titanium one.>  Also do you think my live rock is damaged? <Only time will tell, see how it recovers.  I would bet on it being ok long term.>  Or the substrate filtration? Thanks! Amy <Sorry to hear of your troubles.  Have faith you will be able to work through this and get back on the right track.> <Chris> Heater Hazard! 2/28/07 Thank you for your reply! I appreciate all your help. Although frustrating, at least I know I am doing all I can do.    Amy <Stay on the path.> <Chris>

Blue Tang vs. the Heater Hi, I have a blue tang that has developed a strange habit of bumping his body against the in tank hanging heater. I thought that he was perhaps doing it because his face itched (he has HLLE). Then I thought that he was doing it because he liked the noise (rather loud) that the heater makes when it bangs against the tank's walls. After watching him for quite some time last night, I think that he is doing this because he sees his own reflection in the glass & he thinks that it is another fish (although he is not the largest fish in the tank, he is the most aggressive); therefore doing it out of aggression. Have you ever heard of this? <Yes, many fish attack heaters. Most are attracted/annoyed by the little red light.> Suggestions to make this behavior stop? <Simple, remove it. If you have a sump, locate it there. Else, Tetra has a new brand of powerfilter that can have a heater added to it in the filter box. This way the heater is protected and cannot become broken and electrocute or cook your fish. I think Eheim makes a canister filter with a heater module, too.> Thanks again, Jennifer J. Ford <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Broken heater in sump Dear Mr. Fenner- I hope this isn't a major problem. I just noticed that one of my two Ebo Jager heater is broken in my sump. I recently put in a new protein skimmer and I am afraid it banged up against my heater which was laying on the bottom of the sump. The internal parts of the lower end were exposed to water. I immediately unplugged it and removed it. It may have been this way for up to seven days. Do you know if there was any inside the heater that could cause problems for my tank(75gal). Thanks for your time. - Anj <no worries... little or no source of contamination and the livestock was safe in the insulated tank (from the floor by virtue of the silicone/gals/acrylic tank) as a floating ground. Just do a water change and run a poly filter and/or carbon for better sleep. A common problem... no worries. Anthony>
Re: broken heater in sump
Yesterday I wrote about a broken heater I discovered in my sump. Today I added carbon as you indicated but I noticed that 3 out of my 6 Xenias look shrunken and very unhealthy. They even seem to be given off some type reddish color discharge. They were extremely healthy and thick yesterday. Can this be attributed to my heater problem.  <still almost certainly not... Xenia have been observed goring on sewer discharge pipes near hotels!!! If anything, they have been shocked by the improvement in water clarity/light of you haven't used carbon for a while or have gone without a water change for more than a few weeks> I will start some water changes right away. Anything else you can suggest?  <mostly patience and time> Do you think the rest of the tank will start to have problems.  <depends on carbon/clarity issues as per above> can you suggest a better heater than Ebo Jager?-  <they are one of the best brands. If you are willing to spend more, look into a good titanium probe heater with a remote thermostat> Thanks so much- Anj <kindly, Anthony>

Horrors with heaters; what could/I be going/doing wrong?!?  11/9/05 Hello Bob. <James> To start with I think I will complain about the general quality of many marine components in general as I have had bad luck with lights (Coralife power compacts... went through two but had a very assistive {helpful?} store owner go great lengths there) and powerheads have given issues of late... same store we had to try two before we got one that worked out of the box on my return trip. So, I am just a little bit frustrated by quality in products of late. <I sense this> However, it is the heaters that are causing the most grief... Okay, the first failure was undoubtedly my own and it was a Neptune in my small tank... I know I was tired and let the water get too low during a water change and that one stuck on shortly thereafter. I since 'learned' and unplug all the heaters first while during any maintenance and I even allow about 10 minutes for thermal equilibration before plugging any back in. <Good> However, I have gone through two Neptunes and one or perhaps two Visitherm Deluxe in the past 9 months. <Unusual...> I even now suspect the Ebo Jager I just bought as the temp over shot in another tank this morning while at the same time the heater overshot in my quarantine tank... rather than risk the health of the Flame Angel I decided to place it in the 55 gallon main tank where the conditions are/have been (knock on wood) stable. I would have preferred to not do this yet but here I am at work and not at home to unplug/reconnect or get another as necessary. What could be going wrong? <I don't know... are you setting these at a reasonably low initial settings? Allowing a few tens of minutes for the thermostats to adjust before plugging in initially?> I use GFCI for every tank and everything plugged into them that is connected with the tanks. Should I check the polarity at the outlets? <Mmm, in general circuitry itself will do this...> Have I just been plagued with bad luck???? <Most likely... yes> I have been trying hard to do everything right and just do not understand what is going wrong. Bob, I am truly frustrated... Thank you. James Zimmer <Time for a holiday! Honestly, the brands you mention are typically good... Bob Fenner> 
Re: Horrors with heaters; what could/I be going/doing wrong?!?  11/9/05
Thank you Bob. <Welcome> 10s of minutes and low enough temperature... hard to say here. I know the Ebo Jaeger was left in the tank for well over an hour (the water and heater were about 70F) and the temp set on heater was 76F.. <The setting about time is fine... But I do want to make a statement re the "pre-sets" of submersible, non-submersible heaters... they're not accurate, nor precise! I encourage all to "turn barely on" by hand (regardless of what the "dial says"), check back later after the "light has gone off", and re-adjust...> since that one was in the overflow in the rear of the tank <I would not place heaters here... too much air mixing, chance of the things breaking, burning a hole in the side... place either in the tank, and/or in a permanently filled part of the sump/s> I had thought that the water coming out was hitting the thermometer and just giving a higher reading based off of location. However, I had since moved it and notice it is stuck on running passed the set temp. Bad luck... yeah, this would be an understatement and the holiday sounds like a great idea. Truth is I am just concerned for the well being of my pets. I didn't want to put the Flame Angel in the 55 gallon yet as there are inverts [Branched Frogspawn... yes, 'finally' discovered the identity!!! ; ), star polyps, mushrooms, sponges, zoos and other horseshoe worms/featherdusters coming out of the rock] but with a heater running out of control it seemed more prudent than trusting the fate of the fish in a potentially... ahhh soupy environment. The article on heaters from your site made me consider some overtemp devices... in this case even if stuck on then the power will cut out with the controller in place. <Good insurance...> IT is a bummer about the quality of products of late. The same store owner mentioned that this trend is causing some problems for people. I insist that these issues of quality are a huge problem as our livestocks are directly dependent on the functional reliability of the products we use. The bigger the tank the more money invested... <Yes... though less per gallon....!> On the positive side the Flame Angel seems very happy and the cleaner shrimp now has a new customer to service. The inverts attached to largely immoveable (nowhere big enough for them to go other than where they are) rocks are another matter if this same fish decides to go picking. What could I do though? I have three tanks and two potentially down. Thank God for redundancy because at least there was still one! Sincerely, James Zimmer <Keep your "eyes on the prize" James... the "big picture" is not bad at all... Cheers, and happy holidays my friend. Bob Fenner, not going out to Garfield this Xmas, but down to sunnier/windier Ft. Lauderdale>  Crab Boil Hello guys... <Hi Mario, Don here today> It finally happened.  After 2 years of clear sailing, something has finally gone terribly wrong in my reef.  My siphon overflow stopped overflowing (these things are constant trouble IMO).   <I don't believe that anyone here will disagree with that> Luckily, I have a float switch that stopped the return pump from the refugium, so the tank did not overflow.    Unfortunately, my heater is in the refugium and the temperature sensor is in the main tank.  Without circulation between the two tanks, I came home to find the main tank was about 76 F and the refugium was HOT... well over 120 F (that's as high as the thermometer goes.)  I can't describe how terrible it was to walk in to the smell of cooked seafood (actually smelled sadly delicious).   <So sorry to hear> I had about 35 lbs of live rock and some Chaetomorpha in the refugium.  Should I junk the rock or do you think it's still got some life to it. Keep in mind, this stuff cooked for probably the better part of a day. I have put it in a big Rubbermaid to re-cycle, but if you think this is futile, I'll just trash it.   <You are on the right track and the rock will be useful in the future, 'restocking' with beneficial life over time.> Luckily, the reef itself seems unscathed.   <Indeed, the aquarium angels were with you> To anybody reading this email I can say two things: 1) put your temperature sensor and heater in the same tank and 2) siphon overflows are an accident waiting to happen.   <Well said> Thanks for this opportunity to vent and share my sad story with somebody.  You guys are the closest thing to therapy I have. <Well, as long as the topic is marine aquaria, I will try to help, just don't start me on that meaning of life stuff <G> > -Mario

When good heaters go bad! OR..... Aquascaping anyone? - 4/15/03 Salutations to all,     Well, My Tank is nearing its completion. <Glad to hear and congratulations! A very rewarding adventure is about to be had. Paul at your service.>  55 Gal bow front corner tank 20 High sump DSB and Fiji live rock.  I have a four inch sand bed and now that the live rock (60 lbs) is curing in a trash can I need to know how to support it in the tank.  That is a lot of rock!  Should I make pvc supports or just sit it on the sand bed? <Either way. Most times though, with that much rock and depending on how high you build your structure, you will probably need to glue them together or employ a PVC frame. Anthony Calfo has a great book that broaches this subject and many many more. Check it out. www.readingtrees.com >  Is there any consensus on which is preferable? <Aesthetic symmetry is the key. What would look better to you? See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/aquascaping.htm>     The second question is about heaters.  If I put two heaters in the sump, how will I know when one is bad? <Well, that is a good question. Sometimes damage is obvious (physical), sometimes the light will stay on for hours, and hours turn to days so the temp slowly rises. Sometimes there will be no light on at all for days while the other heater light may be on frequently to adjust for the lack of heat output from the other heater. Wow, good question! I never put much thought into that, as I have never had one go bad. (cross my fingers)> I can foresee one breaking and not being noticed and then the other breaking and then I'm out of luck. <Could happen> How is this better than using one heater? <The other thought process is having the total wattage of the tank's heating needs spread out over two to three heaters in that they all work in conjunction when heating to the set tank temperature, but if one were to go bad, it would be only a third of the total wattage for the tank's heating requirement. Therefore it would only be able to slightly affect the temperature as it is way underpowered in its heating ability by itself.> Should I set them at slightly different temperatures and then if one goes I would notice the temp difference? Any thoughts? <Not necessarily. See the above thought> Thanks again for a great website, You do realize that I could be finishing my bathroom remodeling project, but instead I am always reading on this website or at least that is what my wife is always yelling LOL <Heheheheh> Bryan Flanigan <Thanks Bryan.>

-Fried heater- Hi,  I am hoping for some advice.  I had a catastrophe happen today.  My lights flickered and I heard a popping noise and then saw smoke.  The heater in my 38 gallon salt water aquarium blew up. <Ouch, never fun.> It broke the glass cover and came apart in the tank. <Is your plug a GFI? If not you may want to either change the plug to one or buy one that plugs in. These devices will shut down the circuit if it suddenly draws too much current, like when a heater fries. Check out http://www.wetwebmedia.com/gfcimarines.htm for more info.> I believe all my fish are dead.  They're laying on their sides gasping.  My question is, would this electrocution kill the coral and live  invertebrates as well?  And how do I tell? <If something dies it should be exceedingly apparent, the tissue will peel off, it may turn black and necrotic, I suppose it would depend on what's dying. This was not a good situation for the inverts either so you may have more loss.> Also, before buying new fish, do I need to wait a certain amount of time,  and do anything to the water? Do I need to replace the gravel or rock? <Do a large (50%+) water change.> Are there toxic substances inside the heater that may have been released into the water? <Absolutely, run a few Polyfilters.> I read a post about a broken thermometer, but I didn't see anything about electrocution of the salt water.  This was terrible.  I purchased a new heater and cover.  The man at my local fish store was busy and didn't have time to help me out. I would be ever so grateful for any help you can give me.  I am just sick over this. <You're lucky you were home, this could have started a fire. Good luck, and check out GFI's. -Kevin>   Thanks,  Julie
- Fried Heater Follow-up -
Thanks,  I already have a GFI's in my house. <But was your tank plugged into it? Having them 'in the house' is of little use unless it is house wide, or you are directly plugged into it.> But, some good news,  my fish didn't die. <Ahh, good.> They, I guess, were stressed, I replaced the bacteria and made sure all my levels were ok, and during the night they got up and started swimming!!! I'm glad I didn't flush them.  Just in case any else ever asks. But thanks, Julie <Cheers, J -- >

DOH!  Well, Now Ya Know!  >Another difficult question for you (sorry), I took my heater out of my pre-mixed water for a minute and put it back in while it was plugged in. >>Doh!  <smacks forehead>  Well, when we do it (and many do), we only do it ONCE.  Now you know.  ;) >I noticed that the heater light wasn't turning off and the water was cold so I took it out and noticed that the glass was broken at the bottom and the wires were exposed. I am now replacing with a titanium one. >>Cool. >My question is, is my water still ok? Nothing to leak out of the heater, i.e. mercury or various metals etc? Thanks in advance. >>Should be, but filtering through fresh (and well-rinsed) carbon and/or PolyFilter (brand name) would eliminate most all concerns.  I don't think there's anything that would be of any real worry.  Glad you didn't get shocked!  Marina

Broken heater Dear Crew,  I recently lost a bubble tip anemone and all the mushrooms in my tank as a result of a broken heater in my sump.  The glass was shattered and it was still plugged in so I am sure that I sent an electrical current through my tank.  While I am not positive that this caused the deaths, it is the only thing that changed in my tank.<Sorry John, without a doubt this caused the deaths. I strongly suggest using a GFI where you plug your equipment in to eliminate this possibility in the future.>  Since the anemone died I now have some ammonia in the tank.  I have done a 30% water change and am going to do another 25% tonight.  My question is, could or did the electrical current that killed ( I think) my inverts also kill the bacteria that I need to break down the ammonia?  Should I expect another full blown cycle or should my 1 year old tank with 150lbs of live rock be able to handle the mini cycle I am getting from the die off? <Dave, its hard to say.  I certainly would monitor ammonia levels daily for a while.>FYI my tank is a 110 gallon with a 20 gallon sump.  I use bio balls in the sump. Other filtration (besides the LR mentioned above) comes from a EuroReef CS8-2 skimmer and a Magnum 350 with fresh carbon that I mainly use for extra circulation.  I'm pretty diligent in keeping the Magnum clean.  I like the extra flow and it is a convenient way to use carbon. <David, can I suggest using Chemi-Pure rather than carbon?  I've done some tests on carbon relating to excessive algae growth due to the phosphates present in activated carbons (especially coconut shell carbon). I have found that Chemi-Pure has the least effect.  It also creates a crystal clear blue/white water along with other benefits.> there are 4 150 GPH powerheads in the tank, and my main pump runs at 800 GPH. Altogether the flow is about 1750 GPH.  Lighting comes from 4 110watt VHO's and a 260 watt PC.  Finally, I also have about 2" of live sand on the bottom of the tank.  All rock and sand has been in the tank for at least 12 mos. <Good luck with your problem Dave.  James (Salty Dog) Thanks for taking the time to answer my question.

Buoyant Heater Warning!! Dear Crew, <Paul> I appreciate the great information that you have provided me and now I believe I can contribute some useful information in return. <Okay>  I'd like to caution everyone about using the new aquarium heaters that are made from clear "unbreakable" plastic materials. I acquired one of these heaters that was imported from Italy. The heater I had acquired for my refugium was very buoyant. When its rubber suction cups come loose, the heater floats to the water surface with the bottom end sticking out of the water. The exposure of the heater to air will cause overheating. <Yikes! What a design defect!> Apparently, the heater floated loose when I was away on vacation. When I came home, the heater had overheated and exploded with plastic particles adhering to the walls and ceiling of my refugium cabinet.  <Yeeikes!> Luckily, the GFI circuit had cut power from the heater and from the pumps that circulate water between the refugium and the main tank. Otherwise, I would have had to clean out not only my refugium but also my main tank as well. I hope that this is news you can use. Regards, Paul <Thank you for sending this along. Am glad you had the GFI and that no one was hurt, your place didn't burn down. Bob Fenner>

Heater problems I recently received a response about some heater issues that I have been having. Here is the scoop, I have a digital thermometer that I've calibrated at my LFS. My temp in the tank has episode were it fluctuates throughout the day. Usually it stays around 78 during the day and drops down to about 76 at night, but on more than one occasion I've woken up to find either my temp lower or higher than my heater is set at. In my latest incident I woke up this morning to find my temp at 81.5 and my heater is on! <yikes> Its only set at 78 and it is practically a brand new Rena cal. What is the deal? Should I move it out of my sump? <if the temp is the same in the tank and in the sump, No> Is my heater malfunctioning? <sounds like it>     What do you know about the titanium heaters with the digital controls? <love them, use them all the time MikeH>

- Heater Scale Deposits - Dear Crew: Thanks for the great site. I am new to marine aquaria. I have two large tanks, 75G and 125G, which I maintain similarly and are 9 months and 6 months old, respectively. Both have 300W submersible heaters. I found a heavy scale on the heater of my 125 a few days ago.  How long it has been there I am not sure but there is no similar scale on the heater in the 75G. Here is a picture of the scale in the 125G: It is orange-brown and has spalled in places taking away with it the decorative glass-stenciling. I am interested in what caused the scale to form because I am trying to track down the cause of a prolonged micro-algae or phytoplankton outbreak in this tank. <They are not related.> The calcium levels in the two tanks are similar (around 500 ppm) but the temperatures are different: about 75°F in the 75G and 83°F in the 125G. Possibly the higher temperatures or longer "on" times could have promoted scale formation in the 125G, but I was also considering another possibility. I thought that the scale formation might be due to my having left a floating glass-cleaning magnet in the tank for two-weeks. <Nah... doubt that. The scale is simply just the product of a high calcium level and the temperatures of the heater right at the surface of the glass.> I had seen other people leave them in their tanks but I took the magnet out after the algae or phytoplankton outbreak because I thought iron might be leaching from it. <Not all magnets are made of steel...> I had difficulty controlling the outbreak but eventually managed through water changes, improved skimming and use of a canister filter. Do you think that increased iron levels could lead to a runaway algae outbreak and produce the scale on the heater? <No... that is just calcium and very normal for just about any accessory attached to a marine tank and not regularly cleaned.> Respectfully, Karl <Cheers, J -- >

The Dreaded Heater Mishap! >Dear crew, >>Hello. >First, thanks again for all of your hard work and patience. I am writing because I had a heater mishap, I must have turned the dial without noticing and the next morning the tank was up to 96 degrees! >>It is not unknown for thermostats to become stuck in the "on" position as well. Sounds like you've got a bouillabaisse going there, eh? Very sorry to read it. >Well, needless to say some things died (Coral Banded Shrimp, Mushrooms, and I think my purple Pseudochromis). Yellow Tang, damsels, percula, snails, and hermits- all OK. >>Real bad, sorry to read this, mate. Glad you didn't lose the whole lot. >I can't find the pseudo I think he must be dead inside a piece of live rock.  >>Could be, or the hermits got a hold of his warm carcass. >I can't think of a way to get him out if he is dead, because he gets in the smallest of holes.  >>As those Pseudos are often wont to do. >1) Do you have a suggestion of a way to maybe get his little body out? >>No. >2) If not, how long will this affect my cycle? >>This depends on many things, but you can certainly boost it with Bio-Spira. This is the good stuff <opens trench coat> right here. >3) Is the best thing to do is just frequent water changes if I can't get him out? >>Yes, and do them anyway. You may need to do one or two really big w/cs - on the order of 75%-100%. Make sure you've aged that water at least a full day, two or three are better. Match everything, as I'm sure you know. Oh yes! Be SURE to bring your tank temp down slowly! No more than two degrees Fahrenheit/24 hours. >Thank you so very much. Sincerely, Keith Tallbe >>Again, so sorry to hear this. Get that Bio-Spira first thing, then mix up the water anyway (it's always good to have on hand). Best of luck, and if you don't have a hospital set up, be prepared. This sort of thing may spur on some stress-induced troubles. Marina 

How to handle a heat wave >Hi all, >>Greetings, my apologies for the late reply. Your email has been in another's folder and I just found it. >I have a problem. I keep a 75 gallon saltwater tank with a 6" Volitans lion and a 4" Long Longnose Butterfly. I live in the southern US. Recently, the heat pump outside the house gave out. With temperatures inside the house climbing to over 100 degrees in the hottest part of the day, I am EXTREMELY worried about my fish. I have turned off the aquarium lights and directed a fan over the top of the tank that stays on all the time, but the temperature still climbs to above 86 degrees in the tank. With repair on the heat pump expected to take 2 weeks (!) and no local fish store willing to "board" my fish, what can I do? I work during the day four days a week, so a hands on solution is out. Worried!!! Frank >>You should have in place a system of fans to utilize evaporative cooling, along with an automatic top off for adding freshwater in order to keep the salinity stable. This can be quite simple, using gravity feed and a few 1gallon plastic jugs or soda bottles - you silicone in some airline valves and set the drip rate manually. Or, it can be a dedicated top off system with float switches, etc. Also, you can fill some plastic jugs (must have screw tops or otherwise be SEALABLE), those "Gladware" reusable, sealable plastic containers, or, in a real pinch, Ziploc baggies (I'd go with freezer quality bags, just to be sure), fill with water and freeze over night. Let them float in the tank for the day, but be careful with this method, as you could cause too much of a drop, which is harder on the fish than a rise. Let the temps stay around 80-83F if possible. Marina 

Temperature Spike- Loss of Livestock 7/6/04 Hey There- You seem to be the end all resource here so I have a few questions for you.  I got home from work last night to find my reef tank a whopping 83.5 degrees.   <hmmm.. the temp is not so terrible when the climb is/was slow. Many reef creatures can tolerate much higher temps. But in general, more then 2-3 F spike over a short period of time can be rough> I added a frozen bottle of water to the tank to bring the temp down but it appears I have lost some livestock and everything in the tank looks ill.   <a sharp drop can be equally stressful. Do note this for future reference. All good and bad things should happen slowly in aquaria <G>. The first thing to do in such cases is heavily oxygenate the water. Turn up venturis, add an airstone and/or add fans to blow across the tank. Improved O2 and slow temp reduction> My LT Anemone hasn't melted but was found in the back of the tank with a lot of the mucous looking stuff in the trail of its path.  The cleaner shrimp was dead, and my goby, wrasse, and blue tang look like death has touched them.  I did an emergency water change this morning (20%).   <excellent... when in doubt do a water change - agreed> Is there anything else I can do to save my tank???   <a few more large water changes in the next week or two> I took the anemone out and put it into a hospital tank to see if it opens up again.  If not I think it shall be the toilet for him.  My live rock looks ill as well (the mushrooms and zooanthids are closed.)  What happened during the temperature spike-  The tank is normally 78.3??  Did the temperature spike cause an ammonia bloom????   <more likely sudden oxygen deprivation> Will a water change be sufficient to bring this under control or am I S.O.L.??   <no worries... the tank can get right back on track. DO consider adding a fan to the timer for the lights, or run full-time if needed. It also would not be too expensive to add a fan to blow across the top of the tank plugged into a thermostat> Thanks for you time on this matter.  Russell Sacramento, CA <best of luck! Anthony>

The Heat Is ON...All The Way ON! (Heater Too High) Yesterday morning I cleaned my tank, moving tubes around.  The heater I have has the temp dial housed with the plug that plugs into the wall, well moving things around pushed the dial on the heater all the way up! <Yikes!> It sat like that for about 8 hours reaching about 110 degrees, when I got home, I quickly changed some water and had the temp down a few hours after that!  So, lets see, Flame Angle, Bubble tip anemone, cleaner shrimp, feather dusters, Pseudochromis- DEAD.  Mostly all of the turbo snails and hermits died also. <Sorry to hear that!> The Tomato Clown and Purple Tang are still alive! (clown is lonely without the BTA). Bubble Coral and Toadstool fell apart.  I have Mushroom Corals (hairy/Bullseye), Button Polyps, Sally Lightfoot and a large clam (I think still alive).  My questions would be this, is the live rock ok. I mean the bacteria that makes it live, will the tank need to be recycled?   <Good question. Bacteria are among the most hardy organisms on earth, so it is likely that the majority of the population survived. However, do monitor water quality to confirm this. You can always make use of a commercial "bacteria in a bottle" product to help kick-start things if needed.> Will the tang and clown have problems? <Hard to say. If they made it this far, they should be able to survive. Keep an eye on them!> Is all the purple encrusted algae dead? <Again- hard to say...You will just have to maintain proper conditions and hope for the best...> Should I remove anything that would eventually be a problem?  I guess what should I do now, clean it up, let it sit for (how long) then BUY A NEW HEATER, then add new fish.  In other words how bad is the aftermath?  Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated <You're on the right track here...Observation and upgraded husbandry are the vehicles of choice here. It may not be as bad as you think. The worst may be over. Monitor your fishes and water quality carefully here, and stay on top of routine husbandry practices (water changes, protein skimming, etc.). Continuous use of chemical filtration media (activated carbon and/or PolyFilter, etc.) and a lot of patience will see you through! Do get that new heater ASAP. Good luck! Regards, Scott F> Mark Halatin Water temp. 06/11/05 Hi, first just want to say that I love your site. <<Thanks a bunch :)>>I'm having a water temperature problem. Background: 75 gallon FOWLR, about 100 lbs. live rock, 2 clowns, 1 blue tang, 1 yellow clown goby, 1 scooter blenny, 1 emerald crab, several snails and hermit crabs, one anemone, one mushroom. We've had the tank for about 1 year, and recently upgraded to metal halide lamps in order to hopefully start getting some corals. They are mounted on top of the canopy about 8 inches away from the top of the tank. Even before the metals, the tank was never below 80-81 degrees (with about 200 watts of fluorescents), but now its up to 85ish in the daytime. At night it doesn't go below 81. I'm worried that this is too hot. We live in South Carolina, and keep our house as cool as possible, and the tank isn't by the window. Yesterday we hooked up a fan to blow between the lights and the tank, but this today, the water is still warm. By the way, we try to keep the lights on for 13-14 hours a day. Is this too long maybe?   << I would try the MHs for 8 to 9 hours.  The corals that you are keeping do not require that long of a light cycle so I would shorten the MHs to 8 hours and leave the actinics where they are at.  Also try having a fan blow across the top of the water. You do not have the glass lid on top right? >> Is there some way to keep the water cooler? Thanks a lot for your help. I hope I've provided enough info. Tait <<Thanks for all your support :) EricS >>

Water temperature 06/08/05 I'm having some problems with temperature in my salt water tank now that the hot weather has come.  I have a ceiling fan on in the room and windows open and tank lights off.   The tank temperature seems to stay around 87 F.  I would like to know if there's anyway to cool the tank down or is there just nothing I can do? << You can setup a small computer fan to blow across the top of the water.  A sump is a great addition too because it helps to naturally cool the tank.  Some people have taken plastic zip-lock bags, filled them with ice and floated the bag in the tank. Good luck EricS>>

- Tank Temperature Too High? - Hello, I have a 39G FO tank with one Cleaner Shrimp. The room that it is in is hot in the summer, and moving it to another room is impossible. Anyway the tank seems to be holding at about 86F. Is this too hot? <Well... it's on the high side of what is sustainable, and considering that summer is isn't here yet, you're going to run into problems if you don't try and bring that temperature down.> If so what would you recommend to try to lower the temperature short of buying a chiller? <A fan blowing across the surface of the water will help.> Also I plan to get live rock and corals, etc.... in the near future if this temp is ok for the fish will it ok for corals? <Will accelerate their metabolism and will result in shorter life spans. In the case of the corals, almost certainly you will need to get that temperature down by six degrees or more unless you only want to keep them for a couple of weeks to months.> Thanks BTW I have a Current-USA Lunar Aqualight. <Cheers, J -- >

Temperature Problem I have a newly cycled 100g corner FOWLR tank with 1 Yellow Tang, 1 Hippo Tang, and 2 Yellowtail Blue Damsels. I'm using power compacts lights. The temperature is 79.5 during the day with the lights off and 82 at night with the lights on. The lights are on for 5 hours each night. The heater is set to 77 and never comes on. I just added a fan and it did not help. It seems like the lights are doing all the heating and I can't bring it down. I also just started using my protein skimmer. Does this increase the heat? My fish seem non affected. Please help.  <Is this a wood canopy you have your lights and fan mounted in? Pumps will increase the temperature of the tank slightly. You might try blowing the air from the fan across the water and see if that helps you. James (Salty Dog)>

Fluorescent to MH blues... too much heat, vacillation in temperature in a SW 55 Hello all, I just purchased a new light for my 55 gallon reef tank. I went from a compact fluorescent which was about 130watts total to a metal halide system. I wanted to be able to get some of the cool corals. I already have a few corals and they seemed to be doing alright with the other light but figured they would love the new light. The new light is a Current USA Outer Orbit fixture 48'. It has 1x150W 10K HQI-MH 1/ 2x130W Dual Actinic & 6 Lunar Lights. I Have it mounted almost 13' over the tank. The problem that I'm having is that the temperature in my tank has sky rocketed. It's usually 76-78 and since I have added the light it's gone up to 86 which I know is on the high end. The fish and the corals seem to be doing alright but I don't know what the long term effect will be. I keep the AC in the house set at 70 and I still can't get the temperature down below 81. When the light comes on the temperature climbs to 86 before the light goes out. Is the light too much for a 55 gallon tank? <As it is, yes... you have too much thermal fluctuation for health and safety's sakes> I've looked into chillers and they're so expensive. The light cost a fortune. Is there anything that I can do to get the temperature down? <A few things... evaporative cooling by supplying fan/s to blow air across the surface would help... elevating the light even more over the tank... adding more volume... in a BIG sump/refugium elsewhere, that's tied in with the 55...> What's the long term effect? <Shortened life-spans for your livestock, big electrical bills... all that goes along with these> Set up is a 55 gallon tank set up in December 2004. Filtration - Eheim Professional II Canister filter up to 92 gallons. Protein Skimmer - Aqua C Remora with Mag Drive Power heads - 2-600, 1 1200 Maxi Jet, 1 Zoo Med Power sweep 228 Heating System - Hydor Eth 300 External Thermal heater 75 pounds of Fiji Live Rock, 60 LBS of Fiji Pink Aragonite Live Sand. Kent Marine Maxxima 35 Hi-S R/O / Deionizer 4 Stage Reverse Osmosis Unit. Current USA Outer Orbit Fixture -- 48' 1x150W 10K HQI-MH 1/ 2x130W Dual Actinic & 6 Lunar Lights Inhabitants -- 1. Purple Tang 1. Blue Damsel 1. True & 1 False Percula 1. Lawnmower Blenny 1. Dottyback Fridmani 1. Diamond Goby 1. Branch Coral - Paralemnalia or Lemnalia Tree Corals, Finger Leather, Branch, or Cauliflower Corals 1. Red Feather Star 1. Torch Coral -- (Brown) Large Polyp Stony 1. Red Star Fish Misc. Hermit Crabs Misc. Snails <Bob Fenner>

Tank temperature, Too Warm... Bring Down Gradually with Chiller.   3/2/07 Dear Bob, <Hi Jason, Mich here.> I have a 55-gallon reef tank that has a typical temperature of 85 degrees.   <It's getting hot in here!> I bought a chiller to reduce the temperature as well as protect the tank when we lose power from hurricanes. <A wise investment.  Do you have a back up generator?> I have a bubble tip anemone with some feather dusters, yellow tang, 2  percula, 1 tomato clown, coral beauty angel, brittle star, flame scallop, urchin  and some gobies. <Oh buoy!  Watch that anemone, can cause big problems.  The yellow tang should really be kept in something over 75 gallons.  The flame scallop (Lima scabra) needs a large supply of plankton in order to survive...is best to culture your own.>   I don't want to reduce the temperature and hurt anything but I also know the temperature I have now is too high. <Yes.  If the temperature has been consistently this warm, I would bring the temp down very gradually over several days.> Thanks for all your knowledge and help <Welcome!  -Mich>

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