Most tropical fish tanks will need to be heated, as their inhabitants do tend to be tropical fish that require warmer temperatures! Tropical nano reef fish will need a heater. The best aquarium heaters will heat your tank safely and easily, with an easy control system which you can use to set the temperature range you need for your tank.
So in the vast majority of tanks, from freshwater tropical tanks to saltwater reef tanks, you will need an aquarium heater. But it can be quite confusing. There are many heaters on the market.
In this article we will guide you through what makes the best aquarium heater, and we will review the 11 best aquarium heaters available on the market today.
- 11 Best Aquarium Heaters – Complete 2021 Reviews and Guide
- What Are The Benefits Of Installing An Aquarium Heater?
- Properties To Look For In The Best Aquarium Heaters
- How Powerful Should Best Aquarium Heaters Be?
- 11 Best Aquarium Heaters Reviews
- 1. Cobalt Aquatics Flat Neo-Therm Aquarium Heater
- 2. Aqueon Preset Aquarium Heater
- 3. Freesea Submersible LED Aquarium Heater
- 4. Aqueon Adjustable Pro Aquarium Heater
- 5. Orlushy Submersible Aquarium Heater
- 6. Boxtech Submersible Thermostat Controlled Aquarium Heater
- 7. Hygger Titanium Best Aquarium Heater
- 8. U-Pick Best Aquarium Heater
- 9. ViaAqua Quartz Glass Aquarium Heater
- 10. Hygger Submersible Aquarium Heater
- 11. Salute Submersible Auto Thermostat Aquarium Heater
- Where Should You Place An Aquarium Heater?
- How Do You Properly Install an Aquarium Heater?
- What Is The Power Usage Like?
- Conclusion And Recommendation for the Best Aquarium Heaters
11 Best Aquarium Heaters – Complete 2021 Reviews and Guide
What Are The Benefits Of Installing An Aquarium Heater?
As stated previously, if you have a saltwater tank or reef tank, you will need to have a heated tank as the inhabitants of reefs are found naturally in tropical environments where the water is very warm.
If you’ve ever had a tropical holiday you’ll know the ocean is like a bath!! So to recreate this environment you’ll need to heat your tank with an aquarium heater.
The heater will also maintain the desired temperature. This is very important, as many tropical fish, and especially corals, are susceptible to fluctuations in temperature. This is one of the reasons why global warming is causing so much damage in coral reefs around the world.
So installing an aquarium heater will get your water to the correct temperature and maintain it there, enabling your fish and coral to be as healthy as they can be, so they can provide you with a spectacular looking aquarium.
Properties To Look For In The Best Aquarium Heaters
Be sure to note the size of your tank before you start looking for the best aquarium heater. Some models are more powerful than others, so will be more suitable for larger or smaller tanks.
The manufacturer should state what size tank the heater model is suitable for. So stick to what they suggest and you will end up with an aquarium heater which will be able to heat your aquarium and maintain it without draining too much power or causing the heater strain.
Aquarium Heater Type
There are a few different types of aquarium heaters available on the market. Each will be able to do the job well, but some may work better for different aquariums.
The most common eater type is the submersible, which is simply submerged in the water and can be attached to the side of the tank.
Other aquarium heater types are immersible, in-sump, substrate, in-filter, and in-line heaters. Each have their own strengths and weaknesses, so see which one would be best for your tank.
Some heater models will be better suited to certain types of aquariums, such as fresh or saltwater aquariums, reef tanks, or turtle tanks.
Some models might also be designed with a specific aquarium type in mind. Therefore read what the manufacturers say is the best type of aquarium for their model.
Many heaters are universal across multiple types of aquarium, which can be very useful as well.
The best aquarium heaters you can buy can be very expensive. So be aware of the price of the heater model you are looking at.
More expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better, though you will often find more functions on an expensive aquarium heater.
Many ‘budget’ aquarium heaters though have amazing functionality for their price range and could well be worth a lot more.
All equipment you have in your tank will need some upkeep at some point, and an aquarium heater is no different.
It is handy to have a model that is easy to clean and maintain at full functionality, as it takes just a little bit of the stress away from owning a tank.
How Powerful Should Best Aquarium Heaters Be?
How powerful an aquarium heater is is defined by how many watts it produces. The more wattage a heater has the more powerful it is and the larger amount of water it can heat.
Below is a guideline to how many watts you will need in your heater to heat water to a certain temperature above the ambient room temperature.
Remember though that depending on the heater model it can change, so always go with what the manufacturer recommends!
|Watts needed to increase * above room temperature|
11 Best Aquarium Heaters Reviews
1. Cobalt Aquatics Flat Neo-Therm Aquarium Heater
This aquarium heater by Cobalt Aquatics is a great way to kick off this list of the 11 best aquarium heaters. With 25, 50, 75, 100, 150, 200, and 300W options, there will be a model that is the perfect power for your tank.
Uniquely among heaters this model features a modern flat design. This design allows it to be fully submerged in water. It is manufactured using resin which won’t shatter like glass, so you don’t need to worry about it breaking and harming your fish.
This aquarium heater also features a reversible bracket enabling the aquarium heater to be installed in different positions.
With an LED display screen it is very easy to read to set temperature and the actual temperature of the tank. The temperature can be set from 66 to 96 degrees Fahrenheit with only a single touch. The temperature will be maintained to within 0.5⁰F of the set temperature.
Many heaters are able to raise water temperatures 3⁰F above ambient room temperatures, but this model is able to effectively raise water temperature 11⁰F above the ambient, meaning that it will be able to get to your required temperature easily.
It also features automatic shut off and thermal protection security which prevents the model from overheating and damage. A three year warranty is included, so you know that the company truly rates this model.
There have been some references detailing trouble with the suction cups provided, but the three year warranty should cover this if it proves to be an issue.
2. Aqueon Preset Aquarium Heater
This model by Aqueon is a cheap and cheerful way to heat your tank. It is perfect for most beginner aquarists, as it is preset to 78 degrees Fahrenheit which is ideal for most tropical fish.
Aqueon is a very popular brand among aquarists, and they offer a free one year warranty with this heater, so you can be sure that they back their heater to do a good job in your tank.
There are three power options available, the 100W model for 20-30 gallon tanks, the 150W for 55 gallon tanks and the 200W model for 75 gallon tanks. So there will be a model for most aquariums, and the 100W model can be put into smaller tanks without any issues.
This model is small and compact, and can be installed either vertically or horizontally which is very handy, especially if you don’t have a lot of room in the tank. A shatter resistant design will prevent bits from hurting your fish if it breaks.
An LED indicator shows when the heater is on and actively heating, while an automatic safety shut off prevents overheating and damage. This is a great feature to have in a cheaper model.
The major downside to this aquarium heater is that it comes at a pre set temperature of 78⁰F which cannot be adjusted. While this temperature is perfect for most tropical fish, if your fish require another temperature then don’t get this model!
3. Freesea Submersible LED Aquarium Heater
This aquarium heater by Freesea is a great model which has two power options; 200W for 20-35 gallon tanks and 300W for 35-50 gallon tanks. If you have a smaller tank you can purchase lower powered 50W, 75W, and 100W models. You can get the higher powered heaters on the left and the lower powered heaters through the banner to the right.
The temperature can be set to between 59°F and 94°F. This is quite a wide range so you are guaranteed being able to set the correct temperature for any fish you may have.
The temperature is displayed on a nice and bright LED display, and can be easily set with a few simple clicks of a button. It displays both in Celsius and Fahrenheit, so you won’t get them muddled!
The real time temperature is displayed constantly, so you can very easily check if the temperature is where you want it to be.
There is a 12 month warranty included in the purchase, so if you do have any issues with the heater you can contact them and arrange a return or replacement easily.
The model doesn’t come with instructions so it can be a little confusing to get set, but it is quite self explanatory so shouldn’t pose much of a problem. Due to the design some fish can get caught behind the heater, so always ensure that your fish are accounted for!
This heater works best with an aquarium powerhead or wavemaker, which will ensure the heat generated is transferred equally throughout the tank.
4. Aqueon Adjustable Pro Aquarium Heater
The second aquarium heater by Aqueon on this list, this model is the next step up. The temperature can be set from anywhere between 68 and 88°F, and it will keep the water within 1°F of your set temp.
There are four power variations available; 50W, 100W, 150W, 200W, and 300W. All these power options of the Aqueon Adjustable Pro Aquarium Heater are available online.
The 50 W model is suitable for tanks up to 20 gallons, while the 300W model is suitable for tanks up to 100 gallons. This means that you can choose the right power heater for the size of your aquarium.
These aquarium heaters feature a shatterproof plastic housing and an electric thermostat. The thermostat has an auto shut off feature which prevents overheating and damage.
An LED light is always on, so you can easily tell if it is working. A red light indicates that it is actively heating, while a green light means it is on but not heating.
It is suitable for all freshwater and saltwater aquariums, and feature easy to use suction cups for installation. These models can be set up either vertically or horizontally.
This aquarium heater comes with a lifetime warranty, so you know that Aqueon stand behind this product.
5. Orlushy Submersible Aquarium Heater
This aquarium heater by Orlushy has four power options available, a 100W model suitable for tanks from 15 to 30 gallons, 150W suitable for 30-50 gallons, 200W suitable for 40-60 gallons and a 300W model suitable for tanks from 50 to 80 gallons. They are powerful and accurate and extremely good for the price tag.
Made from 2mm thickened quartz glass, the design is explosion and shatter proof. This keeps the casing from splintering if it gets knocked and cracks, which prevents shards of glass from entering the tank system.
The temperature can be set from 68 to 89°F via the temperature dial found on the top of the heater. This allows for complete control of the aquatic climate within a 1 degree difference. The supplied thermometer enables you to double check the water temperature.
The accurate and sensitive thermostat maintains a uniform temperature in the tank, and the automatic shut off feature turns off heating when the water reaches the desired temperature.
An indicator light turns on when the model is actively heating the aquarium.
This model can be installed either vertically or horizontally, in any freshwater or saltwater aquarium, and is easy to hide in the tank so you won’t have to look at the bulky exterior.
The downside is that the temperature dial can be hard to set to the desired temperature, so you may need to keep an eye on the water temperature and adjust the dial as needed.
6. Boxtech Submersible Thermostat Controlled Aquarium Heater
This heater model by Boxtech has three power options available for a range of different aquarium sizes. There is a 50W unit for 5 to 15 gallon tanks, a 100W unit for 10 to 30 gallon tanks and a 300W unit for 30 to 80 gallon tanks.
This aquarium heater has an external temperature controller for ease of use, and it can be adjusted from 68ºF to 90ºF. The heating automatically shuts off when the desired temperature is reached.
A double-loop circuit design means the water temperature sensor is installed in the IC circuit to prevent air burning and heating over the desired temperature. This gives you increased safety.
The design features an explosion and shatter proof quartz element, with a shield design covering to prevent fish from hitting the heater. This provides safety for your aquarium fish.
The heater can be placed either vertically or horizontally and is best placed near the filter intake or outflow, or near a powerhead, so the heat can be dispersed throughout the tank.
As a safety notice the manufacturer asks that when you clean the tank or change the water you first turn off the heater and leave it to cool for 10 minutes before taking it out.
7. Hygger Titanium Best Aquarium Heater
With three power options available you can be sure to find the best aquarium heater for your tank from Hygger. There is a 50W unit for small 5 to 10 gallon tanks, a 100W unit for 10 to 25 gallon tanks, and a 200W unit for large tanks of 60 to 120 gallons.
It should be noted that if your ambient room temperature is below 50ºF that you should get a more powerful heater.
This model comes with a central control module, which allows you to easily set the thermostat to your desired temperature anywhere from 32ºF to 104ºF. The thermostat is very precise to within 1ºF of the set temperature.
The unit also comes with a very accurate thermometer which attaches to the control module. This separate thermometer can detect a very high range of temperatures, from -68ºF to 140ºF. It is accurate to within 0.2ºF.
Both the set temperature and the actual water temperature are well displayed on the control module, so you can easily see what is going on in the tank. For best results place the thermometer far away from the heater.
This heater is produced using resistant titanium, which means it is good for use in any freshwater or saltwater aquarium. Being made of titanium also negates the possibility of glass cracking and shards harming your fish, as titanium won’t shatter.
It is small and easy to hide away in the tank, but can only be positioned horizontally. It is extremely durable and the service life is over three years.
The only slight downside to this aquarium heater is that it is on the more expensive side, but for the price you are getting a Rolls Royce of heaters.
8. U-Pick Best Aquarium Heater
This aquarium heater by U-pick is another great affordable option which can be used in any freshwater or saltwater tank. There are three power options to choose from; the 50W model for 5-20 gallon tanks which is available above, the 100W model for tanks of 20-40 gallons, or the 300W model for tanks from 30 to 75 gallons.
It is produced using quartz glass which makes it extremely durable and shatter and explosion proof which protects your fish. The protective container the heater is in is double sealed to prevent scolding and melting.
The thermostat can be set using the dial on the top of the heater, and can be set from 68°F to 94°F. The temperature is maintained using an intermittent operation mode which automatically turns the heater on and off to maintain the set temperature.
A separate thermometer is provided with this heater, so you can put it in another part of the tank and ensure that the whole tank is the correct temperature.
This model works best when put near a water flow, to ensure a constant temperature throughout the tank. It cannot be used under gravel or sand, and must be fully submerged to prevent dry heating.
9. ViaAqua Quartz Glass Aquarium Heater
This unit by ViaAqua is a great affordable aquarium heater model. It gets the job done well and is extremely good for the price tag it has.
Produced using explosion and shatter proof quartz glass if it takes a knock it won’t shatter and release damaging shards of glass into your tank.
It is available in four power options; a 50W model for tanks up to 13 gallons, a 100W model for tanks up to 25 gallons, a 200W model for tanks up to 50 gallons, and a 300W model for tanks up to 80 gallons.
An indicator light shows when the model is actively heating your aquarium, and the temperature is clearly shown on a large display at the top of the heater.
The temperature can be adjusted using the thermostat dial found at the top of the heat above the temperature display.
The major downside to this model is that as it is a cheaper option the accuracy of the temperature settings may not be as good as some of the other models on this list. So having a thermometer or two to double check the temperature is recommended.
10. Hygger Submersible Aquarium Heater
This is the second aquarium heater by Hygger on this list and it isn’t by mistake. Hygger is a great company which produces awesome products. You can find this aquarium heater online.
There are three different power options available; a 50W model for small 7-10 gallon tanks, a 100W model for 10-30 gallon tanks and a 300W model for 30-60 gallon tanks.
It is produced using premium milky white quartz which has a very high heat tolerance and is shatter-resistant and explosion-proof to protect your fish. There is also a removable sleeve which prevents your fish from contact with the heater.
The temperature is controlled using an external thermostat, and can be set to between 77 and 91°F. To set the temperature you need to rotate the dial to the exact number on the thermostat, not in-between numbers.
The heater works to maintain the temperature you have set by heating to 1.5-2°F above the set temperature and restarting heating when the temperature falls 1.5-2°F below your set temperature.
The downside is that it is a little more expensive than other comparative heaters, and it can only be installed horizontally.
It does however come with a 12 month warranty period, during which they will be happy to replace your heater if anything goes wrong.
11. Salute Submersible Auto Thermostat Aquarium Heater
This aquarium heater by Salute is a great option if you don’t want to break the bank. It is a great cheap option in heating your tank. At 200W this heater should be used for tanks between 30 and 75 gallons.
The thermostat can be adjusted by turning the dial on the top of the heater. The temperature can be set between 68°F to 93°F (20°C – 34°C), which is perfect as most fish require a temperature of 76°F to 80°F (25- 27°C).
The heater can be easily installed in any freshwater or saltwater tank using the two suction cups. It needs to be installed vertically; it can’t be horizontal unfortunately. The heater needs to be fully submerged in water to prevent damage.
The design features double waterproof protection so that the heater does not damage itself. With polarity prevention, the power conversion is safe and reliable which provides further protection. The glass tube is made from high temperature resistant explosion-proof quartz which provides safety for your fish.
The company offers a 100% money back guarantee if you don’t like the product. Simply contact them by email and they will get you sorted with a replacement or refund.
Where Should You Place An Aquarium Heater?
You want your heater to heat all the water in your tank equally, so you have a steady temperature throughout the tank. You don’t want to end up with hot spots around the heater and cold patches in the corners.
So ideally you would place the heater near the filter outflow or near to an aquarium powerhead. The flow of water near the heater will circulate the heated water around the tank and allow for consistent heating. Some fish tanks have a hidden compartment at the side or back which houses the filter, and has space for a heater as well.
Also make sure that there is nothing in direct contact with the heater.
How Do You Properly Install an Aquarium Heater?
Installing your new aquarium heater won’t really be a huge problem. They are designed to be very simple to set up and install so shouldn’t give you too much trouble.
If the heater model you purchase varies greatly from the following guideline than they should let you know in the instructions. Always follow what the manufacturers say, but this guide should have you set up in no time.
- Make sure there is no damage to the aquarium heater. Many models come with a warranty, and it is a lot easier if you find a problem before you have your tank set up! You are mainly looking for obvious signs of damage like exposed wires, cracked cylinder or heating element damage.
- Clean the area of the glass where you are going to have it set up.
- Use whatever method to attach the heater to the glass. Usually it is via suction cups. If the model can only be installed vertically or horizontally then make sure it is the right way. If it can be either then get it how you like it!
- Make sure there are no plants or decorations in direct contact with the heater.
- Wait 30 minutes before turning the aquarium heater on. This is to let the heater casing get to the surrounding water temperature. This will protect the heater from cracking from a quick sudden change of temperature as you turn it on.
- Turn on your aquarium heater and adjust the settings to the temperature required. If you have an aquarium thermometer place it opposite the heater ideally.
- After a 24 hour period of allowing your heater to raise the temperature, check your thermometer to ensure the water has reached the desired level.
- Check the thermometer every 6 hours or so for another day to ensure there is no fluctuation in temperature, then you can be sure that it is all in working order.
- Finally you are free to add your fish to your newly heated tank. Having fish in a tank that is fluctuating in temperature can cause them a lot of stress.
What Is The Power Usage Like?
Heating a tank can be expensive, especially if you have a larger tank. You need to leave the heater turned on for it to be effective, so it can rack up a large bill.
How much energy your heater will use depends on what the ambient room temperature is, and what temperature you need the water to get to.
For instance, if your tank is in a colder room, then it will take more energy to get to and maintain the same temperature than the same tank in a warmer room. And the warmer you require the water the larger amount of energy it will take.
So ideally you would have your aquarium in a room which you like to keep warm! The living room or a bedroom would be perfect for instance.
Generally speaking, heating a 30 gallon tank to 72⁰F will use around 110kWh, while heating the same tank to 82⁰F will take around 440kWh.
So you can see that having a warmer aquarium will take a lot more energy, so make sure you know what temperature you need! There’s no sense in having the tank at 75⁰F when you only need it at 71.
Conclusion And Recommendation for the Best Aquarium Heaters
Hopefully this list and guide will help you buy the best aquarium heaters for your tank. You should now know enough to know what you are looking for!
Remember to buy a heater which is the correct power for the size of your tank. If you have a very large aquarium remember you can always buy two.
As for our recommendation for the best aquarium heater on the market, it really depends on your price range. If you have the cash to spare then the Hygger Titanium Aquarium Heater is a brilliant heater. It is extremely accurate and powerful, and very easy to use. It also has many power options for different sized tanks.
If you don’t want to spend that much money, then one of the best aquarium heaters you can buy on a budget is the Aqueon Adjustable Pro Aquarium Heater. With multiple power options available and some great features it won’t let you down.
This being said all of the heaters are worthy of being on this list of the 11 best aquarium heaters, and they will all be able to heat and maintain your aquarium at the right temperature.
You can also read our other related guides: