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How to keep your Aquarium’s Temperature just Right
Reef Saltwateraquarium

Our warm-blooded nature enables our body temperature to adjust
to our environment. Fish and invertebrates are not as
fortunate. The body temperatures of these cold-blooded
creatures are harmonious to their environment. It is,
therefore, the fish owners’ responsibility to maintain the
appropriate aquarium temperature.

98.6 degrees is our optimal body temperature. Anything
venturing too far above or below this invariably results in a
trip to the emergency room. There is no across the board
temperature for fish as this depends on their origin. A
fluctuation of just one or two degrees can be fatal. To avoid
losing your aquatic friends, determine whether your fish is a
temperate or tropical one. Temperate fish originate from cooler
waters and require a coldwater aquarium. You will find that most
fish are tropical and need warm water set to between 75 and 79
degrees. This is a job for an aquarium heater.

There are numerous heaters options on the market. Most of them
fall into three major categories.

Hanging Tank Heaters

Hanging tank heaters have been around the longest and are the
least expensive. They hang upon the rim of the tank while the
glass portion of the heater is submerged in the water. This
partial submersion, consequently, results in less than adequate
heat exchange. The heater’s placement on the tank’s rim also
increases the risk of damage.

Submersible Heaters

As the name suggests, submersible heaters are fully immersed
making them better for heat exchange. They can be placed
anywhere, although areas of high circulation such as the
filtration system or sump pump are recommended. Owners of
submersible heaters also enjoy advanced thermostat controls.

Heating Cable Heaters

Heating cable systems are most commonly found in freshwater
aquariums, but they do exist in some saltwater tanks. The
heaters rest below the aquarium’s substrate and are manipulated
by a separate electronic controlling unit. There is one caveat.
When these systems need to be replaced, the entire substrate
must be dug up in order to remove it.

Selecting the correct heater tube length for your aquarium is
critical. Because heat rises, skilled aquarist stay clear of
shorter units that under perform. Heaters also offer varying
levels of power. The general rule of thumb is to select 5 watts
of heater per gallon of water.

Most heaters come equipped with a thermometer, but you will
want to purchase an external one so you can monitor it for
yourself. Thermometers that attach to the outside of the tank
are influenced by air temperature. Avoid them along with those
made of metal and use mercury. Floating bulb thermometers and
LCD strip thermometers that stick to the side of the tank are
the most common. If you have a larger tank, consider purchasing
two thermometers and placing them on opposite sides of the
aquarium. They will work in tandem to provide accurate readings
for the entire tank.

Sustaining your aquarium’s optimal temperature is necessary for
your pets’ survival. Purchasing the right equipment and
regularly monitoring your aquarium will keep you and your fish
out of hot water.

Copyright 2006
Reef Saltwateraquarium
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