Best aquarium heater

Fish & Reptile Supplies

Substrate aquarium heaters can heat an entire tank evenly while remaining out of sight. Since they’re placed under the substrate, fish are protected from the heater and aquatic plants will flourish.

BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details.

Which aquarium heaters are best? 

Aquarium heaters are a must-have tool for both aquarists and fish-keepers. The right aquarium heater can make all the difference. If you’re new to fishkeeping, picking the right aquarium heater may seem daunting. While some aquarium heaters offer extra features, nearly every aquarium heater is easy to set up. Choosing an aquarium heater is as simple as assessing your tank’s needs and finding a quality heater that meets them. 

The Aqueon 50W Pro Heater, is a great choice for both beginners and veteran fishkeepers alike thanks to its reliability and ease of use. 

What to know before you buy an aquarium heater

Do you need an aquarium heater for your fish tank? 

Before rushing out to buy an aquarium heater for your new fish tank, there are a couple of key things to research beforehand. Certain fish, such as goldfish and guppies, do not require heated water and actually prefer to live in cooler, room-temperature water. Tropical fish, like betta fish, need warmer water temperatures in order to live healthy lives. 

If you have a planted aquarium, an aquarium heater will do wonders for your live plants. While some aquatic plants like cooler water, most will grow larger in warmer conditions. 

Types of aquarium heaters 

submersible aquarium heaters

There are a few types of aquarium heaters on the market. The most common and recognizable type are submersible aquarium heaters. These heaters can be fully submerged and often include suction cups in order to secure the heater to the back of the tank. 

There are also heaters designed to be buried under the tank’s substrate. Substrate aquarium heaters are a great solution for those who don’t want the cluttered appearance of having a submersible heater or hang-on-tank heater. 

If you want to compare different types of aquarium heaters, you can check out BestReviews aquarium heater buying guide. 

Thermometers 

Some aquarium heaters come with a built-in thermometer. If you opt for a model that doesn’t have a built-in thermometer, it’s always a good idea to buy a separate one. If your aquarium heater fails, your fish may die due to the drop in temperature. Even with a reliable heater, it’s best to monitor your tank’s water temperature regularly. 

Most aquarium heaters will offer a more simplistic way of monitoring the water temperature via LED lights.

What to look for in a quality aquarium heater 

Wattage

The amount of wattage you will need from your aquarium heater is determined by the size of your fish tank. For example, a 5-gallon tank will only require a heater of 15-25 watts, whereas a 40-gallon tank will require a heater of 75 watts. Double check the size of your tank to make sure your heater is of the proper wattage for the size.

Temperature control 

Some aquarium heaters, such as the Aqueon Pro Adjustable Heater, come with a remote and offer adjustable temperature settings. This is a great feature, but it isn’t entirely necessary for beginner aquarists, all fish or aquatic plants. 

Aesthetic

Hydor In-Line External Heater

Having a fish tank is just as much about the design and aquascape as it is the fish that call it home. If you’re worried about a heater distracting from the aesthetic of your tank, you may want to consider an in-line heater, such as the Hydor In-Line External Heater. Alternatively, creative placement of aquatic plants and other material can hide or lessen the visual impact of an aquarium heater.

How much you can expect to spend on an aquarium heater 

Aquarium heaters can range anywhere from $15-100 depending on the brand, wattage and quality of the heater. 

Aquarium heater FAQ

Will the temperature of my house affect my aquarium heater? 

A. In short, yes. If your house or the room where your tank is normally on the colder side, your aquarium heater will have to work twice as hard. If you live in a colder climate, opt for a heater with a higher wattage to avoid this issue. 

Is the preset temperature of my aquarium heater warm enough for my fish?

A. Most aquarium heaters that do not offer any control over the temperature are set to maintain the water temperature at around 78 degrees. This preset temperature is normally comfortable enough for most fish. Double check the preferred temperature for the fish in your tank before settling for a preset temperature or heater without temperature control.

What’s the best aquarium heater to buy?

Top aquarium heater 

Aqueon 50W Pro Heater

Aqueon 50 Watt Pro Heater

What you need to know: With its adjustable temperature and reliability, this aquarium heater is great for novice and veteran fishkeepers.

What you’ll love: It is made from thermoplastic material, which means you won’t have to worry about shattered glass when installing the heater. 

What you should consider: Some parts of the heater may corrode if exposed to hard water. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top aquarium heater for the money

Eheim Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater

Eheim Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater 

What you need to know: This budget aquarium heater is a great option for larger tanks. 

What you’ll love: This heater has both temperature presets and temperature indicator lights. 

What you should consider: You may experience some problems with the heater overheating the aquarium water. Be sure to monitor water temperature regularly. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Fluval E Series Advanced Electronic Heater for Aquariums

Fluval E Series Advanced Electronic Heater for Aquariums 

What you need to know: Fluval is a trusted brand when it comes to aquariums, and this heater is exemplary of Fluval’s quality. 

What you’ll love: This heater comes with dual temperature sensors to provide you with more accurate temperature readings. It has an LCD display in both Fahrenheit and Celsius and comes in various sizes and wattages, making it a good option for any tank. 

What you should consider: This heater works best when placed near the tank’s filter as it will need water circulation to heat the whole tank. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Addison Hoggard writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.