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  L# Another Heater Failure-Do I Really Need A Heater?
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SubscribeAnother Heater Failure-Do I Really Need A Heater?
Posts: 80
Kudos: 33
Votes: 11
Registered: 24-Feb-2006
female usa
The heater failed in my 55 gallon last night. I got up this morning and found the water at 107F and all my fish dead but one. This is the third time I have had a heater failure, but the first time I didn't catch it and save the fish. These failures happened in two different houses with three different brands of heaters. I am starting to question whether or not I really need one at all. I live in Florida. Some summers I have had to take the heater out anyway because it gets so hot and I don't keep my AC very low for $ reasons. I know the heater keeps the water temperature stable, but in the wild fish must experience some sort of temperature fluctuations even just from day to night. There must be seasonal fluctuations as well. I am keeping tropical fish. Before the die off, I had Great Danios, Rosy Barbs and a Pictus Catfish. The only fish that didn't die was one of those cross bred "parrot" cichlids that we call Dee Dee Dee because he's not so smart. My house stays at 79F year round. The tank is on a wall perpendicular to a wall with windows and gets a moderate amount of natural light. Do I really need to have a heater? I am starting to get tired of this. Thanks in advance for any advice.

P.S. This is the first time I have logged into FP since my son was born two years ago. I am very glad to see it is still a active, helpful community.

- Meow -
Post InfoPosted 07-Aug-2009 14:11Profile PM Edit Report 
Posts: 5108
Kudos: 5263
Votes: 1690
Registered: 28-Dec-2002
male usa us-colorado
Welcome Back and congratulations on the family!

To determine if you really need a heater in the tank, I
would monitor the tank for a while with a thermometer.
See how the tank cycles between day and night and what the
differences are. If it is a large tank the larger amount
of water will retain much of its heat during the night.

With the tropical tank you would like the temperature to
stick around 74 - 78. You would need to be cautious with
the use of an A/C and what room it is in.


-->>> The Confidence of Amateurs, is the Envy of Professionals <<<--
Post InfoPosted 07-Aug-2009 14:34Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
Big Fish
My bubble...
Posts: 405
Kudos: 217
Votes: 471
Registered: 22-Nov-2008
female usa us-michigan
I love the name for your resilient fish! My kids got a kick out of it too!

I live in Michigan, not the warmest place in the world. I have found that once spring broke the temp in my tanks started to go up. I've talked with a friend who has been in fishkeeping for quite some time. His advice was "Turn it off until the tank temp starts to dip at night". You live in Florida, so I would imagine your temperatures are more constant year round than mine. In the summer months, as long as your tank temp is within safe ranges without the aid of a heater, I would venture to say it's not necessary. The winter months can bring a much larger swing in temperatures, I'd say keep an eye on the tank temps. See how much it varies from day to night and day to day. If there is a huge dip in temps ONLY at night, put it on a timer for the evening hours. If you have variations throughout the day and evening, then run it constantly. As Frank stated, A/C and home heating can greatly effect the temp of the tank!

TTFN --->Ta-Ta-For-Now
Kelly ;o}
Post InfoPosted 07-Aug-2009 18:42Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
Posts: 285
Kudos: 196
Registered: 13-Mar-2007
australia au-northernterritory
EditedEdited 07-Aug-2009 22:12
Hi sunspotkat,

Sorry to hear about your tank dramas, that kind of loss has got to be tough.

As you're considering going heater-less I thought that I'd share my experiences with you... I run multiple tropical tanks and outdoor tubs year round without heaters so it is possible but is dependent on a number of factors like ambient temps and the volume of water. I live in tropical northern Australia where even in the middle of winter outdoor temps don't get much below 15C(59F)overnight then rise to 30-32C (86-90F) during the day. In summer its a fairly constant 32C+ day and night.

My tanks sit at a mostly stable 28C (82F) throughout summer and gradually fall to about 24C (75F) over winter. Because the change of season is usually a slow process and where I am doesn't really experience sudden heatwaves or cold snaps my tanks and inhabitants seem to adjust to the seasonal conditions just fine. In saying all that, my smaller tanks are definitely less stable than the 6x2x2 - in winter I do notice day/night variations of 1-2C, they heat up faster and to a higher temp generally than the big tank and cool faster and lower as well.

Another thing to consider is your stocking choices, most of my tanks have fish and inverts that are either native to my area or are considered reasonably hardy. When buying them I have ensured that they are definitely suitable for my tank conditions. There are a few species that I would love to keep, but due to their reputation as being intolerant of either high-end tropical temps or changing conditions I'm just not comfortable enough to try them.

So I guess what I'm saying is that its definitely possible to run without heaters but you do need to be really aware of how your tank(s) react to your climate year-round and you need to be conscious of your stocking choices. Remember that more water = more stable temps, and that if you decide that you do need to use a heater for part of the year then its best to put it in early (ie before the temp drops too far) on a low temp and gradually raise it to where you want it to avoid rapid swings in temperature.

Finally, about the number of heater failures.. are you just running the one heater in the tank? you might want to look at using 2 in the tank so that each one is not working flat out to heat the entire tank, and if one decides to stop working (as opposed to your recent problem of going into overdrive) you have the backup of the 2nd heater which in winter might just be enough to stop the tank temp dropping too far.

Good luck


Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic.
Post InfoPosted 07-Aug-2009 22:09Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
Posts: 80
Kudos: 33
Votes: 11
Registered: 24-Feb-2006
female usa
Thanks so much for the encouraging comments. It has been 24 hours now. I left the lights off and the tops open all day yesterday. I did several rounds of floating cold packs and 2 water changes. The water is down to 80F this morning and Dee Dee Dee seems to be fine. I'll probably do one more water change today and see if I can get the temp down just a little more, but given that my house stays at 79F that is probably as good as I'm going to get. The tank only gets a moderate amount of indirect sunlight and is not in the line of draft form any AC vents. Those facts combined with where I live makes me think I can get away without having one for most of the year, possibly the whole year. I'll just keep a close eye on the temperature. My husband used to work in a local pet store (not a chain) that also sold fish. He told me that while they did recommend and sell tank heaters, they never used heaters in any of the store tanks. The owner didn't trust them.

I am sad about losing all those fish. I used to be really good about maintaining the tanks up until I had the baby. Then I pretty much had no time for them and they got really neglected. I am back on track now, but it just doesn't seem fair that those fish made through that horrible neglect and then got wiped out by a piece of malfunctioning equipment.

I actually have only had 2 heaters fail in that tank. The funny thing is that both of them failed by going into overdrive and heating the water too much. The other one that failed was in a smaller tank and it just quit working altogether.

Thanks again for the kind replies. I'll try to not be a stranger around here anymore.

- Meow -
Post InfoPosted 08-Aug-2009 15:21Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
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