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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 ownersâ€™ 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 heaterâ€™s placement on the tankâ€™s rim also increases the risk of damage.
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 aquariumâ€™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 aquariumâ€™s optimal temperature is necessary for your petsâ€™ survival. Purchasing the right equipment and regularly monitoring your aquarium will keep you and your fish out of hot water.
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