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7 Best Aquarium Heater Options

Maintaining an appropriate temperature in your aquarium is crucial to keeping your fish alive and healthy because they cannot thermoregulate. It’s challenging to keep water within a tight temperature range when our indoor air fluctuates. Using the best aquarium heater possible for your tank helps support a healthy environment.

A reliable aquarium heater is the best tool for the job, but you’ll want to make sure you choose one sufficient for your tank size and is equipped with safety measures.

Our reviews and comprehensive buyer’s guide below will help you decide on a heater that is perfectly suited for your aquarium.

Recommended Aquarium Heaters:


What is the Best Aquarium Heater for My Fish Tank?

Although every tank requires different heater capabilities, our overall favorite is the EHEIM Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater. It’s powerful enough for large tanks over 150 gallons, lets you set and maintain precise temperatures, and has an auto-shutoff feature to prevent it from overheating. It comes in a variety of sizes that are ideal for different volumes.


7 Best Aquarium Heater Options

1. EHEIM Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater

Our Pick
EHEIM Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater - 300W
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This heater comes in eight different power options for tanks ranging from 5 gallons up to over 200 gallons. You can precisely dial in the temperature, and the thermostat regulates within a few degrees of the setting.

It’s fully submersible, so it’s an excellent heater for shallow or deep aquariums.

It includes an auto-off feature that stops the heater from overheating if the water level gets too low.

There’s an LED light that makes it evident from a distance whether it’s on or off.

It has a wide temperature range useful for most fish species.

Features

  • It has a precision temperature dial
  • It can manage a wide range of temperatures
  • It has an LED light for easy power identification at a glance

Pros

  • It’s suitable for small and large aquariums
  • It manages temperature accurately
  • You can fully submerge it
  • It automatically shuts off if the water gets too low

Cons

  • It doesn’t include an auto-off feature for high water temperatures
  • It isn’t as durable as some other options

2. Aqueon Adjustable PRO Aquarium Heater

Aqueon Adjustable PRO Aquarium Heater

What We Like

  • It offers adjustability to dial in the ideal temperature
  • It’s more than powerful enough to heat a 20-gallon tank
  • It’s very durable
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This 100-watt heater is suitable for aquariums up to 30 gallons, but it comes in different power options for larger tanks. It manages temperature very accurately, usually within 1 degree of the setting.

The temperature dial is easy to set and ranges from 68 to 88 degrees (F), making it suitable for most fish species. It has an auto-off feature to protect from overheating and an LED light to indicate power and heating status.

It’s fully submersible and can be placed horizontally or vertically, so it’s great for most tanks.

It’s very durable and comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

Features

  • It has a precise temperature setting
  • It has an auto-off feature to prevent overheating
  • It comes with a limited lifetime warranty

Pros

  • It is very accurate and maintains temperature within 1 degree
  • The LED light indicates power and heating status at a glance
  • It has safety features to protect your fish

Cons

  • It doesn’t automatically shut off if the water gets too low
  • It isn’t as durable as some other heaters

3. Cobalt Aquatics Flat Neo-Therm Heater

Cobalt Aquatics Flat Neo-Therm Heater
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This heater comes in different power options that are suitable for tanks between 6 gallons and 80 gallons. It has a temperature dial that allows for precise settings with 2-degree increments between 66 and 96 degrees, so it’s suitable for most fish types.

It maintains temperatures with excellent precision, and it has an auto-off feature to keep your fish safe from overheating.

It’s significantly more expensive than most others. However, it’s made with excellent durability and includes a 3-year warranty, so it will likely last you for quite a long time.

Features

  • It allows for precise settings with 2-degree increments
  • It can maintain a wide range of temperatures
  • It has an auto-off feature to prevent overheating

Pros

  • It’s suitable for most fish species
  • It holds water temperature with great accuracy
  • It keeps your fish safe with an auto-off feature

Cons

  • It’s costly
  • The suction cups to keep it submerged aren’t the best

4. ViaAqua Glass Submersible Heater

ViaAqua 300-Watt Quartz Glass Submersible Heater
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This heater has a thermostat that helps hold temperatures steady in tanks up to around 75 gallons. The visible reading is not very accurate, so you’ll need an external thermometer. However, each setting will maintain a precise and reliable temperature. The temperature dial doesn’t have increments, so you’ll have to do some testing when you first install it.

It doesn’t have an auto-off feature, but it’s unlikely to overheat as long as the water level is high enough.

There’s an LED light to indicate whether or not it’s heating at a glance.

Features

  • It has an indicator light to let you know when it’s on
  • It has an accurate thermostat for precise regulation

Pros

  • It holds the temperature accurately
  • It’s fully submersible
  • It’s unlikely to have problems with overheating

Cons

  • There is no auto-off feature
  • The visual temperature gauge isn’t accurate
  • The temperature dial doesn’t have increments

5. Hydor In-Line External Heater

Hydor In-Line External Aquarium Heater - 300w
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This is an in-line heater that sits outside of your tank, so it’s only suitable for canister and sump pump filters.

It comes in different power options that are best for tanks between 25 and 80 gallons. It can hold consistent temperatures between 64 and 93 degrees (F), so it’s an excellent option for most fish species. The settings are in 4-degree increments, which doesn’t provide the best precision.

This heater is relatively expensive, but it maintains temperature accurately and is set outside your tank to keep your fish safe from overheating or electric shock.

Features

  • It has a wide range of temperature settings
  • It sits outside your tank to keep fish safe

Pros

  • It manages temperature accurately
  • It comes in different power options for a wide range of tank sizes
  • It’s suitable for most fish species

Cons

  • It has large, 4-degree increments for temperature
  • It’s only suitable for canister or sump pump filters
  • It’s somewhat expensive

6. AquaTop Aquarium Glass Submersible Heater

AquaTop Aquarium Glass Submersible Heater - 300-Watt
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This heater is fully submersible and can be placed in most tanks, regardless of depth. It’s suitable for aquariums up to 75 gallons. It can maintain temperatures between 68 and 93 degrees (F), so you’ll be able to use it to keep most fish species at their proper temperature.

It includes a highly accurate thermometer that you can use to tune your heater perfectly.

It doesn’t have an auto-off feature, so you’ll need to monitor your water temperature and make sure the level doesn’t get too low.

It’s relatively durable but may shatter if you drop it.

Features

  • It has a wide range of temperature settings
  • It includes an accurate thermometer for precise temperature tuning

Pros

  • It can be submerged and placed horizontally or vertically
  • It maintains temperature with good accuracy
  • It’s suitable for small and large tanks

Cons

  • It doesn’t have an auto-off feature
  • It’s made of glass and is less durable than other heaters

7. Fluval M Submersible Heater

Fluval M200 Submersible Heater, 200-Watt Heater
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This heater from Fluval is fully submersible and is easily fit inside shallow or standard tanks. It has a mirrored exterior that helps it blend into your tank and keep the aesthetic as natural as possible.

It’s suitable for tanks between 15 and 65 gallons, depending on the power option you choose, and it has an easily adjusted dial to set the temperature between 66 and 86 degrees. As such, you can maintain the proper temperature for most fish species.

It doesn’t have an auto-off feature, but it’s generally very reliable and shouldn’t cause any problems.

Features

  • It has a mirrored exterior that blends in with your tank’s decor
  • It comes in different power options for various aquarium sizes

Pros

  • It’s suitable for small and large tanks
  • It maintains an accurate temperature for most fish species
  • It’s very reliable and durable

Cons

  • It doesn’t have an auto-off feature
  • It doesn’t have overheating protection

How Do I Choose an Aquarium Heater?

When you’re deciding on a heater for your fish tank, you need to make sure it suits your fish and water volume. Keep the below factors in mind when choosing a heater, as these will have a significant effect on how efficient and safe it is for your setup.

Watts

Most importantly, you should choose a heater with the proper wattage to maintain the temperature in your tank. A convenient guide is 5 watts per gallon of water for tanks under 55 gallons, and 3 watts per gallon for larger tanks.

However, the efficiency of your heater will also affect the volume it can handle. Make sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendation for the tank size for which their heaters are suitable, as it can vary from company to company.

Temperature Adjustment

Not all aquarium heaters have temperature adjustment, but it’s strongly recommended. This setting lets you dial in the appropriate temperature for your fish species, which usually ranges from the 60s up to the 90s, depending on your fish.

Additionally, some heaters allow precise adjustments of 1 or 2 degrees to give you accurate water temperature, while others can only manage 3- or 4-degree increments. If you have very finicky fish that require a tight temperature window, make sure to choose a heater that offers precision.

Control Access

If you opt for a submersible heater, it’s best to choose one with an easily turnable dial. Remember that your heater will be underwater, which can make adjusting small controls challenging.

Access to temperature control is less of an issue if you choose an in-line heater.

Safety Features

As an aquarist, keeping your fish safe and healthy is probably your top priority. As such, choosing a heater that is equipped with safety features is often the best option to maintain a safe tank environment.

Many heaters have an auto-off feature that shuts the heater if it overheats. This not only extends the life of your heater, but it prevents your tank from getting too hot and potentially killing your fish.

Some heaters have an auto-off safety feature that kills power when the water level gets too low. This helps prevent damage to your heater and prevents diminished water from reaching dangerously high temperatures.

Budget and Reviews

Your budget may be a significant deciding factor in which heater you choose. Cheaper heaters aren’t necessarily bad, but they tend to have fewer safety features and may be less efficient than pricier options.

As such, you should balance what you’re willing or able to spend on a heater with the reviews for the product. Heaters like the Fluval M Submersible Heater are very affordable but still maintain a high degree of reliability. It isn’t as precise as higher-end models, but it provides excellent value for the money and might be best if you’re on a tight budget but want good quality.


Types of Aquarium Heaters

There are many different types of heaters that you’ll have to choose from, each designed for a particular placement or function in your aquarium.

1. Immersible Heaters

Immersible heaters are designed to be partially underwater with a non-water-proof piece that remains above the surface. They typically cling to the inside of your glass with suction cups. These heaters are often the cheapest to manufacture, but they can detract from your tank’s aesthetic and have a greater chance of overheating if your water level drops.

2. Submersible Heaters

Submersible heaters cling to the inside of your aquarium as well, but they are waterproof and can be fully submerged. This allows you to place them more discreetly in your tank to maintain a natural look, and they are better for shallow tanks, as they can be situated horizontally. They are less likely to overheat due to low water levels than immersible pumps.

3. In-Filter Heaters

Some filters are submersible and compact enough to be placed inside a back-hanging filter or canister filter. Since water continually flows through your filter, heat distribution is managed efficiently. In-filter heaters don’t detract at all from the aesthetic of your tank, as your filter entirely hides them.

4. In-Line Heaters

In-line heaters can only be used with canister filters or sump pump filters. You install them in the return line that pumps water from your filter back into your tank, and it heats the filtered water for distribution into your aquarium.

These heaters are hidden from view, easy to adjust, and distribute heated water effectively. However, they won’t heat your tank if your filtration system goes down for any reason, and they can get damaged if the water flow stops unless they have a zero-flow safety measure.

5. In-Sump Heaters

In-sump heaters work just like in-filter heaters, but they’re meant to be placed inside a sump pump filter. They aren’t visible in your tank and won’t interfere with its appearance, and heat distribution is excellent.

Just like in-line heaters, they should be equipped with a zero-flow safety feature to prevent damage in the event of filter failure. Additionally, they won’t heat your tank if your sump pump stops running for any reason.

6. Substrate Heaters

Substrate heaters lay flat beneath your tank’s substrate. Except for the cable routed out of your tank, they are hidden from view and leave your tank looking natural.

These heaters are generally less efficient than other heater types and don’t have the best heat distribution. They can be challenging to service, given their location in the tank. They’re better for smaller tanks, but they can be useful as alternative heating methods for larger tanks.


Why Do You Need an Aquarium Heater?

All fish species thrive in a specific temperature range, and maintaining an appropriate water temperature is crucial for keeping healthy, happy fish. Many fish need temperatures higher than room temperature, and an aquarium heater is perfect for keeping the proper conditions.

canister filter keeps aquarium clean

What Size Aquarium Heater Do You Need?

Generally speaking, heaters running around 50 watts are suitable for tanks between 15 and 25 gallons. A heater at 100 watts is ideal for 50-gallon tanks, and 300-watt heaters are designed for 100-gallon tanks.

However, the size can vary depending on the heater type and the efficiency, so check the manufacturer’s recommendation and match the heater to your aquarium’s volume.


Aquarium Heater FAQs

What is the Most Reliable Aquarium Heater?

Our top pick for reliability is the EHEIM Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater. It maintains a steady temperature with few fluctuations, and it has safety features to prolong its useful lifespan. We also recommend using an aquarium temperature controller in conjunction with your heater, to avoid any issues with a product malfunction.

Can an Aquarium Heater be too Powerful?

Heaters that are overpowered for your size tank aren’t necessarily dangerous as long as they have an accurate thermostat. However, if an overly powerful heater fails, it can rapidly heat your tank, which could be hazardous for your tank’s inhabitants.

Do You Leave a Fish Tank Heater On All the Time?

Aquarium heaters are meant to be left on constantly, provided they have a thermostat. They will auto-regulate, turning the heating element on and off depending on the water temperature and the desired temperature.

Where Should an Aquarium Heater be Placed?

The placement of your heater depends on the type you purchase. Immersible heaters cling to the inside, with a portion remaining above the surface. Submersible heaters are placed against the inside glass fully underwater. In-filter and in-sump heaters are placed in your filter. In-line filters are installed in the return line from your canister or sump pump filter to your tank.

Will My Aquarium Heater Burn Plants?

Water absorbs heat readily, so as long as you have water movement near your heater, you should run no risk of burning your plants.

Can My Aquarium Heater Kill Fish?

Unfortunately, malfunctioning aquarium heaters can kill fish if they fail to heat or get too hot. However, a reliable, appropriately sized, properly situated filter with safety measures is very unlikely to harm your fish.

Can an Aquarium Heater Touch the Glass?

It’s recommended not to allow your heater to touch anything but water. Contact with glass may not be an issue, but the glass could get damaged if the heater gets too hot.


What is the Best Aquarium Heater for My Tank?

The best aquarium heater for your tank is one that’s suited for your tank volume, has safety features to prevent overheating, and can maintain accurate temperature settings to keep your fish healthy and stress-free.

Our top pick for overall quality and performance is the EHEIM Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater. It comes in various power options for different size tanks, and we find it to be highly accurate and consistent in its heating capabilities.

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