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Equipment Maintenance: Checking on your heaters.

Bringing on the Heat!

Can you believe it’s that time again? The smell of fall is in the air and you know what that means…time to devote some much needed attention on your aquarium. Generally speaking, aquariums seem to get much less attention during the summer months. Minnesota summers are so short, and when it’s beautiful outside, water changes, equipment checks and all other general maintenance seems to get pushed until “tomorrow.” Well, “tomorrow” has now become today! It’s time to check your equipment and make sure everything is working at optimal levels—starting with your heater!

I often ask myself, how can one of the most vital pieces of equipment be so underrated and ignored? To maintain ANY healthy aquarium, whether it be a freshwater, saltwater or reef system, the temperature of your water is KEY to your success!! The sad truth is, things aren’t made like they used to be and aquarium heaters are a prime example. I have several maintenance customers who have had their heaters for 10+ years; I remind them of the true gem they possess. It’s like the ancient kitchen appliances that many of our grandparents still have. Yes, they aren’t the prettiest or most energy efficient, but they are CONSISTENT!

Consistency is VITAL in any aquarium, temperature is no exception. Most aquarium systems thrive between 77-81 degrees and avoiding large swings is incredibly important. With the weather getting cooler outside, your heater may start working a little harder in the next couple months to maintain proper and consistent temperatures. To avoid utter disaster, CHECK YOUR HEATER to make sure it is working BEFORE issues arise.

CHECKLIST for HEATER HEALTH:

  • Visually inspect heater: UNPLUG heater and visually inspect it for cracks, moister build up inside, broken parts or stressed areas. If any of these are noticed, REPLACE your heater. Trust me, it’s not worth the risk.
  • Manually inspect heater: set the temperature and check it with at least one other thermometers. Many heaters have digital temp settings; make sure they are accurate by comparing it with another stand-alone thermometer.
  • Cable management! Clean up all the cords under/next your aquarium. Too often, people unplug their heaters for the summer and forget to plug them back in. Label the cords and make sure they are properly placed away from potential water drips or spills.
  • Have a backup heater! Because most heaters aren’t built the way they used to be, it is good practice to have an extra one in case of emergency. Extreme temperature swings can cause fish stress, coral stress and ultimately aquarium devastation. As with any emergency, the timing is NEVER convenient. Having a backup heater can be mean saving your aquarium (and your married life) on that Friday night at 10 PM when you notice before you are supposed to go out with your husband/wife, that your fish aquarium feels cool because your heater stopped working.

Check your equipment, do that scheduled water change! Even though summer is over, it’s time to FALL back into the hobby.

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