It is hard to replicate the tropical waters that certain fish thrive in which is why you must find the best aquarium heater for your tank. There are some big differences between the cheaply made products and those that will keep your fish safe and healthy so this is not an easy purchase.
The range of temperatures is just one consideration, as is build quality and reliability. To make this a simple process, we have created a list of the best aquarium heaters available. Each one is safe to use and comes with a well-deserved reputation. With safety features and products made for different types of water, there is a heater for every need in the following list.
- Editor’s Choice
Hygger Saltwater Tank Titanium Tube Submersible Pinpoint Aquarium Heater (Amazon) – Review
- Best Affordable
Tetra HT Submersible Aquarium Heater With Electronic Thermostat (Amazon) – Review
- Best Slim Design
Cobalt Aquatics Flat Neo-Therm Heater with Adjustable Thermostat (Amazon) – Review
Aqueon Pro Submersible 50W Heater (Amazon) – Review
- Best Reptile
Tetra 26445 Fauna Aquatic Reptile Heater For Frogs, Newts & Turtles (Amazon) – Review
- Best Mini
SZELAM Smart Mini Aquarium Heater (Amazon) – Review
Editor’s Choice: Hygger Saltwater Tank Titanium Tube Submersible Pinpoint Aquarium Heater
This is an aquarium heater that will be more than sufficient for most people’s needs and it is easy to see why it is so popular. With a digital thermostat that makes it easy to get the perfect temperature and titanium tube to prevent accidents or shattering that can come with other materials, it is fully submersible to ensure your tank gets the heat it needs. You can keep it in place via two reliable suction cups that stick to the side of the tank and because it is anti-corrosive, it can be used in saltwater, freshwater, and even reef tanks.
The range of temperatures you can choose from is impressive, with anything from 32 to 104 degrees F in increments of 0.5. A key feature of the Hygger aquarium heater is that you can program it to reach a certain heat, then it shuts off to prevent overheating. This allows you to leave your fish with the confidence that their water is going to be just right for their needs. It is the ideal aquarium heater for tanks of 20 to 45 gallons in capacity.
- LED themostat
- Heat range of 32 to 104 degrees F
- Auto shut off
- Titanium is shatterproof and non-corrosive
Best Affordable: Tetra HT Submersible Aquarium Heater With Electronic Thermostat
Although it doesn’t share the same build quality as other products that are 10x the price, what you get is great value. There is an electronic thermostat included with this aquarium heater and it features an indicator light to show you it is on. It automatically maintains a temperature of 78 degrees F which is ideal for most tropical fish. Although there isn’t an adjustable temperature range, it is easier to use than a lot of alternatives.
This product is built to be used with smaller aquariums that have glass canopies or hoods and is fine for anything between 2 to 10 gallons. Because of this, an experienced person might find it restrictive, but it is ideal for anyone getting started or someone with a tight budget.
- Easy to use
- Great value
- Ideal for smaller tanks
- Compact and easy to conceal
- Temperature can not be adjusted
Best Slim Design: Cobalt Aquatics Flat Neo-Therm Heater with Adjustable Thermostat
The incredibly slim design of this adjustable aquarium heater makes it great for anyone who doesn’t want their heater taking over the tank. Also, it is available in different sizes so it can heat a variety of tanks. Choose between 6 to 100 gallons of capacity with plenty of options in between. The mounting bracket has a suction cup to attach to the side of the tank and it can be mounted on either side of the heater so you can heat it inward or outward.
The thermostat shows you the desired temperature and the aquarium temperature so you get two readings and it can be set for anything between 66 – 99 degrees F. Ideal for all types of water so it doesn’t matter if your aquarium is freshwater, saltwater, reef, or terrarium, this is a great all-rounder. With shatterproof casing, a 3-year warranty, and auto shut off, there’s a lot to like about Cobalt’s best aquarium heater.
- Adjustable temperature between 66 – 99 degrees F
- Available for different tank sizes
- 3-year warranty
- Shatterproof casing
- Some people have reported issues with the suction cup
Sturdiest: Aqueon Pro Submersible 50W Heater
Available in either the 50-watt or 100-watt version, this submersible aquarium heater is good value and can heat the water to temperatures between 68 – 88 degrees F. Aqueon say it is nearly indestructible and shatterproof which is always a sign of a good product. It doesn’t take up a lot of room thanks to its slim design and has an auto shut off feature so when it reaches the right temperature, it works to maintain an optimal level.
You’ll get an even heat distribution so the whole tank stays at the pre-selected temperature and an LED light is always on, glowing green when it is off, and red when it is heating. Two suction cups help to secure it to the side of the tank and it can be used for both saltwater and freshwater tanks.
- Works in temperatures between 68 – 88 degrees
- LED indicator
- Automatic shut off
- Instructions could be a little clearer
Best Reptile: Tetra 26445 Fauna Aquatic Reptile Heater For Frogs, Newts & Turtles
This is the best aquatic heater for turtles, frogs, and newts and deserves its reputation as one of the most reliable. It is housed by a protective case to prevent breakages of injury and maintains the water at a constant temperature of 78 degrees. The 8-foot power chord makes it easy to install just about anywhere and won’t move even when your frog or turtle might come into contact with it thanks to the two large suction cups.
Fine for tanks of around 30 gallons and below so for a 100-watt aquarium heater, it is still pretty compact and has a pleasant green design that should blend in with the set up of most reptile tanks.
- Great for aquariums of up to 30 gallons
- Protective casing
- 8-foot power chord
- Easy to use
- Cannot adjust temperature
Best Mini: SZELAM Smart Mini Aquarium Heater
Compact and ideal for smaller tanks, this is one of the best aquarium heaters for 5 gallons and below. Compact and with two suction cups that keep it in place it is designed to only work when submerged so do not turn it on until it is underwater. It has an automatic heating process that constantly keeps the water between 77 to 82 degrees F and has a scald preventing technology to protect your fish.
Energy-efficient and with an auto shut off feature to ensure the tank never overheats, it does not shatter and is easy to use. So easy in fact, you only need to submerge it and plug it in for it to work. Suitable for freshwater and saltwater tanks and comes with a 1-year quality assurance that ensures you can always get a replacement if necessary.
- Ideal for tanks with up to 5 gallons of capacity
- It maintains the temperature between 77 to 82 degrees F
- Auto shut-off
- Cannot adjust temperature
Tropical fish need a tropical climate and although the summer months might feel hot for you, your fish need to be kept at the same temperature all year round. This is why you need to ensure you buy a reliable aquarium heater. This means a product that can work a little harder in the colder months and ensure it has safety features in place so it shuts off when it reaches the desired temperature.
These are just a couple of things you need to consider before you buy. This is why we have created the following buyer’s guide, so you end up with the right heater for your needs.
To start with, every aquarium heater should have an auto shut off feature. This protects your fish from overheating and is an essential trait for any product. The other features are non-scalding casing to make sure your aquatic life does not injury itself if it comes into contact with the device.
One of the things that are responsible for some people having a negative experience with buying the best aquarium heaters for their tank is when the product shatters. This is dangerous for you and the fish so it is important to find a product that is built to prevent any shattering. Sometimes the materials can be housed in a plastic casing or made from something durable and shatterproof such as titanium.
After a certain time period, you will need to clean everything in your tank, and that includes the aquarium heater. The better products are easy to wipe clean and require little to no maintenance when running.
This isn’t always so important as it can be easy to use an aquarium heater than maintains the same temperature. These are fine for tropical fish that like to be in the high 70’s but an adjustable thermostat means you can program it to the unique needs of your fish.
This usually comes in the form of suction cups and there is nothing wrong with a product that has oversized cups. These can help to keep everything in place so the heater doesn’t slip. Some models are fine to be used both vertically and horizontally whereas others are not; This is where reliable suction cups are important.
The aquarium heater you choose needs to be the right strength for your tank size. The larger the tank, the more wattage you will need and this can range from 10 watts, into the 100’s, and beyond. Anything too small for your tank and it will not be able to increase the temperature of the water enough for your fish to survive. A heater too powerful for your tank can have the opposite effect which is just as dangerous.
A lot of aquarium owners like to make the tank as clear as possible so only the aquatic life is visible. There are ways you can conceal an aquarium heater but the best way to keep the tank as unobstructed as possible is with a slim aquarium heater. This will be more difficult for products designed to heat larger tanks and some brands are better at it than others.
Most tropical fish need the water to be a certain temperature for them to survive. If it is too cold or hot they will perish which can be a costly mistake.
There are certain things you need to ensure your fish get for you to keep them alive and although a filtration system and food are the most obvious, a heater is just as important.
This depends on the size of your tank. Also, the brand of the heater but a 100W aquarium heater will generally be ideal for tanks of 10-30 gallons in size. 50 watts should be ok for tanks of 7 – 10 gallons but check on the model you are looking at before you purchase.
A lot of this will depend on your needs as a smaller tank will not require such a large heater, but one with less wattage instead. This will inevitably cost you less and you can pick up a reliable small aquarium heater for around $15.
For larger tanks, and those that require more features, you should expect to spend closer to $100 and the elite models cost more again. The important thing to consider is that you need to match the heater to the size of your tank and it must be able to maintain the ideal temperature for the type of fish you have.
If you use them properly, an aquarium heater is very safe. Some products go the extra mile and include more safety features than others but as a general rule, it used correctly, you should never have a problem with the heater. Most products have a certain lifespan so it is always important to keep an eye out for how the heater is performing.
Remember to unplug the heater before you clean the tank or change its water and maintain optimal water levels throughout. If it gets too low, the heater could crack its casing, particularly if it is made from glass which can lead to electrocution.