Where Is The Best Place To Put A Fish Tank Heater?

Estimated read time 4 min read

In this article, we’ll help you find the best place to put your fish tank heater, as well as answer a few other questions you might have about installing your heater.

The heater in your aquarium plays an important role in maintaining an adequate temperature for your fish, making its placement vital to creating an ideal habitat for your fish.

Top Rated Fish Tank Heaters

But exactly where you place your heater will depend on the size of your aquarium, you’re set-up, and whether you are using one or two heaters in your aquarium.


But Where Is The Best Place To Place Your Fish Tank Heater?

The best place to put a heater is where there will be the greatest water flow. By placing the heater where there is maximum water flow (which will typically be near the filter outflow), your heater will be better able to warm the tank much easier than placed in a stagnant area of your aquarium.

Here are a few tips:

  • Place near water flow, filter, air pumps, flow pump, or powerheads.
  • Place horizontally at the bottom.

But what if I’m using two heaters?

If you happen to need to use two water heaters to accommodate your tank’s size, you will want to place them across from one another on the tank’s sidewalls rather than in the center of the tank.

By placing the heaters on opposite sides of the tanks, the heat generated by them will spread equally from one end to the other and keep any cold spots from forming or creating too much heat localized in one part of the aquarium.

Is There A Specific Way To Install A Heater?

Always take a look at your fish tank heater’s manual for specific installation instructions.

With that said, you will generally want to keep your heater from touching the walls or substrate to keep the heater glass from breaking due to the temperature differences between these elements.

Related: How To Use A Fish Tank Heater

How Does Your Heater Circulate Heat Through Your Aquarium?

If your fish tank heater is placed near a water flow source, the warm water generated from the heater will be pushed by the current and disperse through the tank faster than if placed elsewhere.

To get this effect, you will also want to place your heater at the bottom of the tank beneath the filter so that the filter current pushes down towards the heater.

It is important to know that not all fish tank heaters are fully submersible, so be sure to read your heater’s manual to ensure that submersing the heater won’t present any problems.

Why Place The Heater At The Bottom?

Simply put, heat rises.

Even in the water, heat will rise and displace or push the colder water down towards the tank’s bottom.

As such, a horizontally placed heater at the bottom of your aquarium will heat your aquarium faster and be able to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the entirety of your aquarium and eliminate drastic temperature changes from one area to another.

Are There Other High Flow Areas To Help Disperse The Heated Water?

If you have a large tank that requires the use of two heaters, you will want to place the second one by another water-flow source if possible.

This could be next to an air pump, flow pump, or powerhead.

Safety Items To Consider When Placing Your Heater

Heaters can catch fire, which is why it is important to check the manufacturer’s installation safety guidelines when installing.

One of the most common causes of a heating unit catching fire is a heater burning out.

Other common reasons a heating unit may catch fire are:

  • A cheaply made heater
  • Salt build-up from salt-water tanks
  • Damage to the heater plug or cord

To learn more, read: Can A Fish Tank Heater Catch On Fire.

Your Heaters Life Span

Depending on the quality and product life span, you may need to replace your fish tank heater more often than you may think, as horizontally placed water heaters typically need to be replaced after a year of use.

The reason for this is to avoid your heater from burning out and possibly causing a fire. It is for this reason that you should always monitor the temperature in your aquarium.

If you notice the temperature fluctuating and the heater becoming inefficient to maintain a safe temperature for your fish, it may be time to look into replacing it before you accidentally freeze or cook your fish.

Video: Importance of Aquarium Heater Placement


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