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Old 04-25-2016, 10:10 PM   #1
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Question Help!! Maintain tank heat in cold basement apartment

Hi all, this is my first post in a fish/aquarium community. I never thought I would get attached to fish, but in the last 5 months I have become obsessed with my glofish tetras and have been doing tons of googling, reading, calling for advice from the experts at my local aquarium and (sadly) lots of attempts at rescuing (I think I may now have more bottles of fish medications/chemicals than human ones....).

I live in a basement apartment, and even though the weather isn't cold now, landlords turn on the AC for themselves when it gets warm- and so in the summer it can actually get colder in the basement than it does in the winter. I am struggling to keep the temperature of my tank up. Right now (thanks to a recent broken outlet which killed the heater entirely without me noticing and resulted in a fish apocalypse) I restarted from scratch. I have my 5 gallon tank with 3 glofish, and my sister is giving me her old 10 gallon tank in a couple of weeks, so the plan is to upgrade to the 10 gallon and then add 2-3 more fish. Right now (with
Hydor 25W Submersible Glass Aquarium Heater, as well as 2 x 10 W small Aqueon heaters, I can just about maintain 72 without the top on the tank, and if it's perfectly on ( so only openings are ones cut for feeding/wires) then I can get the temperature up to about 80. I know 72 is the lower end of the appropriate range for glofish, and I need to make sure I can reliably get the temp up to 86 if I have another ICH outbreak (not being able to do that was a problem with the apocalypse I mentioned), and given the 10 gallon tank I'll have won't have a lid, I'm trying to figure out aesthetically pleasing ways to insulate the tank. The total of 45 W worth of heaters I have in the 5-gallon should be more than enough to get it to whatever temperature I need, but as I said that's only possible when I have the lid fitted perfectly on. So I imagine this may be a problem with the 10-gallon tank with no lid. I've read about styrofoam insulation or surrounding with blankets during a power outage- but 1) Given that I expect at least a couple power outages from spring/summer storms, where do you get styrofoam perfectly cut for the tank? 2) What is a good every day way to prevent heat loss in tanks so that you can still see the fish? 3) What wattage heater would you recommend for the 10-gallon tank in a basement apartment that runs cold? Keep in mind I dont just want to be able to get it to ~76, I want the option to get to 86 if I need to.

So excited to be part of this community! Looking forward to learning a lot!
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Old 04-25-2016, 11:04 PM   #2
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if I'm not mistaken those heaters are all pre-set to 76-78 degrees.


You should get a 50 watt, 100 watt is better, adjustable thermostat heater.
they are much safer to use as well and you have easy control over the temp.
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Old 04-25-2016, 11:19 PM   #3
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Thank you! The aqueon ones are pre-set, but the Hydor one I can set the temp to anywhere from low 60's up to 90. The online reviews says it's very reliable, unless you have a situation like mine where you're in an abnormally cold apartment- and then it can't get over about 72. Would you recommend the 100 Watt for both the 10-gallon and 5-gallon? Is having too strong of a heater ever a problem in small tanks? Or not as long as you can set the temp yourself?
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Old 04-25-2016, 11:46 PM   #4
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the benefit of higher wattage is the heater is on for shorter periods of time to get the same amount of heat generated.
the 25 watt should work for the 5 gallon, but personally I would go with a 50 watt for the five and a 100 for the 10.
The higher wattage would help in your situation because you need to heat the water at a faster rate than it is losing heat.


I tried one of those Aqeon ones in a 1 gallon pico reef, took it back to the store when it heated it up past 86 and was still going.


you can check the hardware store and maybe get a small sheet of acrylic and make cover for the ten gallon, or you should be able to get a top for it at the LFS, or have glass cut for one. probably cost between $8-$15 or so. putting a top on is a big way to prevent heat loss.
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Old 04-30-2016, 06:45 PM   #5
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Perhaps you have a course of action by now? I thought I would chime in as my little house gets very cold in the winter and I have a ten gallon.

A lid is an absolute must. Acrylic sheeting is very easy to score and snap just like you would cut glass. You will need to lightly sand the edges. I cut 1 and a half inch Styrofoam as a 3 side insulator and painted it. It cuts quit easily with a bread knife. You can glue it together and paint it.

A big enough heater is key. I found an expensive but reliable brand on Amazon called Neotherm made in Europe and it is adjustable temp. Concern over wattage "too big for the tank" is about the possibility of a heater malfunction and a disastrously overheated tank. For this reason I spent a little extra and got a quality heater.

All the best luck to you!
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