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Fish Tank Essentials

Pet stores are packed with tons of gadgets for your aquarium. Some are essential, others are only for specialized applications, and some are useless.

Here are two of the essentials.


When you keep tropical fish, heaters are what ensure your tank doesn’t get too cold. They make sure the temperature remains steady during each day. It doesn’t matter if the room has cooled off at night, or heated up during a hot summer’s day. The majority of tropical fish like a temperature of around 78F. Heaters come in two main types. Some are submersibles that stay below the waterline. The more traditional version is equipped with a partially submerged tube containing the heating coils. Its controls are above the level of the water.

Submersibles are considered better because it’s possible to place them horizontally on a tank’s bottom. This assists in keeping tank temperatures uniform and stops the heater from becoming exposed when you do your regular partial water changes. When you use the more traditional design, the heater must be unplugged before any water is changed. If you leave this heater on by accident while the coil is out of the water, the tube will get too hot and could crack when the tank is refilled with water.

Cheap heaters tend to fail. What often happens is that the contact which switches the heater off and on becomes stuck. If it gets stuck on the tank can get extremely hot. To minimize any potential problems choose wisely. Click here for fish tank heaters.

The rule of thumb is to avoid heaters that are larger than you need for your particular tank. Also to stop winter disasters occurring, it’s a good idea to purchase two smaller heaters that can run in parallel instead of a single large one. This means that if and when one fails, the consequences are mitigated by the other.


Hanna pH meter or thermometers are necessary when it comes to verifying that your tank is constantly kept at its optimum temperature.

There are two common types. There are traditional bulb thermometers that work in a similar way to those that can be bought for your house. They can either be hung from the tank’s top edge, or they can be allowed to float on the water surface. The second common type is a flat thermometer that is stuck to the outside of the tank’s glass.

The way this works is the temperature-sensitive chemicals within it are set to activate at specific temperatures. This either highlights a bar that slides along a scale or the numerical temperature.

Unfortunately, many aquarium thermometers can turn out to be temperamental and as a result rather unreliable. You can prove this to yourself if you have a good look at the thermometers that are on display at your fish store. The theory is that they should all be registering the same temperature but you will see they often don’t.

A thermometer is good for verifying the temperature of your tank is not too far away from what it should be but it isn’t a categoric tool. It may be off in some cases by many degrees.

When you buy a thermometer, make sure you look at many of them and pick a type that has an “average” temperature.

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Written by Marcus Richards

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