By Robert Lashlee
It is amazing that some people will spend a great deal of money on a big tank and fish, but when it comes time to buy a heater, they pick the cheapest one. A very good quality heater can be purchased for $20-$30 and can save you tons of money in the long run. Anyone who has ever come home to a malfunctioning heater and a tank full of dead fish can attest to this. Two of the best heaters are the Visi-Therm Deluxe heaters and the Visi-Therm Stealth heaters.
Visi-Therm Submersible Deluxe Heaters
Visi-Therm heaters are manufactured by Marineland – the same company responsible for the Bio-wheel. The Visi-Therm submersible Deluxe heaters have a very good reputation and are widely considered to be among the best heaters available on the market today.
A major problem with some heaters is that they only heat a certain portion of the tank. The Visi-Therm Deluxe heaters, on the other hand, evenly heat aquariums and are calibrated to be accurate to within one degree Fahrenheit. Additionally, they are equipped with a convenient control knob and have a window where you can see exactly what temperature you are setting it to. The large print used for the temperature readings make it easy to see through the aquarium glass so you do not have to remove the heater to adjust the temperature. It is also nice to be able to actually see what temperature you are setting the heater to. Many heaters just have ticks mark and require you to adjust the control, wait 24 hours to see what your thermometer reads, and then adjust again. This process can be tedious and frustrating so the actual temperature reading on the Visi-Therm Deluxe heaters come in very handy.
Another problem with cheap heaters is that they crack or break easily. This can lead to disastrous results. The Visa-Therm Deluxe heaters are made with waterproof double insulation and double strength glass. Therefore, you can mess around with them and move decor around your tank without having to worry about breaking the heater.
Additionally, the element supports are made from non-ceramic materials resulting in a very light weight heater. This makes it so the suction cups that hold the heater to the aquarium glass do not easily come loose (something that is a common occurrence with some heaters).
These heaters are designed for both fresh and saltwater use. They are available from 25 to 300 watts and are fully submersible.
Visi-Therm Stealth Heaters
The Visi-Therm Stealth heaters also have a very good reputation among hobbyists. They use a plastic casing to protect the heater from thermal and mechanical shocks and prevent shattering. Many people get nervous about having a glass heater in their tank so using a plastic-encased heater can alleviate these worries. The black casing also helps fade the Stealth heaters into the aquarium decor if a black background or rock work is used. This is in direct contrast to most heaters where you have to put something large in front of them because they stick out so bad.
Another nice feature with these heaters is that they automatically shut off when they are not in water and then turn on when they are placed back in water. This can prevent them from being damaged in case your water line gets too low from evaporation or a leak. It is also nice because if you forget to turn them off when you do a water change (assuming you have the heater mounted up high), the heater will not be ruined.
The Visi-Therm Stealth heaters are also very accurate (plus or minus one degree Fahrenheit) and use an aluminum cylinder distribute core to evenly heat aquariums. They feature the same nice temperature control that the Visi-Therm Deluxe models do and they have the same printed temperature readings.
The only con I have heard with the Stealth heaters is that they does not have a “properly working” LED like many other models. However, one of the main attractions of this heater is its “stealth” and a large red LED on it would hardly make it blend into the background. Plus, you do not generally have to worry about these heaters not working.
The Visi-Therm Stealth heaters are designed for both fresh and saltwater use. They are available from 25 to 250 watts and are fully submersible.
Either of these heaters would make an excellent choice. It is great to be able to put the heater in your aquarium, set the temperature, and then not have to worry about it (although you should always check the temperature of your tank with a thermometer).
Remember that when using a heater, first place it in the water and let it adjust to the water’s temperature. Then turn it on. Also, be sure to unplug the heater when you are working in the water to avoid electrocution. Finally, with submersible heaters, it is best to position them horizontally and along the bottom of the tank (but not covered by substrate). This is the best position to obtain an evenly heated aquarium.