Why is My Aquarium Heater Overheating?

Why is My Aquarium Heater Overheating?

The heater is one of the most vital equipments for an aquarium that produces and supplies heat to maintain the tank’s temperature.

However, an overheating heater comes up to be a disaster rather than a blessing, destroying the valuable aqua space.

Why is My Aquarium Heater Overheating? In general, aquarium heaters begin to overheat when you choose cheap quality equipment with poor installation techniques. However, the damaged and malfunctioning heater also starts to overheat in a fish tank. All these reasons, if not corrected immediately, will cause the heater to explode.

Aquarium heaters help you regulate and maintain water temperature inside a fish tank, according to the requirement of the inhabitants.

They work by using electricity and convert it into heat, distributing it in the aquarium where the circulating water absorbs it.

Its automatic heat stabilizing function, and manual setting technology, make it accomplish the optimal temperature requirements.

Moreover, it has a preset that controls its working and adjusts it accordingly.

Sometimes, it begins to heat up due to any fault, and this heated-up equipment starts overheating tank water.

Why is My Aquarium Heater Overheating?

Any mechanical, technical, or installation fault in the aquarium heater can be the reason behind its poor performance.

Improper installation

Wrong placement of drip loops, cables, and cords cause them damage, and these damaged cables can misdirect electricity, producing more heat and ultimately spark a fire.

Also, it happens when you have less information about the temperature setting on the equipment, and you set it incorrectly.

Nevertheless, when you place it on gravel or touch the glass walls, it will not work correctly and begins to heat up, which ultimately leads to overheating.

With every device comes a guide to help the owners install it incorrect location, position, and set up you must always follow it.

Placing it near a filter, air pump, or in the way of a powerhead will help distribute heat evenly and prevent heat up.

You should know about the different types of aquarium heaters and their features.

Cheap quality

Cheap quality heaters are not for long-term use and can experience burning and overheating.

The quality of material and parts used in this equipment is low, making them low cost.

The plugs, cables, and wires of these burn out, triggering the heater, often leading to an explosion.

It is preferable to use high-quality equipment for my aquarium, which is expensive but lasts longer and is inflammable.

I always use Fluval, Hygge, and Eheim digital heaters that have an inbuild thermostat and thermometer. 

Accumulation of salt in saltwater aquarium heaters

In a saltwater aquarium, the salt creeps begin to accumulate in and on the heater, result in the salt buildup.

When this salt contact with heating components, burn the equipment.

You can observe white, grainy salt deposits on the heater, which only a few days to build.

Clean the equipment properly by scraping off all the salt from the outside and place it in a bucket of water plugged in for some hours to let the salt comes out by dissolving in the water. This is a must; otherwise, the heater will not work.

Plugged in heater during the water change

The water heater is designed to warm water while the water, if properly circulates, keeps it cool.

Removing it out of the tank without switching it off makes it heat up frequently and may result in default settings. 

When you put it again in the tank, it will start overheating, while in some cases, it may burst out.

When you see the blinking of the heater, you should fix it.

Always plug off the equipment before taking them out of the tank and placing them in the tank.

Repairing heater yourself

Heaters are electronic devices, and any wire disconnection during its repairing without proper knowledge and guidance can be problematic.

Many people try to fix broken devices themselves, and this self-repairing can cause electrical or heating components to damage further.

I recommend you to take guidance from experienced personnel or send it to an electrical professional to prevent yourself from a loss.

Thermostat and other equipment in the aquarium

The thermostat regulates heating and turns off the heater when the water becomes warm overly.

A broken or dysfunctional thermostat disables it to detect high temperatures, and it continues to produce heat.

On the other hand, ambient temperature from other equipment in the fish tank adds up more heat in the water.

This equipment work synergistically in which it produces heat, and filter or air pump play a role in its distribution.

Usually, it happens when the heat does not properly circulate in the tank, and the thermostat does not read the actual temperature and keeps it heating on. 

Proper water circulation is the key to fix the issue. Always check the water temperature daily using a thermometer and use a temperature monitor in-built heater.

How can you test if the fish tank heater is overheating?

You can identify the problem in your aquarium heater by performing a simple test in a bucket of water. 

  • Take a bucket full of water having moderate temperature, or you can add water of room temperature to it.
  • Place the heater in it and switch it on: if it is submersible, make sure to submerge it in water.
  • Set the temperature on it corresponding to the aquarium needs and leave it there for few days.
  • Observe every day using a thermometer or manually by pouring your hand into the bucket.
  • If you find the temperature is high irrespective of the set temperature, this can lead to such problems.

What damage does an overheating aquarium heater cause to the plants and fish?

A heating source in an aquarium is mandatory, but the overheating may cause extreme damage and exploitation in your aquarium. Therefore, you should know the techniques to use the water heater in the aquarium.

You will observe the change in the behavior of fish in response to the hot water, leading them to hide and escape.

Usually, the optimal temperature for a tropical fish tank lies between 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and the water warmer than this stresses fish.

Consequently, some fish may die due to the adverse effect of temperature changes. It could happen at the temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more.

Moreover, plants have specific heat-tolerating potential, and the high temperature starts discoloration and decaying of them. 

Concisely, when the temperature reaches up to or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, you should immediately apply cooling strategies to prevent huge losses.

An overheating aquarium heater can explode

The explosion is the consequence of overheating, leaving you with nothing but the destruction of your beautiful aqua-space.

When not repaired timely, it explodes inside the aquarium, killing all the fish and plants.

 It starts with neglect and carelessness and ends at the fire when you ignore damaged cords or plugs.

This starts burning, and the glass tube protecting it from external damages explodes.

These electrical equipment need extensive care because they are flammable and can easily catch fire.

Concisely, any misfunctioning due to broken, damaged, or blocked parts leads to igniting it.

These flames can damage the cord of the device.

This flaming equipment explodes with a blast, leaving dead fish, devastating other equipment, and broken aquarium pieces.

However, a small heater with low wattage capacity does not possess that much harm other than killing some fish that were swimming surrounding it.

Before, exploding it gives some indications like:

  • Then, the pressure relief valve present at the top begins to leak, indicating high pressure inside the aquarium.
  • The gas leak in the equipment produces a rotten-egg smell, igniting the heater.
  • Tripping and knocking sound it makes tell you that it is about to blast.
  • When you observe such indications, immediately switch it off and take it out of the tank using a towel or thick fabric to prevent burning your hand.

Tip to decrease the water temperature in an overheated fish tank

You can get the idea of adversity and extremeness of overheated water in the tank by the damages mentioned above.

Do not waste time by leaving it to cool down itself: Take immediate corrective actions to cool the water.

Sudden temperature changes will cause you more loss, so try to drop temperature slowly. Preferably, a drop of 1 to 2 degrees in an hour is the ideal and safest way to keep the fish happy and alive. 

Follow these simple tips to cool the aquarium water quickly:

Take off or open the lid of the tank to allow entering of air and leaving of heat.

Plug off the heater immediately and take it out of the tank: check for the water circulation to eliminate as much heat as possible.

A water change of 20 to 25% is an approach to quickly lowers the temperature. Probably, 2-gallon water change every hour with cold water can bring it back to normal.

As lights are a heat source, you need to lower down its intensity and preferably turn off lights for some time.

Float 2 to 3 ice cubes in the tank but pack them inside a ziplock bag or in a bottle. You can also add ice water during water change of temperature 32 to 33 degrees Fahrenheit.

Blow a fan across the surface to increase the evaporation, helping in the cooling of water.

A sustainable decrease in water level to an inch serves to help increase surface agitation by releasing heat outside the tank.

Try to increase the oxygen level in the tank because high temperatures have depleted oxygen levels.

When the temperature becomes normal, plug in the heater again and check the temperature regularly.

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