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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We took a vacation from aquariums for about a decade (maybe a little less than that) and I wondered if there has been anything truly new and exciting in product development for aquarium heaters? The reason I ask is that the heaters I’ve used, whether they were big-name brands or little-known brands, whether electronically controlled or bi-metal thermostat controlled, they all could fail stuck in the ON (heat) mode, as well as the OFF (no heat) mode.

Have there been any new entries in the aquarium heater market line-up that make them more reliable, or at least have a failure mode of no-heat instead of cooking the fish like a sous vide cooker? Yes, I exaggerate a bit here, but still, too much heat can kill, and faster than too little heat.

If there have been no great improvements in heater technology, perhaps there are backup devices to “catch” a heater that failed in heat mode, and it can both warn me that an out of control heat event has occurred and work as a thermostat to control the stuck-on heater? I think there were devices 10 years ago that could do this, but what have you found to be worth having that really worked for you, perhaps saving your fish from being cooked?

One other thing that might be useful if the temperature was going out of bounds but slowly would be an alarm of some sort. I’ve seen cheap ones in the past, but what have you found that worked reliably well, also possibly saving your fish at some point?

And one last thought, have you done a DIY circuit to control any of this, perhaps adding both an alarm and a backup-thermostat that works with your heater? I’m considering possibly figuring out how to design something like this that your heater would plug into, and if your heater went too high, it would regulate the heat by cutting off the heater and working like the heater’s thermostat should be doing. It would alarm if the temperature went out of pre-set boundaries. If someone has already come up with a reliable solution like this, I’d like to read about it.

Thanks,

Donald
 

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For me, when a heater fails, it’s stuck at 80f. The heater’s thermostat isn't very durable. They last about 2-3 years. You can get an external thermostat like an Inkbird to control the Heater.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Check out the heater by Innovative Marine.
Thanks. I just did, and boy, are they expensive. Have you had one of them for a long time, or are they new to the heater market?

I was thinking of designing a circuit (or use existing boards available on eBay or elsewhere) to act as a backup shutoff if the temp goes high, and if the thermostat is indeed stuck, it would temporarily cycle the heater on and off, but a warning buzzer or light would go on to let me know something went wrong. It would also cycle on a separate backup heater if the temp went low, but also flag some sort of warning that it needed attention. Most of the time, the circuit would just be there, waiting for an incident.

I remember people claiming Ehiem heaters were the best. I think I had one that died. I had Finnex, Aqueon, Hagen (?), and others fail on me. Oddly, the cheapest ones seemed to work as long as the more expensive ones. I've used ones that use a separate solid state controller that the heater plugs into. I think I still have one that you plug in a heater and the controller does all the work. One of those might be pressed into service as part of what I described above.
 

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Thanks. I just did, and boy, are they expensive. Have you had one of them for a long time, or are they new to the heater market?

I was thinking of designing a circuit (or use existing boards available on eBay or elsewhere) to act as a backup shutoff if the temp goes high, and if the thermostat is indeed stuck, it would temporarily cycle the heater on and off, but a warning buzzer or light would go on to let me know something went wrong. It would also cycle on a separate backup heater if the temp went low, but also flag some sort of warning that it needed attention. Most of the time, the circuit would just be there, waiting for an incident.

I remember people claiming Ehiem heaters were the best. I think I had one that died. I had Finnex, Aqueon, Hagen (?), and others fail on me. Oddly, the cheapest ones seemed to work as long as the more expensive ones. I've used ones that use a separate solid state controller that the heater plugs into. I think I still have one that you plug in a heater and the controller does all the work. One of those might be pressed into service as part of what I described above.
I haven't tried one yet due to the price. I have redundancy in my heater control using a Hydros controller, plus an Inkbird, then the thermostat built into the heater. I have my Hydros controller doing the actual temp control and the inkbird set two degrees higher just in case the Hydros fails.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I haven't tried one yet due to the price. I have redundancy in my heater control using a Hydros controller, plus an Inkbird, then the thermostat built into the heater. I have my Hydros controller doing the actual temp control and the inkbird set two degrees higher just in case the Hydros fails.
Could you explain further or with more detail, perhaps with a diagram on how you did that? It sounds a lot like what I want to do, except for the alarm part, and I can source high and low temp alarms pretty cheap, so having them separate would not be a problem. If you do a drawing, don't worry about it being neat. Handwritten is fine. If it looks like something that should have a neatly done drawing, I can look into using an online drawing program, maybe this one (I haven't fully checked it out yet): Visio Free Alternative

I also have MS Office Pro Plus, so there should be something in there, like PowerPoint, that could do the trick and allow me to put something together. Who knows, we might name the setup after you and you'll become famous? :)

We're thinking of setting up a 100 and a 55 gallon tank next, once we have the small one sailing smoothly. What I don't want to happen is to lose fish because of a temperature problem. I've lost very few to that problem, but don't like losing even one fish, even if it's a feeder fish used for a test, like the raspberry minnows we have right now in a 10 gallon tank.

I'll add here that these minnows look nice swimming around together. They're only 20 cents at Petco, intended to be fed to larger fish, or to test out a new tank. We also have a loach that's been in there a long time that appears out of nowhere when it's feeding time.

If you do explain further and/or do a drawing, thanks ahead of time. Oh, and can you link us to the items you mentioned? Maybe it will fit together in my mind. One of those items might be like the Jalli temperature controller that you plug in a heater without the need for a thermostat (though I can see from your comments I could just as easily use one WITH a thermostat) and set the Jalli a degree or two higher than the desired temp, and the Jalli would turn off the electricity to the thermostatically-controlled heater if it stuck in the ON position. And use a second thermostatically controlled heater set at a bit lower than the main one is set for so it comes on if it gets cooler than it should be--which begs the question, how much of a temperature difference do you use to keep one from coming on or off when the main heater is OK?.

Maybe that's what your setup is like?


Donald
 
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