Best Inline Aquarium Heaters 2020: Reliable and Effective
Author Aubree Rose Reading 1 min Views 1.8k. Published by
Conventional hang-on and submersible aquarium heaters, despite their popularity, have some serious drawbacks. They take up space in a water tank. Many of them look clumsy not to say ugly. Finally, there is a risk of a heater breakage (though it happens not too often, if it does, it will just kill your fish.) That being said, you can’t do without a heater, as aquarium fish need a constant water temperature of 63-80 degrees. Luckily, there is an alternative solution – an inline aquarium heater, which is integrated into the filtration system.
Table of Contents:
What is an Inline Aquarium Heater and How Does It Work?
Top-3 Inline Aquarium Heaters: a Comparative Chart
Things to Consider When Choosing an Inline Heater
The Best Products in the Category of Inline Aquarium Heaters: Our Choice
1. Hydor In-Line External Heater - Original ETH
2. ISTA In-Line External Heater Aquarium Heater
3. Aquarium Adjustable External Inline Heater by SunSun
How to Best Install Your Inline Heater
Verdict and Recommendations
An inline heater looks like a small tube with a heating element inside it. This tube is attached to the outflow hose of an external canister filter. Thus, the purified water, on its way back to the fish tank, passes through the heater and gets warmer. Inline heaters commonly come with a thermostat. Once the water temperature has reached the needed value, it shuts off for a while. Thanks to this, a constant temperature is sustained.
Inline aquarium heaters are integrated into the filtration system. They are a long-lasting type of aquarium equipment. Normally, a high-quality inline heater can run all the time for several years. You don’t need to turn it off – just set the desired temperature and check it once a day with an independent thermometer. It’s important to buy an inline aquarium heater from a reliable manufacturer, which provides a warranty of at least one year for its products.
Today there is a myriad of effective inline heaters at different prices for aquariums. Finding a perfect one for your tank won’t be a problem. However, if you’ve made up your mind to build one yourself, here are a list of the parts needed and an assembly guide for you: 38mm elbow with one side threaded; 38mm tee with one opening threaded; threaded reducers from 38mm to 12.7mm; a smooth reducer; 38mm PVC pipe; 12.7mm nylon hose barbs adapter; Teflon tape and PVC cement for joining the parts. To assemble the Elbow and Tee pieces, attach the threaded reducers to them. Afterward, put in the hose adapter. Now pass to assembling the housing but don’t cement them, yet. Use silicone glue to attach the thermometer to the smooth reducer. You can use a cord grip, as well.
|Hydor In-Line External Heater|
|ISTA in-Line External Heater Aquarium Heater|
|Aquarium Adjustable External Inline Heater by SunSun|
Inline heaters are not made equal. There are some things you need to take into consideration when you choose a device for your fish tank. Check the specifications and read customer reviews before making a choice to make sure this is what you need.
An ability to sustain the temperature is a crucial characteristic of any aquarium heater. Check the temp range it supports and make sure you will be able to set up a precise temperature, for example, 78 degrees. Ideally, the fluctuations must not exceed 2 degrees; otherwise, fish will feel uncomfortable.
A heating element in an inline heater is hidden inside a plastic casing. It commonly comes in the form of a thin glass tube. A good heating element must raise the water temperature quickly and provide a due level of safety. Ideally, it must have a feature of protection from overheating. If, by accident, a heater stays dry, it must shut off automatically.
The durability of an inline heater depends on its build quality and the materials used. Theoretically, one heater can serve several years if used correctly. Try to opt for the manufacturers that give warranty 1-3 years on their products.
Hydor Original ETH is often marketed as the best aquarium heater for external use. It comes with some really nice features, such as an electronic thermostat, providing high precision of temp measuring and a proprietary PTC heater. The latter is reliably protected from overheating, which guarantees the maximum safety of the device. The heater is compatible with 5/8 outflow hoses and can be used for both fresh- and saltwater fish tanks.
Hydor definitely does its work, and it does it well. It is easy to mount, though if your canister filter tubing has a diameter different from 5/8, you may need to do some DIY work. Keep in mind that the heater is pretty large and you need to place it vertically only. For this reason, the heater can look a sort of cumbersome.
This is a compact and versatile inline aquarium heater with a built-in thermostat. It features a large digital LCD display and a power indicator. ISTA heaters are easy to install; they provide precise temperature control in marine and freshwater aquariums. They are safe to use, thanks to the overheating protection feature.
The heater seems to be well-built and durable. What is more important, it provides a surprisingly consistent temperature with minimal fluctuations. Thanks to a large LCD display, it is easy to monitor and adjust the current temperature. The only complaint is about the connections supplied. They look cheap, and many customers report on terrible leaks. You’d better replace them or spend some time to adjust them tightly.
This budget-friendly heater is a Chinese product with a surprisingly rich set of features. It comes with three sets of fittings for various types of hoses (5/8, 3/4, 1/2), which makes it a really versatile option. The unit features an LCD display and a power indicator. Thanks to the feature of overheating protection, the device shuts off automatically if the water flow stops for any reason.
If you are looking for a low-budget inline heater, this option is for you to consider. It is half the price of Hydor Original ETH, while its features are virtually the same. We haven’t found any information about the warranty terms. The fittings seem cheap and the overall build quality is average, but, after all, you get what you pay for.
Once you’ve bought a new inline filter, you have to install it. The procedure is pretty simple: you don’t need to have any special knowledge or hire a professional; moreover, the manual is commonly supplied. Here are some tips on installation.
An inline aquarium heater is a useful device, which allows sustaining consistent water temperature in a fish tank without cluttering the inner space. In our guide, we’ve reviewed three effective and reliable heater options. Our top pick is ISTA inline heater – a compact unit with a large LCD display and a precise electronic thermostat.