Discus Tank Heaters

Discus Tank Heaters

Its no secret that Discus require stable temperatures in the high mid 80’s. Picking the wrong heater could lead to major headaches and even Discus death.

In this article we go over some of the basics of tank heaters as well as picking the right heater to avoid Discus injury.

Heater Cause Discus Injury

Yes, even the heater can cause some serious injury to your Discus. I suppose it could cause injury to any fish in your tank. Since your Discus is large, round and flat, it has a large surface area to receive a “heater burn”.

Before you brush this off as a “this probably never happens” type of thing, let me just say it happens more often than not. You know what hurts the most is waking up one morning and seeing your super extra spotted leopard snake skin with a huge burn mark on one side.

So how does this happen? Here is my theory, Discus have to sleep and when they do they may look for the warmest part of the tank. Just think of a cold night when you pile on extra covers. Through the natural course of the night and sleep, leaning from one side to the other may occur and contact with a super heated surface causes severe burn.

Some burns go away on their own but many go on to become infected and lead to Discus death. Some new heaters are now being sold with guards to avoid burns and I have seen guards sold separately to fit over existing heaters.

Glass Heaters versus Titanium Heaters

The old tried and true glass heater works great. For many years this was the only way to keep temperatures constant in the fish tank. Occasionally though glass heaters can break due to impact or in rare cases extreme temperature swing caused by cold water.

I avoid glass heaters in the tank mostly because they come with thermostats mounted on the top. Having to put my hand in the tank to adjust the temperature wouldn’t be so bad if I only had one tank. Replicate that out in a fish room and that is a lot of hand soaking. Also Discus are fairly large fish and will knock glass heaters around so I do not like them.

Titanium or metal heaters are “newer” to the market compared to glass heaters and tend to offer a more even and constant warming of the water. This efficiency of water heating comes at a hefty price when your hand or your Discus get burned by contact.

When having to use in tank heaters I use the metal heaters primarily because of the external controls that come with them. The metal part of the heater goes in the tank and I have a cool knob I can adjust to the exact temperature mounted on the side of the tank. No more reaching in and spooking Discus, in fact some come with long cords allowing me to place the controls several feet away from the tanks.

In Tank Heater versus External Heater

When possible I prefer external heaters for my fish tanks. The first reason is it is one less thing in the tank that distracts the eye from the fish. The second is of course the injury and or adjusting of temperatures.

Lifegard Aquatics (http://www.lifegardaquatics.com/products/product.php?id=3) makes some really great inline heaters that hook up to external canister filters. The external heater module hooks up to the out of the canister filter. Water is constantly heated as it flows through the filtration process and back into the tank. Now instead of having one warm spot in the tank your fish enjoy a constant stream of warm water that flows through out the tank.

Questions For You

Have you or your Discus ever been burned by heaters?

Do you prefer glass or metal heaters?

Do you use an inline heater for your fish tank?

2 Comments
  1. hello.
    great article, but I would like to know watts per gallons for discus tanks..
    I will probably buy a titanium 200 watts for my 80 gallons tank, with about 6 gallons of gravel. I keep the room temp on 76, I like to keep the Discus on 83- 84 since I have plants too,
    also, which brand would you trust?
    i almost lose my Discus with stealth Marineland..they returned my money they are on recall..
    thank you

  2. As I am newer or a starter to keep discus….
    But after keeping discus te dont take feeding in my tank
    ani also treated with various foods but they refuse…
    pls suggest something better

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