Can Aquarium Heater Burn Fish? How Can You Prevent It?

Have you recently purchased, or thought about purchasing, an aquarium heater to keep your fish warm? Are you worried that installing an aquarium heater might have negative consequences for your fish? Are you wondering if the aquarium heater burns fish in your fish tank or not?

As with other electrical devices, yes, aquarium heaters can be harmful to your fish. And Yes, aquarium heaters can burn your fish. However, this is very rare and can be easily prevented from happening in the first place!

Purchasing and installing an aquarium heater also depends on what kind of fish tank you have. If your fishes do not require a heater then it is best not to install one at all! Hence, to have a better understanding of aquarium heaters, and to know whether you even need one, keep reading!

Can Aquarium Heater Burn Fish?

Now comes the question of whether one such risk of using electrical devices is getting your fish burnt accidentally. YES, an aquarium heater can burn fish IF you do not take the proper precautionary measures.

In this case, it is not about the design of the heater. It is actually about how and where you place it in the aquarium.

For instance, the heater can burn your fish if your fish stays too close to the heater for a decent amount of time, or if it is stuck between the heater and the aquarium’s inner wall.

Nonetheless, there are indeed certain types of aquarium heaters that are more likely to burn your fish. Such heaters include mostly internal heaters (those that remain underwater).

Should You Leave Your Aquarium Heater On All The Time?

It is obvious what the purpose of an aquarium heater is. It keeps your fish warm. But how long should you leave your aquarium heater on?

The thing is you can leave your aquarium heater on all the time. However, you do need to make sure that the heater has an internal thermostat that turns off the heat right as it reaches a certain temperature. This will ensure that the water temperature does not go so high that your fish will really start to feel the heat! This is also a great way to maintain the water temperature within the desired range.

Are Aquarium Heaters Dangerous?

As with any other electrical device that you use in an aquarium, if there is a malfunction, there is a chance that it might cause harm to your fish. Such a malfunction might sometimes even cause a fire! However, this is probably not and should not be news to you. Since you do need to be cautious when using devices that use electricity.

Moreover, as long as you are cautious and take the necessary measures to ensure that the device has been installed carefully and correctly, there is nothing to worry about.

How Can Aquarium Heaters Burn Your Fish?

As mentioned earlier, an aquarium heater can go awry in just a handful of ways and really harm your fish.

First, the most common way that a fish can get burnt by an aquarium heater is if they get stuck between the heater and the aquarium walls.

Second, the heater can also get burnt out if it overheats. Hence, to prevent this, it is necessary to check whether the heater comes with a thermostat. The thermostat will regulate the water temperature as desired.

Third, some fish love to feed on the algae that grow on the outer surfaces of the heater. One great example of such fish is Plecos. Hence, if your fish stays close to the heater for a long time, it may suffer from a heater burn!

How To Spot If Your Fish Are Burnt?

Now, the question arises as to how you can spot burnt fish in your fish tank. It might be difficult to spot it just by looking at how they are behaving. This is mainly because they will act normal as showing that they are hurt might attract predators.

However, there are some very telltale signs of your fish suffering from a burn. Such signs involve the following:

  • Initially, the part of the body of the fish that has been burnt will only look a bit paler and whiter than its original color.
  • The gills of the burnt fish will also look a bit more transparent than usual.
  • If the burn has done more tissue damage than it initially seemed, then it will look much worse in just a few days.

Caring for Burnt Fish: How To Take Care Of The Fish With Burn From Aquarium Heaters?

Once you have spotted burnt fish in your aquarium, what is the next step? How do you care for them?

First, it is necessary to determine how badly your fish has been burnt. If the burnt part of the body seems to be not healing within a few days, it is highly likely that your fish will not be able to survive.

However, if your fish seems to be recovering within the first few days, you should follow the following procedure to prevent further infections in your burnt fish! This is necessary because the burn has damaged the mucous layer of the fish, which means that its immune system is weaker than usual.

The first thing to do after you see that your fish has been burnt is to carry out a 20% water change. Then you need to monitor the nitrite and ammonia levels in the water and keep their levels low. You will also need to monitor your burnt fish and check if it is showing signs of recovery.

The second option is to add 1 tablespoon of aquarium salt to every 5 gallons of water in your tank. This means, if you have a 20-gallon tank, you need to add 4 tablespoons of aquarium salt. This will also help heal the wounds that your fish has acquired from the burn.

The third option is to add a Stress Coat to the aquarium water. Stress Coat is basically a liquid that helps in preventing infections in fish, replacing the protective mucous layer in fish, etc. Hence, by adding this liquid to the fish tank water, you will essentially be adding a layer of artificial mucus over the wound caused by the burn!

How To Prevent Aquarium Heaters Burn In Fish?

As a fish keeper, looking after your fish is your responsibility. This involves everything from feeding them, monitoring them for visible signs of sicknesses, maintaining the water parameters, cleaning the fish tank, and making sure that the aquarium heater does not burn them!

Here are some tips for you to prevent some silly yet critical aquarium heater disasters.

Preventing Aquarium Heaters Burn In Fish And Other Disasters

If you take care of simple things related to the heaters before and after purchasing them, you will be able to solve various problems as well as prevent the disasters that occur due to the failure of aquarium heaters.

I know you are struggling to make your tank as safe as possible for your fish. And it is truly a good thing to take precautions.

Trust me, prevention is better than cure in every step of fishkeeping. Here are few things you can prevent the burn on fish due to aquarium heaters as well as other aquarium heater-related disasters.

1. Buy An Aquarium Heater With An Automatic Switch.

As I mentioned earlier, investing in an aquarium heater with an automatic switch will be the best bet for you. Especially when it comes to ensuring the safety of your fish, a heater with an automatic switch is the best option.

It will make sure that your heater switches off when the water temperature goes down or up to the desired temperature. Similarly, the heater will also turn on by itself if the water temperature goes below a certain temperature.

Here is one of the best heaters with automatic switch you can go for AQQA Mini Submersible Aquarium Heater Constant Temperature Intelligent Automatic Heating.

2. Aquarium Heater Guards: Do You Need One?

I would recommend you purchase and install an aquarium heater guard if you want both your heater and your fish to remain unharmed.

If you have large and even slightly aggressive or active fish, then there might be instances when they crash into the heater. This may cause the heater to malfunction and harm the fish in the fish tank.

On the other hand, the heater might burn the fish if it happens to get too close to the heater or if it gets stuck between the heater and the aquarium wall. Hence, acquiring an aquarium heater guard can protect the fish in this regard.

Thus, with these two important uses of an aquarium heater guard, it is up to you to decide whether you need one. But just to be on the safe side, I would suggest you do purchase one!

3. Buy Titanium Heaters (Not Aluminum Ones!)

When buying an aquarium heater, it is essential to make note of the type of metal that makes up the heater. This little piece of information makes a huge difference in terms of whether it can acquire the desired temperature, and also whether it will keep your fish out of harm’s way.

In general, Titanium heaters are much more reliable than Aluminum heaters. Hence, make sure to opt for Titanium heaters.

I recommend you to go for Finnex Deluxe Titanium Heating Tube, 800W from the Amazon.

Do You Even Need an Aquarium Heater?

In order to decide whether you even need an aquarium heater, you will first have to do some research on what type of fish you have.

For instance, if you are keeping tropical fish in your fish tank, you will need to install an aquarium heater. It is a necessity in this case because tropical fish cannot survive extreme drops in water temperature. It is also helpful to note that most tropical fish require an average of 78F water temperature.

However, some cold-water fish do not require a heater at all. I have listed a few such fish below.

  • Clown Killifish
  • Cherry Shrimp
  • Dojo Loach
  • Celestial Pearl Danio
  • Sunset Variatus Platy
  • Endler’s Livebearer

Final Words

With the information given above, it is clear that there is a possibility of fish getting burnt by aquarium heaters.

However, the whole situation can be avoided simply by installing a heater guard, a heater with an automatic switch, and also by buying a Titanium heater.

Nonetheless, if your fish do get burnt, you should either do a 20% water change, dose the fish tank water with Stress Coat, or put 1 tablespoon of aquarium salt per 5 gallons of water. These are three sure-fire ways of relieving the wounds caused by the burn. Furthermore, they will also help speed up the recovery process.

Therefore, now that you know that fish can get burnt by an aquarium heater, it is best to take the necessary safety measures before it is too late!

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