View Full Version : Aquarium heater for water tanks?

02-01-08, 07:17 PM
A friend of mine, non-groomer, suggested I use an aquarium heater in my fresh water tank to keep it from freezing. I know it would use less energy and probably be less of a fire risk than a space heater. They come in sizes for large tanks and can be set at a certain temperature. Had anyone tried this? I didn't know if it would be powerful enough to really keep the water warm enough when it got really cold. I thought it might also be a way to keep the water from getting too cold so it wouldn't take such a long time to warm up. Thanks.

02-01-08, 07:37 PM
It is not just the water in the tanks you have to worry about. it is the pump, and hoses and the hot water heater. you don't want any of your mechanicals to freeze. ceramic heaters are safe. i run one in the back of my trailer where the mechanicals are and one in the grooming area on low just to keep the chill off.

02-01-08, 08:02 PM
Not mobile but I've had fish for many many years. The biggest heater you can get at a pet store is 300 Watts. For aquariums they typically recommend 3-5 watts per gallon. So a 300 watt aquarium heater (I'm thinking specifically of the submersible Ebo-jager brand) would work for aquariums 60-100 gallons. This is adequate to bring that much water up from the average house temperature to 78 degrees.

I don't know how big your water tank is, and how cold it gets, but I personally don't think it would work. Maybe mobile groomers have actually tried it.

02-01-08, 09:45 PM
I don't think it would work. Aquarium heaters usually aren't designed to work that hard. Like Keyray said, they're designed to work in water that's in a relatively warm room, not in a freezing environment. I also have vivid memories of coming home from vacation, finding that my furnace had gone on the fritz while I was gone, the temp in the house was only 40 degrees, and the aquarium heater had burnt itself out trying to keep the water warm.

However, you might be able to get a pond heater or livestock tank heater that would work, if all you have to worry about is water in the tank.

02-01-08, 10:20 PM
No idea what your setup looks like but as far as preventing the tank from freezing, there are not too many methods, besides flushing it completely at night and filling it with water in the morning before leaving, hoping the water hose will not be frozen as well, but it would be so cold, you would not want to work anyway.

A good thing to do is to always shut down at the main and to never leave the hose filled with water, or it will burst as well. Pumps can freeze and burst, so make you you have it all flushed. If you lose your priming, no big deal, hold the shower head high up and turn it on to let the air out.

If the tubing is frozen, I guess a heat gun or a hair dryer should do it.

02-01-08, 11:11 PM
I'm with Diamienono, the tank will be the last thing to freeze up. The pump and water lines have much smaller volumes of water in them and will freeze long before the big tank of water will. In my RV they have big flat heater pads stuck directly to the outside of the holding tanks and a small ceramic heater to keep the pipes and pump warm.

I too have burned out aquarium heaters when the house got too chilly.

02-02-08, 03:17 PM
This is a cold winter, and if the temperatures I read are right, in some areas of the country I see very well how the water tank could freeze overnight, just enough for it to burst at the seams. We are not talking about below 32F temperatures but close to 0F in some areas.

02-02-08, 04:01 PM
Yes, I've done it and still have the original heater in my van's water tank. I do have insulated walls and floor and I *am* in the South where it isn't too terribly cold. It works to help keep the water above freezing. I was mainly looking for some way to keep my water above the 42* mark and it will do that. I do have a heater made for a 100 gal. saltwater tank and only use it about 5-6 nights a month when I misjudge how much water I'll need for that day. I am on a well in an area that has had a persistant drought for the past 5 years and I just can't see dumping all that water out if I don't have to. I think next time I'll get a livestock water tank heater or pond heater or just put in a hot water heater tank rod to keep the water warmer overnight instead of an aquarium heater.

02-02-08, 05:28 PM
I do a hot water fill in my fresh water tank (which has an insullation blanket on it) each morning. If I have a lot of water left at the end of a day, I drop an aquarium heater in my tank for overnight, so the water stays warm for the next morning. It works good for me. However, this would not alleviate any water pipe freezing issues you might run into.

02-02-08, 05:53 PM
My tanks are in the van... They are never completely empty and have never frozen. It has been below zero-- sometimes around zero for a week or more. I have had pipes freeze, though. And shampoo and everything else. :) Yesterday I was disappointed to find my hand lotion had frozen.

Anyway, I think a space heater is important because of the pipes, I don't think the tanks are the main issue, unless maybe they are outside of the van. I know a couple people had the whole tank freeze and I think that must've been the case??

02-02-08, 06:27 PM
I'm a fan of the space heater. You have to not only worry about the tanks, lines, pipes, pumps, etc,etc...but you also need to try to keep your shampoos and other liquids at room temp or there about.
I use a radiator type space heater that I can set to come off and on at intervals. It's always nice and warm in the mornings and everything works beautifully.

02-02-08, 06:51 PM
Even though I mentioned that I use an aquarium heater from time to time. I want to make it clear that I also use a ceramic heater overnight on cold nights. If I don't use an overnight heater, the moment warm water touches my "cold" stainless steel tub, I have condensation everywhere.