I would love to do no heater route, but my tanks would get slightly cool, plus the one tank will be for turtles. But future looking at having a nice cichlids tank, and then a smaller (75g) planted tank.
I have come to believe that the least reliable piece of aquarium equipment is a heater. I have tried a lot of brands and have pretty much had heaters from them all fail. And the ones I have not used or had fail I have read about failing for others. My ultimate solution is to buy the cheap ones and consider them as "disposable."
When it comes to their failing they can only really do this in one of two ways, become too hot or fail completely. They overheat or do not heat at all. My solution goes beyond buying cheap. For my more expensive tanks I run heaters through a temperature controller. This willl usually prevent overheating and thus boiling one's fish unless the controller also fails. Unfortunately, a controller cannot fix a heater that stops making heat.
While I cannot say for sure, I would bet there are tank sensors that will detect a heater failure and send you a text or email. But these if they fail, you may come rushing home to save a tank only to learn that the sensor was what was really broken.
In the end the only way to prevent heater related disasters is human monitoring, and that is not realistic. In earlier times, when sites like this one were more active, you would have gotten many responses and probably rave reviews about most of the brands out there. There is no way to know whether a specific heater one owns will fail quickly or last for many years. I still have an E bo-Jaeger or two warming a tank for over 15 years. I have also had them fail in a few years.
Even having no heaters is not fail-safe. When you rely on the building heat to do the work, a power outage, or heating failure means can still get you.
"So many tanks, so little time. Since you can't get more time, you may as well get more tanks." Anonymous
I don't usually heat my tanks, but I live in a more mellow climate than some. In winter we heat to 68F days & 63F nights, but filters, lights, etc. add to tanks' temp. In summer we run AC to 76F but my 75g is at 82F right now running 2 filters. Larger tanks are more temp. stable.
I have Visitherm heaters for when/if I need them. They seem as good as any I've used except for the no longer made Ebo Jaegers. The new Ehiem Jaegers (I hear) are not up to the old standard. I've never used titanium heaters. My impression is that they're good for big rowdy fish that might break the glass type, not that they're all that more reliable...Temp controllers are pricey but may be good with rare or expensive temp finicky fish.
2 smaller wattage heaters is better rather than 1 "sufficient" tanked sized. The chances of 2 smaller heaters BOTH malfunctioning at the same time is less likely than just 1. It'll take a lot longer for a small heater to cook your fish...
I would also suggest having an easy to read thermometer & make checking a daily routine. Not working is MUCH less bad than stuck on heaters.
I know everyone hates stick on thermometers...but IME they are very close to floating "mercury" therms. (really alcohol these days) or a suction cup kind. A temp. probe is better but more expensive...& you still need to check... or go really high tech with phone alert capable 1s (said the flip phone owner, lol).
Yea I know I can prevent them breaking but something that might be little more reliable is always good. I have been having issues with the cheap heaters getting a weird build up on them that’s a hard brown color. Now yes that’s my slack in taking the time to do a quicker wipe down on the heater maybe monthly. I just figured since I’m going be redoing everything might as well replace old and get new.
IMO, there is no need to spend big bucks on aquarium heaters. Aside from a few odd ball imports like Sera (spelling?) being one of them, they're all made cheaply. I recommend buying which ever has a lifetime guarantee and lots of aqueon, marineland and some house brands do. Keep the box (UPC symbol), receipt and all it takes is a phone call, email or trip to the store to get a new one.
Yeah, I hear you FF. That lifetime guarantee is why I like Visitherms. I had several of the recalled Stealths & they stood by their product with both cash & a couple replacements too. Those replacement Pros are in my stash of "if needed" heaters. 1 is in my 75g unplugged for now.
Bonne46, for a 125g I would go with 2 smaller heaters at or near each end. What fish do you now or plan to keep? Many times we keep fish at a higher temp than ideal for their longevity. Very few fish need upper 70Fs or even low 80s for optimum health & activity IME.
A lifetime guiarantee is basically worthless when the heater fails and cook a tank with a few $1,000 in fish, getting a new $30 heater of the same brand that just did the deed is not much consolation at all.
I have had two different brands of heater do this. in one case it killed a lovely pair of wild discus and about a dozen rummy nose tetras. The L450s survived but then the failure only took the water temp to about 104F. The second time it wiped out a breeding group of 10 L236 and about 25 - 0 babies. Those fish were worth well over $1,000. This time the water was at close to 120F and many of the fish exploded.
I never had a Visi cook fish, but when I raised discus (1 time only, lol) I had 2 smaller heaters. But I also kept the juveniles quite warm 86F, gradually lowering as they got to 4 inches. & yes, I checked often.
The Visi Stealths were fairly reliable although 1 got a scary warped look.
I think if I had very expensive fish I'd be more likely to invest in a temp. controller...the price isn't much compared to devastating losses like yours TTA.
1 other thing, never ever trust the factory preset temp dial if it has 1. Use it as a ball park number only & check!!!
All that said, all modern submersible heaters are WAY better than the old clamp on the top rim heaters that were the norm when we first got into this hobby. They were truly terrible, all of them we had.