Keep Cassy Warm!
November 12, 2010 7:39 AM   Subscribe

FishFilter: I need a reliable heater for my 1 gallon bowl. I have a betta I'd like to keep warm this winter, but her water always seems to be too cold. I bought one of these Hydor Minis a while ago, but it doesn't keep the water at a stable temperature. Any suggestions?

I live in Ohio, if it matters, and I generally keep the room temp between 70-80 degrees, but the water (according to my pinky finger tests) is cooler than this most of the time.
posted by aheckler to Pets & Animals (8 answers total)
You need to reconsider your temperature checking strategy. Your pinky is not reliable. If the room averages 70-80 degrees, so does the water unless someone's been dropping in ice cubes.

80 degree water always feels cooler than 80 degree air.
posted by jon1270 at 7:48 AM on November 12, 2010 [3 favorites]

I generally keep the room temp between 70-80 degrees, but the water (according to my pinky finger tests) is cooler than this most of the time.

In that case, you're being decieved. Water always feels colder than the air in the room, because the water conducts/convects heat more efficiently than air. And because your skin is much warmer than the room, more heat is drawn away and your finger feels cold.

In reality, anything left in a room for long enough at a consistent 70-80 degrees will be at the exact same temperature. It's bais thermodynamics. The only exception would be something that generates heat (whci hyour fish bowl doesn't).

So my advice is this: get a cheap max/min room thermometer. If the temperature of the room never drops below 70, forget the heater, especially if the room temperature is often somewhat higher. The water takes a while to warm/cool, and that should average it out to something above the 72 degrees that a betta will find comfortable.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:50 AM on November 12, 2010

bais basic
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:51 AM on November 12, 2010

You could put one of those stick-on thermometers on the bowl, and figure out if you really do have a temperature instability problem. Sticking your finger in the water isn't exactly scientific.
posted by schmod at 7:53 AM on November 12, 2010

IANYFishD, and I'd hate for anything I say to lead to the premature death of your fish, but anecdotally...he'll probably be fine. I have had a zebrafish for over two years and he's hardcore as shit.

I once left him alone for a week in an unheated apartment in Chicago the winter that it got this cold (so it probably got down to 40 in the apartment), and he was fine. I was certain I was going to come back to a dead fish, but no. He soldiered on. Right now he lives on my window sill (if he's anywhere else in the apartment, my roommate's cats will eat him) about a foot away from the radiator where the temperature isn't particularly constant. If the radiator's on, it's close to 80 or 90 degrees. If it's off, it's close to whatever the outside temperature is. He's been fine so far. I figure water has a high enough specific heat that the surrounding air would have to have a pretty huge and sustained temperature swing for it to have any effect. (Personally, I would be more worried about accidentally cooking him with a water heater than about him maybe getting too cold.)

I realize betta fish and zebrafish are different creatures, but I had a betta fish for four years (four years!) growing up. He'd probably still be alive today if my mom hadn't (accidentally) dropped him in dirty sink water. They're pretty hardy little buggers, too.
posted by phunniemee at 8:11 AM on November 12, 2010

her water always seems to be too cold

"Seems" is the operative word here. You need to buy a thermometer for the tank so you know the temperature before doing anything—if nothing else, you'll likely save money on a tank heater.
posted by limeonaire at 10:51 AM on November 12, 2010

Response by poster: Yeah, I suspected that I would need to introduce a little SCIENCE! into this. I'll probably be buying a tank thermometer soon and hopefully stabilizing the room temp a bit more. Thanks all!
posted by aheckler at 1:07 PM on November 12, 2010

1 Gallon is kind of small & hard to keep at a steady temperature. Can you go up a little in size? I have a 6 gallon tank for my betta, and the temp in that fluctuates somewhat. (Admittedly, we have it very close to some large windows which obviously contributes to the problem)

Anyway, mini digital thermometer + Hydo Theo heater. We keep it at about 82, although I find that depending on the outside temp, whether we have heat or AC on, light level, etc, it varies between 79 and 83.
posted by lyra4 at 4:20 PM on November 12, 2010

« Older Putting those do-dads in their place.   |   Relationship feels it's nearing its end ... again.... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.