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Last year we purchased a Biorb fish tank for our home. As we were going to be keeping tropical fish in ours we purchased one with the tropical heater kit provided within. Ours was purchased as one large set with everything we needed (bar the fish) in the box. You can purchase this tropical heater kit separately. This sells for £30.00 in Pets At Home but it appears that you can find this cheaper online.
This heater kit comes provided within a cardboard box. On the front of the box is a picture of a Biorb fish tank and some tropical fish it also states that this a 'tropical heater kit' on the front too. Within the box there is a black and clear heater, a power cord, a straight clear sucker based stand with two black clips on it, a glass thermometer and a sample of Hikari tropical fish food. In our large box containing the fish tank we also received a slightly different style of stand that was better designed for the curved structure of our fish tank.
This was quite simple to set up, we bent the stand to fit where we wanted to place it, stuck this in place and then the heater was pressed in to place on this, the temperature was adjusted on the top to the optimum temperature we were going to use (around 24c) and then the power cord was clipped in place in to the lid of our fish tank and run down to the plug. It is advisable to run with this a loop in the cord to prevent any water travelling down the cord and this is what we do. The length of this cord is long enough that we can have this on a stand in between two of our chairs and this can run out of the top of the fish tank, be looped up against the wall and then be run behind one of our large chairs over to the plug.
In all this is fantastic easy to use and took us just a few minutes to set up. We have been using ours for several months now and the temperature has stayed at a very regular 24-25 degrees. We have had absolutely no problems at all with water leaking along the wire or of the temperature cutting out. This does not make any noticeable noise at all and it is no problem having this in our tank at all. The space that it takes up is very minimal and the price of this is not restrictive at all for someone wanting to upgrade their tank from a cold water to tropical one.
Overall we have been very pleased with this. Our fish have survived the first few weeks getting established in the tank, and beyond, the temperature is nice and regular whenever I check on the thermometer and overall this was just been working incredibly well for us.
I was given this heater along with our biorb aquarium by my MIL for my son's room. My husband had taken her to purchase the items though, and I know she paid £30 for the set. After checking with Pets at Home I can confirm this is the current price as well. This is a pretty high price for an aquarium heater, and at the time of purchase, we had a spare, but we were told only this heater could be used as an ordinary one might get to hot and melt the thin plexiglass ( plastic) which the bowl is made from. This is the whole reason for paying so much more than a standard heater would cost, a standard heater is not considered safe for a plastic tank.
This set includes the heater, a thermometer, a sample of fish food and a small plastic strip with suction cups that is meant to attach the heater to the side of the tank. I say meant to, because it does not actually do this, and is in effect completely worthless. You can however, buy a very nice plastic hanger to suspend the heater from the lip of the bowl, but this will cost you an additional £18. I did not actually get the sample of fish food as this was long since used up when we got the tank, but essentially it is the same size as free sample packs of this food. The food is made by Hikari and is of very high quality. The thermometer seems fine and is still working.
The main item of course is the heater, and this is where the problems come in. My MIL did use this for nearly two years before all her fish began to die, and any replacements died as well. I strongly suspect this heater was the culprit. Of course nothing lasts forever, but heaters generally do last quite awhile and the one in large my tank has been going for 10 years now.
The heater is approximately 6" in length, uses 50w of electricity, and is adjustable with a thermostat which allows settings from 18 - 36 degrees. These are very lightly marked in light orange on grey, so not terribly easy to see I am afraid. Like most of these heaters, a small light comes on when the heater is in use. The thermostat should turn the heater on when it the water temperature falls below the preset level and turn it off again afterwards. Although the thermostat on our heater failed, and the heater did not shut off at the correct temperatures, this heater never did reach extreme heat on the surface as some of the older glass heaters used to. It was never to hot to grasp in your hand, or hot enough to burn fish, so this is one advantage on the heater. But - none of the glass heaters I have bought in the last 10 years are terribly hot like some of the older ones were - so I can't say this is a remarkable advantage. I can say, that on full this is somewhat cooler than my 100w heater in my 4' tank. It is no different from the cheaper glass heater in my younger sons aquarium, and hotter than the biopro.
I set this up in my sons room, and within an hour of set up I noticed the fish appeared distressed. I checked the temperature right away and was surprised to see it was well over the safe zone. The heater was set at 26 but was in fact heating the water to 36 when I pulled it out. I swapped heaters around and setting this down to its lowest setting 18, I seemed to reach a stable temperature in our small beta tank at 27 which was acceptable. Everything went OK for a few weeks, but then the temps began to jump up and down by a few degrees at a time. So I had a tank between 24 ( fine for a Beta) and 30 ( a bit too hot but should be OK for short term. I had ordered another heater in and was carefully monitoring the tank temperatures. This morning the tank was smack on at 26. Two hours later it was 36, and the fish was dead. I feel a right ______ for using this at all as my sons loved that fish. We even had a burial service in the back garden as my youngest objected most strongly to burial at sea (via the loo). I should have bought a new heater straight away, instead of trying to put it off for a few weeks.
Of course this does not affect every heater in this range but I would certainly never buy another one. But wait don't I have to have one for the biorb? Not anymore. I currently have the BioPro shatterproof aquarium heater, which I reviewed last month running in this the biorb. I commented that the unique design of this heater means it never gets terribly hot on the surface, so I felt it would work brilliantly for plastic aquariums. It does work quite well in the biorb, and at a price of £8.80, is a much better deal as well. Fluval and Marina now produce similar models which retail near £20. The Biopro does a brilliant job and has kept the tank at a stable 26.5 for last few weeks without any problems. Another dooyooer, has assured me she has used similar models in plastic tanks with no problems as well - so we do not really need to buy the special biorb heater anymore.
So in short - if this unit does not fail as mine did - it may work as well the many small shatterproof heaters available today. It certainly is not any better though. As I can buy a biopro at £8.80 and add a £2 thermometer to make up the contents of this kit, or even a top of the range Fluval Edge heater for £16, I see no reason to pay twice the price for an item that at it's best may work equally well as it's lower priced competitors. The shatterproof heaters have the added bonus of being easier to conceal in the tank, and of course shatterproof.
I have given this heater 2 stars. I accept that most the thermostat failing will not occur on most heaters. I have checked online, and while I have found similar cases, there does not appear to be an overwhelming number of them. We just got unlucky. But I also do not feel this heater does anything special to justify it's high price, hence the low rating. Biorb does have a newer design out now, the Biorb Intelligent Heater, at £60 it also seems terribly overpriced. If Biorb wants loyal customers, they need to consider their current pricing strategy which places everything for this aquarium at nearly double the price of other brands
Use the biOrb Heater Pack to convert your biOrb to keep small tropical fish. The Heater Pack contains a 50 watt aquarium heater, biOrb heater stand (to fix the heater into the biOrb), glass thermometer and a sample of tropical pellet food.