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More ways to kill fish with a heater

>>Expensive mistake. A real heartbreaker. Don't rely on cheap heaters.
>>Peter O'Dwyer jnr
>>odwyerpw at bluecorp_com
>Actually, I don't think it's the price, but the extra wattage and/or the age
>of the heater.  I had the same nightmare happen once -- adult malawis,
>probably $500-600 worth.  I forget the size of the heater, but it was an
>Ebo-Jager that was a few years old.  Spiked up to 95 degrees, lost all the
>fish.  Now, we only keep heaters that will barely do the job.  So if it
>busts, the temperature can't spike too high.

This is starting to get way off topic, but since many people with planted tanks 
also seem to keep discus, I thought I would share a recommendation based on 

When I first started keeping discus, I purchased a large non-submersible heater; 
the kind that clip on to the back of the tank.  This was not a cheap heater, and 
it was a proper size for my 55 gal tank, but I could never keep the temperature 
at the ideal 82F for more than a couple of days.  It would slowly drift up or 
down, and I was constantly tweaking it.

Even though I had control of the other water parameters (pH, hardness, etc.), my 
discus wouldn't eat, had that depressing 'black' color they get when extremely 
unhappy, and were dying right and left.  I never associated this with 
temperature fluctuation because I hadn't read anything about that in the discus 
literature.  Also, since the drift was very slow (1F per day or less), I didn't 
think the fish would even notice.

I finally got tired of the hassle, and bought a submersible heater on the 
recommendation of my LFS, who said it would keep the temperature much more 

That turned out to be an understatement;  since buying the submersible over two 
years ago, my temperature hasn't budged a single degree!  And to my surprise, 
within a week my discus started eating, regained their color, and I haven't lost 
one since (except one who decided to have an out-of-water experience :( 

This was the first action I took that had a noticable impact on my discus' 
health; the second was adding live plants!

The moral:  spend the extra money on a fully submersible heater, especially if 
you have sensitive fish (or plants?)  They look about the same, but hang totally 
inside the tank (including the thermostat), or stick to the glass with suction 
cups.  The more expensive ones are accurate enough to have the temperature 
actually stenciled on the thermostat.  Others (like mine) just have single digit 
numbers, and must be used with a thermometer - just like the clip-on heaters.

 - Anthony