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I have a heater in my 3 gallon critter keeper with my betta (not sure the wattage, but its Tetra brand and says its good for 3-10 gallons, so I think its a 25 watt?). Its non-adjustable, but says that it's supposed to keep the water at 78F. My problem is, its not doing it well enough. It drops to 76 occasionally, which isn't horrible, but its not ideal. Not to mention I don't have AC in my apartment, so the temperature of the water gets up to 84F on some days. With such instability, it can't be good for my betta (especially since I think he might have velvet + constipation. If anyone can help me with my betta, please visit my thread asking for help Here). I'm curious if anyone has tips for keeping the water temp any more stable than I can manage it now? I try to keep my apartment as cool as I can, but that doesn't stop it from getting up to the mid 80's. My heater keeps it at least at 76, and I don't quite have the money yet to try and find/purchase an adjustable heater that's small enough for my 3 gallon. And, I don't think having 84+ degree water is good for my fish, unless he's ill and needs water that hot.
 

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I've learned that larger heaters really do keep the temperature more stable. It's hard to stailize a small tank in a heat-variable environment. You might see what results you get putting a bathtowel around the back of the tank.
 

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Is there a filter? If not that is also a problem because the water doesn't move and spread the heat. Putting the heater on the bottom of the tank horizontally or on the bottom wall horizontally will spread heat a bit better.

Really though, I find the Tetra heaters to be okay, I prefer the Aqueon pro heater series as I never spit my tank under what it is set, but that still requires some water movement to heat good. Smaller tanks are also harder to heat with a stable temperature.

Just try what I said...
 

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I thought everybody without a heater did that. ;-}
Doesn't really make sense for what I said, did you mean filter?

The more surface area the heater has on the water the more it will heat. Heat rises so you can take advantage of that and have the heater by the bottom and it will heat more evenly. Better heaters with good current will also provide stable temperatures, but in a small tank I advise not to.
 
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