What is an Aquarium Thermometer?

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  • Written By: Daniel Liden
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
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  • Last Modified Date: 15 August 2019
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An aquarium thermometer is a device used to measure the temperature of an enclosure that is used to keep aquatic organisms. There are many kinds of aquatic plants and animals that can only survive in a specific temperature range. People who want to keep such organisms in their homes or in a setting that allows for public viewing typically must maintain this specific temperature range to keep them alive. Various heating and cooling devices are used to maintain the water temperature. An aquarium thermometer is used to ensure these devices do, indeed, keep the water at the correct temperature.

An aquarium thermometer can come in several different forms, though most are composed of two primary parts: the temperature sensor and a means to express temperature in a meaningful manner. The sensor is the part of the thermometer that reacts in some way to changes in temperature. The other main part of the aquarium thermometer must be able to express the sensor's reaction in a way that can be easily read. The end result is that one is able to see a relatively accurate temperature value. Additionally, an aquarium thermometer generally must be waterproof, as it will generally be underwater.


Digital thermometers, mercury thermometers, and other forms of thermometers can all be used in aquariums. A mercury aquarium thermometer or similar form of non-digital thermometer can often be attached to the inside of an aquarium with a suction cup. Sometimes, such thermometers are simply allowed to float on the surface of the aquarium. Digital thermometers, on the other hand, often feature a display and a sensor separated by a relatively long cord. The sensor is placed in the water while the display is kept outside of the water; this prevents the display from suffering water damage and makes it easier to read.

Thermometers are generally considered an essential aspect of any temperature-sensitive aquarium setup. Aquarium heaters and coolers are typically able to maintain the correct temperatures, but malfunctions, power outages, and fluctuations in environmental temperature can alter the aquarium temperature. The presence of an aquarium thermometer allows the individual who takes care of the aquarium to respond to problematic changes in temperature. In some cases, the thermometer can be equipped with an alarm that sounds when the temperature drops to dangerously low levels. The proper use of an aquarium thermometer can prevent aquatic plants and animals from being harmed by their environmental conditions.


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Post 4

@indemnifyme - Cheap doesn't necessarily have to mean poor quality. Like when making any purchase, just do research and make sure you get something that works and won't break down. The most expensive isn't always better though.

I think I would personally go for a digital aquarium thermometer. Mercury is so poisonous I'd be afraid to use a mercury thermometer. I just don't think it's necessary especially now that we have other options.

Post 3

@animegal - You're right. Keeping a fish tank and actually keeping the fish alive is a lot of work! A good friend of mine used to have have a few fish tanks, but she eventually got rid of them. She just didn't have time for all the maintenance and upkeep they took.

I do remember her telling me she used an aquarium thermometer though. When she first started keeping fish she bought a pretty inexpensive thermometer. The thermometer broke and she didn't notice it. Several of her fish died, so she replaced it with a better quality thermometer.

I think if you're going to keep fish tanks, you should definitely invest in a good quality aquarium thermometer. Definitely not the time to get cheap!

Post 2

@animegal - I think that salt water aquariums can be a real challenge when you are first starting out, but the gorgeous variety of fish they can support make it worthwhile.

If your father wants a really accurate temperature reading for his tank, I suggest getting a digital aquarium thermometer in addition to a traditional one. I am not sure what kind of fish your dad is buying, but the ones I have are very expensive and I keep a close eye on the temperature in the tank so none of them die. I find with the digital thermometer that the readings are always accurate.

Post 1

My father is currently setting up a salt water aquarium as he has decided he's gotten bored with his fresh water tank. We recently had to go to an aquarium shop and purchase a really accurate thermometer for his new tank because salt water fish are very sensitive to the temperatures they are exposed to.

I really didn't know so much was involved with setting up a salt water tank. The water temperature has to be perfect, you need certain plants to keep the fish happy and you have to struggle to keep the salt levels in the tank perfect. It all seems like too much work to me.

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