Your red eared slider’s habitat needs to be a danger-free zone. Your turtle has enough to worry about without having to suffer from a faulty water heater. Your first inclination when buying a water heater may be to go for the most affordable model that fits your tank parameters, but some of the more expensive models have things that the cheaper ones don’t: safety controls.
Safety controls in this instance refer to a sensor in the heater that will prevent it from overheating. It serves as a backup to the thermostat and could be a lifesaver if the thermostat should fail. There are a couple of different types of sensors that serve this purpose. The first is a thermal sensor that senses automatically when the heater has been removed from water. This is especially helpful, as a red eared slider slider may bump the heater, knocking it askew and placing the heater above water. A heater without a thermal sensor will quickly overheat and may burst, especially if the extremely hot heater gets splashed with water. Hagen’sTronic© heater line has patented this type of sensor and the automatic safety shut-off as well.
The other type of safety feature you should look for in any water heater you buy for your red eared slider tank is an automatic shut-off in case of thermostat failure. Believe it or not, thermostats are not the be-all, end-all of temperature control. Thermostats in general are just the first line of defense against your tank’s water temperature going out of control and wreaking havoc with your turtle. A thermostat can fail, so it’s best to have a back-up just in case. The best heaters on the market will have something to this effect to keep the heater from overheating and injuring or killing your turtle.
In the end, the habitat for your red eared slider needs a top-of-the-line water heater with the above safety controls; don’t settle for anything less. Without these features, your heater could fail and you will have a disaster on your hands. Don’t think that it won’t happen to you; after all, it’s always those that don’t think it will happen that suffer that fate. Take the appropriate precautions and hope that you never need to use the built-in safety controls that your heater has. In the long run, the few extra dollars you spend on a better, safer heater will be worth it to you and your pet turtle.