Monday, 16 February 2015 10:04

Aquarium Chillers

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  Right after we have spent the kid's college funds on setting everything up, from the lights to the sumps, its only then that we discover that we forgot one last thing, keeping the tank cool enough with having all those heat producing pieces of equipment including those small thermo nuclear devices that we call "reef lights". 
  For reef aquariums, including fish only systems, An average water temperature maintained at 82 degrees will provide the same environment that your corals, fish and invertebrates came from, which would be tropical coral reefs. As long as the temperature range during a 24 hour period remains between 80 to 84, your livestock will do just fine. Remember, the corals, fish and inverts are ectotherms, meaning that they are dependent upon their surrounding temperature (the water) to maintain their own correct body temperatures for their metabolisms, digestion and proper functioning of their immune systems, why we are still told to this day that our aquariums should be in the 70's is beyond me. I have yet to be on an indo-pacific reef that was ever in the 70's.
  Being that a chiller is a major investment in money, I would at first try other cooling methods before trying to explain yet another major purchase to the spouse or to the kids on why they have to live on peanut butter for the next year. If you do find that you can not keep the temperature below the upper 80's, then a chiller may be your only other option. 
  Within the links below, I will also try to give you some other options for cooling, most if not all involve do it yourself projects.
 Although I may link to online stores, it is only done to show what is available and is not an endorsement from me.

Recommended Water Temperatures
( Please read before you buy a chiller! )

Aquarium water cooling methods :  Some basic methods that can be used when only a few degrees of cooling is needed, most involve some "do it yourself" skills for installation and/or plumbing. When dealing with electrical components, such as fans, your safety should be the first consideration taken.   Fans & Venting - Simple and effective in all circumstances, whether your aquarium has an enclosed hood or not, by simply blowing air onto the water and/or drawing hot air out of an enclosed hood system will give you evaporative cooling, much like what happens when we blow on beverages that are to hot to drink.  This method will of course increase water evaporation which means you will have to top off the aquarium system with more freshwater as needed.   Room Air Conditioners - If the room you have the aquarium in has its own air conditioner, such as a window unit. You can adjust that room to run cooler than the rest of the house. If you can direct the air flow towards the aquarium, all the better.   Frozen water filled soda bottles -  I have seen the use of contained blocks of ice set floating in a sump as a way to cool the water. This may be fine for an emergency method to save your pets, but it is not something that I would want to do on a daily basis for the rest of my aquarium's life. You also have no control over just how chilled your aquarium gets with this method either, unless you have all day to sit around and monitor it. Not my idea of enjoying a hobby to say the least. Chillers :  There are of course various brands and models to choose from, which brand to use, is a decision that I will leave to you of course. But please do research each of them as they do vary in capacity and features. Asking for opinions from others who have the brand you are interested in may also save you a good deal of grief as well.   A few things to consider when selecting a chiller are its capacity, electrical usage and ease of use. Most chillers have come a long way in noise reduction as they tended to be quite loud previously. 
  Capacity -  While it may be tempting for what ever reason(s) to get a smaller or larger rated unit, I would not do so simply because a smaller rated (for your aquarium's size) chiller would most likely have to work near constantly as it struggles to cool down a water volume it was not designed for. This could lead to the unit wearing out much faster as well as wasting a great deal of electricity.  Using a unit rated for aquarium sizes larger than your aquarium would most likely lead to rapid temperature changes within your aquarium, placing your pets at risk. 
  Electrical usage - If all other cooling methods have failed to maintain your temperature properly, and a chiller is a "must have" piece of equipment, do be aware that they do draw a good amount of electricity and is something you will have to expect when you receive your electric bill. 
  Temperature range - This is one that I feel you should pay close attention to. There are a good many models that you can only select a temperature range setting between 76 to 81 degrees. If we are trying to maintain 82 to 84 as we should be, and the unit is properly matched to the aquariums size, then it may be impossible to stay within our target range. As such, if you have no other choice, I would set the unit to its maximum 80 or 81 which is not that greatly off our target temperature and should be fine. On the bright side, the higher setting will mean that the unit is not running as often.   Installation for chillers should be fairly simple as they almost always have their own internal water pumps, requiring you to do nothing more than rig up two hoses running into and out of your aquarium's water. Being an electrical, fan blown device, they do generate a good amount of heat themselves and would not place such units under the aquarium or in enclosed aquarium stands, doing so would defeat the whole purpose of using a chiller. 

Used by permission.  Many thanks to Charlies and Linda Raabe for their support.  www.chucksaddiction.com

Read 856 times Last modified on Saturday, 20 June 2015 00:45

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