A cold aquarium for fish that have to live in cold temperature
I did a tank for Minnesota native minnows that I kept consistently below 60F, if that counts.
Coldwater marine setups are relatively common. Usually they're biotopes imitating the northern coasts of the US, but I've seen some imitate the coast of the UK as well.
If I had a tank in a shed over the winter it would be frozen solid.
Winter here routinely gets below -30°. Ice on the nearby lake usually gets to a maximum thickness of pretty close to 18", so any outdoor aquariums are a no go over winter in my area!
My basement gets down to 50F in winter, so I just do cold water tanks with no heaters or chillers in there. Once summer hits I put on a big cooling fan.
Im in Maine and even when its -15 overnight, my basement doesnt get below 60ish. Most basements up here dont get that cold really as theyre below ground and we have water heaters, furnaces, etc., that produce heat. Lots of people, myself included, snowblow around the house every so often to "bank" the foundation and keep basement temps even warmer to protect pipes from freezing. I have a pellet stove on the first floor and it runs 99.9% of the time and my basement stays about 64. There is a water heater and furnace. The furnace only runs once a week for 5-6 hours while the pellet stove is shut off and cleaned on Sundays. So as long as I bank the house I can still keep the basement in the 60's with NO heat down there.
As far as an "ice aquarium", it wouldnt really work as even coldwater fish dont live in temps below freezing. The air temp is what causes the water to freeze and lakes do this thing called "turnover". When water is 39.2 degrees its heaviest and it sinks. If winter was long enough and cold enough, lakes would freeze from the bottom up, basically killing everything. Another funny thing about water is, when it freezes the molocules spread out, causing it to be less dense, hence why ice floats. But in winter, when ice forms and snow covers it, it insulates the water and temps right under the ice are colder (40's), then mid column is warmer (40's to 50's), and bottom temps are 39.2.
Amphibians, turtles, etc., all hibernate and bury themselves in the mud to stay warm for the winter. Fish that REALLY dont like cold water go into a "deep sleep" and their metabolism runs SUPER slow and they wont eat much at all. Theyll just sit around, "sleeping", not active.
Youd need a MASSIVE aquarium to do an "ice aquarium", and even then it would have to stay above freezing, the fish would have to be small minnows that can survive cold temps, like smelts, etc. There are just way too many factors that wouldnt allow the idea to work on a scale that we could manage.
My wifes uncle in Mass has a big pond that he keeps Koi in. They are moved into his basement in the winter because the pond freezes solid (or enough to kill his fish). He keeps them in an above ground pool thats like 4 feet deep and 12 feet across. No heater. The water temp is in the mid 60s and they do fine in there for a few months.
I tried to talk my wife into letting me build a tank in a dorm fridge for adorable lumpsuckers. Even with a 3" acrylic front to insulate my wife said "No."
As all my scuds died I probably need a chiller on the scud pail to keep them alive. That seems like too much of and expense just to grow food when a worm bin takes so much less effort.
sounds like very good possibilities. i go ice fishing up north so i know smelt don't mind the cold temps. if your basement hits 50 - 60's then all you need to do is add chunks of ice (icecles from your roof) to make an ice aquarium.
youre right a small tank outside would freeze and crack the glass. good ideas though. any takers from the northern states? i have one month of cold weather here, basically january with only a few days near 30 - 40f. i'll give it a go. ill have to figure out to get ice sculpures into the tank.