Poll: Aquarium Chillers in Freshwater Tanks

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Rivieraneo

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I'm starting a poll to see who uses aquarium chillers to cool down their freshwater tanks during the summer. I live in Southern California, and in the summer, its not uncommon to go through a heatwave that tops close to 120F. From my knowledge, aquarium chillers are mostly used by the saltwater community. If you do use one, please vote and reply with your chiller model and aquarium size. Your participation is appreciated. - Riv
 

ryanr

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Hi,
The need for a chiller on a FW tank is largely dictated by what you're keeping. For example, temperate species (goldfish, WCMM etc) do better when the temperature is controlled.
For most tropical species, you can get by with using an airstone to keep oxygen in the warmer water. Unless of course, you expect extended periods of a 'hot tank' i.e. greater than 87 odd. Many houses with air conditioning can keep the tank at an acceptable 81, and at worst, a tolerable 84.

In SW, where specimens are taken from oceans, where temperature doesn't vary much, a chiller helps keep the water acceptable. Too, SW holds less oxygen than FW, add heat to the mix, and fish can start to suffocate. In a reef tank, it is even more important to maintain temperatures as a 2 degree swing can cause some corals to start bleaching, and chillers almost become a necessity in warmer climates.

Remember too, that SW tanks typically run a lot more equipment in the water, skimmer, return pump, powerheads, reactor pumps. All this equipment uses the water to cool itself. So as ambient temperatures increase, the water gets warmer, and the equipment transfers heat, and the water gets warmer again. Then add lights to the mix.

Over summer, we had an extended spell of hot weather (95+ for a week). Ambient room temp was 79, my FW tank sat a 'cosy' 79/80. My Reef, without the chiller would have hit 86 or more - which would have destroyed the anemone and some of my other corals.

How to set temp when running a Chiller and Heaters


For a FW system, if you've got the cash to splash, a chiller can be a handy addition. But also keep in mind, they make noise when they're running (from the compressor) - For reef tanks, it's a no-brainer, a few hundred $$'s to protect $1000 or so worth of livestock
 
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Rivieraneo

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Hi,
The need for a chiller on a FW tank is largely dictated by what you're keeping. For example, temperate species (goldfish, WCMM etc) do better when the temperature is controlled.
For most tropical species, you can get by with using an airstone to keep oxygen in the warmer water. Unless of course, you expect extended periods of a 'hot tank' i.e. greater than 87 odd. Many houses with air conditioning can keep the tank at an acceptable 81, and at worst, a tolerable 84.

In SW, where specimens are taken from oceans, where temperature doesn't vary much, a chiller helps keep the water acceptable. Too, SW holds less oxygen than FW, add heat to the mix, and fish can start to suffocate. In a reef tank, it is even more important to maintain temperatures as a 2 degree swing can cause some corals to start bleaching, and chillers almost become a necessity in warmer climates.

Remember too, that SW tanks typically run a lot more equipment in the water, skimmer, return pump, powerheads, reactor pumps. All this equipment uses the water to cool itself. So as ambient temperatures increase, the water gets warmer, and the equipment transfers heat, and the water gets warmer again. Then add lights to the mix.

Over summer, we had an extended spell of hot weather (95+ for a week). Ambient room temp was 79, my FW tank sat a 'cosy' 79/80. My Reef, without the chiller would have hit 86 or more - which would have destroyed the anemone and some of my other corals.

How to set temp when running a Chiller and Heaters


For a FW system, if you've got the cash to splash, a chiller can be a handy addition. But also keep in mind, they make noise when they're running (from the compressor) - For reef tanks, it's a no-brainer, a few hundred $$'s to protect $1000 or so worth of livestock
Thanks for the great post ryanr, I have a chance of picking up a gently used Via Aqua 1/4HP unit for $100, this is why im asking. im in the middle of looking for a larger tank for my flowerhorn and instead of running up the electric bill heating a large tank to keep him at 82F, I would rather just chill out the goldfish tank on those unbearable days when we run the evap cooler. i live in the desert, so it's fairly dry and hot. We have two central A/C units, and only use A/C when its humid.
 

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I have a chance of picking up a gently used Via Aqua 1/4HP unit for $100
I'd say grab it anyway - $100, worth the investment IMO.

A couple of things to check before you buy:
- What's the "pull-down" rating for the unit. E.g. the Hailea 1/4HP has pull down figures of: 10deg C from ambient for 300L (80G) or 5deg C from ambient for 600L (160G). What's it mean? If ambient is 95F, the chiller could get 80G down to 77F, or 160G down to 86F. So depending on likely ambient temperatures, you'll need to consider your end-goal temp, and ensure the chiller can manage it.

- Secondly, where's the thermostat in it. If it's it inside the chiller, check if you can mod the sensor to place it in the tank water. This helps prevent constant 'kick-in' as the chiller itself is in the ambient, and has a small reservoir of water that heats faster than your tank.

And last, consider placement. You don't want the hot air from the chiller going straight back into the tank (mainly a problem when people put them in cabinets with a sump)

EDIT: Actually, lastly, consider putting a 'sound proof' box around it if it's in a living area, near the TV etc. The compressor noise can quickly irritate you when watching TV and it suddenly kicks-in.
 

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We just had a new heating and air installed about a year ago, and when it gets above 75 I turn it on. Heat and that kind of humidity you can cut with a knife are both triggers for my asthma so I use the A/C a lot in the summer. Our fish enjoy nice steady cool temps because of it hehe.
 
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Rivieraneo

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I'd say grab it anyway - $100, worth the investment IMO.

A couple of things to check before you buy:
- What's the "pull-down" rating for the unit. E.g. the Hailea 1/4HP has pull down figures of: 10deg C from ambient for 300L (80G) or 5deg C from ambient for 600L (160G). What's it mean? If ambient is 95F, the chiller could get 80G down to 77F, or 160G down to 86F. So depending on likely ambient temperatures, you'll need to consider your end-goal temp, and ensure the chiller can manage it.

- Secondly, where's the thermostat in it. If it's it inside the chiller, check if you can mod the sensor to place it in the tank water. This helps prevent constant 'kick-in' as the chiller itself is in the ambient, and has a small reservoir of water that heats faster than your tank.

And last, consider placement. You don't want the hot air from the chiller going straight back into the tank (mainly a problem when people put them in cabinets with a sump)

EDIT: Actually, lastly, consider putting a 'sound proof' box around it if it's in a living area, near the TV etc. The compressor noise can quickly irritate you when watching TV and it suddenly kicks-in.
Looking at the specs, it claims to be able to lower tank temperature by 15F degrees. The example used was 70 gallon tank at 100F lowered to 85F. I believe the thermostat is in the unit as there is only in/out hose connections, no external plugs for an external probe or temp sensor. My plan was to tie it in into my ignored project of a UV system for my goldfish tank and set it on a timer. The unit would be placed outside my cabinet and expected the noise level to be similar of that of a smaller window a/c unit. Again, thanks for all the great feedback, so far, it looks like if I pick up the unit, I may be the cool new guy to set a new trend, or a lone wolf (more like loaner) doing his own thing to cool a FW tank.

We just had a new heating and air installed about a year ago, and when it gets above 75 I turn it on. Heat and that kind of humidity you can cut with a knife are both triggers for my asthma so I use the A/C a lot in the summer. Our fish enjoy nice steady cool temps because of it hehe.
Mamajin, temps in so cal are already hitting mid to high 80's, it's going to be a long hot summer. Utility costs here are through the roof, so if we are away from home, I would prefer not the run the A/C while we are away and waste precious fish supply money on electricity :*(
 

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Papajin is currently out in Cupertino California... in the 60's and 70's there for him this week and next week (he'll be home this weekend, and then back out again!). We're having roughly the same type of weather here just outside of Chicago. I think it's going to be a bad summer for severe weather. Time to enabled Tweets from Reed, check batteries for the weather radio and get emergency packs put together.

I also need to get off my lazy butt and get a few battery backup air pumps for the tanks. I can't keep putting that off! So far we've only had 30 to 40 minute power losses with last years bad storms, and I doubt we'll get that lucky this year.
 

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I would certainly get one, as some native species here interest me, but they will have to come down to a price lower than the GNP of Brazil before I do so.
I guess I could keep minnows and put the tank in my fridge, but my wife would likely notice---of course, she might well think it one of the weird recipes that I am always churning out-rick
 
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I would certainly get one, as some native species here interest me, but they will have to come down to a price lower than the GNP of Brazil before I do so.
I guess I could keep minnows and put the tank in my fridge, but my wife would likely notice---of course, she might well think it one of the weird recipes that I am always churning out-rick
I like the way you do sushi ricmcc
 

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mmmm....sushi!

I've often thought about this subject as well. I have White Clouds and I can always tell when their tank water is too warm because their color fades. I went on a weeks vacation last year and when I got back they were so pale and lethargic I thought I was gonna lose them.

Thankfully they recovered and I am very careful to keep the AC on when I am gone for an extended amount of time. I had left the AC on that time also, I just think it was too darn hot that week that even my AC couldnt handle it.
 

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Good morning,

Since I have a refugium under my 265g tank with a light that gets hot, I do have a clip on fan attached to my tank stand. Works great and my water temperature remains at 80 degrees.

Ken
 

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Great information in all these posts. I completely agree, River --- for $100 I would totally pick it up. Personally I wouldn't pay new retail price for my FW setups, but in TN we typically only get up in the high 90's / low 100's during the peak of summer.
 

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mmmm....sushi!

I've often thought about this subject as well. I have White Clouds and I can always tell when their tank water is too warm because their color fades. I went on a weeks vacation last year and when I got back they were so pale and lethargic I thought I was gonna lose them.

Thankfully they recovered and I am very careful to keep the AC on when I am gone for an extended amount of time. I had left the AC on that time also, I just think it was too darn hot that week that even my AC couldnt handle it.
--

Awesome! I would like to add that if folks have central AC and want to save eneregy, you can put the thermostat at around 80 or so and this will keep your tank in the safe/comfort zone for your fish. Generally FW tanks will be a couple of degrees cooler than ambient temperature, so this should save $$$ and keep your aquariums in shape.
 
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Rivieraneo

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Papajin is currently out in Cupertino California... in the 60's and 70's there for him this week and next week (he'll be home this weekend, and then back out again!). We're having roughly the same type of weather here just outside of Chicago. I think it's going to be a bad summer for severe weather. Time to enabled Tweets from Reed, check batteries for the weather radio and get emergency packs put together.

I also need to get off my lazy butt and get a few battery backup air pumps for the tanks. I can't keep putting that off! So far we've only had 30 to 40 minute power losses with last years bad storms, and I doubt we'll get that lucky this year.
Mamajin, Cupertino is closer to the North, definitely cooler weather. I think Papajin has some explaining to do as to why he didn't include you in his trip to this beautiful state.

mmmm....sushi!

I've often thought about this subject as well. I have White Clouds and I can always tell when their tank water is too warm because their color fades. I went on a weeks vacation last year and when I got back they were so pale and lethargic I thought I was gonna lose them.

Thankfully they recovered and I am very careful to keep the AC on when I am gone for an extended amount of time. I had left the AC on that time also, I just think it was too darn hot that week that even my AC couldnt handle it.
Krysty, it's always too hot during California summers. Two years ago, we had a heat wave for almost two weeks that peaked at around 115F every day and at night, temps only drop to low 80s. My kids would swim in the pool until 11pm sometimes over their summer break. This is what prompted me to install a dual system at my house. I have an evap cooler that we used all summer last year and it worked great except for humid days. That's when we used the A/C.

Good morning,

Since I have a refugium under my 265g tank with a light that gets hot, I do have a clip on fan attached to my tank stand. Works great and my water temperature remains at 80 degrees.

Ken
Thanks Ken! I used a Clip on fan over the top of my tank to do a test this past weekend as we reached high 80s and the fan effectively cooled the aquarium down to 72F when the in house temp was 85F. Once my wife threatens me with bodily harm, I turned the cooler back on and stopped my test.

Great information in all these posts. I completely agree, River --- for $100 I would totally pick it up. Personally I wouldn't pay new retail price for my FW setups, but in TN we typically only get up in the high 90's / low 100's during the peak of summer.
You also have the humidity, UGH.... I think I may consider the purchase utkgreg, just as a back up plan in the case we have an extended power loss on a humid day and I can't run my A/C

EDIT: I would tap into my portable generator to run this.

--

Awesome! I would like to add that if folks have central AC and want to save eneregy, you can put the thermostat at around 80 or so and this will keep your tank in the safe/comfort zone for your fish. Generally FW tanks will be a couple of degrees cooler than ambient temperature, so this should save $$$ and keep your aquariums in shape.
We set our thermostats at 78F and are comfortable. In the summer, before our evap cooler, our A/c would run 24/7. So I would rather pick up a chiller for $100 as it only uses 250w to operate versus running central a/c and having a $400 electric bill. This is cost including solar credits I get through the electric company. If not, my electric bill would be easily $500+ in the summer.
 
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