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What is an Aquarium Chiller and Why You Need One?

The deeper I get into this aquarium hole the more I obviously learn and want to experiment with different tanks. I was thinking lately of setting up an aquarium in my garage but quickly came to the realization that the temperature is so hot in there in the summer that I would have to figure something out to keep the water at a consistent cooler temperature so the fish don’t die.

I knew that chillers were used for larger aquariums but didn’t know they were used for regular sized home tanks until recently. So my question of how do I cool down my fish tank in my garage is answered quite easily. Buy a tank chiller.

What is a Fish Tank Chiller?

  • An aquarium chiller is a piece of aquarium equipment that cools aquarium water as it re-enters the tank.
  • Typically it is an external component that hooks up nicely with an external filtration system.
  • The best tank chillers come with a thermostat so the device can turn on and off as required to ensure the water temperature stays where you want it.
  • Tank chillers help you keep the aquarium water cooler as required.

If you want to cut to the chase I recommend you go check out this aquarium chiller.

How Do Aquarium Chillers Work?

The high level functionality of a tank chiller goes like this.

The water from the aquarium is drawn into the heat exchange of the chiller first where the water makes contact with the cool metal coils that are filled with refrigerant liquid.

The refrigerant is warmed which creates pressure and circulates the refrigerant through the chiller.

It flows through the compressor and the condenser because of the built up pressure. A fan also blows air on the condenser which then cools the refrigerant.

As the refrigerant gets heated up it turns from liquid to a gas and when it is cooled again it turns back into a liquid. This cycle is continuous.

There will be an expansion valve at the end of this that helps to reduce the pressure in the chiller.

Your tank chiller should have a controller for the temperature and depending on what temp you set it at will turn the unit on and off as required. If your system does not have a temperature controller you will have to purchase one separately.

Reasons Why You Might Need a Chiller for Your Aquarium?

  • Tanks in garage’s. If you get the bright idea like me and decide you need a tank in your garage then you might also need a tank chiller. Depending on where you live most garages will get quite hot in the summer time. On the flip side I guess you could live in an area where the winters are brutally cold and will also need a better heating system as well.
  • Fish from ponds. If you have a pond and bring your fish into the house over the winter then you might need a tank chiller. If the fish are true cold water fish then you probably do need one.
  • Live in a hot climate. If you are lucky enough to live in a climate that is generally hot most of the year then you most likely need a tank chiller unless you have an air conditioner in your garage.
  • Cold water fish – of course the most important reason to consider purchasing a tank chiller would be because you decided to have cold water fish as pets. Some common aquarium fish you might consider are the Goldfish, White Cloud Mountain Minnow, of course Koi but I would only recommend Koi if you can have a 100 gallon or larger aquarium, Bloodfin Tetra’s are a good choice for a cold water fish as well the Zebra Danios and weather loaches. Of course this list is not all inclusive. I just wanted to give you an idea of what cold water fish you might want to consider.
  • koi are cold water fish

How Can you Cool Your Aquarium Without Using a Chiller?

If you don’t need to reduce the temperature too much maybe some of these alternative ideas will help.

  • Turn lights off – some lights especially older types of bulbs that are not LED will cause heat.
  • Turn fan on to aquarium – hook up an external fan that can blow onto the exterior of the aquarium.
  • Move tank into position where there is no sunlight – make sure your aquarium is not in direct sunlight as this will obviously create heat.
  • Move tank away from blowing furnace – if you have a furnace or boiler that generates heat make sure your tank is not too close to these sources.
  • Connect canister filter extending tubes so the water will cool off by the time it goes back into the aquarium – if you use an external filter you can add extra tubing to lengthen the distance the water has to travel in and out of the tank which could possibly help to reduce the temperature slightly.

What is a Good Chiller for a Modest Size Aquarium?

I didn’t start writing this article with the intention of adding an option for you to choose but I did come across this model that I really like so I wanted to share it with you. From the research I have done so far the Coralife 1/10 HP appears to be a great option. Depending on your budget it might be the right fit for you or maybe not. I feel it’s worth the money to make sure you get a reliable chiller that will last a long time. This Coralife model is easy to install and has an easy access for the air filter which is a bonus.

Another feature that sold me on it is the integrated power outlet. This means you can plug your heater into it which in turn means your chiller is now going to maintain the temperature you set for the aquarium whether it is the heater or the chiller that needs to be working.

It is reported that the unit is very quiet as well.

A heads up though is you will need a pump and tubing for this unit. Seems silly that you spend all that money and don’t get tubing but it is what it is.

I really hope this information has helped you decide on whether you need a chiller or not and possibly I have even helped you find a great option for a chiller from Amazon. 

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