My Aquarium’s Too Warm!

In some areas of the world, including mine, it isn’t often that the words “isn’t it warm” can be heard. Often it is the pitter-patter of rain, or in the winter the howl of winds and the formation of snow drifts.

There are places in the world where it is always or mostly warm (coral reef areas are an obvious example). In the summer the weather can be warm and very pleasant where I live. Well, no problem with that says I! It can be a problem, though, if you keep a [tag-ice]salt water aquarium[/tag-ice].

A tropical salt water aquarium is designed to run at a given temperature, usually between 75 and 80 deg F. This temperature is maintained by heaters. Here’s the scenario – the summer has come with its increased temperatures, so the heaters are not working anywhere near as hard, sometimes not at all. The equipment on the aquarium hasn’t changed, so there is heat going into the water from pumps and power heads, and in addition the water is being warmed by the lighting. Even fluorescent tubes have this effect, but nowhere near the effect that halides have. In addition, a few aquarists have glass covers on their tanks to reduce evaporation and/or prevent inmates jumping out. So the sum total is seawater that is at a temperature above the design temperature. A little above is not too bad, but the temperature can rise too much. This causes reduced oxygen, and the heat can stress the tolerance of corals and other livestock. So we don’t want that.

Right, we could remove cover glasses, and use fans etc to help control the seawater temperature. Some methods work fairly well.

Consider how often the [tag-tec]aquarium temperature[/tag-tec] is likely to rise above the design temperature. This is fairly easy, the weather patterns (temperatures) are known to you. If the period of likely excessive temperature is considerable, consider purchasing a chiller. Remember that when a chiller is operating, the heaters will not be, so electricity usage shouldn’t be increased by the chiller.

A chiller is a device specifically designed to cool seawater temperature. The devices I am talking about are not modified beer chillers etc, but equipment specifically designed to cool overheating aquarium seawater. The contact areas between the equipment and the seawater are of special materials, so the seawater will not be adversely affected.

An [tag-tec]aquarium chiller[/tag-tec] is not for everyone, as they are expensive and fairly heavy on electricity. So there needs to be a good case, that is, the knowledge that they will be reasonably extensively used, before a purchase is made.

They are easy to obtain and come with clear instructions. Be sure that the chiller has the capacity to deal with the net gallonage in your aquarium. When connecting to your system, be sure to adhere to the seawater flow rate recommended by the manufacturer, so the seawater has time to cool. The usual case is that the heaters are set to the design temperature, and the chiller thermostat is set to 2 or 3 deg F above the design temperature. The seawater heats up, the heaters stop heating, the chiller thermostat detects the heat rise and, well, yes, the chiller starts chilling.

So there we are. Overheating problem solved.