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Thread: Opinions on Aquarium Chiller

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    Swagalotus's Avatar
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    Opinions on Aquarium Chiller

    I am thinking of buying an aquarium chiller to create a highland grow area. My plan is to have a 20 gall terrarium with the aquarium chiller cooling the water at the bottom of the tank, and a few fans to blow the cold air around. Any thoughts/ opinions?

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    Hamata-Honzo's Avatar
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    I think for it to work (at all) the tank would have to be very well insulated, and even then I don't think it will provide you with temperatures you are looking for, which I assume are in the low 60s and high 50s. Considering the high prices of a chiller, I think you are better suited cooling the tank through a thermoelectric means, or possibly recirculating coolant from a small freezer through a hydroponic radiator with a fan blowing across that. Don't let it scare you, it sounds rather simple (I haven't tried either, but people have done both). There are several links online of projects guiding through step by step instructions. In addition, the radiator idea is clean looking and cheaper than a chiller. Thermoelectric air conditioners are rather expensive on the other hand. However, for all options on the table to work at all, you will need to well insulate the tank. Therefore it would be best if you custom built the tank, in my experience.

    This is not to say a chiller would be completely ineffective. It depends on the ambient temps. However, I frankly don't think you will have much luck with it.
    "Be quiet! The plants will hear y... noooooo!" 'chomp - burp!'

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    Gigantea's Avatar
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    All you need in that sort of rig, is a way for the fans to rest near the top and push the warmer out of the tank, rather than recirculating the air around the tank. It'll come down to differential density: warmer air is less dense, therefore, it will rest on top of the cooler air. So all you'd have to do is push it out.

    Alternatively, a chiller will work fine: Evaporative Cooling.

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    Swagalotus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gigantea View Post
    All you need in that sort of rig, is a way for the fans to rest near the top and push the warmer out of the tank, rather than recirculating the air around the tank. It'll come down to differential density: warmer air is less dense, therefore, it will rest on top of the cooler air. So all you'd have to do is push it out.

    Alternatively, a chiller will work fine: Evaporative Cooling.
    Thanks for the advice. The chiller you linked wouldn't really work because a) humidity in my house is usually pretty high and b) I need to drop temps ideally around 50-60.

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    Gigantea's Avatar
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    Ah I see. I missed the highland part. I haven't done that in a while so I forgot about the night thing... The humidity isn't a big issue because of the design of that cooler but that temp range is a bit harsh if you are wanting a HL rig. It's still possible though, just more trouble. Could use you aquarium chiller to further cooler the air cooler. What chiller did you find btw? I have always wanted to play with one but they are all very expensive (to me, over $100 is expensive).

    If I were you, and had access to thermoelectric fans... here's what I might try, just for fun if nothing else. Do what you were going to do with the water on the bottom of the tank with the aquarium cooler probe keeping the water a bit below the air temp you are seeking. Use the TE fans at the top to displace the warmer air near the lighting/lid out. Many tanks already have holes near the back you could utilize for this. I managed to hack 26W (100W equivalent) CFLs into my stock tank lids with just a few mods. Idk how cool those chiller probes get, but this by theory may be able to work. Whether you need an antifreeze agent or I have no idea. I don't think those chillers get that cold though.
    Last edited by Gigantea; 04-03-2016 at 08:08 AM.

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    An orchid fancier with a CP problem chibae's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swagalotus View Post
    I am thinking of buying an aquarium chiller to create a highland grow area. My plan is to have a 20 gall terrarium with the aquarium chiller cooling the water at the bottom of the tank, and a few fans to blow the cold air around. Any thoughts/ opinions?
    Okay, first observation. 20 gallons is actually a very small space unless you are only growing seedlings. A 20 gallon long might have more floor space but many varieties of neps will grow too tall for it quickly. An in tank chiller will take up needed floor space and a plunge type chiller will require careful attention to the water reservoir you have beneath the plants.

    Second observation. As stated already, you will need to have the fans pulling the warm air out, this will mean, most likely, a custom top, I haven't googled beyond a few minutes but could find no such aquarium cover ready made.

    If you go ahead with the project I would suggest wrapping at least three sides of the tank with a insulating blanket that has a reflective side. With the reflective side faced inwards it will help boost light levels.

    But my first suggestion, provided you haven't bought anything yet, is to start your project with a larger tank.
    It's a tough life being a Sarracenia farmer
    My Grow List http://www.terraforums.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=123776

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    Swagalotus's Avatar
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    I haven't bought anything yet. I was searching up the parts I planned to buy and I found out that aquarium chillers cost around $300 when I thought they cost around $70, which means that this is not longer an option. Anyone have any ideas on how I can cool a small tank? Keep in mind I am a 15 year old living in an apartment, so the money I can spend and the space I can take up is limited.

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    Hamata-Honzo's Avatar
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    You might also consider a 'liquid chiller' that is able to cool temperatures near the freezing point of water, and therefore use liquids with a lower freezing point such as a common coolant. Peltier units are able to do this. This would allow for more efficient heat exchange when it is circulated to a radiator with fans.

    Just something to consider, I believe they cost about the same as a aquarium chiller. I would consider circulating water to a reservoir 'sump' and back to a radiator with fans, regardless if a coolant or aquarium chiller is used. You will run into problems with stagnant water during the day, and you won't need a bunch of bulky fans inside the growing space.

    a link to liquid chillers. will require wiring, but isn't complicated. They have great customer service and will talk you through all of it. Costs a bit less than an aquarium chiller.
    Liquid Coolers - TE Tech Products

    here's a video of someone using the radiator-aquarium chiller method. I redact my earlier statement of the affectivity of the aquarium chillers, as clearly this guy was able to do it.
    New Highland Terrarium Cooling System - YouTube

    here's a link of someone's setup using coolant with a lower freezing point than water. You won't need to use the freezer, however, if you use a liquid chiller that is capable of achieving temperatures near 0 degrees celcius.
    Introduction & Highland Grow Chamber

    As always, this will only work with a well-insulated tank if you plan on sustaining a cooler atmospheric temperature throughout the tank, and not just chilling plants directly in front of the fans.
    Last edited by Hamata-Honzo; 04-03-2016 at 04:13 PM.
    "Be quiet! The plants will hear y... noooooo!" 'chomp - burp!'

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