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Thread: Aquarium Chillers

  1. #1
    pthiel's Avatar
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    Howdy, has anyone ever tried using aquarium chillers (sold to keep reef aquariums cool) to drop the temps in a highlander tank?

    Cheers

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    How do they work? Will they provide the plunge needed, or do they justslowly cool it? Also, how do they keep it cold? You can't have too much nightime variation, like you cant wait till it stops beingseventy degrees, then start the cold air, having it reach eighty before it starts to go down again... Is it air, or a stone, or how does it work

  3. #3
    N=R* fs fp ne fl fi fc L Pyro's Avatar
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    Hey Pete,

    Man you are creeping me out!!! I just thought this up the other day and have been asking a couple others about it.

    Here are some links I found:

    http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~cap/raid/chillers/diy/

    http://www.webcom.com/thansen/Glacie...mChillerForum/

    http://www.coolworksinc.com/coolproducts.htm

    http://www.boquetriver.org/adoptopta2.html

    http://saltaquarium.about.com/cs/chillerssetup/

    http://www.atlantisaquatic.com/DIY.html


    The main disabvantage I can see is that commercial ones cost so friggin' much. The home made ones look like they might work.

    Here is a in the works plan I have on how it might be set up. Everyone feel free to offer your suggestions or comments:

    ********************************************

    100' of flexable plastic tubing, max 1/2" diameter. Run this out of the tank, into the fridge, tons of loops in the fridge, run out and back to the tank. Attach one of those table top fountain pumps to the setup and fill it all with water so that there is always around 4" of water in the bottom of the tank (I am thinking a small turn over time would be better, maybe 1 gallon every 5 minutes. The water would be inthe fridge longer so cool more and, conversly, be in the tank longer so absorb more heat.) Have the outbound tube at the bottom of the tank to suck the water out but put the inbound tube up top and have it cut in such a way that the chilled water flows down the back side of the tank. I figure this will help cool the tank a little at least. If more cooling is needed then an airstone can be added, the bubbles will be cooled and thereby cool the air (I have also thought about having the water flow out onto a sponge-like material and having a fan blow through/over that, again the result is cool air.)

    From everything I have read a setup like this can cool a 75 gallon tank full of water to 70 degrees so I figure in a smaller tank (say 20 gallons) it should be possible to drop it to 50 with little trouble.

    *********************************************

    Ram has already mentioned to me that the fountain pump might be too weak so a real aquarium pump might be needed.

    Anyone else?

    Pyro
    'My love was science- specifically biology and, more specifically, when placed in a common jar, which of two organisms would devour the other.'

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  4. #4
    swords's Avatar
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    The water passing through the refrigerator is how they originally started cooling reef tanks-it's where the commercial "friggin expensive" (you ain't kiddin) coolers inventors got their inspiration. It takes a large cooler to do much in changing temperature. If I remember right it takes something like a 1/6th horsepower chiller to drop the temp 10 degrees (a 1/6th HP chiller starts about $600) so if you want a 30+ degree temp drop you will need something like a 1/2 horsepower and you're looking at a good $1000.

    Ram is right, you will need a much more powerful pump if you intend to pump water that far through that much hose. When doing so you must take into account that pumps only put out their rated flow on a flat surface. once you put bends or vertical climbs in their output direction it cuts down the flow considerably. My reef tank pump is rated at 900 gallons per hour but it is placed beneath the tank in a sump and only pushes the water up a 4 ft climb and the flow is actually more like 500-600 gallons per hour. that's almost a loss of 1/3 the pumping power. Aquarium water pumps can also be quite spendy but Home Depot sells less expensive and higher pressure sump pumps and hose which could do the circulating work for you. Perhaps something in the 2500-3500 GPH range to get through 100 feet of tubing. The sump pumps at HD all have a graph on their box showing how far they will pump at certain heights/lengths.

    What I do for my highland tank at night is I use an inexpensive window airconditioner ($120) set on a timer to run from midnight til 8am to pump cold air into the enclsoure through a 4" duct hose ($4) and "collector vent" ($6). A foot before the cold air exits into the enclosure an output hose from an ultrasonic humidifier (Vicks V5100 model $45 at Walmart + $3 of flexiblie hosing) mists the air and causes the enclsoures nightime temps and humidity to read 52*-57* and 75-85% humidity. Total this setup cost me about $175 plus it cools my room in summer. In winter I will use a larger collector over the whole AC output so as not to cool the room-and it may not be needed at all.

    Good luck-I'll be waiting to see what suggestions other people have I love DIY projects!

  5. #5
    Nepenthes Specialist nepenthes gracilis's Avatar
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    This is a great setup, I may try it, I have old powerheads from my gold fish years. and I have plenty of tubing too, SO I may try a small setup right now! This is a great diagram.

    http://ozreef.org/diy/images/chiller_diagram.html

  6. #6
    N=R* fs fp ne fl fi fc L Pyro's Avatar
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    Swords,

    With only 4" of water in the bottom of the aquarium and the total water to fill the tube I am guessing that it will maybe be 10-15 gallons total so there is really no need for a 900 gph turnover. For a full water aquarium I can understand the need but the goal here is a bit different, like I said in my earlier post, the longer the water is in the fridge the cooler it will get and there-by having the potential to act as a higher capacity heat sink.

    As for the fountain pump not being strong enough, I conceded that point but I am still operating on the "low-flow" idea so I still think it might work. Plus, it really only has to pump a total distance of the height of the aquarium because basic physics says that the syphon principle should allow the water to flow down into the frigde without any significant input of energy.

    As for your set up, while it is ingenious and well thought out, in my apartment it is completely impractical due to window positioning and such.

    Pyro
    'My love was science- specifically biology and, more specifically, when placed in a common jar, which of two organisms would devour the other.'

    See You Space Cowboy

    actagggcagtgatatcccattggtacatggcaaattagcctcatgat
    Hagerstown, Maryland

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  7. #7
    swords's Avatar
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    I don't mean to argue but what I mean by needing a high flow pump has nothing to do with the actual amount of water you'll be moving in this type of a setup.
    A small pump will not have the pumping power to push the water from your terrarium, to the fridge, through a bunch of coils and back to the aquarium. I tried a 300 Gallons per hour powerhead to run a "rainmaker" (hose with pinholes in it to cause rain drops to fall) for a vivarium but it could not even push the water more than 12" from the sump below the aquarium and there was no bends in the return hose.
    What I'm getting at is most aquarium pumps are not pressure rated. If you want to try this look for a pump which specifically states it is "presure rated". The best thing to do for this experiment is to buy the biggest heavy duty pump you can afford and a ball valve to place on the output hose to cut down the flow if you should need to. However, with that much travel distance in flexible tubing and coils to run through I think you will need something like a large ampmaster pump. Each 45* angle in tubing knocks off about 10-15% of the pumps power and each 90* angle knocks off 20-25%
    But whatever you do, keep the reciept! And keep us updated!

  8. #8
    N=R* fs fp ne fl fi fc L Pyro's Avatar
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    Josh,

    By all means argue with me. I posted my plan with the intent that it would get picked apart so that all the "mistakes" were made during the theory part, its easier to spend mental energy than money

    I hadn't thought about the back pressure issue but I'm not sure there will be much as I am thinking of punching a dozen holes or so along the final lenght of the hose so that it flows out almost in a sheet.

    I'm sure there will be a lot of bugs to work out but it'll be fun and, if it works, worth it in the end.

    Pyro
    'My love was science- specifically biology and, more specifically, when placed in a common jar, which of two organisms would devour the other.'

    See You Space Cowboy

    actagggcagtgatatcccattggtacatggcaaattagcctcatgat
    Hagerstown, Maryland

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    actagggcagtgatatcccattggtacatggcaaattagcctcatgat

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