Summer of 69 could be the best days of Bryan Adam’s life but not in general for people like us. Summer, typically, is a hard time to pass if you live in hot areas like the South in the United States or South-Asian countries like India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. And if you think of those fish, aquatic plant and coral living in high-temperature water the whole day, you will realize that summer is actually a nightmare with a poker face. An aquarium in a hot climate may require an aquarium chiller in order to keep stable temperatures.
Keep this in mind that aquariums shouldn’t get hotter than 83°F in any situation. At 83°F or higher water temperature, the oxygen level in aquarium water starts to diminish and this leads to a stressful-competitive situation for the fish and other inhabitants to get oxygen. Be fearful, this may lead to the death of your aquarium residents. For the optimum health of your fish and other aquarium species, it is advised to keep them in an acceptable range of water temperature. For example, tropical fish and saltwater aquarium fish have an acceptable range of 72° to 80° F (optimal is 78° F), Fancy Tail Goldfish has an acceptable range of 65° to 72° F and Common Goldfish has an acceptable range of 65º to 68º F.
Now if you stay outside from home the whole day, which of course you do because of office, class or for simple groceries, DON’T keep your aquariums in a place that has direct contact with the sun. This will lead to an increase in growth of algae that would be difficult to clean. So you can figure it out by now that keeping the aquarium water temperature optimum is vital. Here are some of the best, cheapest and quickest methods that will help you reduce the tank’s water temperature in summer.
How to Protect Your Aquarium Against Summer Temperatures
Straight as it sounds! The cooler the temperature outside, the lesser the water temperature will increase inside the aquarium. The temperature will be within the safe range for your fish. Plus, your friends and family will thank you too for the air cooler/conditioner.
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Beat The Heat On A Budget (Mobile ACs for Aquariums)!
Before I get into the Best Aquarium Chillers, there is a bit of secret many of these chiller manufacturers do not want you to know. There are actually reasonably priced mobile ACs that can be purchased online that will keep the area you keep your aquarium cool! Here are a few suggestions. This choice is a good consideration if you add an aquarium in a den, garage, or addition:
- Black & Decker Portable AC – This portable AC unit can handle up to 15 x 20 and valued priced
- Global Air Portable AC – This mobile AC will handle up to 450 square feet and is another value priced model.
- Honeywell Mobile AC – Honeywell is a major trusted name brand. Handles up to 400 sq ft looks aesthetically pleasing.
Mobile ACs require an outside vent so your only limitation is having a vent to the outside of your home or a window when you can insert the window outlet to it. They are very easy to install and the window outlets are made to universally fit on just about any window. Having the area in your home where your aquarium sits in cool is the most vital aspect of keeping temperatures safe. These mobile solution will not only work in new additions of your home, but also will protect you in the event of a AC failure.
An even cheaper alternative is a Window AC unit. While these units are cheap and will get the job done, they are a lot longer than the portable AC units I have showed above. I feel that the Portable AC units are better values and since they are portable, you can move them around the house for other rooms if need.
Invest in an Aquarium Chiller
Now if you want to have a substitute of an air cooler or if you think your existing air conditioner isn’t doing much in terms of keeping the temperature in check for fish, you can purchase an aquarium chiller. Chillers have a variety of shapes, sizes and styles. So to buy the perfect chiller, you need to know the dimension and size of your aquarium and the temperature degree that has to be brought down to keep it at an optimum level. Once you are done buying just fix it in the sump or plumb it in-line of your tank. Voila! This is a sure effective method for beating that scorching heat of summer, plus you can also place it with your heater to control the temperature changes of your room. Let’s talk about the best aquarium chillers out there to purchase.
Best Aquarium Chiller For The Money
Now to know which aquarium chiller is the best or which suits your needs the most is a big question, which I am here to answer. When you are buying look at the chiller’s packaging for the horsepower rating; this rating is useful to determine the number of watts the chiller is going to use. British Thermal Units (BTU) is another rating which you should check before purchasing your ultimate aquarium chiller. Below are some recommended picks I’ll go over.
1. Active Aqua Chiller – Simpler To Use Aquarium Chiller
The Active Aqua Chiller is a Freon-free aquarium chiller that is typically used in hydroponic systems. Because it is Freon-free, this makes the Active Aqua unit environmentally safe and easier to maintain. It has it’s own control unit with LCD displays. It has an anti-corrosive titanium evaporator – which is a huge deal for saltwater aquarium users. The Active Aqua 1/10 model pictured here is rated 1,020 BTU and will suit a 50 gallon tank.
Active Aqua gives you a number of choices though, going all the way up to 1 horsepower units that will suit large tanks. Its price point puts it in the middle of the pack of this list.
- Freon-free unit
- Titanium make up – anti-corrosive
- Lots of models available
- While mid-priced, it’s still expensive
2. Coralife Chillers – Easily Available and Long-Standing Chiller
The Coralife Aquarium Chillers are a mainstay in the aquarium industry. It is probably the most commonly available aquarium chiller on the market, which means finding parts, service, and replacement are much easier than other units on this list.
Coralife chillers are designed for aquariums, specially for saltwater aquariums. They are known for being long-lasting units. It comes with a removable air filter that is easy to pull to maintain. This filter is there to keep the chiller operating for a longer life, so you money will be well invested with this unit.
Aside from their price, the only complaint I have with these units is that it comes with a barb connector. As a chiller that is designed for saltwater aquariums, a PVC connector via a slip fitting or bulkhead would have been more desirable especially knowing that many reef tanks get hard plumbed.
- Quality built unit made for reef tanks
- Readily available and easy to find parts and service
- Barb instead of bulkhead fitting
3. Greensen Active Aquarium Chiller – Chillers for Nano Tanks
The Greensen Active Aquarium Chiller is aquarium chiller for nano tanks. It is one of the cheaper aquarium chillers on this units, yet still well suited for aquarium usage. It is built simple with standard controls and a plastic probe that is suitable for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. Keeping a nano tank or a small planted or shrimp tank is a challenge when it comes to keeping temperatures stable and this unit can answer the call to protect your aquatic pets.
There are a few things to note here with this unit. Aside from being on the small side, the connections are held together with copper. I would suggest replacing these with plastic clamps as copper fittings and clamps can cause contaminants to leech into your aquarium. Best to play it safe.
- On the cheaper side
- Small and easy to use
- Bad instructions
- Only for small tanks
- Copper fittings
4. Iceprobe Thermoelectric Chiller – Compact Chilling Solution
The IceProbe Thermoelectric Chiller is a unit piece of equipment that can cool an aquarium yet still have a small footprint. This is accomplished by using a thermoelectric probe that is inside the water line and an external fan and controlled unit.
What you get is a chiller that can take a very small footprint in the aquarium. Multiple units can be purchased to handle larger tanks. Purchasing 3 for a larger tank will equal to the purchase price of one of the middle-end units on this list so the price isn’t that bad when you think about it.
The biggest downfall with this unit is that is requires a drilled aquarium. You need to have a hole to fit the probe or you stick it on top of your aquarium, which leaves an ugly looking piece of equipment visible. Others have had success placing the unit on top of a Power Filter for those with hang on back filters.
I like to hide as much equipment as possible so I feel this unit is best in an Aquarium Sump or drilled to the back of an aquarium. If you want to learn more about drilling aquariums, check out my Best Aquarium Overflow Box Reviews post.
- Reasonably price for what it can do
- Requires no pump
- Large aquariums require multiple units
5. JBJ Artica – The Name Brand In Aquarium Chillers
When it comes to JBJ, most people recognize them for their aquarium chillers. The JBJ Arctica Chillers come in a variety of sizes and use a titanium coil design, which makes them ideal for all aquariums. They are also known for being quiet to operate – a big consideration if you are planning to install one of these in a living room. These are energy efficient and quality units that will last a very long time.
They do come with a premium price tag though. They are one of the more expensive aquarium chiller solutions on the market, but their reputation is well known in the industry for being reliable and effective.
- Well-known reliable chillers
- Titanium make up
- Energy Efficient
6. Teco Tank Aquarium Chiller – The Ultimate In Temperature Regulation
The Teco Tank Aquarium Chiller is bar none the best aquarium chiller available on the market for a hobbyist. It supplies the ultimate in aquarium temperature regulation. It no only provides aquarium chilling, but also very high quality aquarium heating. While it’s marketed as a aquarium chiller, it really is a complete temperature regulation solution.
You probably know from reading my Best Aquarium Heaters post that aquarium heaters are one of the more fail probe pieces of equipment. The Teco Tank aquarium chiller provides a heating and cooling solution for consumers and professional tanks. See the video below by Dutch Reefer to see the Teco Tank chiller in action.
The unit starts off with high-end compressors and titanium coaxial heaters to provide complete temperature regulation. It comes complete with a temperature controller that is accurate up to 1 degree Fahrenheit and contains audible alarms if the temperatures get too low or too cold. They add this all in with a compact design and Italian made engineering and you have a top of the line unit. This is also the only unit on the list has has a warranty over a year.
So what’s the catch? It’s easily the price tag. They are the most expensive units on this list by a mile, but for someone running a high end planted tank or reef tank it may be worth the price.
- Heating and Cooling all in one unit
- Italian made engineering
- Professional/Commercial level equipment
- Very expensive
Other Aquarium Chiller Tips
There is more to keeping an aquarium cool than just having a chiller and or an AC. Here are some other pointers.
A good filtration system
Aeration enables the tank surface water not to be exposed to the higher temperature outside for long. Plus, the filtration system will filter the water as well (the double benefit you know).
Circulation of water
Good water circulation is a must to keep the water cool. Heat energy evaporates from the surface of the water. In addition to that, gases do an exchange at the surface of the water; where Carbon Dioxide leaves the water surface and Oxygen takes place instead. Without this circulation, the water’s dissolved oxygen levels can turn out critically low at higher tank temperatures.
But the question is what is considered to be “a good water circulation”? Water circulation may vary because of the dimension of the tank, the inhabitants it holds and the way it is decorated. Now speaking generally, tanks which have fish only must have water flow that turns the water over 10-40 times per hour (tph). If your tanks hold soft corals then the water turns over should be 10-30 tph. If you have all the soft, hard and large polyp stony corals then make sure the tank’s water turns over about 30-50 tph. Aquarium with small polyp stony coral should have water turn over 40-80 tph at least.
Well, these are rules of thumb that can vary from tank to tank. But following this would make sure that the aquarium tank runs naturally cooler in summer.
Use LED Lighting
LED lighting versus T5s or Metal Halides have a big advantage over heat production. LEDs are the produce the least lighting and are ideal for aquariums house in hot climates. Check our our Best Reef LED Reviews for recommended selections.
Cheap Aquarium Chiller Solutions – How Not To Break Your Bank
Now let’s talk about some quick solutions which do not break your bank:
Frozen water bottles
Freeze water in a clean bottle that has never been in contact with soap or other detergents. This is the easiest solution because when the temperature is high just place the frozen bottle in the tank, once the temperature drops, bring it out as per your convenience. My suggestion here is not to throw ice cubes direct into the aquarium (no matter how easy and time-saving it may seem). Adding direct ice cubes may introduce chlorine and/or chloramine in your tank water (which you do not want unless you’re using un-chlorinated water for ice cubes). Plus avoid using ice packs too which has a tendency to leak.
Keep a constant sharp eye when the temperature starts to fall- there are no sure ways to tell when the temperature would drop or how long does it take for the water bottle to bring the temperature at an optimum level. So, yes- it is compulsory to keep the aquarium water cool; but no- you can’t rush in doing it.
Increase evaporation and air circulation with a fan
Evaporation, as the water transforms into the gas, cools the tank water. This happens when a form of energy such as heat transferred from pumps, lighting and the room’s air temperature adds to the water. For this to happen, the surface of the water must be in contact with the open air. In other words, the aquarium cannot be hooded.
Now to increase the evaporation and air flow process, keep a small fan in such a way that it blows air across the surface of the water. Now the question is how many fans do you need to make this air flow and evaporation process! Well, it solely depends on the size and dimension of your aquarium-tank. But only having a single fan would do the trick and you can see a huge difference in terms of keeping your aquarium cool.
Placement of aquarium
Too much of a good thing may actually harm more than you think. Sunlight is important for living objects to get nutrients, for growth and development but the constant contact of sun rays to your aquatic friends may do more harm than good. Position your aquarium tank in such a way that it is not in direct contact with the sunlight. Plus, during summer sun travels higher in the sky- thus constantly changing angles of sun rays. So you may have to re-position your aquarium more often. If you don’t want to go through all these hassles, install blinds in your tank room to block out the sunlight as temperature rises. Reducing this light, in turn, will also reduce the amount of heat energy passing through the tank water. Also, refrain from adding any artificial lighting to your fish-tank. Remember, it may look all those shimmery when you add blinking lights to your aquarium, but in the long turn it is harming the health of your fish and corals- the actual beauty of your “live-box”.
Ditch the Aquarium Canopy/Top – Let the Air Flow!
A common trend now in the aquarium industry are open tops. They have the advantage of additional gas exchange and keep your aquarium cooler by have the water open in the room. You exchange this additional cooling with added evaporation and you will want to put down a mesh cover in order to keep your fish from jumping while keep the tank open. If you happen to run an air pump, one other downside to consider is that air pumps will blow water out causing additional water spots or salt creep if you run a saltwater tank.
Be a “miser” when adding that extra fish
Now, as you are passing by the aquarium shop you may see some of the world’s best colorful fish swimming from one corner to the other of a fancy aquarium and it may happen that it is the last day of the month and you have just got a text from your bank that your account has been debited with the current month’s salary- sounds like a God sent notification to buy an extra fish for your aquarium? NO! Adding that extra little life to your already low oxygen level aquarium will result in a stressful situation for all the poor inhabitants of your tank. So always check your aquarium water temperature before you purchase an extra life for it.
Though differently sized aquarium requires different methods to keep the temperature in check; these are few of the tactics that go well with almost every aquarium that you may have. Adapt these techniques in summer to maintain a better environment in your aquarium, your fish-friends will thank you!
Closing Thoughts On Best Aquarium Chiller Reviews
I have provided a number of options for you to keep your aquarium cool. From fans, placement of the aquarium, to mobile ACs to aquarium chillers themselves there are many options available for you. Look at what your budget can afford and take it from there. I hope this post was useful to you. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. Thanks for reading.