Mark Martin on Chillers versus Fans
Mark Martin is Director of Marine Ornamental Research at Blue Zoo
|The IceCap cooling fan can achieve the same results as a chiller if you only need to pull 5 degrees or less from the water temperature.
“Do I really need a chiller?” I get this question a lot, and so I thought I’d take a moment to address it here. Please do also have a look at the interview we did with Hal Collier, owner of Tradewind Chillers, for more information on chillers from somebody who actually designs and build them.
Is a chiller right for your tank? Before rushing out to buy one, I always encourage people to figure out how much heat they need to pull out of the water. If it is less than five degrees Fahrenheit, then try using a fan directed at the water surface. Make sure the fan is connected to a temperature controller so it is not on all the time. Alternatively, just plug the fan into the same surge protector you are using for the lights, and control the entire surge protector with a timer. This way the fan will only come when your lights come on.
If you decide to go the fan route, pay particular attention to the salinity of your aquarium water. This method basically employs evaporative cooling to affect the temperature change, and it is not unreasonable to expect that you could evaporate 200% more water per day than usual, and this could seriously affect your salinity. The addition of a JBJ ATO (automatic top off) and fresh water reservoir will make keeping up with evaporation easy. The cost of the fan, temperature controller, JBJ ATO and water reservoir will be a quarter of what it costs for a chiller and do roughly the same job, IF you need to only pull out approximately five degrees Fahrenheit.
If you need to pull more than that, than I seriously recommend getting chiller, as it is a relatively small investment when you consider losing all of your livestock during a heat wave.
Have a question for Mark? Please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published 17 June 2008. © Blue Zoo Aquatics