HOW TO KEEP YOUR SALTWATER AQUARIUM FROM OVERHEATING
- If you have an air conditioner, make sure you are running it. This will go a long way in keeping the ambient temperature around the tank steady and cool. If you do not have central air, you may want to think about investing in a window unit for the room the tank is housed in.
- Make sure that no direct sunlight from windows is shining in on the tank. Even closing the blinds so afternoon sun will not heat up the room the tank is in will help cool the room by a few degrees. Avoiding direct sunlight will also reduce the risk of algae overgrowth in your tank.
- If it is possible for your specific animals, consider reducing the amount of time your lights are on during the day. This is particularly true if you are using metal halide lights, as these get tremendously hot while turned on. This method will not help with temperature fluctuations, but it will help if your water is getting too hot.
- Fans are helpful at reducing temperature when placed inside your tank hood. You can choose to purchase fans commercially or fit your tank with fans liberated from an old computer. Alternatively, you can remove a portion of your tank hood and aim a fan onto the surface of your water. Be sure to cover your tank with a net to keep acrobatic fish from jumping out and be aware that your water will evaporate more quickly.
- If you house your pumps in an enclosed stand under your tank, it will also raise the temperature of your water through the bottom of the tank. Fix this by opening up the stand door and placing a fan so it circulates the air underneath the tank.
- The most sure way of cooling a tank and the best way to prevent fluctuations (unfortunately, also the most expensive) is to purchase a chiller. These machines work to cool the water itself and are the best at keeping the water temperature constant. Chillers are available in two forms: drop-in and in-line. Drop-in chillers have coils that cool the water in a tank’s sump pump. In-line chillers depend on water getting pumped into the chiller, cooled, then sent back to the tank or sump. In-line chillers can be set up away from the tank (helpful if you have limited space by your tank) and connected by tubes to your tank. Chillers cost anywhere from $170 - $2000, depending on the size you need. A temperature controller is necessary to control the chiller. These cost between $50 and $200 and are available in both single and dual-stage models. A single-stage model will only work your chiller, but a dual-stage controller will work for both your heater and chiller. For the handy fish keeper, it is also possible to build your own chiller. Directions and diagrams are available on various websites.
Owning a saltwater aquarium is both a joy and a challenge. There is nothing quite as satisfying as having a miniature oceanic environment thriving right in your home, but it does take some work to keep it healthy. Keeping your water at a constant temperature is the best thing for your aquarium life – if the temperature fluctuates too much, it could cause your tank inhabitants to become stressed. By checking your temperature often and implementing the above techniques, you can ensure that your tank does not suffer from temperature-related stress or fatalities.
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