What Is An Aquarium Chiller? (Do You Need It?)

Image of an aquarium chiller with a chiller fitted to it

An aquarium chiller is a complex piece of equipment. If you keep cold water fish or the temperature of your aquarium tends to increase, you will need an aquarium chiller. So, what is an aquarium chiller?

An aquarium chiller is a device that removes heat from the aquarium water and reduces its temperature to make it suitable for fish and plants. It works by extracting heat from the aquarium water and transferring it to a colder source. An aquarium chiller is usually linked to the filtration system.

Let’s now understand aquarium chillers in more detail.

Do You Need An Aquarium Chiller?

Aquarium chillers are not essential for most fish tanks. Nearly all saltwater and freshwater fish need aquarium heaters instead of chillers to maintain the optimal temperature. However…

You may need an aquarium chiller in the following circumstances:

  • You keep coldwater fish: Sub-tropical fish varieties need cool temperatures to survive. If you live in a place where the temperature becomes high, your fish may struggle to adjust. In this case, an aquarium chiller will help regulate the temperature of the fish tank. It will help you maintain optimal living conditions for your fish.
  • Your tank tends to overheat: Strong lighting and hot ambient temperatures can cause fish tanks to overheat. Also, if you place your fish tank near a sunny window, the water temperature can rise during the day.
  • You live in a place where summers are intolerably hot: In summer, when temperatures spike, an aquarium tends to heat up. If you live where the summer heat is unbearable, you may need an aquarium chiller. It will regulate the water temperature and keep it cool for the inhabitants of the tank.
  • Your aquarium is overcrowded: In an overcrowded fish tank, the bio-load is higher. When your aquatic pets produce more waste, it will affect the water temperature. Not only will it increase the tank water temperature, but it will also reduce the oxygen level. An aquarium chiller will help you keep the temperature under control and improve the oxygen levels in a busy or crowded aquarium.

Now, an important factor to remember is that aquarium chillers are complex, expensive, and huge devices. They are built for large aquariums that use external filters. So, you will need extra space to accommodate this device.

Aquarium chillers are usually placed in line with the external filter system. This device cools the water coming out of the filter and returns it to the tank.

Recommended Further Reading:

How Does An Aquarium Chiller Work?

The operation of an aquarium chiller is similar to that of a refrigerator. It has a thermostat to measure the water temperature. When the temperature rises above the thermostat level, the chiller kicks into action.

There is a heat exchanger inside the aquarium chiller. When the aquarium water passes through the aquarium chiller, the heat exchanger draws the heat from the water.

It lets this heat out through a vent into the surrounding air. This causes the water temperature to drop. The cool water flows out of the chiller outlet and returns to the tank.

So, the aquarium chiller is an external device. It is usually attached to the filtering system of a fish tank.

Water from the fish tank enters the external filter. From here, the filtered water reaches the aquarium chiller, which is hooked up to the aquarium filter.

So, the water output from the filter flows into the chiller. The chiller cools down the water before returning it to the tank.

Depending on the location of the chiller, you may need a pumping mechanism to return the water to the tank.

Once the chiller is in operation, the cooling process continues until the water temperature stabilizes below the thermostat setting. After the water cools down, the chiller turns off.

Since an aquarium chiller releases heat into the surroundings, you should place it in an area with sufficient airflow.

If you keep it in a cabinet or closed space, there may be insufficient air to carry away the heat. This can compromise the efficiency of the device.

Related Further Reading:

How To Choose The Right Aquarium Chiller Size?

While selecting an aquarium chiller, pay attention to the tank volume. Chillers are usually attached to big fish tanks. They are bulky equipment and need space.

Always choose an aquarium chiller based on its capacity and the volume of your tank. However, also look at the ambient temperature and environmental conditions to pick a suitable model.

If your tank is exposed to heat or sunlight, you may need an advanced model than the one that is just right for your tank size.

Every chiller has a maximum capacity. Additionally, remember that the warmer the water, the harder a chiller has to work to cool it. So, if you choose just the right capacity, it may not work efficiently.

It’s recommended to choose a chiller that is one step higher than what you need. By picking a slightly larger chiller than you exactly need, it will need shorter cycles to cool the water.

Since aquarium chillers run on electric power, you will also need an additional power outlet near the tank for the chiller connection.

The aquarium water must continuously flow at the same rate through the chiller. To maintain this consistent rate, you may need a separate circulation pump to match the water flow to the chiller.

Depending on the setting, you may also need external plumbing and additional pumps to maintain the correct flow rate for the chiller.

How Cold Do Aquarium Chillers Get?

Aquarium chillers have a thermostat for users to set and view the temperature function. You can use this feature to set your aquarium water temperature at a pre-determined level.

When it is in operation, an aquarium chiller cools the tank water by at least 10°F. Most chillers have an operating temperature range of 39°F to 90°F.

Some manufacturers will only mention how many gallons their chiller will cool. The result will depend on the capacity of the chiller and the starting water temperature in your tank.

To determine whether an aquarium chiller will be suitable for your tank setting, consider the highest water temperature of your tank, desired water temperature, and the effect of the aquarium pumps and powerheads on the tank water.

Interesting Further Reading:

2 Best Aquarium Chillers

The right aquarium chiller for a fish tank will depend on the capacity of the tank and the temperature you wish to achieve.

Nevertheless, here are some of the best options available in the market that work for most settings.

1. JBJ Artica Chiller

JBJ Artica aquarium chillers are very popular because of their high energy efficiency, quiet operation, and reliability.

These high-quality units have an efficient and long-lasting titanium coil design. They are easy to install and run smoothly.

The JBJ Artica chiller needs minimum maintenance, and it operates smoothly for several years.

Click here to check out JBJ Artica Chiller on Amazon.

2. Active Aqua Chiller

If you prefer a budget-friendly aquarium chiller, Active Aqua chillers are the ideal choice. These chillers come with control units and LCD displays.

They are suitable for marine fish tanks because they are equipped with anti-corrosive titanium evaporators. They are also suitable hydroponic systems.

Active Aqua chiller has a variety of models available with a capacity ranging from 1HP to 10 HP. So, you can easily find one that suits your fish tank setting and budget.

Click here to check out Active Aqua Chiller on Amazon.

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