Beat The Heat

Discussion in 'General Discussions and Advice' started by Fraser W, 15 Nov 2013.

  1. Fraser W

    Fraser W Swazi Reefer

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    Hi all i came across this article in a Magazine(free download) and as we are hitting max temperatures. Here in Swaziland it was recorded @ 43 in some parts of the country we all try different things to keep our tanks at stable temps. Sorry its so long but some really nice points on how to keep the tanks cool Yesterday i came home from work to find my tank @ 28.9 Degrees today was hotter than yesterday and i left my lights off since the morning and found my tank sitting on 26.3 so the lights had a very big impact on the water temp..

    Every year when the weather starts to heat up, the online forums fill with posts about how to cool a tank and where to buy fans, chillers or portable AC units. Sadly, once a reef hits 90+ degrees, it’s too late to be looking for a cooling solution. Not only are the animals already suffering or dying, but trying to find a solution during a heat wave can be next to impossible.

    I generally try to keep the temperature of my reef in a sweet spot between 76 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Some people run their reefs as cold as 74 degrees, and some as hot as 82, but almost everyone agrees that one of the keys to having a healthy tank is keeping the temperature relatively stable. One way to ensure this is to find the temperature your tank naturally rises to with all your equipment running, and set your heater to that temperature. If you are lucky, this temperature will be in the range that you find acceptable, but if it isn’t, you’ll have to look at some options to cool down the tank year round. No matter where you live, you are probably going to need some tank cooling strategy due to seasonal weather changes.

    Keeping your reef from over heating can be difficult given daily temperature swings and seasonal changes. Sudden hot snaps can strike out of the blue, raising your tank’s temperature without warning. Prolonged high temperatures can turn your tank into a cloudy soup. Even the life support you use to keep your reef thriving; return pumps, power heads, and lights, produce heat that can raise your water temperature. This article will try to help you head off excess heat problems by looking at the effects of heat on your reef animals, sources of heat in a reef aquarium, and what you can do to beat the heat in your system.

    At higher water temperatures, corals can bleach, while at the cellular level, proteins can denature, essentially cooking the coral. However, it is not necessarily the temperature change that stresses or kills your animals. Often, it’s the lower amount of dissolved oxygen in the water. Hot water carries less oxygen than cold water so when the tank overheats, your fish and corals have trouble getting enough oxygen. The problem can be exacerbated by low flow in the aquarium, as good flow is required for coral respiration. Less oxygen in the water and less access to that oxygen due to low flow is a bad recipe for reef health.

    Like everything in this hobby, preplanning is key. When it isn’t hot outside, you have plenty of time to research potential solutions. That’s the time to find the right piece of equipment, often on sale out of season, like fans, chillers or window/portable AC units. You get to choose the solution you want instead of being forced to buy what is available (and perhaps having to spend more money buying the right solution later). Also make sure it’s installed to the best advantage instead of rushing into a temporary fix because your animals are suffering.
    Having strong aeration and flow in an overheated tank can mitigate the dangers to your reef, so initial system design, including a quality protein skimmer to aid in aeration and removal of dissolved organics, can play an important role.

    Since gas exchange occurs mostly when the surface of the water is broken, the more you can “churn” the surface of the water, the more dissolved oxygen you can get into your reef. A power head or return line pointed at the surface of the water, instead of the bottom of the tank, can help add a lot of oxygen to the water.
    Water flowing into an overflow and down a standpipe to the sump is great for gas exchange, but the way the water enters the sump can also increase dissolved oxygen levels. While we all like quiet sumps, an overflow that splashes, or flows along the sidewall of the sump above the water line allows for great “churning”, gas exchange and evaporative cooling.

    Adding water motion is an excellent to way raise dissolved oxygen levels during a heat wave. Keep an extra pump, powerhead, or air pump, some airline and an airstone on hand, and set them up when it gets hot outside.

    Turn off your lights on days it’s going to be hot. Your corals and fish will be fine without the tank lights for 2 days or more. If it’s going to be hot for a while, you can change your photoperiod to late at night or early in the morning when ambient temperatures are cooler. You can even set an electronic temperature controller to turn off your lights if the water temperature gets too hot.

    Evaporation will help cool your tank, sometimes by a significant amount. You can boost evaporative cooling by adding fans to blow across the surface of your tank water, either on the sump or the main tank. The fan can also be automated with an electronic temperature controller, turning it into a year round solution rather than just a seasonal solution.

    When it’s hot, your reef can evaporate a surprisingly large amount of water in a very short time, and your salinity can rise to dangerous levels in a matter of days or less. Therefore, a plan for dealing with increased evaporation is a must.
    Keep a few buckets (or more) of fresh top off water, either reverse osmosis/deionized water or treated tap water on hand. At the very least, know which LFS in your area has RODI water for sale, and hope you don’t need it when the store is closed or sold out! You can manually add the top off water as needed, or you can use any number of methods to automate your top off with float switches or dosing pumps connected to reservoirs of RODI water. I recommend investing in some sort of auto top off because it can be very difficult to manually keep up with evaporation rates. With an auto top off, you don’t have to check on the tank all the time so you can go out and enjoy the hot weather.

    Some advocate the use of several 2 liter bottles of water kept in the freezer and rotated into the sump as needed. In my experience, this is not only labor intensive (you have to actually be near the tank all day to know when to change out bottles), but it doesn’t work very well except on small systems.

    Cooling the air of the room the reef is in with air conditioning can also control runaway temperatures. This solution has the added benefit of keeping the reef keeper cool as well as the reef. Many people use window AC units that the user needs to install (screw into place) to work safely and properly. There are also portable (rolling) AC units that exhaust through a window through an easily installed exhaust port included with the unit. Both units work well, but the portable unit has the added benefit of being able to be moved into your overheated bedroom at night.

    Though they can be expensive, electric aquarium chillers are a great way to directly control overheating. A chiller is like a tank heater in reverse; when the tank gets too hot, it turns on. A drop-in chiller has a cooling coil you drop into your sump, while a flow through chiller needs water pumped through it to function. The more powerful the chiller, the more it can “pull down” the tank’s temperature and the faster it will cool the water. For sizing and flow requirements, please see individual manufacturer’s recommendations.

    If you are running a chiller, make sure that the chiller and your system’s heater are set so they don’t waste electricity fighting each other. It makes little sense to let the heater heat the water the chiller is cooling and let the chiller cool the water the heater is heating. Another way to deal with this potential issue is to get a dual stage controller, which will control both devices and not allow them to work against each other.

    Because a chiller can eat up a lot of electricity, some people have a multi-stage temperature controller running a fan on the sump that is set to turn on a few degrees lower than the chiller. This way, the fan and evaporative cooling does the lion’s share of the work, while the chiller is there for the really hot days.

    If your tank gets too hot, and you start to lose animals, you are going to want to do water changes before your water quality degrades and you lose more animals. Make sure you have enough salt mix and RODI water on hand to be able to do a 50% water change if needed. I actually have a 150 gallon reservoir that I keep filled with saltwater that is ready to go, so if there is a problem, I can act immediately. (Editor’s note – “clean” (newly mixed) salt
    water is lower in dissolved organics and therefore can carry a higher dissolved oxygen level) The summer heat is on its way, so whichever solutions you
    choose, now is the time to get them in place! Take a look at your system, maximize fl ow and aeration, and do what’s required to help your tank beat the heat.
     
    Last edited: 15 Nov 2013
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  3. seank

    seank

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    I do this and my tank is running at 26 degrees average. Unfortunately the aircon is only running behind the tank, so no cooling down for me
     
  4. Fraser W

    Fraser W Thread Starter Swazi Reefer

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    but I sure because of the ambient air temperature being alot cooler than outside it has some sort of cooling affect on the tank if you switch the aircon off its a guarantee that your tank temp will rise
     
  5. seank

    seank

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    Aircon comes on at 6 in the morning and switches off at 19h00. Still cheaper than the Chiller I had
     
  6. Fraser W

    Fraser W Thread Starter Swazi Reefer

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    yes and a much better option because now you can watch your tank in comfort and not have to wish that you could also be cool inside the tank 2 birds with one stone :thumbup:
     
  7. seank

    seank

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    Frazer, my tank is built in, meaning I can only see the front viewing pane. I fitted an aircon at the backroom of the tank/sump area (no chairs to sit and relax...lol) when I built the tank. It is the same height as the water level and lights, meaning the aircon blows over the water of the main display, though a hole in the wall to the sump room where the air gets sucked out by 2 big extractor fans.
    Meaning, I only cool the tank water itself as the cold air of the aircon does not cover the lounge/ tv room area (although I do have an aircon in the lounge area, but only use it when the vaalies come to visit..lol)
    As for me, I do not like aircons, much rather prefer a fan, cause with our heat that we experience here, one gets a cold/flue etc from sitting under an aircon and then into the heat again. I use a fan if ever I feel the need to cool off.
    Hope I explained it a bit better now.
     
  8. Fraser W

    Fraser W Thread Starter Swazi Reefer

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    @seank ok i understand you now .. i will try and go through more of your thread..
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 26 Nov 2015
  9. seank

    seank

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    Best of luck.....lol
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 26 Nov 2015
  10. HOT SAUCE

    HOT SAUCE

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    nice article thanks for sharing
     
  11. HOT SAUCE

    HOT SAUCE

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    I think the key here like you mentioned is stability and keeping the water temperature constant. I've kept my tank at 28-29 for very long time and everything was looking good and happy. obviously the temperature should not go much higher than this but if it stays stable there shouldn't be a problem.
     
  12. HOT SAUCE

    HOT SAUCE

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    I wanna share something that happened to me recently...
    after a power cut that lasted for two days I had to move my nano to my shop where I had electricity.. lucky I decided to do that at 4 in the morning after everything was looking almost dead. after about a week in the shop the tank was looking OK and there were almost no traces of the tragedy the might've been. one day I walked into the shop and decided to put my hand in the water just to feel the temperature and was shocked to find that it was as warm as 10 min old cup of tea...
     
  13. HOT SAUCE

    HOT SAUCE

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    ... of course I instantly panicked and decided the I had to connect the chiller that I had bought for my new planned build and luckily was in the shop. the chiller is a SunSun 1/4hp ... very big mistake
    I connected the chiller and set the temperature to 25 degrees. less than 10 min later I found the the chiller is doing and excellent job and the tank water is nice and cold. well my fish didn't like that and my big clown fish was dead within minutes and I found my hermit the next day having some prawns for breakfast (my cleaner shrimp). I also lost few zoas and some nice pulsing zenias .. the lesson I learned is that the chiller is too big for the nano and cooled the water way too fast. I should've first set it to maybe 30 then 29 then 28 after few hours and so on till I get to 25
     
  14. JackSplat

    JackSplat

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    Great article. I have been running a single 300mm pc fan (yes, you do get them that big) for the past month over my sump. When the temperature goes above 24.75, it switches on until it reaches 24.5. I also have two 200 watt heaters which i switch on at 24.35 and 24.25 respectively. I also monitor the room temperature, and even though that has reached levels as high as 32 with humidity of close to 90%, the hishest the tank temperature has gone so far is 25.7. The sump is also covered on all sides with polystyrene the help prevent heat soak.
     
    Last edited: 16 Nov 2013
  15. HOT SAUCE

    HOT SAUCE

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    don't the fans blowing over the water cause it to evaporate more quickly?
     
  16. seank

    seank

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    Yip, and evaporation creates cooler air..... Evaporation is good...
     
  17. Fraser W

    Fraser W Thread Starter Swazi Reefer

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    @HOT SAUCE considering the trauma that your tank experienced we can consider you lucky that only a small portion of your live stock was lost its very sad about the female clown as im sure she was close to reaching maturity and maybe some spawnings were on the cards. but mistakes r made and its good the tank has recovered from the mishap
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 26 Nov 2015
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