Week 8: Tank temperature. Finding a way to trust your heater | 52 Weeks of Reefing #BRS160

August 22nd, 2015
It's Week 8 of the BRS160 52 Weeks of Reefing, and this week we are going to talk about temperature control with a focus on stability. We will cover the different types of heaters, explain proper placement and demo a few different heaters accuracy and variation. We’ll also cover the temperature controllers, importance of calibration, chillers, fans and finish with our installation for the BRS 160.

There is a fairly big range that a reef aquarium and it's inhabitants can survive in, commonly anywhere from 76 to 83 degrees. The biggest advantage to running higher temperatures is increased metabolic rates which can increase coral growth which is something most of us find desirable.

Pretty much all of us will need a heater to maintain a stable temperature in the tank. Even in warmer states you probably frequently use an air conditioner to cool your home and even if you don't you probably have some particularly cool nights in the winter. In either case your home will be cool enough at some point that you will likely need a heater.

There are four basic types of heaters common to the aquarium industry; bi-metal thermostat, electronic thermostat (both with external and internal temp probes), and heaters with no temperature control that require a separate external controller.

Cooling the tank is a little bit trickier. Maybe it’s hot in your home, you have a lot of equipment or lighting on the tank or you have very little evaporation all of which can cause the tank to overheat. The best way to keep the tank cool is to remove the offending equipment or replace it with more efficient equipment so you just don't have to be concerned with this.

The next best way is to increase evaporation by making sure the surface of the water is breaking with a powerhead of some type and aiming a fan at the surface. This can be done on both the tank itself and sump.

If that still doesn't do it you are going to have to consider a chiller. I honestly try and avoid chillers at all cost because they are expensive, take up a ton of room and require a lot of power which you might not have available near the tank. A chiller is more or less an air conditioner so it also adds heat to the room and can’t be cycled on and off constantly because it would be bad for the compressor. You will inherently have a larger temperature swing each time the chiller turns on and off which I also find undesirable.

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