If you’re ready to start branching out into the more advanced world of keeping fish, you may be a little confused about where to start. After all, most people only ever keep goldfish in a small tank.
One of the more important parts of fishkeeping to learn before actually keeping fish is temperature. Maintaining the right temperature can really make or break your aquarium community.
That’s why, to make it easier for you, we’ve compiled a complete guide introducing you to aquarium coolers.
Aquarium chillers are a more advanced aspect of fishkeeping, and it can be difficult to learn about them. It can also be hard choosing the best one for your lifestyle.
To help get an idea of what the ideal chiller looks like, we’ve found the top 8 best aquarium chillers!
Top 8 Efective Aquarium Chillers:
1. Active Aqua Hydroponic Aquarium Chiller
With a large refrigeration capacity and an anti-rust canister, the Active Aqua chiller is built for durability. With a flow rate ranging from 396 to 925 gallons per hour, they can also provide adequate refrigeration for a variety of tanks.
It doesn’t use Freon, which is another plus. Freon can be dangerous if you or your fish are exposed to it directly such as during a leak.
While this chiller can be used for fish tanks – and fish tank use is encouraged – it was actually designed for hydroponic systems!
In hydroponics, farmers grow plants without any type of soil medium, instead of relying on water. More often than not, this also includes the use of fish to create what is known as symbiotic relation.
What this means for your at-home fish tank, however, is that it is durable and reliable. It’s designed to support a maximum of around 231 gallons, keeping your fish at the right temperature.
That’s only for the ¼ HP model, however – which is the second smallest. The largest model, the 1HP, has a maximum flow rate of 3900 gallons per hour, supporting up to 975 gallons.
With four purchasing options, you’ll be able to choose the size and power that best fits your needs.
2. Hamilton Technology Aquarium Chiller
The Hamilton chiller is designed for a user experience that makes cold water aquariums a breeze.
First, it has a digit LED display screen. This accurately displays the temperature while also allowing you to control it.
It also has an extremely beneficial and innovative feature known as memory recall. With this feature, in the instance of a power outage, your chiller will return to the last temperature.
This can provide some much-needed peace of mind that your chiller will resume on its own. This is great if you are away from home often.
It has four purchasing options, ranging from 1/13 to ½ HP. It removes 25% of the heat produced from each watt of power used, a concept described by BTU.
One thing to note, however, is that this chiller doesn’t have its own pump. This means that you will need to purchase a separate pump in order for the chiller to work right.
This is an easy fix, however! Most filers have water pumps which can be connected to your chiller situation. Just make sure to do your research and see if your pump is compatible.
3. Coralife Energy Saver Chiller
One of the best parts of the Coralife chiller, according to one customer, is its cooling speed. According to their review, it lowered their tank nearly 25 degrees in just four hours, resulting in a healthy tank.
This is because the Coralife chiller has a maximum flow rate of 300 gallons per hour and is designed for 55 gallons. Also, it has an integrated power outlet.
Related: Best 55 gallon fish tank filters
This means that you can connect your chiller to your heater. As a result, when the heater turns off due to reaching its maximum, the chiller turns on to maintain a temperature balance.
It has a titanium heat exchanger. This is designed to be as durable as possible in order to help disperse heat while withstanding the temperatures.
However, like other aquarium coolers on this list, you’ll need to buy your own pump. It’s compatible with several types of pumps, including canister filters.
Choosing the right pump to work with this chiller depends on your tank size. However, a pump with a flow rate of around 300 gallons per hour should work for most tank sizes.
4. JBJ Aquarium Arctica Titanium Chiller
Power failures are bound to happen at some point. Whether it’s from a car accident into a light pole, a storm, or routine maintenance, they’re inevitable.
However, you won’t always be home when that happens. Instead of worrying, though, the JBJ cooler has a memory chip that restores your chiller to the last operating temperature.
It has an easy to read LED temperature controller. And you have four different purchasing options to best fit the needs of you and your fish tank community.
If you’re worried about the ozone or your own health, this chiller uses a safe and ozone friendly refrigerant.
Installation is quick and easy. This means that getting your cold water aquarium ready can be a breeze.
One thing to note, however, is that you will have to pay for shipping on returns. This can be a bit pricer.
5. EcoPlus Aquarium Chiller
Sometimes, options are the best thing that you can have. And the EcoPlus aquarium cooler has plenty of them.
First of all, there are three different purchasing options. This allows you to pick the best chiller for your needs.
Next, it also supports a range of temperatures from 37 degrees to 90 degrees. This helps you best adjust to your climate and environment to meet the needs of your fish.
You also have options when it comes to using the chiller itself. It’s designed to be suitable for reservoirs, hydroponic systems, and freshwater or saltwater tanks.
The titanium heat exchanger is durable, and the LCD display is easy to read and operate.
Just note that you will need to provide your own tubing before installation. This can be a hassle if you were unaware, but a proper warning will make installation a breeze.
The instructions may be a little difficult to understand at first, but you can find instructions and videos online. This way, if you’re feeling a little stuck, you have somewhere to turn to.
6. IceProbe Thermoelectric Aquarium Chiller
If you’re looking for variety, the IceProbe has it. Its cooling levels depend a lot on the size of your tank.
However, thankfully, they’ve provided a guide to show you the cooling abilities. A single chiller will cool 10 gallons by 6 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit, 20 gallons by 3 to 4, and 40 gallons by 1 to 2.
This means that the IceProbe thermoelectric chiller is best suited for smaller coldwater aquariums. You’d probably want to consider it more when dealing with nano reefs or smaller cold-water fish.
It may also be a good option if you’re not looking for drastic changes. This can be a good choice for fighting uncontrollable heat sources like pumps or lighting.
If you’re unhappy with your chiller when it arrives due to manufacturer errors, you have a one year warranty.
7. Vivosun Active Aquarium Chiller
With a maximum flow rate of up to 660 gallons per hour, the Vivosun chiller is suitable for larger tanks up to 165 gallons. It can support more, but this is for optimal energy efficiency and cooling.
It has a quiet operation and comes with all of the fittings you will need – internal and external. The digital control LED screen is helpful and easy to ready, making maintenance a breeze.
You have a lot of flexibility with the aquarium cooler. It can be used in either freshwater or saltwater fish tanks as well as aquaponic systems.
One of the main concerns among customers however is customer service. It can be difficult to contact the seller or manufacturer in case you have a question.
8. Mophorn Aquarium Water Chiller with Pump Kit
This aquarium water chiller is best for beginners.
First, it is the full kit and includes a pump. This saves you from trying to figure what pump is best suited for your chiller.
It also utilizes a microcomputer and other technology. This makes cooling and operation easy while using lower power levels.
It has a quiet operation with reduced noise. And, depending on what region you live in and your preferred units, you can switch between Fahrenheit and Celsius.
It’s important to note, however, that the internal hoses may not fit perfectly. This means that internal leaking could occur, making a mess while wasting your water.
If this does become a problem, though, no worries. You can either contact the manufacturer or invest in properly fitting hosing at your local hardware store.
Buying Guide – Everything You Need to Know to Pick the Best Aquarium Chiller
Now that you’ve seen some of the best aquarium coolers, you may be interested in learning more. Specifically, why exactly these 8 made the cut out of hundreds, if not thousands, of other aquarium coolers.
In order to provide as much information as possible, here is a complete buying guide to picking the best aquarium chiller.
What to Take into Consideration
We can make a list of the top 8 best aquarium chillers, but how do you really know which one to pick? Well, to help you further, we’re taking it one step further and telling you exactly what to consider.
First, you want to think about how easy it will be to access your chiller as well as its inner workings.
Like all equipment, it’ll eventually need maintenance, no matter how well you take care of it. Chillers are subject to wear and tear, and it’s important that you’re able to see the problem.
You’ll also need to be able to easily access it for cleaning. Regular cleaning can help prevent damage and keep your chiller working smoothly.
You also need to take into consideration your tank. Not all aquarium coolers are designed for both salt and freshwater.
As a result, you’ll need to do your research to make sure that you are using the right chiller. Saltwater in a freshwater chiller can lead to major rust!
You may also want to consider what type of refrigerant liquid that your aquarium cooler will use. Each chiller may use a different type of refrigerant, some better and more eco-friendly than other types.
Some types of refrigerant liquids also work better than others. It’s important to do your research on which type will best fit your lifestyle and your fish’s needs.
Like any type of mechanical device, noise levels will also be an aspect to consider. After all, if your aquarium is in your room, you don’t want it to keep you up all night.
The best way to figure out more about noise levels is to look at verified customer reviews. While a box may boast reduced noise, you won’t know until it’s plugged up.
Where does the heat come from in an aquarium?
While looking at aquarium coolers, you may be wondering where heat even comes from in your tank. After all, it’s not that hot inside your house, so it shouldn’t be hot inside the aquarium, right?
Well, your aquarium is a smaller and more confined environment. It’s also subjected to different sources of heat – some of which you may have never even noticed generating heat.
Two of the main causes of heat generation in your aquarium are water pumps and lighting systems.
Most aquarium water pumps operate off what is known as a magnetic drive system. An electric field is created around the pump’s magnetic impeller.
While this is a great system for pumping water into your filter for cleaning, it can generate quite a bit of heat. This heat is then dispelled into your water, raising the temperature.
The larger the pump, the more heat is produced, which can make running a large cold-water aquarium more advanced.
Of course, you need to run your pump as much as possible for adequate filtration, aeration, and oxygenation. That’s one reason a chiller can be important – to help reduce the impact of necessary heat-generating appliances.
The same goes for your aquarium’s lighting system.
There are three main types of lights used in aquariums. They are metal halide, LED, and incandescent – T5 lighting is also sometimes used, though not as often.
Metal halide lights use a chemical reaction to create a medium for electricity to travel. This electricity then operates the lamp and creates light.
On the other hand, LED lights use a special device to convert electric energy into visible light.
No matter what type of lighting you use, the conversion of energy will result in heat. As a result, the temperature of your water will be impacted.
Now, you may be wondering if you can just leave your lights off in your aquarium to help reduce heat. While this will help with water temperature, it can hurt your fish in other ways.
Fish need a light cycle to help regulate their biological functions such as digestion. As a result, proper lighting is important, even if it raises the temperature.
Your house also could just be on the warmer side.
That’s why it can be important to invest in a fish tank chiller if you need your water to be cooler.
When it comes to keeping a fish tank, learning the lingo can be one of the hardest parts. That’s why we’re going to help you understand one of the most important terms related to chillers: BTU.
BTU is actually a British unit of measurement. If you’ve worked in heating and air, or have picked out related appliances, you may recognize it.
When it comes to picking out an aquarium cooler, the BTU stands for how much heat the cooler is able to remove.
It’s the same with air conditioners. However, where a portable air conditioner can boast up to 12,000, you’ll notice that the BTU for the chiller is much less.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
You’ve probably heard of an aquarium heater. A chiller for an aquarium is the same thing, but it cools the water instead of heating it – like a refrigerator.
This doesn’t necessarily mean freezing temperatures, however. An aquarium chiller can work to keep the water just below room temperature, which is helpful during the hotter summer months.
Most beginner aquarium keepers don’t know about aquarium coolers, and that’s perfectly okay! They’re mostly for advanced cold water aquariums, and, if you just have a regular hobby fish tank, you probably won’t need one.
While most beginners don’t need an aquarium cooler, how do you know when you do?
Fish and other underwater creatures such as snails and even microorganisms are “cold-blooded” animals. This means that, unlike humans and other “warm-blooded” animals, fish cannot regulate or maintain their own body temperature.
Instead, they rely on their surrounding environment – the water within the tank – to help keep them at the right temperature.
Of course, each species of fish is unique, and tank temperature isn’t a one size fits all kind of thing. As a result, there are a few situations where a fish tank chiller may be exactly what you need.
First, as summer arrives in full force, it’s easy for temperatures to reach triple digits in some regions of the world. As a result, it’s not uncommon for a spike of water temperature to occur in your fish tank.
Now, a few extra degrees doesn’t seem like a big problem, right? Well, it can actually have a drastic impact on your fish tank’s ecosystem.
You see, just because fish live underwater, they still need oxygen to breathe. They get this in the form of dissolved oxygen in the water.
Temperature and dissolved oxygen content are inversely proportional. This means that as temperature increases within the tank, oxygen decreases.
Warmer temperatures can also lead to stress in your fish. So, if you live in an area with a warmer climate, you may need a fish tank chiller.
Second, it also depends on what exactly you plan on keeping in your tank. While certain tropical fish such as rainbow sharks and guppies can warm temperatures, not all fish can.
Certain fish such as trouts and bass or some saltwater fish require colder temperatures. This means that they will need an aquarium cooler.
Aquarium coolers work just like refrigerators, air conditioners, or anything else designed to cool a medium. They remove the heat from the water and transfer it into the air where it can dissipate.
See, one common misconception is that you can ‘make’ water cold. This can cause a bit of confusion when learning about chillers.
Instead, you can only take heat from the water, causing the temperature drop.
You can consider this a heat exchange. Heat is taken from the water and dispelled into the surrounding environment.
In order to protect the unit itself from overheating, aquarium coolers also use a fan. This fan works to dispel the heat by blowing on the unit, forcing the heat into the surrounding air.
This is why adequate airflow is important. Otherwise, the heat has nowhere to go.
Fish tank chillers also utilize a thermostat.
This can be a great benefit. With a thermostat, you can set a temperature and the chiller will work to maintain it.
As a result, you won’t have to constantly adjust the temperature. So long as the chiller is running, you can be safe that your fish are safe and happy in their home.
Just like the refrigerator where you store your food, aquarium coolers won’t work to heat your tank. If you need to heat your water as well as cool it, you’ll need to purchase a heater and operate it separately.
When it comes to aquarium coolers, you don’t need to worry about size. In case, you need to focus on the chiller’s wattage and output as well as its flow rate.
The wattage is how much energy the chiller uses. It’s the flow rate that is the most important part.
For all filters, heaters, and chillers, the generally accepted is gallons (or liters in certain regions) per hour. The higher the normal, the more your chillers cool.
Let’s say that you pick out a chiller that has a flow rate of 80 gallons per hour. This means that every single hour, 80 gallons passes through your chiller to have the temperature lowered.
How cold each aquarium gets really depends on which chiller that you choose. However, looking over all of them, it’s rare that you see a drastic drop.
Instead, more often than not, you’ll notice that aquarium coolers will drop your tank’s temperature a few dozen degrees, usually 10-20 degrees.
For the most part, aquarium chillers have a programmable thermostat. This will allow you to set the temperature you want for the water.
Putting in a chiller can be simple. Your best bet for a successful installation is to follow the instructions, as each cooler is different.
However, there are a few things you should know regardless of brand.
First, aquarium coolers work by extracting the heat from the water and releasing it into the air. This then keeps your water cool.
However, as a result, you need to be careful with how you set up your chiller.
If you place your fish tank chiller in an enclosed area, such as the cabinet, the heat will be trapped. This can cause your chiller and other equipment to overheat and malfunction.
Instead, you need to place the chiller somewhere it will have adequate airflow.
Most chillers utilize a fan system that blows hair across the condenser coil to remove heat from the refrigerant. As a result, the heat is carried away and the system operates smoothly.
For optimized use that is the most effective and energy-efficient, try leaving space around your cooling unit. A good amount of space is around 12-18”.
Like with any hobby, it’s important to always be doing your research so that you can grow and improve. As you become more advanced and move from your average fish tanks, it’ll be important to learn about aquarium chillers.
While aquarium heaters are pretty common, chillers are a bit more advanced and less common in the fishkeeping community. However, there may come a time when you have to invest in one.
Whether you want to keep certain fish such as trouts, reef tanks or you live in a warmer climate, chillers can save your tank. Too hot temperatures can stress out your fish and lead to different illnesses.
Of course, though, chillers aren’t a one size fits all type of device, and that’s perfectly fine! Just a few hours of research and a careful eye can be all you need to pick the best chiller.
It’s important to know what makes a good fish tank chiller. You’ll want one that best fits your needs – whether it’s efficiency or user experience.