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Re: Tank too hot
"I need to figure out a good (cheap/aesthetically pleasing/efficient) way of
cooling my tank down."
I think these requirements are up there with the desire to design a
perpetual motion machine. Not that they are inherently bad, but just
physically difficult to achieve. When it comes to energy consumption, cheap
and efficient are almost mutually exclusive.
A planted aquarium is an ecological disaster. A high concentration of heat
producing energy is consumed just so we can have the illusion of a naturally
occurring environment in our home. Any system that cools the tank will expel
heat and humidity into the room, which must be removed by the expenditure of
more energy to move it outdoors. Your home air conditioner does this by
using energy to lower the temperature of the air, which in turn causes the
humidity in the air to condense into water which can then be channeled
outside. It's why air conditioners produce condensate water as a byproduct.
Frequently it is the humidity in the air that produces discomfort because
your skin has to work against this humidity to cool you down via
evaporation. Hence the joke: "Yeah, but it's a dry heat."
You have few options:
Run a fan over the surface of the tank to cause evaporative cooling of the
tank water. This throws the heat and humidity into the room air and
transfers the problem to your house air conditioner. This might be okay from
an energy standpoint since larger air conditioning equipment tends to be
more efficient. Your house air conditioner may be more efficient than a
Use a chiller on the tank. This will contribute less humidity to the room,
but still transfers the heat problem to your house air conditioner, unless
you can place the chiller outside. But even then, placing the chiller
outside still contributes to global warming, so the problem is just removed
once again to the larger cooling system of the earth's environment. This
whole thing is a no-win situation.
Use more efficient (usually more expensive) lighting. Or better yet, use the
least amount of light necessary to achieve the desired results. Based on the
old 3 watts per gallon rule of thumb, I started out with 3 - 96 watt AH
Supply CF lamps over a 90 gallon. Stupid. I'm now running ONE lamp 11 hours
a day, and a second lamp for 4 hours at the mid-day point. I can grow
anything I want. Which segues to the next option...
Grow low light plants and consume as little energy as possible. I think this
list has done a great dis-service to the planet if there is any perception
that the best and only way to run a tank is with a lot of energy consuming
technology. After doing a lot of study into reef tanks, I decided that they
were an even worse ecological disaster than planted tanks, primarily because
of the energy consumption required.
Now, having said all that, I still keep and enjoy my planted tanks. I've
reduced the light levels as much as possible, and I no longer consider using
plants that require a lot of light. I've found that keeping CO2 levels at a
relatively high and steady level has more effect on plant growth anyway,
even when it enters the tank at less than the speed of sound.
PS: The ground loop thermal system is used for whole building cooling.
Here's a link to a company that does it: www.groundloop.com But it is still
just another way to move heat out of a room and into the earth's crust.
Makes the concept 'global warming' pretty explicit.