FAQs about Electricity and Aquarium Systems:
Heating, Chilling Costs
Related Articles: Marine Electrical, Surviving extended power
outages: how to keep your aquarium alive! By Mike Maddox and
Merritt Adkins Marine Aquarium Light
Fixtures and Canopies, GFCIs and Marine
Related FAQs: Electricity 1, Electricity 2, Electricity 3, Energy
Consumption Measure, Electricity
Costs, Pump Energy Use, Shorts/Shocks, Dangers!
Power Outages, GFCIs and Marine Aquariums, Surge Devices, Grounding Probes,
(and expense of chilling), SW
Sorry to bother you again, but I have a question for you.
<Never a bother>
When I rebuilt my fish room (which is in my basement) after the fire
last year, I blew in foam insulation on the walls, insulated and
finished the walls and ceilings, and put in an air handler.
<Oh, how I wish I had a basement here in S. Cal. Folks have told me that
we don't build them due to earthquakes>
I have never had an issue with temperature in the past 28 years, but
since the rebuild my fish room temp. won't go below 78 degrees, and my
water temperature for the tanks at the far end of the room wouldn't go
below 84 or so.......so I installed a ductless air conditioning unit.
<Good to vent the excess moisture as well>
This unit works fairly well, although as a result it's been on nonstop
since June. The downside of this is that my electric bill averages about
$750 a month.
<Yeeikes! Time to look into something more passive, less expensive to
run... just air venting? Heat pumping?>
If I leave the a.c. unit off, the room climbs to about 78 degrees, and
the tanks at the far end of the room hover between 83 and 84
degrees.....with the rest of them running at about 80 degrees. With it
(running nonstop), the temp. stays around 80 degrees in the tanks at the
far end of the room......and 76-78 degrees for all of the other tanks.
My question is this........I've always been paranoid about my tanks
being over 80 degrees because of the well-being of the fish and corals,
but I'm just wondering if having temps. in the mid-80's is a
in which case I could turn off that air conditioner, and save myself a
couple of hundred dollars a month.
<I'd be willing to experiment here... allow the tanks to be warm. There
are some non-tropical organisms sold in the trade and some that are
collected in warm and not water/s. Only be experimentation and your
observation will you be able to detect if some of yours are going to
What are your thoughts on this? Do lower temperatures mean less stress
to the fish (and corals) or am I being too paranoid/anal about this?
<Some concern is warranted; but I think you're likely to be fine here.
I'd just vent the moisture night and day>
Thanks for your response!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
I do have an air handler which I installed because of code before the
a.c. unit, but it doesn't seem to cool off the room at all.
<Strange... should a smidgen; appreciably>
Thanks again for the advice. I will shut my a.c. unit down when it gets
a little cooler out, and see what happens. Probably best to experiment
without a huge amount of fish in my tanks. (lol)
I'll keep you posted!
<Thank you, B>
Tip... Thermal insulation, power outages...
We had an 6 hour power outage yesterday in our rural area because of
high winds/300 acre fire.... I noted in your tips on outages to
"wrap the tank for insulation for temperature control"... I
discovered during insulating my windows at my house that bubble wrap
Everybody has some bubble wrap but it can also be bought by the yard at
hardware stores. Spray the window/glass lightly w/water and put the
bubble wrap on w/the bubbles towards the glass. I have had bubble
on some windows (sliding glass door) over 3 months now and it has not
come off. All you have to do is peel the bubble wrap off and clean the
glass..... Just a tip.... Works awesome!
<Thank you for this Donna. You have saved many aquatic and perhaps
human lives. Bob Fenner>
Who's Reply to a Heated Question? Who's Replying Now?
Thank you for your reply, <Wasn't me! (hehe seen rocket
man?)> One question more, can I do more than guess of how much power
an aquarium heater uses? <Sure can, because you can bet your
electricity provider isn't> I can calculate the filter and light
fairly easily. But the heater it doesn't stay all the time
soooo...whether it's just one fish tank or a whole fish room with
40 tanks I've heard of pennies a month to 25 cents a day. I know
it's a fuzzy question, my house could be colder than this house and
varying from a Nevada summer to a Boston winter that could be quite a
bit. Maybe some numbers I could crunch, like the average room temp of
70 degrees and a 10 gallon aquarium with a 50 watt heater would be
about 2 dollars a month or 50 cents or whatever kilowatt hour that I
could then convert to cash? Sorry to ramble on, can you give me a hand?
And funny thing - for a fish room with many tanks, some people hype
controlling the room's thermostat, some multiple heaters are the
cheapest way to go, besides initial cost of buying all those heaters,
central filtration aside. Any thoughts? <Determining the cost if it
was run constantly is easy - contact your electrical provider and ask
them how much they charge per kilowatt hour. Since kilo = 1000, 50
watts would be 1\20th of this quote, every hour. The best way to
measure the actual kilowatt hours used (because as you stated, it
isn't running constantly) would be to obtain a watt-hour meter,
available from a hardware store, or at www.liveaquaria.com (and
it's so cutely name the "Kill-a-watt meter). As for
determining whether individually heating a tank or using an external
air conditioner instead, it all depends on the amount of tanks, the
building size, insulation, outside air temperatures, etc. As you can
see, the problem with determining the costs will be the variables. I
would use the meter on your house provided by your electrical company
to determine this. On a small scale operation, individual heaters will
be MUCH more economical. By the way, please use proper caps\punctuation
when emailing us in the future, as this email will be archived for
others to read> Thanks again as I continue to research,
Jonathan <Very interesting question, was fun to answer. For an
absolutely great\hilarious book on electricity, I highly recommend
'There are no electrons' by Ken Amdahl>
Fwd: heater costs I would appreciate any information on how
much power (kw/h) is used by your heaters. I have eight aquariums and
am trying to get an estimate of heating costs. Thank you
<We don't sell heaters... most uses call for 2-3 watts per
gallon... kilowatts per hour depend in turn on insulation values,
differences in external/internal values... You can hook up devices
which will monitor, measure your electrical consumption... or
guesstimate how long each are on... multiply the wattage times the
time... to get kilowatt hours used... multiply this in turn by cost per
kilowatt (see your electrical bill)... to find cost. Bob Fenner>