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FAQs about Marine Aquarium Heating 1

Related Articles: Heater Impressions (Reviews) by Steven Pro, Marine System HeatingColdwater SystemsControllers

Related FAQs: Heating 2, Heating 3, & FAQs on: Rationale, Heating Methods/Gear, Heat Controllers (Fans et al.), Measuring/Thermometers, Heating Troubleshooting/Repairs, Makes/Models by Manufacturer, & Chillers, & FAQs on: Fans For Cooling, Chiller Rationale/Use, Selection, DIY, Installation, Maintenance, Troubleshooting, & Water Temperature

Beware of cheapy hang on heaters for marine systems

Horrors with heaters; what could/I be going/doing wrong?!?  11/9/05 Hello Bob. <James> To start with I think I will complain about the general quality of many marine components in general as I have had bad luck with lights (Coralife power compacts... went through two but had a very assistive {helpful?} store owner go great lengths there) and powerheads have given issues of late... same store we had to try two before we got one that worked out of the box on my return trip. So, I am just a little bit frustrated by quality in products of late. <I sense this> However, it is the heaters that are causing the most grief... Okay, the first failure was undoubtedly my own and it was a Neptune in my small tank... I know I was tired and let the water get too low during a water change and that one stuck on shortly thereafter. I since 'learned' and unplug all the heaters first while during any maintenance and I even allow about 10 minutes for thermal equilibration before plugging any back in. <Good> However, I have gone through two Neptunes and one or perhaps two Visitherm Deluxe in the past 9 months. <Unusual...> I even now suspect the Ebo Jager I just bought as the temp over shot in another tank this morning while at the same time the heater overshot in my quarantine tank... rather than risk the health of the Flame Angel I decided to place it in the 55 gallon main tank where the conditions are/have been (knock on wood) stable. I would have preferred to not do this yet but here I am at work and not at home to unplug/reconnect or get another as necessary. What could be going wrong? <I don't know... are you setting these at a reasonably low initial settings? Allowing a few tens of minutes for the thermostats to adjust before plugging in initially?> I use GFCI for every tank and everything plugged into them that is connected with the tanks. Should I check the polarity at the outlets? <Mmm, in general circuitry itself will do this...> Have I just been plagued with bad luck???? <Most likely... yes> I have been trying hard to do everything right and just do not understand what is going wrong. Bob, I am truly frustrated... Thank you. James Zimmer <Time for a holiday! Honestly, the brands you mention are typically good... Bob Fenner> 

Re: Horrors with heaters; what could/I be going/doing wrong?!?  11/9/05 Thank you Bob. <Welcome> 10s of minutes and low enough temperature... hard to say here. I know the Ebo Jaeger was left in the tank for well over an hour (the water and heater were about 70F) and the temp set on heater was 76F.. <The setting about time is fine... But I do want to make a statement re the "pre-sets" of submersible, non-submersible heaters... they're not accurate, nor precise! I encourage all to "turn barely on" by hand (regardless of what the "dial says"), check back later after the "light has gone off", and re-adjust...> since that one was in the overflow in the rear of the tank <I would not place heaters here... too much air mixing, chance of the things breaking, burning a hole in the side... place either in the tank, and/or in a permanently filled part of the sump/s> I had thought that the water coming out was hitting the thermometer and just giving a higher reading based off of location. However, I had since moved it and notice it is stuck on running passed the set temp. Bad luck... yeah, this would be an understatement and the holiday sounds like a great idea. Truth is I am just concerned for the well being of my pets. I didn't want to put the Flame Angel in the 55 gallon yet as there are inverts [Branched Frogspawn... yes, 'finally' discovered the identity!!! ; ), star polyps, mushrooms, sponges, zoos and other horseshoe worms/featherdusters coming out of the rock] but with a heater running out of control it seemed more prudent than trusting the fate of the fish in a potentially... ahhh soupy environment. The article on heaters from your site made me consider some overtemp devices... in this case even if stuck on then the power will cut out with the controller in place. <Good insurance...> IT is a bummer about the quality of products of late. The same store owner mentioned that this trend is causing some problems for people. I insist that these issues of quality are a huge problem as our livestocks are directly dependent on the functional reliability of the products we use. The bigger the tank the more money invested... <Yes... though less per gallon....!> On the positive side the Flame Angel seems very happy and the cleaner shrimp now has a new customer to service. The inverts attached to largely immoveable (nowhere big enough for them to go other than where they are) rocks are another matter if this same fish decides to go picking. What could I do though? I have three tanks and two potentially down. Thank God for redundancy because at least there was still one! Sincerely, James Zimmer <Keep your "eyes on the prize" James... the "big picture" is not bad at all... Cheers, and happy holidays my friend. Bob Fenner, not going out to Garfield this Xmas, but down to sunnier/windier Ft. Lauderdale>  Chilly waters Hello everyone! Hope all is well! As everyone is probably aware, this summer on Cape Cod has been a scorcher! Temps and humidity at intolerable levels. As a result, I put an air conditioner into my room where I keep my 55 gallon reef tank. The AC has been going non stop for almost 2 months. The temp in my tank has been around 74 to 75.5 every day. I hope this isn't too low. What do you have to say about this? All the inhabs seem happy enough, no losses, etc. Thanks for your expertise! Pamela <No problem on this temperature, range. Bob Fenner>

Re; Overheated my tank HI again Anthony <cheers!> (To refresh.. I overheated my tank and the symbiotic algae in my Sinularia has presumably died, and it is starving) >yes, thank you... I recall > In regards to the Sinularia, it appears that there are a few areas of the coral that may be dying or dead.. the areas appear to be a little different in color (a whitish color versus the pinkish of the healthy organism) <discolored patches may be tolerable if they have simply lost pigment. Concern arises if they become necrotic and dissolving or blackened> I'm wondering if I should amputate the dead looking limbs.. ?? <not yet... as long as they are firm, they will re-pigment in time> Any suggestions to help alleviate the trauma that the cutting will cause? Should I use a scissors (I have a surgical pair) or a razor/knife?? <if necessary, a razor is usually preferable> --thanks --Chane <kindly, Anthony>

Will Elevating Temperature Hasten Cycling?... Hi Bob, I have a new tank with live rock .Its still cycling, can I raise the temp to 84F to make the bacteria grow faster or does doing that would affect the living organisms on the rocks ( there is a lot of invertebrates )? Thank You. <Good question... don't know... but worth experimenting... There is likely an "ideal temperature/range" for doing just this... If your rock hails/hailed from a more tropical setting, perhaps it will cycle faster through the process at an elevated temperature. Do take care to be even more careful in monitoring water quality... adding alkalinity, making requisite water changes... Bob Fenner>

Speeding the Cycling Process Hi Bob, I have a new tank with live rock. It is still cycling. Can I raise the temp to 84F to make the bacteria grow faster or does doing that affect the living organisms on the rocks (there is a lot of invertebrates)? Thank You <I would not recommend raising the temperature to quicken the cycling. You will be better off learning patience now. -Steven Pro>

Chillin' with high temperature Bob and the crew: I read all your info on chillers! What fish like warm..84F saltwater? My yellow tangs and regal tangs have done well, maroon clown, purple tang and royal Gramma, green damsel and a fire fish that looks like it has a long white horn. when he is not in a bolt hole have done well, white bubble coral, and mushrooms all living. Anthias....dead, flame angels...dead, shrimp...dead, but fighting conches and queen conches living. Any suggestion on an other fish that tolerates the heat. Thanks in advance! jacdavie <Mmm, better to look into mechanisms for keeping your water cooler (in the upper seventies, low eighties F... If you have a favorite fish you're considering, look it up on fishbase.org... many species are labeled there as to thermal range in their natural environment. And, do turn off your lights, add extra aeration/circulation in times when higher temperatures can't be avoided. Bob Fenner>

Broken heater in sump Dear Mr. Fenner- I hope this isn't a major problem. I just noticed that one of my two Ebo Jager heater is broken in my sump. I recently put in a new protein skimmer and I am afraid it banged up against my heater which was laying on the bottom of the sump. The internal parts of the lower end were exposed to water. I immediately unplugged it and removed it. It may have been this way for up to seven days. Do you know if there was any inside the heater that could cause problems for my tank(75gal). Thanks for your time. - Anj <no worries... little or no source of contamination and the livestock was safe in the insulated tank (from the floor by virtue of the silicone/gals/acrylic tank) as a floating ground. Just do a water change and run a poly filter and/or carbon for better sleep. A common problem... no worries. Anthony>

Re: broken heater in sump Yesterday I wrote about a broken heater I discovered in my sump. Today I added carbon as you indicated but I noticed that 3 out of my 6 Xenias look shrunken and very unhealthy. They even seem to be given off some type reddish color discharge. They were extremely healthy and thick yesterday. Can this be attributed to my heater problem.  <still almost certainly not... Xenia have been observed goring on sewer discharge pipes near hotels!!! If anything, they have been shocked by the improvement in water clarity/light of you haven't used carbon for a while or have gone without a water change for more than a few weeks> I will start some water changes right away. Anything else you can suggest?  <mostly patience and time> Do you think the rest of the tank will start to have problems.  <depends on carbon/clarity issues as per above> can you suggest a better heater than Ebo Jager?-  <they are one of the best brands. If you are willing to spend more, look into a good titanium probe heater with a remote thermostat> Thanks so much- Anj <kindly, Anthony>

Temperature Hello again, I wrote to you Wed. regarding my high temperature situation in my reef tank. We had just returned from vacation and discovered that our central A/C had failed while we were away. Thanks so much for your prompt reply (thanks Anthony!)...your site has been the primary source of info since we began this tank in early spring. Your teams dedication to the hobby is unbelievable! <such appreciation from friends like you is a tremendous inspiration. Thank you!> Just wanted to let you know that I followed your advice regarding water changes, bringing the temp down slowly and heavy skimming. Everything seems fine...there have been no losses and the corals are open as big or bigger than before our trip.  All fish are eating well.  <outstanding!> The xenia seemed to like the higher temps and multiplied rapidly (or either this was a defensive survival mechanism).  <just as likely they prospered with the increased dissolved organics from the mucus producing stressed corals. Xenia farmers often keep leather corals with their cultured Xenia for this reason> I know that several more weeks will be a better indication of recovery success but I wanted to let you know that all seems well so far. Thanks again for your site and your willingness to help others! Jonathan Bush <our sincere pleasure... it sounds like you are back on track! Best regards, Anthony>

Heater Problems Hi guys <<And hello to you.>> I am using an Ebo Jager 250w heater in the bottom of my sump (beneath the section with the bio balls). This is the 2nd heater that I am having the same problem with. In both cases, the heater turns on over and above the set temperature. I thought that I regulated the heater to an actual temperature only to find out that some weeks later it overheats the tank by some 5-6 degrees. Is this due to having it in the sump (I keep a fan blowing on the outlet side of the sump to reduce heat) or is it endemic to the Ebo Jager heaters? <<It may be endemic to the EJ heater. I likewise have several of these heaters and it just seems that they are not all that accurate.>> If so, are there any better heaters out there which won't produce the same problem? <<Not that I've tried. There seems to be a good deal of the titanium heaters with electronic controllers available these days. They are relatively inexpensive. Perhaps one of these would be more accurate, but again I have no experience with these.>> Thanks once again Joe <<Cheers, J -- >>

Air to Air Heat Exchanger Dear Steve Pro, Air to air heat exchanger must have duct work through out the house to work right. A good exhaust fan in the kitchen or bath will work well running 24-7. RGibson <Thank you for the suggestion. -Steven Pro>

Thermometers & Substrate I have 2 questions for you all today 1. which is better as far as thermometers go the glass ones that go inside the tank or the sticky ones that go on the outside? <IMO, the glass ones are better, but should not be allowed to float around in the tank waiting to get broken.> 2. When I bought my substrate (crushed coral) the guy at Elmer's LFS said NOT to rinse it, but the bags say to do a light rinse. <Crushed coral needs rinsed like crazy.> Which is right? <Are you sure you have crushed coral though. Being from Pittsburgh and knowing Elmer's, I am not sure they carry crushed coral anymore. They do have various grades of sand, some larger than others.> It is not live sand. Thanks, Colleen Pittsburgh, PA <By the way, did you make Bob's pitch at Elmer's on Saturday morning? -Steven Pro>

Temperature Hey Bob <<Uhh... Bob's not here, Man. Actually, he is but I'm answering the mail for the moment.>> - Just a quick question - l have taken over care of a 90 gal saltwater tank no rock or corals - pretty bland stuff - however currently it is running at a temp of 82 degrees - l used to run my tanks around 74 or 76 if so how quickly do l bring the temperature down <<Well, 82 is at the high-end of the recommended range and not really a problem. Likewise, 74-76 is actually a little low. Closer to 78 is what you want. Easiest way to keep a tank cool is with a fan or two blowing across the surface of the water to provide evaporative cooling.>> thanks <<You are welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

Blue Tang vs. the Heater Hi, I have a blue tang that has developed a strange habit of bumping his body against the in tank hanging heater. I thought that he was perhaps doing it because his face itched (he has HLLE). Then I thought that he was doing it because he liked the noise (rather loud) that the heater makes when it bangs against the tank's walls. After watching him for quite some time last night, I think that he is doing this because he sees his own reflection in the glass & he thinks that it is another fish (although he is not the largest fish in the tank, he is the most aggressive); therefore doing it out of aggression. Have you ever heard of this? <Yes, many fish attack heaters. Most are attracted/annoyed by the little red light.> Suggestions to make this behavior stop? <Simple, remove it. If you have a sump, locate it there. Else, Tetra has a new brand of powerfilter that can have a heater added to it in the filter box. This way the heater is protected and cannot become broken and electrocute or cook your fish. I think Eheim makes a canister filter with a heater module, too.> Thanks again, Jennifer J. Ford <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Heat problems My tank temperature is usually 78* while the house is at 70. Now that the summer is approaching the house is air-conditioned at 75* and the tank is at 84*  <WOW... you are definitely on the high end> I have a 4" fan in the canopy to vent the light generated heat. Is this a common problem and what is the best solution?  <yes... evaporative cooling where a fan draws air across and away from the water surface (sucking out is usually better than blowing across)> I have a glass canopy that I want to continue using.  <too bad... this will seriously impede evaporation cooling. You need to remove this if you want to have any hope of your fish surviving or try to avoid buying a $1000 chiller> Will a fan directed at the pump work? Thanks  <no... but a plumber external pump rather than a submersible pump might help. Do try opening up the stand better... leave the stand doors open and even have another mini fan exhaust hot air out from underneath. Best regards, Anthony>

Titanium Heaters  About titanium heaters? Will they eventually corrode in saltwater, too? <nope... they will outlive the desired term of employment by an aquarist. Titanium is excellent in saltwater> Thanks again, Karen <best regards, Anthony>

Heaters Dr. Fenner,  <Anthony Calfo in your service while our good friend dives the Red Sea with WWM friends> I was hoping you could give me some advice. I recently had a tragedy happen and I want to know if there are precautions I can take to avoid this happening again. <I shall do my best> I had a heater inside the tank (not in the wet-dry) and I had it set on 79 degrees. Unfortunately the heater somehow must have malfunctioned and when I woke up Wednesday morning the tank temperature was at an astounding 98 degrees. I lost my favorite fish (he was the first one I ever got) and am feeling so bad over it. I've only had the heater about a year so I don't know what went wrong. <alas most hobby grade heaters go by this way too often> Fortunately I only had one fatality. The others thankfully have survived so far and seem to be doing well. Please tell me if I handled the situation correctly. . . . I know that fish can't handle a rapid change in temperature but I figured they couldn't survive much longer in 98 degrees either. So, I opted to do a 30% water change (100 gallon tank) and I was able to bring the temp down to 88 degrees in about 30 minutes time.  <indeed the lesser of two evils... I concur> From then on I slowly, over about 3 hours, brought the temp down to 80 degrees where I normally keep it.  <very fine> I saw an immediate change in their behavior when the cooler water was being pumped in from the water change but I knew we weren't out of danger yet. Since they have been doing well since then (no signs of ich)  <indeed ich from the temp drop/stress would not be a surprise> do you think the chances are good that they will be ok?  <quite frankly very good after the first 48 hours> They are all eating very well too. <excellent> Do you have any suggestions as to how to prevent this malfunction in the future?  <absolutely> Is it better to have the heater in the wet-dry?  <not necessarily> Does that make a difference? Is there a heater you can buy that cuts off when there's a clear malfunction? Thanks for any help you can provide. <without getting too expensive, it is safer to heat a tank with two or three smaller heaters so that one malfunction will overheat the tank slower if at all. For example. A tank that requires 300watts of heat could employ three 100 watt heaters. The other option is and actual thermostat that one or more heaters are plugged into (popular in Europe) or a high temperature alarm. The later options are likely to add $100 or more to the system in expense though> P.S. My favorite fish that I lost was a secondary male Rainbow wrasse. I want to get another wrasse eventually. How long would you wait to add another fish after this shock to the system?  <4 weeks of disease free symptoms would be very safe> If I wanted to add another wrasse would a good choice be a born male Rainbow wrasse? I just don't think I want another secondary male -- nothing could take Streak's (that was his name) place! If not a born male Rainbow wrasse, do you have another wrasse that you would recommend? I just love their energy and funny behavior! <agreed... there are so many beautiful and hardy wrasses to pick from!> Also, I am thinking of eventually adding an Angel (any suggestions as to what species?) to the tank -- would you add the wrasse first or the Angel? <you would need a huge tank and a larger angel to survive with the temperament and adult sizes of the serious fish population listed below. Quite frankly, if the tank is under 200 gallons, you already have too many with consideration for their adult sizes (add them up) and the temperature spike was harder on them because of this heavy stocking. I would strongly advise against an angel unless we are talking about a tank over 300 gallons (trigger, Naso and angel 12"+ as adults... female maroon (!) wrasses and tangs 7"+ each as adults... way too many fish)> The other tank mates include a maroon clown, clown trigger (very peaceful), two yellow tangs, and one Naso tang. They all get along beautifully so I don't want to disrupt the peacefulness!  <you are fortunate... and I would enjoy and leave well enough alone> Thanks for any help you can give me. I appreciate it. Sorry to be so longwinded. Have a great day! :) <no worries at all... I wish you the very best of luck! Anthony>

Suction cups not sticking Is there a trick that will help my suction cups stick to the glass. Of the two suction cups on my new heater, I can only can get one to stick. Any help would be great. The glass is covered in algae. thanks Jeremy <for starters... do scrape the algae and debris with a clean razor blade as you have suggested. And if the suction cups are rigid or aging.. a quick dip in boiling water may revitalize them. Best regards, Anthony>

Rising Temp.... Greetings and salutations, Okay gang here's the stupid question for the day. I live in Buffalo New York (enough with the snickering). Which means that three-fourths of the year it is cold and rainy. <I live in Pittsburgh and did live for one year in Niagara Falls, so I can relate.> So maintaining the temp of my fish only aquarium at a comfy 76-77 degrees is very easy.....three-fourths of the year. My question is just this; on those occasional sunny periods, how can I keep the tank temp from creeping up to a balmy 80 degrees or more? <80 is ok. I would begin to worry at 84 or if it fluctuates more than 3 degrees in 24 hours; crept up to 80 right before light go off and then falls down to 76 over the course of the night.> So far I've been doing small water changes periodically throughout the week. <Good for water quality, but doing little to nothing for temperature control.> This seems to work, but the temp never fails to creep back up. Have plenty of water flow, in my 75 gallon tank. I leave the tops open, which l am afraid of doing with my green bird wrasse (have already come home to find him on the floor in the living room, thankfully he wasn't out of water long and is still happy as a clam). So I humbly petition you gods of the marine aquarium, to assist me in this matter. As a poor downtrodden person from Buffalo, I have already experienced the loss of three Superbowls, one Stanley cup, and anything which could be coined a decent economy. Please help me, so that I don't lose any fish too!!!! With gratitude, Michael Mariani <Here are a few suggestions. Leave your tank closed, but keep your canopy open or install muffin fans to exhaust the heat. Also, try raising the light fixtures one inch off of the top. Even using regular house fans blowing across the top of the tank can help. The best solution is AC, keeps you and your tanks comfortable. -Steven Pro>

Temperature Hello Gentlemen, <Cheers, John> I have just noticed that my 90 gal reef is at 84 degrees.  <not a crime especially if it crept up slowly... indeed on the higher end though> I usually keep it at 79 or 80  <yes...appropriate> but we have had a warm couple days and I didn't realize the jump. I have turned on the air-conditioning and opened the door and lid on the cabinet.  <cool... er, yes... Cool> Can you tell me how quickly can the fish take the drop back down. I think I recall 1 degree per day?  <that would be nicely gradual... no problems with that kind of drop> I have seven fish, but the Hepatus Tang is the one I am concerned about.  <oh, yeah... AKA Ich magnet> Don't want to start the Ick thing going!! I just put in another heater a month ago to deal with nightly drops in temp,  <excellent!> but I never thought I would need a chiller up here in Canada!!  And is 84 a concern? <as long as the beer is still cold... all is well> Thanks so much . John <best regards, Anthony>

Light vs. Heat Anthony <Anthony is off at the Backer Trade Show. You get Steven this morning.> I just purchased a 260 watt power compact, with fan, for my 110 gallon tank. The unit is raised about 1 inch from the glass which is all the room that I have under the canopy. I noticed that my tank's temperature has risen by 2 degrees in the six hours that the light unit is on. Will this cause any problems for the fish <You do not want the temperature to fluctuate so you may have to use your heaters to maintain a warmer temperature as long as the maximum temperature is 82 or below.> and if so how can I help to dissipate the heat. <The proper use of fans and vents is the easiest way. You want the light fan to be able to blow the hot air outside of the canopy. Else, purchase a second fan to do so and mount it on the back of your canopy.> The canopy is solid on top with airflow coming only from the rear. Thanks as usual. Joe <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Light vs. Heat II Steven, A continuation of my heating problem.. I kept my hood open to see if the power compact light was causing the heating problem. (the house temperature was about 79-80* due to a current heat wave) <Pittsburgh has hit 86F today. Strange weather indeed.> The water has not heated up any further so I think that the use of a fan in the hood might be the answer. Which way should the air flow be directed; exhaust or inflow? <Exhaust> The water temperature in my 110 gallon tank is at 83* and has not gone down in spite of air-conditioning the house overnight to 75. The quarantine tank on the other hand only raised to 80* in the heat but went down overnight to 77* and is being controlled by the heater. I am assuming that the temperature fluctuation in the 10 gallon is a lot faster than in a 110. <Correct> How should I go about lowering the main tanks temp or do I allow the cooler house temp to control it and if so how long should I expect it to take. Conversely, it heated up quickly. <If you keep your house at 75, I would think using an exhaust fan would bring the big tank down to 77 in another day or so.> Should I look into the use of a chiller or do you think that the use of the exhaust fan in the hood will control most of the heat source? <If you usually run your AC, I would not worry about the chiller. Even if you keep your house at a modest 78, you should be able to keep the tank at 80.> Thanks again. <A couple more general points. Minimize the usage of powerheads. Much better to use external mounted pumps which dissipate their heat into the room and not into your tank. -Steven Pro>

Killer Heater Hey Bob this is and old friend Mel which was keeping the Hornshark. Now he's history because a bad heater made VisiTherm. This company has history of making bad heaters. <Really... there are some historically poor brands, but this one is actually quite good> I know they not they're only one. Sometimes set backs are a bless in disguise. My fish live and my tank is doing better than ever. Without him in the tank my nitrates are low almost zero. They stay that way all the time since I tried nitrate reducer by Acquamarine. Now I'm keeping big angels and tangs with no problems. Thank for taking the time and now I'm using Ebo-Jager heats only. Your Truly, Mel.H. <Ebo Jagers are excellent and reasonably priced submersibles. Sorry to hear of your Heterodontus loss, and glad to hear of your system improvements. Bob Fenner>

New Setup II Thanks so much for your advice!! Could you also recommend to me a very reliable & accurate heater for a 180 gallon fish only tank?  <I like Ebo-Jagers very fine> How many heaters should I use & the placement of each . Do I place one in the sump? <two heaters will be enough... wattage depends on ambient room temp... 2- 300 watts might be enough (check mfg recommendations). Splayed between sump and display sounds reasonable although both in sump would be more practical. Best regards, Anthony>

Perhaps some Ovaltine??? Thanks Jason, unfortunately, due to a storm here, my heaters failed for a while (while I was sleeping) and I lost 2 fish this morning (pygmy angel and damsel). <<am sorry to hear this.>> Oh well, back to picking new fish. <<don't forget the quarantine! Sounds like "Don't forget your Ovaltine.">> Weird how the six-line who I thought was sick and my clownfish survived the drop in temp, but the usually hardy damsel did not. Oh well, bad luck! <<the insurance business would call it an act of god.>> New fish perhaps later... <<sounds good.>> -Jack <<Cheers, J -- >>

Heating/Cooling a Tank Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> After reading through many articles at WWM I found that water temperature fluctuations may be one of the main impacts to fish's health.  <yes...very significant! Welcome to Ich-ville for starters> There are some days in the summer where the outside temperature swings way up and way down and my condo is poorly insulated so these changes affect the inside temperature dramatically... even with the central air on all the time. This has lead to many parasite outbreaks and loss of livestock... and yes I do have a 25watt UV sterilizer.  <do read my past posts about how to correctly keep up with a UV for efficacy (weekly carbon, monthly cleaning, 6 month bulb life, prefiltered water only)> I am thinking about getting a 1/4 hp Chiller for around $750.00 for my 180 gal. FOWLR system. I am trying to stabilize the water temperature as much as possible. I was told by some aquarists that fish get stressed if the temp. fluctuates 2-3 in degrees at any given time within the day. Is this true especially on a tank of this size?  <true of any tank size... 4 or more degrees and I would be surprised if they didn't get Ich within a month> Is it really necessary for me to invest in the chiller device?  <if your max high temp is not so severe (under 83F) then simply set your heater for a naturally higher temp (add second heater for stability) and compensate by less fish, less feeding and better aeration (protein skimming, ozone and the like)> Some feel that a chiller is not so effective... unless you are spending well over 1,000 on the best models.  <not true... a properly sized and installed chiller will do its job regardless of the price. A chiller throws heat... do not mount it in the cabinet under the tank where the heat will build up. Near the ceiling or in the next room (downstairs, behind the wall, whatever... to dissipate the condenser heat will go a long way toward energy savings and efficacy)> Are there any affordable solutions for maintaining a stable temperature in my fish tank? <do make the very best use of cooling fans for lights when on and reduce the number of internal powerheads by replacement with a single large external water pump on sump... sources of heat. Best regards, Anthony>

Temperature Fluctuations Is there any way to keep the temperature from fluctuation? <Yes, vented canopies, muffin fans, chillers, etc.> Obviously when the lights are on the temp rises somewhat. I have not noticed any significant fluctuation in temperature (or is 1-2 degrees significant?) <1-2 is not too bad as long as you are not normally running pretty hot, say 84-85 and it is rising to 86-88. Aim to keep your tank around 78-80. -Steven Pro>

ICH PROBLEM and water temperature Dear Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> I've got a big problem here as I have lost some of my beautiful large angels. The temperature of my 200G FOWLR tank is about 79F to 82F  <does it fluctuate this much or more daily? If so it is contributing to the Ich problem... temperature drops are proven to flare Ich.> and I've noticed that every early morning, most of the angels have numerous white spots on their bodies < a sign of Cryptocaryon (Ich)... not Oodinium (Velvet Ich)> and they would perish after 3 to 5 days. I managed to catch some of the angels and dipped them in freshwater for a few minutes but it seems to send them to the nether worlds a bit faster. My Sohal tang seemed unaffected. Massive water change was done a few days back but the problems recurred. <were these fish quarantined for 2-4 weeks before entering the display. You really should if not. Saves money and lives> Could the cold morning temperature be the problem?  <yes... any temp drop (by the book) of more than 2F can cause Ich to flare> My LFS has been trying to convince me on acquiring a UV system.  <buy a cheap hospital tank instead and invest in a second/better heater for the main display> What are your recommendations as it pains me to have my fishes die after keeping them for almost 3 years. Thanks in advance. <mush agreed my friend. No worries, easy to correct problems here. Anthony Calfo>

The bleaching problem (huge thermal vacillation) Thanks for your response. The only thing I goofed up was last water change the temp dropped because the water is stored in garage and its cold here in the east now. It normally runs at 80 degrees and it dropped to 71 <Wow! An unbelievable drop... if it coincided with a lower salinity as well, that spells catastrophic for many. To better days. Anthony Calfo>

Heaters Bob glad you are back. <<Greetings Bryan, JasonC here doing a cameo while Zo and I visit with Bob out here in sunny San Diego.>> I found your site while you were away and just love it. <<good stuff>> Couple quick questions regarding heaters. <<ok>> I have a 75 gal FO up for 2 years. I was wanting to change some of my tank by taking heaters out of the tank and putting in the sump. Question is can I put a couple 150W, 200W heaters in or would 1 300W be fine( I guess, would there be a benefit to putting 2 smaller heaters in ?) <<Actually, I would personally do perhaps two 300w heaters, just for the redundancy.>> Also I'm looking at going with the Ebo Jaeger brand, do these work in the horizontal position as well as vertical? <<they do, and are an excellent choice.>> In researching some heaters, manufactures have said that some only work in the vertical position. <<personally, I would think these are some of the more cheesy heaters, and not suitable for your use.>> thanks Bryan. <<You are quite welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

Temperature What would be the optimum temperature for a salt water, fish only tank with some live rock be? <This depends on what you wish to optimize. If it is dissolved oxygen content because you have a high fish load, then you should operate on the lower end of the acceptable range. If you want to optimize growth, then you want to run slightly warmer. There is a lot of debate ongoing now about temperature and more information coming out everyday about temperature and its affects on disease and bleaching. I keep my fish tanks around 78 and my reef tanks slightly warmer at 80 for best growth.> Thanks <You are welcome. Steven Pro>

Temperature Swing Bob or Anthony, <Wonder Twin Anthony in your service> Easy question for ya: 90 Gallon All-Glass Reef Tank... Used to use a Rio2100 with 4' head. Didn't get the turns per hour I wanted so I upgraded to a Velocity T4 External Pump. Once I connected it, the pump rocked. It is actually quieter than the fans and the water it pumps is amazing. However, the heat it also generates is truly amazing. I was kinda dumb and didn't check my temperature until the next morning and realized the temperature swing. I used to keep my tank at 80 degrees and during peak lighting, the temperature would get up to 81-82 degrees. 8hrs after I installed this new pump, I saw a tank temp of 86 degrees.... whoa...  <hello! No fish can spawn omelets directly> I immediately put a small computer fan in the stand and faced it towards the pump and over the next 8hrs period, the tank settled back to a balmy 78 degrees. <even better would be a fan mounted in a cut-out in the stand exhausting air OUT of the compartment (rather than blowing it around inside)> Phew... This was last night and this morning. Now my question, today when my lights click on (2X 250W Metal Halide 5" Above Water) and my ballasts start to generate heat, <where are the ballasts?> the temperature will undoubtedly rise. What is the MAXIMUM daily temperature swing that a reef tank should see?? I've heard 2 degree shifts <agree in a perfect world> and I've also heard 4 degree shifts are OK as long as they are over a 10hr + period.  <also agree but absolutely no more and even still... tank will not operate at peak> Please give me the facts... Thanks... <you got it...your man Friday...er, Anthony> Christopher Slabe

Re: Temperature Swing Anthony, <greetings, goombah. Anthony> To Answer the Question: My ballasts are in the stand.... <you know that this is a significant source of heat as well. It is worth your time to rewire it with the ballasts outside or above the aquarium. Under any circumstance this will gain you more than a few degrees> You also mentioned blowing the AIR out of the stand. Let me tell you about an experiment that I did FYI... I bought a standard canopy and went to mount my Metal Halide Lights and they only hung 5" above the water. I put a glass top above the glass to eliminate splashes of water from coming into contact with the lights but then hinges on the glass top started to bow under the intense heat of the lamps. I knew I had to put fans on at this point but I didn't know what to do -- blow the air into the canopy or suck AIR out. At this point, I took home a non-contact thermometer and measured the temp of the bulb, of the glass top hinge. The bulb was like 200 degree, the glass top hinge was 175 degrees. I then placed a fan in the canopy sucking air out of the canopy, waiting 1hr and took the measurement again. The temperature of the hinge was 140 degrees. I then repeated with the fan blowing into the canopy. The temperature dropped to 120 degrees. I strongly believe that pushing cold air into the canopy is the best design from a temperature standpoint... Just thought I'd share my knowledge with you... <thank you very kindly for sharing the info... very interesting and believable, although contradictory to popular experience. I am not sure what the dynamic is in your setup that has facilitated the results...but hey... if it's not broke, don't fix it right <smile>? Kind regards, Anthony>

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>

Aquarium Heaters I have a 185 gal tank that I would like to heat outside (not quite - in a screen room with screen on only one side). What is the best way to do this? Temps range from 20s (occasionally in the winter) to 100+ in the summer. I found an excellent article that I can not now locate. The author was a lady named Lynn and there was a picture on it title Lynn on p 3. I know that this part of this is an odd request but any help that you could offer would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time and assistance. David Rowe PS Please respond to XXXX  <Done... a possibly expensive proposition... a good idea to at least cover the non-viewing panels with as thick an insulating Styrofoam sheet as you deem practical... sold in sheets at large hardware stores... During the Winter and Summer I'd try to schedule (with timers) to have the lights on more in the evening (for added heat and metabolic activity)... and use resistant heaters (likely 3-4 watts per gallon...) during both... and possibly a fan blowing across the top in the Summer... perhaps having to resort to a purposeful chiller then. Please read over the Heating, Cooling sections on "Set-Up" on the Marine Index part of WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Substrate cables (again!). also bulb question Hello again Robert! Thanks for your reply to my messages. So, in a nutshell, regarding reef tank substrate heating... would you or wouldn't you? I don't mind being labeled "experimental," but on the other hand I'm certainly not made of $, either. Thanks! <Likely not... too much money I'd rather spend elsewhere... not that much perceived potential gain for me> Now for a more technical, less theoretical question (groan...please bear with me)--- Am thinking of the best way to illuminate my Corner 92 (this is a triangular tank). For my planted discus tank (also a triangle) I use various CF striplites arranged across the top, longest in front back to shortest(12") @ rear (all 6500K) and also a simple NO plant bulb (8500K) that is run longer than the others for a sunrise/set effect (the cardinals appreciate this transition greatly).  <Neat> All this is mounted to a brace on pulleys that can be raised/lowered to allow access into the tank, and it works very well, but (and please bear with me)...... <Okay, good idea on the pulley... have even seen electrical-motorized ones on big, rich folks set-ups...> I want a halide for the SW tank! So here is what I plan to do- run a 65W CF down each side in an inverted 'V' (I will construct a custom brace for this), and have a MH pendant (spot) in the very center of the tank, above where the clam will live someday. The two fixtures will be hung separately, so I can adjust their heights independently. So far so good, but here is where it gets technical... Firstly, I want a sunrise/set effect using actinics, arranged in the 'V'. I could use CF bulbs for this but that sure seems like a lot of watts for just actinics-- maybe NO tubes would be better here (what do you think?). <I would maybe make one of the lamps an actinic...> This setup would have only a 65W above each side (plus actinic) <Mmm... where are these other lamps coming from?> above where most of the LR will be. As I hope to someday have an anemone at the rear corner up relatively high, would this be enough light (as the halide won't shine here)? Or should I use two 65W each side (I guess then I could have one each be a 50/50 for the transitions, but 130W doesn't seem like it'd be too subtle!)? Or two 65W each side plus NO actinics (YIKES! How many bulbs/timers is that!?!)? Plus the halide! <I would double the 65 watt fixtures... and have at least one of the lamps an actinic variety... (Have that odd-pair come, stay on and go off an hour or so ahead of other lighting)... and place the anemone thereabouts.> --(deep breath)-- Secondly, with all these different bulbs, the possible color combinations are huge! Of course, I'm looking for the most attractive one without having to actually purchase the bulbs to play around, so... A) What color halide would you recommend (this probably won't hardly be used until the clam arrives, but still I want to have a plan)? I was thinking 6500K or 10K. <Me too... or anything in-between these values> B) What CF temps would you say down each edge (maybe 1@50/50, 1@8800) Please have a good think about this--but don't drive yourself mad like I'm about to. <No need to drive any further. Am parked. I like the 8,800 K's> --(whew!-that feels better)-- Thirdly, should I run a nightlight somewhere over this thing (or will the residual photons be enough-ha!)? <If it's dark in the area, a night light is a very good idea> This tank will have a tempered glass "lockdown" lid to contain an eel, so this will decrease the lights' penetration some. Now, yes, I know that I'm probably making this harder than necessary by wanting a halide, that I could simply re-do what works on the discus' tank with all CF strips, but Bob- I love those little MH light ripples! (but to the point of insanity?...YES!) Thank you very much! from Erik (did I write all this?) Nelson <Yes... do "practice" with how hot the MH will make this top... keep it clean, wiped down regularly. Bob Fenner>

Re: Temperature Dear Robert, My son-in-law likes to keep the temperature at about 72 f. He claims that tropical fish like warm water. I maintain that such high temperature breeds bacteria, nitrite, ammonia etc. I contend that he should lower the temperature. <Mmm, a tough general question...> Could you please advise us what is the ideal temperature for tropical fish? <Depends on species, gear involved, the aquarists wishes (more rapid growth, but more money for filtration, aeration, lighting...)... but something in the mid to upper seventies F. is "about right" for the broad mix of "tropical" fishes offered in our interest. Lower temperatures (lower seventies, upper sixties F.) are tolerable to many species identified as "tropical", and keeping temperatures lower is more "safe" in terms of induced metabolic rates, dissolved gas concentrations, higher stocking densities, costs of operation... but most folks would rather see their fishes, invertebrates moving about more briskly, more colorful, growing faster, reproducing... most often tied in with warmer water. If, where in doubt, by species, you can find useful information on temperature range of many species (in the wild) posted on www.Fishbase.org Bob Fenner> Thank you, and best regards Joe Carabott

Re: Chillie Willies I have a clue to what may be the problem. At night, the rest of my house gets very cold...the tank is in the kitchen. My bedroom is the only heated area at night. So the heaters (I have two powerful ones) are working one way during the day (keeping the temp consistent) but at night, they are forced to work overtime.  <How many watts/gallon for how large a system?... I'd have 2-3 per if smallish> I checked late at night and the temp in the tank is about 4-5 degrees lower (75-76F) than what it is during the day (80-81F)...could this be it?  <Yikes... this is too much diurnal variance> For the first few months, they didn't seem to have a problem, but it has been getting colder and colder lately in the bay area. <Brrrr. I understand> I did put in a couple of green Chromis to keep the tank cycled, so far they are doing well... Thanks as always! -Jack <More watts my friend. Bob Fenner>

Tank Temp and Algae Greetings Bob! I hope this mail finds you happy and healthy! << Greetings from Jason C, doing his best Bob Fenner impersonation, practicing for Bob's upcoming dive trip. I hope this day finds you happy and healthy too. >> I have a 100 gallon that has been set up for about 3 weeks with 100 lbs of LR. I am using a Blueline 1100 (Champion Lighting) as a return pump, an Icecap 660 (3 60'' bulbs), and 2x295 gph Maxijet powerheads. I have disengaged the heater. The tank temp is constantly at 82-83 F. I have disengaged the lights for 12 hours to try and determine where the heat is coming from. The tank temp did not change. It must be the Blueline. I know the standard response is to add fans. A chiller is out of the question. << with 100g of water, it might take a little longer than 12 hours for the water temperature to shift, given other factors: ambient temp, flow rate, etc. I quickly checked the Champion web site - the picture of this pump shows is as an external pump. Is this the case with your sump/pump? If the pump is external, then I doubt seriously that the pump is contributing enough heat to warm 100g to 84 degrees; it could add some heat but not that much. I didn't notice anywhere... is there a top on this tank? You may well be creating a bottle effect with the top on tight. >> 1) Will fans help since the problem is the pump? << well, a fan will help, regardless of where the problem is being created >> 2) Will they help if I have them blowing into the sump?  << yes >> 3) I know that 84 is on the high side, but should I be worried about the temp? Is 84 too hot? << well, life has an amazing capacity to endure conditions we would think to be intolerable. For most tank-bound organisms, this higher temperature would speed up everyone's metabolism, so some/most of your inhabitants would have shorter-than-normal lives, just because they used it all up at twice the speed. >> As you probably know, Borneman suggests keeping reef tanks at 80-84 F but my LFS thinks that's insane. He says almost nothing (especially fish) will survive at that temp. << I quickly checked the Borneman book - his suggested range is 68 to 84, with 86 being fatal to much marine life. Delbeek/Sprung list ideal range as 70 to 80. Bob Fenner's book Conscientious Marine Aquarist lists ideal as 72 to 80. Given those three samples I'd say that 84 is high, and certainly sets you up for something higher. If SPS corals are in your future, you're going to want to get that temp down. >> Also, the LR is growing large amounts of filamentous algae that I can't identify. How about giving it a try? The algae is growing in tufts or clusters all over the tank including the walls and substrate. One can clearly see that there are about 10-15 thalli growing from each cluster and the thalli look similar to a feather. The algae is dark green and wispy (my wife says feathery). The algae does not mat like hair algae rather it grows very fast and sways in the current. << Check this page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/greenalg.htm - you may find a picture of your algae here. In any case, it sounds like it has nothing to compete with it at the moment, so that coupled with the 84 degree temperature and you've got a wonderful planted marine tank. >> 4) Do I need to get rid of this stuff? It is pretty but grows at an astronomical rate! << The definition of "a weed" is subjective. Is it competing with something else that you want? I would say chances are good this is a pest, too much algae can out-compete your nitrogen-cycle bacteria for nutrients. >> There is also another kind of algae that I can't identify. It is a gorgeous almost neon green and it grows as lots of single strands. The strands are not straight but appear to be kinked up. It's not as fast growing nonetheless: 5) What is it and do I need to get rid of this stuff? << again, check that URL. Manual removal with the hands, increased flow in the tank, competitive organisms. >> Assuming the worst (this is all nuisance algae) can you suggest a cleanup crew from a specific dealer? << six of one, half dozen of the other - check the WetWeb Discussion forum for specific recommendations. http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/ >> Bob, your daily FAQ page is one of the best features of your site. Unlike many, many other sites that also have good info, your site is getting updated constantly. It never gets stale. << that is what makes for good Internet reading, isn't it... >> Thanks for your time, patience, and knowledge. Keep up the good work!! << doing what I can to match Bob's energy, may not be possible. Cheers - J >> David Dowless

Heater Hi and good evening, Bob. What is a good and reliable heater? It gets cool here in Honduras in winter. Sometimes around 18 C ( 65 F ) for 2-3 days, then it rises again. Will that affect the fish? I want to put a heater, they are not so expensive. Thanks, Bernd <Of brands you're likely to run into... the Aquarium Systems line. And yes to wanting to avoid rapid, large swings in temperature with marines. I would be using a heater. Bob Fenner>

Tank Temperature, shrimp longevity, necessity of adding phytoplankton... Hey Bob, Hope this finds you well; the reef-keeping efforts are going well on this end (currently have a coral beauty and three Firefish seemingly happy in my 60 gall). Some questions I have that I can't seem to resolve through research, so I thought I'd go straight to the guru (you) on these issues: 1.) What's your take on the great temperature debate for reef tanks? High 70s, low 80s? I keep my tank at 80-82. I've heard of people talking about corals "melting" at temps higher than this; which corals, if any? <This whole range is fine... there are some important factors to take into account with the high and low end... issues like the desired results of the aquarist: growth, color, shortened life spans... need for added circulation, aeration at elevated levels... Some species of corals have shown difficulties in thermal adaptation... ones collected from "cooler" latitudes, deeper waters... but most all will/can adapt...> 2.) How long do inverts live in aquariums? Shrimp, crabs, snails, etc. Do any last more than a year? <Yes, most live a few years...> How about fan worms?  <A couple to a handful of years for some larger species> I'd like to get more shrimp or a fan worm, but wouldn't be so interested if they weren't long lived in the aquarium. <All relative my friend. To us Drosophilae come and go, for Galapagos tortoises, we're moving along...> 3.) How do you feel about the use of phytoplankton in aquariums? Necessary? Is it possible to have phytoplankton reproducing in your tank if you add it frequently enough? <Good idea, yes either produced endogenously and/or added... Yes... with "proper" size, set-up...> 4.) I've read a lot of anti-anemone-keeping sentiment in various posts. Some say less than 5% of anemones in aquariums make it past a year. You say they're hardy, though? What's your take on all this? <They're "hardy", considering the amazing trying environmental fluctuation they encounter in the wild... and how long many apparently live... but not tolerant of the abuse generally encountered in "extraction", handling, then poor conditions afforded them in most cases in captivity...> 5.) Is it possible to have too much Caulerpa or macro-algae in a tank? I've read that excess algae can cause too much oxygen in tanks and be harmful to corals (evidenced by little bubbles on rocks or micro-algae, which I occasionally see). I have three clumps of red ferns (small fist size), and another clump of maiden hair algae. What do you think? <Yes, not so much for "excess oxygen"... but production of other by-materials, over-competition for carbon dioxide, other nutrients> 6.) Lastly, and not so interesting, my two leather corals seem to be shrinking (I've had them for about 2 months -- they used to open fully, but not in the last three weeks). I have no idea what gives -- parameters are in usual accordance to recommended guidelines (with temperature being the high exception). I guess my question is how to tell when, if at all, to throw in the towel with these guys; once on a declining path, do they have good chances for recovery? Or do I just let nature and time take its course? <Go with nature... you will be able (sight, touch, smell) to tell if/when your Sarcophytons are on the way out. In the meanwhile, check on water quality (esp. alkalinity, pH, calcium), look closely for parasites (even at night), pesky predators, add a bit of iodide/iodine weekly. Feed them... and if/when/where in doubt a couple of ten percent water changes, a unit or two of carbon in your filter flow path... may work wonders. Bob Fenner> Thanks again Bob!

Temperature fluctuation and stock selection <There are a few... some of which are reviewed on the WWM site... even one that's well-regarded by yours truly. Look for the names Martin Moe, Nick Dakin, John Tullock... Bob Fenner> I need to find fishes for my tank that are not very sensitive to temperature fluctuations. In the summer the water is around 81 but when we cook in the house it goes up to 85 for a while, any tips to find these less temperature sensitive specimens? <Seek specimens that come from such wide thermal change circumstances in the wild. Shallow water ones that are collected near the equator. Keep the tank vigorously aerated/circulated and under-crowded> I ordered your book today 'The Conscientious Marine Aquarist,' sounds like what I need. <You will enjoy and gain by this experience. Bob Fenner> thanks, Marc

Temperature Hello First. Really great site you have there. Second. I looked and looked some more and couldn't find a section  (In Saltwater fishes) talking about temperature. A section giving temperature information  of tropical and non tropical, fish only, reef systems, etc. what's  good and what's not so good. Optimal and hazardous temps. I know for example, some Corals in the Mediterranean prefer higher  temperatures (mid 80's) than lower in which they simply die. thank you for the effort. Mr. Asaf Gur - Israel. <Yes, thank you for this prompting. Will add to my writing projects list and post to the WWM site... Simple issue it might seem, but very important to understand and respect. Bob Fenner>

Temperature Control Hi Bob! I have a 75 gallon tank with about 100 pounds of live rock. I am using a 48" Brite Lite power compact fixture by Custom Sea Life with two 65 watt 8800 Kelvin bulbs. I'm having trouble with the temperature. During the day, it creeps up to about 82 degrees and then at night falls to 80 degrees (when the lights are off). The heaters at this point pretty much never come on, so I think the lighting is causing the temperature to be so high. <Possible, yes... along with the diurnal changes in the space there... this range/change not too problematical... > This seems odd to me considering PC's aren't supposed to heat the water all that much. <Hmm, well, likely the tank is serving as a thermal bottle... oh, I see you address this below> Would it help to remove the glass canopy under the lights? <Yes... for sure... for other reasons too (light transmission...)... do regularly "top off" for the added evaporation...> Should I change my lighting period (to night time only)? It's currently 1pm to 1am. <Not IMO... as I state, the change isn't excessively large, temperature not too high... if concerned I would set your thermostats on the heaters to the higher mark (82 F.)... and they will come on at night and maintain the temperature around this... Need to be concerned possibly during the Summer... perhaps change light photoperiod then... or...> Finally, should I just try to maintain a stable 82 degrees? <Ah, I should read these queries all the way through ahead of starting to respond....> Sorry for all the questions. I live in Indiana, and it's been really warm the last few days. I haven't had this problem before, so I think it may be something I'll have to deal with in the summer only. <Mmm, yes...> Thanks for your help!!! Dave Hopkins <Glad to be here my friend. Bob Fenner, who was just up, palling around with a friend, Morgan Lidster, of Terre Haute... Inland Aquatics, at a hobby conference in Monterey.>

Floating thermometer (broken... metal ball-ballast in tank...) Mr. Fenner: A floating thermometer broke in my salt water reef aquarium and I think some of the metal beads may still be in my aquarium. Should I be especially worried? If this could lead to a disastrous consequences, what should I do to remedy this problem? Thanks, Vince <Yes to being worried... perhaps lead, maybe ferrous... at any length, bad news... if it were my tank, I'd siphon out all the possible gravel areas and CAREFULLY sort through (sort of like rice, beans, what have you, ahead of cooking for rocks, sticks...) and then rinse it before replacing (freshwater is fine here). Bob Fenner>

Temperature, etc. Hi Bob: I created a baffle system in my 20 gallon sump to create a small refugium area to grow macroalgae (Caulerpa, Halimeda, etc). This sump is located below my 92 gallon main reef tank. I am noticing that my water temperature is now increasing because, I believe, the pump on my in-sump skimmer is generating more heat because it is now located in its own section (even though the water in this section eventually ends up in the tank as before). Am I right? Because of this, I am now concerned with additional heat generated by the light I have on my sump (the temperature issue with the skimmer pump was discovered BEFORE this light went on). <Hmm, sump idea sounds good... do doubt if the apparent temperature rise is due to the configuration of the skimmer/pump... From where then? What sort of "main pump/s" do you employ?...> My temperature has increased from 79 degrees F to 81 F with just the skimmer pump. What is the maximum temp range I can go to? <This level is not a worry for the vast majority of life kept by aquarists... the mid eighties are too high a constant temperature...> On an unrelated issue, is it O.K. for me to place a piece of Styrofoam under my return pump to decrease vibration? (will this pollute my tank?) <Not a problem, and a good idea... this will likely cool the tank down as well... by allowing for greater air circulation around the pump... This pump is not restricted on the intake side I trust (a big no-no, and great generator of waste heat and high electrical bills> Thank you, as always, for your help. <You're welcome. Bob Fenner>

New Salt Water Aquarium addict Robert, I really enjoy reading the FAQs on WWM. Here are some questions for you: <Good... thank you for contributing to them> First, the facts... I currently have set up (for about 3-4 months): 55 Gal SWA w/ UGF w/ 4 power heads (250 MaxiJet) w/ 1 Eheim 2213 CF w/ 1 Sea-clone Protein Skimmer (collects a lot of green fluid) 40 lbs crushed coral 15 lbs crushed shells approx. 50lbs of live rock In the tank are: 3 Yellow-tailed Damsels 1 False Percula Clown 1 Porcupine Puffer (new addition - one week, so far, so good) <Will eventually eat all the crustaceans, mollusks below> 3 Emerald crabs 15-20 Scarlet hermits 10-15 Blue leg hermits 4 Troches snails 2 Astrea snails 1 Mushroom rock( 6-8 Mushrooms) Questions: Nitrates stay fixed at 20 PPM. How can I reduce this? <Please read over the section on Nitrates, Marine Filtration on the www.WetWebMedia.com site> How often should I change the media in the Eheim? (currently there is activated carbon and some biological media) <Once a month on the activated carbon, just rinse the bio-media... good forever/one time purchase) Are the Mushrooms in any danger from any of the above species and/or Nitrate levels? <Not likely... but better to keep the nitrates below ten ppm> What are the little creatures living in the crushed coral? (they look like tiny shrimp) <Likely some sort/s of crustaceans... amphipods, mysids, caprellids...> Are these harmful? If so what can I do to eradicate these little guys? (fish/chemicals) <Not at all... very beneficial... don't get rid of them... keep system clean, are food, keep you attentive, thinking...> I live in a rather warm apartment and the tank gets up to 84 deg F, Is this very bad? <Not necessarily... but would do what you can to lower this a bit (provide airflow across tank surface... keep eye on spg here... turn off lights during hot part of day (on at night when you're home...)... Guard against it getting any warmer... on very hot days, float a water/drinking container that you've frozen in the system...> I try to keep a steady 80 deg F by keeping the window open a crack, How quick is too quick for sudden temp changes? (e.g. bags of ice floating) <More than a degree or two in an hour is contraindicated> Can you suggest any anemones hardy enough and/or compatible with this tank? <See the WWM site re> Your help is greatly appreciated. Thank you, Brian Bottarini <See you soon. Bob Fenner>

Temp Variation I have just set up a new 250 gallon tank with much help from you via the Flying Fish QandA section and your books. (the only problem I have is I have used the books so much they are beginning to fall apart) The LFS installed a Teclima Chiller. The manual indicates a 1 degree variation in on/off cycles. I am getting lows of 75.2 and highs of 78.2 over a period of 6-8 hours. The chiller will take the tank to 72 (maybe lower but I stopped there) so I know it has enough power. Question: Is this too much of a swing for the health of fish and inverts? I want to make sure all is well before introducing livestock. Thanks for any help. <Thanks for writing. Have seen the ads for these "little" units and wondered what sorts of experiences folks were having. A swing of one degree F. a day isn't necessary to stay within, but three degrees in six to eight hours is near my limit... Put another way, many/most of the organisms we might keep (those regularly offered in the trade), would not regularly encounter such a thermal regimen in the wild, or choose to travel through such... But all else being equal (which I've never found...) the temperature swing alone should not be a big deal... If this were my system (I know your utility company is going to love this), I would augment your heating/cooling unit with a thermostatic heater set at the 76, 77 mark... And set the chiller at... maybe 80 F.... Now, back to cooking food and sticking in the fridge for me! Bob Fenner>

Re: Temp Variation Thanks for responding. Just to let you know I found out these units could be programmed to adjust for sensitivity related to the temp swings. Great I think. Only problem is that as of today the second unit we have installed failed. First one failed at the start. Maybe bigger is better. <Yikes. Do agree with your assessment... Bigger is better and more stable>

Temperature HI Bob, Recently I found out that the water is warmer that expected because of the dry weather and the temperature in the tank is about 900f . Can it be harmful to the animal? Thanks, David. >> Bizarre... I trust you mean 90 degrees F.... and yes, this is way too high. Leave your lights off, blow a fan across the top of the water... if the tank is big enough, float a frozen "milk jug" of water on its surface or a sump that is tied in with it. Bob Fenner

80 gal. reef tank Bob, I just got my 80 gal tank set up, put the live rock in a couple days ago. The tank sits on a 36 inch high cabinet that is closed on all four sides so it projects out into the room like an island. An Iwaki 30 RLXT is in the cabinet along with a 22 gal. sump that has a Rio 2500 running an Aqua C skimmer. In the tank are four micro jet powerheads being run by a WaveMaster.  Lighting is four 55w PCs and two 175w MH. I have only been running the PCs for now and not the two halides. Problem.....The temp is at 78 or above. I put a six inch fan in the cabinet directed at the Iwaki, leave the doors on the cabinet open about an inch and run two fans in the enclosed light canopy.  I live at 7000 ft. elevation where it is cool at night and the house is heated to about 70 during the day. Any ideas as to why it is running so warm and is there any cause for alarm. Thanks a lot for any advise you can offer...........Robert  >> Sounds like the beginnings of greatness in empirical science here! Shades of thermodynamics. Well, constant input of (heat) energy results in... elevated temperature... Where from? The Iwaki pump (surprised?) and other inputs certainly (probably next the lights)... Well, 78F. isn't too high for a tropical marine system... but it will be higher by far with the metal halides turned on... You might consider cycling them on only in the cooler evening times... And, of course, switching out that Iwaki pump for something that imparts less heat to your water (like a Little Giant, MDSC series pump)... Additionally, an evaporative cooling arrangement can be rigged by blowing more air across the tanks open water surface, or a similar area in a sump below... or perhaps something more radical... like cutting the floor, maybe a chiller with its venting of waste heat out of the cabinet....  I myself would try to limit the upper temperature to about 82F (during the Summers, peak temperature from lighting...) and delimit the daily variation to 3F. Bob Fenner

Optimum Temp... Mmmmm Hi! What is the optimum temperature to keep a reef tank at? Is 78-79? acceptable? Is 75-76? better? The reason I ask is my chiller comes on often ( more temperature fluctuations) to keep the temperature in the lower range, but not at all in the higher range.  Jill  >> I'd allow the temperature at the higher range you state... unless you have some known cool water organisms... the upper seventies is fine. Bob Fenner

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