Easy to use and set up
Suitable for nano tanks
Has two wind speeds
Easy to set up
Is the temperature of your fish tank off by just a smidge? For your aquatic friends to thrive in their environment, the temperature needs to be just right for them. This will vary depending on the tank setup you have and the type of fish you keep. However, if you’re looking for a slight temperature difference to cool your fish off, a chiller may be a good option. We took a look at the 10 best aquarium chillers to make the decision easier for you.
Table of Contents
Aquarium chillers are, in a nutshell, the opposite of an aquarium heater. However, there’s less control over the temperature, and it will only cool your tank’s water down by a degree or two. This can work with the aquarium heater or without, but it will still maintain your aquarium’s water temperature pretty well. When searching for the right one to buy for your tank, there are a few things to keep in mind, such as the chiller’s flow rate, the energy it uses, and the noise levels of the fans. Let’s take a closer look at some of these features.
Flow rate is important for a lot of things when it comes to fish keeping. This means how much water flows throughout the tank and the filter by gallon per hour. For example, if your filter says it has a flow rate of 25 GPH then that means it filters through about 25 gallons of water per hour. Depending on the size of your tank, you’ll want a chiller with a high flow rate or a low one. It needs to have the correct flow rate for your aquarium or else the chiller won’t be able to do its job properly. If the flow rate is too fast or too slow depending on the gallon size of your fish tank, then your chiller will have a hard time keeping up with the temperature. It will cool down your aquarium, but it may not work as efficiently and it will be difficult for it to maintain the right temperature of the water. This will depend on whether the chiller can keep up with the flow rate or not. In addition to this, be sure to get a chiller that will correspond with the same size as your aquarium. You do not want to use a chiller that works well for aquariums up to 200 gallons in size when you only have a 30-gallon fish tank.
When your chiller is on and it’s hard at work, it’s using electricity to work through the aeration, absorbing heat, and releasing it back out into the air so your fish can be a bit cooler. These chillers are normally energy-efficient but you need to watch out for this. Every home is different and everyone’s budgets are different as well in terms of the electricity bill. Not to mention, you want to make sure that the chiller is using just enough energy to get the job done and it’s not over-exerting itself and possibly overheating. When searching for the right aquarium chiller for your fish tank, keep an eye on the watts and the energy usage. Be sure that it’s energy-efficient and that it won’t overheat if it’s working too hard. This will also ensure that your chiller gives you a long service life, too. The less energy it uses, the easier it will work, thus lasting longer.
Finally, you want to make sure that the fan noise is limited or non-existant when the aquarium chiller is working. Most of the chillers on this list are ultra-quiet when they’re operating. However, you want to double check and make sure that it won’t disturb anything or anyone else in the house, depending on where your fish tank is. Of course, this is n’t necessarily a must when it comes to choosing a chiller for your aquarium. It never hurts to look into it though. A loud fan speed can get old and annoying pretty quick.
Aquarium chillers will remove the heat from your tank’s water and transfer it somewhere else—this is where the “heat exchange” comes in. The water will get heat removed from it, thus cooling it off by a degree or two. There are a couple of different parts that make up the aquarium chiller, and the heat exchanger is one, also known as the evaporator. This is where the cooling process begins. The heat from the aquarium water gets absorbed by the liquid refrigerate, which evaporates into the coils. These coils are called the condenser coils which hold the temperature for the process. Another part of the process is called the compressor. This is where the liquid refrigerate comes from. The compressor pumps the refrigerate to the condenser coils which raises the pressure and the temperature, thus giving up the heat and dispersing it into the air. The fans then blow air across the condenser coils, cooling it off and removing the heat. There is also an expansion valve which will reduce the temperature as well as the pressure of the liquid refrigerate as it goes back into the heat exchanger. Now that the coils are chilled, the refrigerate will flow over them, thus getting chilled itself and cooling off the water inside the tank. Most of these aquarium chillers will work with freshwater as well as saltwater fish tanks because the components of the chiller are prepared for saltwater. Most often than not, the chiller will be made with titanium coils. This will ensure that the chiller can resist corrosion due to the salt from the saltwater passing through. Overall, aquarium chillers are their own process and have a cycle to maintain in order to chill the water in your fish tank.
Before you do anything with your aquarium chiller, you should always make sure that it’s off and unplug it for a couple of minutes to ensure that it has had time to sit and cool off for a bit. Not all, but some aquarium chillers will conduct heat and warm up pretty fast and you don’t want to hurt yourself when trying to clean this machine. If you're using your chiller for a freshwater tank then cleaning it will be a cinch. All you need to do is rinse the chiller with water until it looks visibly clean. Saltwater, on the other hand, will require a bit more cleaning. Essentially, you’ll clean the chiller the same way with a saltwater tank setup. However, there might be some calcium deposits on the inside because of the salt. All you need to do with this is clean it with vinegar. Since nothing substantial is going back inside the water through the chiller, this will not harm your fish or the water of the tank. You can use vinegar to rinse the chiller as you would with water until it’s visibly clean. Then you can put it back together and set it back up to run again.
Aquarium chillers need to be placed in an area that has plenty of airflow. Since the chiller cannot add cool substances to the tank’s water but only take the heat, that heat needs to go somewhere else. It gets released back into the air, naturally. So, if you place your aquarium chiller inside your aquarium stand, for example, which is under your tank and in an enclosed space, then the heat is going to remain in that enclosed space. This is going to cause the heat to sit there, potentially reheating your aquarium again from the bottom. Otherwise, your chiller will spendmore energy trying to cool off your water only to put the heat back into the tank. Ideally, you’ll want to have at least a foot or two of proper space with optimal airflow around the entire chiller. There are also some chillers that will clip onto your aquarium. There are some of those chillers on this list and they work just as well. The fans can be directed toward the water’s surface of your fish tank or they can be directed elsewhere. A lot of those chillers will have adjustable angles and they will also come with multiple wind speeds depending on what you need for your time and you may be able to get multiple fans going at once as well. Also, you’ll want to make sure that your chiller is in an easy-to-reach place as well. This will make it so you can check on it from time to time to ensure that it’s still working properly and for you to do routine cleaning for it. You’ll also want to make sure that it is in a spot that is easily accessible to an outlet (because you need to plug it in, of course) but that the electrical wires won’t come into contact with the aquarium water or accidentally cause any damage or incidents.
Always place your aquarium chiller in a well-ventilated area to ensure proper aeration.
Aquarium chillers act as a small refrigerator for your tank.
Finding the right temperature for your aquarium is tricky. You can have heaters, and then there are also aquarium chillers to ensure that the temperature is just right for your fish. We hope this list of our top best aquarium chillers will make the decision easier for you.