Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
HOW TO: DIY Aquarium chiller TUTORIAL

HOW TO: DIY Aquarium chiller TUTORIAL


Hi everybody, joey here again and welcome
back. So today, I’m going to show you how to build
an aquarium chiller. some hobbyists live in areas where it might
get very hot in certain months. Cooling their aquarium water on a constant basis is something
they might need to consider. In today’s video, I’m going to show you how
to build a chiller that you can do at home that will not only work well, but look good,
be functional and be cost effective. I wanted to keep this project under $100 and
be universal for any aquarium. As with all my videos, I also needed to create a project
that many people would actually be able to do. So simplicity is always key. Smaller chillers start around $500 for a chiller
rated for aaround 50 gallons. This project will only cost around $100 for
the same size tank, and use less power. More so, this project will serve to inspire
you with a simple idea. So let’s get started. I started off with buying a mini fridge second
hand. I built the chiller out of one of these as they are commonly available, cheap, and
easy to work with and look pretty good. Since I bought mine second hand, I only paid
$30 for it. Even new, they are only $100. You will be able to find many mini fridges
on crags list, kijiji or other similar sites for around the same price or even less. I started by removing everything out of the
fridge. I removed the grating, and all small doors inside. Most mini fridges will have
a small “freezer” inside. Removing the door from it will allow for more circulation of
the cold air. DO NOT freezer tray as this is what actually produces the cold air. With the fridge now emptied out, I got some
garden hose. I used garden hose as it is rigid and cheap.
It also has excellent insulation properties compared to other types of hoses. You can
use whatever you find is cheapest. BUT you will need a lot of it. If using garden hose,
running some water through it for a few minutes will insure there is no dust or anything else
in the hose making it more safe to use. I got two 50 foot hoses for $15 total. I just
picked up the cheapest ones I could find and they were on sale.
You will want to Test fit the hose in the fridge first, to make sure it fits. Again,
the more hose you have the better. I would start with at least 100 feet… If using garden
hose, don’t bother unraveling it. It is better just to leave it alone and not cause any kinks.
Plus, it’s already nicely coiled for you. Now prepare the hose. Start by cutting off
one end of each hose. Cut off opposite connectors. We need to still be able to connect the hoses
in the middle. If you only have one long hose, you can simply cut off both ends. Then connect the two hoses in the middle. Using your spade drill, drill the holes where
you want the hose to enter and exit. Location doesn’t matter as long as you don’t go through
the back or top of the fridge. This will general be harder to work around and more risk of
hitting something you don’t want to hit! The spade should be slightly small then the diameter
of the hose, as this will insure a tight fit and allow the hose to form a seal with the
fridge. Slide the hoses through the holes.
If you notice it is a loose fit, fill free to silicone them in place.
You can even use some expanding foam to help insulate that area. While not needed, and
will drive over all costs up, the benefits of it are slightly better than silicone. Notice the thermostat is still intact and
the “freezer” is still fully functional. It is only now ventilated and the colder air
can freely pass through the whole fridge. Turn the fridge on, and let it run on its
own for at least 24 hours with the temperature set to the coolest temperature… This will
get the fridge ready for use. Now before we talk about connecting it to
your aquarium, let’s first talk about how this works. Water will be pumped into the fridge through
the hose and back out to the tank. Water is cooled because of the time it spends
in the fridge. The more hose you have in the fridge, the longer the water will be in contact
with the cool hose and the cooler the output of the water will be. To control temperature, changes must be monitored
over time, until you get the right temperature of the tank. By simply turning down the flow
of the pump, you cool the water. Turning it up, warms the water.
You might also find playing around with the thermostat useful as well. This style cooler
will be good for tanks up to 50 gallons. However, that will also depend on just how cool you
need your water to be. This might work on larger setups. So how do you connect this to your aquarium? Well, this is where YOU get creative. Every
aquarium is unique. You might not want a pump inside your aquarium, so you decide to plumb
the pump “inline” outside of the tank and simply make a couple of PVC intake and output
for the chiller. Maybe you don’t mind an extra pump in the
tank and you just run a pump down to the chiller and the output hose back up to the tank.
Ultimately, this is easiest and cheapest if you are running it to a sump. This way you
only need to use a cheap and low powered power head or small pump.
What I also like to do is on the output hose, I connect a ball valve so I can control the
flow a little easier. This is basically a must to be able to control the temperature
more precisely. The thermostat in the fridge will help with that as well. Anyways, I hope you guys enjoyed this project
and it gave you a few ideas to use on your own. I also want to thank you guys for watching
and we’ll see you next time.

65 comments on “HOW TO: DIY Aquarium chiller TUTORIAL

  1. you say dont remove the freezer as it is the chilling unit. so why cant you remove it and make a submersible chiller?

  2. I did this however I placed a bucket of water in the fridge and laid the hose in the water. It helped keep the water more constant.

  3. so i found a 2.7 cubic foot daewoo mini fridge i figured the it's alil bigger so i can fit more hose inside of it.. about how many degrees should the temp drop?

  4. hey, u say the garden hose is well insulated. does the cold air in the fridge even affect it? should't u use copper tubes?
    another question, how far did u manage to cool the tank using this?

  5. i'm planning to build something like this, but how much will it cool? in need an 85 gallon tank cooled to 60/65F year round, during summer it can get to 86F around here, would this be enough? iḿ planning to keep Tritutus dobrogicus (newts), and they'll flee the water around 68F and stop eating

  6. Hey Joey, if you have a canister filter can you change the water exiting from the filter from going back into the tank by hooking up the output hose into the chiller then back into the tank?

  7. Doesn't concern anybody about the copper fittings at both ends of the hoses.
    Copper will kill all corals

  8. I have been think of using a freezer, never thought of a water hose, but your video got my attention. I am looking at cooling the water of on a bigger scale. Right looking at appriox 500 plus gallon on a fish tank. Once it goes through the filter system having go in a freezer (hoses) an then back in the tank. Any opinions for this?

  9. I tried the small fridge chiller for my 55 gal that is located in my garage. in the tank is a pleco and a koi. both will be moving into my aquaponics  1984 gal tank. for the meantime I am running into a temp prob. I did the floating ice but that cut own on the swimming area for the koi and was tedious to keep up with.  temp is sitting at 82-86. this caused an algae bloom and that was a nightmare. I found that the fridge with 75 feet of marine hose just did not chill the water enough to cool the tank. since this was a learning experience for me as I will be needing a cooling system for the aquaponics which will be located outside in a greenhouse. my next consideration will be a chest freezer with much more hose. question here….. there might be room for another 25 foot hose in the mini fridge..do you think that this will increase the cooling affect? I do have a vid of the set up.. would you like to see? and please comment..

  10. Garden hose is not a better choice because it will have poor heat transfer rate. better use copper tubes inside the fridge. entry and exit to fridge should be made of garden pipe.

  11. This guy just butchered all the rules of thermodynamics..
    Using insulated tubing inside a fridge where you dont want insulation….

    Water staying inside the fridge longer to cool… uh… no…. that's not how thermodynamics works in a closed system.

  12. keep in mind that freezers and refrigerators are not designed to chill things but rather keep things cold over long period of time. pumping heat into one will greatly reduce its lifespan. pc guys have done this in the past to build pc chillers and the results are ALWAYS a dead fridge

  13. Ive been working on the same project but how do I hook up a temperature control unit, if want to. Please advise and what about a Peltier unit. Which one would be the best.

  14. I tried it and it did not work for me, a hose doesnt transfer temps very well, more like an isolator, tried a variery of hoses, same result.

  15. First time tank owner here. Is there a video on how u'd hook this up to ur tank?? I'm lost lol

  16. Slide the hose into the hole. If its loose, silicone it.
    I'm stuck to this stripper now. My wifes going to kill me when she gets home and sees me.

  17. I don't keep fish, but do keep cloud forest orchids, many of which like cool temps around 10C (50F) and I struggle to provide the right environment in the winter. This seems like a really good idea, if I can figure out how to do it using fans to extract the air to the fridge and return it without causing a drop in the humidty level (needs to be 80% or more).

  18. That's a pretty big chiller! I wonder how the running costs compare to out-of-the-box chillers in the longhaul. I also wonder about alternatives to the garden hose, it should be interesting to see how the insulation and cost varies by material type. It's crazy how easy it is to heat a tank and how difficult it is to cool one off…

  19. Great video, we are having trouble at the moment with our aquaponics system and the fish overheating, we are using a 1000ltr tank. Do you think this would work for such a large amount of water? Have you tried it with a freezer instead of a fridge? Thanks.

  20. You just gave me an idea a 3 and 1 on how to create a coiled fan to cool a room.The only problem I would be facing is the condensation. Maybe transfer it it to the plants they wouldn't mined a little copper..The question I have how cold can the refrigerator get without the cover removed from the freezer department?

  21. I am thinking about doing this for my hydroponics system here in sharjah. I am not sure the refrigerator's compressor will last the heat outside as it gets well over 45 degrees Celsius or 113 Fahrenheit.

  22. 2:55 bullshit i have killed 2 mini fridges so far by drilling into the side, and i have both punctured a freon line. so what now you diy expert?

  23. I have a theoretical question. If, per say, I wanted to do this with a dedicated freezer (instead of a fridge) and placed the hose in a bucket full of water, the water in the bucket would freeze, but the moving water inside the hose wouldn't freeze but it would be cold, correct? I don't know much about freezing points or thermodynamics but I'm open to suggestions. Thank you!

  24. Just use a huge fan on the hood to pump the air inside aquarium.

    It's not make sense.. but trust me, it works.

  25. Would running the water slowly through the hose make it cooler. I was thinking of getting a smallish pump for my DCW hydro.

  26. I agree this sounds like a great idea especially for those of us who live in hot climates, But this does nothing if it's not tried and tested. There's no results of a temperature change. I'm not going to buy anything no matter how cheap if there is no proof it works.

  27. Hello. I'm looking into doing this for my Axolotl aquarium but the part that confuses me is how do you get the water to continuously go through the hoses?

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