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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hopefully I can get some advice on whether I should be worried at all and if so some low-tech cheap and reliable suggestions for keeping the tank cool.

I have a 20 gallon tank set up on the third floor of a school that doesn't have AC. Being from Canada, the thought didn't cross my mind when I bought it in in October that the room might get too warm in the summer for the fish. The hottest day of last year was 34C or 93F with an average high temperature of 25C or 77F. I don't have data on the inside temperature of the classroom, but it does get very uncomfortably warm.

I'd prefer to keep the tank at the school and check on it every two weeks over the summer vacation if possible. I currently have six black phantom tetras and am looking at getting panda Cory cats and either Cardinal tetras or Platys. My lease says no aquariums, but they've let my Betta "bowl" (read 5 gallon planted tank) slide. I'd prefer not to push my luck with a 20gallon, but if I had to I might be able to relocate them to my boyfriends... But he's an hour drive away and has a cat that likes to hunt...

Thanks in advance!


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I asked the same question on a different forum a while back because my room get's the hottest in the summer time. They said if you have a lid keep it off and lower the water level down some to add more surface agitation as well as adding a small fan on top of the tank to keep the water levels cooler. Also, they stated to top off the water as needed since it'll evaporate more often due to the heat. If you have a heater I would keep it unplugged or remove it for the summer season. I'm still nervous as hell on how I'm to maintain the proper water temp.
 

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My tanks hover around 29 to 33C all summer long... this is Africa.
I think the main danger comes in to play if you don't keep water conditions clean.
At high temps and pH above 7 you will have a direct to ammonia conversion in the water. I.e. the more dangerous nitrates become, so keep those filters clean as well as doing regular water changes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks! I've got two top fin 20 filters running. I'm thinking of adding an air stone to get more surface agitation and I can definitely get a fan. The nitrates test after the two week winter vacation was barely showing color (I have the API master kit). Can I go two weeks before a water change or should I keep with the weekly schedule I have going now? I live close to the school so that isn't a problem, I just need permission from admin to be in and out of the building.


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I use a heater controller (diy) that has a cooling side. I am building a fan array out of computer fans that it will run. The controller will start the fans on an as needed basis via temperature settings. Maybe this is an option for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I use a heater controller (diy) that has a cooling side. I am building a fan array out of computer fans that it will run. The controller will start the fans on an as needed basis via temperature settings. Maybe this is an option for you.

That sounds like a cool project! I'd love to see how it turns out and if I could duplicate it!


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I've donated fish to a science teacher at the school where my wife teaches and it never ended well. They actually cut power to the building during the summer and some holiday weekends. So a better question to ask is if there will be power in the building at all. An automatic feeder can save you some trips to the classroom and make it less of a chore. When I saw the title of this thread, I was going to alert you (tongue in cheek) to the fact that a good chunk of the country is seeing the coldest days of the winter at the moment. It's really good you're looking ahead here. It has all the possibilities of a nightmare if things don't line up correctly for you.
 

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I am in Canada, too, and in summer, I have never had any problem with my tanks overheating during summer heat. I keep my tanks fairly lightly stocked. Warm water carries less oxygen than cool water, so good surface agitation helps.

Is the temperature in the classroom going to remain very high, or just during heatwaves? It takes a while for a tank to warm up to air temperature, particularly a larger tank.
 

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I've seen people use fans to blow across the water surface. Look up what people have used to get a better idea on how many degrees cooler are usually achieved are what is best to do. I am sure there are many variables that effect how effective this method is (ambient temp, water surface area, fan speed, etc).

And I've seen people freeze bottles of water and just float the frozen bottle in the tank to slowly cool the water (or keep it from getting too hot). I'm not sure how long the frozen water bottles cooling effect lasts though. You may need to change it every 4-8 hours, daily, I have no idea really, but it would depend on the actual temps as to how fast the ice/cooling ability would wear out.

There are chillers, but those are expensive. Maybe take a look how they are designed and make a DIY one for much less? Look at microchillers in particular as chillers are usually used on large tanks.

If you are going to leave the tank alone for a few days, or a week or longer during the high temps, I would say it's best to relocate the fish to somewhere cooler (at your BF's place, keep the lid on to keep the cat out) or just not get the fish at all until you can more appropriately keep them. Using the fan method, if temps did stay stay consistently cool enough, then leaving the tank for a week to two is more doable, the water bottle method just wears out too soon to not tend to it often.

Remember indoors can get hotter than outdoor temps. High temperatures alone can definitely be a deadly thing.

Could even combine all the methods in one (as long as it doesn't get too cold). Would be wise to monitor the temps still with either method you go by, as it might be too much or not enough still.

But as always, with warmer water, increasing surface agitation/dissolved oxygen is advised. Don't forget about evaporation. Removing the top/lid will keep temps a bit cooler, but it allows the heat to evaporate the water away, so you need to keep evaporation in mind and not allow the water level to get too low (especially lower than the filter intake). Also less water volume is less stable overall (temperature wise and other water parameters).
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I've donated fish to a science teacher at the school where my wife teaches and it never ended well. They actually cut power to the building during the summer and some holiday weekends. So a better question to ask is if there will be power in the building at all. An automatic feeder can save you some trips to the classroom and make it less of a chore. When I saw the title of this thread, I was going to alert you (tongue in cheek) to the fact that a good chunk of the country is seeing the coldest days of the winter at the moment. It's really good you're looking ahead here. It has all the possibilities of a nightmare if things don't line up correctly for you.

I know! It's -40C here with the wind. That's the same as -40F!

I know there will be power as there is a daycare in the school that runs all summer.

I have an automatic feeder that seems to work well. I'm working on making a custom hood so I can use the feeder all year long. Currently the fish fast over the weekend.


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