Insulating Your Aquarium

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jcunningham0295
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Insulating Your Aquarium

Post by jcunningham0295 » Mon Jan 23, 2012 11:18 am

Has anyone every heard of our used Reflectix to insulate your aquarium to cut down on heating costs?
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Kyle May
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Re: Insulating Your Aquarium

Post by Kyle May » Mon Jan 23, 2012 7:30 pm

How cold are you keeping your house?
What type of fish are you keeping?
What temps do you regularly keep your tanks?

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Re: Insulating Your Aquarium

Post by Dan Woodland » Mon Jan 23, 2012 8:51 pm

Personally, I think unless you insulate the entire thing you aren't going to gain much. You'll still loose heat but just from the sides you don't insulate.

As Kyle asked, what temp are you keeping the room where the fish are? Also, I'll add how many tanks are you talking about? If a single tank is causing you concern and making you try cutting costs something must be wrong with the heater or tank set up - ie not covered or next to a window.

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Re: Insulating Your Aquarium

Post by jcunningham0295 » Mon Jan 23, 2012 9:37 pm

These tanks will be in my basement for now, sorry left that out. It is not heated nor insulated at the moment. I am going to work on building a fish room, but need to throw a few tanks up. I am looking at a 55 gal. 50 gal, and 6 30 gallons. I thought if I insulated them for now that would cut down on the work the heater would need to do for the time being.
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Re: Insulating Your Aquarium

Post by jcunningham0295 » Mon Jan 23, 2012 9:38 pm

Sorry as for as fish, these will be Ngara Flametails and some other tangs (featherfins) in other tanks. I usually keep my tanks around 78 deg.
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Re: Insulating Your Aquarium

Post by smitty » Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:11 am

My tanks are also located in the basement. I actually removed the glass covers. I put the lights back over the top. Then I put glass between the lights only on the ends. The middle is completely opened. If there was an increase in the amount of electrical usage it was so minimal I did not even notice. I did that on all three 150,180,200.
150gal- Dovi's; 3 AC 110 P.Filters; 2 AC 110 P.Heads; Eheim 2217,2260
180gal- Managuense; 3 AC 110 P.Filters; 2 AC 110 P.Heads; Eheim 2217,2260; FX5
210gal- Argta,Bifsct,Fnstrtus,Maculcda,Regani,Syns,Zntus; 4 AC P.Filters; 2 AC P.Hds; Eheim 2250,2262; FX5

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Re: Insulating Your Aquarium

Post by Dan Woodland » Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:34 am

For just a couple tanks I would think you'd spend more in materials, and certainly your time, than you would "save". If you wanted you could drop the temp two degrees to 76, where I keep all my tanks, that would probably save you a bit and not require a lot of out of pocket expense and time. Even Tanganyikans will do fine at 76 for a period of time.

When you plan your fish room, I assume that's where you are going with this, plan to have a single heater vent added to your furnace and insulate the room, that would save you more than insulating each tank, require less work and hassle as well.

Dan

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Re: Insulating Your Aquarium

Post by smitty » Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:24 pm

Dan that is a good ideal regarding the additional vent.
150gal- Dovi's; 3 AC 110 P.Filters; 2 AC 110 P.Heads; Eheim 2217,2260
180gal- Managuense; 3 AC 110 P.Filters; 2 AC 110 P.Heads; Eheim 2217,2260; FX5
210gal- Argta,Bifsct,Fnstrtus,Maculcda,Regani,Syns,Zntus; 4 AC P.Filters; 2 AC P.Hds; Eheim 2250,2262; FX5

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Re: Insulating Your Aquarium

Post by Kyle May » Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:37 pm

I agree with Dan that adding a heater vent to your furnace can help heat your fish room and
help your heaters by giving them less of a temp difference to overcome. However, don't think that
you can heat your fish room up high enough to make individual tank heaters unnecessary. This is a
rookie mistake made by many folks who have multi-tank fish rooms and are looking for a way to save cash.
It won't work and it has three distinct drawbacks:

1) To get a tank to 74-75 degrees, you have to heat the room to 80-85 degrees. Working in an 80 degree fish room
might be great in February, but it certainly is going to be uncomfortable the other months that the heat is on.

2) Many of us have fish that need different temperature ranges. Those Featherfins mentioned earlier would probably
do better at closer to 80 than 75. Many Centrals can handle temps down closer to 72 as can many peacocks in my experience.
Also look up "wintering" cichlids. There are many types that live longer if you allow colder tank water for a few months.
Heating the entire room would make it impossible to supply a different temperature water to each tank.

3) It's actually cheaper to heat individual tanks with heaters than the entire room. In a multi-tank setup,
you can idle tanks that are not in use by pulling the plug on the heater. Your house doesn't get so cold that a
properly sized heater can't catch back up within a few hours, so you can bring a tank back up to temp in no time.
Even a unheated basement with a heated house above it doesn't get any colder than 60 degrees and most properly sized heaters can make up that last 15 degrees easily.
Heating the entire room means you are spending bucks to heat tanks you may not be using. This is a waste of your money and your heat.

Tips:
Use properly sized heaters. Use two smaller heaters in larger tanks for safety and reliability. If one heater dies,
the other will take up the slack. If one heater in a dual setup sticks in the "on" position, the other heater will shut down
and the tank won't overheat. An over sized heater can cook fish, but this is very rare. I've had only two do this in 30 yrs.
An under sized heater will probably not heat the tank to a proper temp, plus it'll run up your electric bill because it'll run constantly.
Beware cheap submersible heaters as they will only last a year or two. More expensive models will pay for themselves because they'll
last several times longer so essentially they are a bargain.

Use properly fitted lids. Keeping lids tight keeps; heat and moisture inside the tank, not to mention that it helps keep skittish
fish from committing suicide. If you have old lids go to the LFS and get new plastic strips for the back and spend some quality time
custom cutting them to fit your filters perfectly. I've got 35 tanks in an 18 X 22 ft room and the humidity is stable at around 16% year round.
It's due to tight fitted lids and proper ventilation.

If your basement is not holding a minimum of heat, it's probably because it's not tight enough. Insulate the ends of your rafters
and look into installing glass block windows. You can buy them for about $50 each and it takes about 1/2 hour to install them yourself.
Caulk the joint between the Sill plate and the brickwork in older homes. Seal every hole where a wire or pipe goes through the wall or joist space.
Looking around for leaks with a $4 bottle of caulk can save you tons of money.

If you have a door on your fish room, keep it closed when you are not in it. Even an ill fitting door such as the one in my fish room keeps
75% or more of the heat in the room and that keeps my heaters from running continuously.

Need any tips for building your new fish room? Look at my blog in the index area on this web site: The Frugal Aquarist. There are photos and step by step instructions
on how to build a cost-effective and very efficient fish room.

Kyle
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Re: Insulating Your Aquarium

Post by Dan Woodland » Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:19 pm

Kyle has mentioned some good points. And I'm not taking a counter point here I'm clarifying my comment above.

Keep in mind all fish rooms are different. My comment about adding a furnace outlet was not meant to heat your fish room forever but to get you over the immediate hump while you design your fish room or room for a few fish tanks etc.

That being said, I insulated my room very well so adding the furnace outlet keeps my room at temps in the 68 to 72 degree range. Since the tanks I do heat are kept at 76 my heaters don't have much to make up. When I want to cool a species I turn off the room vent so the tanks with no heaters, on the bottom rack, will cool to about 62 degrees. Even then my heaters don't have much to make up.

Back to fish rooms being different... I have a permanent purpose built fish room so I was able to take the "features" above into consideration. If someone has a fish room and it's an open design (no door, open ceiling or open staircase etc) adding a heating vent won't help much as it would simply rise up and/or out of the room.

Hopefully that helps. Dan

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Re: Insulating Your Aquarium

Post by markh » Tue Jan 24, 2012 11:09 pm

I agree that placing a supply from your furnace couldn't hurt. As long as its not meant to be the only source of heat for the tanks.(i.e. removing all the tank heaters)

Mark H.
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Re: Insulating Your Aquarium

Post by Lotsapetsgarfhts » Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:48 am

I have to weigh in. Sometimes adding a vent is not the answer, it will depend on the furnace. We have a 3 story home and I thought just adding vents on each side of the basement would help. I was wrong because of the flow. I found a number problems in my case. The first being out basement is just cold I thought for sure glass block windows would help and it did some but it didn't. I also found that in order to heat the basement I had to readjust all the dampers in the vents and the third floor wasn't getting enough heat for my son. The other problem was the thermostat is on the middle floor and as long as it was warm enough the furnace had little effect on the basement. With that in mind I just have to live with heaters in the tanks. I think if I was going to operate a lot of tanks that required heat an additional heat source for the basement would be a must have. The upside to that would be that heat rises and the rest of the house would probably benifit from it.
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Re: Insulating Your Aquarium

Post by jcunningham0295 » Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:15 am

Thanks for all the feedback. I do have a three story home and my thermostate is on the middle floor. As far as windows, for the section of my basement I am blocking off for my fish room I have an egress window I need to deal with as well. I appreciate all the comments as I am new to building a fish room and don't want to have to do things over again because they were done incorrectly the first time. I will plan on putting heaters in all my tanks, but I think I am going to have to get an additional heater to heat this space and make up for my furance. Down the road I planned on having 70+ tanks so I am trying to find out effcient ways to keep the tanks warm and not pay out an arm and a leg in electricity.

I do plan on putting up mositure barrier and then framing off the section and insulating it and then putting up paneling to finish it off. I also was going to put up a wall at the end with a slding door for access and to try and keep some heat in.
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Re: Insulating Your Aquarium

Post by Dan Woodland » Wed Jan 25, 2012 10:12 am

Lotsapetsgarfhts wrote:I have to weigh in. Sometimes adding a vent is not the answer, it will depend on the furnace. We have a 3 story home and I thought just adding vents on each side of the basement would help. I was wrong because of the flow. I found a number problems in my case. The first being out basement is just cold I thought for sure glass block windows would help and it did some but it didn't. I also found that in order to heat the basement I had to readjust all the dampers in the vents and the third floor wasn't getting enough heat for my son. The other problem was the thermostat is on the middle floor and as long as it was warm enough the furnace had little effect on the basement. With that in mind I just have to live with heaters in the tanks. I think if I was going to operate a lot of tanks that required heat an additional heat source for the basement would be a must have. The upside to that would be that heat rises and the rest of the house would probably benifit from it.
This is what I meant by every "fish room" is different... I have a normal routine to handle this John, in summer I close off all the furnace vents in the basement and open all vents in the upstairs areas - cold falls (I have a tri-level with a thermostat on the middle floor). In the winter I close all the vents upstairs and open all the vents down stairs - heat rises. Since I "live" on the middle floor I'm quite comfortable since the heat or cold air is "passing" through where I am. Doing this means I don't care what the "flow" or "balance" of my air system is as I'm managing it by using Physics! I make it work for me.

There are all sorts of benefits, fresh air (no one area is stagnant), air movement, etc etc.... Here are a couple links... http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=htt ... CCYQ9QEwBA

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=htt ... CCQQ9QEwAw

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Re: Insulating Your Aquarium

Post by Dan Woodland » Wed Jan 25, 2012 10:21 am

jcunningham0295 wrote:Thanks for all the feedback. I do have a three story home and my thermostate is on the middle floor. As far as windows, for the section of my basement I am blocking off for my fish room I have an egress window I need to deal with as well. I appreciate all the comments as I am new to building a fish room and don't want to have to do things over again because they were done incorrectly the first time. I will plan on putting heaters in all my tanks, but I think I am going to have to get an additional heater to heat this space and make up for my furance. Down the road I planned on having 70+ tanks so I am trying to find out effcient ways to keep the tanks warm and not pay out an arm and a leg in electricity.

I do plan on putting up mositure barrier and then framing off the section and insulating it and then putting up paneling to finish it off. I also was going to put up a wall at the end with a slding door for access and to try and keep some heat in.
Great!! planning is key. I would consider NOT "heating the room", you'd need to have it very warm and that is uncomfortable to work in. One option is an infrared heater which will heat surfaces instead of just the air. I tried to concentrate on easy of maintenance, low utility cost and automation. I already had a furnace so the added vent was easy, an automatic water change system gives me time to work with fish and not on water changes, my lights are on a single timer to manage light etc etc.

Look here for some ideas...
viewforum.php?f=91

Or here ...
viewforum.php?f=102

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Re: Insulating Your Aquarium

Post by Lotsapetsgarfhts » Wed Jan 25, 2012 10:57 am

I am actually looking at moving things around and enclosing everything so I can heat the fish room using another heat source. I would reall like to keep it at an even 80 nearly all year round. Then there would be some tanks outside of this area for fish requiring cool water. I plan on keeping quite a few Gymnogeophagus and I alrealy have a fairly large number of Killifish that actually only breed during the winter here since they like it at 62 degrees. I do know this when if I ever have a new furnace put in I will probably go a bit bigger with a bigger blower so I can move air to the third floor more efficently and still have good heat in the basement.

I close the vents in the basement during the summer so the AC doesn't chill things and the basement is usually fine for the killifish form April through October.
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Re: Insulating Your Aquarium

Post by Lotsapetsgarfhts » Wed Jan 25, 2012 10:58 am

Oh I have seen aquariums insulated with styrofoam and I was told it worked.
John Chapek

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Re: Insulating Your Aquarium

Post by deeda » Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:24 pm

jcunningham0295 wrote:Down the road I planned on having 70+ tanks so I am trying to find out efficient ways to keep the tanks warm and not pay out an arm and a leg in electricity.

I do plan on putting up moisture barrier and then framing off the section and insulating it and then putting up paneling to finish it off. I also was going to put up a wall at the end with a slding door for access and to try and keep some heat in.

I'll throw my 2 cents in here regarding insulating the basement walls. We are also converting a basement room for a future fish-room and during my research regarding insulating cinder block walls there has been some research showing that a moisture barrier, such as polyethylene may not really be a good idea as it MAY trap moisture between the block wall and the finished wall.

We have a walkout or daylight basement so one wall is 50% below grade, one wall is 25% below grade with a 3' x 4' window and the other two walls are interior stud/drywall. I thoroughly cleaned the below grade portions of the wall and applied a couple coats of Drylok to reduce the possibility of minor moisture infiltration and sealed the floor/wall joint also. I used mastic to apply the T & G pink 1" foam panels directly to the block walls but only to the height of the sill plate and then taped the joints. This allows some air to still flow through the 1st floor joist bays to help allow any moisture to dissipate and not get trapped behind the finished walls.

We used 2 x 4's for the framing but put them with the 'flat' face against the wall instead of "on edge' to gain a bit more space in the room and used the shallow electrical boxes for all the outlets. We also routed slots in the backs of the 2 x 4's to allow the Romex to feed to the outlets easily. We also used 1/2" regular drywall to finish the walls but used flush mount drop ceiling panels for the ceiling to allow future access for any modifications. We haven't gotten any farther than this except for acquiring tanks for the future room.

The advantage to using the pink foamular sheets instead of batt insulation is that it doesn't absorb moisture and is much quicker to install. You may want to rethink using paneling over any insulation as it doesn't meet the fire code rating that requires the 1/2" finished wall material that drywall provides.

I hope this helps a bit in considering another way to insulate and build the walls for your new room. As Dan & Kyle have said, everyone's fish room is different regarding both size, location in the house and also where you live. I've also been looking for ways to reduce the usage of individual heaters in the new fish room but it looks like it's going to be summer time before we ever get finished with it.

Keep us posted on your progress, I always love to see fish room construction projects.
Dee

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Re: Insulating Your Aquarium

Post by jcunningham0295 » Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:58 am

Thanks deeda.
deeda wrote:I'll throw my 2 cents in here regarding insulating the basement walls.
Do you have any pics you could share? I am green when it comes to construction projects and any insight would be great. Thanks.
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Re: Insulating Your Aquarium

Post by Dan Woodland » Thu Jan 26, 2012 7:49 am

Good point Dee, precisely why I left my walls bare and insulated the ceiling - I also used green board drywall. I also sealed my block walls with UGL paint then three coats for mold resistant paint.

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