No More Wires in the Water.

Ulu

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I am on a mission to convert my 3 systems over to non-electric heat. I also want to get the pumps out of the water. I've only been shocked once in 45 years of sticking my hands into electrically live aquariums, but I was usually on a dry carpet in dry shoes. Little risk of death.

Now I have bigger tanks on steel stands, and one is out doors. I was actually charging almost 27v through 2 pumps and 2 heaters into that sump water, and of course the indoor and outdoor tanks it services. I am getting concerned that my wife might get a shock, accidently. She's outside watering with a hose, in flipflops, every day.

I have a pump and 3 heaters in my brackish 90g system, plus I don't think the salt helps. I was getting 14~15v leakage from each heater. The potential of the water was almost 47v above neutral and nearly 50v above the local earth. And it's on a steel stand. I'm getting more concerned and I've unplugged all the heaters for now.

The weather is still mild but soon the outdoor tanks will need heat, and after 45+ years I'm finally going to quit putting heaters in the water. It always made me nervous.

I have never liked aquarium heaters. I have lost two small tanks of fish due to "stuck" heaters which cracked and electrified the water, I've had maybe 5 heaters just quit, and I've discarded several just because they were old and suspect looking.

Well, to me they are now all suspect. I feel I've been dodging electrocution for 6 decades as it is. I've stuck my hands into too many tanks that were live. I really want to get all the wiring well away from the water.

Currently, I have two DC pumps that can be plumbed dry and I will likely do so. I have two pond pumps that will need replacement. I have several air pumps not in service, that might be useful. I've never looked into air heating, or hot water loop heating.

I don't know where it will end yet, but this is my next aquarium project.
 

M1A1

Exodon
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Jun 10, 2013
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Hot water loop will be your best bet if you don't have all systems in one room; otherwise you could just heat the room, not the tanks. Plenty of examples of the hot water loop on R2R:

I share your distaste/distrust of powerheads and pumps too but have not found any totally viable solutions. You can externally ('dry') plumb return pumps but not every setup will fit a closed loop for the needed circulation. I have not messed with air lifts or whatever they're called but I know the pond folks use them a lot to move a lot of water.

Interested to see how you do it! :)
 

Oughtsix

Dovii
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Hot water loop is quite easy. Run a continous loop of high pressure tubing (like PEX) from the hot water line from your hot water heater to a coil of the tubing in your sump then back to the cold water line of your hot water heater. Add a pump to the loop with a temperature controller turn the pump on and off.

In my 40 years of keeping aquariums I haven't had the problems you have with heaters... but you need to do what is right for you! When I started in the hobby the heaters were NOT submersable which was pretty concerning. And I have broken many glass heater housings but I have never broken one inside a tank or broken one while it was plugged in. Back then my tanks were HOB filters, corner filters or undergravel filters. I had a couple sealed AC pumps on my early sumps but now use exclusively DC pumps. Neat well laid out wiring is MUCH safer than the rats nests of wiring I have seen under some tanks.

DC pumps are almost always isolated from AC current in the transformer pretty much eliminating the possibility of electricution.
 
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Ulu

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I'd like to think that just replacing all my old heaters with new ones would cure this fear of eventual shocks for me. If my wife even got a good jolt she'd be asking me to take the aquariums all out. Well, "asking" might be understating things a bit, but you understand. My office system is 55 w/42 sump/breeder below & routinely warm enough without heaters. They have air sponges and a 4000g/hr DC pump. That system will likely be OK from pump heat alone if I add a sheet of styrofoam on the back of the tanks, which face an outside wall. I have three 1.5" thinwall PVC overflows. I could add a heat source outside of the pipes, which are the service drains.

The living room temp is not as stable, and usually cooler. A 125g indoors shares water with 55g outdoor patio tank and 30g patio sump. The outside tanks have insulation. In cold weather, they get full 3/4" styrofoam insulation and so one 300w Eheim was easily able to maintain 78f when we hit (sometimes) 32F outdoors at night. This is citrus orchard country, and it never snows hereabouts. The drains are mainly outdoors, and can be insulated. They are thicker 1.5" ABS and won't pass heat as well, so contact heating might not be the trick. There, the hot water loop might be the thing. It's across the whole house to the tank though the plumbing is cheap.

The foyer tank is 75g plastic with a 20g plastic sump, and lots of gravel etc to hold the heat. The foyer is cooler than the house, typically, and far from the plumbing, which is unfortunate, since it wants a drip system. It's sump is rather enclosed, so heating by the air pump and DC pump in the sump might be OK if we keep the house above 68F.

Unfortunately, I'm having big issues with my Clear-for-Life plastic tank, and this system might change to a 100g glass tank from a reputable manufacturer, in the near future. This means all different plumbing, stand mods, etc.
 

Oughtsix

Dovii
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An "Isolation Transformer" will seperate the isolated equipment from a grounded AC source (wall plug) to prevent electrical shock. Isolation transformers are usually a 1:1 transformer meaning 120v in to 120v out. If you decide to use an isolation transformer on your heaters I would reccomend an isolation transformer rated for 150% the total number of watts of the heaters that will be run through it.
 

Ulu

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Lots of musings, no actual progress, except that I have added some tank insulation.

Thank you Oughtsix Oughtsix I've got some big transformers that will run low voltage AC or DC pumps (with a rectifier.) They were scavenged from big UPS that I scrapped out after the capacitors failed.

But the idea I find attractive is the idea of hot air water lift heat and no pump. I am already running air/sponge filters in all my systems . . . even in sumps. I like all the bubbles. It's the Doc Brown in me. I hear bubbles 24/7 . . .

Fortunately our power outages are quite rare. Unfortunately I see this maybe changing. I can and do keep compressed air in steel tanks for my shop/garage stuff, and adding another air system is quite possible.

But our outages only happen here in very hot weather. Keeping the pumps going is much more important than heat.

Finally, to supplement my feeble RO system, I bought a bigger RO/DI system to make water, so additional waterworks are in the making.
 

Oughtsix

Dovii
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But the idea I find attractive is the idea of hot air water lift heat and no pump. I am already running air/sponge filters in all my systems . . . even in sumps. I like all the bubbles. It's the Doc Brown in me. I hear bubbles 24/7 . . .
How does the hot air heating system work? How is the air heated? How do you shut off the heat once the tank comes up to the proper temperature? Does the hot air cause an excess of evaporation?
 

Ulu

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I don’t know. All I know is I have seen the system used in a big fish room on YouTube, so I know it exists, but I don’t know how it’s done.
 
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Ulu

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I have increased the insulation on my outdoor tanks, and the big 200g system is staying over 75°F without heaters. The two 90 gallon systems are both staying over 75 as well. Just the pumps are adding enough heat.

I still have the heater going in my 10 gallon betta tank. I’m probably going to insulate three sides of it & part of the top.

Regarding the hot air heating idea, during the summers here I actually have to cool the patio tanks or the water will go up to 90°F.

So ideally the air system could put cool air into the tank as well.

I’m working on some other ideas for a drip system & I bought in a bigger RODI system because our water quality is going to hell.

Here is the patio system all buttoned up. The fish have been eating the roots off my ivy, and it’s about to croak.
image.jpg
 
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