A Comprehensive Guide to Finding the Right Cooler for Your Aquarium

If you’re a newbie to raising fish in aquarium tanks, you’ve got a whole world of possibilities to choose from. There are options such as saltwater, freshwater, small, micro, and others types of tanks to check out before you graduate to more expensive habitats. It’s a brave and exciting new world for newbie aquarists!

My recommended chiller is the JBJ Arctica, continue reading for other options.

But as you become more knowledgeable in your new hobby, you may begin to think about using some of the most esoteric items for aquarium hobbyists. One of these is the aquarium cooler, which you can use to regulate the temperature of the water.

reviews of the top rated aquarium chillers

What Is an Aquarium Chiller and Why Do I Need It?

How to Use It

Benefits

Drawbacks


Aquarium Chiller Reviews

We have 4 possible options for you to choose from, and we rank them in order of affordability.

Personally, I really think that getting something cheaper is like not getting any at all since they’re usually unreliable. But paying too much may be a tad excessive, and that’s especially true if you’re a newbie.

1

IceProbe Thermoelectric Aquarium Chiller

This is a compact and lightweight chiller, and it’s ideal if you only have a small aquarium to cool.

It’s not too effective if it’s larger than 55 gallons. If it is just 10 gallons, you can reduce the water temperature by as much as 6 to 8 degrees.

You can insulate the aquarium so you can lower the temperature by 20 degrees.

You can make a mount to hang the probe down into the aquarium, but your best bet here is to drill a hole into the siphon overflows, pre-filters, sumps or even directly into the aquarium.

It doesn’t use a compressor at all, so there’s no need for refrigerants.

Pros

  • It’s very inexpensive.
  • It’s also easy enough to install.
  • It’s actually rather quiet.

Cons

  • It only works for smaller tanks.
  • There’s no temperature control
2

Active Aqua Chiller Refrigeration Unit, 1/10 HP

While the ¼ and ½ HP motors are available, even this 1/10 HP is good enough for tanks in sizes ranging from 13 to 105 gallons.

But it’s ideal for about 40-gallon tanks, which it can chill by about 15° F. If you’re using it for a 13-gallon tank, you can get a temperature that’s lower by 30 degrees.

It comes with two sets of fittings, with a ½-inch and a ¾-inch tubing sizes. It doesn’t use Freon, as it uses R134a.

You can also set it to the temperature you want, using the computer control system and LCD display.

Pros

  • It’s still affordable with the right seller, as normally it retails for more. After all, with this on you get temperature control.
  • It can handle bigger tanks, and it can chill very efficiently.
  • It’s also not noisy at all.
  • It’s not an environmental hazard, as it uses the ozone friendly R134a.

Cons

  • Because of its cooling capacity, it’s quite bulky. It measures 20 x 19.5 x 12.7 inches and it is heavy too.
3

Hamilton Technology Aqua Euro Max Aquarium Chiller

This too comes with the 1/10 HP option. It’s laden with a lot of high tech features, which explain the price.

There’s an LED display that lets you control and monitor the temperature of your tank water. The heat exchanger won’t freeze because of its anti-freezing system.

In the event of a power surge it shuts off automatically, and it also comes with temperature memory recall so the thermostat returns to your last temperature setting.

The heat exchanger is very efficient, and it’s also reliable and rust-resistant due to its titanium material. It also uses the DuPont ozone-friendly cooling agent.

Pros

  • It has lots of premium features.
  • ​It also offers energy savings with its efficient cooling system.
  • The front cover comes off easily so you can change the filter.

Cons

  • It’s quite pricey.
4

JBJ Aquarium Arctica Titanium Chiller

This is the most expensive of the lot, but it is easy to install, and it also comes with some great features.

There’s an easy to read digital LED controller, and after a power outage it reverts to your last settings when you resume usage.

It’s also corrosion-resistant, and it uses the R-143a refrigerant that’s so friendly to the environment.

It offers one of the most energy-efficient chillers you can find, so you get reliable and quick results while you save up on your power consumption.

And it’s also probably the quietest chiller you’ll find in the market today.

Pros

  • Easy to install and use.
  • Very reliable.
  • It’s very efficient, and it’s silent too.

Cons

  • Extremely expensive.
  • Dealing with customer support can be a pain.

My Pick

So what’s my recommendation? Actually, it all depends on your budget or your needs. So here are my conclusions:

  • If you just need it for a small tank, the IceProbe should suffice.
  • If you have a bigger tank, then save up for the Hamilton Technology or Active Aqua. Now if you can live without the advanced features of the Hamilton Technology, you can save a few bucks with the Active Aqua. It’s reliable, easy to use, and can handle your bigger tank with no problem.
  • But if adding a bit more doesn’t really mean a lot to you, then, by all means, get the JBJ. It’s very reliable, easy to use, and quite efficient in cooling down your aquarium water. In the long run, you really get your money’s worth.

It does seem like I’m hedging my bets, doesn’t it? Anyway, if I have to pick just one, I’d go with the Active Aqua. It balances cost and features quite well. But then, that’s just me.

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Leave a Comment:

4 comments
Mindy says May 26, 2016

Do I still need a filter if I buy a chiller?

Reply
Ed says Jul 28, 2016

100% Disagree regarding Hydrofarm. Worst chiller you can buy per my experience with several of them.
They just don’t last. Cheap parts are being used on them to keep the price low. Sensors, fans, starters – all have gone bad.

I set up and maintain aquariums and bought several Hydrofarm models for reef tanks and to my dismay 2 had to have temperature sensors replace within the year, 1 had a faulty starter leading it to no longer activate the compesor (8 months into it) and one had the fan completely stop (this one was on a lobster tank at a restaurant).

My advice – buy JBJ or Aqua Euro. I have used both of those for 4 years now and each model has been completely reliable. Worth every penny I paid for them – no headaches, no dead corals, no dead lobsters.

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