A Comprehensive Guide to Finding the Right Cooler for Your Aquarium

Water temperature is very important to aquatic life. Fish and invertebrates are poikilotherms or "cold-blooded." This means their internal body temperature is controlled by the environment.

In this case, it is the aquarium water that determines the body temperature of freshwater and marine aquarium fish as well as invertebrates like corals, snails and crabs and crayfish.

My recommended chillers are the JBJ Arctica or the TECO, continue reading for more!

Even the microscopic microbial life that recycles wastes are cold blooded. All of these organisms have an optimal temperature range.

reviews of the top rated aquarium chillers

The priority of stable water temperature

Why do aquariums over-heat?

How does an aquarium chiller work?

Thermoelectric Coolers

How to select an aquarium chiller

Water flow is important!

Chiller Placement


Aquarium Chiller Reviews

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.

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1. IceProbe Thermoelectric Aquarium Chiller

The IceProbe Thermoelectric Chiller is one of the best known “probe” chillers in the aquarium hobby. They are a favorite chiller for many enthusiasts.

Also known as Mexican salamanders, axolotls require cooler water that does not exceed 75 ºF.

IceProbe chillers are popular because most of them are kept in small aquariums under ten gallons.

The IceProbe is rated by the manufacturer for aquariums up to 10 gallons.

Real-world performance indicates that thermoelectric chillers are best suited for 10-gallon aquariums.

Two IceProbe chillers can be used on a 20-gallon aquarium but efficiency is lost on larger aquariums.

The chillers are well-built with high-quality components. The fan on top of the heat sink is relatively quiet.

If you want to drill through your aquarium the probe requires a 1.5” hole.

The chiller comes with a sturdy threaded nut and gasket that seals the chiller in place and prevents leaks. The chilling probe requires 3 – 1/8 inches of clearance inside the aquarium. The device measures 4" x 4 3/4" x 7 1/2" including the probe.

The IceProbe has a one-year warranty.

Pros

  • Great for cooling nano aquariums.
  • Quiet operation.
  • No water pump needed.
  • Inexpensive.
  • Reliable.

Cons

  • Can’t cool larger aquariums.
  • Looks unattractive when suspended over the aquarium.
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2. Active Aqua Chiller 1/10 HP

​Active Aqua chillers are used primarily in hydroponics but the basic design features are exactly like aquarium chillers.

Active Aqua chillers are growing in popularity for aquarium temperature control.

Active Aqua is a Freon-free system that uses environmentally friendly R-134a refrigerant.

The touch pad with LCD makes it easy to set the temperature.

It has a corrosion-resistant titanium heat exchanger that is safe for fresh and saltwater applications.

The chiller comes with two sets of fittings so you'll have a choice of either ½" or ¾" tubing. It is capable of chilling a 40-gallon aquarium by 15 ºF and a 13-gallon tank by 30 ºF.

The water pump flow rate ranges from 70 to 320 GPH. Dimensions are 16.5" L x 9.6" W x 14.4" H.

Pros

  • Plug and play simplicity.
  • Reliable.

Cons

  • Marketed for hydroponics.
  • No aquarium-related instructions or guides.
  • No customer support for aquarium applications​.
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3. Hamilton Technology Aqua Euro Max

Max Chill Series titanium chillers are powerful cooling systems for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums.

A variety of HP models is available to chill any aquarium.

They are efficient, compact and quiet.

A digital LED temperature control display allows for easy user-friendly programming.

The controller features a built-in memory recall which will maintain settings in the event of a power outage.

The reliable compressor uses Dupont ozone friendly refrigerant and the Anti-Freezing System protects the heat exchanger from damage by freezing.

The heavy duty condenser quickly releases captured heat for efficient water cooling.

The 1/13 horsepower model is rated for aquarium up to 50 gallons. Hoses connect to the chiller by ½" fittings.

The rated chilling capacity is 50 gallons at 10 ºF below room temperature or 30 Gallons at 20 ºF below room temperature.

The recommended water pump should be rated at 160-295 gallons per hour. The chiller measures 13" L x 8.5" W x 16" H.​

Pros

  • Powerful and compact design.
  • Corrosion resistant Titanium Heat Exchanger cools efficiently.
  • Digital LED display for simplified functional control.
  • Anti-Freezing System protects heat exchanger from freezing.
  • Efficient and reliable compressor saves money by using less electricity.
  • Automatic power surge shut-off control with last set temperature recall system, returns chiller to last set temperature in case of a power surge or power outage.
  • Easy to remove front condenser cover for easy cleaning.
  • Quick easy set-up & cleaning maintenance.

Cons

  • The chiller is not loud but the operation is audible.
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4. JBJ Aquarium Arctica Titanium

​The JBJ Arctica Titanium Aquarium Chiller incorporates some of the most advanced technological features.

The unique JBJ titanium coil design provides maximum contact to increase chilling efficiency.

The condenser is located on the front side of the chiller.

This configuration draws cool air from the front and exhausts the warm air out of the back.

Be sure to leave enough room for the hot air to circulate away from the coils.

The built-in thermostat and controller will automatically maintain your desired set temperature within +/-1 degree Fahrenheit.

The controller has a bright light LCD that can actually be read day or night. Hoses connect to the chiller by ½"-3/4" barbed fittings. The chiller has a two-year warranty. 

Dimensions are: 16.5" L x 9.8" W x 18.5" H. The chiller is rated for a maximum aquarium size of 130 gallons. The recommended water pump should be rated at 160-295 gallons per hour.

The best way to size the chiller is through JBJ's on-line calculator. Other sizes are also available.

Pros

  • Very quiet compared to some other chillers.
  • Good reliability.
  • Easy to read LCD controller.
  • Very few warranty issues.
  • Plug and play simplicity.
  • Two-year warranty.

Cons

  • Customer service is slow.
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5. Teco TANK TK-500 1/6 HP

The Italian-made Teco TANK TK-500 is a complete temperature control system for aquariums. It is more advanced than the other chillers we’ve taken a look at.

The Teco TH-500 has built-in heater and cooling capabilities!

The build-quality is at the highest level. The fit and finish are excellent. This means no sharp edges and no annoying rattles and vibrations.

The TK-500 is rated for tanks up to 130 gallons. Unique to the TK-500 is a rotatable top exhaust conveyor that allows the user to direct air flow and heat exchange away from the chiller unit, allowing better performance in its operating space.

The design increases the heat transfer out of the water, making this chiller very efficient. A large high-quality fan moves a lot of air without excess fan noise which is common with smaller fans.

Users with aquarium cabinets can extend the exhaust conveyor opening in 2-inch increments using modular conveyor extension pieces. This means you can direct the hot air out of your enclosed cabinet or closet.

Inset and rotating water inlet and outlet valves helps with unit placement in tight confined spaces or cabinets. The rotating hose barbs make it easy to hook up the water hoses.

Additionally, the filter screen is attached magnetically to the front for effortless maintenance, removal and installation.

TANK chillers feature an easy to use digital thermostat controller with accurate temperature detection from 32 to 95 ºF.

The water temperature probe uses incoming water as a reference. This ensures that the thermostat is reading the water temperature in the aquarium, not outgoing chilled water.

The red display makes the temperature settings easy to read. The thermostat display can be configured to show temperatures in Fahrenheit (ºF) or Celsius (ºC), and audible alarms can be programmed for certain situations.

TANK chillers are designed with near-perfect protection against corrosion.

Water in and out connections fit 3/4-inch diameter tubing. The TK-500's small form-factor makes it perfect for use in confined operating spaces. The TK-500 has a generous two-year limited warranty. Dimensions are 12.2 x 12.2 x 16.4 inches.

Pros

  • Outstanding build quality.
  • Two-year warranty.
  • Highly efficient operation.
  • Very quiet.
  • Heating and cooling capabilities.
  • Thermostat probe positioned on incoming water.
  • Red led display.

Cons

  • Cost a little more than other chillers.

More chillers to consider:

My Pick

If you have a small aquarium the IceProbe chiller might be just what you need to drop the water temperature a couple of degrees. The small size, quiet operation, and simplicity have it made it a favorite small-tank chiller for over ten years.

The reliable seal system ensures that drilled tanks won’t leak. Iceprobe chillers are a favorite for nano reef tanks. Some aquarists have used two IceProbe chillers to cool their tanks. If you have a larger aquarium, you’ll have to go with a traditional chiller.

The JBJ range of aquarium chillers is one of the most popular with aquarists. The company is dedicated to making it easy to select a chiller with their on-line calculator. Unlike the EcoPlus chillers, JBJ has proven to last for many years.

The super-quiet operation, two-year warranty and high reliability makes JBJ the “go-to” chiller for freshwater and reef aquariums. If you're keeping cool-water fish like koi or goldfish indoors or battling heat from reef lighting, consider the JBJ chiller line. They are reliable and provide good performance and a reasonable price.

If you’re looking for the very best in efficiency, temperature control and features, the Teco line of chillers is for you. Built like a fine Italian sports car, Teco chillers feature an advanced design and premium components that provide you with the best chiller possible.

The combination of chilling and heating capabilities make Teco chillers the top choice for total temperature control in any aquarium. The highly efficient design will keep your aquarium water stable and won’t cost you a lot of money to run.

Reef aquarists keeping delicate corals and other invertebrates will appreciate the advanced temperature monitoring features. The premium air filter is easy to clean will protect the coils from dust. The programmable audible temperature alarm adds another layer of protection for your aquarium. The two-year warranty will give you peace of mind too!

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