heater for fish

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Al. Countryboy, Nov 13, 2005.

  1. Al. Countryboy

    Al. Countryboy Well-Known Member

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    I live in North Al. and have a greenhouse that is attached to the back of my house. It is 48ftX16ft. A few months ago I got thirteen tilapia fish that really need water temps. in the 70's. They will live in the 60 degree range, but will died when water temp. gets in the low 50's. Have been working on a few solar projects to keep the water temp. up. There is app. 700 gallons of water in the long run that the fish are in. I do have a wood burner that is in the greenhouse that is used to heat our house and it never has gotten near freezing out there, but realize that this winter water temps. need to be warmer for the fish. Was wondering if there was some way of putting hot coals in metal puckets to heat up the water on really cold nights. I have one small aquarium heater in there , but with that many gallons of water it doesn't help. The temp. in the greenhouse on sunny, cold days can reach 100F easily. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that in two months my fish population has grown. I have babies app. (600 to 800) that are from 2inches to little dots. Now just keeping these fish alive till spring where they will go out side into five small ponds made just for them and will be ready to eat in the fall. Any ideas?
     
  2. kathy H

    kathy H kathyh

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    To bad you couldnt store them in the green house for winter.
     

  3. DayBird

    DayBird Big Bird

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    I usually recommend to my customers at the petstore to use an aquarium heater that provides at least 3 watts per gallon of water. I can't think of a way to keep that much water that warm.

    On a slightly different subject..
    Where did you get your breeding stock and are you willing to sell/trade any?

    Thank,
    Robert (near B'ham)
     
  4. hooyeah123

    hooyeah123 Member

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    howbout one of those solar pool heaters (you float it on the top of the water) on 3/4 of the water surface and adding aeration? I think there is a thing called a heating plug that is kind of a heavy duty heater for pond suppplies. check out dr fosters and smith or www.thatpetplace.com, http://www.azponds.com/fall_winter.htm
    or search for pond supplies on the web.
     
  5. Fire-Man

    Fire-Man Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The way I heat my outside 2 to 3000 gal pool in early spring and late summer/fall is I use a 55 gallon barrel with a fire built in it with 50ft of 1/2" copper wrapped around the barrel, using a bilge pump to pump water out the pool through the copper, and it's heated and goes back into the pool. There are alot of ways to heat your water------------With electric you can use a hot water heater or a gas water heater, using a small pump to pull water from your pool, let it go through the hotwater heater slowly--------with a wood heater--you could use a copper coil, a large pot modified with water line fittings welded to it-------set this pot on top of a wood heater or gas cooker----I could keep on and on--------Oh, one time I built a fire outside and put a copper coil in the fire, circulated water through it into a pool, worked Good. If I had to heat the water alot outside, I would modify a 55 gal metal barrel with a Barrel Kit, which has a door, flue pipe connecter, and legs---That way it don't burn as much wood. With Solar---I would build a big collector to heat the water, storing it in insulated barrels during the day till I needed it for the fish. Don't know your set-up but I am Sure You will come up with a Good/Best Way. You will just have to keep in mind------You can't let the water get real cold and think you can warm it in a hour. 700 gallons will take some time to bring up 5 to 10 degree's, so start heating it before it get's to cold. Randy
     
  6. JAK

    JAK Well-Known Member

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    I think you definitely want to heat the water directly, rather than the air. That way the air temperature can drop at night and you will not loose as much heat.
     
  7. roughingit

    roughingit knitwit

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    Toss a couple of titanium heaters in there, biggest you can get. Tough as nails and once they water is warmed up, it doesn't lose it very quickly. Three watts per gallon is a great guideline for tanks, but really big tanks and ponds can get away with much less. When I had a tropical pond, I used to loosely lay over some greenhouse plastic at night to trap the heat too. I can put up a couple of links to some good aquarium catalogs if you like.
     
  8. Al. Countryboy

    Al. Countryboy Well-Known Member

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    The solar pool heater that I am working on had water temp. up to 160 degree F. This would add about 10 gal. of heated water every 30 min. or so during part of our sunny days. Usually our cloudy days in the winter are warm. I also wrapped 50 ft. of copper tubing around the stove pipe of the heater but was a little disappointed with the amount of water that was heated. As one of you suggested, I am thinking of covering this pond at night with bubble wrap which I read about being very good. Yes it does also take a long period of time for the temp. to rise or drop a few degrees for that amount of water which is in the greenhouse. In responce to daybird's guestion. I got my fish from Gadsden, Al. I don't know the laws in our state concerning tilapia so I had better not say from whom. I'm not far from you. I live in Pell City. I will share some with you. Just let me know. Thanks roughingit I had saw those titanium heaters on the internet, but didn't know how well they would work. I had also bought a 52 gal aquarium from Walmart and put alot of my babies in it in the house, but didn't want to bring any more inside. Thanks for all your quick responce and if any more ideas please respond. Thanks again. :rock:
     
  9. Al. Countryboy

    Al. Countryboy Well-Known Member

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    Would appreciate those aquarium web sites. They may be one that I overlooked that are close to home.
     
  10. james dilley

    james dilley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Have you thought about A large type of indoor tank per pair of fish .As I read that you need about 5 pairs to produce several hundred fry at A time for about 4 litters A year..
     
  11. fernando

    fernando Well-Known Member

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    Well, there's always those "snorkel" heaters, the ones that burn wood and heat hot tubs. You often see them advertised in homesteading magazines and mags like Popular Mechanics.
     
  12. roughingit

    roughingit knitwit

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    The titanium heaters are *extremely* sturdy and take lots of abuse. One of the vendors at a tradeshow I was at was demo'ing them. He pulled em out of the water and even dropped them for us. No glass to break and they don't overheat if your water level gets too low (or *ahem* if you forget to unplug them while doing a water change...not that I'd *ever* do that lol). The gold standard in the aquarium industry is Ebo-Jaeger, but the ti's are cheaper so far seem to be sturdier. Just have to see if they are still kicking in 20 years like the Ebo's.

    Here's a couple of catalogs I've used.

    http://www.thatpetplace.com/
    http://www.drsfostersmith.com/
    Foster's and Smith (used to known as Pet Warehouse) has the titaniums heaters and some good steel ones too
    http:www.petsolutions.com
    http://www.bigalsonline.ca/splash.html

    Amazing how much cheaper things are mail-order! Also, if you are going for commercial aquaculture and not just raising up as supplamental food, you might check into getting an account with Coastal or African Northwest, but they don't deal with residential customers.
     
  13. walkinghorse

    walkinghorse Active Member

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  14. Ky gal

    Ky gal Well-Known Member

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    Is your tank below or above ground?
    Can you post a picture? Sounds interesting.
     
  15. SolarGary

    SolarGary Well-Known Member

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    Hi,

    Here are some thoughts:

    Solar Heater:
    Think about a simple trickle type solar water heater. This could be a sheet of dark colored corrugated metal roofing that is tilted up at an angle about equal to your latitude, and facing south. When the sun is on the collector, you pump water up to a manifold (a copper pipe with holes at each roofing corrugation) that feeds water from the fish tank onto the solar heated corrugated metal. The water will heat up as it flows down the corrugations -- probably to over a 100F. Collect the water at the bottom and channel it back to the tank.
    If you build the collector inside the greenhouse, it may work well enough without any glazing. If so, you get a solar collector for about a buck a square foot (and free aeration)! You can use a sumbersible pond type pump to pump the water.
    You will need a thermal switch to sense when the sun is on the collector, and turn the pump on -- this can be a simple $10 thermal snap switch.
    You might also want a limit switch to make sure the temperature does not go above a safe level -- A 2nd thermal snap switch that cuts power to the pump at some set water temp should work fine.
    This type of collector has been used a lot -- search for "Thomasen solar collector" on Google for more detail, and look on my site at this page:
    http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/SpaceHeating/Space_Heating.htm
    Look for the article on "Low Cost Solar House Heating".
    You might also get some ideas here:
    http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/Sunspace/sunspaces.htm

    Stopping Heat Loss:
    If possible, stop evaporation from the surface of the water. On pools this is the major source of heat loss.

    If you could insulate at least part of the tank wall, you would greatly reduce the heat loss from the tank. The R value for a glass tank wall would be about 0.6 (just the R value airfilm on the outside of the glass) -- even going to a 1 inch thick sheet of rigid foam insulation would give you R6, and cut the heat loss by a factor of nearly 10! If the fish need sunshine, then perhaps some moveable insulation that goes on at night?

    Let me know roughly what the temperature around the tank runs (day and night), and whether you can stop some of the evaporation losses and what (if any) insulation you can add, and I can give you a rough idea how much collector area you would need to keep the temperature up.

    Gary
    www.BuildItSolar.com
     
  16. kenuchelover

    kenuchelover Well-Known Member

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    What is the 700 gal "long run" made of?

    You don't have to heat the whole thing, tilapia WILL hug a warm spot when it gets cold (& then spread out more when it warms up during the day, or for short periods to forage). So if the tank is metal, a simple flame heater warming it up at one end will work (stick a thermometer at that end to see what the mid-depth water temperature is, & turn up the flame or add another if not warm enough).

    The same way, a trickle of warm water WILL keep them alive if it doesn't mix with the rest of the water too fast. With just 13 fish, You could use a submerged 5 gal bucket, on it's side with partially cutaway lid, as a "house" for them, running just enough fresh warm water to keep that space warm even at night. Depending on your water source, you might need to add oxygen into the bucket while they're crowded up like that...... but it's likely cheaper to have a small electric air pump (& a battery powered one for emergency backup in case of power outage) & "some" warm water running into the bucket than to heat the whole run.

    IF the run is metal, my professional opinion (27 years on a fish farm, including some tilapia experiance) is that the cheapest & most economical & SAFEST method is to put an oil or kerosene heater below it at one end, heating the water there with direct heat against the metal & using some kind of baffle to help limit scattering of the warm water. This way, you're safe in case of power outages (just remember to refill the kerosene or oil reservoir), you don't have to worry about oxygen levels (it'll difuse in from the rest of the water, faster is the fish get mildly anoxic & venture out into the colder but oxygen richer zone, stirring the water up), and you're not paying a fortune in electric bills or fancy equipment costs.

    If you don't mind the smoke & the structure isn't a fire risk, you might even be able to rig a simple wick system heater using old motor oil (sort of like those highway smudge pots, but with a cleaner wick & maybe a smidge of kerosene or diesel added to burn hotter & cleaner).
     
  17. Grandmotherbear

    Grandmotherbear Well-Known Member Supporter

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  18. Al. Countryboy

    Al. Countryboy Well-Known Member

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    Will check what a snorkel heater is. My run is made of cross ties (railroad). They were spiked together. The inside was lined with old carpet and carpet padding. Don't think you would need very many pairs of tilapia to supply you with enough young to feed family and friends. I'm not a pro at raising fish put have had at least 1000 fry born since I got the 5 males and 8 females in September. I have lost quite a few of the young fry in the first few weeks after they were released from their mother, but still have quite a few young (600 to 800) that are doing well. The solar heater SolarGary mention is what I am working on on top of the greenhouse and have already reached temps. of 160 degrees with it only half finished. I had already looked at one of those stock pond heaters, but they only maintained temp. just above freezing. I was also thinking about running a pipe network over head in the greenhouse, didn't want to completely block the sun using the trinkle type.You all have given me so much to think about, check on and to try. I should have posted here long before now. :clap: :clap:
     
  19. reitenger

    reitenger Well-Known Member

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    Had some friends that did aquaculture for a living, and they had a nice setup. They had 55 gallon plastic drums in the greenhouse and plumbedthem into the tank for his fish. They ran one line high, one line low. That way as the water heated in the greenhouse tanks, it started a circulation exchanging the heated water for cold. If I remember right, they used one drum per 3oo gallons. Worked on the concept of the solar water heaters people have on their houses. For extra cold days, they would cover he tank with black plastic to create more heat. Dependent on temps they would cover only portions. Tanks were also painted black. The joke was that they built the whole heating setup for under $500. They had 6 tanks of 600 to 1500 gallons each.
     
  20. kenuchelover

    kenuchelover Well-Known Member

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    Why not just stick with some kind of sunfish or perch? You wouldn't have the temperature problem & they still taste good.... especially since you'd be feeding them an artificial diet. (Tilapia get good taste reviews, but that's partly because of folk raising them in non-wild conditions, with heavily corn based extruded feeds. ANY fish raised that way will taste less "fishy" or musky than wild caught fish. Tilapia live wild in a huge saltwater lake near me, those DON'T taste as good as the ones raised on a tilapia farm we have business dealings with).

    Perch & sunfish are pretty fast growers, as well. And ones like silver perch get as big as tilapia, or bigger.