How to choose the best aquarium chiller

If you’re in a hurry and eager to find out the best aquarium chiller. Then we would recommend the JBJ Aquarium Arctica Titanium Chiller.

Fish are cold-blooded species, who rely on their environment to control their body temperature. Where aquarium heaters warm a tank to create a healthy environment for tropical fish; aquarium chillers play the opposite role with the job of maintaining a colder temperature in a tank. This article will go into more detail explaining what an aquarium chiller is, the purpose, and what we at needyfish believe to be the best aquarium chillers available. 

What is a chiller?

Aquarium chillers are small refrigerator-like devices that are installed together with an external filtration system to cool the water as it passes from the filtration unit. Most models come with a thermostat that helps maintain the water temperature within specified limits. 

Why do aquariums heat up?

Aquariums, unlike the natural fish habitats, are heated by your indoor home temperature. Therefore, during the summer period, the temperatures may go up past the natural limits for the fish, threatening their survival. With no other water coming into the aquarium environment, the water therein keeps getting warmer as the home temperature climbs. Your HVAC (Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system) may not cool the water as fast as it does the indoor air.

How to decide if I need a chiller

There are various pointers which will indicate whether you need to purchase an aquarium chiller. If you’re not affected by any of the two factors below you will most likely not need to buy one. 

1.) You keep cold water fish

If you keep cold-water fish such as goldfish and brass, there is a chance that summer temperatures will be too high for them to breed or live comfortably in the aquarium. Even if you have an air-conditioned home maintaining a temperature between 80 to 86 degrees F, the water temperature will continue to rise.

2.) You live in a hot climate zone

If there’s a high variance in temperature in your home area, you may need to purchase a chiller. This is because summer temperatures are likely to be too hot for your fish. Besides, most homeowners will turn off the AC when not at home, which will cause aquarium water temperatures to rise faster.

How do they work?

These appliances use a vapor-compression technique, similar to a split air conditioner. Water from the aquarium enters the heat exchange, which has metal coils filled with a refrigerant. Here the heat is transferred from the water into the chiller. The refrigerant is then pressurized and turned into a gas before it moves to the compressor, where heat is lost through the blowing fan. The refrigerant then passes the condenser, which turns back to liquid for use in the next phase of cooling. More simple aquarium coolers, blow the water surface through a fan, which takes away the heat via air circulation.

Considerations prior to buying a chiller?

1.) Capacity

A chiller can only keep the aquarium cool if it has the right capacity of water and flow rate. Each aquarium will come with a manual that clearly states the correct volume. Use this figure to find a chiller that can handle the indicated volume. The flow rate will depend on the volume selected.

2.) Energy consumption

Compare models for energy efficiency. Go for models with a thermostat that can choose the optimum temperature range. Since these models will shut off when temperatures are below the maximum, thereby saving power. You should also pick appliances with a DC adapter which consume far less energy.

3.) The Build

The construction material and general design of the device is going to determine its longevity. I’ve seen that most models are made of plastic with metal parts. Whatever the material, ensure that the appliance will be able to handle the wear and tear of general use without faltering. 

4.) Noise levels

It’s bound to make some noise. However, it’s important to check that the noise levels won’t make your home unbearable to live in with the sound of buzzing. 

Top 3 tips for a cooler Aquarium

1.) Lighting

Certain conditions are going to accelerate the heating of your aquarium. For example, if you are using an incandescent bulb to increase the visibility of your aquarium, you may find it generating some heat. Consider going for LED or other energy-saving lights.

2.) Water changes

Introducing fresh water into the tank will increase the amount of oxygen in the aquarium, helping lower the temperature as the warm water is removed from the tank.

3.) Good filtration

Fish waste and other impurities in the water will contribute to the increase in water temperature. In contrast, freshwater with fewer impurities in similar indoor conditions will have a lower increase in temperature.

needyfish’s top 4 aquarium chillers

1.) BAOSHISHAN Aquarium Chiller

Key features

  • Comes in 2 sizes
  • 5-36 Celsius temperature range

The Baoshishan aquarium chiller has three different installation and connection methods suitable for an array of applications, whether installing it with just a pump or with a pump and filter.

Overall, uses where happy with their purchase, highlighting the pumps solid construction. Some commented on the inconvenient of needing to convert from Celsius to Fahrenheit and the poor set of instructions. However, everything you need to know is clearly stated online. Overall matched with the price this product represents excellent value for money.


  • Quiet when operating
  • Excellent customer service
  • Simple control panel
  • Rapid cooling


  • Poor instructions
  • Only shows in Celsius
  • Can be noisy when fan is on

2.) Petzilla Chiller

Key features:

  • Comes in 2 sizes 
  • 2 variable speeds
  • Stable and strong clamp

This chiller is a far cheaper option that comes with jaws to clip on to the side of your tank. People were very impressed with the double fan design as it can cool water by two to four degrees. Its clamp jaws are strong enough to handle any tank thickness and can work on a cylindrical tank. Additionally, the appliance has a variable fan speed for use in varying ambient temperatures. If the indoor temperature is very high, it would be advised to add a bottle of frozen water or install more than one device to cool your tank.


  • It is easy to set up and run the device
  • It has a low power consumption
  • Can be used with salty water 
  • Variable speeds make it ideal for various indoor temperatures


  • It can only work on small tanks of up to 20 gallons
  • Can make a loud buzzing noise

3.) Zoo Med Aqua Cooling Fan

Key Features: 

  • Adjustable control vent 
  • Low profile unit suction cups to tank

The Zoo Med Aqua fan is a fully adjustable cooling fan that uses a mild suction cup to hold onto the tank’s side. It has a wide discharge nozzle to increase the contact with the water surface for maximum cooling. The appliance comes with a 12V adapter to lower the power usage when cooling. The nozzle is multidirectional, allowing you to focus airflow on a particular area. It can cool a small tank (less than 20 gallons) between two and four degrees, depending on the ambient temperature. Users like the fact that there is no assembly required. You merely clip it on,  plug it into the power source and hit the switch. 


  • No assembly required
  • Fully adjustable nozzle makes it easy to reach various areas of the water surface
  • The 12V adaptor ensures low power consumption


  • Suitable for smaller tanks only

4.) JBJ Aquarium Arctica Titanium Chiller 

Key Features: 

  • Comes in 4 sizes
  • Corrosion resistant

The JBJ Aquarium Arctica Titanium Chiller boasts a titanium interior and robust exterior. 

The brand is popular for its digital LED temperature controller that can be read with ease at a distance during day and night. Users commented on the high flow rate, so be sure that your fish can handle this. The fish tank chiller has a memory chipset, which ‘remembers’ your temperature settings in case of a power interruption. Users have also praised the device for its relative ease when installing via a hose.


  • The appliance is quiet compared with other models of the same capacity
  • The LED controller makes it easy to manage your temperature settings
  • Can cool small to medium-size tanks


  • Some users experienced a faulty compressor
  • JBJ Support have poor customer service 

Our choice: 

Your final decision is going to depend on several factors, and ultimately your personal preference is going to play a big part. I hope the above has highlighted some of the considerations and questions you should take into account before purchase. 

However, if I were to choose among the models reviewed, the JBJ Aquarium Arctica Titanium Chiller would be my preference. Not only can it handle a wide variety of tank sizes, thanks to its high capacity reservoir and flow rate. You can also set the temperature for automatic operation. Clip-on blowers, although much cheaper, don’t have the mechanism to monitor temperature change and are overall far more limited in their capabilities.  

The JBJ Aquarium Arctica Titanium Chiller can also boast a long-lasting titanium interior and a robust exterior build. Therefore, it should serve you for years to come. As always if you have any further questions on the matter, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


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