Open-Top Reef in the Greenhouse

Discussion in 'General Reef Topics' started by Matt Rogers, Jul 12, 2002.

  1. Matt Rogers

    Matt Rogers Kingfish Staff Member

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    Hello all,

    I am curious if anyone has any experience putting a reef in a greenhouse?

    I was thinking of doing so.

    I live in Northern California near the water and temps rarely get over the '70's.

    Our greenhouse is attached to the house and faces south. It gets lots of light, and the top opens to let the heat out. Sometimes it gets hot in there, but never for more than a couple hours in the middle of the day. By the time I get home from work, it is cool in there, even on days where is gets in the '80's.

    To lessen the risk and to use natural light I want to go open-top again.

    How about a tank without fish and just softies? Are corals more tolerant of higher temps?

    Is this idea a pipe dream?


    Ok. Maybe I should elaborate. The one thing that worries me is the heat spike in mid-afternoon. Will corals rebound well from a spike that approaches 90 or higher?

    Any rec's on coral? Leather, fox, bubble, or the like?

    ???
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  3. Jimbo

    Jimbo Plankton

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    It is a big project to put a reef tank in the greenhouse. You will need to install big fans on the greenhouse itself (controlled by temp controllers on the tank) to cool the greehouse. People in Florida who have large reef tanks (500-1000gal) in greenhouses (where it gets really hot), they plumb and run the tank water through long length of PVC pipes that are buried in the ground (6 feet or more) to use the natural cooling of the damp soil to their advantage. Also, you will need to get some shading for the tank because direct sunlight will bleach some soft corals. Most people use these greenhouse tanks to grow SPS and clams, mostly for retail. Supposedly, the SPS and corals grows like weeds under this kind of setup. That's what I've read...it would be sweet to use the sun to light the tank though...

    My girlfriend just ordered a digital camera online...so we will be able to take some pictures of the tank and the numerous modifications when we get it and learn how to use it properly. Hopefully, we'll be able to share it with you.

    Jim & Ratna
  4. Jimbo

    Jimbo Plankton

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    Your corals will not survive a heat spike to the 90's. They will turn to mush very quickly.
  5. Jeremy

    Jeremy Spanish Shawl Nudibranch

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    I don't see why you shouldn't if you add a chiller to your tank. some large fans in the greenhouse would also help, by moving the air about. If your not keeping anything else in there (i assume your not) then you could probably add a shade cloth over the roof to keep any direct sun from entering. that way, you would still have light coming in from the sides, so you still get some natural light but your corals won't bleach. :thumbsup:
  6. Matt Rogers

    Matt Rogers Kingfish Staff Member

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    Thanks guys.
    I had heard about the PVC cooling before - that is cool!
    But ours is on the second floor, so that rules that out.
    I still think it would be possible with a chiller though.

    Hopefully I can find the right setup for the right price and pull this off!

    It would be pretty cool! ;D
  7. Jimbo

    Jimbo Plankton

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    Adding fans would not help you in a greenhouse, it will only move hot air around. Also, the fan across the water will not work either because of the high humidity associated with greenhouses. Having a shade over your entire greenhouse will defeat the purpose of a having a greenhouse.

    How big is the tank in the greenhouse? To cool a big tank, and in such a hot environment...a chiller would be running constantly, and you would need to purchase a very high hp chiller. It will probably run you close to $1000 for such a chiller. Then we are talking about 1000+ watts easily.

    To make such a system work, you will need to be creative. You will definitely need some kind of shade over your tank if its under direct sunlight. You might want to try using a temp controller to run cool water through some really long 1/4" flexibile tubes (outside of the greenhouse/maybe lower floor), a cheap alternative to chiller. Look at GARF, they are trying a similar system.

    Jim
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  9. Matt Rogers

    Matt Rogers Kingfish Staff Member

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    Only on hot days! Which is what you want.

    It is extremely rare for the greenhouse (which is about 12' x 6') to get over 80 degrees. Therefore I think this would be possible as long as precautions such as a removable shade, possibly a chiller and fans are available.

    In fact, right now while it is hot everywhere else, here is colder than normal because it is 'fog season.' A thick fog envelopes the whole east bay until about 1 - 2 pm. I live close to the water, so it is a lot cooler here than inland. So I just want to be prepared for those rare days where things could get cooked. Like you said Jimbo, I will just have to be creative. I am confident we can flesh this out, I will take some pics of the greenhouse soon and post them here so we can come up with more options. ;D
  10. Jimbo

    Jimbo Plankton

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    I guess the reef in your greenhouse will be fine in your situation since your location is in a cool area. When I hear greenhouses, I imagine those hot, highly humid greenhouses to grow tropical plants.

    I've been in very hot greenhouses in cold areas before because the greenhouse gets a lot of sunlight. The heat is trapped in the greenhouse, while it is rather cool outside.

    And, wouldn't it be easier to put a shade over your tank rather than your greenhouse? Just a thought. It'll probably be cheaper too. I don't know your setup, but whatever works will do.