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DIY Aquarium Fan

This is a discussion on DIY Aquarium Fan within the Axolotl General Discussion forums, part of the Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) category; Hello, I would just like to give a quick tutorial on how to make a aquarium fan for our axos ...

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Old 5th July 2010   #1 (permalink)
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Default DIY Aquarium Fan

Hello, I would just like to give a quick tutorial on how to make a aquarium fan for our axos because the summer is here and it gets hot for some of us who may have troubles controlling the temperature of our water but don't neccessary need (or financially want) to buy an aquarium chiller. This helps keep my temperature at around 16 to 18C on certain days, on really hot days it keeps it between 18 to 20C

I hope I have posted enough images to clarify the steps. Hopefully, these are tools most people may have at home already. Please excuse my nails as they are getting chipped.

TOOLS REQUIRED:
Scissors
Wire Cutter
Transformer plug that is enough to power your fan
Electrical Tape
1/8" dia Steel rod that is cut about 10 inches to 1 foot or a holder for the fan
A computer fan

You can make the steel rod into clamps like this:

Click the image to open in full size.

You would shape this out of an anvil and a hammer (I didn't take pictures when I hammered these rods to form this shape so i guess there is no tutorial for this part)
You can spray it with a layer of something safe, I spray acrylic protectant on it. Another alternative is that you can use a coat hanger....but I find it seems flimsy to me. I rather have something stronger.

Basically the clamps do this for the fan.
Click the image to open in full size.
Or if you have some way to hold the fan in place, go for it!

DIRECTIONS
1. This is the fan I picked, I liked it because it was clear and does not have an LED light installed and it was the only clear one that I could find with the lowest RPM and high air flow and quietest sound. NOTE: it's not the MOST quietest or the one with the LOWEST RPM nor the one with the HIGHEST air flow. But it works well for me for the temperatures I live in.
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.

When you read the specs, a low RPM doesn't make so much vibrations in the water. There are some out there that have an RPM of 500. Again up to you. So what you want is low RPM, high air flow and the smallest sound.


2. Here are two options

STYLE A. Attach the transformer to the fan through those black plastic connectors. I really don't know what to call them.

STYLE B. Cut the connectors off. I prefer to cut them off. But then you have to remember which wire is the negative and positive. You only need the negative and the positive wire to be hooked up. In this fan you can see all the wires in the first half are clear.
Click the image to open in full size.

3. Observe the voltage required for the fan. This fan operates on 12V. Here I have a 12V transformer...and this can be from an old machine that no one uses anymore. you can still reuse the transformer. I've cut the wire already so that is a decent length.
Click the image to open in full size.

3. Expose the wires by using a wire cutter to remove some of the rubber tubing on the transformer. Depending onw how your transformer looks like...The wire that either in black rubber or in a rubber that has a white strip along it is the negative end. The wire that has red rubber or has no strips along it is the positive.
If you choose style b, see below. If you noticed, I staggered the lengths of the wires so my negative end is longer than my positive just to make it safe since I intend to attach the wires directly to each other.


4.Expose the wires using a wire cutter to remove some of the rubber tubing on the computer fan if you want to cut off the black plastic thing...if you are okay with the black plastic thing then proceed to step 5. Here I made the positive end longer than the negative end so it works for STYLE B.

5. Attach the negative ends together. Follow the style you prefer.
STYLE A. This connector has two pieces on it. Remove the half with the colored wires. Then plug in the negative wire.
http://www.caudata.org/forum/members...-dscn3916.html
http://www.caudata.org/forum/members...-dscn3921.html

Style B. Curl the wires together. Use a bit of electrical tape to hold it in place.
Click the image to open in full size.

6. Attach the positive ends together, follow the style you prefer
Style A.
http://www.caudata.org/forum/members...-dscn3916.html

Style B. Curl the ends together. Notice there is a third wire that is just hanging out, we don't need that wire.
Click the image to open in full size.


7. Plug in the tranformer to test if the fan works, if it does proceed to step 8, if it does not move, it means you attached the wrong wires together. So you've attached positives with negatives.

8. You don't need that extra wire that is just hanging out. You can just cut it so it's flush.
Click the image to open in full size.

9. You can put a bit more electrical tape to conceal the wires.
Click the image to open in full size.

10. Put the mount on the aquarium. i put mine on a metal bar.
Click the image to open in full size.

11. Put the fan on the mount. Voila!
Click the image to open in full size.



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Old 5th July 2010   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: DIY Aquarium Fan

This is brilliant, Was looking for a guide like this a few weeks ago.

I was considering 12cm fans over the typical 8 cm fans you get in the ebay chiller fans due to the noise, your guide makes the whole process very clear.



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Old 5th July 2010   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: DIY Aquarium Fan

Thanks! I'll go through it tonight at home to fix up the links, I think I accidentally made hyperlinks instead of putting some pictures in directly. =D



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Old 5th July 2010   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: DIY Aquarium Fan

Thanks for this how-to, Hitman. I put a link from the CC cooling article to this forum thread.



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Old 6th July 2010   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: DIY Aquarium Fan

Hi Jenn, is it still possible to edit a thread? I was just trying to make it look better since some of the images were hyperlinks but they can really be images in the thread. I figured I could also put one or two more pictures in there. Hehe!



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Old 6th July 2010   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: DIY Aquarium Fan

Can I ask how much all the materials cost you? I may knock one of these up for my 60litre



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Old 7th July 2010   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: DIY Aquarium Fan

I'll try to answer to my best ability. =) The only things I can give you a price on are the fan and the steel rods as I had everything at home to begin with.

Breakdown:
  • Transformer - free because I reused it out of an old machine.
  • Fan - it can range from $8+, definitely geek out at your computer store to find a good one. Mine actually cost $25 because it's a clear fan without the standard LED light. Clear fans in general cost double, if not triple the cost of a black fan. NOTE: I barely hear my fan and it doesn't even come close to the surface vibrations caused by my filter.
  • 1/8" dia steel rods - $2 for 2 feet, you only need about 10 inches to 1 foot per side holder
  • 24 lb anvil - $25. It really depends on the weight but the rule of thumb is 1 lb costs roughly $1. If you do want to buy an anvil, try to avoid the ones that are painted. the paint will chip off the more you hammer something on it, then it's just annoying. But if you are super strong, you probably could bend steel with pliers.
  • Electrical tape - under $1 for black, price goes up a couple cents for colored ones
  • Wire stripper/cutter - $3 to $8?
It probably costs the same as one you buy online (assuming there is a shipping cost) and if you don't have the tools at hand or if you want something aethetically pleasing like what I tend to do. But the pros of making your own far exceed that of buying an aquarium fan. I'm sure a chiller is still better though.

PROS:
  • Many buyable aquarium fans won't tell you the actual specs, so you have no idea how loud it is...how much air pressure it causes, etc.
  • Many buyable aquarium fans are comprised of 2 to 3 small fans (because they are cheap) which likely means they have a high RPM. So it just moves your water around viciously. I am not implying all small fans have a high RPM and a loud sound but they do tend to if you just think about it logically.
  • A good diy fan can reduce your temps by 5 degrees or more. Mine actually reduced the temps by 5 to 8 degrees in comparison to my indoor temp.




Last edited by HitmanSougo13; 7th July 2010 at 04:31.
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Old 7th July 2010   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: DIY Aquarium Fan

Thanks for the how-to. I've always wondered how that was done. I still don't know if I'll have the courage to play with wiring, but maybe some day.



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Old 7th July 2010   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: DIY Aquarium Fan

I just realized I should put these warnings down if anyone is going to attempt this the first time. I wrote the tutorial late at night in a rush and just thought nothing much of it.

WARNING: As a friendly reminder for Electrical Hazards (I'm sure we all know);
  • Keep the tranformer unplugged through the process as you are attaching wires and taping.
  • Only plug the transformer when you need to test if the fan works, after testing always unplug.
  • Do not plug it in if you haven't put some electrical tape over any exposed wires (Well you can...just don't touch the exposed wires! Just figured it'll be a good precaution for people attempting this the first time)
  • Do not touch the exposed wires of the transformer when plugged.

TIPS:
  • You can find some wires from unused machines to improve your wire stripping skills first.
  • It's okay if you accidently cut off one little wire strand from the rest.



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Old 27th September 2011   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: DIY Aquarium Fan

I will be doing this soon, I really appreciate the guide as I would probably just shock myself or blow something up. I bought a clip on aquarium fan off of foster and smith and it barely even puts any air out and also doesn't even properly clip onto tanks with rims on them. I was furious. I should have just done this instead.

Thanks! I thought about getting a piece of fiberglass and making a strip out of it to sit on top of my aquarium and cutting a square out of it and mounting the fan on that pointing directly down and then just use the fiberglass as a top also.



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Old 27th September 2011   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: DIY Aquarium Fan

this should be a sticky in the tank and set up section. there are SO MANY posts about keeping the tank cool.



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Old 27th September 2011   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: DIY Aquarium Fan

agreed



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Old 27th September 2011   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: DIY Aquarium Fan

Ditto Rachel and Totallyrad!

on a side note-i love the idea,and the guide and even though it doesn't usually get that warm where i live to need a fan,im going to make one anyway!!



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Old 1st October 2011   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: DIY Aquarium Fan

just went a bought a 120mm fan. it was $15 x_x but it'll be worth it to cool my tank.
i just hope i can make it work lol otherwise i cut up a 15 dollar fan. i'll post a pic of it when
i accomplish it.



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Old 2nd October 2011   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: DIY Aquarium Fan

so i made mine but it seems like it doesn't put much air out. maybe i'm just expecting too much lol.
i couldn't find a 12dc so i used a 11ac from thrift store. i wonder if this is why it isn't as powerful as i thought it would be. sooooo i will be looking for 12dc that will work and then all i need to do is figure out a way to mount the fan because your way won't work for me as i don't have a bar above my tank to hang it on.



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Old 3rd March 2015   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: DIY Aquarium Fan

This is genius I love it



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