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Old 26th February 2018   #4
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Default Re: Help, How do i cool down terrestrial tank?

I've fussed over temperature a lot, and had several salamanders perish due to high temps during my time in the hobby. The conclusion that I've finally come to is that it is almost certainly easier and cheaper to put your terrarium into the cold than it is to put the cold into your terrarium. In years past I've tried numerous chilling techniques for my aquatic and semi-terrestrial tanks, from floating ice/ice packs, to evaporating water with fans, to frequent partial water changes with cold water, to running tank water through a coiled hose in a mini fridge. NONE of these techniques have been able to consistently drop the water temperature >3 degrees C below ambient temp, even for fully aquatic tanks. From my understanding, electric chillers are even less effective (and far more costly--starting at >$300 for models that do *anything*).

On the other hand, you can buy a new, medium-sized wine cooler for <$200 that will get your sallies as cold as they can handle. If you get a cooler with removable racks, you should have enough room to put in a terrarium. A glass-front wine cooler holding a fully-terrestrial terrarium and lit from outside would likely have no need for wiring into the cooler, provided you can mist it fairly regularly.

The most obvious concern with this sort of setup would be circulation--I have no idea what air exchange, if any, the inside of a wine cooler has with the outside, and you certainly don't want to asphyxiate your salamanders! However, salamanders use less than 100 cubic millimeters--or 0.1 mL--of oxygen per hour per gram of body mass. The average houseplant's leaf, on the other hand, gives off ~5 mL of oxygen per hour (and absorbs a commensurate amount of CO2, one would assume). Now, plants don't always metabolize CO2 and give off O2 at the same rate, and I'm sure that metabolism varies with temperature--so let's use a conservative estimate and say that at 8C, a plant is about 1/10 as efficient as at 20C. So that same leaf now gives off 0.5 mL of oxygen per hour, which means that it can support 5 grams of salamander. So if you have ~50 grams of opacum--4 mid-sized adults--you'd need the equivalent of 10 leaves in an enclosed system to provide enough O2 for them (this with a very high estimate of hourly oxygen use). Obviously, houseplant leaves are bigger than terrarium plant leaves--but still, a pothos, some ferns, and some healthy moss ought to put out more than enough oxygen for your salamanders. And of course, you'll likely be opening the enclosure regularly for mistings, feedings, and cleanings, so the odds of oxygen shortage seem exceedingly low.

I plan on using a setup like this for my P. ruber and G. porphyriticus this summer. DM me if you're interested in exchanging ideas.
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