Heigh ho internet! I’ve returned to blogging after a year and a day and then fourteen more days away from it all. Various things have happened in the interim but what’s pertinent at the moment is that last November I got a Biocube 14 – an all-in-one aquarium in which I’ve revived the saltwater aquaria I used to keep in college. It has some modifications (because I can’t leave anything alone) and today I’m going to share the process of retrofitting the hood on the Biocube to replace the godawful stock fans with a little more “oomph.”
Why replace the stock fans? The bearings on the fans that come integrated into the hood are pretty lousy. Users frequently report that they start making grinding noises and fail to turn. Unfortunately my tank was no exception. The Biocubes also have a problem with condensation forming on the inside of the hood. Normally this is no problem but whenever the lid gets raised a lot of water runs down the back which isn’t good for the wiring or the carpet. I found a couple of guides showing how others had done this retrofit and I combined their approaches.
Now here was where I was hoping to save some work. My plan was to put four new fans in the hood where previously there were only two. I’d have liked to wire them into the existing power supply and not have to run a new one – one less plug to deal with after all – but no dice. Not only is there not nearly enough amperage (my new fans draw 110 mA each and this transformer only puts out 150 total) but it’s AC instead of DC. Oh well.
New fan on the left, old fan on the right. The new ones are Sunon MagLev fans which are reputed to have much nicer bearings.
Step four: remove the old fans.
Step six: drill intakes and mounting holes for two fans in the back both blowing inward. This is a slightly harder modification than just replacing the stock fans but it is worth it. These two fans have basically eliminated the condensation problem. It comes at a cost: evaporation goes way way up. I’d recommend an auto-topoff if you are going to go the four-fan route.
Step seven: wiring up the fans. I used a charger from an old phone which puts out 700 mA at 5VDC. The Sunon fans are rated for 12V so running them at 5 is undervolting them rather a lot but that’s okay. Despite having good bearings they aren’t particularly quiet. I tried running them flat-out at 12V and it sounded like a jet engine was taking off in my living room. 5V seems a good compromise for air movement versus noise.
And that’s it! Replace the metal electronics cover, the bulbs, and the plastic light cover and plug it all in.
- The hood is much quieter after having replaced the stock fans.
- Condensation is a thing of the past.
- The hood isn’t silent by a long shot…but that wasn’t really the point.
- The general temperature of the tank is lower than it was with only two fans but it’s still very warm. Eventually – like in a couple of weeks – the stock lighting needs to come out and get replaced with LEDs lest my tank come to a slow boil over the summer.