Just set up my home done fishtank incubator. Suggestions?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Barbedwirecat, Sep 18, 2011.

  1. Barbedwirecat

    Barbedwirecat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have looked at quite a few home made incubators (as well as very nice "real" ones) and going with the fact I will have eggs here in a few days and the only local place to turn to is TSC for a LG still air incubator I decided I would go ahead and try my hand at making one after reading the not so good reviews on LG.

    Granted I WILL be getting a "good one" very soon, but I know it won't be here in time.

    I am slightly new to this, I have incubated button quail eggs with a very tiny flying saucer shaped one. I had a good hatch rate with that (only one out of 7 did not hatch, but it was fully developed, just couldn't pip). [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I will be changing a few things in it (there were a few things I could not find in Walmart at 8:00 on a Sunday, going to Lowes tomorrow) I know I probably need a higher shelf as well. I bought one, but it did not fit the way I wanted it to in the tank.

    I'm not sure of the fan, it's not very strong---but I'm not sure how strong is TOO strong.

    I SUCK at electrical rewiring so I opted to try and not do that if possible.

    I have it sitting at 95 degrees (hoping it will go higher)and between 55-65% humidity right now as the farthest end (I could not find a probe thermometer, but I know I have one somewhere). It's been up and running for about 45 minutes.

    Please tell me if I should just go buy the LG, because I will. I just hazard spending 50 bucks one something I really don't know will crap out on me.

    Suggestions, comments, concerns?
     
  2. Edwards' East of Eden

    Edwards' East of Eden Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have that fan in my hatcher. It's plenty strong enough - but you probably don't want it blowing directly across your eggs. I would try turning it to blow on the bulb and see how your temps do.

    I assume you're going to use a water heater thermostat? Put that really close to the bulb, on the far side from the fan, so the air passes the bulb then hits the thermostat.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2011
  3. Barbedwirecat

    Barbedwirecat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Edwards, thank you. I was wondering that myself about the fan. I also added some more insulation on the outside of the glass (honestly I'm using craft foam sheets, I thought they might be more dense than regular styrofoam and keep the heat in better).

    It's been another 45min and I'm sitting at 56% humidity and 100 degrees flat with the added insulation.

    I have a hinged lid on top so I don't have to remove the whole cover to do anything, it is quite cozy in there.

    I think I'll need to get a dimmer for the light just in case, but I really don't want to have to fool with it too much. I couldn't find one that just plugs in on the cord (I know they have them for reptiles at petsmart)

    I have a 75 watt light bulb in there---is that too much? Also should I turn it away from the tray?

    Thanks for your help!
     
  4. Barbedwirecat

    Barbedwirecat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ah I see what you are saying about the water heater thermostat now, functions as a rheostat and controls the temp. Problem is---the last time I rewired anything (florescent light fixtures on a corn snakes cage) there were sparks and flames [​IMG]. I REALLY try to stay away from it if I can.

    So basically, that scares me.

    I think they have a plug in rheostat at the petstore, I might opt for that so I don't burn the house down. [​IMG]
     
  5. Barbedwirecat

    Barbedwirecat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Temp went up to 108 and humidity down to 39% in the last hour. Switched out the lightbulb for a 40 watt. Yikes!
     
  6. BigIslandChicks

    BigIslandChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG] interesting stuff!! [​IMG] i have been gathering supplies for my homebator - and am also terrified about the wiring - you get that fan at chinamart? (walmart [​IMG] )
     
  7. Edwards' East of Eden

    Edwards' East of Eden Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Really, hon, there's great instructions on here for the wiring. It's not that hard - I'm a girl, I did it. I have my try-and-fail-and-fix-it instructions on my BYC page. You can do it - just test your connections before you finalize them with taping. Or, you know, if you have skype, I can talk you through it. I'm helpful like that. [​IMG]

    I did wind up putting a piece of aluminum foil on the guard protecting my bulbs. Lightbulbs give off both convection (basically, heating the air, causing air movement) and radiant (heating by light waves, like when something warms while sitting in the sun) heat. After looking at the setup of my incubator, I decided that I didn't want to take that much of a risk with radiant heat. I had eggs sitting much nearer the lightbulbs, and other eggs in the "shadow" of those eggs - it just would have been too risky, to me, with the radiant heat. So, I made an aluminum foil curtain, blocking direct lightfall onto the eggs, hoping for more consistent temperatures.

    Also, I have one of those socket splitters in my light source, and two 20w bulbs in it - on the theory that if one bulb blows out, the other will still probably be working and can take up the slack until I notice.

    You can do the rheostat control thing - I have some of those that I use for lamps, and I think I paid about $13 for them at Lowes or Home Depot. But - you'll be happier and have less futzing around if you just do the WHT thing. Really.

    In your wrapping of the aquarium with foam - do yourself a favor and leave a window down on long side where you can look in at the eggs. When hatch time comes, you'll be glad for the extra picture angle, and you'll get less of a crick in your neck while you're staring obsessively. [​IMG] When our chicks make it into that window in their staggering, everyone here yells out "PEEPSHOW!" and we all rush over to watch them. Being able to see them from the side, on their level? Way worth it.

    You're also going to want to put some kind of hardware cloth wall up, between the hatching tray and the heating alley. Once chicks start hatching, they stumble and fall everywhere, and they will get caught in the tightest spots, just when all of your other eggs have pipped and you can't open the aquarium and help them.

    And - jeez. I'm going to overload you here. You really need to - if I were making an incubator of an aquarium? I would see if I could figure out how to use it with it laying on its long side, instead of standing straight up. You'll have more area to lay eggs all on one level, that way. Of course, I'm not sure exactly how much height you'd have to work with there, and if it wouldn't work out that way, then it wouldn't work out. Oh, and I would put the fan furthest in, and then the light bulb in the middle with the thermostat, and then have a small container with a sponge or (even better) a strip of cloth running from container to "ceiling" for the humidity control.

    And - you need some heat sinks, either jars of water or gravel or some such, to hold heat and keep the temperature more steady. Air is an absolutely awful conductor of heat, and if you don't have heat sinks, every time you open the aquarium you're going to lose a lot of heat. Heat sinks will help you keep your temperatures more steady.

    Overwhelmed yet? No? Okay, go read my BYC page where I made an incubator out of a styrofoam fish shipping box that I wrestled away from raccoons in Petsmart's dumpster.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2011
  8. Barbedwirecat

    Barbedwirecat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Edwards thank you for all of that info! Yes that's what I needed, someone telling me how to make this better and make this work. I have a bigger aquarium, but I think that might make the problems I'm having worse.

    I'm going to give rewiring a try, like you said. I did find some pretty good instruction out there to do it finally. As far as taking the WHT apart and "modifying" it...is there a specific way you do yours?

    I'm not sure I will have enough height if I lay it down long ways to accommodate the eggs and water, however--I have a extra 29 gallon that will give me a ton more room---do you think that would be too much? I even have an aquarium lid for that one that should hold in humidity much better.

    Right now after letting it run all night the temp is 93 and humidity is still 46% The LG is looking tempting. I'd at least like to give the eggs a chance.
     
  9. Barbedwirecat

    Barbedwirecat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh and yes BigIsland, I got everything at the dollar store and wally world since it was late Sunday, no one else was open [​IMG]
     
  10. Edwards' East of Eden

    Edwards' East of Eden Chillin' With My Peeps

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    RebelCowboy is a member here, and a fount of information. Most particularly, his youtube channel is amazing. http://www.youtube.com/user/RebelCowboySnB?blend=1&ob=5 Subscribe to him on youtube. Naow. Really.

    Now - Rush Lane Poultry is ALSO a member here on BYC, and also a fount of information. Most particularly, watch his video on modifying the water heater thermostat, here: Before you freak out - you don't take it apart. You just take a drill bit and drill a few holes in it, and he shows you where. That's all. All you're doing is opening up the ceramic box that the thermostat guts are in, for better air exchange, so it will cycle for you better. That's all. Easy breezy beautiful, cover girl.

    While you're on that site, subscribe to his channel, too.

    I'm not sure about the size of a 29 gallon aquarium, but my hatcher is ... erm ... (looks for tape measure) ... 18x26x12, and keeps temperature just fine with the two 20w bulbs. Of course, it is styrofoam, but if you are covering your aquarium with foam board, then it should approximate.

    How are you allowing for ventilation? Sometimes we forget, since those eggs look all closed up to us, that they do still need fresh oxygen - so don't forget the ventilation.

    I really cannot emphasize the FREE STYROFOAM FISH-SHIPPING BOX FROM PETSMART'S DUMPSTER enough. Alternatively, Walmart has styrofoam coolers that aren't that expensive, and sometimes you can even get the styro boxes that they receive bait in from them, for free. Do you have either locally? Or some other petstore? Think about it - probably somebody near you gets shipments of something in styrofoam. Or you know someone who buys steaks from that mailorder place, what's the name? They ship in good styro boxes.

    Once you get your ventilation right, then you get your temperature right. Once you have ventilation and temperature, then your humidity will change - so that's when you start working on that part. If you worry about humidity before you get temperature and ventilation, then you're just going to have to do humidity again. [​IMG] That being said - on your test runs, you want to work out how you're going to keep your humidity in the 40s%, thereabouts, for incubation, AND how you're going to bump it to 65-70%, for lockdown, while you're doing your test runs. Don't wait until lockdown and then panic trying to figure out how to amp up the humidity - that's not a good time to start worrying about it.

    And don't forget you're going to want to weigh your eggs before you set them, so you can watch aircell development and weight loss in the egg, and finetune your humidity. I keep forgetting to weigh eggs. Pete is the wonderful for all the incubating/hatching questions - let's see. He's pete55 on here, and he has great information, and he chimes in a lot. You'll see him.
     

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