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Unexpected Use

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Harvest Mint, Dec 10, 2016.

  1. Harvest Mint

    Harvest Mint Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 16, 2016
    Philadelphia, Tennessee

    Yep, totally using a 50 gallon fish tank for my brooder. Had a cold snap and lost nearly half my chicks. Brought them into my pet room so I can observe them better. The tank is sitting on my desk so they can see me too. I used the top to an old bird cage to hold up two heat lamps. The top fits perfectly across the top of the tank to provide a better surface for the clamps. One heat lamp is the usual lamp with a red bulb. The other is a smaller lamp with a nighttime purple reptile bulb. The tank is so long that I wanted to make sure they had plenty of heat at different intensities.
  2. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    You have to be very careful using this sort of thing for a brooder. Temps can get really warm in there, and chicks can quickly overheat and die. Chicks do need heat, but too much can be just as deadly as too little.
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    We've seen lots of these. Yours had a better chance cause it's a larger tank, but I still would advise to ditch that massive lamp. Chicks in the house, if your house is around 70 degrees, are going to fry with that red bulb. Put a lower wattage and go with just the one. I don't have experience with the reptile bulbs so can't advise about that. but I do know chicks need an area totally out from under the heat, so just heat one end of the tank. Put the feed and water at the other end.

    Usually what we see is the smaller 20 gallon tanks, with a heat bulb. The posts are "my chicks are lethargic/pasty butt/dying"....and the tank and overheating is usually the reason.
  4. Harvest Mint

    Harvest Mint Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 16, 2016
    Philadelphia, Tennessee
    I am trying to find an extra thermometer to check the temperature but so far they seem to be doing so much better than the tub in the garage. This room does seem to get cooler at night and I am a little worried about that. I turned off the big light and left the reptile light on. I can't get a smaller bulb at the moment as i don't have the car. I really wish I could use the mama heating pad method. I feel that would work great.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2016
  5. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Do you happen to have any 75 or 100 watt incandescent light bulbs still in use in any of the fixtures in your house? Go look.

    100 watts is the maximum intensity you would need in a set-up such as that aquarium.

    I would like to hear a bit more about the brooder you had outside and maybe we could help you figure out its shortcomings that may have contributed to chicks dying. Many of us successfully brood outdoors, and our chicks do very well. They do need to be protected from cold drafts, direct exposure to weather, and have a reliable heat source.
  6. Harvest Mint

    Harvest Mint Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 16, 2016
    Philadelphia, Tennessee
    My fiancé went on a money saving spree and changed all the bulbs in the house to LED's and they don't hardly put out much heat at all. Even my fishtanks have LED bulbs. I can see if I have an incandescent stashed somewhere.

    I think what had happened to the chicks is that they had gotten chilled as I was unable to pick them up from the post office when they first got there. They had to sit there an extra day. My fiancé's car broke down the day they shipped so I couldn't postpone the shipment and he had to take my car to work. They had to use the reptile bulb while they were in the garage because the bulb I was gonna use got busted. I had to start my new job that day too. I covered the tote with some old clothes to try and keep the heat in.
    This just hasn't been my week.
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    That doesn’t look too bad. They are avoiding the heated area but they are not lined up against the wall as far as they can get away from the heat. They’ve found a comfortable spot at least at that temperature. If that room heats up and cools off that could change but at least you are in the ballpark. How much does the temperature swing in that room?

    Your goal is not to have a variety of heat intensities along the brooder, your goal is to have one area warm enough at the coldest temperatures and one area cool enough at the warmest temperatures. If you had the heating pad cave you’d have a warm spot in the cave and the area outside of the cave would cool off. With a heat lamp that tank is big enough you can heat one end and the rest will cool off if you have good ventilation up high. If your room temperature were constant day and night it’s possible to set up a heat source so the temperatures aren’t bad even with smaller tanks, but I’m really glad to see that larger tank, especially since your temperatures fluctuate some. Don’t worry about the temperatures in the tank at various points along the tank, just look at one end being warm enough and the other cool enough. They are really good at self-regulating if they have that option.

    I personally don’t trust those heat lamp clamps at all, I consider them an accident waiting to happen, especially when those chicks start jumping and flying. I toss the clamp so I’m not even tempted to use it and hold mine up with wire so it cannot fall.

    I know of three different ways to adjust the temperature on the heat lamps. As others mentioned, change the wattage. Dad never used a “heat lamp” bulb, he used a 60 watt white incandescent bulb but 60 watts was all he needed. I have a lot of trouble finding anything other than a 250 watt red heat lamp bulb, but a couple of years back I found a hardware store with 75 and 125 watt red bulbs and stocked up.

    You can adjust the temperature by repositioning the bulb. Raise it to lower temperature, lower it to increase the temperature. Not knowing the temperatures in that room, I could see you putting the heat lamp on top with only part of the heat going into the tank, the rest of the heat going outside.

    Some people put dimmers on those lamps so they can heat it up or cool it off by turning a dial. So that’s the three ways.

    Your best guide to how you are doing is to watch the chicks. If they are huddling under the heat they are too cold. They will probably be giving a really plaintive peeping sound too. It’s different to their normal peeping and so sorrowful you know something is wrong when you hear it. If they are as far from the heat as they can get, lined up against the far wall, it’s too hot. They are usually lethargic and panting too. If they are in between they are doing OK.

    They normally sleep in a group at night, in a comfortable area but often fairly close to the heat source. Then sleeping in a group does not mean they are cold, they just like the company.

    Those look really young. Usually mine stick pretty close to the heat the first few days but it usually doesn’t take them long before they start moving around quite a bit when they are awake. It’s the same way with a broody hen, they seem to spend a lot of time under the broody the first few days but before long they are roaming all over.
  8. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

    Feb 25, 2014
    Northwestern Wyoming
    My Coop
    Just curious as to why you can't....no heating pad?
  9. Harvest Mint

    Harvest Mint Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 16, 2016
    Philadelphia, Tennessee
    I have one but it has an Auto shut off and I can't stay at home to keep turning it back on every two hours. It's really hard to find one without the auto shut off.
  10. Harvest Mint

    Harvest Mint Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 16, 2016
    Philadelphia, Tennessee
    I found an incandescent bulb in a lamp we never use. They are not avoiding the heat area but are not bunched up. I hate the way they sleep sometimes. They look almost dead and I have to make sure they are breathing. Then a neighbor gets to rowdy and they relocate.

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