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Thread: Tote Box Heater

  1. #31
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
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    Arnoldsville, Ga.
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    2,775
    They sell industrial strength light bulbs that are used in things like shop work lights, etc. They work fine.

    If you use the two bulb setup, you also have one for a backup if the first bulb goes out.

    Hot water around the outside will also free the box. If you notice in the pics, I do have small slits to vent the box so the slightly larger one will not hurt anything. I would leave it closed however unless needed to change the bulb.
    Chuck
    Happy Koi Keeper!
    AKC

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    SE Michigan
    Posts
    326

    Thumbs down

    Quote Originally Posted by skippy
    saw you used the Thermopond floating heater...

    In my opinion that was the biggest waste of money I ever threw in the pond. It froze over 3 times on me in the WI winter....
    I agree. Mine filled with water and sank!! What a P.O.S. I checked it today in the garage and it still had water in it from last winter. I pitched it in the trash!!
    Go Fish.

  3. #33
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    New Haven County, CT
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    13

    a little help

    Hi I love the tote box idea-first winter and little nervous-
    My pond pump can pump 2000 gph and I have a three tier falls -pond
    12 ft*9ft* 1.8 ft
    Question - when the pond freezes and the falls then no water will be pump through -right- so what happens to the pump ? will it freeze? will be damage ete
    Also since pond will be frozen, we need to keep an open hole in the ice hence the tote heater box -but do i need to get a small aeration pump - i also read you could use the skimmer pump - i am confused some people say only a hole and some say both hole and a pump

    2 we want to build the tote heater but wasn't sure about the water proof connection - i got the bucket and cord but the water proof connector and 4 " round box - a little unsure

    thanks for you help and you should patent the idea
    Last edited by nachipmunks; 09-21-2005 at 08:43 AM.

  4. #34
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Greenwood In.
    Posts
    453
    I built one of your totes today with 2 light sockets in it so if one burns out I can plug in the other. I still need to cut a door in mine for air flow and to change light bulbs if I need to. I will put it in my pond tomorrow and see how it does, to late tonight. At what water temp do you start using your tote? My water temp is now 48 degrees now and I am using a small pump and filter, like you get in a pre-formed pond kit with the water going to a FROG and he is spitting the water back in the pond. Gold fish are moning real slow and most of them are hiding in the rock formations in the pond. I will let you know how the tote works tomorrow. If it works as good as everyone says you should patten then and start selling them$$$$$$$. I see in your pic that you have a floating heater, do you use it and the tote and the bubbler all at the same time. If so why not just put the heater under the tote, if not why do you have a heater in your pond?

  5. #35
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Greenwood In.
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    453
    What happens when water splashs up on the light bulb. Will the cold water on the hot light bulb make them POP or BREAK??? IF so how do you keep the water from splashing up on the light bulb and still get heat from the light bulb to keep the water warm enough from freezing??????

  6. #36
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Arnoldsville, Ga.
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    2,775
    FYI:

    I used the Nursery Pro NPU-200 GPH pump on a plant shelf. I also used a Nursery Pro Divert Valve to regulate the water flow and the height of the water to the surface.

    Both of these worked fine under my tote box. Most of the time I used regular light bulbs and they lasted most of the winter. Do not have the water bubble to high or the splash will break the bulb and could injure the fish. This is very important, just have the water break the surface!
    Chuck
    Happy Koi Keeper!
    AKC

  7. #37
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    5

    Tote box heater

    Chuck,

    Your design for the tote box heater is a real life saver (both mine and my Koi). While searching the web for pond heater reviews, I stumbled across your thread on the tote box heater. Based on your design, I whipped up a quick prototype and it is now working like a charm! Bottom line... I no longer need to explain to my wife why I now need a floating heater in addition to the $140 Alita Air pump I just brought! Thanks again!!

    Chris from Jersey

  8. #38
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
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    Arnoldsville, Ga.
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    2,775
    Thanks Chris, glad it is working for you. For the price, it works great!
    Chuck
    Happy Koi Keeper!
    AKC

  9. #39
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Greenwood In.
    Posts
    453
    I have found out that( for me ) the best light bulbs to use are the rubber coated light bulbs. I have not had to change a one now that I have installed this type of light bulb. I was hesitant about this tote box heater working but now I am a real believer in it. For the money you can not get a better working item anywhere. It has made me a believer!!!
    Mike Terry

  10. #40
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    5

    Add a Window to your Tote Box Heater!

    Chuck,

    I made a few small additions to your design that I thought I would share. To gain access to the light bulb, after the tote freezes in place, I added an outdoor receptacle cover. In addition to giving me an opening to reach in and change the bulb, the cover also serves as a little window that shines at night and lets me peek in during the day. These covers come with their own gasket and cost about $7.00 at Home Depot. See pictures in the next couple of posts.

    Thanks again for your great innovation!

    Happy New Year!
    Chris
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Tote3.jpg  

  11. #41
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    5

    Additional Pictures

    I used the inside of the receptacle cover to trace out the opening in the Tote and then used a "sharp" utility knife to carefully cut out the opening (i.e. these Tote's like to crack if you're not careful when cutting them). After drilling 4 holes, I secured the cover to the tote some small nuts and bolts.

    Best Regards,
    Chris
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Tote2.jpg  

  12. #42
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    5

    Additional Picture

    In the pictures you can also see that I had some spare 1" PVC fittings lying around. I drilled a 1" hole through the tote and used a 1" connector on the inside and a 1" elbow on the outside. By connecting these two with a small piece of 1" pipe, you have a mini bulkhead. After passing the wire through, I just filled the hole with some foam.

    Best Regards,
    Chris
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Tote5.jpg  

  13. #43
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    5

    Additional Picture

    One final note... Hopefully you have a small hand like me!

    Best Regards,
    Chris
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Tote4.jpg  

  14. #44
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Arnoldsville, Ga.
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    2,775
    Hey Chris,
    That works! Good idea but as you said, you may need a small hand. That is why I used two sockets, two wires and therfore had two separate circuits with their own bulb. If one blew out, I could just unplug one and plug in the second.
    Chuck
    Happy Koi Keeper!
    AKC

  15. #45
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Kentucky
    Posts
    2,291
    bump cos ponds are freezing.

    I have a cattle trough heater.
    K.O.I.

    Sick fish? koiphen.com

    I don't have rocks

  16. #46
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    1,127
    Big bump...the orginal designer of the Tote Box Heater was Greg Bickle

  17. #47
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Arnoldsville, Ga.
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    2,775
    But his looked nothing like ours. I know, I have his DVD.
    Chuck
    Happy Koi Keeper!
    AKC

  18. #48
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    144
    Just a question on the design...could you find a tote that was about 3' or more and put 2 of the light set ups in it and get 2 times the area??? Thinking of making it larger for this Wisconsin winter. What do you think???

  19. #49
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Green Lake, WI
    Posts
    531
    Quote Originally Posted by BoxerPerson View Post
    Just a question on the design...could you find a tote that was about 3' or more and put 2 of the light set ups in it and get 2 times the area??? Thinking of making it larger for this Wisconsin winter. What do you think???
    You don't need to make it bigger. We're near Green Lake, Wisconsin, and are going into our 4th winter with ours, and it works just fine with a small fountain pump (200 gph or so) just aggitating the water under it. Even if it gets covered in snow, it still keeps a hole open underneath. The single 60 watt light bulb works just fine, and you always know its working when you look outside at dark and see it glowing out in the pond.

    I do recommend using the coated construction-type light bulbs, as they can and do occasionaly break and its easier to pick out the pieces from the bottom of the pond in the spring if they're all glued together with the coating.
    Karen

  20. #50
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    144
    Karen, how deep is your pond? Where do you put the tote box, deep or shallower end??? I sure do not want to lose my koi...they are so pretty and I have had them for about 5 years...

  21. #51
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
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    Arnoldsville, Ga.
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    2,775
    You don't need a bigger tote!

    What did you do in past winters?
    Chuck
    Happy Koi Keeper!
    AKC

  22. #52
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Bourbon, MO
    Posts
    409
    thank you all. I looked and looked and even used search. Still couldn't find it. Last year, my first winter, I left the waterfall open. Kept the heat down in the house to afford the electric bills. I would like to be warmer this winter and turn off the pump.
    G-ma

  23. #53
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Green Lake, WI
    Posts
    531
    Quote Originally Posted by BoxerPerson View Post
    Karen, how deep is your pond? Where do you put the tote box, deep or shallower end??? I sure do not want to lose my koi...they are so pretty and I have had them for about 5 years...
    Our pond is shaped a bit like a stretched out hourglass. Its a total of about 3300 gallons and is about 4-5 feet deep at the big end and about 3 feet deep at the shallower end. The connection is about 6 feet long and 2 feet deep between the two ends.

    We always put the heater over the deepest end of the pond. This is where the fish congregate for the winter. My husband made a long heavy duty plank to put across the pond so we could get to the heater in all weather to change light bulbs if necessary and check that the fountain pump is running. No one wants to get wet when the water is COLD! We put the small fountain pump in a 5 gallon bucket with about 4-5 inches of gravel to hold the pump upright, and there is a PVC outlet that brings the water just below the surface. We hang the bucket from the plank in the water under the tote box. The bucket keeps from circulating the cold water down to the level of the fish, but keeps the water just moving at the surface.

    We have lost fish over the winter, even with the tote box heater. However, we're gone a good part of the winter so the pond is on its own from mid-January on, with just the neighbor checking on it occasionally. Many years we're not back until mid-April, and I think we simply don't get the pond up cleaned out and running soon enough once the weather warms up. We've also been the subject of muskrat attacks, who eat every fish in the pond while its frozen over. Country living has its challenges!

    We no longer have koi, just goldfish. We're tried koi 3 times and they seem to last one winter and we lose them the 2nd. Goldfish are much hardier and a whole heck of a lot cheaper, that's for sure. This summer we adopted 12 goldfish that are 10 years old and about 12" long or longer. We'll see how they make it through the winter. It just goes to show that you don't need to have koi to have big fish!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 7-18-2006 001.jpg   Winter 001.jpg  
    Last edited by WindyMisty; 10-06-2008 at 07:26 PM.
    Karen

  24. #54
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    36

    Tote Box Heater, A misnomer?

    The Tote Box Heater sounds/appears to be a useful tool to keep a hole in the ice during winter. But a "heater"?, I seriosly doubt that a 60 watt light bulb would raise the pond temperature ONE degree during sub-freezing temperatures. Water temperature throughout the pond covered with inches of ice will still be 33 or maybe 34 degrees.
    But, as an aerator does, it will still keep an open area in the ice.

    Just my thoughts,

    fred

  25. #55
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    1,268
    Well, it's a "Tote Box" heater, right? So it's keeping the tote box nice and toasty warm! (Or at least above freezing!)

    Sonoma County Susan
    Science Teacher, Ponder (Zone 9)

  26. #56
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    1,127
    It was never intended to heat water...just to keep the air directly above and with in the tote a degree or two above freezing

  27. #57
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    144
    Quote Originally Posted by ahhuhz View Post
    You don't need a bigger tote!

    What did you do in past winters?

    I brought them in and put them in horse troughs and a 8'diameter swimming pool.

    I really would like to try and keep them out, but am very worried I may lose them...maybe I will need to find another pool and bring the koi in. My pond isn't too deep, about 3.75' so I don't know if that is deep enuff. I know some people have been successful in less but I just am worried. Suggestions???

  28. #58
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Arnoldsville, Ga.
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    We kept our Koi in different size ponds over a three year period. First was a6x9' watergarden. Next year, it was 9x12' WG and the third year was an 11x16 WG. None of which were over 3' deep. We then went to a Koi pond that was 11x16 and 5' deep. All three years we had the WG's we just used the bubbler and the tote box. We never lost a Koi and in Hazleton, Pa, which is in NE Pa, we had temps below freezing and at times below zero. Just be sure to keep that hole open in the ice. It works!
    Chuck
    Happy Koi Keeper!
    AKC

  29. #59
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Elgin, Illinois
    Posts
    129
    I built one for myself last year. Worked like a charm. Only problem I saw that the light source created was the huge amount of string algea that grew through the winter! I had almost zero string algea when the ice formed, but when the ice thawed later in the spring, I had algea that grew all around the lit area and it was about 4 ft long! I figured the water was too dang cold for anything to grow but you learn something new everyday.

    Steve

  30. #60
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Northern New Jersery
    Posts
    506
    I love the tbh I built last year! It worked perfectly with the construction bulb (60w coated for safety). It never blew out, but I bought extra just in case.

    One word of advice, my husband had the great idea to anchor it to each side of the pond with cables of some type. It kept it from moving around in the wind there by keeping it centered perfectly above the bubbler/fountain I had underneath about 12 inches down in the middle of the pond.

    We had the cables attached to trees on each side, but we cut down the trees in Spring, now I will be figuring out the best way to anchor the cables into the ground - no problem I guess.

    Vicki



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