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Old 08-02-2014, 01:47 PM   #1 
Oishii03
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Is water temperature colder than the room temperature?

I mean, how would that make sense? I'm worried because my thermometer's reading a temperature 5 degrees lower than the room temperature in the tank (I've just set up a heater, so this is before it starts working) I don't know if it's broken or not.

The tank's been sitting in room temperature for weeks. Shouldn't the water also be room temperature? If not, why?

Thanks for your help!
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Old 08-02-2014, 01:50 PM   #2 
Olympia
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Water stores heat more easily than air, so theoretically the water should be warmer. :/ This never seems to be true with smaller tanks though! So yea it's normal. :p
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Old 08-02-2014, 03:04 PM   #3 
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Water temperature will be colder than room temperature. I could not find a specific answer to this question, but this is my understanding of the issue based on prior physics knowledge:

To explain, we first must realize that temperature is a measure of the average kinetic energy of an object, with kinetic energy being the energy of motion. Particles in a gas are void of intermolecular attractions and are thus easier to "heat up." Think of it like a group of pool balls spread out around the table. It is relatively easy to set a single ball into motion, but this would become a much harder task if we were to attach all of the balls together and try to move them all at once. This latter situation applies to liquids, where molecules interact. Water particles are especially attracted to one another by hydrogen bonds, and it is this property that gives water its high specific heat and heat of vaporization. Thus, not all of the kinetic energy transferred from the air will become the kinetic energy of the water, some will instead be stored as potential energy and will not be measured by your thermometer. Thus, the amount of energy (temperature) registered by the thermometer in the water is less than that of the thermometer in the air because some of the air's kinetic energy has been transformed into potential energy (less kinetic energy = lower temperature).

Then there is a whole different explanation for why water "feels" colder than air of the same temperature, but I'll digress for now since I have some other studying to do! Interesting stuff though - I love physics!
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Old 08-02-2014, 03:11 PM   #4 
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Evaporation also plays a part - much easier and cost-effective to heat a covered tank than one that is open to the air and subject to more evaporation.
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Old 08-02-2014, 11:04 PM   #5 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kim View Post
To explain, we first must realize that temperature is a measure of the average kinetic energy of an object, with kinetic energy being the energy of motion. Particles in a gas are void of intermolecular attractions and are thus easier to "heat up." Think of it like a group of pool balls spread out around the table. It is relatively easy to set a single ball into motion, but this would become a much harder task if we were to attach all of the balls together and try to move them all at once. This latter situation applies to liquids, where molecules interact. Water particles are especially attracted to one another by hydrogen bonds, and it is this property that gives water its high specific heat and heat of vaporization. Thus, not all of the kinetic energy transferred from the air will become the kinetic energy of the water, some will instead be stored as potential energy and will not be measured by your thermometer. Thus, the amount of energy (temperature) registered by the thermometer in the water is less than that of the thermometer in the air because some of the air's kinetic energy has been transformed into potential energy (less kinetic energy = lower temperature).
Thank you for providing such a detailed explanation! I love science, and it's great to actually understand what's going on in my tank.

Now that I understand why the water temperature registered as lower than the air temperature, I'm confident that the thermometer's fine. There is, however, one little detail that I feel needs to be mentioned. I was reading the thermometer wrong So it wasn't actually a full 5 degrees colder, more like 2 or 3.

Well, now the tank hovers between 79 and 80 (still calibrating the heater) and my fish seems happy. Thanks for restoring confidence in my equipment!
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Old 08-03-2014, 08:44 AM   #6 
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What a wonderful explanation, Kim. Thanks.

Nice add Ehmdee.
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Old 08-03-2014, 10:14 AM   #7 
Olympia
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Ohh if only jaysee was around to explain. ><
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Old 08-03-2014, 10:47 AM   #8 
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I know you're a fan, Limpi. So am I. But I don't think he could have done any better. That's pretty arcane stuff which requires an understanding of physics beyond the realm of fishkeeping lore.
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Old 08-03-2014, 10:53 AM   #9 
Olympia
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Ohhh but he studied a lot of physics and loves it. He always told me water is warmer than air. I just dunno why. :/
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Old 08-03-2014, 11:12 AM   #10 
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Jak sie masz, Limpi?

<----<spins Olympia around in a spritely Oberek.>

Water has more thermal inertia. So it stays warmer than air when they are both cooling down from the same starting temperature. And colder than air when it's warming up.
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