Power outage and aquariums. What do I do?

Discussion in 'Articles' started by dash, May 15, 2013.

  1. dash

    dash

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    Power outage and aquariums. What do I do?

    Hi all you fish keepers. One of the biggest challenges that we seem to face in South Africa especially in winter is load shedding. Not only does this cause great inconvenience to us but, serious problems to our fish. Power cuts for under an hour normally don’t result in any serious damage however any longer we could run in to some severe problems. Coming home from a hard days work we notice on arrival that the power is out. If you are any thing like me, you make a dash for the fish tank to check all is in order. The last thing you want to see is half of your aquatic friends floating at the top of the tank due to a lack of oxygen or ammonia poisoning.
    .
    After a little research and speaking to a few people I have come up with a few ideas that you can use preventing to some extent fish loss. Please note that many of these ideas are not mine and can be found in other articles, books and on the net.

    Backup power
    One of the first items to consider is getting your self some kind of backup power supply. Depending on your budget you could get an inverter or small generator. If you are able to get one of these then your problems are resolved. I would not run your light systems on this as it will just consume far too much power. The inverter or small generator is fairly easy to setup so I will not go in to much detail here. Note that this method is highly recommended if you are keeping expensive and exotic fish like discus.

    Know backup power?
    For many of us in the hobby, getting an inverter or small generator can be expensive and our budgets simply do not allow for it. Taking this in to account, there are a number of ways we can get around this.

    1. Get your self a battery operated air pump.

    This has to be one of the best investments I have ever made. These pumps are not very pricy and many of the very good LFS should stock them. When buying this pump, look for one that has rechargeable batteries and plugs in to a wall as well. In this way, if the power goes off and you are not at home the pump will automatically come on. Try and get an air pump with two out puts for air line tubing. The more air in the tank or surface movement the better for the tank and fish. These pumps will give you over 3 to 4 hours of power. I have read that some of these pumps can give you up to 6 hours of power. Always check the spec of the pump before buying it. It is also a good idea to let the pump charge then do a test run to see how long the pump will run for. It is also a good idea to keep spare batteries at home in the event your batteries run out.






    2. Heating
    Depending on how long the power is out for, heating of the aquarium may become an issue. Remember, the bigger the tank the longer it will take for the temperature to cool down. Many fish can tolerate small swings in temperature. In order to limit these swings in temp, we can take the following steps.

    Insure that the room that the tank is in is well insulated. Close all windows and doors and as best as you can limit the amount of direct draft in to the room and on the aquarium. This will only apply in winter. If you choose, you may rap blankets around the sides of the aquarium to keep it well insulated. Insure that you don’t cover the top. I don’t really like this as it’s difficult to observe the fish.

    If, after a few hours the power has still not come back on and the temperature is now starting to drop try the following method. Remember, many tropical fish will tolerate a gradual drop in temp of about 23 degrees before the alarm bells start ringing.

    Get a hold of some 500 ml plastic bottles. PowerAde or water that you buy bottles are good enough. Open your hot water tap at home. If the geezer was running before the power went off chances are that you still have boiling water in there. If not then this is where we have to be creative. Gas stoves, braai stands or taking a drive to the nearest petrol station will have to do either way, try and get that bottle filled with boiling water. Don’t worry the bottle should not explode. . Once filled, float the bottle above the air stone you have running in the tank. Monitor the temperature as this DIY bottle heater does not have a thermostat. This will stabilize the temperature. Just make sure that the bottle is floating around where the air stone is running.

    3. keeping the filter alive
    Another challenge when ESCOM decides to play games with us is keeping our beneficial bacteria alive in our filters. From what I understand, the bacteria in our filters and in the aquarium require oxygen and ammonia to live and keep reproducing. Cutting off any of these elements will result in this bacteria dieing resulting in a high ammonia spike and fish death. One of the ways to combat this is by doing the following. If you are running an internal filter, stick one of the air stones directly in to the filter. At the beginning of this article I mentioned getting an air pump with two outlets. Place the air stone bellow the biological media in the filter. The air stone will draw water over the media and provide it with oxygen as well as keep the balance going in the aquarium.

    Canister filters are a lot more difficult to do this with. I have read that some people have removed their biological media and put it in to some kind of mesh bag and placed it directly in to the aquarium with the air stone bellow. I have never tried this but I am sure it will work.

    4. Some final guidelines.
    A powercut is a stressful experience so try not to panic. Turn off all c02 bottles as any automatic timers may not work when the power goes out. An over dose of c02 will be catastrophic. Lastly comment, share and rate this article. Feel free to add any thing that you feel that may add value to this.
     
    Laing likes this.
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  3. f-fish

    f-fish #unspecified

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    You do what fits into your budget ... sad but true.

    google
    site:tropicalaquarium.co.za power outage

    and you will see how this has been managed over the years.
     
  4. OP
    dash

    dash

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    Well I hope this article will help some one.
     
  5. PsyXe

    PsyXe

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    Filter bacteria can live a long time if they are kept damp but not submerged. So if you're expecting a power failure to last more than a couple of hours, take the filter media out of the water. Don't let it dry out, though.
     
  6. James Bond

    James Bond

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    The information provided is on the money. Last winter the sub-station blew up and no electricity for a week. At night wrapped my tanks in blankets. No feeding for the week. Connected Battery air pumps to the sponge filters, running in the tanks, before the power went out. I ensure I have at least one sponge filter running per tank in case of power failure. The torch batteries in the air pumps lasted for about 3 days before I had to replace them. In the morning I would fill 45 litre containers with tap water and leave it in the sun. After work I would do water changes - the water temp was at 32 degrees in these containers - mixed with a bit of cold tap water. Once the water changes is done we back on 26 degress ready for the temperature drop of the next night. Heavy stocked tanks with no fish loss. :bigsmile:
     
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  7. Good_Times

    Good_Times Kalahari Sandhaai

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  8. OP
    dash

    dash

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    Hi @Jamesbond well said and a very good idea.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 2, 2016
  9. Jay

    Jay

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    the info provided is very helpul thanks. What price are we looking at for an inverter and where are they sold. Anyone know?
     
  10. OP
    dash

    dash

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    Hi @Jay glad the info was helpful to you. You are looking at about 1500 or more for this. I was able to find one at ellies
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 2, 2016
  11. OP
    dash

    dash

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    This. I's what it looks like @Jay

    image-417257104.jpg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 2, 2016
  12. Jay

    Jay

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    And that can run a whole system?
     
  13. OP
    dash

    dash

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    Hi @Jay yes it can however i would not connect a light system to it. You will also need to get a deep cycle batory for it.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 2, 2016
  14. Jay

    Jay

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    And what is the pricing of the battery?
     
  15. OP
    dash

    dash

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    You will have to shop around. You can use a bike or car one as well.
     

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