Power Outages

  • JasonR
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JasonR created the topic: Power Outages

Preparing for and Dealing with Power Outages

A common problem most fish keepers will encounter is loss of power. More often than not it is generally a short term outage that will typically not cause any problems with your aquariums or fish. However, when you do lose power you typically don’t know how long it will be out for and if you are unfortunate enough to be without it for several hours or days this is when you will start running into problems. Mother Nature does not play by rules so regardless of past experiences; the worst could always be yet to come. There are several things you can do to be prepared for such power outages and it is always best to be prepared rather than crossing your fingers and hoping it never happens to you. The following are some things you can do to better prepare yourself.
First I’m going to list the things you may have to be concerned about when it comes to loss of power to your aquarium(s):

1. Oxygen
2. Bio-Filter (beneficial bacteria)
3. Temperature (especially if you lose power in the winter months)

Obviously the best case scenario would be to have a generator to power your tank(s) during the outage, but unfortunately we do not all have the means to have one of these on stand-by. If you do you’ll be good to go assuming the thing actually works.

Oxygen
Oxygen is critical for both your fish and the beneficial bacteria that maintain a non-toxic environment for your fish to live in. Fortunately, lack of oxygen is one of the easiest things to address by getting yourself some battery powered air pumps (preferably at least one for each tank). Follow this link and you’ll find a wide variety of pumps available from $10 on up. www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_nr_scat_2975471011_ln?rh=n%3A2975471...51&scn=2975471011&h=9a3dd1bb36477c4072e021e09130f4b05b060cbe Another easy way to oxygenate water is to simply manually agitate it. Scooping water out and pouring it back in or stirring and splashing it around. If your tank is big enough you can swim in it for all I care. The goal is to dissolve atmospheric oxygen in the water by whatever means necessary.

Keeping the Bio-Filter Alive
If there is a possibility that you’ll be without power for several hours you really need to have a way to keep the beneficial bacteria in your filters alive. This will give you the best chance to keep your aquarium from becoming toxic during the power outage and also avoid having to cycle the tank again once you’ve regained power. It’s not fully understood how long a bacterial colony will survive without oxygen or an ammonia source, but anything under 8 hours and it should be safe. If there’s any chance of the power loss lasting 8 hours you’re going to want to take the precautionary steps to maintain the colony while the power is out.

Sponge filters are a simple in-tank filter that you could have running on your tank at all times so that if you do lose power you can simply swap out the regular air pump with a battery operated pump. This in most cases will keep those bacteria living in that sponge alive for long periods of time. This is not generally your only source of filtration for your aquarium though so you’ll still want to do what you can to oxygenate as much of your other filter media as you can. For this you’ll want to pull the media from the canister or HOB filters and put it in the tank and apply oxygen to it with the sponge filter or by use of a separate pump all together. For ceramic and other bio-media simply bagging it up in a mesh bag and sticking the air hose into it will suffice.

Another thing that can be very beneficial to the bacteria is frequent water changes (if you happen to have running water or access to water) and/or simply churning the tank water. Now water temperature does become an issue here as you’re going to need to match as closely as possible the temp of the newly added water to the aquarium temp. If you have a gas powered stove you can simply heat the water with that, otherwise a gas powered grill, portable propane burner or camp stove, wood stove, etc.. Basically whatever it takes to warm the water will do fine. If this is something you can do, several small water changes each day will be very beneficial.

Maintaining Tank Temperature
This is generally a concern during the winter months and during extended power losses, but a concern nonetheless. If you find that the tank temp is creeping down on you there are simple things you can do to maintain a safe temp during a power loss. All of the things I mentioned regarding heating water for water changes apply here. If you are not able to do water changes though you would instead just remove water from the tank itself, heat it up and add it back in. It’s going to be a bit of a trial and error thing as far as how much and how hot to heat it, but obviously you’re probably not going to want to add boiling water to the tank. I would probably heat the kettles of water to no more than 100F and add it back in very slowly making sure not to pour it directly on any of the fish. Just keep doing this until you again reach a stress-free tank temp of 72-80F. You can also limit the amount of heat loss from the tank by wrapping the tank in an insulating blanket or material. This would be especially important if you don't have means (or limited means) to heat water up to add back into the tank. Also, if you have large aquariums this can take a lot of the work out of maintaining the temp.

Other Things to Keep in Mind
If you’re going to be without power for several days don’t feed the fish while the power is out. The last thing you need is any additional waste in the tank.

Now if the outage could last weeks than feed a little bit every 2-3 days or so.

If you are able to perform water changes while the power is out thoroughly vacuuming the gravel with each one will help a lot with waste reduction.

Rinse the gunk off your filter media in bowl of tank water, again to reduce waste in the tank.

Keep the tank dark to help keep the fish subdued. Active and or stressed fish use more oxygen and produce more waste.

Test your water for ammonia and nitrites at least every 12 hours to make sure you beneficial bacteria is handling the outage.

If you start to get readings for ammonia or nitrites you’ll need to start adding a water conditioner every 36-48hrs such as Prime which detoxifies ammonia and nitrites.

After an extended outage make sure to monitor tank parameters for a couple weeks to make sure everything made it through ok.

Good Luck!
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  • ehall67
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ehall67 replied the topic: Re: Power Outages

Looks great! it was needed here for sure

O might add insulating the tank maybe blankets around it or on top if it is a cold time of year just to keep as much in as possible... and also keeping it darker and the fish more subdued


then also if you get cause without a bubbler or yours breaks about pouring cups of water in to oxygenate the water ...


also another thing about feeding maybe once every 2 days or something not sure what you think just to keep wast down in tank....

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  • Nina_W
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Nina_W replied the topic: Re: Power Outages

This time Eddie beat me by a second.

I was also going to suggest scooping up water and pouring it back into the tank - a cup, a bucket, either works :)

Good job, Jason.
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JasonR replied the topic: Re: Power Outages

Thanks Eddie!

Yeah I guess in the rare instance of a really long power outage maybe feed every 2-3 days. I'll add the other stuff in too. Good ideas!
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JasonR replied the topic: Re: Power Outages

Thanks Nina!:)
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ehall67 replied the topic: Re: Power Outages

got you Nina haha!!

and yes is it was long you know just to cut back on some waste because maybe your mechnacial filtration is not working any more

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Nina_W replied the topic: Re: Power Outages

ehall67 wrote: got you Nina haha!!


this time :P
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Firestorm8215 replied the topic: Re: Power Outages

Its perfect Jason. Having this to look over BEFORE it happens sure will give people time to prepare. Thanks.
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Chifte replied the topic: Power Outages

Great write up! Should definitely pin this somewhere.



I had 19 days total in the past 2 years in winter months without power, the second time around I fortunately found a $230 very small generator for sale at HF, all for Promo to remain comfortable. I became envious of him, I sat there in the dark for days with 10 blankets just watching him in his tropical water and fresh filtered water to bathe in with not a care in the world.

So save your pennies and buy a small generator! Heck I've seen them for $150 online sometimes.
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DRACO replied the topic: Power Outages

power outage is normal thing in my place and i had develop this man made dripper...
had this 20 liter size jug fitted with faucet... if the power outage is expected to last for
more than 8 hours, i remove 1/3 of the tank water, fill the jug with new water and allow
it to drip into the tank... 20 liters will drip around 2 hours making an agitation over the
tank water...

you can start the dripper after 4 hour of power outage... if the power return before that,
no need to use the dripper.. the only advantage for us here, we normally do not need heater
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