Pondering this lately: What do I do in case of a power outage?

Incubifly
  • #1
I was just pondering this lately: What do I do in case of a power outage?

I have a 12 gallon tropical fish tank sitting at around 79 degrees and I live in a fairly cold & windy area in Washington State. Power outages here are a regular thing. We can have as many outages from 4-6 times a year on average because the area is heavily wooded and windy, spelling for disaster.

Needless to say I didn't think of this when purchasing my tank 3 months ago. We have had one power outage so far for about 2 hours, but the fish were fine. I am not worried about the short outages, but I am worried about the outages that can last for many hours, or even days such as the windstorm of 07' which left us without power for 10 days in below freezing weather.

I live in an apartment, so a generator is not an option. Is there anything I can do? Battery powered heaters by chance? Any tips and/or tricks you guys know for keeping a tank somewhat heated?

I have grown attached to my fish already, and I'd hate to see them die when all I can do is watch. Thanks!
 
Shadowbeam
  • #2
That's a good question actually! Something I havn't thought about, anyone been in this situation before?
 
DarkFin
  • #4
Honestly, you might want to find some way of airiating them, (blow in a straw, or get a generator) Many trpopical fish will quikly die off after the air has depleted or the temperature goes down. But that's just my opinion
 
Tony G.
  • #5
There are battery powered outlets you could use... I'm sure if you ask around Home Depot or other hardware stores you could find them...
 
DRock914
  • #6
Honestly, you might want to find some way of airiating them, (blow in a straw, or get a generator) Many trpopical fish will quikly die off after the air has depleted or the temperature goes down. But that's just my opinion

Blowing in a straw is a horrible idea. You should never blow into water that fish are in. Every time you exhale you are exhaling carbon dioxide. You do not want carbon dioxide in your tank. Also make sure when you buy fish that whoever is bagging your fish doesn't fill the bag with his breath.
 
DarkFin
  • #7
Blowing in a straw is a horrible idea. You should never blow into water that fish are in. Every time you exhale you are exhaling carbon dioxide. You do not want carbon dioxide in your tank. Also make sure when you buy fish that whoever is bagging your fish doesn't fill the bag with his breath.

LOL, I was just thinking that
 
Jaysee
  • #8
Any tackle shop will sell battery powered aerators for around $10 - a great investment.

The smaller the tank, the quicker it wll lose heat. Larger tanks will be fine for a while, but the 5 and 10 gallon tanks are in trouble. You can get those survival blankets (silver shiney ones) and tape them to the aquarium.

The carbon dioxide in the bubbles from the straw won;t be absorbed by the water.
 
jdhef
  • #9
Blowing in a straw is a horrible idea. You should never blow into water that fish are in. Every time you exhale you are exhaling carbon dioxide. You do not want carbon dioxide in your tank.

Actually many people do want to add carbon dioxide to their tanks...it is good for the plants. It will also help lower your ph if it is too high.
 
DRock914
  • #10
Actually many people do want to add carbon dioxide to their tanks...it is good for the plants. It will also help lower your ph if it is too high.

It's bad for the fish though.
 
pepetj
  • #11
I don't think we would reach harmful levels of dissolved CO2 by occasionally blowing air through a straw, although creating water movement by any mechanical means should work better.

For the tanks I have at my office where energy blackouts are part of our daily life (Dominican Republic) I use cheap Resun battery operated airpumps (run with two D cell batteries) that start and stop automatically based on the absence or presence of AC voltage (it comes with a electric chord for this purpose). I replace all the batteries during the first week of each month, to prevent them from stop working.

I use three of these units, in a 20gal low end brackish tank. Two of them to keep aeration of two Hagen Dual Sponge Filters (each using a T connector with two flow adjustment valves and one air check valve at each end: one end goes to AC operated airpump, the other end to the battery operated airpump) and another to feed a small airstone placed below the sponge media of the AquaClear 50, as well as feeding air to another small airstone placed inside a Whisper Internal (modified media: I use sponge inside it) that runs at the cycled 2gal hospital tank (I keep four small Endler Guppies in it).

I am considering purchasing a 1.5KVA DC/AC inverter to only serve the filters in the event our Emergency plant (no one dares to live without one down here) fails. At home the electric load of my tanks is close to 0.75KVA-hr so I figured a fully charged deep cycle battery operated DC/AC inverter that size should work for six to eight hours handling 0.20KVA-hr.
 
Shawnie
  • #12
battery powered air pumps and those hand warmers that come in packages that you crack to generate the heat, are what I stock up on for sure....we can go days with ice outages and they aren't fun

EDIT: WELCOME TO FISHLORE!! ooopsies
 
Aquarist
  • #13
Hello Incubifly and Welcome to Fish Lore. The link Lucy provided is a good one with lots of tips and information.
Hope you enjoy the site!
Ken
 
flyin-lowe
  • #14
My brother in law used to live with me and he had a battery backup for his computers. You kept it charged and it had standard outlets in the front to run computers. I don't know what type of battery it had, and I'm sure a heater would suck a lot more juice then a computer would but I would think you could plug in the heater and let it run for five or ten minutes every hour or so after the temp starts to drop and it would keep it from making too much of a change. Depending too on how your house is insulated and how cold it is outside. I know even in the winter I have a few hours before I start to notice a big difference in temps so the water should go for several hours before it starts to change.
 
jprime84
  • #15
I actually had to get through my first power outage recently. They turned the power off for 8 hours without advanced warning to work on something, I was furious.

I bought a 400 watt power inverter for around $35 from home depot. It is capable of handling a draw of about 3.5 amps. I also bought a 26 amp hour rechargable sealed battery for about $50. After wrapping the tank in blankets to keep the heat that's inside in there, I plugged my filters (6 watts each), air pump (3 watts), and heater (100 watts) into a power strip and plugged that into the inverter.

The thing will run the filters and air pump for quite a while, about 10 watts at 115 volts is only 10/115 or .086 amps would last for days on a 26 amp hour battery. The heater at 100 watts however can bring the runtime down to less than a day if the heater is on all the time. That's why its important to insulate your tank so the heater doesn't have to run for as long.

If your fish can handle slightly lower than normal (room temp) temps, then using a battery and inverter to run your filters would last through many days of outage. You could also have multiple batteries charged and last for weeks.
 
flotus48
  • #16
I purchased two battery operated air pumps with stones to use in case of a power outage. I'm not sure how long fish can live without filtration but they won't last long at all without air!
 
jprime84
  • #17
Air pumps can help oxygenate the water, but many tanks (including mine) are just fine without them. Oxygen exchange happens at the water's surface. The bubbles from the air stones just help increase that surface area. This would be more helpful in tanks with smaller water surface area (like a tall narrow tank) and not as much for a large area tank (like a 40 breeder).

In fact, my planted tank has CO2 pumped into it and no airstone. The fish are fine. I do have a chemical drop checker that I use to monitor CO2 levels though. The plants also produce oxygen as they use the CO2.

The filtration is probably not just important for the sake of keeping the water clean, but for keeping it moving. If the water is not being pumped through the filter media then the bacteria in there are not cleaning it. Also, some animals like my bamboo shrimp need to have moving water to feed.
 
dorcy
  • #18
I'm a computer network administrator, and I use the same type of UPS (uninterrupted power supply) on my aquarium that we use at work to protect computers and servers. UPS's not only protect from power outages, but also from brownouts and power spikes. I have my aquarium attached to the same unit that is protecting my home theater. It's an APC SmartUPS 1500. You can plug pretty much anything into it as long as it doesn't pull more power than the unit can handle. There is a meter on the front that tells you how much power you are drawing from the unit. It will beep when the power goes out to tell you that its on battery. So far it's been a great investment and helps with piece of mind to know my aquarium will run throughout a power failure.
 

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