Prepare Your Aquarium For Power Outages


HI everyone.
The weather is beginning to change it's time get prepared for those power outages that bring a fish keeper to panic.
Of course outages can happen anytime of the year so it's great to always be prepared.

There are several threads with great suggestions, but they're kind of spread out.
I'd like us to compile suggestions for outages in one thread.

(A good reason to use the search feature before asking a question)
Here's one:
What to do in a power outage?

Our power went out last night. I wrapped my tanks with blankets to keep the heat in, luckily it wasn't too cold.

Last winter, I wrapped my tanks with blankets and used those hand warmers that you shake to activate. I put them in a zip lock baggy and floated them in my tanks.

*Edit: 8/18* Since then I have cut insulation foam board and tape them around my tanks.

For aeration I have a couple of battery powered air pumps.
Enough tubing an a couple of gang valves will serve several tanks.

A battery operated air pump can be used with a sponge filter.

From ctkevin108:
I also went and bought a 800 watt power inverter. It will run all 3 of my tanks heaters and all plus leave some for some lights around the house. It runs off the car battery then I run an extension cord inside. Just start the car every few hours and its all good.

I use a Computer USP backup. See it here

Its designed for computers so you don't lose your stuff. But works just fine for the filter and pumps and heater, I even have the lights on it. I tested it under FULL load and unplugged it to similate a power outage and it says 5 hours runtime left with current load.. Figured if I turned off the lights it's run a WHOLE lot longer.

From Dave125g's thread
Back Up Power During An Outage.
Your only gonna need 3 components.

1. A 12 volt car or marine battery.
2. A power inverter
3. A battery charger.

No real engineering skills needed. Make sure you battery is fully charged. The power inverter has alligator clips that clip to the terminals. (+ and -) I do recommend something a bit more permanent. Cut the alligator clips off, strip the wires and use cable ends. Its not necessary ,but is a bit safer. Plug your heater and filter in and your up and running. Just make sure you charge the battery every 3 months, so its ready when you need it.

Edit 11/2013:

I have seen people suggest generators.
It's important to know that it is dangerous to use gas generators in doors due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

How have you and your fish survived power outages?

From JRC3

Edit 9/20/21
bsimon615 has some good info after their recent power outage:

Short Term Aquarium Life Support | Freshwater Aquarium Discussion Forum | 509081

Great tip from SparkyJones
I bought a 12VDC livewell aerator for $50. and replaced my old car battery before it was dead and kept it and have a charger, and I charge that up to run the livewell battery beforehand


Great Thread Lucy. I had to learn a lesson the hard way by losing 15 Discus during a 3 day power outage years ago. I have 2 generators now. I can light up this house like a Christmas Tree at any given moment! I have so many candles I could heat my aquarium room for days on end with no other heat source.

If you have the means a generator is the way to go.


I'm really lucky when it comes to power cuts. We're hooked up to the same system that runs the countys only hospital, and if it's out, then it's normally for an hour max. Our heating isn't hooked up to the mains, we run off an oil tank, so normally the ambient temp of the rooms never drop below 73 on a super duper cold day.

I'd advise those who aren't luckily 2 miles away from a massive hospital to always have some of the hand wamers as Lucy said. Also, battery powered anything.

If the fpower's out for a long time, do a few water changes and stir the water around a bit to make sure it's not stagnating. I'd also hold back on feedings as there isn't a filter in use.


Tony G.

My aquarium light is battery powered (it works when unplugged and charges when plugged) it causes my tank's temp to rise about 3 degrees which can be life saving.


The above link has a battery powered back up air supply that plugs into an outlet and it comes on when the power goes off. I have 1/2 doz. of them. Love 'em!

What to do when power goes out?



Our heat for our house is gas, as is our water heater. So I guess if need be I would be doing lots of wc with warm's a whole lot of work and I'm hoping I don't have to do it..My hubby is a Power lineman so hopefully I can sweet talk him into getting us back on asap. . We also have a wood burning stove and a fireplace. This summer Walmart had 5 buckets with battery powered airpumps for fishing use on clearance for $7.00. I picked up two of them. Most of my tanks are in the fishroom which I can close off and turn our gas heater on in there and keep the temps just right. The only tank that isn't is my 120 and that is in my dining room right by my fireplace. ..I've thought this through like a thousand times so hopefully I'm prepared. Great thread Lucy!!.


OH Thank you so much for this reminder Lucy and for all the helpful suggestions everyone. My power flashed off during a bad storm last night (we get some doozies in Iowa) and of course the first thing I started worrying about is what if that happened during the winter.

Great advice! I'm going to Walmart today to get those hand warmer thingys. That sounds like the most economical option for us. Maybe this is a good excuse to go all the way to Petsmart for some battery-powered stuff.... ;D


Lucy, thanks for starting this thread and everyone, thanks for the great information and advice! This is definitely some information I will keep within easy access in case of emergencies. I'm also going to be putting the motion controlled hand warmers on my shopping list.


my tanks are on battery back-ups. I have 6 hours of runtime (no lights, no heater)..and can easily add more by plugging in car batteries ;D


my tanks are on battery back-ups. I have 6 hours of runtime (no lights, no heater)..and can easily add more by plugging in car batteries ;D

Can you link to what you use?


I have two inverters. I hook them to marine deep cycle batteries. I can use my everyday equipment with them. I have not had a power outage since I got my tank. I have, however, run my 32 inch TV all day during outages along with my DirectTV receiver.



any ideas for what you should do for a bottomless fish tank???


I've never had a long-term power-outage, but it certainly is possible. Like Aquarist, I've got tons of candles. My in-laws also have a dozen of the rechargeable hand-warmers. All it takes is boiling water to get them to work again. If need be, I can borrow most of those.

any ideas for what you should do for a bottomless fish tank???

Is there a pump that continually keeps the water in the upper tank? If not, if it's just keeping filled by basic physics, then you don't have any more problems than a normal tank.
However, if you've got a pump that's keeping the upper tank filled, make sure that there's enough room for the upper tank to empty into the base tank without spilling.


Yes, this was a good thread. I had a power outage recently, and I wrapped 3-4 newspaper layers around my tanks (good insulator) with towels round that and this kept them warm for hours. It's good as a first defence anyway, I was surprised. Thakns for bumping this Lucy, I'm gonna favourite it cause our weather is set to get worse and I'm going home to order some stuff for prep since it went off a couple weeks ago too!


I have a 10 gallon tank with 3 corys, 2 guppies, and 2 snails. Our power has been out about 3 days. I didn't really do too much for the fish because there were other pressing matters, but I did not feed them because I knew it would just make a mess with it being so cold. The electric company said that they wouldn't have it back on for another 2 or 3 days so I put about 2.5 gallons of the tank water into a 5 gallon bucket and moved the fish in that to my office. When I got there I hooked up the filter (it still had water standing in it so I am hoping the media is still ok) and the heater and filled the bucket up the rest of the way with treated water. Is there anything else that I should do? Thanks for your advice!


Good thing you were able to take the fish to your office!
Sounds like you're doing what you can. Keep an eye on your parameters just in case.
Good luck, I hope your power is restored soon.


I agree with Ken. If you have the means a generator is by far the way to go.

I have a 8000W industrial Diesel generator out back. Picked it up at an auction last year for $500.00. A quick tune up and it was good to go. Now its sitting out back on a cement pad, Hardwired into my main panel. Power goes out, I flip a switch on the panel, go fire the old girl up, and its like nothing even happened! (as long as I'm here when it

But you could easily pick up a little gasser at Princess Auto or someplace for $100.00 or less that would be more than enough juice for the average fish keeper..


We use 100% wood stove during the winters. The oil prices forced me to!!
A generator is on my list.
Now, if we get an outage for any length of time, we close all the auxillary rooms, sleep in the living room and crank up the stove!!! far all tanks have survived a 2 day outage.
Can heat water for the tanks if and even coffee....what outage?


If your looking for something big enough to run your house off of, Try to get to a repo/police or foreclosure auction. I found mine through a Drilling Company that went belly up.. The bank that loaned them all the money, seized and sold off everything. Same with police auctions.. I've seen a ton of generators go for next to nothing from narcotics busts..

Total cost for me to be up and running was just shy of $1000.00. Which really isn't bad at all.. And maintenance is about 50.00 a year.. Oil change, fuel filters, the usual.. And diesels cheap if you can get ahold of dyed diesel.


Building Foam can be used in cold weather

If you leave in a cold weather climate (it can get -30 degrees F here) I have found that instead of blankets you can get a 8' sheet of 1/2" thick insulating foam board from a local building supply for around $10 (alittle more if you go thicker). I had them cut it down the middle for free to make it easier to put in my vehicle.

Then when you get home you can easily cut two 6' pieces for front and back and two smaller pieces for the ends of your tank. it is really light to carry and can be stored behind the tanks or in the garage. When the power goes out just place them around the tank and tape everything tight together and it really locks in the heat for quit some time. You can throw another piece over part of the tank top as well but make sure you leave space open so some oxygen can get in.

I also read one thread where a Discuss owner had this foam on three side of his tank all the time to help keep his water temperature high and to keep heating cost down.

I personally run multiple filter/heater combinations on my tanks and always have one set connected to a UPS which give me a couple of hours of runtime which covers all but extended outages. I also use Power/Backup pumps which run off normal power and then switch to battery backup when power drops. These can be connected to airstones or sponge filters and will run for many hours even after the UPS has run out of power.

It takes quit awhile for your cycled bacteria to completely die so unless the outage is over 8 hours just try to keep the water temperature tolerable and the water circulating somewhat or at least agitated. Your bacteria will stay alive longer if you remove it from a canister and place it in the tank itself as it can get more oxygen there than in a non circulating canister.


For filtration, a battery operated air pump and a sponge filter or two will make sure you alway have some filtration going on.
Battery air pump

Another Battery Air Pump

Sponge filters


Thanks for adding the links!

A DIY sponge filter with a seeded sponge is a good idea too!


I lost power. A few tips.

Good morning,

I lost power for an hour day before yesterday and I wanted to share a few tips that worked well for me.

Always keep your filter media wet!

For my hang on back (HOB) filters, all Aqua Clears,(once the power goes off the filter stops and part of the water drains back into the tank exposing filter media to air) instead of adding the media to my tank and clouding the water, I removed the intake tubes to release the suction. Replaced the tube and filled the filter box with additional tank water, to the top. This completely covered all of my filter media, keeping it wet and my beneficial bacteria happy and alive.

By breaking the suction, removing the filter intake tubes and replacing them, this prevents the additional water from sucking back into the tank.

Note: had the power been off for more than an hour or 2 at the most, I would have added the media into my tank to be on the safe side. This way the beneficial bacteria would have a food source and additional oxygen.

Once the power went off, all of my battery operated/110 outlet adaptable air pumps, automatically came on. Yeah!!!! I have 2 for my 265g tank and 1 in the wet/dry filter for this tank. My other smaller tanks have one battery back up air supply. Link below:

I have gas heat in the house so I wasn't too worried about my temperatures falling. I did cover Wrigley's 6.6g tank with a blanket, smaller tanks can have a temperature change quicker than larger tanks. (I made sure the light for Wrigley's tank was in the "OFF" position. You don't want the power to come on and have your aquarium lights covered with a blanket. Possible fire hazard)

I did a water change yesterday (routine) and all of my readings are perfect 0,0 under 20 in all tanks. I didn't have a rise in any of my readings. arty0011:

Come to find out, neighbors took a tree down and power lines with it! Thanks a lot neighbors! LOL



Bumping this up.
Looks like some of you may be in the path severe weather. Looking at you Florida!
Please don't wait until the last minute. It's better to have precautions in place and not need them then to have no resources and need them.
We rarely think it will happen but when/if it does it helps to have things on hand.

Be safe!


Hey gulf coast
Please be safe, watch the weather.

Get a water change done before the storm and feed very sparingly. Won't hurt t skip some days.

Have your battery air pumps ready (with extra batteies). A sponge filter will come in handy right about now.

Go to the store before you can't!

(don't forget about yourselves. Flash lights, food, water, medications, phones charged with extra battery packs....but that's a whole other topic for another thread.)


Hey North Eastt!! Doesn't everyone love a good nor'easter?
Ready to get snowed in with the people you'll have fun with in the next few days?

Before you head to where you're going to, prepare for those outages!!!

Something simple that hasn't been mentioned (I don't think) is to have everything you'll need next to the tank not packed away in that big ole' box of aquarium stuff we collected over the years. :)

Most of all, please stay safe!


Been a while since most of us had to think about this, but here goes!

Don't wait until the last minute Florida! There's plenty of time get get what you need for you, your finned and furry friends.

Be ready before you need it :)

Sorry Canada, hope you are safe and didn't need this bump

Similar Aquarium Threads

New Fish in Town

Did You Know...

Nart wrote a nano saltwater setup guide! Check it out:
Narts Budget Nano Saltwater Guide

Aquarium Calculator

Top Bottom