Welcome to Day 18 of the 31 Days to Build a Better Saltwater Aquarium Challenge.
To build a better aquarium, you want to build something for the long haul, something that can survive the ups and downs of reef keeping. When bad things happen in your tank, they can spiral out of control relatively quickly.
One of the biggest downs you will ever face is a loss of power.
I’ve written about what to do when the power fails here.
When the power goes out, two majorly bad things start to happen in your tank:
- Temperature start to drop
- Water stops flowing
The drop in temperature is a big risk to all of the animals in your tank, but the good news (if you could get away with calling it that) is that water, generally speaking is good at holding its temperature. So while the drop in temperature is a big deal, it’s a slow deal and probably won’t be the biggest issue you will face.
So what is the biggest issue you face?
With the power out, the pumps stop, which means the water stops circulating in your tank. Water movement is a life-sustaining activity in a saltwater aquarium. When the pumps stop, the water holds less oxygen and the sessile animals will eventually be unable to respire (breathe). Think of it like breathing into a plastic bag. After a few breaths, there isn’t enough oxygen in the bag to breathe.
What I want you to do today is build a backup plan for your tank. Purchase an emergency kit that will help you retain heat in your aquarium and provide life sustaining oxygen and water flow, even if the power goes out.
- Here are four items I recommend you put in your emergency kit:
1) Duct tape — you should always have duct tape in an emergency. You can make anything with it. I’ll show you more specifically what you need it for very soon.
2) Battery Powered Air Pump and air tubing— You can go from low-end to high-end on this one. On the low end, a battery powered pump can cost you under $15. On the high-end, you can spend much, much more for an auto-backup.
3) Emergency Blankets — these things are thin and feel cheap, but they work by trapping heat and reflecting it back in. If the power goes out, tape a few of these together with your duct tape to tent around your tank and trap the heat in.
4) Car power inverter and a super long outdoor extension cord— This might actually be the most important part of your emergency kit. Essentially, you plug it into the ‘cigarette lighter’ in your car and it turns your car into a power generator. As long as you can run an extension cord all the way from the car to the aquarium, you can plug your heater and a powerhead to keep the temperature up and to circulate some of the water. You won’t want to (or be able to) keep the car running the whole time, but you could turn on the power in a few timed bursts to give your tank some energy. The reason I listed this item last is that you may not have your car that close to your aquarium where this is reasonable.
No tricky maintenance to do today, just a little shopping. Be prepared for a power outage
All this and a genny. We are Amateur Radio Operators and are prepared (we think) for disaster.
Of course, if it does hit the fan, we will not have time to babysit the tanks. We volunteer.
Can’t go wrong with a generator. You also bring up a good point about volunteering. I suppose this scenario was intended to reflect a power failure in less than a catastrophe. Thanks for the balance there. I live in PA, so my view of hurricanes, etc., is somewhat biased. sorry for any unintended insensitivity there to the most important issues at that time.