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12/28 - Aquarium Emergency Preparedness


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#1
Christopher Marks

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Welcome to the first of the new "Topic Of The Week" series! This week's topic is:

How to prepare your nano reef for emergency situtations

With the recent power-grid failure and hurricane Isabel in the US, many members' aquariums fell victim to power failure. What are things that we can do to prepare our aquariums for such situations? What do you do if your furnace breaks in the dead of winter? How can we prepare for heat-waves, blizzards, or power-loss?

Please join in the discussion and share your opinions and experiences!
The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

#2
Christopher Marks

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One important factor in saving your tank is temperature control. Since our tanks are generally small, the water temperature can change quickly. The power went out for two days at my home in the middle of winter (it was about 12F outside) one time. I was fortunately awake when it went out around 11pm. I wrapped two towels around and over my 7.5 gallon tank to try and keep it warm through the night. That was pretty effective, and the tank had only dropped 3 degrees by the time the power came back on.
The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

#3
MrKrispy

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Great idea, i like the Topic of the week thing.

I mentioned last week, everyone should have at least one battery backup airpump for power outages. THey are cheap and you can use them for transporting fish, changing tanks, etc...

#4
serjuanca88

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If you can afford it, get a generator. I have seen some used ones going for $100 in my classified ads.

#5
Christopher Marks

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That's a good idea serjuanca, especially for people with multiple tanks. Definately a good investment.
The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

#6
tinyreef

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solar powered pumps is another option for aeration during daytimes. that $40 is the cheapest i've found so far, altho i'm not sure if that particular one's able to do SW.

#7
tylernt

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I mentioned last week, everyone should have at least one battery backup airpump for power outages.  

The Penn-Plax B11 battery-powered airpump is worth it's weight in gold because it comes on automatically when the power goes off. I know, I'm always plugging it... but I think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. :D

#8
caja

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When it was a definate that Hurricane Isabelle was going to come through my area I went out and bought an inverter from Radio Shack and a car battery to hook it to. Thankfully our power never went out for longer than four hours and other than a slight 3 degree elevation in tank temps, both tanks were fine. My only concern is that since I would have to plug in the PH's and heaters to two tanks it will drain the battery that much quicker. I'm thinking I may just pick up another inverter and another car battery to have on hand.

#9
tylernt

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Caja,

You may not need a second inverter. If you add up the wattages of all of your PHs and heaters and this does not exceed the rating of the inverter, you could add another battery in parallel to increase the runtime capacity and run both tanks off the same inverter.

Myself, I have a fuel-injected, 1.8 liter, 81 horsepower generator for my tank. In other words, I run an extension cord out the window to my inverter which is plugged into my car. :)

#10
caja

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Hehe, pretty neat tyler.

Here's a question for you. This happened over the summer. The power went out to all of the northeast coast. Temps were in the 90's. Many of our nano reefers fared well, a few lost most of the livestock in their tanks.

How do you deal with the heat issue when the power goes out for an extended period of time?

#11
tylernt

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Well, I started my tanks in the fall so I haven't had a summer to try it out, yet. But, I do have on hand two 6v lantern batteries (the big square ones with springs on top, check the camping section). Wired in series, the batteries will produce 12v that can power a common computer fan to blow on the water for evaporative cooling.

A lantern battery should have a capacity of 4 to 5 amp hours, maybe even 6 for a premium brand. Most 80mm computer fans draw between .16 and .18 amps. That means your fan "should" theoretically run anywhere from 22 to 37 hours. Inefficiencies in the battery (no battery is 100% efficient) will reduce that by a few hours though, so you may want to have 4 or 6 batteries on hand if you expect a really long outage.

Four "D" cells can take the place of each lantern battery, but it would be a pain to string 8 of them together to make 12v. ;)

Or heck, just connect the fan directly to a car battery. It would run for weeks!

#12
Countzer0

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I lost power for almost half a day ... was able to run everything off my power inverter in my work van. But a good computer UPS or even a small generator can really make a diffrence

#13
neubauer16

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i use computer ups's on both my tanks. the big one i only have my main pump hooked up to it and it has 3hrs on it. my 10 i have everything hooked up to it and it ran every thing for the 3 hrs when the power went out. just my $.02.

-jon

#14
birdman204

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caja, float small bags of ice in the tank. after it melts, check the temp, and add as needed.

I definatley agree on the battery air pumps... A backup power supply can be problematic, they may trip at a power blink, and then you will be SOL, tyler has a good one tho.
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#15
matt the fiddler

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to get an dc to ac converter plug for your car.. [and then running extension cords back and forth..] then let your car idle every little bit.. [if you don't want to have car batteries sitting around the house and havea car parking spot nearby]

:ninja:radio shack costs about twice as much as some of the big trucking stores.. find as rednecked as a truck supply shop as you can find- and save a few bucks...

#16
caja

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I know that bird, just seeing what other people offered up, keeping the discussion moving is the goal here.

Matt, I stopped at my local auto parts store when I was looking for an inverter, figured they'd sell them. Nope, had to go to radio shack.

#17
matt the fiddler

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was it a NAPA auto parts.. or a truck stop.. [found in the middle of nowhere on big highways] big difference.. NAPAS stay near population areas. truck supplys go where the truckers go and usually havea cheap dinner attached .... with the 4 lb special on burnt meat...

#18
birdman204

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so i am not other people caja? I also use a fan for cooling on really warm days, otherwise, but that's when the power is on ;)
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#19
mattie

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i am a believer in the computer UPS battery backup a $40 unit ran my ph's for allmost 3hrs it is only rated at 350ua. it was put to good use during hurrican isabel. if you purchased a larger unit you could get much longer results

#20
tylernt

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3 hours? Did I mention the B11 has been reported to run for days on a single set of D cells? B)

You could always hook the B11 up to the UPS... when the UPS runs out of juice, the B11 will kick in.

Ok, I really will shut up about the B11 now. Sorry...

#21
tylernt

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float small bags of ice in the tank

For an extended (days long) outage, you will run out of ice, and if the stores are powerless, you may not be able to buy any. Depending on how large of a disaster you are preparing for, it wouldn't hurt to have a plan B.

#22
Littleoceans

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I had lost power for a day (driver hit utility poll) so I used my scuba tank and rigged a airstone to it to use for water flow lasted for two days... works in a pinch! LO

#23
neubauer16

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tylernt:
that is a good idea. i might go ahead and pick up one of those b11's. =)


-jon

#24
AbSoluTc

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I have to say that when Isabel hit us and we lost power for about 12 days, I had pretty much tried everything.

Battery powered air pump did ok. It used up about 23 batteries in total. Not very cost effective when a hurricane blows through town and every person is buying up D batteries like they are the new crack.

I tried UPS'. They are the most useless of things I had ever tried. They lasted maybe 2 hours with a power head and or air pump.

Nextly, I used an inverter. Ran an extension cord to it from my car and was able to power everything on the tank except the heater and the lights. That worked ok until heat started to become the issue.

So, we ended up with a generator and I was able to run the system as usual. Unfortunately it was too late.


I have to say the most effective item for keeping systems up during emergencies are the portable "suitcase sized" generators. They kinda look like the portable car jump starter backpack things (non technical term). They run around 250 bux and power up to 250-500w for that price. That is more than enough to run most 30 gal and smaller tanks.

The most strenuous items that for wattage are lights and heaters. Everything else draws around 6-10 w of power. Aquaclear 300's draw 6w of power. Maxijet 1200's draw about 10-15w of power if I remember correctly. Heaters and lights draw a minimum of 50w up to 250 depending on size.

Id say the heater and a power head will keep the system stable and fine for extended periods of time. Maybe even buy a PC setup of lower wattage for the tank incase you can't supply your halides with all the juice they need.


Sorry, Im done rambling.

#25
matt the fiddler

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oo scuba tank= good air idea.. though only if you have one lying around... = what about the grabber mycoal hand warmerslowered into the fuge in a bag, that breathes at the surface for some O2. those run, what $1-$2 a pop and last hours.. might overheat a nano smaller than oh 25 gallons though