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FAQs about Power Outages, Back-up Systems and Aquarium Systems

Related Articles: Surviving extended power outages: how to keep your aquarium alive! By Mike Maddox and Merritt Adkins Marine ElectricalMarine Aquarium Light Fixtures and CanopiesGFCIs and Marine AquariumsPump Problems

Related FAQs:  Electricity FAQ 1, Electricity FAQ 2, GFCIs and Marine Aquariums Grounding Probes,

Don't feed your animals, system if/when the power goes... Period.

of course the power goes out AFTER your tank cycles. . .     5/25/13
Hello, wish I was writing under happier circumstances (especially since I do have a couple of questions I've been wanting to ask.  *sighs*).  I've got a somewhat newly set up reef tank, a biocube 29 with 25# of rock, a few LPS, and a pair of juvenile percula clowns.  Yesterday while I was out, the power went out at my apartment complex, and while the power company said it would only be out for an hour or so, it was out for 10. . .  The tank got to room temp, it was nearly 90 outside, but since the room I am in was shadowed, and I had no lights on I'm assuming it wasn't much more than 85 in here at most.
<Good... no feeding I hope/trust>
 After the nitrogen cycle was over(with the ammonia/nitrite/nitrate staying at 0 for over 2 weeks) I got the clowns, and they've been fine so far. 
This morning neither is very active.  The first is sticking next to the glass, and while she was staying oriented the way she wanted to, isn't swimming around, the second is looking like she is trying to right herself and can't (both DO sleep next to the tank's rim, and I've only got my blue lights on at the moment, so I am not sure if the second is trying and failing, or is just unsure if  it is morning somehow since the lights aren't as bright as normal.)  As for the corals, my Acans are happy as ever, my torch is out and waving around, the hammer is a bit retracted, but not all of the way, and so far the Duncan is half open(it never gets fully open without the 10K lights on, though) and both candy canes, which are newer additions, are a bit retracted, but not completely.
<Should be fine>
I am leaving for work(of course it happens that way. . .) now, and after am going to get a water test at my LFS, and grab 5 gallons of saltwater to do that much of a water change, but what else can I do to hope I don't have a re-cycling tank on my hands, and to help my fish and coral get through it if it is?
<I'd do naught other than the water change. Bob Fenner>

Power outage/filter media     5/9/12
Hello. My neighborhood is currently experiencing a power outage and it is projected to be restored in 3 hours. Will this negatively affect the beneficial bacteria in my filters (HOB and sponge filter)?
<You should be fine here. It's the sealed container type filters (canister, cartridge e.g.) that can pose anaerobic products issues; not open to the water types>
 I'm at work so I can't do anything now, but if there will be an impact, what should I do?  
Thank you, Lorie
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

snowflake eel and fish in shock    11/27/12
We came home from a week long vacation to find that our heater quit working and our tank was extremely cold.  Our snowflake eel and fish are in shock.
Our eel is stretched, leaning backwards, and looks as though he is breathing only from the right side.  Our tomato clown and trigger are really lethargic, and laying sideways. We did a 50% water change out and got the temp back up to where it should be.
<Very good.>
Our PH, nitrate, and ammonia levels are where they should be.  Is there anything else we should do? Please help.
<Do measure ammonia and pH once or twice per day for the next few days.
Cold temperatures can kill off bacteria as well as (in)vertebrate life, which can lead to high levels of organic pollution and a new cycle of the system. If you have any corals or other larger invertebrates in there, which seem clearly dead remove them. Also have enough salt at hand in case this happens. If you measure any ammonia do another water change and provide sufficient oxygen supply, because of apparent decay processes.
Severe die-off and a new cycle is one extreme of what can happen. If you are lucky you may notice nothing or only a small diatom bloom and might find you fishes back to their old-self within a day or two.>
Thank you,
Cassandra Gaskins
<Good luck. Marco.>

Recovering from Sandy - Is my coral dead?    11/11/12
> Hi
> I appreciate you reading my question. I lost power for a week due to Sandy. My only loss was my fish tank so I am very lucky.  I have a 30 gallon reef tank with live rock, two brain corals (Favites or Goniastrea and a Trachyphyllia geoffroyi), some soft button and leather corals (Zoanthid, Protopalythoa and Rhodactis) and two Damsel fish.  The tank is 8 years old and I have kept the coral for at least 6 years. Prior to the power outage, I changed 25% of the water every two weeks and during the weeklong power outage I periodically tried to circulate the water (with a cup) and I performed two 2.5 gallon water changes.  Despite my efforts, the tank suffered from lack of filtration, light and warm water.   I have attached two photos: the first taken in 2007 when the coral was very new to my tank, the second taken today, one week after power was restored to my house.   My questions are simple.  Is my brain coral dead?
<Not quite all the way dead>
 Should I remove them from the tank
<I would not move>
 The fish, button and leather corals all seem to be OK. 
> Thank you again. I appreciate your expert advice.
<Keep the faith... as long as there is some attendant tissue, just white (not algae covered) skeleton, these Stony corals may well come back. Bob Fenner>

Cleaning up after Hurricane Sandy    11/11/12
Hi, I live on long Island and just completed 12 full days with no electricity after hurricane sandy. 
<No fun>
The power just came back on today.  Unfortunately my fish did not do well during the prolonged outage. 
We were fine until a second storm hit on day 9. It brought 6 inches of snow and dropped the house temperature down to 42 degrees.  I lost all my fish in my 75 gallon FOWLR (yellow tang and 3 ocellaris clowns).
I also lost 5 out 7 in my 150 gallon SA cichlid tank.    My question is if you have any suggestions on how to get the FOWLR backup and running again.  I am sure the live rock (90lbs) has been seriously compromised.  I see a few bristle worms, tube worms and copepods still
alive.   Also the one button polyp I have still looks alive.  All the green algae has died.  My plan is to siphon out as much of the dead algae and debris as I can and do a fairly large water change.   Then just basically start all over again as if it was a new tank waiting to cycle.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.
BTW, we feel very lucky that 12 days without power was all we had to deal with.  The destruction in the surrounding neighborhoods is unbelievable.
<I would do as you plan and nothing more... go slowly, don't make rapid changes in anything, any aspect. Bob Fenner> 

Hurricane Sandy Victim    10/30/12
Good Afternoon,
I have one 55gal tank with a 4 inch dog face puffer.
<Will need more room...>
I've had it for 5 years.
<Dwarfed then>
The electricity went out last night at 8:00PM. I had to evacuate at 10PM due to rising waters. I thought I was well prepared. Before the power went out, I insulated the outside of the tank with plastic wrap, towels, pillows, and a blanket. I set up a back up battery pack powering the heater and an air bubbler, and another battery powered air bubbler on. When I left everything was working as planned. I came home at 8:00AM and the battery pack was not working, but the battery powered air bubbler was still running. The battery pack did not last nearly as long as it was supposed to. I should have had at least one day of power but it lasted less than 8 hours. The water has maintained at 72 degrees F, but the fish is lethargic.
It sits on the bottom and won't respond unless I poke it.
<Don't poke it, and don't feed it>
My husband just rigged up my car battery to power the filter and the heater off of an extension cable. I set the heater to 75 degrees F for a slow warm up. If this helps, it will not hold very long because it will only work while my car is running.
<Let's hope the power comes back on... or that a neighbor w/ a generator has excess amperage for you to run an extension cord>
I have no hot water and the neighborhood is completely devastated around me. I have no heat either, the house is not cold, but I cannot crank up the heat to help. I was thinking of putting the fish in a small tank, maybe 5 gallons, but I don't know if that's even more stressful due to poor water quality.
<I wouldn't move it>
If a family member gets power before me I can set up a small tank at their house, but this will probably not happen today.
Do you have any tips for me to try before the power comes back on?
<Just patience, really... IF it's easy to do, heating some water w/ gas... ala a barbecue or such, and adding this to keep the water about 68 F. may be worthwhile>
Do you think that the fish can be revived with a slow water temperature increase?
<Oh yes>
My ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels are pristine and I did a 10% water change the day before power was lost. I am not attempting to feed the fish, it ate 8 hours before power loss.
<Again, don't feed it; it will be fine sans food>
To recap, the water is 72 degrees F, the heater is now heating to 75 degrees F by way of my car battery, and the canister filter is running off my car battery as well. The battery operated air bubbler is running well.
Thank you,
<Steady on. Bob Fenner>

Prep for Hurricane Power Outage - 8/28/12
<Hi Ravea>
Im new to this site but seen how helpful you were and with prompt replies.
I need advise Very quick (if possible) Although A few days ago I was looking at a solar powered air pump and thought how neat but I have one so why spend the extra when I have already invested so much into my tank. I love my fish! I have angels and....for some reason the other two types are slipping my mind.
However,. my question/emergency is that once this hurricane hits, chances are we will be without power and never know how long that will be. I know we had a transformer blow at around 10am and by 10pm (while they were working on it another one blew) so around 11pm or 12am it was finally back on and my fish were fine. My big concern is what if it is 2, 3  days with no power? Stores are closing so I cant go out and buy any other one. How long can they live with no power? Ok I have a 55 GL  tank, my filter is one with a 3 different filtration system and keeps it running great, water great, fish are growing and doing fine. I also have an air stone, along with a few big plants. once that filter and air pump is off, what do I do to get some oxygen going, water moving, overall just make sure they make it? We're prepared as far as everything else but Im very worried about my fish. Please give me good news that we can get them past this! We shouldn't be losing any power till tomorrow night (8/28) at the earliest. So please try to get back to me soon since there will come a time Ill have no internet access. Hopefully all goes well and I emailed you for nothing but better safe than sorry! Thanks in advance!!!
 -Ravea Kerr
<Difficult situation, for sure. You're right, the plants should help keep ammonia and nitrite levels down, and dissolved oxygen is the biggest concern. The best alternative would be to get yourself a battery-powered air pump, but with stores closed it seems that isn't an option for you right now.  There isn't really much you can do without power and with no stores open. The best I can come up with is to do a substantial water change, and use the bathtub faucet on full into a bucket to agitate the water as much as possible.  If you aren't evacuating, you can do additional water changes the same way, assuming you have water still flowing.  If you are evacuating, all you can do is give them that water change if you have time, and then hope for the best. After this crisis is over, I suggest you get a couple battery-powered air pumps and store them with the rest of your hurricane supplies. - Rick>

Power Outage! 3/19/12
Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
First off thank you for taking the time to read my question and so many others, I really appreciate all of your knowledge and advice.
<You're welcome.>
First off, my question is regarding one of my display tanks, a 75 gal reef tank with a 29 gal refugium, currently stocked with a Maroon Clown, a Three Striped Damsel, a Blue Damsel,
<Three hellions.>
a Cleaner Fish, two Zoanthid Corals, a few hermit crabs, sand snails and turbo snails. I also have a yellow tang who is currently in the QT tank (I recently treated his black spot Ich, thanks to all the wonderful information on this site).
When I came home from work tonight, the power was out in the room that contains the 75 gal and the QT. The breaker had blown, which makes me think this will be a continuing problem.
<I would be addressing as to why.>
Anyway, without thinking, I immediately flipped the breaker back on. I did not turn the lights off on either tank, forgetting that the sudden light might shock the fish. After the lights and pumps came back on, I quickly checked both tanks for any casualties. Everyone was alive, but all of the fish seemed stressed and having difficulty moving. After about 5 minutes
the Maroon Clown and the Yellow Tang recovered fine and were quickly back to normal swimming behavior. The corals and cleaning crew, including the shrimp all seemed to be doing fine as well, but both Damselfish were struggling to move about. They both hovered just above the sand displaying intense color changes (most likely caused by sudden light) and moving
lethargically, to the point where I though they might die in a matter of hours.
Immediately, I checked the temperature, thinking the heater had been off for eight hours. The temp had only dropped 1-2 degrees, from 78 to 76-77. I tested several water parameters and they had not changed since I tested them yesterday. Gravity 1.025, PH 8.2, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0 and Nitrate less than 5ppm. Because no changes had occurred besides a minor temperature drop, I cannot figure out why my Damselfish were so stressed. After I realized the temperature was ok I figured the light change was the cause of the stress. I turned one bulb off at a time like I usually do every night,
taking about an hour to go from completely light to almost completely dark (minus the "night light" from my refugium). I could only see the Damselfish for about 25 minutes during this process, and they remained in a stressed state the entire time.
<In this regard, not necessarily stress, but night time coloration.>
I'm thinking the stress was related to one of three things; the temperature drop,
the lights suddenly coming on, or lack of oxygen/circulation while the power was out.
<Both likely contributed.>
In the morning I'll be able to see if they survived the night, but any ideas on what might have happened?
<A possibility  exists that you may have a defective component putting stray voltage in your tank and may be why your breaker tripped.  I would check/eliminate this.>
Thank you so much for your time, I really appreciate it.
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Thanks again,

Battery back up 3/15/12
Hi Crew,
<Hello Jim>
I bought a AZoo Battery back up yesterday. I hooked it up and put micro bubbles all over my tank. So its for sale now. My question I have is, I have very large Dolphin amp master external pumps. I want to find some kind of battery back up system to keep at least my closed loop system going in case of a power failure. Could you please recommend something?
<You would need to get a APC Uninterrupted Power Supply capable of handling the pumps rated current and amps per hour needed.  Could be a little pricey.  Your other option would be a small AC generator which is the way I would go if I were to do this.>
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Re Battery back up 3/15/12

Hi James,
I have a generator. I am mostly worried about the night time when I am catching some Zzzzz's. Something that will kick on and last at 6hrs. I am on the on eBay hunting.
<You will have to go with an APS UPS.  It senses loss of power and automatically transfers to battery power and reverses when power is restored.>
Thanks for that. How things been going?
<Not too bad.>
Have not seen you on in a while.
 If you send me your email address I will send you the link to my video of my tank.
<I have a policy not to give out my email address to queriors.  You can send a pic here.>
 I just dont want nobody to see it on WWM (especially Bob. He might not respond to my emails no more. lol) because everybody will bash on it because it so overstocked like the Marine Angel tank that was put on there. Everything is doing really good though.
<Good.  James (Salty Dog)>

sudden death ?! FW. power outage    6/8/11
Good Afternoon
Something very strange happened when I got home yesterday and no one seems to can help me so I hope you can. I have a tropical tank with 2 silver dollars and two huge red parrots the power tripped yesterday while at work and got hope to 4 dead fish, cud this be as there was no power?
<Yes, but if the tank was a good size for these species, it should be safe for some hours, realistically, 12 hours at least.>
I have not changed the water, or there food, the water is clean and the temp is 27, any ideas? most say the air filter shouldn't kill them if off?
I'm heartbroken
:( had them all as babies
<Do be open minded about your aquarium. For these two species, you'd want about 300 litres/75 US gallons. Anything smaller than that won't have the volume to minimise water quality and oxygen concentration problems. So once the power cut out, conditions in a small tank will quickly turn nasty,
whereas a bigger aquarium will go bad much more slowly.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Tip... Thermal insulation, power outages...   3/28/10
We had an 6 hour power outage yesterday in our rural area because of high winds/300 acre fire.... I noted in your tips on outages to "wrap the tank for insulation for temperature control"... I discovered during insulating my windows at my house that bubble wrap works wonderfully!
Everybody has some bubble wrap but it can also be bought by the yard at hardware stores. Spray the window/glass lightly w/water and put the bubble wrap on w/the bubbles towards the glass. I have had bubble wrap
on some windows (sliding glass door) over 3 months now and it has not come off. All you have to do is peel the bubble wrap off and clean the glass..... Just a tip.... Works awesome!
Donna Carmichael
<Thank you for this Donna. You have saved many aquatic and perhaps human lives. Bob Fenner>

Upcoming Power Outage   1/16/10
I have three scheduled power outages for 8 hours each within the next few weeks. I have been reading about the precautions I should take but am a bit confused as to what I do with my filter. I am trying to get a black and Decker power supply shipped to me but I wont get it shipped in time for me to use it. I know that I need to wrap my tank with blankets but I read that the filter can become toxic. do I take the filters out of the canister filter tray and place them in the fridge with water to keep them cold?
<Do read here for marine tanks:
So far as freshwater aquaria go, the same basic rules apply, but you have a bit more latitude. Freshwater fish are, by their nature, usually better adapt to variations in temperature and water quality than marine fish. The best approach is to leave the aquarium alone, well insulated. Don't feed!
There's no need for aeration or stirring, and in fact this would cool the tank down faster. In-tank filters like undergravels and sponges can be left alone too. External canisters should be disconnected and the biological
media placed in shallow containers (e.g., washing up bowls) that can be filled with aquarium water just enough to cover the media, but no more. The idea is that the sponges, ceramic noodles, etc. are as close to the air (critically, the oxygen) as possible so that the bacteria don't suffocate.
They are fine like this for a day or two, no problems. The problem with external canisters is that if they're left connected to the tank, or disconnected but left with the media inside them, the bacteria don't get any oxygen and quickly die. External canister filters rely absolutely on a constant flow of water through them, so when there isn't any flow of water, you have to remove the biological media as outlined above. Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Upcoming Power Outage
ok, so I take out the porcelain/ceramic tube things, the mesh filter thing, and the bio balls
but I can leave the carbon in there. ok.
<Well, I'd take the carbon out and replace with fresh carbon. Actually, carbon is pretty useless in most freshwater tanks, ad unless you're changing it every 2-4 weeks, it isn't doing anything anyway. A good question to ask yourself is "What does carbon do?". Most folks have a vague idea it improves water quality. But all carbon does is absorb organic chemicals, primarily those that create acidity between water changes. This was valuable when people did 10% water changes once a month, but almost completely useless if you're doing 25% water changes weekly, as you should be. You'll get better water quality by replacing carbon with more biological media. Of course, pet shops and filter manufacturers will happily SELL you carbon, but that's because it's extremely profitable, not because it's useful.>
and no bubbles. I'm glad you told me that. I bought I rechargeable air pump the "just in case" scenarios but I guess this isn't one. I didn't think that they would be able to last 8 hours with no oxygen cycling into the water.
<To be fair, it does depend on the size/types of fish being kept. If you have a moderately stocked tank with just small fish (tetras, guppies, gouramis, etc.) then adding a bubbler will be neither here nor there. But if you have big, messy fish (Plecs, cichlids, etc.) then adding an aerator can be helpful. It also depends on how cold your air temperature is. If it is not particularly cold where you live, then adding some extra aeration will be useful. But if it's really chilly right now (as it is here in England!) then I'd sooner keep the water warm than worry too much about aerating the water, unless I could see the fish were gasping at the surface. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Upcoming Power Outage -- 01/17/10
sounds good..I will remove it all from my canister filter and leave it in a little bit of water. I'm VERY curious about the no carbon thing. my canister requires a lot, and according to the manufacturer, I need to replace it every month...a cost of $15/month.
not including the actual floss filter to replace (another $15/mo). OUCH!
I was thinking of going to find filter mesh I can reuse over and over again. I have read online that others do this quite frequently. but I'm most interested in the no carbon. I was going to order a big bucket of carbon and just swap it out of the mesh bag that the old, used carbon is already in. this monthly change requires 400 grams (about 6 cups) of new carbon.
not to mention I have a second canister filter on the way, so 800 grams per month total...AH, so much! I have read that carbon actually increases phosphates but I dont know how to measure that. my test kit only has nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, and ph. I also read that carbon only filters out medicine and some organic compounds and can create high phosphates since carbon contains that but doesn't do nearly as much as what many mfg's want you to think. I have this filter already hooked to my 55 gal and once I set up my 150 gal I will have two hooked up
(http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=16744). I have a planted freshwater aquarium so will this work with this type of set up?
<You can certainly use canister filters for planted aquaria. Aim for about 4 x the volume of the tank in turnover per hour, and try to minimise splashing so you don't drive off valuable CO2 too much.>
you mentioned to replace the carbon section with more bio media. would this be the ceramic tubes or more of the bio balls?
<Either. Anything that holds bacteria will do. Sponges, ceramic noodles, filter floss, bio balls. In lightly stocked tanks, I've even used fine gravel in bubble-up box filters!>
I'm soooo willing to try this (but I'm scared at the same time) because this will reduce so much money spent, garbage in the landfill, and mess.
not too many people have written about what to expect with a no carbon change over or how often to test your tank to make sure the water quality is good.
<After you first set up the tank, weekly testing is a good idea. But for most aquarists, monthly testing is fine, and once you stop adding fish and the tank's been running a year on "autopilot", it is probably very stable, and you needn't do any testing at all unless the fish start acting odd.
Expert fishkeepers will recognize signs of stress -- e.g., swimming slowly at the surface, odd colours, lack of appetite -- so will be aware of problems before they get out of hand.>
my tank has a lot of fish...actually, too many (I know, bad me...slap on the hand) but I am usually really good with maintenance, water changed, etc. I have to be, other wise I have disastrous consequences. I usually do water changes bi-weekly (or as needed per the test kit) so my carbon is pointless according to your previous email.
I will search your website for more "no carbon" info but please lead me in the right direction.
<Do read here:
Cheers, Neale.>

A Cautionary Tale of UPS Backup Power -- 10/19/2009
Hello to all at WWM,
<Hey Michael!>
I don't have a question, rather tale of caution.
<Lets have it -- always beneficial to others.>
I purchased a Trust 400VA UPS PW-4040T UPS, with the intention of it providing a back up for my fish tank in the event of a power failure. I only wanted it to power the pumps and an air stone, which came to a load of about 25 Watts.
Well, the power failed, the UPS took over..........for about 7 minutes, then shut down!
I reset the UPS, all ok for 7 minutes. This went on for about 4 hours, on for 7 minutes, off, reset, on for 7 minutes.....until the battery went flat (remember, this was at 2 O'clock in the morning and I was not best pleased that my back up device wasn't working as intended).
Anyway, the next day, I looked up the specs on the Trust web site, only to find that there is a minimum load of 50 Watts for the UPS to function correctly.
<Ahh, yes -- many UPS devices on the market are for computer system backup power -- the typical draw from a personal computer is in the range of 200-300 Watts.. A UPS device that is specialized for home audio/theatre equipment may be more appropriate.>
Could you add a note to any information regarding UPS backup, to check minimum load requirements before purchase.
<Good advice to follow.>
By the way, love the site, read it most days.
Michael Boxall
<Thanks for the kind words, Michael! -JustinN>

Unplugged tank and when restarted no water circulation 5/18/09
Help! I am very new to this, and just unplugged tank to do weekly partial water change. When I plugged it back in the lights came on but no water circulation.
<Do need a little more information than this! Like, what make/model of aquarium is this? Is it an all-in-one unit with a single plug? Or are there separate plus for the heater, the lights, and the filter? In them meantime: switch everything off and remove the filter. Open the filter and look at the pump part: is the impeller (the rotating propeller) correctly seated in its little well? Put the thing back together again, put it in the tank, and give it a good wiggle to make sure there's no air trapped inside. Now switch it back on. If it still doesn't work, and assuming it's not a blow fuse (if it has its own plug, obviously) then it's time to contact your retailer. A word of warning: if the filter media bacteria die, you have to cycle the tank again. So keep the media healthy by removing the sponges and ceramic noodles, and placing them in a wide/shallow bowl or tub just covered with aquarium water. This should allow oxygen to diffuse into the water, and the media will fine for a couple of days like this, giving you time to replace the broken filter. It's very rare for filters to break down when brand new, but it does happen. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: unplugged tank and when restarted no water circulation 05/19/09
So, I still have no idea what happened, but in desperation I took my dog for a walk, and when I returned the air was circulating again and I was able
to add the rest of the water. Still worried, but no longer seems so emergent.
<Wouldn't accept a product that works only some of the time. If you're absolutely sure you followed the instructions (re-read them!) then take the
thing back and have the pet store replace it; you absolutely do not want the filter to die again at some inconvenient time.>
I will let the system settle and test the water, and wait for my local pet guy to call me back. Thanks for responding.
<Good luck, Neale.>

Back up generator & tank update 04/03/09
Hi Crew,
Neale, hopefully you're around to answer this UK specific query. I want to get a backup power generator for my 240L Jewel tank, and was wondering if you have any suggestions for purchasing one in the UK.
<Not really, no. Never used one.>
Also, I have a power surge protected multiple outlet extension cord. Is that equivalent to a GFI?
<I'm not an electrician, but I don't believe so. A ground fault interrupter (or residual current device) protects against imbalances between the live and neutral wires, whereas a surge protector protects against voltage spikes. I believe that many UK homes have ground fault interrupters fitted to the main household circuit anyway (in my case, they're the "trip switches" in the cupboard under the stairs) but surge protectors are usually bought specifically for things like computers.>
If not, what do you recommend?
<I'm honestly not in a place to make a recommendation here. I'd suggest talking with someone qualified or at least experienced; I'm neither.>
On another note, my 240L tank is doing very well except I chose to go with Mbuna cichlids and despite my research and advice I got from the LFS, a casualty occurred. I got 2 red zebras, 2 yellow tailed Aceis, and one yellow lab. The yellow lab, now named Satan, whom I though was the least aggressive, ate one of my Rat Pack zebra Danios!
<Ah, well, most fish will eat anything they can catch/swallow. I was pretty shocked to see my Glassfish eating Neon tetras! Labidochromis are opportunistic feeders compared to the predominantly herbivorous Mbuna, but even so, it's the nature of cichlids to "suck it and see".>
I saw a tail hanging out of Satan's mouth, had a wee cry, moved the rest of the Rat Pack into a breeding net for a few hours until I got a filter for the smaller tank into which I had already moved Speedy G (my snail), and transferred them into it when I got the filter. Everybody's ok, and water test results in both tanks are zero ammonia, zero nitrite, & 20 nitrate.
I keep making mistakes! At least the zebra died in a more natural manner and not from water poisoning. Satan was in my bad books for a while, but now I know he was just doing what he does, and he's very interesting to watch.
<Not really his fault. Also, do separate aggression from carnivory; funnily enough, most predatory fish are very peaceful towards things they can't eat, specifically because they don't want to draw attention to themselves.
In some case, uber-predators such as Needlefish and Ctenolucius characins are nervous, schooling animals that can easily be bullied by smaller but more aggressive fish! Piranhas are the classic examples, with many stories of them being hounded by things like Convict cichlids.>
He's moved every piece of gravel from underneath a piece of bogwood to make himself a nest.
At least I think Satan's a male, suppose he could be a she.
<They're quite difficult to sex; mature males should have longer dorsal fin edges at the back, and a bit more black on them, but to be honest, unless you have a bunch of them living together, telling them apart isn't easy.>
I also want to get some Star Sapphire (Scientific Name: Placidochromis sp. "Phenochilus Tanzania" ) cichlids and have ordered more yellow labs. Are those ok with my current mbunas?
<The Pseudotropheus zebra and Ps. acei wouldn't be good companions for Placidochromis, no. You'll notice that I invariably instruct newcomers to the Malawi cichlid game to avoid Pseudotropheus spp simply because they are far too aggressive. I know they're widely traded, but then, so are cigarettes: doesn't make them good for you! Placidochromis are also fairly large fish; we have a new article on them in the recent CA magazine, here:
Many thanks,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Urgent Help Needed -- 03/03/09 Dear knowledgeable folks, My living room just shorted out and there's no electricity in here right now. It's 11pm and no technicians available till tomorrow. <Ooohhh> I managed to tap another power supply to ensure the pump is still returning water into the tank from the sump. The overflow inlet from the display tank is also working fine since there is necessary displacement. <Good... circulation is most important> Question is, after the short, my PH in my FOWLR tank spiked from 8.31 - 8.5. Don't know why this is so but it's REALLY alarming. <... and methinks spurious> Is there any cause to be freaked out coz I don't seem to understand how without changing any perimeters, how there could be a PH spike - except the powerheads aren't powered now. <Don't panic...> Other equipment I have is a protein skimmer. Would my fishes be able to hold out till tomorrow at PH 8.5 <Yes... I'd do nothing here> or do I have nothing to worry about till the technician comes by? <No sense worrying> Please please help. Thanks, Bazza <Sorry to be so late responding. Was... sleeping. Bob Fenner>

Power outage overflow   2/3/09 Hello. Thank you for all the great information on your site. <Happy it has helped.> I have a question regarding power outages and sumps. I have searched my question, but have not seen exactly the solution my husband is trying to use. We are currently setting up (slowly and methodically) a 150 gal. FOWLR tank with a 50 gal. sump. That is all set, plumbed, and running. In order to prevent a flood in case of a power outage when we are not home, he wants to put a bulkhead at the top of the sump (above the normal water level) with piping running out the door, which we could easily do and hide since this set up is in a basement room. What do you think? <It will work, but will of course require the sump be topped off when the power returns. Check out http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sumpdesf8.htm too. James Gasta has a similar solution here.> (and as an aside, thank you for promoting readable messages and grammar on your site - I am an English teacher who spends her days consistently appalled by errors). <Heee, happy to hear from those who appreciate it! Scott V.>

Emergency power outage care, FW    1/29/09 Hello. I am looking for info fast. My daughter has a 55 standard gallon freshwater tank. Tested water Sat and was ok except little high phosphates. She has 1 2" angel, 3 2.5" dwarf gouramis, 2 1.5" swordtails, 1 3" catfish, 1 2" Cory and 4 1" Corys, and 9 1" Danios. The power went out at 1:15 a.m. Wed morning. I had already wrapped the tank in blankets all around, including top. Temp then was 78F. At about noon Wed I remembered a heat reflective blanket in an emergency kit and re-wrapped it with that blanket against tank. Temp at that time was 74F. We don't anticipate power for another few days (hopefully Sat). I can get hot water (scalding) from a church but car ride is about 25 minutes. Thought about floating a 2-liter of hot water. Presently am emailing from our business and will go home to check soon. How soon do I have to start worrying more about low oxygen as opposed to no heat? Last night outside was 10F and I figure house temp is around 40F. There is no source of heat in house. Cannot order battery-operated anything. Any info is appreciated. Thank you. Tina <Hello Tina. The short answer is that if tropical fish are maintained at below 15 degrees C (about 59 degrees F) they begin dying after about 24 hours. This varies from species to species, with cichlids for example being especially sensitive, but in general you need to keep them above that lethal temperature if at all possible. The Angelfish for example is a cichlid, so will be particularly sensitive. The Corydoras and the Danios should survive extended cool conditions fairly well, and to a lesser degree Swordtails will tolerate short periods of cold. Gouramis are another group of warm water specialists, and like the Angels, would be very unlikely to survive prolonged chilling. I'm not sure what a "catfish" might be (there are some 3000 species!) but assuming it's a Plec of some type, then it will tolerate cool conditions for a while, but not for more than a few days. Now, there are ways to keep an aquarium safe through a power outage. Have a read through this article: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_5/volume_5_3/power.htm While aimed at marine aquarists, the basic ideas hold for any kind of aquarium. Putting hot water into a floating container like a plastic Tupperware is certainly viable, and anything you can do to generally warm the room (e.g., lighting a gas or coal fire) will help significantly. I wouldn't add boiling water to the aquarium directly though as there's a good chance you'll scale the fish. As for the filter, I'd disconnect the filter ASAP, and put the biological media in a basin of water so that oxygen can get in. If the filter is off and connected to the aquarium, the chances are the bacteria won't have enough oxygen and will start to die within about an hour, causing a variety of problems. Not least of these problems is that dying bacteria will pollute the water, making things worse than they are. Better the filter bacteria are sitting in an open basic of water (like a bucket) just covered with water. Once the power is back on, you can re-connect the filter after putting the media back in. Cheers and good luck, Neale.>

Re: emergency power outage care  1/29/09 Thanks for the quick reply. I neglected to mention we use 2 powerheads for filtration. I guess there's no way to get the bacteria out of the tank w/o removing the gravel. The catfish is similar to Bristlenose. Would a water change help? <Undergravel filters are more resilient to this type of problem, so I wouldn't be too concerned. The filters that "die" are the ones where the bacteria are sealed up in a container, e.g., a canister filter. Water changes wouldn't be a good idea, unless the new water was warm (as well as dechlorinated). Adding fresh cold water would do more than harm than good. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: emergency power outage care  1/29/09 Just an update. All fish were still alive I think around 3:00 p.m. (at least none were floating--hard to see in the dark). Tank temp 62F; room temp 44F. Tonight's forecast low of 21F. I put in a battery op air pump, and floated 1 gal and 3 2-liters of hot water. The pastor at the church has what looks to be a 40 or so gallon poorly maintained tank with temp 68F, lots of algae, and a red-tailed shark. All this concerned me enough I didn't take in my fish--figured it would be better to "freeze" at home than get chased around by shark in dirty water. Let me know if you think differently--the trip to church only takes 15-20 minutes since those roads are fairly clear. I saw electrical workers on highway and hope to have power tomorrow. Thanks for your help--this is all very trying. Tina <Hi Tina, choosing between warmth and cleanliness is a tough call, but I will make the observation that Red-Tailed Sharks are fairly sensitive to poor water quality, so if the tank actually had dangerous amounts of ammonia or nitrite, this fish would be dead. So while it might be murky in the sense of the water being silty, it might otherwise be adequately safe for fish. On the other hand, moving fish exposes them to stress, and tanks that receive few water changes can have high levels of nitrate that the resident fish are used to, but would be high enough to shock (potentially kill) any new fish added to the tank. So it's a case of six of one, half a dozen of the other. If your tank doesn't get much colder, you might be okay, but if the water gets substantially colder (as discussed earlier on) then moving the fish to a warmer aquarium may be the lesser of two evils. Naturally, you'll need to do all the usual things involved with adjusting fish to a new tank, i.e., putting them in a bucket with some old water (about half the bucket) and then spending the next half hour or so adding water from the new tank a bit at a time. Then net the fish out and add them to the new tank. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: emergency power outage care  1/29/09 Just called our house and answering machine came on--think we have power! Will leave all blankets on tank until tomorrow to check. thanks for the help. Tina <All's well that ends well. Good luck! Neale.>

Re: emergency power outage care -- 1/30/09 HOORAY! Sorry for the caps lock, but I am shouting--they're all alive! Even the angel. Hopefully the power stays on--it was only out 44 hours. Lots of folks will be out for a couple of weeks. Thanks for the help, Neale. Tina <I'm glad everyone survived. When things calm down, perhaps you'll consider dropping us at WWM a note, explaining any tips and tricks you used. That way, others can share from your experience. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: emergency power outage care   2/2/09 Hello Neale. It's almost back to normal--2 days of uninterrupted power and phone. Since we have a freshwater tank I'm not sure how this would work for saltwater, but this is what we did. I was home when the ice storm started and knew it was probable that we would lose power (predicted 1" of ice--we got 2" with 5" snow on top). Before I went to bed I completely covered the tank with blankets, quilts and pillows. I wanted to get as much insulation as possible on all sides. The power went out around 1:00a.m. At noon I remembered a heat reflecting blanket from an emergency supply, so I uncovered the tank, put on heat-reflective blanket (sort of like thin aluminum foil) and replaced the other quilts, etc. At that time water temp had dropped 4 degrees (after 11 hours). The next day around 3:00p.m.. I put in 3 2-liter and 1 gallon plastic jugs of the hottest water I could find (floated them in the tank as heaters, not dumped it in). The temp was then 62F. I don't think this raised the temp but the fish gathered around like it was a fire place. Replaced blankets--did not feed. I also put in a battery op air pump at this time. The power came back on about 7:30 that evening, and after the room temp returned to 70F (around midnight) I took off most of the blankets--left one since it was night and I didn't want to disturb them. The power was off about 44 hours total, and the house temperature was about 42F. In hindsight, I think the biggest action that helped was putting on blankets before the temperature dropped, and not lifting them except to add hot water bottles quickly. The other most helpful thing was to communicate via internet about this problem. The folks around here were rightfully more concerned about helping people and not wanting to hear 'fish stories'. When I wrote to this web site I really didn't pay attention to the fact it was more about marine tanks, but chose it since the emails were answered daily. It was important to me that someone else who knew about fish and was outside the situation could help me think it thru. I very much appreciated the quick and supportive response from Neale. (Incidentally, I didn't look at bios until today--if I'd known how much expertise there was at this web site I may not have bothered you all with this--realized this is not really the type of questions for forum.) Anyway, I am grateful that you were gracious enough to read and respond to my questions. Thanks for the help; sorry this rambled on so long. Tina <Tina, thanks for sharing this. I'm sure it'll be useful to others. You are quite right about the fish moving towards the warm water "pockets" in the tank, that is certainly what they do. (And interestingly, scientists have observed some fish moving to unusually hot patches when they're sick, apparently so they can "run a fever" by warming up their bodies above normal.) For our part, we're happy to help with any sort of fishkeeping issue, freshwater or marine, indoor aquaria or ponds. Anyway, glad things settled down, and hope you all get some relaxation time! Cheers, Neale.>

Power Outages 1/26/09 Dear Crew, <Joe> A million thank yous for your world-class expertise and valuable time! I do love reading the daily FAQ's and feel like I learn something by doing so everyday. I also find a great deal of satisfaction when reading the 'Oops! I messed up!' posts realizing that I too, have made that same mistakes and learned from the experiences. Thanks! <Welcome!> The question: I have moved into a wonderful new house but have had brief (a few seconds) power outages almost daily. My current small system is not significantly affected. The entire neighborhood shares this problem. <Yikes...> However, a past reef system that I once had could not handle outages like these. The pump was a Quiet One and when the power would go off (even for a second) it would jam and would need to be manually 'jiggled' to resume pumping. I lost some reef life to do this. <I have had similar experiences with these pumps> I will be setting up a new system soon and am very concerned. The plan is to use an Eheim 1262 as the main pump. If I do not use a pump that is capable of restarting and pumping after an outage, the system is already doomed. Have you ever had a similar problem? Do you think that the Eheim will be able to resume pumping after a brief outage? Do you have any other suggestions regarding this situation? <Mmm, Eheims are very fail-safe in the regard of restarting after power is returned... However, I do encourage you to look into UPS (uninterruptible power supply) for your tanks, and possibly other gear (e.g. computers)... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uninterruptible_power_supply> Thank you again for your valuable suggestions! Joe W. <Again, quite welcome. Bob Fenner>

55 Gallon Reef Question, power outage input, Gobiid-Alpheid species pairing  12/29/08 Good Evening Crew, <Dean> I have a couple of questions I am hoping you can help me with. <I as well> The first one has to do with my aquarium in general. It has been setup for over a year, but a few weeks ago we lost power for five days and my backup plans were, quite frankly, inadequate as it turns out. I live in an apartment and cannot have a generator, but since my disaster have updated my plans. I now have a power inverter, additional battery operated air pumps, and quite a few hand warmer packs along with a thermal camping blanked that reflects heat. People in this area have had good success using the packs and blanket - over several days. <Thank you for this input> Unfortunately my system crashed. I have an Anthelia sp. coral left, and a few shrimp. I have a 55 gallon reef (36x18x20); 40 gallon sump, 25 gallons in two refugiums, Tek 6x39 watt T5 fixture, EuroReef RS 80 Skimmer, pH 8.3, Ca 420, Mg 1280, Alk 12 dKH. ATO with Kalk reactor. Eheim 1260 return pump and 2 Koralia 3 pumps on a controller. Six inch DSB and 70 pounds live rock. If I ever get past the Dinoflagellates and Cyano breakout in the tank, which is only getting worse with five 15-20 gallon water changes over the past two weeks (the refugiums are pristine), I will be restocking. One of my survivors is a pistol shrimp. I have not identified the species yet, and he is too reclusive to let me snap a picture so far. After reading your FAQs, is my understanding correct that I am unlikely to successfully pair a watchman up with my shrimp? Is any species more likely to pair than another? <Mmm, well... many species will/do match up with Cryptocentrus et al. "watchmen" genera in captivity... that aren't found together in the wild...> My second question is about a watchman goby and a Jawfish sharing the same tank. There is some ambiguity in the FAQs as to whether Jawfish and watchman can cohabitate. <If there's room... can be done> Some replies say it is possible, some say it can be problematical as they are both benthic feeders and may see the other as competition. If you can clarify this point it would be great, Also, do you see an issue between a Jawfish and the pistol shrimp? <Is a possibility... but, again, if the space is large... a few square feet per each> When I do begin to restock, the Jawfish/watchman will go in first and be allowed to settle down alone. My plan is to add a purple Firefish, a fairy wrasse, maybe a pair of cardinals, maybe a pair ocellaris clowns. And corals. Is this a reasonable mix? <Mmm, yes> Thanks, and Happy New Year to everyone on the Crew Dean <Thank you Dean. To all the planet I say, let's move forward... put emphasis where emphasis lies. Bob Fenner>

Electrical Failure (RMF, alternative thoughts?) 12/16/08 Over the weekend we lost power. We currently have a 29 gallon tank that had 4 small angelfish, 3 cherry barbs, 3 white skirt tetras, that all died in the power loss. The only survivors are 2 ACF's. My question pertains to my handling of the disaster. I fear I may have inadvertently made the situation worse. The next door neighbor had a generator so intermittently throughout the weekend power was restored and then lost again. I would say the power would be off for about 4-6 hours then come back on for 8-10 hours then shut back off again. Did the filter poison the water because it sat and then ran into the tank when the power came back on? I have owned fish for a long time and this is by far the greatest loss I have encountered. It did get cold but with the intermittent power was that worse than just letting the tank sit, or manually stirring the water? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Ivy <Hello Ivy. In theory, biological filters begin to die within, say, an hour of the water flow stopping. It depends on various factors, and external canister filters (which are effectively isolated from any oxygen except the water flow) are the most sensitive. Filters that sit inside the aquarium, such as air-powered bubble-up box filters aren't nearly so sensitive, because the filter media usually gets at least some oxygen from the aquarium water. Anyway, if a filter dies, and then is switched on, in theory at least any decaying "stuff" in the filter will use up oxygen at a ravenous rate, potentially causing water quality problems. While some filter bacteria will be in a dormant state, and should swing into life within hours or days at most, the dead bacteria could indeed be absorbing a lot of oxygen and releasing ammonia as they decay. When I switch off canister filters for long periods, I prefer to remove the biological media and place in a basin, just covered with enough water to stay wet. Oxygen from the atmosphere can diffuse in, and the bacteria stay happy. Every time I've worked this way, I've been able to re-establish filtration hours or even a day later without problems. As far as fish go, do read over the article in this month's Conscientious Aquarist about handling power cuts; while aimed at marine aquarists, the basic ideas hold true for freshwater fishkeepers too. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_5/volume_5_3/power.htm If all else fails, treat the fish as you would for shipping: place small numbers in large buckets, with enough water for swimming but also lots of air; cover with insulation (towels work great) and if possible raise the heating of your home to at least 18 C (68 F) -- this is acceptable to most tropical community fish for several days. Cheers, Neale.> <<No further input from me Neale... but a comment that the most recent issue/articles in/of CA ARE timely indeed. BobF>>

The Ice Storm came....power out in reef 12/17/08 Hi Wet Webbies, <A new one to me!> Well we were one of many without power for days here in New England in winter. No generator. We'll be getting one. Anyway, we saved our two clowns by moving them on the first day to a home with power, but they're in a 5 g bucket with its own heater and pump. We have done partial water swaps for the fish a few times since this started. The rest of the tank is now cycling. <Not a fun road to go down.> Background: 55 gallon, two clowns, a few corals, a crew of snails and crabs. And lots of live rock. All that now remains alive are the two clowns. Yesterday we took out all the dead stuff and did a 20g swap. We do have an ammonia rise and no nitrates at present. So it appears to be early on. <Yes.> My concern is we probably can't keep the fish in the temporary quarters for long, or can we if we keep changing out their water? <They will be fine with water changes when needed, much like a quarantine tank. But if you have a friend with a tank that may be able to host these guys for a while it will make life easier for you and less stressful for the fish.> How often should we do water swaps on the real tank? <You will have to treat this just as if you were curing the rock, it is basically what you are doing here. See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i3/Live_Rock/live_rock.htm How much life is left on the rock depends, you may end up wanting to get a few pieces of new rock to reestablish some diversity.> Did we lose all our bacteria? <Undoubtedly not all.> Also our ph is a little out of whack (7.4) but we should tackle that after the main cycle, yes? <It is so low due to the die-off/curing going on now. The steps you follow while curing will solve the PH too; water changes, aeration.> I am not sure what it was before this happened, but the corals (open brain, frogspawn, and xenia) were doing pretty well. The open brain in particular was enormous... a sad loss. <Too bad.> suggestions are appreciated. Thanks! <Welcome, Scott V.>

Re: Electrical Failure (RMF, alternative thoughts?)   12/17/08 Hi Bob -- Thanks for this. Would certainly suggest putting a copy of the linked article in the FW and Brack sections, as well as the Marine section. Would imagine that this article will be of invaluable service to many readers, whatever fish they're keeping. Cheers, Neale <Ahh, thank you for this note... Thought I had done this, but will check... Is part of my routine when adding summat of extant linked files (below) on CA articles. Cheers, BobF>

Recovery Question(s), power outage    12/15/08 Good evening crew, <Dean> Well, not such a good week, compliments of our recent ice storm. We were out of power from Thursday to late Sunday afternoon. Those battery powered air pumps are great; unfortunately I could not manage to keep the tank warm enough as it never got above 20 outside. The UPS lasted only so long. The tank got down to 54 degrees this afternoon before the power came back on. It is up to 70 degrees now. <Brrrr!> My system is: 55 gallon (36x18x20), 60 pounds live rock, 5" DSB, 45 gallon sump with built in 10 gallon refugium, second 15 gallon refugium plumbed to sump, 2x200 watt heaters, Osmolator with Nilsen (Kalk) reactor for ATO, Tek 6x39 watt T5 light fixture, Eheim 1260 or 1262 (can't remember which) return pump, 2x Koralia 3 powerheads on Koralia controller for waves. The fish - pair of common clowns, lawnmower blenny, pair of Firefish, did not make it. My yellow watchman is still unaccounted for, but I am not hopeful. A surprising number of inverts are still with me. A few snails were partially out of their shell, and are now fixed to the glass. At least two (of four) peppermint shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni) made it. The corals look amazingly good. The Anthelia was all extended and limp, but the polyps have withdrawn. Two Sinularias look okay; one Sinularia looked like it was melting and got pulled (and it smelled bad). One tiny and unidentified leather hitchhiker looks ok. By looks okay, I mean they appear about the same as they do when stressed, and have exhibited change in amount of deflation since tank started back up. First question, my instinct is to leave them alone, correct? <Yes... this is what I would do also> I have added a Polyfilter to my sump in addition to the GAC normally there. I am preparing a large water change (20 gallons). Any other measures that I should be taking? <Mmm, simply to be watchful... I'd pre-mix, store a good volume of new seawater... just in case> My skimmer (forgot to mention that) is a Euro Reef RS80, and has been very finicky today, which I attribute to the different water density due to temperature. Now comes my main question. I know I am about to go through a cycle in my tank. Should I consider upgrading my skimmer? <I would not at this point/juncture> My RS 80 would then go to my frag/QT system. I am concerned about a die off and keeping water clean. I was thinking an AquaC EV-120 or something similar. What are your thoughts? <Stick with the EuroReef for now> I am keeping my refugium lights on there normal RDP schedule. Should I reduce the main lighting? <I would not change this either> Like I mentioned, I expect a cycle and to go through normal algae succession. Anything else I should expect? Any advice on how to help my system recover? How long will this take? <Perhaps an ongoing die-off for a while... again, stick with your regular routine, and leave the GAC, Polyfilter in place> Sorry if it's a lot of questions. I have never been through something like this. Well, in 1971 with that ice storm, but most of my guppies pulled though. Thanks for your help dean <Steady on my friend. Bob Fenner>

Dazed and confused, Power Outage Recovery 9/17/08 Hello Fish guys and gals, <Hi> We have a 40 gal saltwater tank. No live rock, 5 fish, 2 clowns, 1 blue tang 1 blenny, <What type of blenny, and the tang will need a much larger tank.> power went off, no filtration etc for about 10 hours, I know I know should have had a back up generator, IKE winds hit Ohio with lost power everywhere. Since we powered back up, 40 hours ago, fish are swimming wildly, not eating, acting very strange. checked levels all fine, what do we do, just wait it out, what could be wrong now. <What is fine? I bet there is some water quality issues here.> Thanks, Jan J. <I would be doing frequent water changes here, chances are your biofilter took a hit and is effecting the livestock.> <Chris>

Power Outage, Recovery 9/17/08 Dear WWM crew: <Hello> We've recently gone through a 24 hour power outage in Pittsburgh, PA (won't complain too much given the situation in Texas). <Familiar, we got crazy rain here in Chicago, thought about taking the fish for a walk.> I do not have a generator and therefore resorted to "manual" methods for preserving the 4 marine aquariums (predominantly fish only) in my home. In short, I poured tank water over the biological filter media in my sumps every 1-2 hours and siphoned 20% of the tank water into buckets with sealed bags containing hot water every 3-4 hours (quickly returning the water back to the aquarium). <Nice procedures.> In the process of siphoning, I also tried to disrupt/mix the upper layers of tank substrates in order to facilitate circulation (and hopefully promote oxygenation with the siphoned/aerated water). Somewhat miraculously, all of the fish (and even a banded coral shrimp) have survived without obvious ill effect, and I have slowly resumed feeding the aquarium inhabitants. <Good, due to your hard work for sure.> Of course, I will closely monitor water parameters over the next several weeks, but my question is whether supplementation with any of the purported bacterial additives will help to restore some of the biological filtration capacity undoubtedly lost during the power outage. <None of the dry ones are worth anything in my opinion, and I think I heard Bio-Spira Marine has been discontinued which did work. Basically if you can find a similar product to this (wet and refrigerated) it may be worth using, otherwise just monitor the water quality and do changes as necessary.> Alternatively, do you simply recommend frequent water changes in advance of possible ammonia and/or nitrite surges? <This is what I would do.> Thanks for your input, Dana <Welcome> <Chris>

Re: Power Outage, Recovery 9/17/08 Chris, <Hi> Thanks for your prompt response--guess that I will be busy over the next couple of weeks. Dana <I think the biofilter will bounce back quicker than you expect, hopefully just a few days.> <Chris>

Vacation - Power Failure - Nuclear Holocaust -- 09/14/08 Dear Crew, <<Hello Andy>> I hope everyone had a good weekend. <<Always have good weekends mate>> I returned yesterday from a week's vacation at the beach to find that something tripped my circuit breaker while I was away, killing every living creature in my 90 gallon reef tank. <<Ugh, very sorry to hear 'and I can very much relate, as I experienced something similar myself a bit more than a year ago>> I'm talking nuclear holocaust. <<Yes'¦>> I can tell from the decomposition of my fish (and the smell in my basement) that this outage happened early in the week. I lost 5 fish and 20 or so SPS and other corals. I don't even want to think of the money I've lost '¦ <<Mmm, indeed'¦ Mine is a 375g display 'trust me 'I can relate>> I have my theories on why the circuit tripped, none of which is system related, but that's water under the bridge at this point. <<Yes, but what are you doing to prevent a similar mishap in the future? In my case 'I now have two sump-return pumps running on 'two separate circuits'>> I guess from now on I'll be hiring a neighbor to check in on my tank every few days. <<Always a good practice; but as in my case, a power loss overnight (about 10 hours, actually) is all it takes in some instances 'best to have someone check on the system and feed the fish daily>> Anyway, I have some questions about how to proceed. <<Okay>> My ammonia reads 0.25 ppm, and my nitrites are pretty low (can't remember the number) as are my nitrates (1.0 ppm). The tank is new but old--my 110g sprung a leak about 3 or 4 weeks ago so I transferred everything to a new 90 gallon reef ready. My 110g had been set up for about 14 months before the leak. I got as many/much of the decomposing animals out as I could, and trashed all my coral skeletons. I also siphoned the substrate to remove as much detritus, fish mess, dead worms, pods, etc. as I could. <<Excellent>> I did a 50% water change last night when I got home (that was all he water I had on hand last night) just to get the smell out of the house. The water is finally starting to clear up. <<I would do one or two more 50% water changes>> I'm running my AquaC EV-180 and it's pulling tons and tons of black skimmate, and I've also placed about 1.5 cups of carbon in my media reactor. <<Very good 'though be aware the carbon will be 'used up' in hours to days and require replacement>> I realize that I have 100 lbs of uncured live rock and 30 lbs of uncured aragonite at this point, so I need to let this tank run a complete cycle. <<Indeed>> I've always bought fully cured LR from the LFS, so I've never had to cure uncured live rock, much less in a tank. <<Not a big deal and not uncommon'¦.but patience is key right now>> Interestingly/fortunately, my fuge seems to have done alright, and my Chaeto is still alive and very green. <<Ah, fortunate indeed>> I believe my fuge does have some live snails, etc., so I'm hoping that some pods/worms survived in the fuge. <<Possibly so>> 1. Should I continue to do water changes, or leave it as is so that the tank can re-cycle? I was thinking of doing a 75% change tonight. My thinking was that maybe there's a chance that not everything is dead, like in my fuge. Maybe there is some bacteria, pods and some worms that made it that I don't see, and my thought was that I should get as much ammonia out of the water to give these things a fighting chance. My hesitation, however, is that I might prolong the cycle if I remove all the ammonia. <<Prolonging the 'cycle' is of small consequence right now 'go with your gut and do the water change in my opinion>> 2. What's your recommendation on restocking my tank with worms and pods? <<A cup or two of substrate from your LFS/other hobbyist's tanks will be a good start>> I guess the pods are easy--I can just buy a bunch from an on-line vendor, but it's the other stuff that normally comes with rock that I'm worried about. I am not about to throw out 100lbs of premium rock and replace it with new rock just to get pods/worms/etc. I was thinking of asking my LFS if I could scrape the bottom of their LR tanks to get some of the grunge and put it in my sump. <<A good strategy 'or maybe just exchange a 'few pounds' of rock in the display with new rock to re-seed the tank>> 3. Is there anything else you would do to the tank that I haven't thought of above? <<It seems you have it well in hand 'naught to do at this point but wait and let the tank find its 'balance' again>> When this thing settles and my param.s are stable, I've decided that I'm going to run it fishless for a good 4-6 months to get a nice pod population and to just let things stabilize. <<This is a very good thing 'you will definitely benefit in the long term>> I didn't have a heavy bioload to begin with, but still'¦ As always, thanks for your valued insight/help. Andy <<Sorry to realize your loss 'please do let us know how things progress. Regards, EricR>>

Re: Vacation - Power Failure - Nuclear Holocaust -- 09/15/08 Thanks for the help, Eric. <<Quite welcome, Andy>> This was a big blow. <<I have no doubt>> I had worked very hard on this tank and felt very good about my accomplishments. <<Indeed 'I seem to recall seeing some of your exchanges/discussions with the Crew re>> I had some really nice SPS that I "raised" from small frags--they were starting to encrust all over my live rock and things were really looking good. <<Mmm'¦been there mate'¦>> My wife said, "Are you sure you want to go through this again?" ;-p <<At least is was in the form of a question [grin]>> I did a 50% water change last night and will do another 50% water change in a few days. <<Very good 'and at which point I would 'sit back and watch' for a while 'save some periodic water testing/chemical media replacement>> My skimmer is still pulling some serious skimmate, but at least it's not black anymore (I've seen dark skimmate in my time, but nothing like the jet black stuff that I've seen the last few days). <<And a fine editorial to the use/versatility of this fine piece of ancillary filtration gear>> The tank water no longer smells like ceviche gone bad, so that's good, and the substrate is about as clean as I can get it. <<Will do fine for now I'm sure>> I'll replace the carbon every few days. <<If/when the tank smells okay, you might want to just leave this out while it cycles 'no need to waste the money/carbon re>> One follow up question--I know it's hard to answer, but I have a really, really nice piece of Pipe Organ (red). It has not disintegrated like my SPS and LPS. Rather, each polyp is closed up, although some of the polyps are hanging out of the "stem". <<Mmm'¦>> I smelled the coral and it doesn't smell totally rotten but it doesn't smell "clean and fresh" either. Given that every single one of my corals other than 3 Duncan polyps died, do you think I should just chuck this Pipe Organ or keep it in the tank and cross my fingers. <<If you like/want it, I would leave it for now until it either recovers, or it becomes very evident that it is dead/decomposing>> It's pretty big--probably 8" long by 3-4" wide--so if it's dead, I'm sure it's a nice pollutant. <<But a small risk at this stage 'considering>> I don't know what I'm going to do about my circuits, as my house was built in 1930 and really wasn't wired with an aquarium in mind. <<Ah yes'¦or even just the 'load' of modern living. Have you considered having an electrician add a sub-panel to service the tank/your hobby>> There are two circuits in my basement, and the plugs for second one are pretty distant from my tank. I think my best short-term option is to have someone check on the tank every day the next time I go away (which, luckily, isn't any time soon). <<Agreed, but if you plan to stay/expand in the hobby 'perhaps at least a consultation from a licensed electrician is in order>> Once my ammonia comes down a bit, I'm going to pick up about 10 lbs of cured live rock and add it to my system. <<Excellent>> I could use a little bit anyway, and I figure this will give my tank a boost of pods, especially if I'm going to leave the tank fishless for a while. <<I very much agree>> If there is any happiness in all of this, my 30 gallon cube was not nuked completely. The mushrooms I had in the tank disintegrated and my Pistol Shrimp and Lawnmower Blenny died, but somehow my Yellow Watchman Goby, my Open Brain and my Duncans are alive and well. The tank's ammonia and nitrite both read 0, and the nitrate is only slightly higher than normal. I'll keep you posted once things are stable and running again. <<Please do>> Thanks again. Andy <<Happy to share my friend. Eric Russell>>

R2: Vacation - Power Failure - Nuclear Holocaust -- 09/20/08 Hey Eric! <<Hiya Andy>> A quick follow-up question for you if you don't mind. <<Not at all>> So, my tank has been running 1 week since the holocaust and cleanup, and my once beautiful coralline covered live rock and substrate are now starting to be covered by diatoms--the usual new tank process. <<Indeed>> My ammonia, nitrite and nitrate all read 0 and have been that way for a good 4 or 5 days. Yesterday, just to test the waters (no pun intended), I added 6 blue legged hermits and 6 snails, plus a 5 lb piece of fully cured live rock. <<Ah, okay 'should help>> I figured, let's just see what happens. Well, they are all alive today and moving around, the snails are eating the diatoms, and my param.s remain unchanged. <<Good>> Do you think it would be safe to add some more hermits and snails? <<I do>> I would like something in there to clean up the remaining carnage--the dead bristle worms, hermit bodies, etc. that I wasn't able to siphon out, and I know that 6 blue legged hermits aren't going to get the job done. <<Mmm, perhaps another dozen of each then>> I don't think adding these would add much bioload. <<Agreed>> Your thoughts are appreciated. Andy <<You have them, mate. Stick to your plan to remain fishless for now/the next few months and this tank should recover just fine. Cheers, EricR>>

R3: Vacation - Power Failure - Nuclear Holocaust -- 09/25/08 Howdy Neale. <<Hee-hee! I think you have me confused with another query maybe, Andy 'this is Eric>> Thanks for your earlier reply. <<Quite welcome (I think [grin])>> I did buy 12 more hermits and snails. However, I need to bug you yet again. <<No worries mate, fire away>> When my tank crashed, I am guessing that the lights were out for at least 5 days and maybe a full week. <<Okay>> I don't know what effect this had on my coralline algae. <<Obviously, there are weather induced periods of extended darkness/reduced light in tropical regions 'I think the loss of water circulation, filtration, and subsequent buildup of decomposing matter likely did more harm in this instance>> I also don't know what effect the massive ammonia buildup had on my coralline algae. <<It had some deleterious effect, for sure 'but this will probably bounce back rather quickly>> My rocks are still covered with coralline, and I believe my glass has some new spots of coralline, so I'm hoping/guessing that the coralline survived. <<So it would seem 'at least enough to re-seed the tank>> Given this fact, I have decided to run my halides and actinics to ensure that the coralline continues to survive. <<I think this is fine 'this also affects other biological processes, some that will help to speed the tank to recovery, some you just have to deal with as part of re-cycling the tank (algal succession)>> However, and this is a big however, since I started running my halides (two 14,000K x 250W), my rocks--which were once pristine--are starting to sprout all sorts of green algae, including hair algae, Bryopsis--which I NEVER had in 14 months--and some other kind of green algae that is light green and 'stalky.' <<Not surprising really'¦ The tank crash has swung the balance in favor of these algae. But no need to panic 'your plan to remain fishless for a few months should give the system time to process out the nuisance alga>> Maybe it's because I have no Tangs to eat this, but this is not making me happy. <<There's no guarantee the Tangs would eat it. I can sense you're wavering here, but I think you'll be fine if you just stand by your original decision and let the tank find its balance again before restocking. The nuisance algae will cycle out faster without the added burden/organic load of piscine inhabitants, in my opinion>> I'm not feeding this tank, and my 30g fuge is doing well/Chaeto is growing. <<This is a time for patience>> What gives? Why would I have Bryopsis given that I never saw one ounce of it since my tank has been up and running? <<It has always been there, and among other factors, was probably kept in check by a healthy population of micro- and macro-organisms since wiped out (or at least seriously depleted) by the tank crash. Conditions before the crash did not favor the nuisance algae 'but now they do 'and it will take time for the system to re-tip that scale>> Should I worry about my Coralline Algae, or should I just cut off the lights completely (or just the halides) until I'm sure the tank has stabilized (2 or 3 more weeks) and I start to add some SPS back in? <<It is my opinion that the algae will only return once the lights come back on again. It's up to you, but were this me I would put the lights on a normal schedule and let the tank continue to cycle/process the algae'¦heck, at this point it is actually working for you to help process excess nitrogenous compounds as well as providing forage and shelter to bolster the aforementioned beneficial micro- and macro-fauna>> Your guidance is much appreciated. Andy <<Always happy to share. Eric Russell>>

R4: Vacation - Power Failure - Nuclear Holocaust, and Aplysia sel. -- 09/26/08 Doh! Sorry, Eric. I was reading a post by Neale and I guess his name was in my head. <<LOL! He writes some informative and memorable posts for sure 'I should be flattered to be confused with... No worries Andy!>> Thanks for your help (again). <<Always welcome, mate>> I am not wavering--I am committed to going fishless for 4-6 months. <<Great!>> I was looking in my sump and tank this morning and saw lots of pods crawling around, so I am very happy. <<These will recover quite quickly with the improved conditions. And I know you said you were not feeding the tank, but these critters (mainly Amphipods and Mysids) are very predaceous, to the point of eating their own. I have found that a few shrimp pellets every day or two tossed in to the sump and refugium can go a long way towards boosting populations>> I also opened up my fuge to take a look and boy oh boy has my Chaeto grown since the crash. <<Ah'¦no doubt>> My 30g fuge was jam-packed, side to side, top to bottom, with Chaeto. I thinned it out by about half (I usually trade this to my LFS for store credit, but they are such a pain to deal with . . ..,I just decided to chuck it). <<Excellent 'but too bad about your LFS'¦some folks are just short-sighted>> I set my light cycle at 6 hours for the MH and 8 hours for the actinics (usually I run 9 hours and 11 hours, respectively). <<I see no reason not to go back to your normal schedule'¦is closer to a 'normal' tropical cycle too>> The Astraea Snails I added are doing a good job of eating the algae that's accumulated on the glass. I was thinking of adding a Caribbean Sea Hare to this mix, as I have had good success with them in the past. <<Mmm, okay'¦then perhaps you already know to be cautious of getting a 'temperate' species'¦often sold as 'tropical'>> My skimmer is still pulling a decent amount of skimmate, so clearly dissolved organics remain. <<Don't ya just love skimmers!>> Take care. Andy <<And you my friend. Be chatting, Eric Russell'¦(not Neale [big grin]) >>

R5: Vacation - Power Failure - Nuclear Holocaust -- 09/26/08 Eric-- <<Andy>> I want the entire FAQ's for today to have the heading "Vacation - Power Failure - Nuclear Holocaust", so I'm going to respond to you yet again ;-). <<Ha! We're well on our way!>> Actually, I believe it was you who taught me long ago to feed my fuge/sump with shrimp pellets, and I have been doing that since you taught me and since the crash (what I meant by not feeding the tank was, I'm obviously not doing what I normally would if there were fish/coral in the tank). <<Ah! Excellent>> I am well aware of the problems with the sale of sea hares. I have read such warnings here and in Calfo's/Fenner's Reef Invertebrates. <<Indeed>> The Caribbean ones are easy to distinguish from Aplysia californica, which unfortunately is what most of my LFS sell. <<And many others>> Whenever I see them on display, I make it a point to tell the owner that he/she shouldn't be selling Aplysia californica to anyone that doesn't have a temperate tank--they look at me like I'm speaking a foreign language. <<Not uncommon, I assure you>> I even had one self-professed expert LFS owner say "Really? They come from California?" <<dismal'¦>> Sadly, one of the more reputable vendors, That Fish Place, sells them and notes in their specifications that they come from the Indo-Pacific, which is clearly false. <<Perhaps you could send them a note re>> As I'm sure you know, the Caribbean varieties aren't as big or interesting looking, but that's no reason to buy them. << The Sea Slug Forum states that Aplysia californica has been reported to reach more than 30' in length! Aplysia morio can grow to about 18' though I don't think it is a regular in the trade'¦the smaller species you refer to is probably Aplysia dactylomela which grows to about 6' and is a much more appropriate species for reef aquaria use>> I will put my lights back up to a normal schedule and let the greening of the tank continue! <<Enjoy the adventure!>> Thanks again. Andy <<Cheers mate. EricR>>

That time again! (Storm Prep 'Generator Run-Time) -- 08/05/08 This is a spur of the moment email, there isn't a ton of info on it yet and I think it's a good topic for aquarists in our region. <<Indeed>> It looks as if we're going to take a direct hit from this storm in the Gulf of Mexico, currently Tropical Storm Eduoard (sp). There is a pretty decent chance it makes a Cat-1 before landfall here in the Houston area, and while that's not a big one, we're likely to have some power outages. <<Mmm, yes'¦a certainty I'm sure'¦have you read here? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/poweroutagefaqs.htm >> Family is always first concern, but it's hard not to think about the hobby I've invested a ton of money into in the last two years. <<Agreed'¦and it is also our responsibility to see to the needs of our 'wet pets' just like any other during these times. I live on the East Coast and I too have a very large hobby investment'¦$700 for a 5.5K generator seemed like a small expense considering>> I wondered if you might give some thoughts or ideas again on preserving livestock in what could be a few days with no power and rather high heat. <<Hmmm'¦the obvious'¦a generator>> I have a generator, <<Ah!>> a 5k one, <<More than sufficient'¦ This size should be able to run the sump pump to keep the tank fresh, as well as the skimmer if you wish, and still provide power for some fans, a light or two, and even the refrigerator>> but in the interests of preserving fuel in a worst case scenario, I can't plan on dedicating it to the tank continuously. <<The tank will require a very small drain on power. Simply running just the sump pump will sustain the system over the short-term. You could even use/rig-up a 'smaller than normal' pump to circulate water between the sump and tank to reduce the current draw even more>> While we do keep spare gas on hand, it has limited run time. <<If you have a place to keep it, I advise a three-day supply. But unless this storm becomes much worse, I think it likely there will be places to purchase gas available>> (Also, we have plenty of beer, too, and that must be kept cold). <<Ha-ha, indeed!>> I've had my wife save 2 liter coke bottles to fill and freeze, so that maybe I can put them in the sump to try and cool the water. <<A good strategy'¦as long as they last>> I won't be running any lights on the tank at all to avoid unnecessary heat. <<Very good>> I can run the filters some. The bio media in the wet/dry will be toast, I'm afraid, but I've got plenty of live rock so I'm not too worried about bio filtration. <<Oxygen depletion (your biggest danger) will malaffect all>> How often/long (cycles) would you suggest is the minimum for maintaining the tank? <<If you simply can't run the generator on a continuous basis then I would start with an hour-on/hour-off cycle and make adjustments (if needed) based on the reaction/condition of the livestock>> What do you think the maximum temperature the tank can be to sustain the life (fish, LR)? <<A gradual rise to 85F has proven acceptable in my experience. And though it depends on the individual system, much above this for any length of time will likely start to have deleterious effect>> Are there any other ideas that you can think of? <<In your situation, running the generator to power the circulation pump (even on a punctuated basis) to keep gas transfer and oxygen levels up, and a small fan for evaporative cooling, is about as good as you can do>> Kind of general, I know, but any thoughts are appreciated. I've been here 6 years without having to deal with a hurricane (though we've had a few threats), but doubtful we can avoid this one. Thomas Roach <<Watching the news it appears the storm made landfall about an hour ago. I wish you and your fellow hobbyists luck. Eric Russell>>

Re: That time again! (Storm Prep'¦Generator Run-Time) -- 08/05/08 Yes, and it turned a tad north, too, which was good. <<Yes'¦dodged the proverbial 'bullet'>> Plus it gained some speed in the night which didn't allow it to strengthen, also good. <<Indeed>> I did read that link on FAQ as well as my similar question last year, however your answers were much more specific and very helpful. <<Ahhh'¦I'm pleased to know>> Fortunately I don't need to use it this time, but it will now be there for next time! <<Keep those fingers crossed!>> Best of care! Thomas <<And to you, mate. EricR>>

Generator/Battery Backup System 5/10/08 Hello Everyone, <Hello Shannon.> I'm hoping all you fine folks can give me some advice on a generator/battery backup idea that I have. <Surely can.> I'm getting all my equipment together for my future 150 gallon tank, which will be a future LPS and fish tank. I've been researching my options for power outage protection, as I definitely don't want to lose any lives in my tank. <This is a very overlooked, very valid concern.> Fortunately where I live the power has never gone out for more than three hours, but I'd still want peace of mind. <You would hate to lose your livestock due to the once every 50 years storm that may take days to restore power.> When the electrician came to install a GFI outlet for my tank I asked him about a portable generator, and since I live in a townhouse and noise is an issue, he recommended a small Honda portable generator, so I'm able to run my system pump and Tunze pumps for circulation. <The Honda is hands down the one to use when noise is a concern. These units are very common here in California where noise laws abound everywhere you turn.> I'm planning on buying one of these, but then I'd have to plug everything in, run outside and turn on the generator. That's fine if I'm home, but I'm concerned about the power going out in the middle of the night while I'm asleep or away at work. <This is the problem, a generator is good for longer term outages, but you do have to be there unless you are in a situation to have it wired into your circuitry and have it automatically switch over. In a townhouse you likely do not fall into this category.> Then while browsing the internet I came across this: http://www.jehmco.com/html/battery_backup_system.html This got me interested. I was thinking of getting one of these to use for those situations mentioned above, so it will turn on automatically, while keeping the portable generator for when I'm home and if the power goes out for an extended length of time. <Sounds like a good plan.> What do you guys think of this? Is it a good idea? Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated. <I have built a few systems that work exactly as this one does through the years. I have even considered marketing the unit, it is nice to see someone else has fulfilled this need. It indeed is the answer to your problem.> Sincerely, Shannon O'Rourke <Have fun with the new setup, Scott V.>

About power outage   3/12/08 hi again there will be a power outage for 4 hours on Thursday here does this going to kill any of my stock from the salt water tank? <Quite possibly.> in 2003 We have a 48 gallon freshwater aquarium, and there was a 18 hours power failure, at the time it was all the bottom tankmates died such as Pleco, and Corys, crown loach, and some cichlids, but Gourami never died. <Gouramis are air-breathers, so are generally able to tolerate bad water conditions for longer periods than most other fish. In any case, after about 30-60 minutes lack of water flow through canister filters especially will allow the bacteria to die. This causes problems with ammonia. So even if the fish tolerate the cold and the lack of water movement, the ammonia can still kill them.> This time will have a 4 hours power outages, does the fish can handle 4 hours without oxygen in water?, or do I need to do something? <You need to do something.> I don't have a kw power generator ready at home, or have any battery pump <Then you have a problem. I can't speak with authority for marine aquaria, but for a freshwater tank, removing livestock so that they are placed in multiple, lightly-stocked 5 gallon buckets helps. Regularly change the water in those buckets. Keep a lid on them though to stop fish jumping out! Disconnect canister filters and place the biological media in open basins so they are kept submerged but close to the surface of the water. This lets the bacteria breathe. Use towels and other insulators to keep buckets and basins warm if the room temperature is much below 18 degrees C. Using this method, I've maintained freshwater livestock for multiple days without losses.> Peter <Cheers, Neale.> <<The span of time for the marines should be tolerable... with proviso for any sealed filtration. Read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/poweroutagefaqs.htm Bob Fenner>>

Re: About power outage (RMF, please comment if required)  3/14/08 hi Thanks for the detail <Welcome> It was a 7 hours power outage from 9am to 4pm. I had been watch at my tanks, every few minutes. I net the fish out to a bucket, and filled with the tank water, and added some new water. I use the baster to pump some air to water every 10mins to keep the water oxygenated. I didn't have anything lost after the long power outage on that day :) I have some snails in the tank I didn't take them out, and they are still alive. <Ah, good... Appears that temperature et al. changes were not too great... Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Prolonged power outage and low water temp 03/11/2008 Dear Crew, <<G'Morning, Andrew today>> I have experienced a power outage that lasted almost 20 hours. During the outage the water temperature dropped to 61 degrees. The tank is a 70 gallon and has a 20 gallon sump. I have about 90# of rock and a 6"deep sand bed a few corals and 5 fish. During the outage I twice changed out 5 gallons of water. The power has finally come back on.  Aside for removing any dead creatures I am not sure what my next move should be. <<Checking water parameters, water change as per the outcome of the parameter checks>> What affect does the loss of circulation and temperature have on the bacteria in a tank?? Is this tank going to cycle again? What affect does the above have on the deep sand bed? <<Has anything died? Depending on the hardiness of the stock in the tank, you could get away with hopefully no disastrous effects>> Any insights and advice would surely be appreciated. Thank you. Josh <<Thanks, hope this helps. A Nixon>>

Recovering from catastrophic power loss-12/22/2007 Hello, <Deb> Up until a few days ago, I had a 9 year old 55 gallon indo-pacific soft coral reef tank with a coral beauty, a yellow-tailed blue damsel, and many small hermit crabs and various snails as a cleanup crew. My softies consisted of yellow polyps, green star polyps, orange Ricordea, orange zoanthids, clove polyps, a mushroom leather and various other little critters that popped up out of my live rock. On Sunday morning, we lost power and didn't get it restored until Thursday. Disaster should've been averted, as I have a 20,000 Watt generator at my house, but it was never installed correctly and never came on. The house got down to 40 degrees for about 4 days, with nothing in the tank running. So, long story short, I came back to a dead tank. I started breaking it down yesterday and found that, in fact, some of the hermit crabs were actually alive! In addition, my yellow polyps are not extended, but aren't melting down either. They're staying "upright" as it were, so I think that they may be alive as well. So -- I disconnected my canister filter, completely cleaned it out, packed it with new media, including activated carbon, and hooked it back up. <Good> I have a SCWD system running in there for water movement, and I'm skimming the HECK out of it with a CPR BakPak. I've found and removed the only two fish in the tank, as well as all of the dead snails/crabs that I've found. I also did a 60% water change. My question to you is -- now what??? <Time going by> Is it even reasonable to think that I can rescue this tank? <Some of it, yes> If so, what steps do you recommend? <Observation, testing... possible water change-outs...> I'm making more RO/DI water as we speak and intend on doing a series of 50% water changes until it DOESN'T smell like the bay at low tide. I'm also going to continue removing any dead occupants as I find them and skimming the heck out if this tank. <Sounds good> Should I just return what's alive to a fish store and give up on this, or is there hope? <There is always... or should I state, there could always be hope> Should I try to remove any dead corals or let them disintegrate into the system. Will the cycling that's bound to take place destroy the other corals? <Mmm... I would hold out hope that some/all of the "corals" might have some living tissue that might rally...> Thanks for any advice you can give. Deb <Hang in there. Bob Fenner>

A HUGE thank you! (power outages)   12/11/07 Here in Oklahoma this weekend we're officially going through "the biggest power outage in Oklahoma history" according to the power company's special announcements on the news. Tens of thousands of homes are without power due to a major ice storm that is still hitting us pretty hard. I'm in a rural area & it's worse out here. Over the past 6 months I've read WWM 'cover to cover' in setting up my new bigger tanks. But now I've got three 6 ft tanks with several 4 ft tanks with quite a few carefully selected, loved & diligently quarantined fish, these fish have become a real part of the family. I read the 'power outage' section of WWM many times and my heart went out to all the people who'd lost entire long time tanks full of beloved fish due to power outages. BECAUSE of that we purchased a 7000kw Guardian generator with an automatic transfer switch. The thought of losing all my fish I love so much had me scared to the point of panic. It took my husband 4 or 5 hours the other night to hook up this big 4' X 3' propane powered generator and wire it into our main breaker. When our power goes out the generator kicks on automatically in 13 seconds. The generator was $2000.00 (for those interested) but I'm quite certain it would take well over that much money in therapy alone to get over losing all my much-loved fish :-) So while the majority of the Oklahoma City area and a large part of the entire state is sitting without lights, water or heat, my fish are heated, filtered, warm and safe. I'm thanking God and WWM right now. Neale has been blessedly patient with my questions and because of the information on your website I won't lose a single fish due to this horrible ice storm, nor any future power outages. It makes me sick to my stomach to think "what if" I hadn't read your information and gotten the generator. So THANK YOU!! And a giant cyber-hug from my Oscar, Royal Plec, Clown Loaches, Severum, Cory Cats, Eartheater & Goldfish to Neale Monks (different tanks of course-ha!). They're all raising their fins in salute to this wonderful website that has undoubtedly saved their lives. Indebted beyond belief & on my way to make a donation immediately! Mitzi <Hi Mitzi. I'm glad the generator did its job and all your fishy friends are safe and sound. It's not often we here the success stories, usually just the problems. It's like watching the evening news where all you hear is death and destruction! But obviously fishkeeping is fun, which is why people do it, and when people make sensible choices up front, as you've done here, then they find the hobby easier and more rewarding. So anyway, enjoy the holiday season, and thanks so much for writing. Cheers, Neale. Oh, and you have some great fish there... I think you'll need to start charging admission for when people come over and visit your State Aquarium!>

Re: A HUGE thank you! (power outages)   12/11/07 There's an idea....I could charge 1 cube of bloodworms and my Oscar would perform for them all day! Thank YOU, Neale, especially. I love the theme of this entire website but it's been you who's made a lifetime impression on me with your upfront honesty (harsh when they need it) and endless patience. You've forgotten more than most of us will ever know about aquatics. No need to take time to answer this one. I just want to say thank you for being so generous with your time. Mitzi <Hello Mitzi. I'm glad the WWM web site has entertained and informed you. It's actually pretty good fun writing these e-mails and helping out, and most of us here definitely "feel good" knowing we've done something to help a few people keep their fish a little bit better. It's a great hobby, and one I'm proud to be a part of. Enjoy your fish, and let us know how things go! Cheers, Neale.>

New 300-Gallon FOWLR System...What Size Generator For Power Backup? -- 08/17/07 Hi, Crew. <<Howdy!>> I am an aquarium newbie and have been trying to quickly learn everything I can and your website has been invaluable. <<Ah, good!>> Me and my little fishy friends thank you. <<Most welcome>> I hoping you can help me with this problem. <<I shall try>> Aquarium Design Group in Houston designed our system. I have been asking them for the past 6 months to give me a list of all of the equipment they installed. I have only gotten promises and excuses, but still no information (so don't use them). <<Mmm, poor customer service indeed...but let me impress upon you that 'you' should to learn to identify/learn about the operation/function of this equipment. Let me direct you here for a start (http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm )...do have a read through the two 'set-up' trays>> I have a 300 gallon FOWLR (http://www.caller2.com/realestate/gabriels/s_homes/2007/0218/showcase.cfm -- look in the photo gallery) <<Impressive...though I can't really tell much about the aquarium from the photo other than it looks like a beautiful installation/display>> with a bio-ball filter, charcoal <<carbon>> filter, and protein skimmer. The tank is plumbed directly to a sewer line and the mixing tank, R/O and chiller outside. (A 60 gallon water change takes only 5 minutes and all you have to do is turn 3 valves.) <<A very nice feature. I have a very similar setup/can perform this same function with my 375g reef display>> I need to get a generator installed for electric outages, <<Ah yes, and I have one of these as well...provides much 'peace of mind'>> but I don't know what to tell the electrician regarding power needs. <<Hmm... I have a 5.5-Kilowatt unit that provides enough power for my large reef system. Considering nearly half the energy consumption on my system is the high intensity metal halide lighting...and considering the fact your display is a FOWLR system that typically would utilize a fraction of the same...I think it very likely you could get by with a 3.5-Kilowatt unit for your tank>> Is there some way I can find out the manufacturers and model numbers? <<Unless these were 'stripped' by the installers, the pumps/motors/ballasts/et al powering your equipment/system should have labels on them indicating their power requirements/consumption>> Please help, it's hurricane season and I've grown attached to me new little buddies. <<If you want to be more precise you could ask your electrician about using a 'clamp-meter' to measure the power/amperage drawn through the electrical lines supplying the display (with 'everything' on/running)...add 15% to this figure and you have the value you need. Or, as I stated previously...a 3.5-Kilowatt generator should provide ample power for your current system (based on the info you have provided me)...but if you want to plan for some growth or think you might one day want to have a reef system, then go with a 5-Kilowatt or larger unit. Regards, Eric Russell>>

Hurricanes! Power outages   7/28/07 OK, last question for awhile, I guess I'm trying to get them all outta the way. This one has been revolving around in my mind for months. I live south of Houston, and we always have the possibility of a major storm hitting this season. When Rita came through, we were much luckier than those just east of us, and never lost power. Those east of us lost it from anywhere from a couple of hours to 3 weeks. We are far enough inland to where home damage probably won't be a major issue, but if we take a big hit, power loss is a definite possibility. With the money invested in my fish, not to mention that they are living creatures, I want to have some type of plan that will allow me to at least make the best effort I can to protect them in case of, say, a three day power outage. There's not going to be allot <Wrong words> I can do about temperature. The tank is 200 gallons with about 100lbs of live rock. Removing the glass lid is obviously one step. The biomedia in the FX5 and other canister, is that worth trying to salvage? I am thinking about purchasing a small generator, say 5000 watts. This has a run time of 10 hrs on a tank of fuel, and of course I'd have as much gas stored as possible, along with the typical bathtubs of water, etc. How often and long do you think hooking up, say the FX5, for circulation on the tank, would be minimum for supporting the fish? <Days...> I would have to use it on the refrigerator and freezer to maintain temperature for our food for some periods, and I would like to minimize the use of the generator to conserve gas. I've even thought of creating turbulence on the tank surface by hand for periods of time but I imagine that would be traumatic for the fish, something they wouldn't need at this time, for sure. I have also thought of freezing Ziploc bags full of water to float in the tank for temperature control. <Good idea> Anyway, I'm sure a lot of these thoughts are running together, but it might be a worthwhile subject. I'm sure there are many of us on the gulf coast that keep fish. Maybe it can help us prepare for the worst. As always, thank you very much. Thomas Roach <There are some FAQs files re this topic/subject on WWM. RMF>

Plenum or DSB/Backup Power -- 06/30/07 Hello crew. <<Howdy Eric'¦EricR here>> I'm in the midst of planning a 125g mixed reef setup and have a question about whether or not to employ a plenum layer. <<Okay>> If I were to have an Aragonite sand bed of <1", would I be good (in terms of keeping nitrates to a minimum) with not using the plenum? <<Hmm, have you read any of Bob Goeman's writings on plenum methodology (here's a place to start: http://www.saltcorner.com/sections/guest/goemansandgamble/sandbedspart1.htm)? Whether going with a DSB or a plenum system, a sub-1' sand bed is going to do little for 'direct' Nitrate reduction>> I am planning to use a 30g sump, and if I were to go the DSB route there, would I use a plenum layer?? <<Is up to you'¦I prefer simply to go the DSB route>> Oh, and I have one more question regarding backup power--aside from something like a generator or a Yugo battery, are there other more convenient options for a tank of this size that you'd recommend? <<There 'are' battery-backup systems available'¦most designed as backup computer power. I find these expensive and of limited utility re hobby use'¦though admittedly I have not done any extensive research on what is available. For a system your size, a small gas-powered generator to run the 'essentials' would likely cost about as much (or less?) than some of the proprietary battery-backup systems and will provide much more useable and sustained power'¦in my humble opinion, of course>> Thanks for the education and terrific website! Eric <<We're pleased you find it of use. Eric Russell>>

On QTs and power outages   3/1/07 <Greeting, Mich here.> You encourage all aquarists to establish quarantine tanks right from the get go as part of a responsible set up.  WE did that......and felt rather smug about it.   <Hee!> However, I looked the other way when reading about the need to think through emergency back-up systems thinking batteries and generators, etc, were complicated, too expensive. And frankly, who even wants to think about such a problem?!?    <That smugness coming back to bite ya! Eh?> After just completing 42.5 hours without power I have reconsidered that thinking.   <Ahh, yes, experience is such an excellent teacher.> How foolish we were to invest all the time and money in a 75 gallon reef set up and not plan for emergencies---not to mention the beautiful and precious creatures depending on us to sustain them. So, my point is simply to encourage anyone setting up a tank to consider back up power sources in the event of power outages. <Thank you for sharing this.  Others will learn from your misfortune.> The good news:  so far no deaths.   <Excellent.  Very good news indeed!> I immediately wrapped the tank in Styrofoam and, when it was apparent the power wasn't coming back anytime soon, began heating water on our camping stove in the garage (Brrrr), putting it in leak proof containers and adding it to the tank every three to four hours.  This slowed the heat loss.   <Clever thinking!> I stirred the water a bit.  When travel was possible, some 24 hours into it, our LFS gave me two little battery-powered air pumps AND we were loaned a 5500-watt generator!   <Wow!  Generous folks!> We hooked things up and then I was brave enough to check the tank temp--66 degrees.   <Yes... that... do I really want to know this... feeling in the pit of your stomach.> I've been reading the posts about power failures and I'm watching for crypt, pH shock and hoping for the best.  I can't quite believe the whole thing isn't dead----me thinks some sort of miracle has occurred.    <Many reef creatures are quite hardy.> But, dear readers, do develop a plan for such instances NOW. <Wise words here!> Unlike most cases, computer research isn't possible at the time of crisis when the crisis is a power failure. <Sometimes it's the obvious that isn't so obvious.> Have a great day! <And the same to you!  Thank you for sharing your story.  I'm certain others will benefit from reading it.  -Mich>
Re: On QTs and power outages  - 03/02/07
Okay, I just couldn't resist telling you that since I'm a bit math challenged--or sleep deprived from Emergency Tank Management mode <Hee! The department of ETM!> I miscalculated the hours we were without power:   It was 50, count 'em 50, hours until we had the generator and 78.5 until our power was fully restored.    <Dang!> I'm even more amazed nothing has died........yet.......and keep hoping recovery continues to go as well.!!! <Hoping for the best for you!  -Mich>  

Power outage  - 1/18/07 Hello, I've been without power for five days and my reef is gone. I have about 150 lbs of live rock and 100 lbs of oolitic sand in a 180 gallon tank. My sump is a 75 gallon tank where skimmers are and return pump. The tank is filtering and the lights are on until I get some advice. My concerned here is the live rock and the sand. Thanks <Hey Debby, I'm very sorry for your tragedy in lieu of this winter blast America is currently experiencing, however, you don't give us much to go on here. I'm not certain exactly what question it is that you're asking... If you're asking if the live rock and sand will be ok, then in my personal opinion, yes they will be fine. If I've misunderstood here, feel free to shoot me back and I'll answer your real question! Hope this helps! -JustinN>
Re: power outage
 - 1/18/07 Hello, do I have to do a 100% water change ? <Absolutely not, Debby! Execute a water change in the range of 10-25%, and then shortly after completing the water change, do water quality tests. The tests will indicate any remaining levels of nitrogenous wastes, and will give you a further direction of action. -JustinN>

Back-up electrical generator question    1/14/07 Hello Bob, I was going to pose this question to the crew, but thought I should cut right to the source (hope that's okay). <Certainly> I have been thinking for a long time about a small home generator system.  I am not crazy about the gasoline run equipment. <Mmm> I am a (not to strong) woman living alone and those things can be quite heavy.  Also the idea of keeping a gas can does not appeal to me since I have no garage.   <Not all that heavy nowadays... and the fuel can be stored elsewhere... which I advise if there are ignition or flame attendant devices in your garage> Now that I have a Koi pond (and they are getting big) and have invested quite a bit of money in my reef tank I get (and stay) nervous all during hurricane season.  That being said, can you recommend a company that might install a small home generator system that won't cost an arm and a leg?  May be a ridiculous question, but thought if anybody would know, you would. Thanks for any help you may be able to offer. Best Regards, Lisa Crugnola <The best route here is to investigate through your local utility... Contact them re your concerns and ask in turn who they suggest to advise you... Not necessarily very expensive or difficult to have your own back-up system. Bob Fenner>

Earthquake response - 10/17/06 Aloha from Oahu, <Hi from Kentucky! MacL here. I'm glad to hear there were no deaths.> All's well after the earthquake yesterday, USGS upped it to a 6.7 now with a 6.0 aftershock.  Hope Bob is ok if he's on the Big Island. This was a wakeup call for everyone, especially us aquarium hobbyists. When the quake happened, I hopped out of bed, leaned on the front of  my 55 gallon tank just in case mother nature decided to get even more crazy.  No need, a bit of water did splash out, but I had built the  stand to stay put, angle braces at every joint. The models I saw in  the stores were way too flimsy looking. From 7:00am Sunday until 1:00am Monday I was churning the water in  my tanks every 15 minutes.  PH dropped to 7.8, I added 3/4 teaspoon  buffer to bring it up.  Around 9pm my bicolor Anthias couldn't take anymore and expired.  Today I bought 4 battery operated air pumps and  D size batteries that are within reach of my aquariums. I'm hoping  they really do work, but am thinking about buying a small generator. Tested PH tonight and it was up to 8.8, so I added 2ml Fritz ph lower (phosphoric acid).  PH is now at 8.4 at the start of the night cycle. I hope I did everything right and that things are back on track, and  if need be, the air pumps will suffice to prevent another loss.   Please add any suggestions so I can know what to do in a lengthy  power outage in the future.   <I think you are doing a wonderful job. The oxygen level is very important and the power heads will take care of that. If you have water that you can use to make a water change you might consider doing that in a day or so as well if the power doesn't resume in a couple of days.  Unfortunately the changes might bring some stress related diseases on like ich etc when its back on so be aware and be watching. Good luck and if you start to have problems let us know, MacL>

Power Outage Leads To Dead Aquarium We have a 3m x 0.6m x 0.78m aquarium tank on our farm in the Northern Cape. This past weekend we lost our entire aquarium due to a power failure. Unfortunately we were not at home to try & fix this. Thus my question is are there any UPS systems available which can be installed or is there any other solution for solving our problem? Where could I find more information regarding this if possible? Thanks Rian & Nina <Computer stores have electronic backups for when power goes out. They act as little batteries. They may provide power for a few hours but I am not sure how long they will last. Will probably depend on your power consumption.-Chuck>

Power Outages...How Long Will My Tank Last? - 09/28/06 Mr. Fenner / Eric R, <<EricR here...>> Thanks for all your advices & hope everything is fine there! <<So far so good today, thanks>> Time to time there are power cuts around the area I live. <<Mmm, my area too...overhead power lines and lots of big trees...>> My tank has 1 little Red Knobbed Starfish, 2 Dancing shrimps and lots of live rock for now but I am also going to introduce maybe 4-5 fish (small & medium sized) to my 80G tank and not more. <<Ok>> So how long do you think my tank can survive without electricity (I mean what's the maximum time the tank can survive without major water changes as a result of electricity failure)? <<Can vary...affected by water temperature, room temperature, bio-load, etc...but I generally don't start to worry till the power has been off more than an hour or so (then it's time to fire up the generator!).  It's also a good idea to monitor for signs of undue stress/abnormal behavior and take action earlier if necessary>> And also after the maximum time (if there is any) how much water should be replaced? <<I wouldn't 'replace' necessarily as this too can add stress.  Simply dipping out/pouring back in to circulate/promote gas exchange is fine.  Doing this a couple times every half-hour can keep a tank going for quite a while.  I have used this method in the many times over the years.  If your system has a sump, be sure to dip from the sump and pour in to the tank until water fills/flows down the overflow...this will keep your sump happy too>> Do you think the use of a UPS is a good idea just in case to survive in these types of situations? <<Can be of great utility to run a small air pump/airstone...this simple step can keep a tank 'alive' for many hours>> Thanks again in advance for any advice, best regards, Rachel <<A pleasure to share.  Eric Russell>>

Electrical generator figuring   9/26/06 Hi Crew. Due to all of your help and fine articles, all of my 4 FW aquariums are now under control and nitrates are at 10 or less for 3 mos. now! Wow! I thank you for your help. Now to a strange question that one of you might be able to answer? Our rural electricity goes out from time to time during bad storms and am about to buy a gasoline generator for the winter months. I have no idea how many watts I need for the following and hope you can give me some idea? <Mmm, can "add up" the watts/wattage (volts, likely 120 maximum times rated amps/amperage equals watts...) for each item as if all might be "on" at a time... and get something with a capacity higher than this...> A 29 gal. bow with emperor 280 and heater...A 75 gal. with two emperor 400's with 2 -100 watt heaters...A 100 gal. with two emperor 400's with two 170 watt heaters....All tanks kept at 78-80 deg. The 4th is a QT tank of 10gal. The lighting is...29 gal. 20 watt fluorescent...75 gal. has two 40 watt fluorescents and the 100 gal. has two 24in. 20 watt fluorescents. Do any of you have an opinion on this? Thanks again...DR <Likely the smallest of consumer units... something about 3,800 watts, will do for you for your tanks here... You'll need more should you want to run large electrical appliances (washer, stove)... Bob Fenner>

UPS and GFCI?  - 09/14/06 Hi folks- <Jake> My fishy endeavours have led me to the realization during the hurricane season here in the Carolina's I'd greatly prefer not to have a wipeout of my 29G due to an electrical power loss. We generally have a very stable power grid here except during the season and the week or two of ice storms. Last weekend I dug out my old APC Back-UPS 300 and purchased a new battery for it. I promptly discovered while attaching the electrical lifeblood of my tank that one of my magnetic drive Hagen powerheads chattered something fierce while running on battery. <Can> I have two questions: 1) Do you think it would be OK to put my GFCI between the UPS and the power strip feeding the tank? <Mmm, I do think this will be okay> I know it will have zero efficacy before the UPS, but am now concerned about harmonics and the 'squarish' wave output affecting it's efficacy. <Should not be a factor... am given to understand that the basic principle of these devices is electron "counting", not a measure of wave differential> 2) My plan is to run only the Emperor 280 and one Hagen 30 175 GPH powerhead on the UPS and split everything else off to a separate strip. <Good idea...> I figure there is no need to run lighting, skimmer, etc. in emergency situations. <Mmm, not as much... but may need to add insulation, some source of heat/ing> I may run the skimmer for short periods for increased aeration only. Does this make sense or should I simply run the filter? <I'd measure the total amp-life capacity here and run as much as you can for the supposed duration it may have to> Another concern is during the winter months the heater will need to run more often than usual as the tank is in my lab/home office which normally is 27C due to all the computing equipment with the tank holding steady at 78F. Ultimately power will be less of an issue when I get out of this apartment and back into a house with a planned 5KVA UPS for the room and a whole house generator. <Wow!> Time permitting, my plans are to dry-run the UPS tomorrow to check the runtime under load. Charts be damned, <Our sentiments agree here> the only way to really know is to run under load. Somehow this all smells of an upgrade to the UPS.... <Why oh why didn't I invest in the stocks of these companies when I knew of their impending utility, likely sales volume? Booo hooooo!> Thanks very much for the investment of your personal time, and the invaluable information which the site provides us all. Regards- Jake <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

- Overflow Box and Power Failure 6/27/06 - Hi Bob/ staff, <Hi.> I have joined a forum so I have been bothering you guys less lately, but even the members of the reef tank. com can't answer this one. Here goes. Ok, I have a hang on overflow on the 29. The overflow is by ProClear and has the overflow box with slits and a u tube that carries that water to the pre filter on the back. <Very common design.> suppose this happens. The power fails for an extended period while am away. So the overflow will keep draining water into the sump until the water level drops below the slots, no biggie. But then the power comes back on and the return pump is working again. So all that water gets pumped back and it fills the overflow box slits. Will there still be a siphon or will the tank flood until the sump empties and the return pump blows out? <There should be if both ends of the U-Tube are submerged. This is something you can and should test by simply unplugging the return pump.> the second box that hangs on the outside of the tank is designed to retain water if no new water is coming in because the standpipes comes up a few inches and the u tube gets submerged in their. But I don't know because if water doesn't come into those slots in the internal box, and all the remaining water gets sucked up by the u tube, wont it suck air and have no siphon? <It doesn't start moving until water flowing into the slotted (tank-side) box.> I'm really worried so if it will loose siphon, what can I do to prepare or prevent the possible flooded floor, blown out return pump, and likely fire? <Well for starters, everything electrical in and around your tank should be plugged into a GFCI outlet. That will remediate any possible fire dangers. Otherwise, I think you should unplug your main pump and see what happens. I think you will be surprised. Over the long haul, just keep the U-Tube clean as this is the weak link in the chain.> Remember to look closely at the picture provided in the link. <Am very familiar with this design; have sold more than I care to count.> Thanks John <Cheers, J -- >

Choosing A Back Up Power Source - 01/27/2006 Hi crew can someone direct me on what to purchase for back up power during a power outage? <Start by figuring the total watts you'll need for the desired equipment. Use that to determine the size generator. Check with hardware or computer stores for options on back up power.> I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks <Sure. - Josh>

UPS Backup Power   1/26/06 I purchased a 525 watt UPS for backup power in the event of short term unattended power loss. I have the following electrical equipment: 1 - Seio high volume powerhead 620 gph - 10 watts 2 - MaxiJet 1200 powerhead 295 gph - 20 watts 3 - 35 watt pump for protein skimmer 4 - Quiet One 4000 50 watt in-sump return pump 5 - 200 watt heater 6 - Approx 450 watts of lighting Would you power just the powerheads which total 30 watts and get maximum duration out of the battery or would you add the sump pump too? <I'm thinking with your lighting you have corals/live rock.  I would want a good flow in the tank in this regard. I  would leave the sump pump off.> What about protein skimmer? <I'd leave off.> Keep in mind that this is for unattended power failure. We have a generator that we can use for long term/attended failures in which case we could run the whole she-bang. I was thinking that using the powerheads only would provide nearly a full day of power from the battery, what do you think? <Yes> I guess the real question is, would the two powerheads provide enough gas exchange? <As long as your tank isn't overcrowded you should be fine with the powerheads.> We live in Houston so I am not too concerned about a free fall in temp as most power losses occur in summer with severe wx. If anything temp will rise not fall so I have concluded that I would not need to put the heater on the back-up system. It is a 90 gallon Oceanic, rectangular aquarium. Your thoughts please...<As above.  James (Salty Dog)>

Crucial Components In Power Outage - 01/20/2006 Dear WWM friends, <Hello Inna.> I have a newly set up 125 gal ( with you great help!) saltwater which is slowly becoming a reef. Everything is going very smoothly, I started stocking it up. I'm planning to have soft corals in it plus some fish plus some cleaning inverts. <Sounds good.> Now I have troubles sleeping (he-he-he) of fear of power outage and decided to invest in an emergency power supply unit. Probably I will not be able to get a unit which can support everything - heater, lights, skimmer, powerheads, return pump. So I have to come out with a list of absolute necessities. I assume heater will be one of those. <Yep.> As for circulation - I'm not sure if I have to have on emergency circuit a main pump or a powerhead will be enough. <Enough for a power head should be fine.> Another aspect - lights. Would it be OK for softies if they do not have lights for a day or they would get damaged? <Hmm...Would be fine.> Ones again, thanks for all your help! Inna <Gladly. You may wish to add a small air pump to this plan as well, and I'd keep the skimmer running. - Josh>

Powerless - 18/01/06 Crew My reef tank was without power for about six hours.  The temperature went from 77.5 to 74.5, pH at 8.3, and ammonia just under .25ppm.  Do I need to worry? <It's difficult to give clarity without knowing more about livestock and your method of filtration... but any ammonia is not good. I would monitor ammonia and nitrites and do sufficient, carefully conducted (!. No sense stressing the inhabitants further) water changes to keep them as low as possible. The temperature drop wasn't too severe, so I'd be fairly bullish provided you can keep parameters in check.> thanks <Welcome! Best regards, John.>

Back-up Power Needs Means Generator, UPS, or the Like  11/9/05 Hello, <Hi there.> I have a 155 gallon aquarium with saltwater fish in it. I am moving into an area were they have occasional power outages.  <That's no fun.>  I currently have one of the filters that setup in the bottom of the tank. <In the tank, or under the tank?>  I believe it is called an overflow system. Anyway I was wondering if you might know of a backup system I could use incase the power goes out to catch the water that back flows into the filter or is there a pan I could put under the filter to catch the access water. <A backup generator will be your best friend for this. Extended loss of power can have more of an impact than just overflowing. Are you using a wet/dry or sump type filter? How is your water returned to the tank? If you're using a sump and your returns are not in danger of siphoning out your tank, then this is a little easier to avoid.  When you fill your tank (before any pumps are running) simply let your tank fill the sump, stopping about three inches or so from the top. When you turn on your pump, the water level will drop. When it stops dropping mark that level with a marker. This is your max. fill line when doing top-offs, never add more than this. Test it by turning your pump off. It should only be able to fill back to that original full height, before you started your pump. If it overflows (turn the pump on before it actually does) then there's a siphon. This is assuming your sump is of adequate size of course. I'd still rather get the generator though. - Josh>

Picking A Battery Backup Device - 10/25/05 Hi Crew, <<Howdy>> I have a 55-gallon saltwater tank with a Mag 5 powering the skimmer, another Mag 5 powering the water return back from the sump and an Iwaki powering the water through the system on the other side of the sump. I have 2 VHO fluorescents for lights with a ballast. I want to look into purchasing some kind of battery back up power supply that would automatically go on in the event of a power failure. I live alone and work all day and I need to protect my fish if the power goes out. <<A good idea, yes.>> I know Staples sells battery power supply backups for PC's and I've also seen a product from Azoo (sp?) as well in a fish supply catalogue. How do I know how much wattage system I need to power my system sufficiently in the event of a power failure. <<Check the labels on the pumps for "amps" or "amperage" and multiply this times the voltage to get the "watts" for each pump. This will give you a baseline to size the battery backup device. Multiply the total wattage of all the pumps by the number of hours you want to provide backup power, add another 20%, and this is the size backup device you will want to purchase. I wouldn't plug-in/run the lights from the backup power supply...not necessary.>> The ones at Staples are quite large in size and have different wattage levels. I'm unsure as to what would be best for my system. Can you help? <<Size the device as outlined and get one that will provide power until you can get home to take other measures. EricR>> <<We also use these UPSs for surge control with particularly delicate electronics.  MH>>
Re: Picking A Battery Backup Device - 10/27/05
Thank you Eric, this is helpful and I will put your formula to good use to protect my investment and finned buddies! <<Excellent my friend, and most welcome. Be chatting, EricR>>

Keep tanks running with no electricity  9/5/05 (Editor - I have read your website and gained loads of valuable information. I would like to share the article I wrote below with the visitors to your website. All I ask is that you reprint it in its entirety. Thank You) <Thank you much for this posting. Will share. Bob Fenner> Hello, I would like to start out by saying my heart goes out to the gulf coast victims of Katrina. We were hit by her directly when she was only a category 1. The plan of attack provided below is the same one I used to keep 3 fish tanks powered (and a small fan) going for the 3-4 days we had now power as a result of hurricane Katrina. This plan is tried and true. I have been reading on a lot of fish keeper forums that everyone is wondering how to keep their tanks running when the power goes off? I have lived in south Florida my whole life and in between the intense lightning storms and the hurricanes living temporarily with no power is definitely a regular and expected event. Worry no more as I am about to share a couple tips with you that will not only keep the air going but your filters and heater too! If you follow all of these tips you could theoretically run your tanks forever without using a wall socket. Here is what you will need:

1-Odyssey 925 cranking amps, sealed, deep cycle, dry cell battery.
Odyssey makes batteries for the military and recently made these available to the public.  This battery is smaller in size than your car battery, but packs wayyy more amperage.  The reason I specify THIS battery is because: IT IS DANGEROUS TO BRING A NORMAL CAR BATTERY IN THE HOUSE!! DO NOT DO THIS! Normal car batteries contain sulfuric acid and are prone to vapor leakage. VERY DANGEROUS! The Odyssey is a SEALED, DRY CELL. Nothing will ever endanger you inside this battery unless you were to crack it open with an axe. There are other sealed, deep cycle batteries on the market but none are as small or low price as this one. Also has lifetime warranty. If your budget permits I suggest buying two of these as it will allow you to keep your tanks running seamlessly if planned right. http://www.batterystore.com/Odyssey/PC925.htm 1-400 Watt DC to AC Power Inverter. I use a Black & Decker model I purchased at Wal-Mart for $40. Has quiet built-in-fan. I suggest using a 400 watt inverter as they have 2 outlets available on them. I have used power inverters from other companies and they will basically all do the job, however I must admit the Black & Decker unit was definitely quieter and of better quality. Make sure you get one that comes with alligator clamps that can be clamped directly on the battery. When you get this unit open it, test it, and become familiar with it. I suggest having extension cords available as some people like me have more than one tank but not in the same room as each other. Remember you are no longer relying on wall sockets. Your power is going to come from the inverter and if you have multiple tanks you probably have to run extension cords to allow your pumps plugs to reach the inverter (again this is only if you are powering more than one tank). Now to get to it. The inverter is going to come with alligator clamps so you can attach it directly to your car battery. I suggest you find a location that is in the middle of all your tanks. Put down a towel or some thick cloth on the ground. Place the battery in the middle of this towel. This is just to keep the battery off the floor and moisture away from it. Place the positive and negative (red and black) alligator clamps from the inverter on the terminals of the battery and turn the unit on. If you have everything hooked up correct the inverter should power up, if anything is wrong the inverter will sound an alert or simply not power up. You can now plug in your pumps to the inverter. If you have a big tank with air and multiple pumps, I suggest using only one pump per tank while the power is out. This will allow you to keep the water moving for the most amount of time. You don't even really need to keep your air pump going so long as your water is moving (circulation oxygenates water all by itself). On my 75 gallon I have a canister filter and an Emperor hang on tank. I keep just the Emperor running when the power goes out as it not only circulates the water but also heavily oxygenates due to its bio-wheel. By doing this your fish can basically go on happily and never notice a change in the water chemistry. After hurricane Katrina hit my power was off four 3-4 days. I didn't even have to do a water change when the power came back on my 26 gallon since the Aquaclear 50 on their tank never stopped running. Silly that I have to mention this but do NOT bother plugging in your lights unless you have a reef system that NEEDS it. Lights will drain your battery much faster than your pumps will. Ok now here is how you can keep this system running FOREVER with no wall power. 1-The Odyssey battery is really a super car battery. If you were to purchase TWO of the Odyssey batteries you could have one powering your tanks and keep the other. you guessed it. UNDER YOUR HOOD! If you have one functioning as your car battery it will always be full. When the power in your home goes out and use all the power in your battery just swap it with the one under your hood. Since the battery you are putting under your hood will be dead you WILL need a jumpstart to get your car started. You could do this forever and always have a battery full to run your tanks. I know this is a lot of work but hey you only have to do it in times of extreme weather/power outages and anyway no one said this was supposed to be fun. It's about keeping your fish ALIVE!   -----OR------- 2-Harness the power of the S U N! Solar power panels are very inexpensive now. You can purchase a "briefcase" that opens up to be 2 solar panels. You can then use this to keep your Odyssey battery fully charged. This unit is one example of the "solar power briefcase": http://www.action-electronics.com/solar.htm. If you search these on eBay you will find a bunch at great prices. While these could power your fish tank pumps by them selves, they will only work while the sun is out so better to use them to keep your battery charged so you can keep the pumps running at night as well. (I have never used the solar power method explained here, I just provide it as a suggestion. I highly recommend you do a little homework on this and search for the best solution for you) If you are sure you have everything planned out properly you could even use the inverter to power your cell phone charger, run a small fan, etc Any of the really low power things you have that need electricity. Best of luck to my fellow fish keepers~! Adam Goldstein <Again, thank you for your efforts, sharing. RMF>

Protecting your aquarium setups in power losses Well I searched WWM for this info but didn't see it so I figured I'd offer this fairly inexpensive protection for our pricey setups.  I went to Best Buy and bought a battery backup and surge protector rated for computers this allows for brief power outages without losing vital pieces of equipment. mine bottom of the line unit (65$ before rebates 20 after) will run a internal filter with air line attached for about an hour or so which with a 55 gallon tank the O2 runs low after 2 hours or so which I run the filter for 15 min etc there are some figures to get it right for your tank but the other great part is that if a piece is fried by a power surge the company will replace or repair from 50,000$ or more depending on different models. I bought mine from APC and the warranty doesn't say what you can't use it on you just write what it is used for. I have saved hundreds pf dollars in fish and LR by powering my heater, and that cheap filter to keep the flow and O2 going its a cheap but effective piece that should be a part of any serious aquarists system fresh or salt. its the life insurance policy you'll be glad you got. <Jager, my only concern would be is that the "bottom line" APC would not have the current capacity to run say a 100 watt heater and/or other equipment. James (Salty Dog)>

Power outage Hello. I posted a message on the chat room and got some good advice from Steven. However, since then I have done a few things and heard more news. My situation. Power outage occurred last night at about 3:30 a.m., it is now 3:30 p.m. (12 hrs). Taking Steven's advice I placed 2 battery operated Hagen air pumps in my aquarium. <good> 75 gallon reef tank, shrimp, hermits, some softies, coral beauty and true percula clownfish. I last checked on my tank around 2:00. Everything seems to be okay. the corals, of course, are not really out due to the lack of light and circulation. <yes sounds about right> The power co. said the power will HOPEFULLY be back on by Thursday. <good to hear> 150,000 homes are without power in Toledo due to storms. <bummer> I have also been adding freshwater to the tank. I unplugged my filter (emperor carbon system). I read that when the power comes back on it my kick extra unwanted junk into the tank. <yes, this has happened to me before> Is there anything else I should do. <Not really...if you feed your clownfish make sure you feed them very very sparingly> I read also not to do a water change until the power comes back on. <I wouldn't bother doing one until the power came back on> I had some water mixing last night, but now the power is out. I have not did a water change since last Thursday. the 4th of July and traveling set me behind. Please advise. <Your aquarium should be fine until the power comes back on> Your advice is always good. I also have a p. Firefish into qt. I placed an air stone in their also. <Yes, he should be alright...just make sure you have a tight fitting cover. they are jumpers you know> I have had my set up for about 8 months, and have done really well. Damn Mother Nature. <Everything should be ok, just be patient my friend> Thanks mike in Toledo<You're welcome, IanB in Orlando>

Power failure for 15 hours 8/1/04 Hi all, I blew it big time last night.  I turned off the power to our 90g reef tank w/o knowing it.  The power was out for 15 hours.  The cleaner shrimp, kole tang, sailfin tang, a fang blenny and emerald crabs died. <Yikes!!  Sorry for your losses.> 5 green Chromis, snails, conch, brittle star and Clarkii clown are still alive. All the corals appear to be doing pretty well. The tank has a 4-5" sandbed, Berlin skimmer, 3 powerheads, sump w. sandbed. Our lights are 4 x 96 pc.s. We have roughly 100 - 125 lbs of LR.  We immediately took out everything alive (rock, fish, inverts) and performed a 50% water change.  Then we put the rock back in and it's running now.  There are also some snails which were hiding in the sand.  The water temperature is fine. The current nitrite level is roughly .5, the ammonia .2 and nitrates 25mg/l. We use ro/di water and it gets changed weekly - 10 - 15%When we turned on the tank there were lots of copepods (dead) floating around and small slug-like animals sucking on the glass.  We have 2 smaller tanks which we put the corals in.  I plan to add a PolyFilter to the sump. <You are fortunate to have other tanks to house your survivors!  Please keep them where they are until you have confirmed that the tank has re-cycled and ammonia and nitrite are undetectable.  Also, you may wish to employ some mechanical filtration to get rid of any pod corpses or other yuck that may be floating around.> My question is how is the sand bed affected by the loss of oxygen?  Do we need to replace part or all of it? <You may want to consider replacing it.  It is hard for a sand bed to recover from a major die off (which may or may not have occurred).  A good compromise may be to replace about half of the sand (removing side to side, not top to bottom) now and the other half in a few weeks.  This will allow bacteria and surviving critters to populate the new sand.> Should I put the inverts back in the tank? The tank was healthy before and would like to know the best steps.  I didn't see anything similar so I'm writing.  Thanks, Nancy  <You certainly can move the animals back after the cycle is completed, but do add animals back slowly if possible and pay close attention to water quality as you do. Best regards.  AdamC.>

Power failure questions II 10/8/03 I need as much info as possible.  The sump/power outage/water on the floor issue is the last question I have...but it's a big one my apartment is full of books. Please help, Y- <Yuell... this is very difficult to explain via e-mail. And yet could be answered or realized in seconds with a visit to a local fish store or member of a local aquarium society. Regardless of your overflow box/hole source... the prevention of a sump overflow is a remarkably easy thing to calculate properly. What big city do you live in or near? I can perhaps suggest someone for you to consult locally to make this all very clear. Else, you can make sure the return tube does not extend below the water surface in the display. Then fill the display until it just begins to overflow, then stop.... then fill the sump until it is near the top, then stop. And at that point with all power off... and the display and sump filled... you are at max system volume. When you next turn the power on, then water level in the sump will fall as the plumbing gets filled and after that level stabilizes... you simply mark a line on the sump as the max running level. You now know at that point for the future that as long as you never fill the running sump beyond that point, your sump cannot overflow. Hoping this helps. Anthony>

-Loss of power- Hello! <Hopefully the power still remains, I apologize for the delay!> I just got back to my home in DC to prepare for the coming hurricane, but have not been able to get any battery-powered powerheads for my fish tank (a generator would be out of the question as I am inside an apartment).  Here's my question:  I have a 90 gallon fish tank with 80lbs of live rock, 3" of sand, a sump, 2 tang, 2 ocellaris, 1 neon goby, 2 shrimp, no coral.  I know I should have planned more for this contingency, but what should I do if the power is off for a substantial time period (2 days)?  Are there any household tools that I can use to get oxygen in the tank?  Should I stir the tank, even blow bubbles into it with a straw--and how often? <I'd stir it up vigorously a few times per hour to get some kind of gas exchange going. Bubbling through a straw, although fun to watch and do, will do little to keep the oxygen level up.> How long with no water movement will they be ok? <It's tough to say, just keep stirrin'> Any info you can give me is greatly appreciated--hopefully I will get your answer before we lose power! <Good luck on this potentially bad situation... -Kevin> So many thanks, Laura

- Weathering Ivan - You've given us so much valuable advice and once again we have some questions.  We live in the Gulf Breeze/Pensacola area and had to evacuate on Tuesday. <I can sympathize - I live in Boca Raton, and had to deal with Frances but didn't have to evacuate... that certainly complicates things.> We have 4 tanks: 1 reef tank with fish, 100 gal; 1 FO salt water 100 gal tank with dogface puffer, Naso tang, maroon clown and Chromis; 1 fresh water tank, 100 gal with plants and fish; and 1 salt water FO 180 gal tank.  We fed all our fish on Tuesday before we left.  We have battery operated bubblers in all our tanks. <I hope those batteries last. Have you ever tested these units to get a sense of how long they'll run on a fresh set of batteries?> We also have a 5,000 gal Koi Pond. <Well... that will certainly get a water change.> We are not sure when we can return to our home, or what condition it will be in, but we are hoping we can get back by Saturday. <I'm hoping with you.> When we get home, we have a generator to get the pumps running.  Our main concern is how long can our fish survive without food? <They'll probably be fine, but certainly will be very hungry by then... would be prepared for some amount of loss, let's hope it's not your home.> We are so worried about all that is going on, and would welcome any info you can give us. <Well... these things are so variable, depending on exactly when you lose power, how soon you can get back, what kind of health the fish were in to begin with, etc. I'm glad you have a generator, is very wise given the number of tanks you have, and with some luck you've got a good stock of fuel available and won't have to wait too long for renewed supplies. It sounds to me like you've done all you can do short of bringing all the fish with you in buckets which really isn't practical so... I'm crossing my fingers for you and hoping for the best.> thanks so much, carol <Cheers, J -- >

Riding Out The Storm (Preparation For Possible Power Failure) Hi Scott, <Hi there!> I have been doing pretty good and I hope you have too.  I am sure you are still on the tea. <In fact, just made a fresh batch of Thai Iced tea today!> I am not going to keep you even through I would like to catch up since it's been a while since I have wrote. <No problem...It's always a pleasure> But to the question.... if this hurricane causes  the weather to get bad enough to lose electricity what can I do for my two tanks. One is a 73 gallon salt water and the other is a 125 salt water. What can I do or long long will they be ok?  Please reply ASAP.  My computer is broke and I am having to use one at work and I can not get on here a lot. Teri <Well, Teri- first and foremost, I hope that you and everyone else in Florida can ride out this storm with no damage. Our thoughts are with you! As far as protecting the fish during a long power outage, about the best thing that you can do (short of finding a backup generator to supply power) would be to mix up as much fresh salt water as you can, and perform frequent water changes (like every other day, if you can). Battery powered air pumps are good, but I'm sure that they are not going to be easily available to you right now. Best you can do is to try to change water to minimize metabolite accumulation and provide some additional aeration periodically. You could also simply scoop up water from the display and pour it back into the tank...A primitive aeration technique that can help. Hope it does not come to that, but it's best to be prepared. Do let us know how everything works out! Regards, Scott F.>

- Hurricane-induced Power Outages - hi We live in Florida and have a 100 gal marine tank, and a 30-gal freshwater tank, with all the hurricane activity we wondered how long can fish typically live without electricity for the air- filters  and pumps. <Well... provided you do something about it, perhaps as long as you have the energy. For a system of this size though, you'd be best off with a generator and a supply of fuel to make it through a week. Your other option is to keep the water aerated by removing pitchers of water and then pouring them back in to circulate the water and keep the oxygen levels up. Depending on the density of livestock in the tank, the tank could probably make it 12 hours or so with no intervention, but by the end of that time serious problems would be developing. Personally I wouldn't wait more than an hour to intervene.> thanks <Cheers, J -- >

- Dealing With Frances - Hello everybody I live in spring Hill Fla right where hurricane Frances is heading for! I have two well established salt tank with a bunch of animals in my reef as well as my fish only tank. Our power is sure to go out when it hits Sunday/Monday. I cant find a generator or battery powered air pumps even. What is the best thing I can do to save my animals and their bacteria bed during the power outage? <Your best bet is to try and remove pitchers of water and pour them back in from a height, so that you both move water around and aerate it.> I was thinking of dipping water in and out of the tank for the tank and pouring water through the skimmer box for the bio bed and then returning water to the tank. <Yes, in this case, you want to make sure the filtration system gets some water too.> How often do I have to do that to everything going. <Depends on the size of the tank - the smaller, the more frequent - I would think between 15 to 30 minutes.> I think I have some sleepless nights ahead of me! <Yup... I live in Boca Raton and had several, even with my generator.> You advise would be great Thanks Kirt <Cheers, J -- >

Re: Potential Disaster Thanks <Hi, MikeD here> We were spared. Lots of our neighbors to the south were not.<Ditto. Clearwater here> I bought some battery pumps just in case but never lost power.<Again, ditto. congratulations on Mother Nature being fickle!>

Power outage questions? Hello Folks, << Blundell this afternoon. >> I Need to ask some questions, There is a hurricane forecast to come ashore close to were I Live. Can you tell me If my power goes out for along period of time how I can help my fish Make it. << I live no where near hurricane areas, but we do have lots of power outages here. >> I have a 140, and 210 reef tank a 30 gal with Proven Mated pair of Maroon Gold stripe clowns, and a 55 cal Fresh water with 2 Orandas in it. I also have a 5000 gal pond with 12 KOI in it. I am worried if the power goes out about oxygen. I don't care about lighting, << You got it, oxygen is key... also temperature. >> It just the aeration and filtration. How long will everything last without this and what can I do manually to help. << I won't tackle the pond issue, but for the reef tanks I can help.  The best thing we do here is to take a pot from the kitchen, and dip it in the tank, scoop out a pot full of water, and pour it back in.  This really helps with oxygen and aeration.  More help than you would think.  As for temperature, well that is tough.  I have a gas stove, so I can always heat up water, put some water in a two litre bottle, and float it in my tank. >>  Any advice would be a great help. Thank you so much in advance and I hope I get a answer to help before it comes. << Keep turning over the water, that is my best advise. >> <<  Blundell  >>

Hurricane Help Hello. <Hi MacL here with you today> I know I sent question early and normally I can wait For replies, However time is getting critical. <I definitely understand that.> The county I live in may be shutting off power and water. <Before the power goes out mix up some water that you can use as replacement water and store it in as many containers as you can find.  If nothing else you might need to use it as drinking water for yourself.  What the tank is going to need is oxygen exchange, you might want to get one or some of those battery powered air pumps.  You can stir the top of the tank periodically for air exchange if the power goes. Remember that dilution is the help for pollution so you could be prepared to do water changes pretty frequently. You might also invest in something like Prime to make an effort to chemically remove ammonia.  I also know one enterprising person who bought some carbon and used a picture to run amounts of his water through the carbon and then put the cleaned water back into the tank. You could consider a generator to keep the power going but that's high cost I do know.> Power company is saying it could be up to 2 weeks with no power. What can I do to try to save my fish. <I love my fish as much as anyone but don't take chances with yourself most of all. Please let us know what happens and our best wishes are for you to make this through as safely as possible. MacL>

Hurricane Advice follow-up Dear Crew, <Hi Scott, MacL here again.> I want to thank you for quick response, And Help. Just to let you know I got Extremely Lucky and God Was on my side. 1 Hour before it was to come ashore as a Cat 4 140mph - 155 mph , it took a turn and made landfall a bit south. <I am so glad to hear that you were spared Scott.> No power outage or damage. I think we are out of the woods here. While I do not wish this powerful of Hurricane on anyone, And as a retired Sheriff Deputy I feel for the persons devastated by this storm, I just thankful it was not me and now maybe I Can help others. <It might be a good idea to see what and who needs some help with their fish down there Scott, its not a pet that most people think about when doing evacuations.> Again thank you for your help. I will keep all this info at hand as I found out there are 2 more out in the Atlantic unknown where to go. <Prayers and good thoughts are with you. MacL> Thank you all. Scott..

- Ice Storm Power Loss - We had a huge ice storm here which cut power to over 150,000 people... basically our entire town. <No fun... have been through a couple of these.> I had no power, nor a generator for 5 days.  We had to leave the house due to the extreme cold. Coming home today, as expected, everything in the saltwater tank is dead.   All I can try to do now is salvage the live rock, if possible.  After running my tank for 5 years, with little hitches, I'm faced with a problem.  Should I look at the live rock NOW as basically uncured and try to salvage it by attempting to cure it with a heater etc outside the tank? <I'd cure it in the tank, might as well let all settle back in together.> The stench is tremendous... mostly from the die off of the live rock, I think. <Quite likely.> I'd like to try and save what I can, any thoughts? <Well... what's to save? I mean the rock itself will be starting from scratch. I'd run some activated carbon in your filtration system to get rid of the smell, and then get a couple of new pieces of live rock to re-seed the rock in the tank. Would let all cure in the tank... I'm assuming you have a protein skimmer. Things will make a comeback. Sorry to hear of your losses, but much better that you and your family are safe. Cheers, J -- >

Back up power supply Bob, Have you ever or do you know anyone who has used a computer battery power back up supply to keep filters going during a power outage ? <A few folks> I purchased one at a Staples store, it is rated to keep a computer and monitor going for 52 minutes so I figured it should at least drive my Magnum 350 canister filter, I'm not so sure it would drive my wet/dry pump but I would settle for the Magnum to keep running for an hour, what's your thoughts on this. I paid $150.00 for the unit. <You can either check/calculate by the wattage, ampere hour rating of the devices to estimate how long they might work together... or better (what I would do) actually test them against the uninterruptible power supply. I suspect you will want to only run one item... maybe just an air pump and stone.... and drain the canister filter down to leave an air space if it's left off for more than an hour or so... and secure, store a thermal insulating blanket to wrap around the system for such an emergency. Bob Fenner> Thanks Fred

Power Problem in winter <<JasonC here, filling in while Bob is out diving.>> I am new and getting ready to setup my first tank. I will have the basics few fish 50 pounds live rock and cleaners. My problem though... I live in a small town and when we get an ice storm in the winter and power goes out, it sometimes is out for 2 or 3 days. <<that is a problem.>> My question with out buying a generator do you think I could get away with using a computer ups (uninterrupted power supply) and just hook my whisper filter up and the submerged heater? It says it will run a pc and monitor for like 20 min.s I figure I should be able to get more than that with just those 2 little things or is there a better way? <<a UPS [that's Uninterrupted Power Supply] suitable for a 2-3 day stint, even with only a small pump and heater would still be more expensive than a generator. I think you'd find the model you were looking at would last little more than a day, if that. With computer UPS, often the design is such to give you enough time to shut down the computer with risk of damage/loss of data - not meant to run the machine for days.>> Trying to plan ahead. <<Indeed - complicated issue, real problem.>> If it helps any its a 55 gal. Thanks Tim  <<Really think hard about what you are about to do - if this is a real issue where you live and something you can bank on [will happen without fail] then you might have to make one of two difficult decisions - either forgo the tank for the winter OR buy a generator, perhaps a small used one. Cheers, J -- >>

Power outages & SW tanks Hello Bob (et al), <You got Steven today.> Had a 12 hour power outage last night. My 210G reef tank fell about 3-4 degrees. My 45G seahorse tank probably dropped a little more. I vigorously stirred the water by hand every few hours. I also was able to get the pumps running on a generator after about 8 hours but only for 30 minutes (the generator wasn't working right). I don't see any stress in the critters this morning. The only sign of stress to the system was a single, full load from the protein skimmer that might have been more related to me clearly a partially blocked venturi air inlet than the outage (no way to tell). Didn't see too many fish in the deep of the night but the ones I did see looked normally (moved away from the light; no heavy breathing.) The corals were normal for the night. My thoughts are that since the temp drop was not severe (bottomed out about 73 degrees) <Brrrr> and I moved the water around and noticed no signs of low oxygen that I'm out of the woods. What do you think? Just what is a tank's tolerance to outages? <The 12 hour point is where I start to worry. My biggest concern now is that in many instances a temperature drop is a trigger for an outbreak of crypt. Keep a close eye on things. You may also want to invest in a battery operated air pump. They are pretty cheap and a nice unit to have around in case of emergencies.> Thanks! -Marc <You are welcome. I will keep my fingers crossed. -Steven Pro>

Power Outage Bob, There was a power outage in my area last night. The good news is the power was only out for about an hour. The bad news is that I fell asleep prior to the power coming back on and the outage tripped the GFI's in my tank, so the tank power was out for about 6 hours. My first question is does anyone make GFI's that don't trip when there's a power outage. <As far as I'm aware they can/do trip or not depending on the "even-ness" of electron flow through their circuits... not whether the power is on or not... Perhaps moisture from condensation had something to do here with yours tripping> I know I need GFI's because I don't want to get zapped, but now I'm going to be worried sick every time I go on an overnight trip that the power will go out and the tank power will be down until I return to reset the GFI's. <Practice throwing the breakers over (on/off) on the circuits that are GFI protected in your house... they shouldn't trip... they do sometimes, "go bad"... may need to replace an in-line one... or have help locating the leg/s that are allowing the fault> My second question concerns my fluidized bed filter. When I first started setting my tank up last summer, I had originally planned on an all fish tank so I installed a fluidized bed filter on the sump. Instead, I've ended up with a flow blown reef tank (live rock, skimmer, many soft and stony corals and only 2 small fish). I've been considering shutting down the fluidized bed filter for some time now,  <Yes, I would... just pull it> but since all water parameters were excellent, I figured why mess with a good thing. <May not be as "good a thing" as you can have> Well, I've read that the bacteria in fluidized bed filters can die very quickly if there is no flow through the bed (like I had for six hours last night!) <An hour is too long...> Well, I didn't want to blow all that dead stuff into my tank, so this morning when I restarted everything, I mad the decision to shut down the fluidized be filter. Do you think this was wise, or should I turn it back on.  <You were wise, and fortunate to have done so> Sorry this was so long winded. By the way, the good news is that everything seemed to be doing fine this morning when I left for work...hopefully all will be well when I return this evening. <Yes> Thanks for you help, Phil in San Diego <Bob F. in San Diego... where in our area we didn't have an outage... that dang futility, I mean utility!>

Power Outage Bob, or whichever of you fine gentlemen are answering today, <do I have to answer this query in a suit to still qualify as a gentleman? Anthony <G>> I just had my first wake-up call regarding a power outage. We had a transformer blow in town and the power was out for 3 hours. Just came back on. I have a 90 gallon mini reef with 6 fish. The temp surprisingly only dropped maybe one degree if that. My question is what is the limit for how long the tank can survive without circulation, light, and heat? I realize it depends on the size of the tank -  <and mostly bio-load/O2 demand... however, reef inverts can take a lot more abuse than fish can. especially larger fish. A battery operated air pump on hand will help get you by to around 10-12 hours with little or no damage if the temp doesn't drop too much. Keep Styro sheets handy to tape the tank sealed and dark in such an event. At least cover the tank to prevent any fish from becoming excitable and consuming more precious O2. As a rule, less than 10 hours is not a big deal in a properly maintained tank (not overstocked, overfed, etc)> I guess I know I am ok for 3 hours now. And while on the topic, what is the best solution? A generator or is there something else I can get for just the tank itself?? <the main thing is aeration for the fishes.. the corals are tough and have a much more stressful 3-5 days on import> Thank-you in advance once again. I appreciate your resource muchly. Oh, also I would like to purchase a book on corals - did I read that one of you had published such a book, and if so is Amazon the most likely source on-line. Seems hard to find good books on corals. <actually, John... that was my Book of Coral Propagation: Reef Gardening for Aquarists. Thank you. At least two of the advertisers on this WWM site sell it as well (Di's aquatics and Custom Aquatic). Best regards, Anthony Calfo>  John

Re: Power outages & SW tanks Hi, Bob/Steven, <Steven tonight.> Just an update on my tank after 3 weeks. As we'd discussed earlier, I had a 12 hour power outage 3 weeks ago. I circulated water regularly by hand but the temp dropped 3-4 degrees. No sign of fish stress or disease so far; looks like I may have gotten lucky although I won't really know for another 2-3 for sure. That seems to be the full time it takes for stress to show given past experience. <After three weeks, I would think you are pretty safe.> Steven had indicated that he thought the 3-4 degree drop in 12 hours was pretty severe but it seems like fish survive worse (in degrees per hour) in a long trip home from the fish store or even if the store keeps their tank 4 degrees warmer than my own. Do you really think one degree per three hours is a major stressor for fish? Not that I'm looking to repeat the experience. <A temperature drop is one of the leading triggers for an outbreak of crypt.> I'm embarrassed to say I actually have the tank and other key circuits in the house wired for switchover to a generator but had never bothered to get that running before. I have since put the generator on line. Nothing like a scare with the tank to get me off my butt and finally get that working... <I know the feeling.> While I've got your attention, my juvenile asfur and my purple tang are still acting very shy and do not swim out much except when the lights first come on. In the dealer's show tank with lots of other tangs, the tang was quite out going. I'm wondering if my shy asfur is making my tang more skittish. Think he might get more bold with other larger fish in the tank? <He maybe chased out more by other large fish in the tank, but that is not necessarily good for his overall health. Usually time and plenty of hiding spots makes fish comfortable enough to show off.> After the tang and asfur my next largish fish is a medium sized flame angel. The two have been in my tank for over 5 months. I will be trying a more "island" rock arrangement when I tear down my tank in a bit to replace a cracked tank (and won't add any fish until after that but that gives me a chance to introduce new fish with the asfur and tang.) I assume a second asfur would be a bad idea? <Yes, bad idea.> Would you suggest any other tangs? <I would avoid other long nose, Zebrasoma, tangs. Perhaps a large P. hepatus.> Thanks! Marc <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: S.O.S. Power Outage Dear Craig - we are still w/o power and my husband has to fill it up every 45 minutes night and day.  Our neighbor has threatened to call the police if we run it after midnight.  I guess you have better neighbors.  That's why I wanted to know how long they can go in between running.  Meantime we are going to try to rent a larger more quiet generator. Connie <I would try to use a barrier to muffle the noise and see if one of the local fish stores still has any battery powered AIR PUMPS still in stock and use those.  Also, call the police up front and ask them about the noise ordinance in emergencies.....I'll bet they have special provisions for generator noise in power outages. Your neighbor is a piece of work.  This is just one of the reasons I live in the country.  I can pretty much do what I want, up to a point....I can't make any noise that can be measured at 100db or higher at my neighbors house.  How loud is your generator at your neighbors house?  I would think there is a measurable level. Gee, it can't last that long, if there are no more air pumps in stock, get your neighbor some earmuffs, or Prozac.  Craig>

Power Failure EMERGENCY! Hey Crew...Salutations. Happy New Year! Thanks for the help in curing my tank of ICH, the natural way. Superior water quality, high temperature(83 F), combined with a high nutrient food for 2 months did the trick. Unfortunately the Santa Ana winds undid all our patience by knocking down my tree and the electrical with it. I woke up this morning to all my fish desperately trying to breathe near the surface. A quick glance also confirmed a few dead ones on the bottom with at least 50 pc.s of coral mainly Acro. sp. and Monti. sp. very unhappy. My guess is that the electrical went out sometime early morning around 12AM and was without circulation or temperature until I got up for work at 7 am. As far as I know the electric is still out. What should I do? What can be saved or I can hope to save when/if electric comes back on? <If you can, "waft" or better still, use an all-plastic pitcher to scoop up, pour back in the water... continuously... till the power comes back on. Do remove the dead organisms, don't feed, open up windows if they'll throw any light on the system. If the water is "warm", lower it (with your remaining ice cubes) to the lower seventies F. to increase gas solubility while decreasing metabolic rates> The tank is 150gal full blown reef and I fear what I might find when I get back to the house this evening. What do you think can be salvaged? Where do I go from here? I guess a power generator should have been on my X-MAS wish list. <Or an uninterruptible power supply (UPS, like those used for computers) to run at least air pumps... or even just battery operated air pumps.> Sincerely, Dennis <Good luck. Bob Fenner>

No Power! Hello all, <Scott F. here today> I have a 55 gal corner bow with a magnum 350 with a large russelli lionfish.  He is doing great, but I am still waiting for some money to buy an Aqua C Remora skimmer. <A great HOT skimmer!> The reason that I don't have the skimmer yet is that I have been saving for a new electric service (ours is an antique) and that brings me to today's question.  The electrician says that he will have the power off for at least 8 hours.  Is there anything special I can or should do for my fish while his air and filters are off?  I have no neighbors near enough to borrow electric from.  Should I rent a generator? or  am I just being overly cautious? <Ideally, I'd  go for the generator (depending on whether or not you're as anal as I am!)! At the least, I'd recommend trying to use a battery powered air pump and an airstone to provide some aeration. Should be okay for this period of time. I'd worry more about the possible heat loss in some areas of the country, and take measures to keep the tank insulated during this period of time. Lionfishes are pretty tough fishes, so he should pull through just fine!> Thanks as always for  a great website, Bryan Flanigan  <And thanks to you for stopping by!>

- Dealing with Power Outages - Hello all: <And hello to you, JasonC here...> After experiencing a three-hour plus power failure last night, I was wondering how long fish can cope under these circumstances without jeopardizing their well-being. <Not for too much longer than that, but there are variables - bioload, prevailing temperature and insulation of your home, etc.> We have a 125G FOwoLR. When the power returned, most pumps, UV and heater operated normally. Only the pump on the protein skimmer did not come back on, which I will address when I get home from work tonight. I realize that there are battery-operated water circulating devices that can be used in the event of a power failure. What is your opinion of these? <I've only seen battery powered air pumps, which would be worth having if the power stayed off too long. Having just moved out of New England, my pervasive fear was ice storms which would keep the power out for more than 24 hours - in those situations, a generator is really your best ally. Battery-powered devices tend to be low demand - or conversely, not high output... so on a system like yours, they will provide only a modicum of benefit. Oxygenation of the water is most important in these circumstances, followed by temperature control.> Thanks, Mitch <Cheers, J -- >

- Power Outages - Jason: <Howdy...> Well, I cleaned the impeller of the skimmer pump, but unfortunately, it did not return to working order. Is it possible that my surge protector really is not that good and that either the power outage, or power surge upon regaining electricity, caused the pump to malfunction? This is the second impeller in less than 6 months that I will now have to replace for this Rio 1700. <Yeah... the impeller in the RIO pumps is prone to failure. Check out the end of the magnet. In my experience, the hole that should be round tends to oval-out making it easier over time for the pump to stall. Cleaning the pump frequently tends to keep this problem at bay.> I look forward to your comments. Thanks, Mitch <Cheers, J -- >

- Re: Power Outages - Thanks for the prompt reply, Jason. <My pleasure.> Fortunately, my bioload is light and the home has great insulation, so I do not believe that the temperature dropped off significantly during this period. The weather in So Cal has been mild, luckily. <Certainly no worries about ice storms then.> As far as the pump for the skimmer, I am hoping that the impeller got jammed with the power outage and that once I clean it, it will return to normal operation. <My thoughts exactly.> Any input as to why only this pump did not begin working would be appreciated. <Well... skimmer pumps tend to get the dirties water... and in my opinion people [in general] don't clean then as often as they should be - about once a month is really ideal.> Thanks, Mitch <Cheers, J -- >

Power Outage HELP !!! <Sure.  Scott V. here this morning.> CAN ANYTHING BE SAVED? <Yes>  IS MY SAND AND ROCK STILL ALIVE ? <Mostly, yes> WHAT ABOUT ALL MY CRITTERS? <It depends, how do they look?> OUR POWER WENT OUT FRIDAY NIGHT AND WAS JUST TURNED BACK ON MONDAY EVENING. <I live in Northeast Wisconsin and mine went out Thursday night.  Probably the same storm :) > TEMPERATURES IN THE HOUSE AND FISH TANK FELL TO THE LOW FORTIES  (GOTTA LOVE MICHIGAN ) FOR ALL THREE DAYS. <If power was out for a day, why was it three days before the temp came back up?> ALL CORALS, SHRIMP, CRABS ETC.  ARE DEAD. <Bummer>  AFTER REMOVING THEM MONDAY EVENING  I DID A WATER CHANGE WITH NEW FILTERS/FLOSS ETC. NOW I AM NOT SURE IF I SHOULD REMOVE THE ROCK AND SAND AS WELL? <No, leave them alone.  Just look for any die off and remove anything that you think is dead> TANK SPECS ARE AS FOLLOWS: 7 GAL MINI BOW WITH 2 32WATT PC'S, HOB SKILTER  250WITH SKIMMER AND RIO WATER PUMP FOR MORE CURRENT. APPROX 15 LBS FLORIDA LIVE ROCK WITH 2" OF (LIVE ?)SAND. TANK WAS ALMOST 2 YEARS OLD WITH ASSORTED LEATHERS, MUSHROOMS, XENIA, AND ONE BEAUTIFUL HAMMER THAT MY WIFE PICKED OUT. WE ALSO HAD 1 CLEANER SHRIMP, 1 HERMIT, 1 BOXER CRAB, AND MISC CRITTERS THAT PROVIDED HOURS OF ENTERTAINMENT ( NO FISH AT FOR LAST 4 MO). COULD YOU PLEASE GIVE ADVICE ON HOW TO PROCEED SETTING THIS TANK UP AGAIN? <Sure>  DO I NEED TO START COMPLETELY OVER? <No> OR CAN I START STOCKING AS SOON AS MY WATER TESTS ARE OK?  <Pretty much, yes.  Just be patient.  Continue removing anything that looks dead.  Continue doing water changes.  Test the water as often as possible and increase the frequency and amount of water changes as needed.  Since there was/will be die off of organisms on the rock, you will pretty much be curing it all over again.  The tank will also have to cycle again.  Watch all the tests and wait until after the Nitrates have spiked and settled back to normal before even considering adding more to the tank, and then do so slowly just as with a new tank.  It will take a little time, but should go much more quickly than cycling a new tank.  Just take your time.> I WILL BE BUYING A GENERATOR TO KEEP THE TANK RUNNING DURING POWER OUTAGES,   EVEN IF THE REST OF MY HOUSE FREEZES!!! <Good idea!> THANK YOU IN ADVANCE FROM FROZEN IN MICHIGAN. <You're most welcome from Scott V. in Wisconsin> <Oh, and drop the caps when writing e-mail or doing anything online.  It's harder to read and online it means you're yelling.  Well, in this case I guess you might be :) >

Scheduled Power Outage - what can I do? Greetings all! <Hi Jeremy, Don here tonight> My 20 gal nano is at the office and our building is planning a power outage for next weekend. I've read the FAQ's but I'm looking for all possible things I can do to keep things happy during the outage. <OK> The outage is going to last aprox. 24 hours. We are prohibited from entering the building during the outage because the security system will be disabled. We have an Uninterruptible Power Supply we can use but a test last week shows it will only run the powerhead for the skimmer for 3.5 hours (I have a Remora with a MaxiJet 1200). The tank is stocked with: 1 Yellowheaded Jawfish 1 Peppermint Shrimp Assorted snails/hermits Zoanthids Star Polyps And 2 colt corals (these are cuttings from a friend and I'm planning on transferring to a larger tank once it is up and running). The FAQ's mention using an airstone or two to keep oxygen levels up. I can certainly do this and the UPS will probably run these for much longer than the powerhead. I'm not worried about temp since it is very warm here now and the A/C will be off in the building during the outage. So, other than airstones to keep oxygen up, what else can I do? I'm looking for any and all options. <Given your description of the problem, I would say the airstones are your best bet. Have you looked into a battery operated air pump? These can be a life saver (literally) in a power outage and are good to have around.> Thanks in advance! <No problem, hope this works OK for you.> -Jeremy

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