Prepping for and Surviving power outtages

ChileRelleno

Black Skirt Tetra
Original poster
MFK Member
Nov 14, 2005
262
12
18
Mobile, AL
You've unexpectedly loss power... Now what? :help2:
So you know you have a major storm of some type coming...
You know there is a good chance of losing power..................
Could be for a few hours or days/weeks even......................:eek:
What about my fish?

Prepping for storms is relatively easy and basic survival gear/tactics can be had for little time/effort/money.
A severe storm can leave you without electrical power and your fish
without filtration, circulation, heating/cooling and problems with maintaining sufficient dissolved oxygen.
Even a few hours can cause serious problems, even less when it comes to filtration/cycling.
......................................................................................................................................................................................................................

The Basics for Survival

1) Stop feeding.

Do not feed your fish during this time,
larger juveniles/adults can go several weeks without food, this will keep waste down.
Fry or very young juvies will need to be fed, I suggest using a BPAP to run a sponge filter.


2) Perform a thorough vacuuming of the substrate and a significant water change.

Water change and vacuuming of waste will remove waste and help maintain low levels of NO3(Nitrate)
and give you more time before maintenance is needed again.
I would suggest testing water chemistry parameters daily and performing
PWC's as needed.
You will lose a significant portion of your bio-filtration ability while your filters are not working,
but your entire tank is a bio-filter, every surface is alive with bio-bacteria.

Note: I would suggest not doing any vacuuming of substrate to remove feces while the power/filtration is out.
I would suggest netting the larger pieces of waste.

3) Perform filter maintenance, lightly rinse media/media chamber and float media in tank.

A very important thing to know is that the debris (organic matter)
and the bio-mass in your filters can die and turn toxic in a very short time period.
This can kill your fish if you let the filters flush this into the tank when power comes back,
filter media should be removed and floated in the tank,
this will preserve your bio-bacteria and they will continue to convert waste.
You may improve the limited bio filtration by placing a airstone beneath the media to induce circulation thru the media...
BPAP's can run sponge filters.
The filters should be either unplugged or primed to restart when the power returns.

4) Pull out your BPAP's (battery powered air pumps), check functionality and batteries. Do you have extra batteries?

Why BPAP's?
You would need to provide some sort of circulation and agitation of the
waters surface in order to maintain the exchange of gases between
water/atmosphere in order to avoid oxygen starvation.
Especially in hot weather.
You can do this by frequently (once per hour at least, half hour intervals even better)
filling a bucket full of tank water and dumping it back into the tank
( this is ALOT of WORK!!!)
Or by utilizing BPAP's and letting the bubbles do all the work.

There are various makes/models of BPAP's.
I have had very satisfactory experience with Penn Plax 'Silent Air-B10/B11 BPAP's.
Never had to change the batteries in them, they ran on the same batteries for four days without a noticeable loss of output.

The B10 model you have to switch on manually but the B11 plugs into the wall and automatically comes on when there is a loss of power,
other than that they are basically the same unit...
Very nice, great products!

Two units, a B10 and a B11 adequately maintained circulation and surface agitation in our Oscar's 75 gal tank.
No sign of lack oxygen deprivation or other stress even with the water temps hitting 85'f.
A single B10 in each of our 10gal tanks kept them practically boiling with circulation.

You can find these units reasonably priced here,
http://www.petsmart.com/global/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCT<>prd_id=845524441779314&FOLDER<>folder_id=2534374302030044&ASSORTMENT<>ast_id=2534374302023693&bmUID=1125866175800
......................................................................................................................................................................................................................

5) Controlling temperature.

During the warmer months tank temps can soar rapidly,
this causes stress as oxygen levels drop as temps rise and this can further stress your fish.
Cooling can be accomplished by...
A. Leaving lights off... (Not a problem when without power.)
B. *Positioning a fan to blow air over and around the tank, this is evaporative cooling and you'll need to top-off the tank frequently.
C. By floating bags of ice in the water.
D. *By your chiller.

*Options B & D require you to have a alternate power unit (APU, i.e. generator).


During the colder months tank temps can drop rapidly,
this too stresses your fish, and cold water and stress can kill your tropical fish.
Heating can be accomplished...
A. Wrapping the tank in a insulating material.
B. Floating bags/bottles of hot water.
C. Water changes with warm water.
D. Depending on your tank/stand it is sometimes possible to position a heat source below the tank.
Some have used oil lamps, camping lanterns and such.
**************************** !ATTENTION!*****************************
Great care must be taken to safely manage such things and prevent the possibility of FIRE and other hazards.
......................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Beyond the basics... (in progress)
I'm planning to include info on the use of various battery backup systems, e.g. UPS/Powerpack, and APU's, i.e. generator sytems.
 

ChileRelleno

Black Skirt Tetra
Original poster
MFK Member
Nov 14, 2005
262
12
18
Mobile, AL
I wrote the above piece as a way of possibly helping others to learn from my direct experiences with prolonged power outtages.
I've experienced two major prolonged outtages due to hurricanes, H. Ivan & H. Katrina, Ivan caught me with my pants down as a fish-keeper and I lost several fish, I was prepared for Katrina and lost no fish.

Two very different experiences as a fish-keeper.

This linked thread was my first after H. Ivan...
http://www.aquariumadvice.com/viewtopic.php?t=32479&highlight=ivan
ChileRelleno said:
I live in Mobile, AL and hurricane Ivan killed our power and killed my Oscar and our two Plecs .
Our Betta girls were happy and totally oblivious, they even seemed happier with no filtration/water flow and being Belotiidae family fish (air breathers) the lower oxygen levels didn't bother them at all...
But our poor Oscar couldn't handle it and succumbed to lack of oxygen due to high temps/loss of filtration.
I will be buying a small generator to power our tanks... Not to mention the A/C, TV and a light or two. Even if it only gets used very very seldom it'll be worth the cost.
This one after H. Katrina...
http://www.oscarfish.com/hurricane-katrina-battery-powered-air-pumps-save-the-day-vt46228.html?highlight=battery+powered
ChileRelleno said:
Hurricane Ivan...
No battery powered air pumps equaled dead Oscar and other fish.
Hurricane Katrina...
Multiple battery powered air pumps equals healthy fish !

Our power was out for four days in the aftermath of Katrina (We live in Mobile,AL), we had bought Penn Plax 'Silent Air-B10/B11 battery powered air pumps for the next time we lost power and they worked beautifully!
Never had to change the batteries in them, they ran on the same batteries for four days without a noticeable loss of output.

The B10 model you have to switch on manually but the B11 plugs into the wall and automatically comes on when there is a loss of power, other than that they are basically the same unit...
Very nice, great products!
We're gonna buy B11's to replace the B10's and keep'em on standby 24/7.

Two units, a B10 and a B11 adequately maintained circulation and surface agitation in our Oscar's 75 gal tank. No sign of lack oxygen deprivation or other stress even with the water temps hitting 85'f.
A single B10 in each of our 10gal tanks kept them practically boiling with circulation.

You can find these units reasonably priced here,
http://www.petsmart.com/global/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCT<>prd_id=845524441779314&FOLDER<>folder_id=2534374302030044&ASSORTMENT<>ast_id=2534374302023693&bmUID=1125866175800

We just got power-n-cable back, filters-n-ect are running again.
We prepped for the hurricane with 30%+ pwc's and GV's, stopped feeding and setup the B10/B11's.
I just did water test tonight...
Tank NH3 NO2 NO3 PH GH KH
75......0.....0....30......7....4....2
10......0.....0....20......7....4....4
10......0.....0....10......7....4....4
Great parameters after four days of nil filtration.

My family is fine, our house could be better but suffered no structural or flood damage so everything else is just a matter of time, money and hardwork.
 
  • Like
Reactions: kkirkt

Oddball

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
MFK Member
Apr 27, 2005
22,393
2,528
9,480
61
Bama
Good info. With over 100 tanks, I decided on a different avenue to cope with power losses. I installed a Generac 15kW automatic natural gas backup generator. I liked it so much that I also installed a 12kW system on the house.

generac.jpg
 
  • Like
Reactions: Dee eng

MilitantPotato

Candiru
MFK Member
Jul 19, 2006
722
2
48
Missouri, USA
Just a tip on generators, be sure they produce a pure sine wave, otherwise magnetic induction motors (I think this is the ones that have major issues) won't function properly, if at all. This applies to lower end computer UPS's too (Below a $1000,) they put out a stepped sine wave, and very few pump motors function correctly on them.

I'm planning on getting a Honda EU1000i or EU2000i generator, which produce the sine wave equal to what comes from the wall.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Razzo

RadleyMiller

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Aug 15, 2006
2,591
2
0
Delaware
www.myspace.com
MilitantPotato;618605; said:
Just a tip on generators, be sure they produce a pure sine wave, otherwise magnetic induction motors (I think this is the ones that have major issues) won't function properly, if at all. This applies to lower end computer UPS's too (Below a $1000,) they put out a stepped sine wave, and very few pump motors function correctly on them.

I'm planning on getting a Honda EU1000i or EU2000i generator, which produce the sine wave equal to what comes from the wall.

Can someone explain this sine wave thing in a more simplistic way? I understand trig, but not generators.
 

AtomixIGN

Black Skirt Tetra
MFK Member
Feb 20, 2006
382
3
18
39
Pohatcong, NJ
A sine wave is a mathmatical(trig) term that describes a certain shape wave on a graph.





If you graph out Alternating current, it looks like a sine wave. If you graph out Direct current... it pretty much looks like a straight line.



Large electric motors are designed to run on Three Phase Alternating current. Which basically means three sine waves are being sent out times in such a way so they look staggered in a graph. When you have a brown out, you lose one or two of those phases if alternating current and high voltage motors(things plugged into 220 and 480 outlets) burn out real quick if they aren't immediatly turned off.


Most small electric motors and induction motors are single phase so regular alternating current(like from your house) is fine. Direct current liek from your car is bad.
 

ChileRelleno

Black Skirt Tetra
Original poster
MFK Member
Nov 14, 2005
262
12
18
Mobile, AL
This article in it's current form addresses the basics/minimums methods of and equipment needed for prepping a tank/filtration and ensuring fish survive.
It is aimed at the average fishkeeper, of average ability/dedication and means, who doesn't keep a generator primarily for their fish/tanks.

Most folks will do good just in acquiring a low-mid range surge protection/UPS for their computer and other electronics, and/or a generator sufficient to power a couple key household items such as refridge/freezer, AC and a few lights in the event of a prolonged power outtage.
Many of folks don't have/don't want to pay, several hundred to several thousand dollars for a APU that might get used briefly once or twice a year.
Many folks just aren't that concerned about their fish in such circumstances, more concerned with some heating/cooling, lights and etc.

Those of us who are are above average in our dedication/ability/addiction, who may have multiple tanks/large tanks, expensive equipment, large/expensive fish who we are very fond of have already figured that a generator is the way to go.
I have a generator now, after acquiring a level of dedication/addiction to my fishs wellbeing that is equal to most peoples in their dog/cat.
..................................................................................................................................


If anybody can more advice/tips to caring for their fish in such challenging circumstances...
That doesn't involve the outlay of $$$100's-1000's$$$ for back-up/alternate power sources...
I would love to see those in this thread.
 

Oddball

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
MFK Member
Apr 27, 2005
22,393
2,528
9,480
61
Bama
Years ago (I don't want to say how many), We used to aerate tanks, during power outages, with truck inner tubes like the ones you go tubing down the river in. They can be filled with a bicycle pump so, you can use them over and over again in a blackout.
We'd fill the tubes then connect them to a home-made manifold (stainless steel pipe. Today...PVC can be used). A basketball inflation needle valve would be mounted to the tube's valve stem. A short collar of rubber hose connects the tube valve stem to the manifold with hose clamps holding the tube to the manifold. The hose was cut so that the needle valve presses against the inner wall of the steel pipe to start the air flow. Several smaller pipes T off the manifold with aquarium airline tubing and air regulator valves mounted along the airline tubing. The terminal ends of the tubing are then connected to airstones or corner filters to aerate the tanks until the power is restored.
Heating the tanks was accomplished with coleman lanterns lit off under the tanks. They were not that efficient but, they slowed down the rate the tanks cooled off.
 
  • Like
Reactions: runninamuk
zoomed.com
hikariusa.com
aqaimports.com
Store