How to keep tank warm during power outage? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-27-2010, 06:29 PM Thread Starter
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How to keep tank warm during power outage?

Last evening out power went out. We do have a generator but it's difficult to set up and get going--in the future we're going to be smarter and set it up when we hear there is going to be a big storm but this time we didn't--and it was dark so we couldn't really do it. We were planning to get it going in the morning but thankfully the power came back.

But it got me thinking, if you don't have a generator, what do you guys do for your fish tanks? Mine dropped 4 degrees in about 4 hours. It was a 74 and it got down to 70.

I decided to take a chance and siphon out some of the tank water, heat it over the stove (thankfully mom has a big pot she uses to boil cans for canning in that has only even seen water, nothing else in it), then siphon out some more tank water into the pot to get a more neutral temp and then carefully add it back into the tank.

This did bring the temperature back to about 73-74. And thankfully power came back on at 3:30am. But I'm not entirely sure this was really a very wise thing to do. My thinking was they're going to get too cold. If it's dropping 1 degree/hour then by morning, or at least when the sun starts to come up so we can put the generator on--which is like just about 7am this time of year, it's going to be at 62 degrees or there abouts. So I felt I had to try something.

But I am concerned that by adding the water back like that it was a relatively abrupt change in temperature back up to a little over 73 degrees from 70. This is all Fahrenheit by the way.

Thankfully my fish seem to have survive the night and are doing pretty well today. Hopefully they'll be alright. But what is a better way to deal with this? Or do you all just have generators?

In the future we'll definitely have a generator set up before hand but you never know when someone crashes into a telephone pole or something, we might lose power when we don't expect it etc.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-27-2010, 06:41 PM
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this comes up year after year...
....all you can do is wrap it in blankets and periodically drain cold water and add warm water to the tank and pray for the best results

it is IMPOSSIBLE to find 1 person who regrets going pressurized

if you do it right, you can spend a lot of money in this hobby...of course, if you do it wrong - you'll spend A LOT more
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-27-2010, 06:53 PM
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Ive thought this myself. In fact i was without power for 3 hrs christmas night with No generator. My only FW tank is my 55g and i wasnt worried about it but my Saltwater Fluval Edge had me concerned. In those 3 hrs it dropped from 78 down to 72. Luckily the power came back on before it got worse. Fish and coral all seem fine.

Ive wondered about battery back-ups and considered getting one just for the heater.

never used one so i dont know much about them. I just wonder how long they would last under a minimal load *400w backup running 50w heater = XX:XX???
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-27-2010, 07:26 PM
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Heres a last resort fix (i almost considered doing this)

You could use a DC/AC converter and run an extension cord from your car to your house and plug in the heater. It would work.... til you run out of gas.

Last edited by MlDukes; 12-27-2010 at 10:03 PM.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-27-2010, 08:50 PM
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1. In an emergency, place 1 or more activated disposable hand warmers (the type you squeeze to start the chemical reaction that generates heat) inside a sealed clear freezer bag. Place the sealed freezer bag & dispoable hand warmer(s) in your aquarium and periodically monitor the water temperature -- especially for smaller aquariums. For larger/longer aquariums, you might need to use several bags with activated disposable heat warmers inside. If you have sensitive aquatic life (certain corals), keep the heat source farther away. This isn't an ideal solution by an strecth -- you have to be there to adminster it -- but it can be a workable one that helps prevent any serious damage/loss to an aquarium.

2. Assuming the stove is not working because of the power outtage, use a gas-powered camping stove/grill to heat some water and replace the colder water from the aquarium with the heated (but not too hot) water. Some folks who entertain often might have a chafing table/fondue pot that uses fuel in a small canister. This setup can also be used to heat water. Remember not to heat the water too high -- otherwise, you'll have to let it cool down longer and that takes more time (or ice).

3. Some of the emergency car starters also have a outlet that can be used to power devices for a period of time. However, I doubt these devices will power a filter/airstone and heater very long.

4. There are battery backups for basement sump pumps. I would imagine one could be modified for an aquarium environment. The battery backup for the sump should already be fitted with a trickle charger so it is ready (fully charged) when needed and (depending upon model) will kick in automatically if there is a power outtage. Those are 2 things we would want for a backup power source for the aquarium.

Anyone who needs to run more than a filter/airstone and heater during a power outtage should probably consider investing in a portable generator that automatically starts up when there is an outtage.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-27-2010, 08:56 PM
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Fill up lots of water bottles or coke bottles with warm water. Place them in the tank and watch the temp. Just take them out when it's too hot and add them when too cold. Not bad.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-28-2010, 12:24 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the suggestions. I did think about wrapping the tank in Styrofoam but didn't have any. We did start a fire in that room but I don't know how much that really helped.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-28-2010, 03:05 AM
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My reef tank's stand is made so that the tank bottom is exposed to the inside of the stand and there is a shelf that sits about a foot from the bottom of the tank. Before I got a generator, when the power went out I would cover the tank with several layers of blankets, then light several candles on that shelf. Believe it or not, it kept the tank temperature in the low 70's. I didn't dare to go to sleep while I was doing this, though.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-28-2010, 09:16 AM
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my power went out for two days last year
had to go to my sons house who had power and i filled big ziplock bags
with hot water and but them in a styro cooler
then placed a bag at a time in tank
saved all myfish and it was really cold
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