How long can beneficial bacterial live during a power outage inside canister filter? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-30-2016, 10:26 AM Thread Starter
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How long can beneficial bacterial live during a power outage inside canister filter?

How long can beneficial bacterial live during a power outage inside canister filter?

I have a sun-sun (ebay) canister filter 265 GPH rated for 75 gallon tank 3-stage filtration with the last chamber being filled with fluval biomax ceramic rings.

I live in a part of Florida that had power outages like a 3rd world country. Its going out every single month several times.

I have connected some air pumps to a UPS so my fish hopefully won't die however I am wondering how long can that beneficial bacteria survive in the canister filter(fluval biomax media) if that makes a difference.

Are we talking a matter of minutes, hours, days,etc...??

I guess the bacteria stops getting oxygen and food supply(ammonia/nitrites) when the power goes out. Just sitting in a canister with water that is not moving.

Thanks.

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29 gallon Gold fish tank(1 large fish)
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-30-2016, 11:33 AM
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I am not an expert but I think if it was for a matter of hours you would be fine.

Your bio filter (Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter) is more adversely affected by drying out than low oxygen and food levels. When dissolved o2 drop to a certain point, nitrification will simply not occur. This and other factors such as temperature will slow the growth rate, but not kill off your established bacteria.

You should have plenty of nutrients and micro nutrients in the can filter water and media to keep your bio filter busy and not dormant for the duration of a power outage. Keep in mind that Dr Tim's live nitrifying bacteria comes in a refrigerated closed bottle, dormant but not dead. Hope this helps

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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-30-2016, 11:40 AM
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I have lost power for several hours at times with no problems. Your fish will be fine without the air pumps as well.

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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-30-2016, 01:29 PM
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I have left the canisters off for up to 24hrs with no issues.

One time I had the canister off for almost a week and it had a real rotten egg gas when restarted. I gave up and cleaned it.

I do wonder if bacteria get more hardy so leaving a canister off overnight on a two month old tank may be more of an issue.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-30-2016, 01:45 PM
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I really have no idea how accurate the info is, but the figure I always saw when doing pond research was 4 hours. They said if your pumps/circulation failed you were pretty safe for 4 hours, any longer than that and you should add air.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-30-2016, 02:56 PM
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As soon as the water loses all of its O2. You nose will tell when. Once the water goes flat in and around the beneficial bacteria, an over growth of anaerobic bacteria will take place. To reach a population boom takes minimum of 6 hrs after oxygen depletion.

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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-30-2016, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by MCSLABS View Post
As soon as the water loses all of its O2. You nose will tell when. Once the water goes flat in and around the beneficial bacteria, an over growth of anaerobic bacteria will take place. To reach a population boom takes minimum of 6 hrs after oxygen depletion.
That makes sense. Same thing happened with a project of mine in which there wasn't enough o2 getting to substrate. I could see that happening in a canister.

Are the power outs lasting hours? If so, maybe you may want to look at practical battery backup for your filter and pumps. I don't know if there are practical options for that but it's an idea if you are going long stretches without power, possibly for your whole house. That isn't good for your refrigerator compressor for example. If you did, you would not have to worry about all your hard work in your tank(s) going down the drain.

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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-30-2016, 06:39 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monrankim View Post
I am not an expert but I think if it was for a matter of hours you would be fine.

Your bio filter (Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter) is more adversely affected by drying out than low oxygen and food levels. When dissolved o2 drop to a certain point, nitrification will simply not occur. This and other factors such as temperature will slow the growth rate, but not kill off your established bacteria.

You should have plenty of nutrients and micro nutrients in the can filter water and media to keep your bio filter busy and not dormant for the duration of a power outage. Keep in mind that Dr Tim's live nitrifying bacteria comes in a refrigerated closed bottle, dormant but not dead. Hope this helps

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Good thing I don't have the biowheel because when those stop moving, they don't get water and can dry up I think. Unless being near the water has enough humidity to keep them alive?

75 Gallon community planted Aquarium. Pearl Gourami,Golden barbs, zebra, pearl Danios,black neon tetra, glow-light, denson barb, Rasboras, cherry barbs, fancy tail guppies, hachet fish, rosy tetra, flame tetra
29 gallon Gold fish tank(1 large fish)
55 gallon planted red cherry shrimp tank, otto, neon tetra, white cloud.
10 gallon betta tank
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-30-2016, 06:55 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jrill View Post
I have lost power for several hours at times with no problems. Your fish will be fine without the air pumps as well.

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How will the fish be fine without air pumps as well during a power outage? How will they breath? I think the Gourami or Betta will be fine since they have a organ that is like a primitive lung that allows them to breath air. However, the other fish have gills. How can they possible breath without the air pump or brights lights to allow the plants to create oxygen?


I have been told by others that my tank is overstocked.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lq9q8NZRSZQ

75 Gallon community planted Aquarium. Pearl Gourami,Golden barbs, zebra, pearl Danios,black neon tetra, glow-light, denson barb, Rasboras, cherry barbs, fancy tail guppies, hachet fish, rosy tetra, flame tetra
29 gallon Gold fish tank(1 large fish)
55 gallon planted red cherry shrimp tank, otto, neon tetra, white cloud.
10 gallon betta tank
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-30-2016, 08:29 PM
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Whether your tank is "overstocked" or simply has its maximum load capacity for balance is a matter of conditions and how much of a safety margin you want in case something changes. In your case, what with power outages occurring regularly, you would probably be better advised to either keep less animal stock or invest in a UPS that can handle your whole system, filters included, for several hours.

The answers given above sound reasonable to me, especially the four hour timespan before aerobic (good, beneficial) bacteria begin to die off and anaerobic bacteria begin producing toxic substances.

Your question reminded me of when I lived in Jensen Beach, FL, and some guy was doing about 80mph along Indian River Drive and took out a power pole around 2am (and himself, too, I think). I woke up that morning and found all the fish I had caught for my saltwater aquarium were showing signs of stress after being without air or circulation for over four hours. The tank was 6' long but only 45 gallons, so it had a lot of surface area per gallon, or else I suspect they would have already been belly-up. At the time, I couldn't afford to run out and buy battery powered air pumps and the power was out for several hours, so I ended up taking everything, fish, hermit crabs, etc., back to the reef/beach where I had caught most of them. (And before someone protests the re-introduction of captive animals into the environment, they were all native and everything that was in my only tank was locally caught/collected by me - nothing store-bought - so there was no danger of introducing any foreign species or pathogens into the natural environment.)

Oh, and my sister in law's remark was "Well, at least he didn't PAY for the fish."!!! I was more proud of and attached to those fish than if I had bought them!

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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-30-2016, 09:26 PM
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I'd second the idea of a decent UPS. If you keep an eye on the Amazon deals of the day, they usually do a UPS about once a month.

Some of the larger computer type UPS's should be able to run an air pump and whatever your filter is for at least 3 - 5 hours.

At that point, you'd be looking at a window of 7 - 9 hours of power outage before your fish start to show signs of a problem.

The other route to go is have a heavily planted tank. My heavily planted tanks can go without power/circulation for over 24 hours and none of the fish seemed bothered in the least.
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-01-2016, 02:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpaceLord View Post
How will the fish be fine without air pumps as well during a power outage? How will they breath? I think the Gourami or Betta will be fine since they have a organ that is like a primitive lung that allows them to breath air. However, the other fish have gills. How can they possible breath without the air pump or brights lights to allow the plants to create oxygen?


I have been told by others that my tank is overstocked.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lq9q8NZRSZQ
Because the air is not depleted as fast as you think it is.

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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-01-2016, 02:27 AM
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That is an attractive but yet overstocked tank. O2 could deplete faster than a tank with less fish but you have made it this far with no casualties (hopefully) and your bio filter will survive the power outages, so you don't have much to worry about. That has to be stressful though, especially if you don't know how long you will be without power. So I do hope you look into the backup power and/or plant heavy for peace of mind. Our hobby is suppose to be our Zen rather than our worries.

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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-01-2016, 03:08 PM
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I've often thought that a power outage longer than 24 hours may cause anaerobic bacteria to over take aerobic bacteria and compromise the bio-media. A better option would be to have a battery powered air pump on hand (like those used in fishing minnow buckets)...Then remove the bio-media bag a place directly in the aquarium until the outage is over. The bag of bio-media might be placed on top of the battery powered air stone which will allow bio filtration to continue!
Note: Although prolly not an issue for the Floridian poster, but depending on your climate and the time of year, we need to also be concerned about temperature. (remembering winter ice storms in the NE years ago when power was out a week or more!).

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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-01-2016, 03:57 PM
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That is a good idea as far as continuing the bio filtration. Those battery powered air pumps aren't too expensive. The only problem is that he has to be there to remove the bio media. Another option is to run the air stone into the filter itself and nest the air stone with the media, underneath. With a HOB filter it would be easy enough but with a canister filter you would get creative. You could possibly run the air line all the way through the intake line and to the bottom of the can so the air stone bubbles underneath all of the filter media.

Kind of unconventional but I think it could work to at least keep his filter healthy.

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