Power outage thought - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-01-2010, 02:52 PM Thread Starter
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Power outage thought

One day this past week we lost power for about 5 to 6 hours. All three of my tanks just sat there still as could be. The saltwater tank with all the live corals seemed to be bothered the most by it. Short of buying a generator for the one or two times a year it happens there aren't to many options. There are battery operated power heads but they are not cheep either.
I just set up a CO2 reactor with thee help of the DIY posts hear and it it working great.
It got me thinking why not do something similar bit with a O2 tank for power
outages. You could use a cheaper regulator with a good needle valve and a solenoid that would open when the power goes out. Connect this to a air stone and you now have lots of air bubbles and water movement. When the power comes back on it shuts down and everything goes back to normal.
Just a thought.
Barring the heat in your home being a problem does anyone know how long a tank, lets say 50 gallons could go without any water movement.
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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-01-2010, 03:34 PM
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Regular air is fine. No need for an O2 tank. An air pump or powerhead connected to your generator or battery would work great.


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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-01-2010, 03:49 PM
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What I do is have a few battery operated air pumps. They are inexpensive, and are good enough to keep just enough circulation going to get you through an outage. Here is an example (offsite) - http://www.fosterandsmithaquatics.co...3578/3669/8044

If you don't have a FW tank heavily stocked, you could keep it going for weeks. Remember, tropical fish keeping pre-dates having any filtration equipment and lighting at all. A SW system is a bit different. Lots of livestock depends on a high flow rate, plus the fish are often more demanding, and people tent to over stock them. I'd give a typical SW system 12 to 24 hours without power.

A couple of times I've lost power for a couple of days, lost everything in my reef tanks, but it didn't even phase the FW tank.
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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-01-2010, 05:09 PM
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Yep I use this one in my FW:

http://www.fosterandsmithaquatics.co...20&pcatid=8120

It works great and will switch over to battery automatically if the power goes off, which is great cause who knows if you'll be home when it happens, right? It has 2 outlets and I have an airstone and a sponge filter hooked up to it.
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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-02-2010, 12:57 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks,
I'll look into that one. It would be well worth the investment.
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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-02-2010, 03:42 AM
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it wont help with water circulation but i've read about people using h2o2 to help supply o2 during outages
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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-02-2010, 06:17 AM
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Have not thought this out but what if you filled a large plastic bottle with tank water, put a tiny hole in the lid and suspended it over the tank so it dripped slowly out? That would keep the water surface rippling a bit which is why we use airstones.
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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-02-2010, 09:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kathyy View Post
Have not thought this out but what if you filled a large plastic bottle with tank water, put a tiny hole in the lid and suspended it over the tank so it dripped slowly out? That would keep the water surface rippling a bit which is why we use airstones.
Yes, it would, but an air stone would circulate the water better, and it's a very inexpensive solution.
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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-02-2010, 09:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wendyjo View Post
Yep I use this one in my FW:

http://www.fosterandsmithaquatics.co...20&pcatid=8120

It works great and will switch over to battery automatically if the power goes off, which is great cause who knows if you'll be home when it happens, right? It has 2 outlets and I have an airstone and a sponge filter hooked up to it.
I see this pump uses a rechargeable battery. Can it also be used with regular batteries, for when the rechargeable battery dies (during an extended outtage)?


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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-02-2010, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by thrak76 View Post
I see this pump uses a rechargeable battery. Can it also be used with regular batteries, for when the rechargeable battery dies (during an extended outtage)?
it says it uses a 6 volt battery which is not a standard battery size we use every day.
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post #11 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-02-2010, 01:21 PM
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Hey Guys,
I recently had a power outage as well. It was for more then 24 hours (about 28 hours). When I called pepco, they gave a 2 day time span for getting the power back on, so I immediately ran to the store to get a battery powered airpump.

The fish were fine, but when the power did come back on, the water was definitely cloudy (I did a 50% water change and everything is great again). I also tested the water multiple times, and did some light dosing with prime when I saw a tiny ammonia spike (to 0.1. Yup not on the chart, but it definitely wasn't zero, and it definitely wasn't 0.25).

Here are my questions.

1. This one goes to wendyjo! Does the battery backup airpump run continuously all the time, or can you set it to engage only if the power goes out? I don't really like the look of airstones running all the time, but I'd love to have a system buried in the tank that engages if the power goes out (and I'm not at home).

2. Has anyone had any success with computer driven UPS backup units? From what I've read on the forum, they tend to have a large draw, even if nothing is connected to them, causing even low wattage equipment to only last about 20-30 minutes. (My XP3 uses 13 watts).

3. For my next outage, I was planning on using yee old staple corner box filter with a battery powered airpump. I was thinking of putting a bag of purigen in it, along with filterfloss/aquaclear sponge material. What do you guys think?



I'd enjoy any other suggestions!


One last thing. What do you guys do about your canister filters? I imagine after a few days the good bacteria might start dying off. Wouldn't that toxin shock the tank when the power came back on?

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post #12 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-02-2010, 05:30 PM
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I'm not sure tbh as I run the airstone 24/7. Let me play around with it tonite and see.
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post #13 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-02-2010, 07:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crossbow View Post
2. Has anyone had any success with computer driven UPS backup units? From what I've read on the forum, they tend to have a large draw, even if nothing is connected to them, causing even low wattage equipment to only last about 20-30 minutes. (My XP3 uses 13 watts).
Most UPS aren't compatible with motors and pumps, because they output more of a squarewave than a sinewave like standard AC. They'll usually have unexpectedly short runtimes (even beyond the idle current draw), and operate the motor erratically or not at all; although sometimes you get lucky.

What you'd really need a true sinewave UPS or inverter. Sinewave inverters are cheaper and more common than sinewave UPS, but they don't cut on automatically when the power goes out, they don't contain their own battery, and they also won't charge a battery. So you'll have to add a charger, battery, and maybe a relay for the automatic switchover.

The battery (or batteries) can be chosen to provide any runtime you desire. Even standard UPS runtimes can be greatly extended by replacing the battery with a higher capacity one. I once replaced the 12v gel-cell in a UPS with an external car battery in an emergency. It ran a computer, CRT monitor, and several peripherals for three hours; and it successfully recharged it when the power came back on (though it took a long time). Of course, car batteries suffer cumulative damage when discharged too far, so this wouldn't work as a reliable permanent installation. There's a variety of batteries more appropriate for this (deep cycle, marine, golf cart, AGM, etc).

The whole setup would be more expensive than a few battery-powered aerators, but with some bargain hunting costs could be reasonable. And you'd have the advantage of being able not only your filters, but anything else you want within the wattage/runtime budget - cell phone chargers, radios, all sorts of things that may come in handy during an emergency.
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post #14 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-02-2010, 07:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thrak76 View Post
I see this pump uses a rechargeable battery. Can it also be used with regular batteries, for when the rechargeable battery dies (during an extended outtage)?
With a little basic wiring skill, I'm sure you could open it up, disconnect the internal battery, and connect others. 4x 1.5V alkaline D cells in series would run this in a pinch. Of course, you'd need to disconnect these batteries when the power came back on so the pump wouldn't try to charge them.

It's a shame this pump doesn't operate at 12V, which would open up a lot more possibilities; like connecting a car battery for extreme runtime. Having been through hurricanes Katrina, Gustav, and Andrew make you think about things like this.
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post #15 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-02-2010, 07:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkCobra View Post
Most UPS aren't compatible with motors and pumps, because they output more of a squarewave than a sinewave like standard AC. They'll usually have unexpectedly short runtimes (even beyond the idle current draw), and operate the motor erratically or not at all; although sometimes you get lucky.

What you'd really need a true sinewave UPS or inverter. Sinewave inverters are cheaper and more common than sinewave UPS, but they don't cut on automatically when the power goes out, they don't contain their own battery, and they also won't charge a battery. So you'll have to add a charger, battery, and maybe a relay for the automatic switchover.

The battery (or batteries) can be chosen to provide any runtime you desire. Even standard UPS runtimes can be greatly extended by replacing the battery with a higher capacity one. I once replaced the 12v gel-cell in a UPS with an external car battery in an emergency. It ran a computer, CRT monitor, and several peripherals for three hours; and it successfully recharged it when the power came back on (though it took a long time). Of course, car batteries suffer cumulative damage when discharged too far, so this wouldn't work as a reliable permanent installation. There's a variety of batteries more appropriate for this (deep cycle, marine, golf cart, AGM, etc).

The whole setup would be more expensive than a few battery-powered aerators, but with some bargain hunting costs could be reasonable. And you'd have the advantage of being able not only your filters, but anything else you want within the wattage/runtime budget - cell phone chargers, radios, all sorts of things that may come in handy during an emergency.
what is the difrence between a small pump on a filter or a fan blowing in a pc case? a watt is a watt no matter what the sine wave is?
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