Power outage prep? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 6 Old 12-09-2012, 05:27 AM Thread Starter
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Power outage prep?

I've been reading several posts from folks who lost their fish due to extended power outages, and it appears heat loss is the first issue (though not to minimize the need for filtration). Since we're dealing with living creatures that we have an attachment to them, it's not like throwing out melted ice cream from the freezer. So I was thinking it might be a good idea to buy a couple sheets of styrofoam and pre-cut them to fit the sides of the fish tank. This way I could quickly surround the tank with a thermal "blanket" to minimize heat loss. Has anyone tried something like this? Thoughts on its effectiveness?
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post #2 of 6 Old 12-09-2012, 06:36 AM
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I haven't heard of anyone doing that but someone might be along soon to prove me wrong.

What size tank are you talking about? If it's only one tank, it might be worth it to get a battery operated power supply to keep your heater and filter running.

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post #3 of 6 Old 12-09-2012, 10:18 AM
I think that since heat rises, most of the heat loss is out the top, so a good layer of blankets on top will slow it down some. However, this is only a short term solution especially in more cooler regions like northern winter. The only true protection would be a UPS for short term and then a battery/inverter system to power the heater(s) longer term...and even this assumes that the room temperature doesn't fall so low that the heater(s) just can't maintain the temperature.

Having written all that, at the risk of going slightly off topic...it goes without saying that many should be/get better prepared for whatever may come. Floods, hurricanes, tornado's, winter storms...and other things can knock out utilities for days or even weeks.
If I'm not mistaken, FEMA recommends we all have a two week supply of water, food, lighting, alternative heating if required, fuel....and don't overlook having fire extinguishers and home protection if necessary cause their may be no 911 to call.
Don't be fooled into thinking you can wait until an announced threat. We live in central New York and just prior to Sandy, I thought maybe we should get some extra flashlight batteries...there were none to be found in ANY of the stores around us! Lesson learned.

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post #4 of 6 Old 12-09-2012, 11:35 AM
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Styrofoam is a pretty good insulator. I've heard of people using it to insulate tanks during a power outage with pretty good success. I've also heard of people just keeping it on their tanks in the winter to prevent a lot of heat loss in poorly insulated houses. I'd say go ahead and give it a try.

Personally, I've never used it because I live in an area where winters are rather mild. The times that I have lost power I just throw blankets over the tanks and have no experienced a lot of heat loss. But I don't see any reason why those two couldn't be combined.


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post #5 of 6 Old 12-09-2012, 11:46 AM
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During times of stormy weather or whenever power outages can be an issue if I have advance warning I make sure the water change is very current or do another one if it has been a few days. We also bump up our heaters 1-2 degrees but do not exceed 80-81 this gives the tanks a jump start on heat loss. We have not had power go out in the winter, so in the summertime, heat loss was not a concern. Main thing I can say is you can either get a generator (expensive) or battery operated air pumps. If you have none of these, which we did not, I went from tank to tank and scooped up large glasses of tank water and poured it back into the tank to provide as much oxygen to the water as I could. We did this for 2 days and one night, I stayed up all night long going from tank to tank. Do not feed your fish while power is out and if you use canister filters, do not turn them back on when the power comes back on. We do not use HOB's so I can't elaborate on that. All of the stuff in the canister has been sitting stagnant so take out a bucket of tank water and rinse everything in your canister (swish it, etc.) also pour some tank water into the empty canister and swish it around and pour it out. Once I got the canisters rinsed and running again and the temperature steady, I checked water parameters and nothing was wacky, if it had been I would have taken appropriate measures, i.e. water change, etc. Not sure what to do about heat loss in the winter but it would be good to know if someone can elaborate on that.

We had a severe storm this morning that popped the power out several times. The worst time it sounded like the 220 g had cracked glass. Thankfully the power came right back on, but the Cascade 1500 would not start back up. The FX5 did so at least we have the big filter running on the tank. Not sure what has happened to the Cascade, waiting on hubby to get home to look at it.

Last edited by lakemalawifish; 12-09-2012 at 11:55 AM.
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post #6 of 6 Old 12-09-2012, 12:29 PM
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Also, if you are using canisters and your tubing is gunky, you may want to consider cleaning them before you turn on your canister. Luckily our were not that built up and only a small amount of funk went into the tank when we started them back up. But I could see where a lot of funk might really mess up already compromised water. Hope this crazy explanation helps in some crazy way. Sometimes things are hard for me to explain :)
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