Power outage + plants = ??! - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 24 Old 07-01-2012, 10:30 PM Thread Starter
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Power outage + plants = ??!

We've been without power for over 48 hours. It came up for about 30 minutes earlier, so I thought all was well - but it went right back out again, and has been out since then. . .
(posted another thread seeking advice on the other life-forms here - any help appreciated!)

The 3 tanks are in a room that is kept brightly lit from the windows. There is no direct light on the tanks - and of course the hood lights have been off for 2 days. My understanding is that during daylight hours, the plants photosynthesize - absorbing toxins/nutrients and releasing oxygen. At night, they stop the process of photosynthesize, and also stop releasing oxygen. . . but continue to respirate - thus removing oxygen from the water.

Obviously, with no power, I've been trying to figure out what my plants are doing in there - are they helping the situation, or making things harder? Could there be enough ambient daylight in the room to 'wake' the plants up and cause them to start photosynthesizing?

In this situation, are my plants adding oxygen or taking it away . . .and *if* the beneficial bacteria is dying off due to lack of oxygen, is the plant-life 'awake' enough to help absorb any toxins that might be present in a tank thrust into a new cycle?

I have one more random question to ask. . .
When the power came up for a brief time earlier today, I noticed that there was far more algae in my tank than there was before the power outage. I've been battling a mild infestation of black brush algae for a few weeks now, and had almost eradicated it except for a few bits of what I assumed to be the thread-like version of this type of algae. It looks like wispy little hairs, and was almost entirely gone, but for a few threads on the grassy plants closest to the top of the water (and the lights)

Somehow this algae has flourished and spread a ridiculous amount over the last 2 days - I've been doing very frequent small water changes, and the tank lights have been off.
Is it the lack of water circulation that has caused it to get so awful so quickly? I can't think of anything else it could be - but with such low light compared to normal? Please, someone! Explain this to me!

And THEN, I beg you, tell me how do I get rid of it?

Thanks always for any advice you can offer! I really appreciate the guidance!
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post #2 of 24 Old 07-01-2012, 11:18 PM
If the tank is moderately planted it should be fine. Algae is likely due to nutrient imbalance from the lack of light. The plants themselves really don't pose any risk to the fish as far as O2 goes. I have let tanks sit stagnant with lights off for longer then two days and none of my tetras seemed bothered at all.

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post #3 of 24 Old 07-02-2012, 05:12 AM
You must live in DC
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post #4 of 24 Old 07-02-2012, 06:58 AM
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cellular respiration occurs continuously if the plant is living, the end product is CO2

photosynthesis only occurs in the presence of light of sufficient intensity

compensation point is when the rates are equal
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post #5 of 24 Old 07-02-2012, 10:44 AM
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And I thought that the 24 hour we had in November. Fish tanks got down to 15C.

If there getting light from the windows I dont think it will be too bad. I mean, plants survive when it is cloudy out and were not starved for oxygen.

Hope all goes well!

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Hell bent on trying to survive and
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post #6 of 24 Old 07-02-2012, 12:40 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys! I'm in Maryland, which is apparently a third-world country this week. We're on day 3 with no sort of time-frame on when the power will be restored.

Still baffled about the algae, though. . . why is it growing like crazy with such low light! Nitrate levels are all as normal, and phosphates are at 0. Hopefully it dies back when I get power back and things start to circulate again.

We've just gotten ahold of an ancient generator (it's owners got power back!) So I now have a filter running in each of the tanks, but that's it. The generator doesn't have enough power to run everything (lights, heater, bubbler) as well as the AC. I'll take what I can get at this point though, and hope the plants and fish pull through okay!
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post #7 of 24 Old 07-02-2012, 12:44 PM Thread Starter
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Another question: How long do you think plants can survive without light?

I have a 10g QT tank in my attic bedroom. I took the inhabitant out, as the water was getting too warm, so it's empty now, but there is almost no lighting up there, and the water is quite toasty. Should I just yank the plants out and bring them down into the other tanks, or will they be okay where they are. Hopefully we get power, like, right NOW and this can all be over, lol!
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post #8 of 24 Old 07-02-2012, 01:36 PM
You can move them if you want. I have power here but current heat wave of 90-100 the last week and is suppose to continue. I can keep my room 80-82 with the little AC we have but tanks say hotter especially if I run the lights. I've been cycling frozen water bottles between the tanks and the freezer to try to cool them. Lights are off 2 days then on 1 day I have not had any issues. Vast majority of plants ship just fine 1st class or priority mail and thats 3-4 days no light. I've gotten some plants from overseas before too that was 6-8 days and they still survived.

If you have running water don't be afraid to do water changes. I did 70% yesterday after I ran the lights to cool the tank down from 84 to 78. Just when you do cold water changes try to run the filter to mix it and add the cold water back slowly. I use a hose and just run straight cold from the shower as just a little stream. Takes longer to refill then normal but doesn't freak out the fish.

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post #9 of 24 Old 07-02-2012, 02:08 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, Mika! Thankfully, the 3 other tanks are keeping a fairly stable temperature - it's just the one upstairs that was getting way too hot. Since our 'master' bedroom is in the attic, without power temps get insanely high up there. I moved the one lonely frog out of that tank, now it's just the plants living there. I think I will bring them down, even though they'll do okay without light. Maybe I'll wait until tomorrow in the off-chance the power comes back on... I've been doing water changes throughout, anyway, just to keep waste/toxins down in the water, and to get oxygen into it. Not sure if it matters, but I was without ANY power or the internet for 48 hours, so I was being super cautious!

The newest update from the power company says that we could be out of power until the weekend, though they're hoping to have the majority of people back up by Thursday. Ug. THURSDAY! *cries*

Thanks for all the help and advice - I really appreciate it!
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post #10 of 24 Old 07-02-2012, 02:37 PM
well, my plants went about 3 weeks with just ambient light (long story), and while the duckweed all died (didn't really miss that) the java ferns didn't care, and the Vallisneria and amazon swords survived, though not as well as the java ferns.

**I freely admit that most of the information I share I have learned from other people on this forum and am simply repeating. I thank you for sharing your knowledge and ask that if I say anything incorrect someone will kindly correct me**
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