electric shock - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 12 Old 04-08-2007, 05:16 PM Thread Starter
electric shock

When i have one hand in my fish tank water and i touch the other hand on my light fixture i get a bad shock, but not too bad. I figured my light fixture just had a short in it or somehing but today i touched the top of my 250 watt heater and i got the worst shock of my life,i spilt water everywere and my muscles in my arm are still stiff. im afraid to put my hands back in the tank. Why is this happening?
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post #2 of 12 Old 04-08-2007, 05:42 PM
THere has to be something grounding out. You can by a grounding probe fr the tank. BUt I think its something more serious. I know yu might not want t do this, but unplug the heater and d what you did again and see if you still get that shock. ( I know its stupid) Or do a safer thing take the heater back. I have a big feeling its what is causing it.
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post #3 of 12 Old 04-08-2007, 06:17 PM
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Yep id take your heater back.
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post #4 of 12 Old 04-08-2007, 07:57 PM
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active shorting to earth, if u had a multimeter u should put it on continueity, touch it on the active pin and earth pin and see if there is a connection, it would be sure.pretty sure u can sue them cause they have to be electricly tested b4 they r sold to prevent that i think..could be the neutral shorting to earth too, u can still get a shock off neutral ya know its just the active returning.mite be safe to put an RCD wall unit into ur system.its a resistive Control device, when u touch somthing and it shocks u, the volts go through ur body and ur body has resistance, this device picks up the chance in resistance in 0.02 of a second and cuts it off incase of electrical shock, could be ur life next time u got off pretty lucky...240, u touching water,not so good outcome. amazing ur live stock is still alive would of expected it to travel through the water too
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post #5 of 12 Old 04-08-2007, 08:22 PM Thread Starter
I knew we had a electricion on this website :D Problem is i dident understand anything you said. I dont know much about electricity but im gunnna see if the heater is the problem......but not tonight cause im not in the mood to get shocked.
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post #6 of 12 Old 04-08-2007, 08:49 PM
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Do you have a drip loop in the electrical plug for your heater? And for that matter in the cords for anything electrical connected to the tank? A must to keep water from running down the lines and into the socket.

Also, saltwater is famous for producing creeping salt crust, and while water itself is actually a horrible conductor, the minerals dissolved in it that just happen to make up that crust are just dandy... so any of that getting to your socket can be.. bad.

Saltwater running down the line and making a connection with the socket could explain why you got such a shock when you touched the cord. In the water itself the current would flow through and out, but touching the source before it got to the tank and thereby a chance to flow through the water and out the stand would produce a larger effect. Just guessing there though.

I'd unplug the heater and pull that badboy out of the tank pronto. Then get a multimeter (the low end ones aren't expensive) and test for a charge. Or even may be able to use the socket testers they have.. plastic tipped things that look like pens.... or the little screwdrivers with the lightbulbs in them. Be careful about putting used items in tank water of course.

Anyway... test for current in the water. If you are still getting it, keep removing electrics.. one at a time. When the current goes away, voila.

Also, though it is always presented as uncertain at best, I've read some authors mention a connection between electrical charges in water and the development of lateral line disease, so keep an eye out.

While the chances are slim, people have actually been killed by faulty equipment and charges from their tanks.
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post #7 of 12 Old 04-09-2007, 08:16 AM
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i have this device i get from work which we do tag n tests from, wouldnt be a bad idea if some ppl got into the habbit of inspecting the electrical stuff instead of only the fish.basicly they do an earth leakage test and see if there is no wear n tear and do a visual and electrical test on EVERY appliance in a room.we do it on entire commercial sites but i think if u get some one to do it for a couple of things it wouldnt cost to much but im not sure,im just a worker n have no idea of the prices involved.but yea if ur going to go through that, its good to talk to an electrician to put an RCD into the circuits u use, and even if ur running about 1000 2way or 4 way adapters for ur powerheads and heaters and filters etc and run out of power points,it mite be good to get a cost for putting in a higher rated amp circuit maybe 40 amps or so would be more then enough, and its not tap into that to put extensions into the room for later use.a drip loop is also a good idea.remember if u run to many electricals off a circuit it may trip or worse burn down ur entire house.the RCD is used in hospitals everywhere obviously for a saftey reason so its not bad to have 1
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post #8 of 12 Old 04-09-2007, 12:07 PM
I'm thinking MRMOFO is not from the States. TR check into getting yourself a GFCI, ground fault circuit interrupter. Probably run you about $20. Not the 6 way cord strips with the surge protector, that protects BEFORE the unit, you need to protect yourself AFTER the plug. You can get a GFCI for cheap and wire it directly into the socket, you probably have them already in your bathroom. It's those sockets that have a "test" and "reset" button. They also produce them as a plug in style that you plug into the wall and then plug your 6 way surge protector in. By code we have to plug in everything into portable GFCI's at a construction site.

They work by measuring the amperage going out one line and returning through the other line. If there is a 5 micro amp change, I forget the .00005 type number, it automatically trips. An 8 micro amp surge can stop a heart. Basically they trip before you do.

All aquarists should have GFCI's on all of their equipment since as we know, our entire tank can be a conductor at any moment. Your fish will not get shocked swimming in the water as they are not grounded. As soon as you place your hand into the tank, a ground is made and you and your tank are now cooking. A GFCI will instantly prevent that. A hardwired GFCI socket is better then a plug in model. Most of the plugins are made so that you physically have to push the reset button to turn them on. This is to make sure the unit works each and everytime you use it, this is not a defect but a built in safety device. Unfortunately for those that use this type on their tank you will have problems with them. If for any reason there is the slightest burp in your homes power supply, a 5 min brown out, a slight surge, an hour long black out due to construction, anything that interrupts the power will leave the GFCI in the tripped position until you reset it. Wouldn't you rather have in in wall socket that will automatically continue to run when the power is restored?

TR it sounds like the seal on your heater went bad. It is a very common occurence, hence why I do not use bulb type heaters.
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post #9 of 12 Old 04-10-2007, 04:00 AM
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im from austraia, ill admit it..i think there the same things we just call them somthing different down here..same thing test n reset n test it every month
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post #10 of 12 Old 04-10-2007, 01:02 PM Thread Starter
Ok so ill go to the hardware store and buy one of those safety things thats in my bathroom and hardwire it up. But what is this 6 way surge protector you speak of? im not reely sure what that is.
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