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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Here is the text of the Electrical safety thread I promised. I still need to resize three pictures to go along with the text. I'll try to do that later this evening or tomorrow.

Electrical Safety and the fish tank

Water and electricity DO-NOT-MIX! Water is an excellent conductor of electricity. While it may seem obvious, we often forget that simple fact while working in and around our fish tanks.

At any point in time, you may have an electric air pump, canister filter, HOB (hang on back) filter, lights, heaters, automatic feeder, and even a CO2 system connected to a single aquarium. A failure in any of these electrical devices can have fatal consequences! Even with significant electrical current flowing through the water in a fish tank, your fish may not show any signs of distress! This article will help you reduce electrical hazards while working in and around your fish tank.

NOTE: All my very limited electrical experience has been with US - standard systems and I am totally unfamiliar with foreign electrical standards. A biologist by training, my electrical expertise is limited to DIY home electrical work and having been shocked repeatedly via my own carelessness! When in doubt, please consult a licensed electrician.

Simple is safest – unplug everything
The safest, and simplest, method of protecting yourself is to always unplug/disconnect the electricity to every single piece of equipment that is connected to the tank before you ever touch the water! I don’t know how many glass aquarium heaters I’ve accidentally bumped into while cleaning my tanks, but it’s a miracle I haven’t cracked one. The easiest way to disconnect everything quickly is to use a power strip or two. Simply unplug the power strip(s) before doing maintenance on or in the tank. Do not trust the power strip on/off switch, it can fail. Always unplug.

Use grounded outlets and cords
Reducing the risk of electric shock requires a basic knowledge of electricity. I’m going to be very basic since I’m not an electrician by any means! First, we have to remember that electricity always wants to travel to the earth (the ground) following the easiest possible path. That’s what a “ground” wire does. A grounded outlet takes any stray electricity from a short circuit and, hopefully, directs it to the ground instead of through us!

A grounded outlet is easily recognized, in the U.S., it has two parallel openings for the blade-like electrical plug prongs and a single round opening for the ground prong. Most modern construction has grounded outlets. If your house is older, or in the past used screw-in fuses, the outlets may not be grounded even if the electrical system has been partially updated. Also, just because an outlet has three prongs does not mean it is always properly grounded!

A grounded outlet should be used for aquarium equipment BUT a grounded outlet alone does not provide sufficient protection against electrocution. Note that some aquarium devices are manufactured using a ground wire and some are not.

GFCI – What’s that?
A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) is the single, most important, protective device you should always install when working near water and electricity. GFCI protection devices are devices designed to “trip”, cutting off the flow of electricity to equipment in milliseconds, when there is even a small electrical disruption (a ground fault) in the circuit. There are three ways to set up this essential electrical safety protection: GFCI Circuit Breakers, GFCI Wall Outlets, or GFCI Extension Cords. A picture of a GFCI outlet is below. If you are reasonably handy and know what you are doing, it’s easy to install a household GFCI outlet. Otherwise, hire an electrician or simply purchase a GFCI extension cord. If you use a GFCI extension cord, make certain the grounded outlet you are plugging into is properly grounded or the GFCI extension cord won’t do any good! Test your outlets for proper ground with an inexpensive circuit tester (less than $7, it’s the orange device with three lights pictured below). Even with a GFCI, don’t trust your life to a piece of technology. Always unplug everything electrical when working near your tank. One additional note: Occasionally, electronic (fluorescent) light ballasts may trip a GFCI protection circuit even if there is not an actual ground fault.

Make a Drip Loop
Have you ever actually thoroughly read the insert that comes with any aquarium electrical accessory regarding the installation procedures? Most of us don’t. One thing that they all have in common is the use of a drip loop. A drip loop is simply a loop of the power cord, a “dip” of cord that hangs below the wall outlet. A drip loop allows any water that gets splashed onto the cord to run down the cord and drip off the “drip loop” to the floor instead of running directly into the electrical outlet and causing a shock or fire! To make a proper equipment drip loop, no cord should touch any other and every item (heater, filter, lights, etc.) must have a drip loop.

All electrical equipment tells us what not to do around water, but most folks fail to read the instruction manuals!

Be happy, and be safe, fishkeepers,

David
(DKRST)


 
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Thanks David. When you have the photos ready, I'll copy the text over as an article.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Photos

Photos attached, I think! Took longer to resize them than I thought - my apologies.

Didn't include a GFCI extension cord photo, don't have one of my own to photograph.
 

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