Losing power during a storm or other outage strikes fear in most hobbyists due to the challenges of keeping fish, coral, and other livestock alive without power. Luckily, there are techniques and products that can help keep our livestock alive when we lose electricity. The most obvious solution is a generator; however, that is not an option for most folks. If a generator is not an option, having a plan before losing power is essential for maintaining a liveable environment for your livestock.
Lower Oxygen Levels
In an aquarium with power, oxygen enters the aquarium through water movement at the surface and injection from a protein skimmer or other filter. However, without water movement and flow for an extended period, the oxygen within the tank will rapidly decrease. Additionally, without regular water movement, carbon dioxide levels will increase, which over time will suffocate fish and kill coral.
- Battery-powered Air Pump: Installing a battery-powered air pump with an air stone will inject fresh air into the tank and help remove carbon dioxide. A single air pump is generally sufficient for up to 50 gallons. For larger tanks, use multiple air pumps.
- Battery Back-up: Keep the water moving by powering the powerheads in the tank with a Battery Back-up or UPS. These battery backups are capable of powering a return pump or powerhead for up to 30 hours.
- Inject Pure Oxygen: Some DIY solutions, including THIS ONE from The King of DIY, inject oxygen directly into the display aquarium using commonly found components like hydrogen peroxide and a potato.
With no power, the ability to maintain the temperature in an aquarium becomes increasingly more difficult. Most corals can tolerate small temperature fluctuations of 2-3 degrees; however, more significant changes can lead to loss of color, tissue damage, and death.
- Battery Back-up: Power heaters with a Battery Back-up or UPS.
- Bundle Up: In an emergency, wrap your aquarium with thick blankets to keep it insulated. Adding a glass top will also help trap heat in the tank.
- Frozen Water Bottles: If your aquarium runs warm, add a frozen water bottle to the sump.
Build-Up of Waste
Without power, you will not be able to run your protein skimmer, media reactors, or other filters to remove waste from the tank. And without the ability to remove excess waste, the levels of toxic ammonia will rise.
- Stop Feeding: For outages of less than three days, avoid feeding your fish.
- Water Change: Regularly test ammonia and if ammonia levels rise, change 20% of the tank water. Repeat as necessary.
Lighting For Corals
Most corals are photosynthetic, relying on light to bring them the energy they need to survive and grow. When you lose power, it makes providing your corals with a light source much more difficult.
- Do Nothing: Most corals can survive without light for 24-48 hours. Instead, focus your energy on water flow, temperature, and waste removal.
- Move Em: If your tank is without power for more than a couple of days, consider moving the coral. Although they can survive for short periods without light, prolonged periods without light will lead to death. If you have a nano or smaller aquarium, consider moving the tank in front of a window. While not as powerful as your fixture, the natural light should provide your corals with enough light to get by.
Final Considerations for a Power Outage
We hope these tips have helped you re-evaluate or make proper decisions when it comes to preparing your system for a power outage. While losing power can cause severe stress in the aquarium-keeping world, with the right tools and approach, you can get your system through it with no loss of livestock.
If you encounter any pressing questions or you need a recommendation, please contact our support team. If you are interested in learning more about ATI North America’s products for reef tanks, please visit our homepage here.