Emergency Measures to use NOW for Power Outages

KathyC

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This thread is for emergency measures on what you can do NOW if you go home to no power to your reef tank.
Ideally, I'd like to keep the extra chatter down to a minimum as some may only end up reading this off the battery power left in their laptops...

First... here are some links to other previous power outage threads. Most have very good info in them but are kind of long reading. Many of the suggestions are for things you'd need to go out & purchase or order online.
The second link is an article written by our own Randy (Prattreef) :)
http://www.manhattanreefs.com/forum/general-discussion/7530-back-up-power-thread.html

http://www.manhattanreefs.com/forum/reef-articles/14563-what-do-you-do-when-lights-go-out.html

http://www.manhattanreefs.com/forum/general-discussion/41841-heat-2008-whose-temps-rising.html

Some suggestions for MANUALLY keeping your reef alive because for some reason you weren't able to preplan:
Your top issues are:
1- aerating the water to keep your fish alive
2- providing circulation

If you have zero power available you want to isolate your DT from your sump (hopefully it didn't overflow on you) as you'll need to concentrate your efforts where you have most of your money invested.

Grab a small CLEAN pail and scoop some water into it and then pour it back into your tank from a distance of preferrably 1 foot or more. This will get oxygen back into the water and create some circulation. You will need to do this repeatedly depending on the size of your tank and you will need to keep this up on & off for the duration of the power outage.

You can also use your clean hand to 'swoosh' the water around in your tank to break the surface for added 'circulation' but it is not as effective as the bucket method.

These will also help cool off the water but only minimally..kinda like blowing on hot soup...

If you still have power and are starting to get the idea that your tank is going to be in trouble since you haven't taken any measures yet...

Things you can do TODAY:
You want to get your hands on a battery back up unit (Office computer stores, some hardware stores, home centers) You will have to charge it for it to be usable!

A Battery operated aerator like they use in bait buckets are indespensible!
2 D Batteries and you'll have about 6 hours worth of air, they come with a short piece of ailine tubing and an airstone on the end.
I keep them under all of my tanks year round and change the batteries 1 x per year. You should be able to get these at LFS, mass retailers (Kmart Walmart) bait shops and boating stores like West Marine. They usually run about 6.99 each, no excuse not to have them for winter & summer issues.

Frozen Rodi water - this is good for both today and long term. Freeze a few 2 litre bottles of rodi water (in case they develop a leak..) and keep them all summer. In case the power goes out or the A/C dies.
The few degrees they will lower your tank temp could mean the difference between life & death.

Power inverters & Deep Cycle Batteries - you hook the inverter to the deep cycle battery (this type holds more of a charge that your standard car battery) and then plug your power head into the inverter.

Generators - like the proverbial snow shovel durting a snow storm..good luck finding one :) If you get lucky and do find one then your local gas station probably can't pump gas anyway due to the blackout. You really need to preplan this one!

Please feel free to add any suggestions that you've come up with! While the attached links have some great info on them..I'd like to see some fast tips added to this thread.
 
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bad coffee

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a battery drill/screwgun and a clean paint stirrer or plastic kitchen spoon will also work in an emergency. So will a hand mixer.

During the blackout I mixed my reef every 20 minutes with a turkey baster. I didn't lose a thing in 12 hours of no power.

B
 

adamrose

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Great Thread Kathy!!!!!!! ----

i have some questions....

These are my preperations so far:

I froze a lot of RO, i run an A/C over the tank, a chiller a fan and an ATO (and i just ordered battery powered aeration devices online).

Since i'm in an apartment and not able to safely run gas powered devices, i'm guessing i need a UPS.... where should i start looking? and how do i determine the right amount for my sized tank.

Also ---- wouldn't a Vortech with battery backup also be a nice option for a blackout?
 

Chiefmcfuz

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An APC UPS Backup is what I use on my PC and my tank. First you need to go to their website and look at the different models. In order to find the usage you need to look at the following, the draw of the equipment plugged into the UPS and the wattage (battery size) of the UPS. I only suggest plugging a return pump or a HOB filter into it. This way you have water circulating and aerating which is pretty much all you need to keep the fish and corals happy. The corals can go a little while without light but your fish and inverts need oxygen to live.
 

BZOFIQ

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UPS units can be purchased online ( I buy from Newegg.com) Get the largest unit you can afford but skip all the bells and whistles (LED displays and such) if you want to save money. HINT! You are looking for the biggest VA # you can afford.

If you don't want to spend that much money, get a small power inverter (RadioShack, Costco, Bjs and others) But something that is rated for at least double your desired load, so if you want to run return pump say at 80W, get a unit that will handle at least 150 Watts. Don't go nuts getting a unit that does 300-600 or more watts if you are only going to run couple of small poweheads braking the water surface (2 SEIO 620s will draw only about 15-20 watts), as these units will waste more energy in the process. The efficiency of these units is not at 100% or anywhere near. Using a power inverter you can connect any 12V battery (yes even one from your car) and run it longer than an UPS unit because the battery capacity is much larger (provided your battery is not "well done") Once the battery runs out you can swap it to one from the next car (down the block :lol2: )while charging your dead unit at friends house. You can even run to the store and buy another car battery (much cheaper then loosing your reef)

I recommend running two power heads on the opposite side of the tank one facing up at a 45 degrees angle and the other blowing straight or even little towards the bottom in the direction of the first powerhead. This will provide both circulation and gas exchange at the water surface.

One more thing about battery operated air pumps. REMOVE the stone from the airline as large bubbles coming out from the airline will displace much more watter then million of small bubbles. You are looking to move watter to the top of the column, not infuse air into it.
 

KathyC

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A few things...we are expecting rather strong storms tonight that will thankfully break this heatwave (Yippee!!!!!), but with those strong storms we are expecting strong winds..so stay in touch with with your neighborhood to find out if the power goes out if you cannot be at home.

Might also be a nice idea for those of you who are still running your MH's (especially in South Brooklyn & Yorkville where they've already reduced the power) to maybe turn them off if they run into this evening ..and free up some electricity for everyone else to keep their reefs going :)

One question on the thread we don't have an answer for is this one:
Does anyone know if there is a way to tell if your Vortech battery backup is fully charged?
anyone know?

I also have a question about UPS's...will you get less power out of it if you turn it on & off for certain time periods to make it last longer? Run it for an hour, turn off for an hour,,turn back on..etc?
Does anyone know for sure?


One more thing about battery operated air pumps. REMOVE the stone from the airline as large bubbles coming out from the airline will displace much more watter then million of small bubbles. You are looking to move watter to the top of the column, not infuse air into it.
Xoom..I cannot say that I agree with you. Yes, we ARE looking to infuse oxygen into the tank..the fish need it to breathe. No point in big bubbles to help in oxygen exchange if the fish are dead due to lack of air.
Units designed to infuse oxygen into the water do use airstones..that is their purpose. We would still physically move the water with our hand, a bucket or the drill to accomplish the oxygen exchange, but an airstone is still the best way to get air to the fish :)
If I am wrong..someone please jump in with a good argument !!

Thanks to all who have posted such great info on here!!!
 

prattreef

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Does anyone know if there is a way to tell if your Vortech battery backup is fully charged?
Well there is no way to measure the battery, but if it has been plugged in it recharges automatically--- you see it recharging by the rapidly blinking green light on the battery power supply. If the light is a constant green, it indicates the battery is fully charged according to the charger's sensor. Exactly how much run time that ensures is a matter of faith in the product. I suppose you could test it and see how long it goes.
 

KathyC

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Kath you will not lose as much power if you turn the ups off and back on again because there is nothing putting a load on the battery.
Thanks Brendan..good info to have so we can actually extend the usefulness of the UPS :)

Thanks Randy..I'm sure the folks with Vortechs will appreciate that info too!! :)
 
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ming

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For the Vortech on battery, the power outlet is 24V. The battery powered outlet is 12V. Can't someone get a 12V AC/DC transformer and plug it into their Vortech and UPS? The only thing you would need to find is the minimum Amps needed to power the Vortech and in theory, I think it should work. This way, I can power my return pump and my Vortech off the single UPS I already have.
 

BZOFIQ

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Xoom..I cannot say that I agree with you. Yes, we ARE looking to infuse oxygen into the tank..the fish need it to breathe. No point in big bubbles to help in oxygen exchange if the fish are dead due to lack of air.
Units designed to infuse oxygen into the water do use airstones..that is their purpose. We would still physically move the water with our hand, a bucket or the drill to accomplish the oxygen exchange, but an airstone is still the best way to get air to the fish :)
If I am wrong..someone please jump in with a good argument !!

Thanks to all who have posted such great info on here!!!
I read an article somewhere (I believe BAS Aquatica) that stated that big bubbles will move water more rapidly providing both decent circulation and gas exchange. It stated that it was more effective then infusing air into the water but letting the rest be rather stagnant. Now, if you were infusing pure oxygen that might have been a better choice. There was also some mention about peroxide but I am not sure if it would apply to reef too. I'll try to find that Aquatic issue later.
 

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