Expect The Unexpected - Preparing For Aquarium System Mishaps
When talking about an aquarium's life support system, you are collectively referring to all of the equipment that keeps the tank alive - heaters, chillers, filtration equipment, pumps, and lighting. While each of these things plays a unique role in maintaining a stable environment for your aquatic pets, they all have one thing in common, a limited lifespan. As bleak as it may sound, all the equipment used to support your aquarium can and will eventually fail.
The good news is we have the wherewithal to prepare for these failures. The best way to avoid an unexpected equipment failure is to expect it. While you don't need to keep two of everything, keeping a backup of your most critical tank components means you are ready for whatever comes your way. You also need to be aware that things can happen at any time so monitoring your aquarium, especially when you're away from home, is equally as important.
Heating & Cooling
Maintaining a stable temperature is critical to the health of your fish and corals. Heaters and chillers are, therefore, key components of your tank's life support system. While monitoring your tank's water temperature is the first step to recognizing a heater (or chiller) failure, having a plan of action will make all the difference.
Since heaters are the most common piece of equipment to fail in an aquarium, keeping a spare heater on hand at all times is fairly common practice. You cannot expect a heater to last any longer than 12-24 months. Many hobbyists will even proactively replace their heater on a regular basis before a failure ever occurs.
Return Pumps & Powerheads
Water flow in your aquarium is fundamental and without it, the fish will quickly be deprived of oxygen and corals can begin to suffer.
The best approach is to keep a spare return pump on hand at all times. It doesn't have to be something fancy or expensive, just something that will work to move water through your system. Standard AC-powered utility pumps will work just fine and can be stored away once you get your primary return pump replaced or repaired. If your powerheads are the problem, the same case applies, just keep something inexpensive on hand to use inside your display until your primary pumps are back in working order.
When it comes to pump longevity, maintenance is key. Try your very best to clean all of your pumps using citric acid every few months to ensure optimal performance and reduce the chances of premature failures.
While not a backup per se, detecting a leak early is super important for avoiding serious damage to your home and threatening the lives of your pets. Leaks in general are rare but are something all aquarists should be looking out for. Whether it's as simple as a leaky plumbing connection or something more serious like a failure in the tank seams, being made aware of water on the floor gives you time to take action before it's too late.
Monitoring & Control
Because knowing is half the battle. Having replacement gear is great and will most certainly help get you through tough times but if you don't know something is wrong in the first place, you can't even begin to think about fixing it. Having an aquarium monitor like the Neptune Systems ApexJr is fundamental for the long-term survival of your aquarium because it has the power to keep you informed about your aquarium, no matter where you are!
- Get notified when water is on the floor
- Find out when pH rises/falls beyond the acceptable range
- Monitor water temperature in real-time
- Get notified when your Apex disconnects from your home's network indicating possible power loss to your tank
As Murphy says, "what can go wrong, will go wrong" meaning every single one of us will eventually encounter some kind of mishap, failure, or situation that threatens our tank. A device that provides 24/7 monitoring of critical parameters and tank components is the very BEST way to not allow the little mistakes to turn into catastrophes.
By engaging the additional control capabilities of an Apex and Apex Pro, you can further improve your tank's resistance to failures with automation and various protections.
- Automatically switch off your return pump when the water level drops in your sump or water is on the floor.
- Remotely switch off your heaters if water temperatures begin to rise.
- Automatically turn off your skimmer if the collection cup overflows.
- Automatically turn off your dosing pump if pH levels rise unexpectedly.
- Shut down your ATO if the reservoir runs dry or water overflows from your sump.