Weather Woes

Don't let bad weather be a threat to your reef aquarium! From power outages to temperature swings, here's how to prepare for the worst and keep your fish and coral safe. 

1. Keep Some Air Pumps On Hand

Loss of water flow inside your aquarium during a power outage is a serious threat to your tank inhabitants. Without flow, fish will quickly exhaust the dissolved oxygen from the aquarium water and once that oxygen is gone, mortality knocks.

An air pump can be used to agitate the water's surface and keep the water oxygenated. Battery-powered air pumps can work as a stand-alone solution but you can also connect a standard air pump to a backup power source like a gas-fueled generator or UPS battery system. 

Don't forget to have a sufficient length of airline tubing to run from the air pump into your aquarium. An airstone is not required, simply submerge the open end of the airline as deep as possible inside your display tank. This will produce large bubbles of air that move water as they rise and pop at the water's surface which increases gas exchange and keeps the water oxygenated. 


2. Install Battery Backups and Monitor Power At All Times

A battery backup system is something all aquarists should consider because you can integrate the battery into your aquarium's power grid so it stays charged at all times. When power is lost the battery will automatically kick on and keep your pumps running. That means that even if you're not home to address the tank directly, the battery backup will work to keep your fish and corals safe. 

Most hobbyists choose to connect the battery directly to a single powerhead in the display aquarium which is all you really need to keep the water oxygenated. Alternatively, you can connect it to an air pump or even your return pump if you have a strong enough battery. 

The EcoTech Marine VorTech Battery Backup is compatible with EcoTech Marine VorTech Powerheads and Vectra DC return pumps. The IceCap Battery Backup V3 is a more versatile battery that can be connected to IceCap, Maxspect, and Reef Octopus brand pumps. In both cases, multiple batteries can be connected together to increase run time and provide protection during extended power outages. 

Having a separate power monitoring solution, like the Neptune Systems Apex, can help you get an idea of exactly how much power your tank's life support equipment consumes during normal operation. You will then know exactly how much backup power is required to keep that equipment running and how long it will last running on batteries. Controllers like the Apex can even send you a notification if the power goes out when your are away and automatically trigger backup power sources. 

3. Temperature Monitoring With Remote Notifications

Whether it's really cold or blistering hot outside, your tank's water temperature must remain stable for your aquatic pets to survive. Having a reliable thermometer alongside your temperature controller is required to keep an eye on the tank's water temperatures and verify your heating and cooling system is working correctly. Analog or battery-powered digital thermometers are best so you can monitor water temperatures even when power is lost.

Using something more advanced like the Neptune Systems Apex Jr. will give you an additional leg up by notifying you directly on your phone when water temperature or pH falls out of range. The Apex Jr. can also monitor the water level or detect leaks using special sensors which can be extremely useful in the way of preventing water damage should your tank develop a crack or overflow when you're away. With the Heartbeat function, the Apex can even send you a notification when it becomes disconnected from your Wifi network, often indicating power has been lost.

4. Make A Plan For Emergency Heating & Cooling

While a heater is required to maintain stable temperatures in your aquarium at all times, having a backup heater is something any hobbyist needs to consider. Heaters are the #1 cause of equipment-related disasters in an aquarium and by having a backup heater within reach, you can be confident your tank's temperatures will remain stable even if your primary heater fails. 

The Bulk Reef Supply Titanium Heating Elements are sourced in Germany and made to provide hobbyists with reliable, long-lasting performance. 

If your AC goes out during a heat wave, keeping your tank cool is going to be your first priority.  Having a chiller, or at minimum, a cooling fan can be the difference between life and death for your tank's inhabitants. While most modern aquariums will not require a chiller for day-to-day operation inside a climate-controlled home, should an unforeseen circumstance come your way, it's better to be prepared. Alternatively, you can keep some frozen water bottles in the freezer and float the frozen bottles in your tank to keep things cool.  

5. Get a Generator

The most reliable source of emergency power for aquarists would be a generator.  Whether it be a fancy whole-home generator that is tied into your power grid or something less complex like a simple gas-powered generator available at most home improvement stores, a generator will allow you to run your equipment indefinitely. 

Keep in mind, your primary concerns during power outages are temperature and water flow which means you only need to plug your heater and water pumps into the generator.  Corals can easily sustain for 5 days without light so it would only be under the most extended outages where running your lights is required.