The risk of losing electricity to your aquarium is a real threat and something ALL tank owners need to think about. Here are some important factors to consider as you prepare for a power failure followed by the best backup power solutions to keep your tank alive during a power outage. 

Important Considerations When Preparing For A Power Outage

Embrace The Inevitable

Without power and the resulting water movement, the clock starts ticking because your tank inhabitants only have so long before they use up all of the oxygen in the water. Don't hold onto the false hope that it won't ever happen to you, simply prepare for it and give yourself the peace of mind that you're ready for whatever might come your way.

Power Monitoring

Employ some kind of power monitoring technology that can send a message to your phone when power is lost to your aquarium equipment.

"Insure" Your Tank Investment

The level of protection you have should match the general investment you have in your aquarium. For example, a large tank that contains thousands of dollars worth of livestock should probably have a dedicated generator or some kind of advanced backup power solution. A small nano tank can probably survive with a battery-powered air pump in most situations.  

Consider Winter & Summer

Climate has a big impact on the risk of power failure in any given area. Some places are just more prone to power outages than others.  Also, consider how long those power failures typically last and plan accordingly. 

Use a Battery Back up

Every tank should have a battery backup solution for at least one powerhead in the aquarium. A battery connected to a powerhead is the most efficient form of protection for a reef tank and will work to keep the tank alive through a majority of the power failure situations hobbyists will encounter.  

Prioritize What Equipment To Back up

The biggest threat during a power outage is the lack of gas exchange. When your pumps stop running, the water in your aquarium stops moving which then stops or drastically reduces the amount of gas exchange that can occur.  Without water movement, your fish will quickly breathe all of the available oxygen from the water and begin to suffocate. By creating some kind of water movement, you can promote gas exchange and keep the water oxygenated.

For this reason, the most important equipment to backup during a power failure is going to be a powerhead or a battery-powered air pump.  Your tank should survive for 2-3 days without the filtration, heater, or lighting so long as you have a powerhead moving the water. Temperature, water quality, and lighting really only become a threat during prolonged outages.

Power Failure Solutions

The following solutions are the best ways to supply power to a powerhead or pump in the event of a power failure. They are listed in the order of effectiveness which takes into account both the cost and level of protection.  

  1. Battery Backup
  2. Inverter
  3. Battery-powered air-pump
  4. Generator