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Aquarium Power Failure, Tank Moving
*Aquarium Moving (Part 1)
*Dealing with Power Failures (Part 2)
There are many different methods for moving that work well, I will give you information on the moving method that has worked best for me when I moved aquariums (small and large) for my aquarium maintenance clients (some short distance, a couple as far as 800 miles) *Purchase some sterile Rubbermaid containers or Coleman or similar style ice chests (not cheep "styro" ice chests) as well as buckets for ornaments, gravel, etc.
If Rubbermaid containers are used, I prefer as large as possible such as 32 gallons for tanks over 40 gallons.
*Drain water from the display tank into one of these containers. Do not fill more than you can move or will spill. Then add your fish to this water.
*Add Methylene Blue , this will aid in the oxygen capacity of the blood, ease stress, ease ammonia/nitrite poisoning and help prevent disease. I also added Wonder Shells as these would increase the bio load capacity of the water and add very important electrolytes and aid in water parameter stability.
Keep this container as dark as possible.
Another alternative (not what I generally do, but many prefer) is to bag all your fish adding oxygen or the newer breathing bags. You can also add Bag Buddies by Jungle to these bags. These will add oxygen and Methylene blue for stress and disease prevention. This is a perfectly good method, I just prefer to be able to monitor and even aerate my fish, I also have arrived with less stressed fish this way (including with the breathable bags), as in my opinion the fish feel more comfortable in a larger container with less ammonia buildup and more cover.
*For trips over 4 hours, a battery air pump or AC air pump plugged into an inverter that runs off the vehicles cigarette lighter.
My recommendation here is to use the SunSun Non Stop Air pump (pictured) or similar as this VERY powerful pump (more powerful than many standard AC pumps) can run up to 20 hours and can also be used as an automatic emergency air pump during power failures or simply as your aquariums main air supply pump.
The other alternative are the very simple batter pumps that run on ‘D’ cell batteries. These pumps are not all that powerful, however these pumps such as the Automatic Battery Air Pump (pictured to the left) often provide ample air down to at least 18 inches of water and can last up to 8 hours when using fresh alkaline batteries.
*Do not over rinse any gravel or bio filter media such as sponges; place these in an open container/bucket.
*Place safe (not heavy) decorations in with fish to provide cover. For live plants keep them separately as you will deplete oxygen in the darker moving environment. The same for rocks and heavy decoration as these can injure the fish.
*Discard any unused water. For marine tanks I try and save as much water as possible.
*For small tanks (usually under 40 gallons), I will generally leave some gravel and other equipment in the tank for quick moving. For larger tanks I remove everything.
*Once at the destination, I begin to re set up the aquarium. For marine tanks I immediately start up a container with an air stone, water (preferably RO) and salt mix so as to have mixed saltwater ready for use. I will also note that I prefer 24 hours of agitation of newly mixed saltwater before using, however this time is usually not an option when moving.
*Once the tank is set up and running, I start SLOWLY mixing water back and forth between the tank and fish container to prevent osmotic shock, and adjust temperature. I will usually add Stress Coat or similar to the container holding the fish and Prime to the display tank just before addition of the fish (and other aquatic creatures)
This is not the one and only method to move aquariums (and the inhabitants), but this way and variation of this method have worked very well for me with almost no losses over dozens of moves for my clients. I also still use the Methylene Blue Wonder Shell method in transporting fish from LA to Oregon a few times a year (counting stopping time this is a 36 hour plus journey for the fish without a loss yet!)
For a much more in depth Aquarium Answers article that deals specifically with shipping of fish (as compared to this article that is aimed more at transport of fish and aquariums, please see this article: “Fish Shipping”
Dealing with power failures is very similar to tank moving in that many of the same methods can be employed, so I will not repeat the same material, other than I will list methods of maintaining your fish while power is out.
It is also noteworthy that most healthy aquariums (with normal bio loads) can last up to 4 hours with absolutely no action taken!
Here are several suggestions:
- Stirring the aquarium with a small clean paddle. This can be done gently enough to not cause too much stress to fish while providing water moving and oxygen/CO2 exchange (depending on paddle size and aquarium size; obviously a smaller paddle for a smaller tank).
- Keeping a Battery automatic air pump connected at all times to the aquarium. The best way is via a small Sponge Filter as pictured to the left, although for better yet effectiveness in removing ammonia/nitrites, I suggest that a separate sponge filter be connected to a continuous running pump then this Sponge filter be reconnected to the battery pump during the power failure.
- This same idea as above can be used except a Non-Stop Battery pump is employed so that the Sponge filter is always biologically seasoned or does not require reconnection to the battery air pump during power failures.
- The use of a generator or DC to AC inverter (which is then connected to an Deep cycle RV Battery. I have found that a deep cycle battery can run the average aquarium for days without re-charging.
A fully charged Series 24 Deep Cycled RV Battery can run 100 watts of appliances (pumps,, etc.) for about 2 days, with two connected in parallel you can run 100 watts for about 4 days.
This can also run a heater, but keep in mind that a 200 watt heater (as an example) can take out even a heavy duty/deep cycle RV battery in 24 hours.
If you do decide to keep an inverter, make sure to get the largest and best you can afford. My suggestion is a 400 Watt modified or pure since wave inverter as a minimum.
The battery and inverter can be kept in a closest or garage with a trickle charger attached ready for any emergency
- A generator is always one of the best options when available since 1000 watts or more are easily generated with most models (make sure these have at least a modified sine wave as with any inverter).
The generator unfortunately may not be feasible for many city apartment dwellers, which is where the above (& below) suggestions are likely more practical.
- During Winter, heat can become an issue, beside the use of a deep cycle RV battery or a generator, you can utilize a catalytic propane heater (with a window slightly vented) to heat the room with the aquarium. This can at least keep a room from plunging into the 40s and the likely death of any tropical fish.
See the picture to the left.
- The use of Prime or Amquel Plus is also suggested if ammonia or nitrite levels rise during power failures.
- Water changes (if you are on city water, not a well that needs AC power) can also be used to provide fresh water, electrolytes, & oxygen. As well products such as Wonder Shells also add essential electrolytes and even some oxygen.
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