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Extending the USB Nano Pump: A Test of Power As my order history will attest, the USB Nano Pump is hands-down my favorite Aquarium Co-Op product. It's crazy quiet and powerful for the money. In my home office where I have five tanks, there is ZERO humming sound coming from the five nano pumps providing air to the 20 longs on a wall rack. All I hear is the air rushing "white noise" that even serves to mask the hums of my hang-on-back filters. Find me a conventional 4-port pump that can accomplish that! This gives me a room with several tanks that aren't singing in the key of "E"! But testimonial aside, I recalled Cory talking about the benefits of the "USB" aspect of the pump; especially that it can be powered by a backup battery during power failures. But what if that could be taken a step further? What if it could be used as a daily workhorse pump THAT ALSO automatically switches over to backup power when the power does go out? How long will it last? Can it do this without human intervention? For twenty bucks and ZERO DIY skills, you bet it can! SELECTING THE BACKUP BATTERY In making my choice of backup battery, I listed the following criteria that needed to be satisfied: 1. It has to be Compact 2. It has to Last a Long time 3. It has to Power my pump on wall power 4. It has to Switch to battery power without my touching it 5. It has to be Affordable; I have a lot of pumps! With that in mind and a lot of research, I settled on this UGREEN Portable charger for phones and tablets, for $22 on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07S73M12N (I'm receiving and want no affiliate kickbacks for this.) It mostly matched up with my requirements: 1. Compact: It's about the size of a pack of cigarettes 2. Long-Lasting: 10,000mAh will be tested 3. Power: Pass-through feature sends wall-power directly to the pump 4. Switch: Pass-through charges the battery and switches over when unplugged 5. Affordable: Mixed feelings on this...pass-through isn't cheap! 6. Bonus! Digital readout shows the percentage of charge remaining What is pass-through power technology? You can't just plug the pump into any phone charger and expect it to power the pump while the charger is plugged into your wall; most phone chargers will stop powering your device when they are being charged themselves. But with "pass-through", the charger passes your wall power through to your charging device while it charges itself. Instant permanent battery backup! How to use it? Simply plug the battery backup between the USB pump and its USB charging adapter that comes with it. You need nothing else! So let's dive into the testing... TEST ONE: DOES IT WORK WITH NON-PHONE DEVICES? What we're proposing here is to plug in a device that doesn't draw power the same way as a phone does, into a powering device that's made for phones and tablets. Will it handle low voltage fish stuff? This article wouldn't exist if the answer weren't a resounding Yes! I connected it all and plugged it into the wall. It immediately started the pump and started charging itself at the same time. When I unplugged the power from the wall, the pump kept going and the battery started draining. SLOWLY. Blue or orange port? I tested the charging process twice, curious about whether choosing the blue or orange ports on the new Aquarium Co-Op charger plug that came with the pump would make a difference in charging time. It made no difference. So this will work. But for how long? Here's where it gets interesting. TEST TWO: HOW LONG DOES IT LAST? I charged it up to 100% while connected to the pump (about 3-4 hours), and then unplugged everything from the wall to simulate a power failure. The pump continued to run for 60 HOURS. That's two and a half days! Not much more to be said there. It's quite an effective backup power source! TEST THREE: OKAY, BUT HOW LONG DOES IT REALLY LAST? On the theory that it will not last as long when it's under a load and actually powering a real airstone in water pressure, I connected it to a never-clog airstone on 24" of airline tubing that had already been running for several months in 12" of water depth. The runtime result was another round number: 50 HOURS on a full charge. So this means that the pump was powered for about 17% less time while under a basic load. Logically, I'd assume that as the airstone becomes more clogged, its capacity for backup time will be diminished even more. Mounting? The battery pack is not terribly heavy, so it can be mounted with some double-sided foam tape to the back or side of the aquarium, or any other flat surface so that it doesn't dangle. CONCLUSION The combination of 2+ days' power, always-ready pass-through powering, and the compact size makes this a huge winner. I'm buying one of these for every one of my USB Nano Pumps. Yes, $22 can add up fast, but for me, it's a small price to pay for the peace of mind. When the power goes out, I will have oxygenated water for days! Even if I were to lose most of the beneficial bacteria, the bacteria that remains in proximity to the moving water caused by the bubbles (on the glass, rocks, gravel, and decorations) will serve as a seed population for a new colony. But that's a moot point if the pump is powering a sponge filter! What more is there to say? Spread the word: USB battery backups aren't just for phones!
Hi gang: So there was a little discussion going on around my test results for an effective Battery Backup for the USB Nano Pump, and mid-chat, this idea popped in my head. It's not fully baked, but I hope it maybe has some potential? For folks with fish rooms or large numbers of tanks, what would a "Toolbox Pond" look like? I envision this as a pond or other large bin/tank that you could fill and maintain with useful "tools" and occupants to help keep the other tanks in top condition or otherwise handle emergencies. Yes, we already do this somewhat with a quarantine tank, but this idea is different. Consider: 1. Power Failure: Sponge Filters: I don't use sponge filters because, for me, they take up too much space in the tank. So, assuming I prefer to use hang-on-back, canister, or other powered types of filters, I could fill this pond with enough smallish sponge filters to match the number of power-filtered tanks. In the event of a power failure, I could drop one of these in each tank with a USB nano pump on battery backup, and resume filtering the affected tanks immediately. Figure $10 for the pump, $20 for the battery backup, and $10 for the sponge filter, you're talking about a $40-per-tank insurance policy to ensure uninterrupted filtration if the power goes out. 2. Housecall Algae Control: Cleanup Crew: For those sponge filters to be full of beneficial bacteria, they'll need a fish population to do their thing. I propose a diverse cleanup crew to live together in the Toolbox Pond that could handle all types of algae: bristlenose plecos for their rasping abilities on glass and decor, Siamese algae eaters for hair and blackbeard algae control, otocinclus for the glass and leaves, amano shrimp for the nooks and crannies, and big snails for everything else. This setup would consume a lot of food, but that's kind of the point. When you have a tank that needs some TLC, grab some of these guys from the Toolbox Pond and send them to work! Imagine what 20 Siamese algae eaters could do for a tank in 1-2 days? And when they're done, you send them home. 3. Inpatient Algae Control: Cleanup Crew: Even better, got a rock, plant, or piece of decor that needs a cleaning? Simply pluck it out of its home tank and drop it in the Toolbox Pond for a day or two and let the worker bees do their thing! 4. Contained Breeding: Green Water: It stands to reason that a pond like this could be set up to cultivate a large amount of green water, too. What about rigging a large fine-mesh breeder net/basket of some kind so that fry can be moved in there for the first few days of life where they need infusoria? Or, maybe just grab a cup of the good stuff and drop it in the tanks that need it? 5. Contained Food Cultures: Green Water: Again, maybe a tight mesh net or basket to house a daphnia culture in the pond? Haven't thought that one through yet. So, this Toolbox, this Utility Tank, this Workhorse Pond, whatever to call it...how would you build out such a tool? What other ways can we get a dedicated body of water to do some of the work we'd normally do tank-by-tank? Or maybe this is an old idea that's already been tried? Please post your ideas; I want to try this sometime, but I'll bet there's more that can be done! Thanks for reading, Bill