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Power Outages??


Simon
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Living here in the Puget Sound Region, my home is subject to frequent power outages, when there is wind, snow, ice, or a combination.  I just ordered some USB air pumps and airstones for back up that I can run off either one of those extended phone batteries or a large 12v battery for extended outages.  That works great if you are using a sponge filter, but for those of us running HOBs, canisters, or other pumped filter systems it seems we could soon have a crisis.  It doesn't take long for aerobic bacteria to consume all the oxygen in the filter, what are the effects going to be when the system powers back up, it the system going to pump a toxic brew into the tank?  If there is a concern, does it matter if the power is off for an hour, a few hours, a day, a week?  What is the critical time for the life of the bacteria in the filter? Should I just splurge and get a UPS battery backup, like those used for computers?  I would not suffer financially if I had a fish kill, but I would like to take reasonable precautions to protect them.

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Nitrifying bacteria live in a lot of places and from what I've read they don't need a lot of o2 to do their job.  I'm sure whatever gas exchange you have at the surface of the filter is enough to keep them alive.  Life, especially microbes, is a lot more robust than people give credit. 

As for backup power I guess it depends on how long you want to go.  Unless you want to go for a really long time an air stone and the bacteria in your tank will almost surely get you through.  Heaters are pretty power hungry though (relative to what you can store in a smallish battery).  If you're planning on heating you'll need a bigger battery and those computer UPSs that run on lead acids have misleading battery capacity and need replacement every 3-5 years.  IMO its better to get a small honda generator (which are very quiet) and power your fish and a few essentials like your fridge and a couple lamps for exended power outages (days/weeks).

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Depends how long your power outages are. A HOB probably draws between 6 and 15W which on a $100-$150 UPS could last many hours. A larger sump or canister filter pump might only last half that time. A 50W heater will substantially reduce the run time of that UPS. I think you can do without heaters and lights. Stick to only having your pumps on the UPS and rely on your house to maintain the heat in the tanks. 

Obviously the bigger your UPS the longer the run time or the more stuff you can run in the interim.

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Without flow the bacteria will instantly start to die off to some degree. Exactly how much is up for debate but I wouldn't chance it. Get a inverter generator, I have the ryiobi and it works great and quiet. Those are good for electronics, the regular generators are good for anything else. I have 3 generators in my garage right now. If the power goes out for more then 4-6 hours they will go to heating and food preservation.  I would bet the the bacteria would last awhile but there will be a mini cycle of the power is out for more then 30 minutes.   If the power goes out unplug the light and put a blanket on the tank. That will cause the fish to go to sleep or slow down. Do not feed and be mindful of the time.  If thr power goes out in the summer then just put ice in airlock bags and float them. 

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2 hours ago, Odd Alan said:

Yep, gave up on the UPS idea, currently pricing propane generators...

Any wisdom(beside house power switch over circuit) on auto starting generators when the power goes out in the middle of the night?

Am not an electrician, but to me, it really all depends on your power (wattage) consumption requirements.  The "stand-by", propane generators you referenced are fairly expensive, but do offer the convenience of autostart & do use an electronic \ electrical transfer box. 

If you're looking for limited power, the smaller generators work great, but utilize the manual transfer switching box, many times.

Both types should be professionally installed.

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