Don’t let a power outage kill your reef aquarium

Here in the midwest, I am not a stranger to power outages.  From thunderstorms, to tornadoes, to the electric company just not doing their job, to solar flares that threaten our power grids, I have had many power outages over the years since I have been keeping my aquariums.

Many years ago, around the summer of 1998, I lost a couple corals after an extended power outage and because of that I purchased a portable generator.  The generator worked well for the power outages that followed but it is not the easiest unit to use and for short outages, under eight hours, the time to get it hooked up and working isn’t worth it.

I was searching for a simple solution that I could easily hook up, didn’t need gas, has enough power to run a single pump in my aquarium for at least eight hours and didn’t cost a lot of money.

Sometimes simple is better

I had purchased a portable 12 volt auto battery starter a few years ago that is used to jump start cars and power small 12 volt devices.  This unit has a 12 volt receptacle for connecting the devices.  The unit that I use is at least six years old now and it is a Husky brand 400 amp battery jump starter.  There is a new unit available from Stanley Tools at Lowes but it is only a 300 amp (not an affiliate link) unit which may or may not be an issue and I assume would not have as much runtime as my device and you should make sure that you can return it if it doesn’t work for you.

I also use a Husky brand 175 watt power inverter which is no longer available but there is a 180 watt (not an affiliate link) unit from Energizer that looks similar to mine.  This unit plugs into the 12 volt receptacle on the jump starter and it has a single 120 volt outlet.  The pump plugs into the 120 volt outlet on the inverter.  There’s no need to do any type of special wiring, you just plug it in and it works.

 This is not an automatic backup that turns on when the power goes out but if you have someone at home, they can hook it up in a matter of minutes without any other skills than plugging the pump into the inverter.

It keeps the water flowing

I am using a fairly large Tunze pump which yields just over eight hours of run time with the above setup.  I had to use this setup recently after a large storm took out my power for just over six hours.

I have tested this same setup with my Mag 9 pump but it makes the pump chatter and I didn’t want to damage it.  I am assume that the Mag pump draws more than 175 watts so that might be the cause of the chatter.  The Tunze pump is silent until the battery runs down and it will start to make a slight chatter.  Just make sure to choose a pump of a lower wattage than what the power inverter outputs.

It haven’t tried this setup with a heater because I am guessing that the 200 watt heater I am using would drain the battery really fast.  I am going to test this out in the near future to see if it works and I will update this article once I have more information.

Low cost solution to short term reef aquarium saving power

The parts that I listed above cost about $110 USD from Lowes and I would assume that you might be able to find them online for less.  This seems like a small price to pay to save our fish and corals and the many thousands of dollars that many of us have invested in our aquariums.

Leave me a comment below if you use this type of setup and how it works for you.

Spectrapure RO/DI parts are impressive

In my last post, I mentioned that it was time to replace the RO/DI parts in my Kent Marine 60gpd HI-S unit.  I ordered the replacement parts direct from Spectrapure which consisted of a 90 gallon per day RO membrane, a high capacity color changing DI cartridge, a sediment prefilter, a carbon block prefilter and a new 90gpd flow restrictor.

Needless to say, I am very impressed at the performance.  The flow is much faster and the amount of waste water is at least 50% less than before.  Another extra plus is, I would have spent over $170 on the same Kent Marine parts so I ended up saving $50.

The water coming out of the of the new setup is showing 000 on my TDS meter with all the parts installed and even before I installed the new DI filter, my TDS was at 003.

Overall I am very happy with this purchase and plan on using Spectrapure RO/DI parts again when I have to replace them.

Time to replace the RO/DI parts

I have been having a recent battle with cyano and then I realized that I haven’t replace my membrane or DI cartridge in many years.  I cannot recall if it was 2008 or 2010 but either way, it have been too long.

When I tested the water coming out of my Kent Marine Hi-S unit about two months ago, my TDS meter was showing 003 ppm and just the other day, it is showing 054 ppm.  Even though it is not too high, I have a feeling that it might be contributing to my cyano problem.

There is good news and bad news but mostly good.  When looking for replacement parts I found that the prices for the Kent Marine membrane and filters went up a lot since the last time I bought them.  The good part is, I stumbled upon the Spectrapure website and found better replacement parts for almost half the price.  The other good news is, I am upgrading my membrane from a 60gpd unit to a 90gpd unit by replacing the flow restrictor for $5.00.

My parts should be here next Wednesday and after I have them running for a while, I will tell you how they are working out.


Water change, skimmer cleaning and time to rearrange the corals

I am now having space issues, as in not enough space, in my aquarium with my soft corals and today I rearranged my largest soft corals to the right side and put everything else on in the middle and to the left.  I am not sure if I like the new layout but it seems that the corals are enjoying the new location and being closer to the lights.

I also moved more Tunze power heads to the left side of the tank to get some more floor on the back of the glass to hopefully make the cyano leave.  I didn’t have time to attack the aiptasia and it might be a while before I get to it.

I did the normal water change and skimmer cleaning like past weeks and spent some extra time with the turkey baster.  I am still dealing with the a little cyano.

90 gallon after moving the corals around


Water change, skimmer cleaning and not much else

Nothing much to report this week.  I did a quick water change and cleaned the skimmer today and because it was 11:30 pm, I didn’t have time to feed the aiptasia their last meal but hopefully, I will have more time next week.

Also, all the aiptasia that blasted with Joe’s Juice is back.  They look a little smaller but they are still there.

Water change, new coral, new actinic T5 blub and more about Joe’s Juice

Water change Wednesday….

I think I am going to call Wednesday “water change Wednesday” from now on. Although I have changed water on other days, it seems that Wednesday is the day but I digress…..

I did the normal 5 gallon water change and cleaned the skimmer, which is starting to pull less and less out each week. I know the skimmer is clean and the water level is the same but between the water changes and keeping it clean, I am guessing there is less to skim. I might go a for a wetter skimmate but even now, it has gone from dark brown to light brown over the last month.

Be a turkey….

I did notice that using the turkey baster on the live rock last keep the cyanobacteria at bay for almost 7 days. There was a light coating of cyano on the top, middle rock near the back but not as much as the week before when I didn’t use the turkey baster.

I know that many of you are wondering if Joe’s Juice did any better this week. The answer is yes and no. Out of the 25 aiptasia that I fed last week, there are maybe 12 left and of those 12 they are much smaller. It seems that Joe’s Juice needs to be fed to the aiptasia at least twice or maybe three times. I will have a picture up today or over the next few days to show the progress. I did feed a larger amount the second time than the first so that could also be a reason why more of the aiptasia seem to be gone.

Aiptasia after using Joe's Juice twice.

I plan on trying kalkwasser paste and or the lemon juice concoction but I am a little leary of the lemon juice.

New hammer coral and let there be light….

I also added a new hammer coral frag from AQUAPROS that looks really good.

Hammer coral frag from Aquapros

I switched out one of my ATI Blue+ T5 tubes for an ATI Actinic with hopes that the hammer could have a little more fluorescence, which at first glance it seems to have worked.

Water change and Joe’s Juice part 2

Another 5 gallon water change, cleaned skimmer and overflow teeth.  I also used the turkey baster to stir up the crud on the live rock and also to deal with some cyano.

I tried Joe’s Juice again on the same rock as before.   As you can see below, most of them except for the three at the bottom are in the rock but I will not know if it worked until tomorrow.  More to come…

Aptasia 021313

Aptasia after the second application of Joe’s Juice

2/9/2013 – 90 gallon reef tank

Here is a full tank picture of my 90 gallon taken on 2/9/2013.  I recently upgraded my bulbs from Aquatic Life T5’s to ATI T5’s.  The new bulbs look so much better to me.  More details t0 come about my bulb upgrade in the near future.

90 gallon full tank picture

90 gallon full tank picture taken on 2/9/13.

Aiptasia verses Joe’s Juice after three days

I was hopeful that Joe’s Juice would have terminated these nasty little buggers but it looks like, after one try, Aptasia = 1 joes’ juice = 0.


Aiptasia after using Joe Juice. Bummer, I was hoping it would have worked.

I am going to try Joe’s Juice a second time to give it a chance to redeem itself.  There is one on the far bottom left that looks unhealthy now but it is still alive for now.


Water change and aiptasia serach and destroy

Today was water change day.  I have been doing weekly water changes for the last month.  Up until a few weeks ago, I did maybe 15 water changes since 2007.  Needless to say, I am seeing a huge growth spurt from my soft corals.  Luckily over those years of no water changes my fish and most of my corals stayed with me.

I have my water changes down to 10 – 15 minutes and another five minutes to clean the skimmer.  If I have to take the lights off the tank, it adds just a couple minutes but overall the whole process is under 30 minutes.  I plan on putting a new image up each week but it takes me longer to setup the camera than anything else.

For at least three years, maybe longer, I have been dealing with a nasty aiptasia outbreak.  I bought a bottle of Joe’s Juice in 2007 or 2008 and it sat on my shelf for that time.  After dusting off the box it came in, I shook it for a long time to get the settlement loose and I started my search and destroy mission.  After fighting with the little applicator, I fed at least 25 aiptasia what I hoped would be their last meal.  I placed the applicator in the mouth and squeezed a good shot into each one.  Most of them retreated deep into the live rock showing nothing but a white power burn. I will have to see how it worked over the next couple days but I am hopeful that they won’t come back.

I still have about 30 more to eradicate but if this works, the time will be worth it.

This skimmer wasn’t too dirty this week and now that I am cleaning it weekly, I do not have to clean the glass as often.