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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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.

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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. 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 […]

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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 […]

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