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How Long Can The Fish Go Without Filtration?


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#1 PaulQ

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 12:37 AM

I am trying to set up a battery back up system for my tank. Powering the FILTER off the UPS (battery) is proving to be difficult. However, I can power a pump which will provide aeration to the tank.

In a power failure, if the tank is ONLY receiving aeration and no filtration, how long can the fish safely tolerate this? How long is this compared to no aeration and no filtration (e.g. standing water)?

I know this is a bit subjective. In my case, I have a 26 gallon tank with one 3" circular air stone running. There are 8 small fish.

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

Thanks!

#2 Tolak

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 12:47 AM

A lot of variables there, pick up a box filter, put the media from the filter in there & run it off of the air pump. Get what is known to most college kids as a beer cup, poke holes in the bottom, clip this to the inside of the tank rim with your filter media in it & pour some tank water through every so often, no power needed.

Knowing the surface area of the tank, species of the fish, how long the tank has been running, the decorations in the tank as well as maintenance procedures all come into play with this. Large mature understocked tanks with a decent surface area might run indefinitely, a small heavily stocked tank with minimal surface area might have problems in an hour.

#3 PaulQ

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 01:02 AM

A lot of variables there, pick up a box filter, put the media from the filter in there & run it off of the air pump. Get what is known to most college kids as a beer cup, poke holes in the bottom, clip this to the inside of the tank rim with your filter media in it & pour some tank water through every so often, no power needed.


Interesting! Good idea. However, I am more concerned about the more likely situation where the power goes out when I am not home or in the middle of the night. It does happen in my area.

Knowing the surface area of the tank, species of the fish, how long the tank has been running, the decorations in the tank as well as maintenance procedures all come into play with this. Large mature understocked tanks with a decent surface area might run indefinitely, a small heavily stocked tank with minimal surface area might have problems in an hour.


The tank is far from mature. It's about 4 weeks old but I am looking for info that would generally apply in the long run.

The tank's surface is 30x75cm so that's 2250 sq cm. or about 348 sq. inches. It's about 40cm deep (16 inches).

I guess I am wondering if it's even worthwhile to buy a UPS to power the air pump if it isn't going to make much difference?

#4 Tolak

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 01:37 AM

Ever notice how the power never goes out at a convenient time? A tank that size with 8 smallish fish should be able to go at least a few hours, probably longer. Biggest problem short term is the O2 level, just creating surface motion by pouring in water solves that. With 30some tanks running I have a generator for power outages, when it approaches 3 hours with no electricity is when I consider hooking it up. This is for the two refrigerators full of food, sump pump, and furnace if needed, fishroom runs off of one large air pump.

Usually there is someone home when I'm at work, and I can con them into pouring some water with a cup into tanks that need it. If it lasts longer than a few hours the job is pretty understanding, power problems only happen here during heavy storms, if this happens during the night sleeping isn't easy.

#5 PaulQ

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 01:45 AM

Ever notice how the power never goes out at a convenient time? A tank that size with 8 smallish fish should be able to go at least a few hours, probably longer. Biggest problem short term is the O2 level, just creating surface motion by pouring in water solves that. With 30some tanks running I have a generator for power outages, when it approaches 3 hours with no electricity is when I consider hooking it up. This is for the two refrigerators full of food, sump pump, and furnace if needed, fishroom runs off of one large air pump.

Usually there is someone home when I'm at work, and I can con them into pouring some water with a cup into tanks that need it. If it lasts longer than a few hours the job is pretty understanding, power problems only happen here during heavy storms, if this happens during the night sleeping isn't easy.


WOW! 30 tanks... sounds like a fish store!!

Would you say that the aeration counts as breaking the surface to somewhat improve the experience for the fish?

#6 Tolak

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 02:27 AM

Aeration is mainly surface motion, whatever may cause it. It's a friction deal, between water & air causing the exchange of molecules.

#7 waterdrop

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 02:37 AM

When I go through long power outages I like to focus most on removing and resupplying the filter with fresh tank water every hour or two. The water from the filter goes back into the tank and its tank water that goes manually into the filter. With a cannister filter you can simply place a board on top of the tank, set the filter up there, open the input line to air and get the output line siphoning water out of the filter into the tank. Then put the filter back and get the input siphon to refill the filter. During this same time you can use a large container to bail tank water out and pour it back in, disturbing the surface and causing some gas exchange.

I've found that the bacteria can do fine without one of these exchanges for about 5 hours, so I always plan my 5 hours of sleep and then get right up and do another exchange of water. Some people rig car battery systems with inverters to simply periodically power up their equipment and get some water exchange. I've read that car battery systems do better than UPS systems but I forget why. In an emergency, heating and cooling can be accomplished somewhat by using a gas stove to heat water for a sealed container that's placed in the tank or using leftover ice (while it lasts) again in a sealed container in the tank.

~~waterdrop~~

#8 PaulQ

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 03:38 AM

I've read that car battery systems do better than UPS systems but I forget why.


I can officially report that at least the basic and mid-range UPS do NOT drive a HOB filter. It seems like it doesn't get enough amperage. The second one I tried was a 450 watt model but it caused the filter impeller to just grumble and not work.

#9 cybergibbons

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 07:39 AM

It's nothing to do with power or current - a small UPS will deal with 500W fine, and most people have much, much smaller filters.

The reason is that the UPS will put out a square wave rather than the sine wave that the motor wants. The type of motor in filters just won't work without a sine wave, and will very slowly turn, or sit still and "growl". They'll also generate a lot of heat.

Not all UPS are like this - you do get true sine UPS, but they cost more. A PC doesn't care what the power is like, as long as it is AC.

#10 the biffster

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 07:54 AM

were i used to live and yes
it was in the uk we used to get power
outages from 24 to 48 hrs at least 6
times a year the only thing i used to
do was get an old truck inner tube filled
with air not from a garage as it normally as
oil mixed in with it i used to go to a mates house
and blow it up on one of them little electric ones
this was enough to last several hrs i never really worried
about my filters since i experienced the first power cut
as there was no ill effects on them as for the heat well the fish
room had a gas fire i never go any spikes or any thing
but i did do large water changes as soon as the power was
back on and that could any time of the day or night

#11 PaulQ

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 11:37 AM

Not all UPS are like this - you do get true sine UPS, but they cost more. A PC doesn't care what the power is like, as long as it is AC.


Do you happen to know which UPS provide this type of wave?




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