Electrocuted by my tank :/

ShaylaM

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Not sure this is the right topic to post this but I went to reach into my marine tank and to my surprise I got a shock, It wasn't bad, it was the same level as static electricity but a tiny more. It sure has made me reluctant to put my hand it to see if it was a once off tho! The tank is an all in one and I have my heater, wavemaker, return pump and protein skimmer in the tank itself. I don't think anyone can diagnose from a forum post lol but has anyone had any experience with this, how do I test each bit of hardware to see if it's the cause or is it just a build up of static. I'll refrain from sicking my hand back in to see if it's a once off til I get a reply lol
 

Colin_T

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I used to get zapped by my marine tanks too. It was usually caused by salt creep on the light units. Make sure the hood, lights and everything else is free of salt. If the lights are sitting on the tank, raise them up and put a bit of wood between the light unit and tank.

If it continues to happen after that, check the heater and wave maker for damage to the cord and maybe try them in a separate bucket of water.

Wear rubber souled shoes or thongs when working on the tanks to help insulate you from the floor.
 

NannaLou

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I don’t have salt water aquariums, but I always turn the power off if I need to put my hands in the tank. I worry about electricity and water mixing 😬
 
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ShaylaM

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I used to get zapped by my marine tanks too. It was usually caused by salt creep on the light units. Make sure the hood, lights and everything else is free of salt. If the lights are sitting on the tank, raise them up and put a bit of wood between the light unit and tank.

If it continues to happen after that, check the heater and wave maker for damage to the cord and maybe try them in a separate bucket of water.

Wear rubber souled shoes or thongs when working on the tanks to help insulate you from the floor.

I can't find anything wrong with the cords from the wavemaker or heater, or anything for that matter. However I did notice that the light arm had come loose and the light was sitting closer to the water then it should've been and was also covered in salt so lets hope that is the cause
 

Cydeth

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I've had this before. It turned out that it was my heater the most recent time, even though it was still working and not causing any noticeable damage to the fish.

I only actually felt the shock when I had a small nick to my finger that it was getting in to, if I put my uninjured hand in the tank I felt nothing.
 

Donya

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The term usually used for this is "stray voltage." It can be caused by things like salt creep as others mentioned but it can also be caused by damaged equipment letting wires get in contact with the water. Seals breaking on heaters is a common culprit but some animals like urchins will also chew through power cords over time and expose the wires. For things like broken seals, the damage may not be visible unless you take apart the equipment. Erratic fish behavior can sometimes indicates a stray voltage problem but not always. Anyway, it's not something to take lightly if you don't already know what the cause is. Even if you're a static electricity monster like me who gets zapped by your car, light fixtures, etc. due to wearing things fuzzy sweaters and socks, you shouldn't typically get zapped putting your hand into a safe tank.

First thing is to get a GFCI / RCD and ensure everything electrical going into the water is connected to it. If your wall plug doesn't have that feature already (usually there is a "Test" and "Reset" button on the outlet itself if it does) then you can get units that plug into the wall and then you plug the equipment into that. These devices will trip and cut the power if there's a problem but you can still get zapped to a degree - just not as hard as without the protective device. You can also use a multimeter instead of your hand to see if your tank is a shock hazard, although it's been a years since I had to do that and don't remember what exactly I did (I just googled it at the time).

EDIT: just remembered what it was that I found zapped me back when I had to do the multimeter testing (although I still don't remember exactly what I did with the multimeter). An urchin had chewed through the wire of a digital thermometer probe that was powered by one of those little button batteries, so it was not a lot of electricity. The animals in the tank didn't care one bit about it either - just my hand.
 

itiwhetu

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This has reminded me, when I had my breeding pair of Oscars they used to throw the heater/thermostat around. They managed to break the glass on a couple. The RCD saved their lives most probably.
 

dasaltemelosguy

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This won't tell you where the voltage leaking into the water is from but it will protect you from dangerous shock potential or may totally eliminate the stray voltage in the water.

Perhaps someone can suggest the most inert metal but if you run a heavy, solid wire into the tank and say, run it under the gravel or hidden along an edge, the length of the tank, then GROUND that wire to an electrical outlet ground, no dangerous voltage can develop as the conductivity of any wire is far higher than even salt water. And as said before, ground faults are always a good idea.

I'm told using stainless steel wire works in marine tanks but frankly, I'd verify what metals are safe. But grounding the water will protect you, the fish and depending on how bad the voltage leak is, it may eliminate it entirely.
 
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ShaylaM

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Update on the tank, haven't got zapped again after fixing the light up. All the equipment in this tank is new and of good quality so I'm thinking that the light is quite possibly the cause, I do have my RCD on order, better safe then sorry!
 

PheonixKingZ

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I used to get zapped by my marine tanks too. It was usually caused by salt creep on the light units. Make sure the hood, lights and everything else is free of salt. If the lights are sitting on the tank, raise them up and put a bit of wood between the light unit and tank.

If it continues to happen after that, check the heater and wave maker for damage to the cord and maybe try them in a separate bucket of water.

Wear rubber souled shoes or thongs when working on the tanks to help insulate you from the floor.
I have had this happen once, when I was still using a crappy $50 light. Now that I have my black box, everything is fine. I do however have everything plugged into a RCD power strip, so no more shocks!
 

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