Today I had the most dreaded scenario for any saltwater aquarium… the power went out! This isn’t the first time this has happened and like many aquarists, I just stick my head in the sand and think it doesn’t happen that often, it’ll be fine. I have literally no backup options for my saltwater aquarium equipment.
With no power, the saltwater aquarium was absolutely still, almost lifeless, the corals were closing up and the fish looking confused. Luckily I have a broken leg and didn’t need to leave home that day, so I had a small bucket and just stirred and turned the water over every 15mins, that ensured there was sufficient temporary water movement within the saltwater aquarium. Long story short, the power came on after a total of three hours and everything was fine, but it got me thinking. What if this happens again? what if I’m not home? What kind of saltwater aquarium backup systems are out there?
1. Battery Backup
If you own a Vortech pump like me, this could be the best backup solution for your saltwater aquarium. EcoTech marine offer a battery backup which can provide up to 30 hours of backup power for your Vortech pump. The system comes with a trickle charger and will ensure you are ready for any situation.
Vortech pump on its own can maintain your saltwater aquarium in a power out. It provides plenty of flow and if positioned correctly it will break the surface of the water and aerate. This could effectively be used alongside other backup methods like a generator and will ensure you are not caught off guard. I personally am ordering one of these at the moment for my saltwater aquarium.
2. UPS Backup
UPS backup systems are battery powered and are positioned between the mains power and your saltwater aquarium equipment. UPS backup systems become active when the power goes out, which is a good option if you are on holiday. The problem with UPS systems is that they can drain relatively quickly. To overcome this it is recommended that you only connect saltwater aquarium equipment that is necessary for the livelihood of your fish and corals. Another benefit of UPS backups is that they also provide a constant level of power to your aquarium equipment and nullifies the effect of small power surges that can ruin your equipment. Once again, calculate you load using watts and work out which model will work best for your saltwater aquarium.
By only connecting essential equipment to the UPS backup, you will gain considerably longer periods of backup power. Equipment such as your lights and heater draw the most power and in a power out scenario, not having them operating would not greatly harm your saltwater aquarium, unless it was for a relatively long period.
3. Inverter Generators
By far the best option for long-term power outages is Inverter Generators. These run on fuel and therefore they have the ability to run for lengthy periods of time. There are several options available and you will need to work out roughly how many watts your saltwater aquarium equipment will draw when so you can select the correct generator.
Essentially an inverter generator will allow you to run your entire saltwater aquarium for as long as you can provide fuel. If you would like to run all of your saltwater aquarium equipment then you will most likely require a 2000 watt inverter. The price difference between a 2000 watt and smaller models is not huge and it is worth spending the extra money, you may have some spare load for your beer fridge!
There are plenty of other battery operated devices such as aerators and pumps that could also be used, however, they should only be considered for small aquariums and as a temporary solution.