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​Surviving Cold Weather Emergencies with your Tank

Posted by Ken Brown ,Feb 16th 2021

Ideally before the emergency strikes you would already have a plan in place as to what to do. Power is essential in keeping our tanks alive, that's a great place to start. You should never wait for an emergency to create a plan to keep your tank alive.

Creating a plan - Before an emergency strikes you should have a plan in place. Where are you going to get power? Is it enough to run the pumps and the heater, if your power solution is only enough to run the pumps how will you handle temperature? Ideally you would have a plan in place and tested before emergency strikes.  Also when your in trouble or have an issue don't be afraid to reach out to your tank buddies and/or the local community.  Sometimes it takes a village.

Since most people who will read this article are already in a weather emergency, here’s some tips and ideas you can implement to help your tank survive.

What really matters when keeping your tank alive during a weather emergency.

Power - In a perfect world everyone would have a whole home generator what just kicks on when the power goes out and your tank would continue to be stable both in oxygenation and temperature. This is not possible for most tank owners. A second cheaper option is a generator, using a generator to keep the essential equipment running is a good option for most customers. Some customers also use solar power batteries, trucks/cars with 110 plugs, battery backups, UPC’s for computers and or car batteries/power inverters can also work. Ecotech and Icecap have also created battery backups for just this purpose if there's still time to get one.  All of these power options can work in some instances to help keep water flowing in your aquarium.

Icecap Battery Backup - https://www.saltwateraquarium.com/icecap-battery-b...

Ecotech Battery Backup - https://www.saltwateraquarium.com/vortech-battery-...

Equipment - What equipment is essential to keep running during a cold emergency? – The most essential equipment to keep running in your tank are the in-tank flow pumps and heat. (return pumps would be next if possible)  In tank flow creates oxygen in your water which is essential to keeping your tank alive. This can also be achieved to some degree by using air stones also known as bubblers. The key to oxygenation is moving water. If you have no way to run pumps, then your going to have to do it manually. You can manually help supply oxygen to the tank and keep the water flowing moving by filing a container with tank water and pouring it back into the tank. Doing this for a few minutes every 10 to 15 minutes helps add oxygen to the water as well as circulate it through the tank.

Air Pumps - https://www.saltwateraquarium.com/specialty/air-fl...

Battery Operated Air Pump - https://www.saltwateraquarium.com/breza-ac-dc-plus...

JBJ Battery Air Pump - https://www.saltwateraquarium.com/maxum-air-batter...

Cheapest Battery Air Pump we Sell - https://www.saltwateraquarium.com/breza-battery-op...

(You can also source some batteries air pumps in the fishing section of large box stores, bass proshops, cabelas, they are used by the fishing community to keep bait alive)

Temperature – If your able to keep some flow/oxygen going in your tank, you have completed hurdle number one. The second hurdle which is especially tough during a cold snap is keeping your aquarium in a tolerable temperature range. Temperature is key to keeping your tank alive, our livestock can only tolerate a certain temperature range and falling out of it for an extended period can be deadly. There are a few things you can do to help. Ideally you want to be able to continue to power your heaters, the issue with heaters though is unless you have a generator, they will use up your battery power in no time. Here are a few tips to help keep your aquarium warm during a power outage.

  • 1. Wrapping your tank in a blanket or one of those silver mylar emergency blankets. Glass sucks as insolation so this will help keep some of the warmth in.  Just leave a little hole in the top so a little air can escape and you can check the temp.
  • 2. Heat water on a propane stove, grill or other heat/fire source. Put the heated water in 2-liter soda bottles (or similar containers with tight fitting secure lids or ziplock bags) and float them in your aquarium. This can work quite well to help keep your water warm but will require constant monitoring and maintenance. The problem is the bottles can cool quickly and you will have to frequently refill them with warm water.  For smaller tanks we have heard of customers taping hand warmers to the sides of the glass, we have not done this but in theory this could help in some instances.

Feeding your Fish – during an emergency do not feed your fish, feeding will increase the activity level of your fish and the building of ammonia and nitrites in your tank. Wait until things are back to normal before feeding your fish.

Good Luck and hopefully you can keep your tank alive during your weather emergency!  Remember fish are our friends!

​Surviving Cold Weather Emergencies with your Tank