A worrying time for aquarists is when there is a power cut. Aquariums rely on electricity to keep everything alive and healthy. Here are some useful tips for when a power cut occurs:
- Remove and drain all filters (internal and external). Clean filter sponges in a small bucket of aquarium water if very clogged. Place sponges in an airtight container or a sealable bag with little to no water so they remain damp. This is important! Bacterial colonies living in the sponges need constant flowing water to survive. If they are left in water, they will drown. In a damp environment, they will continue to breath and not dry out.
- Water is effective at maintaining heat, so the temperature of the aquarium will not drop too suddenly. If the power cut prolongs for several hours, it may need to be warmed up. In houses with a gas supplied hob, you can warm up water and pour into plastic bottles to then float on the aquarium. It is important not to pour hot water directly into the aquarium! This could lead to isolated hot spots where fish could become burnt, and the introduced water can affect water chemistry.
- With no water movement, the water’s surface will prevent any gaseous exchange. This means no oxygen coming in, and no carbon dioxide dissipating from the water. To manually provide gaseous exchange, use a jug to collect and pour aquarium water on to itself. This will break the surface and allow these gases to exchange. Stocking density will determine how often this needs doing. If you notice the fish acting sluggish or gasping at the surface, this is a sign the oxygen levels are low.
- Battery powered air pumps are an inexpensive product to keep in case of a power cut. They will allow oxygen to continue being present in the water by breaking the surface. For the keen hobbyist, back up power systems are also an option. These UPS power banks (uninterrupted power supply) can provide power to an aquarium filter for an extended period of time. Most are programmed so will only switch to battery power when a power cut occurs. It would not be recommended to power the heater from this source as the higher wattage would decrease battery power time.