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Power Outages - Are You Ready?

Are you prepared if you're power goes out? Your checklist may include batteries, flashlight, candles, canned food, bottled water and extra fuses; this is all well and good, but have you thought about your fish tank, or more importantly the fish?

It may go unnoticed, but there are a number of things that happen in your aquarium when the power goes out. It's important to understand exactly what occurs so you can take the proper steps to minimize the stress that your fish may experience.

Without the help of a filtration system oxygen depletion begins; this happens more quickly with saltwater than freshwater. Temperature fluctuation also occurs; declining temperatures can be harmful to the fish, and rising temperatures can speed the process that leads to oxygen depletion. The nitrogen cycle is also disturbed and ammonia levels being building; high levels can potentially poison the fish.

To combat these threatening consequences from happening, refer to the following three steps.

1) Keep the Oxygen Flowing - Keep a battery-powered air pump, a short length of airline tubing and an airstone for each aquarium you own. Install the pump close to the top of the aquarium and hook up the airstones. In case you aren't familiar with airstones, they are a piece of aquarium furniture, traditionally a piece of lime wood or porous stone, whose purpose is to gradually diffuse oxygen into the tank; they also provide health benefits to fish.

2) Cut Down the Risk of Toxins - Unplug your electrically functional filters and pumps. If a dirty filter is not running for even as little as an hour, harmful chemicals can build up and release toxins into the aquarium when the power comes back on. If a wet/dry filter is running, and the water level doesn't cover the biomedia, you may need to place the exposed biomedia in the aquarium so that it doesn't dry out. It is also important to NOT feed the fish, it only creates more toxic conditions.

3) Regulate Temperature - Once the lighting fixtures have cooled to a safe temperature, place a thick blanket over the aquarium to keep the water temperature at a constant level; newspaper can also act as an efficient insulator. During hot summer months, to prevent the temperature from rising, ice can be placed in sealed containers and submerged into the water. When the power returns, clean your filters and get them in running order. Also, prepare to do water changes as soon as possible; making sure the temperature of the new water is the same as the water in the aquarium.

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