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Hurricane Help

by TFH Magazine on August 26, 2011 at 7:45 am

Keeping your aquatic pets safe is an important consideration in an emergency. Photograph by Tony Terceira.

By David E. Boruchowitz

With a major hurricane bearing down on the heavily populated Northeast, the obvious priority is to ensure the safety and well-being of family, friends, and neighbors. Once that is done, aquarium keepers will undoubtedly want to ensure that their pets will weather the storm in good shape.

Since this is a summer storm, the loss of heat is not a major worry, but the loss of electrical power, particularly for an extended time, is the most significant concern. A backup generator is the best preparation, but that’s not much of an option for people in Irene’s path at this time. So what should you do?

  • Stop feeding your fish. While this may seem unrelated, it could easily make the difference of survival for your tanks. When your fish are fasting, they present less of a bioload, one more likely to be handled by a diminished biofiltration capacity.
  • If the stocking in your tanks is quite variable, you might want to move fish from more heavily stocked setups to less heavily stocked ones to even out the load.
  • Make provisions for supplemental aeration. This can include battery powered air pumps but can also be as simple as regularly and vigorously stirring the water surface of an aquarium. Scooping some of the tank water into a pitcher or bucket and pouring it back in from a height will also effectively aerate the water.
  • If the power goes out and stays out, unplug and disconnect canister filters. You may want to open them and remove the media, keeping it moist to maximize the survival of aerobic bacteria. During the outage sealed chambers will become anaerobic, and toxins produced by the bacteria that live in anaerobic water must not be flushed into the tank when the power resumes. Instead, clean and purge the filters before starting them up again.
  • Plan for careful monitoring after the crisis passes so that the die-off in biofilters does not result in ammonia or nitrite spikes. Be prepared to do plenty of water changes as your biofilters return to full potential.
  • (Reefkeepers face special challenges, but unfortunately the only way to deal with many of them is to have already installed a backup generator.)

We at TFH hope that all of our readers in the path of this storm, however it tracks, will suffer no serious harm or loss, and that their setups will continue to thrive. Please, be safe!

Posted in David E. Boruchowitz and From the Editor by TFH Magazine on August 26th, 2011 at 7:45 am.


2 Replies

  1. Also hope the LFS, Dealers, & Fish Farms are okay & get through it safely.

  2. Dotty Haines Dec 28th 2012

    What if its winter? How do you keep your heater running?

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