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Experiences with canister filters in a power outage?

ElleDee

Member
Joined
12 Mar 2022
Messages
105
Location
Southeastern US
I live in an area where hurricanes and ice storms can possibly disrupt power for a few days and I'm working out my contingency plans for my aquariums. I have read the worry that if you lose power for too long and leave your canister sealed it can go hypoxic and dump toxic water into your tank when the power is restored. I understand the nature of the concern, but has anyone actually experienced this? If you have had an extended power outage and left the filter alone without any issues, how long did it sit for?

If I know power is going to be out for more than 24 hours I'll probably just open it up and move the media either into the tank where I have battery air pumps or an open bucket, but is that threshold too long? Some people think turning off their filter for more than an hour is risky, but that seems very conservative to me. Last night I was away and I woke up to some text messages from my power company indicating we had a 2.5 hour outage in the wee hours of the morning due to damage from a car accident and there doesn't seem to be any ill effects from that.
 

dino21

Member
Joined
17 Mar 2020
Messages
229
Location
Derbyshire
Have had several outages over the years, some up to 4 hours but they survived ok, though that also depends on how heavily stocked with fish you are and how well established your tank is.

What we now have on our planted tank, brought over from a marine tank, is a diy UPS which automatically drives everything apart from the lights for round 12 hours on the current 80AH battery.
Again that depends on how big your tank and battery are.
You can buy ready made ups but they are geared more to short term PC power, but if you search the aquarium forums, partic the marine one, you will find lots of info.
Have not seen mention of such a diy ups in this forum, but worth a search.
 

Garuf

Member
Joined
30 Oct 2007
Messages
5,606
Location
Copenhagen
If I were you I’d buy a battery inverter and some caravan batteries, I’ve ran a tank on one during a prolonged power outage and it was a life saver.
 

tiger15

Member
Joined
14 Mar 2018
Messages
792
Location
USA
The very nature that canister is a close system, it is vulnerable to anaerobic condition in power outage. How vulnerable it depends on your stocking, how frequent you clean it, and how much bio fouling you allow the media to build up. There are many good reasons aquascapers prefer canister. If you have very light stocking as many aquascapers do, you need not worry about anaerobic condition as you probably never get enough bio fouling in the media even with infrequent cleaning. But I grow plants with heavy cichlid stocking. So canister is not for me unless I can tolerate the PIA to clean it weekly. This is why I only trust open HOB and sump systems, and both systems are easy to clean so it is no big deal to clean frequently. Sorry, there is no solution to canister vulnerability other than to keep very light stock, clean frequently if you don’t mind, have a backup generator or battery, or switch to an open system that wont turn anaerobic.
 

plantnoobdude

Member
Joined
17 Mar 2021
Messages
838
Location
uk
I run a canister filter with no media on my high tech tank, in terms of volume, i think the substrate has enough potential to house nitrifying bacteria. So far it works fine for me. Maybe you should consider this?
 

tiger15

Member
Joined
14 Mar 2018
Messages
792
Location
USA
I run a canister filter with no media on my high tech tank, in terms of volume, i think the substrate has enough potential to house nitrifying bacteria. So far it works fine for me. Maybe you should consider this?
If you run a canister as a circulation pump, you may be better to install a cheaper circulation pump. I installed circulation pump in all my planted tank to provide cross flow to my HOBs.
 

dw1305

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UKAPS Team
Joined
7 Apr 2008
Messages
13,984
Location
nr Bath
Hi all,
The very nature that canister is a close system, it is vulnerable to anaerobic condition in power outage. How vulnerable it depends on your stocking, how frequent you clean it, and how much bio fouling you allow the media to build up. There are many good reasons aquascapers prefer canister. If you have very light stocking as many aquascapers do, you need not worry about anaerobic condition as you probably never get enough bio fouling in the media even with infrequent cleaning.
That one.

cheers Darrel
 

kayjo

Member
Joined
3 Nov 2021
Messages
84
Location
New England, US
When the power goes out I usually wait a couple hours before hauling out the portable generator because the outages usually last less than 2 hrs. But even worse, I have left canister filters off by mistake for 12 hours or more. My tanks are medium / heavily stocked. I've never had an issue. Your mileage may vary.
 

ian_m

Global Moderator
UKAPS Team
Joined
25 Jan 2012
Messages
5,351
Location
Eastleigh
My tank went for 3 days with no power after a substation neutral fault tripped our house RCD whilst I was away. Tank dropped to 15'C odd, but once power was restored all seemed OK. Was winter and house was about 8'C inside which was a nice welcome to come home to.
 

ElleDee

Member
Thread starter
Joined
12 Mar 2022
Messages
105
Location
Southeastern US
Thanks for all the useful input. I haven't been running a canister long, but it seems like my sponge prefilter does a pretty good job of keeping it clean on a day-to-day basis, so I think I should be good for any spontaneous outages. I had not thought about cleaning out my filter before a possible outage, but seeing as hurricanes and ice storms come with some warning I can add that to my disaster to-do list and that should help with extended outages, though I think I probably ought to get an inverter + car battery as well, and not just for the tanks.

Luckily I have lots of family spread around area, so there's usually someone who is only minimally affected by the latest weather event and there are several portable generators between all of us, so I will likely have options of last resort as well. There's always a chance of a real catastrophe like happened in Texas last year, but something like that is difficult for anyone to adequately prepare for.
 
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