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Re: Colorado's Blizzard

>about aquariums?  I simply wrapped the 28-gallon upstairs and prayed.  As
>of now all the fish seem okay, but it's the tank with a dozen cardinal
>tetras, and I hope they don't start giving up the ghost in the next days
>because of the stress.  That tank got as low as 68 degrees, and I added
>warm water at that point.  It never went lower.  I have 2 small tanks in

I don't think you'll have a problem with tetras at 68F. I've had tanks 
down around there in the past when heaters have died and I've never had a 
problem. I think you'd need to have gotten into the 50's to start having 
serious problems.

BTW, it is dangerous to operate kerosene heaters indoors if they don't have 
outdoor venting of the exhaust. There are various emissions that you don't 
want to be breathing. Carbon monoxide is a big problem with them.

>I didn't worry much about toxins because of the plants, temperature seemed
>to be the big problem.  Now that it's all over I still can't think of how
>to be better prepared to handle this kind of situation for the
>aquariums.  Does anyone know of battery devices, etc.?  Are there efficient
>and non-harmful ways to add warm water?  I worried that to add water warm
>enough to help there was a danger of burning anything that was in the
>stream as I poured it in.

Another post mentioned a UPS, which is basically a battery backup system 
normally sold for computers. These units work great for running small 
devices like powerheads and air pumps, but you need a true sine wave output 
to get the little powerheads and similar pumps to work. The only true-sine 
UPS that I know of that is affordable is the SmartUPS series made by APC 
(American Power Conversion). About $250 gets a small one. A UPS won't run 
your heaters for very long though since the runtime of most UPSes at high 
loads is only in the 7-15 minute range. As load decreases on the unit, 
runtime increases non-linearly, so 1/2 load might actually give 3 times the 
runtime. That's the reason UPSes are great for running tiny loads for long 
periods. If you're curious, this phenomenon is due to the nature of the 
discharge curve of rechargeable batteries.

The best solution to long-term power problems is to use a generator with an 
automatic transfer switch (ATS), which will be in the several thousand 
dollar range for a small (approx 7000 watt) unit. Home Depot and Costco 
Wholesale have both had the Generac kits that include a natural gas / 
propane fired generator and a 100 amp ATS and breaker panel for about $3000 
for a 7000 watt unit. The kit is a good deal and is an excellent way to run 
electrical devices during long power outages. The  7000 watt capacity can 
easily run even many very large aquarium setups NORMALLY and INDEFINITELY, 
with full lighting, heating and filtration. The unit can also support other 
important household devices like your furnace, refrigerator, and of course 
the computer you use to read the APD :-)

For brief interruptions you could put very hot, just below boiling, water 
into glass jars CAREFULLY to prevent breakage (heat the jar then put the 
water in, quick temperature changes can fracture glass). Float the jar in 
your tank. The hot glass with very hot water in it won't be any different 
than a hot glass outer envelope for an electric heater. The only real 
difference is that you'll have to manually regulate the temperature of the 
tank by taking the jar in and out and occasionally refilling it. This of 
course assumes you have a way to make hot water without electrical power. 
Gas cooktops and camp stoves are good ways to heat water with no 
electricity -- camp stoves are self contained, and gas cooktops can usually 
be lit with a match or lighter when electricity is not available to run the 

I doubt that pouring hot water directly into your tank will be a problem as 
long as you don't pour the hot water directly on your fish or plants. Water 
is a very good conductor of heat and the hot water and tank water will 
equalize temperatures very rapidly (seconds).


>Ellen O'Connell
>Parker, CO
><mailto:oconnel4 at ix_netcom.com>mailto:oconnel4 at ix_netcom.com

Waveform Technology
UNIX Systems Administrator