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Weathering an Extended Power Outage in a Fish Pet Tank | Home Fish Aquarium Guide

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Weathering an Extended Power Outage in a Fish Pet Tank


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The Friday before Christmas it snowed, and snowed and snowed. Most of Friday we expected power to go out. It finally did Friday evening. We have a danio (currently just one) in a 5 gallon tank (yes a bit small.) He has been in the tank for almost a full year now. (We got him around the New Year of 2009.) The tank usually stays near the comfortable 72-76 degree Fahrenheit range. However, I was very concerned about an extended power outage. We have a fireplace that I spent some time last fall cleaning out, but we still don’t know for certain that our chimney is safe and so with an extended outage in cold weather we’ve evacuated across the road to my parents who have a wood stove in their basement. (And one other thing we don’t have which is a good load of wood….) I wrapped the tank up with bathroom towels/blankets and hoped for the best.


I really regretted not having d-cell batteries because of course, not only does the tank heater run on electricity but the pump does too. So, Peanut was facing days of cold and also no water circulation for filtration. Now, the fundamentals of our tank have stayed pretty healthy (zero ammonia, nitrites, even zero nitrates) in recent MONTHS, but you always worry that without the filter running things might collapse suddenly.

It was Tuesday when power came back on and within a half our I was in the house starting to check on the heaters, tank, etc. The temperature in the room with our tank was 41 degrees Fahrenheit. I cut on all of the heaters I could and unwrapped the tank. The temperature in the tank was cold enough to not register on the tank thermometer which only goes down into the sixites. It took me a few minutes of searching to locate peanut. He was lethargic and looked like a sick fish, but alive! The tank was a bit low on water and since the water heater had warmed up things a bit I went ahead and topped off with warm tap water (we have a well – don’t try this on city water.)

By my next trip over carrying back our dirty clothes and what not, the room had warmed into the 60s Fahrenheit and peanut was looking quite a bit perkier. By the time the tank temperature was up to 70 degrees he was zipping around like a new fish at which point I fed him and continued on my other cleanup/pickup duties.

Around this time I found the battery powered pump and mused that we would need to get some D cell batteries for it. I switched it on and…. discovered that I already had D cell batteries and they were in the pump. (Smack head). There had been just too many things going on when the power went out to check on it. (We have 8 year old and almost 2 year old boys and so…. there were a few other dozen things I was doing.) Anyway, he fared well in spite of the cold temperatures. I would suspect though that he might not have tolerated even another night in those conditions. I don’t know for certain. I suspect that in colder temperatures any fish, zebra danio included would go into some sort of a low energy hibernation, but I don’t know for certain.

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December 29, 2009 - 12:49 PM
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