Brian's Frag Tank

Battery Backups A Must For Reef Keeping

by Brian Dunat

As I sit here in the Midwest awaiting the weather to change, I can’t help but be a little leery of what that
warmer weather will bring; storms and power outages. In the reefkeeping industry, we all spend thousands of
hours (and probably dollars) to stock and care for our tanks. Ever sit back and think how quickly that
investment can literally “melt” away if you were to lose power to certain components of your reef tank? Well, I can tell you first hand that it takes no more than a few hours of no power t0 completely wipe out your tank!


Which Items Should You Backup?

So what is most important to address during a power outage? Is it lighting, water movement,
heating the water? If you get any one of these parameters too far from normal you can certainly do some damage, but lets assume your tank is in your relatively warm house.  Lets also assume we are dealing with an outtage of a few hours to a day in length.  Given that, we need to move past heating and lighting and focus on water movement.  This simple parameter is crucial to pretty much anything living in your tank.  Some in the industry argue that water movement is even more critical to coral health than lighting. The reason for this is that corals need water movement to not only capture food, but also rid themselves of various forms of metabolic waste. What happens during a power outage when your corals sit idle in stagnant water? The waste builds up, eventually suffocating  and killing the corals.  Taking time to add a batter backup to some of your pumps can help avoid this disaster.

Back That Thing Up!

So what can you do to protect your investment? At ReefNation, we have many of the EcoTech pumps on our tanks. While not part of our initial consideration of them for our water circulation, they happen to offer a battery backup that can be installed to provide battery backup to any EcoTech pump. This will enable the pumps to run the a very long time in fact.  Here are the published run times on the battery backup:

-up to 20 hours with the MP60w

-up to 36 hours with the MP40w

-up to 72 hours with the MP10w!

These backup units can be purchased for around $170 from various online retailers as well as Local Fish Stores.

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DIY Backup Solutions

What about if you have other brands of pump running at home? Koralia, Tunze, Maxi-Jets, and JBJ pumps can
also be protected. Simply look for standard battery backups from a computer retailer like CDW and you can build your own solution in no time at all. For example, on one of our frag tanks, we have an APC Back-UPS installed on 2 Koralia’s. In doing testing during a power outtage we had last year, we are got about 30 hours of run time before the battery was drained. In order to figure out your runtime and how big a UPS you will need, you can use one of the handy configurators that are online.

Although it’s never fun investing in “maintenance” items for your tank, its a necessary step in keeping balance in the fragile environments we attempt to keep. If you look at the cost of the battery backup against the total
amount of money you have invested in your tank, you will quickly realize how purchasing the proper backup units can protect your investment. If nothing else, these small purchases will allow you to relax and sleep at night when you’re not near your tank.

Do you Back That Thing Up?  How do you make the power to your reef tank reliable?