What backup equipment do you keep for your tank in case something breaks?

by | Jun 15, 2007 | 0 comments

A selection of useful tidbits of information and tricks for the marine aquarist submitted by Advanced Aquarist’s readership. Readers are encouraged to post them to our Hot Tips sticky in the Reefs.org General Reefkeeping Discussion forum or send their tips to [email protected] for possible publication. This month’s Hot Tip theme is “How do you handle your tank temperature in the summer?“.


What backup equipment do you keep for your tank in case something breaks?

You always need 5 gallons buckets with lids. Always. Aquarium breaks…those buckets are ready for your coral and fish.

Submitted by: pwj1286

Generator if possible, or a power inverter that you can hook up to a 12volt car battery to power at least one heater, an airpump, and possibly a powerhead.

Battery powered airpump to keep flow going if the above is not available.

Also, if your power goes out for a while, have a BBQ you can put a pot of water on and heat up to place in tupperware containers to float in your tank to keep the temp up…

Submitted by: Snowboarda42

Things I tend to keep around ‘just in case:’

  • a shop vac. Sometimes you spill more than the fish towel can take
  • my old light bulbs. I’ve had one go out and had to use the backup until a new one arrives. Sure, you could keep a new bulb around, but why spend the extra $75 until you have to.
  • A battery powered airstone for power outtages.
  • A spare return pump. I also use it for big water changes.

I try to never go without salt in the house. You never know when you have to make up an emergency change batch of saltwater. If it’s 9pm on a Sunday it’s hard to find a store open.

Submitted by: Bingo

The best solution I have found over the years is a power inverter hooked up to two marine batteries.

I use the Tripp Lite APS750. It recharges the batteries when not being used and automatically switches on when power is lost. Storing a lot of fuel is not a safe practice and can be scarce in times of weather emergencies like hurricanes. The unit also provides surge protection.


No noisy generators that need fuel and disturb the neighbors and i do not have to be present to keep a generator running. It has a rather small footprint and provides more than enough power to run the pumps for 48 hours. If i needed more run time, I could just add more batteries.

Submitted by: farmfrags

The one major killer during power interruption is lack of circulation (which leads to oxygen depletion). So I have an automatic battery backup unit for my vortech pumps, which provides a day of backup power should my power go out or my GFCI trips. Where I live, temperature is not really too big of a worry.

Submitted by: Len

For equipment to have around are spare impellers, heaters, power heads, buckets, bulbs (I usually save my old ones until I replace the current ones).

Submitted by: Rob_Reef_Keeper

I have spare plumbing parts, silicone, pvc glue, weldon 16 and epoxy putty on hand all the time to deal with anything that leaks. I have a 15 foot length of 3/4 tubing around incase I have to drain something. I also keep 150 gallon of mixed saltwater around in case I need to do a big water change in a hurry.

I have a backup return pump and a back up of my large closed loop pump. If one of those pumps goes bad, I can swap it out in a few minutes and order the parts to fix to old pump or simply send it out for repair.

I also have a generator and inverter on hand for long power outages. For short power outages or burps, I have several penn plaxx battery operated air pumps installed, and they come on automatically when the power goes out. I also have a single maxi jet, plugged into a MVT wave maker that is plugged into a UPS which will keep the power head running for more than 10 hours if there is a power outage.

I think everyone should have at least the minimal backup stuff around for their system. I think the penn plaxx battery power air pump is a no brainer, as well as at least an extra power head for circulation if other things break. I also think keeping salt mix on hand is important, and even better, already mixed water.

Submitted by: Thales

Rich, two questions: how long do you keep your extra saltwater for? (Or how long can it be kept mixing?) And where do you have the airstones for the battery powered air pumps located in the tank?

Submitted by: bleedingthought

bleedingthought wrote:
Rich, two questions: how long do you keep your extra saltwater for? (Or how long can it be kept mixing?)

I generally keep it till its used up. A lot of the time I use 3/4 of the water and then add new RODI and more salt. The container I keep it in is is heated, always has circulation and is covered so nothing falls into it. If I feel the need before doing a big water change, I turn on a power head at the water surface to aerate the new water the day before the water change.

And where do you have the airstones for the battery powered air pumps located in the tank?

No air stones, just rigid tubing that goes down the back of the tank and is bent to emerge somewhere near the middle of the tank. The bigger bubbles move more water and generate more diffusion at the surface, and air stones clog up. If I ever find the rigid tubing to have clogged I could push a little vinegar through the tube, but they haven’t clogged in a year or so.

Submitted by: Thales

I always have at least 10 gallons of replacement water ready.

An extra heater, powerhead, several buckets, tubing, salt, etc…the usual.

Submitted by: ctgretzky99

I keep the following spares for my tank:

  • 250W HQI MH light fixture and ballast
  • 400W SE bulbs
  • Sequence Dart
  • OceansMotions 4-way

The customer service for Sequence and OceansMotions are top notch, but feel the pump and 4-way need to be on hand for immediate exchange, since it’s the soul source of my water movement.

Submitted by: Unarce


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