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178 hours with no power: tank saved

Posted 11/26/2015 at 10:11 AM by Sk8r

178 hours with no heat or electricity---here's how I got my tank through it.
I debated where to post this, but decided that NTTH was best.
What I used: 1 small plastic bucket, bottle of Prime, bottle of hydrogen peroxide typical strength, and a lot candles, a lot of lamp oil, two sheets, and a lot of 1-pound canisters of propane with a Mr. Heater from Ace, a hunter's propane heater.
4:30 pm Tuesday 17th Nov: ferocious windstorm takes out power for 300,000 homes in Spokane region. 71 mph winds, 4 miles short of hurricane force.
No electricity, no light, no heat, no tv, no internet, no phone except a cellphone we kept alive by recharging via usb off our laptop battery.
By 11 pm it was pretty sure we were in trouble. I checked everything I could and began dipping and pouring water into the fish tank. We hung bedsheets in the two doors of the living room to stop air flow, and lit enough candles to please a Shaolin monastery. That and the oil lamps provided a little warmth. But dipping and pouring was the only circulation we could manage for our two tanks, one reef, one freshwater planted, And the koi in their pond were on their own with no heaters. Temperature outside? 24 degrees.I debated where to post this, but decided that NTTH was best.
What I used: 1 small plastic bucket, bottle of Prime, bottle of hydrogen peroxide typical strength, and a lot candles, a lot of lamp oil, two sheets, and a lot of 1-pound canisters of propane.

4:30 pm Wednesday 18th Nov: ferocious windstorm takes out power for 300,000 homes in Spokane region. 71 mph winds, 4 miles short of hurricane force.
No electricity, no light, no heat, no tv, no internet, no phone except a cellphone we kept alive by recharging via usb off our laptop battery.
By 11 pm it was pretty sure we were in trouble. I checked everything I could and began dipping and pouring water into the fish tank. We hung bedsheets in the two doors of the living room to stop air flow, and lit enough candles to please a Shaolin monastery. That and the oil lamps provided a little warmth. But dipping and pouring was the only circulation we could manage for our two tanks, one reef, one freshwater planted, And the koi in their pond were on their own with no heaters. Temperature outside? 24 degrees.

Thurs Nov 19, 24 hours without power. Tank temperature 74. Room temperature 65. Deliberately choosing to lower temperature in tanks to keep fish quiet, also withholding light and food.

Fri Nov 20, 36 hours without power, fish showing distress, near surface. We apply aggressive aeration (pouring) every few hours and from now on, this has to be around the clock. Dosed reef with 1 tsp per 10 gallons (105 gallon tank) of hydrogen peroxide, premixed in small dipping bucket. Also floated two liter bottles of hot water, but we are losing the hot water: hot water tank had to be shut down. We now have only the hot water that was in our lines. Tank temperature 66.6. Tried hunter’s handwarming packets—worthless in this size tank. Room temperature 61.

Friday Nov 21. 48 hours no power. News is passing in city mostly word of mouth at coffee houses and grocery stores, and power company is calling in other states, no word when damaged power infrastructure will be repaired. Massive trees are down across lines—everything disrupted. Many stores are shut, and shelves are going bare in some areas. Tried to buy a generator, but the only one I could find was 800.00 and too heavy for the two of us to get out of the SUV if I bought it.
Now using barbecue grill and charcoal to heat bricks in iron skillet to bring in and set in front of tank with open stand doors. Also using heated rocks to burn through ice on pond to give gas exchange to koi.

Saturday Nov 22. 72 hours no power. Tank temp 66.1. Managed to lay hands on a (rare, and selling out within an hour of every new shipment) Mr. Heater from Ace. Never used a propane heater, but they say keep a door or window cracked about 4" while using and beware of carbon monoxide symptoms. By noon, room temp up to 75. Tank temp 66.8. This brings additional risk—because as tank temperatures rise, oxygen-carrying capacity of the water (recharging from our pouring) grows less, and bacterial action (as in decay of dead) rises. We lost an angelfish (freshwater). We sighted 3 fish in the reef: golden domino, 2 chromis.
Here I made a mistake: I draped a sheet over the tank to try to protect it from propane and candle/oil fumes.

Sunday: Nov 23, 96 hours no power. Tank temp 67.8 Lost watchman goby. I blame the sheeting. Removed it. Redoubled manual aeration.

Monday Nov 24, 130 hours no power. Much same, 2 fish lost, domino still up swimming, no sight of others. Turned propane of to get some sleep, 3:30 am waked to find 2 chromis up and gasping, aerated again–a lot. Water is clouding. This has to be bacterial—the sump in the basement, not exposed to propane, is showing same condition. Saw alive: 2 chromis, domino, Fiji blue.
11 am Fish now in grave distress. Domino ok, Fiji blue is dying under a rock. Netted azure out to sump, to hopefully clearer water. Tried hydrogen peroxide and Prime, 3 hours apart, aerating manually. Tank temp 67.
Now using Weber grill charcoal starter, set on ice near rim of pond, to burn a hole in ice: a lot better than Sunday, when it took heating rocks 4 times to get a small hole. An 8 foot bamboo pole was also a great asset in this operation.

Tues. Nov 25, 154 hours no power. Now aerating at the rate of half total tank volume every 4 hours, by counting bucket pours. For a 105 gallon tank, this is 200 half gallon bucket pours every four hours. Whole town is running out of 1 pound propane cylinders. It snowed about 3". Also our new flooring arrived in the snow, can’t get wet. Two women moved 1537 pounds of flooring from back drive to various places in the house so as not to stress floor. Can it get crazier? Domino still swimming and sounding off (they do make racket when annoyed). Dosed Prime again, temp in tank 67.5. Tank murky and clouded. Dosed hydrogen peroxide. Lost another freshwater angel, big pleco unaccounted for.

Wednesday 4:30 am 178 hours no power—the lights come on.
Confirmed alive at end of blackout: 1 chromis, golden domino, three-stripe, maybe the royal gramma, who is a bit reclusive. The hammer coral, the acan, the frogspawn, and the candycane. And countless snails and crabs. Worms didn’t fare so well. Skimmer overflowing. Confirmed dead: fiji blue, watchman, azure—probably all others not listed as definitely alive. Now there’s s still a risk—from the accelerating biology. Tank temperature now 77.5, and rising; I’ll be guarding against ammonia, and feeding sparingly. The domino is eating. We lost everything in the fridge including the frozen fishfood, so I’ll be off to buy that to tempt the three-stripe into eating. He seems to want to, but is spooky. Haven’t seen the chromis eat.

So we’re alive. Saved the two tanks. Saved the pond.

I figure if it’s worth anything, it’s worth offering a routine that might help somebody else.
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Comments

  1. Old Comment
    Wow, that is a lot of stress, do you have any hair left??? I hope you get everything back to normal and see if you can find a small generator that you can handle. Generators are almost a must now days. they even have solar ones that are pretty reasonable, but I don't know how reliable they are. It's worth checking into though. I hope everything goes well for you. Have a happy Thanksgiving and thank God for all the times He has pulled us through.
    Posted 11/26/2015 at 10:43 AM by Bogue Chitto Bogue Chitto is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Hey Sk8r that really sucks! Storm came this way after it hit you but not as bad. I always keep 3 battery operated air pumps on hand just for that reason. They are really cheap, and LOUD, but have saved me on a couple of occasions after my APC battery backup ran out of juice. They are available on Drs F and S for about $10.00 for a pack of three and run off D batteries.
    I also have used them for transporting fish home from Spokane.
    Getting the propane heater was a great idea. Stinky, but effective.
    Posted 11/30/2015 at 08:29 PM by MTrealtor MTrealtor is offline
  3. Old Comment
    "thank God for all the times He has pulled us through."
    Very true, thanks for taking the time to post this write up, I learned a lot and others will too.
    Posted 12/01/2015 at 07:54 PM by reeferKen reeferKen is offline
  4. Old Comment
    wow is a lightly spoken word.. holy [email protected]#t.. I'm so glad you made it through sorry for your losses of fish. but could of been a lot worse. i want to thank you for this post. don't really know what i would do.. and now i have some what of a clue.
    Posted 12/12/2015 at 07:14 AM by spags315 spags315 is offline
  5. Old Comment
    I was running all Fresh water at the time.... I lost everything but my planted display and shrimp tank I kept alive with the use of a generator. My heater was screaming the hole time as the house never got about 55f. Just set up a reef tank this weekend. First thing I thought of was what about a power outage? Glad to see another Spokane person on the forum.
    Posted 03/01/2016 at 10:10 AM by Ewb46 Ewb46 is offline
 

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