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FAQs about Electricity and Aquarium Systems 3

Related Articles: Marine ElectricalSurviving extended power outages: how to keep your aquarium alive! By Mike Maddox and Merritt Adkins Marine Aquarium Light Fixtures and CanopiesGFCIs and Marine Aquariums

Related FAQs:  Electricity 1, Electricity 2, Energy Consumption/Conservation, Electrical Consumption Measure, Electricity Back-up/Generation, Lighting Costs, Pump Energy Use, Heating/Chilling Costs, Shorts/Shocks, Dangers! Grounding Probes, Power Outages, GFCIs and Marine AquariumsSurge Devices, Grounding Probes,  

A good idea (at the SIO Birch Aq.); using zip-ties to securely fasten down electrics, poles to coil cords.

220v Powerhead on 120v Outlet   (!)          5/8/14
I just ordered a Sicce Voyager Nano 1000 powerhead. Since these aren't available for purchase in the U.S. I had to order it from Germany.
I completely forgot about Europeans using 220v
<And 50, not 60 Hertz>
so now I'm trying to figure out if I can get away with just using a simple prong-converting adapter or if I have to get a step up/down transformer to bring the 120v up to 220v. It's only a 2.8 watt powerhead so I know it
doesn't require much voltage but don't know enough about electrical circuitry to know if this can be done safely - or at all.
What are your thoughts on this?
<Unplug it now if you haven't done so already. Write the manufacturer re...
There are adapters available... See the Net re.
Bob Fenner>

Wondering If I'm too late... SW, electricity      2/14/14
I have a 250 gallon, deep dimension (60" x 37" x 27") tank with an ASM G-4 skimmer in a sump.   The inhabitants are a purple tang, sohal tang, emperor angel, lemon peel angel, and a banded cat shark
<DO keep your eye on this shark... in time it may consume your other fishes>
hatched in March of 2013.. The tank has been established for nearly 4 years now.
I noticed the emperor angel took on a pale color over the last month or so.
He is still a juvenile, so I assumed he was going through his color change.
But the other night, I noticed my once healthy shark started swimming sideways.
<Mmm; chemical filtrants... a search for something here... Color/s on PolyFilter... Do this now>
Last night, his condition worsened and he was just laying on his side. I noticed my nitrates were on the higher side (somewhere between 10-20 PPM), so I immediately did a water change. I then did some reading and learned about stray voltage. I did a test and -- here's where it get's weird; using the ground socket of one outlet, I got a reading of 3.9V. On another, I got as high as 29V.
<Ah yes... not actually unusual... Time for a skilled electrician to visit; check all; perhaps replace some circuit breakers... I would at least avail yourself of "surge protection" type gear to plug all in>
 Either way, I figured this is a problem. I ordered a grounding probe,
<Better to fix such problems at their source, rather than drain off the excess voltage through the system>
 and made sure the electrical cords from the lights no longer touch the frame. I also removed an older powerhead.
Do you think the shark has a chance to recover, or did I catch all of this too late? 
<As long as their is life there is hope. You may quote me. Bob Fenner>
Re: Wondering If I'm too late     2/14/14

Thanks so much Bob!!
<Welcome Rob. B>

Digital Aquatics Reef Keeper Lite Plus, GFCI use  1/23/12
I just purchased a Digital Aquatics Reef Keeper Lite Plus system and was wondering about certain connections that are available in there <their> manual. I will be plugging in my chiller, chiller pump, lights, fans heater and power heads to the PC4's power bars. My question is should i <I> plug  the PC4's into a standard wall outlet or should i <I> replace the wall outlet with a gfci/gfci adapter?
<A GFCI is a must for your safety.  Because digital components operate on very low voltages, a grounded system is a must to prevent fluctuations in voltage and current on the mother board or CPC (central printed circuit board).>
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Wet Power Strip, "not for use underwater"   7/24/11
Hi Bob,
<Hey James>
Take a look at this new "wet power strip", watch the demonstration video but don't spend too much time looking at the lab angel's legs. :-).
<Ahh, Jolin!>
I believe Premium Aquatics is going to carry these units.
<Seventy dollars, but interesting concept. BobF>
re: Wet Power Strip  7/24/11

Just got word that Premium is selling them for 59.95. Not a bad price to
pay for safety.
<I'd still wire through a GFI circuit. B>

Electricity And A Saltwater Aquarium 3/13/10
<Hello Shawn>
I have a few questions relative to electricity and the saltwater aquarium.
I have a Smart UPS that I am using to provide power and back up a 30 gallon fish and invertebrate aquarium. I have the UPS plugged into a GFCI outlet and various submersible pumps and a heater plugged into the UPS outlets.
Is this the proper setup when using a UPS? I am not sure if the UPS outlets are in turn protected by the GFCI outlet.
<Anything plugged into the GFCI outlet will be protected. Do ensure that your UPS has the capability of handling the wattage/current of the devices plugged into it.>
I have also measured stray voltage to be around 40Vac by using a multimeter with 1 probe in the sump water and the other in the ground of an outlet.
Is this considered a normal reading?
<You should read 0 providing there is indeed a ground wire hooked up to the outlet ground. If your home is an older home, the old two prong outlets may have been replaced with grounded outlets to avoid the use of adapters and it is possible that no ground wire is connected to the ground terminal.
I would recommend the use of a ground probe even though you are using a GFCI. Sounds like one of your devices has a voltage/current leak and I'm sure this device had this problem before you plugged it into the GFCI and is the reason why the GFCI did not trip. GFCI circuitry measures current going into the device on the hot leg and looks for the same current on the return leg (common). If the slightest change occurs, it will trip. If the device was defective/leaking before you plugged it into the GFCI, (and this is why I recommend a ground probe in addition to the GFCI) it would not know the device is defective as it sees no current change going into and out of it. If the device went bad/leaked while plugged into the GFCI, it would trip, as it would sense a current change going into and out of the device.>
I do not have a ground probe and have seen much debate on whether they actually provide additional safety. Would you recommend a ground probe?
The tank has been running for 1 year with this voltage present.
<You need to set up your multimeter in the manner you mentioned above, then unplug one device at a time until you read 0 voltage, once the culprit device is found, I would strongly recommend replacing it. Do make sure your multimeter is set to AC voltage and select volts, do not use the millivolt setting. If you were grounded when you placed your hands in the tank, the GFCI would instantly trip as it would sense a loss of current, as much of it would be going through you to ground.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re Electricity And A Saltwater Aquarium 3/15/10
Thanks for the advice.
<You're welcome, Shawn.>
I have a new home and the GFCI outlet is new with proper grounding.
However I would like some further clarification regarding your suggestion that the stray voltage reading should be 0. Do you mean with a ground probe installed?
I made some more detailed measurements and each device was tested separately without any other devices plugged in. All devices are less than a year old and are located in my sump/skimmer.
Pump: 18.45VAC
Heater: 16.65VAC
Skimmer: 18.73VAC
With all items powered the voltage is around 40VAC. Based on the above measurements, I think it is common for "healthy" submersible devices to induce voltage in water.
<Yes, they are considered inductors and can create stray voltage in that regard, but if the tank water is indeed grounded, you should read no voltage, the induced voltage should be going to ground.
There are some UPS devices that use isolated ground circuitry and are considered above ground devices. Try measuring the voltage without the using the UPS device and see what you get.>
I will get a ground probe and re-check.
Any further advice is greatly appreciated.
<Not yet. James (Salty Dog)>

Re Electricity And A Saltwater Aquarium 3/15/10
I have measured the devices without the UPS and get the same readings. You made the statement "Yes, they are considered inductors and can create stray voltage in that regard, but if the tank water is indeed grounded, you should read no voltage, the induced voltage should be going to ground."
Without the use of a ground probe, how will the tank water be grounded?
<Exactly my point, and wanted to prove this out to you. GFCI's do not ground your tank water, they just provide protection should you become grounded and place your hand in the water with stray voltages present.
A ground probe will eliminate these induced/stray voltages and is also much better for the animals in your system.>
All of my devices that are submersible do not come with 3 wire cords.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

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