Power Outage Emergency Kit
Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff

Power Outage Emergency Kit

Most aquarium systems rely on high tech equipment to support their inhabitants. And when seasonal storms knock out power, these life support systems fail and aquarium conditions deteriorate. To prevent any potential losses, be prepared with a power outage emergency kit.

Should I
feed my
fish during
a power
A. No. Fish can temporarily go for days without eating so avoid feeding fish during a power outage. Feeding will increase fish activity level as well as bacterial activity. This results in accelerated loss of oxygen and increased metabolic waste.

Within hours of an outage, many aquarium water parameters are put at serious risk. Filters shut down, cutting off aerating water movement and essential biological filtration. Ammonia levels begin to rise while dissolved oxygen plummets. Chillers and heaters cease, leaving your aquatic life at the mercy of ambient room temperatures at a time when air conditioning may also be out of service. In short, a power outage can quickly make your aquarium stagnant, toxic, and environmentally unstable… unless you have an emergency kit prepared!


 Power Surge Protector - Power outages can often damage unprotected equipment, especially those caused by surges and electrical storms. Your first line of defense is a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) where aquarium equipment plugs in. A GFCI can help ensure that when the power comes back on, so does your system!

When your heater or chiller is down, changes in water temperature can stress fish and put them at risk of opportunistic, disease-causing agents. Also, water loses its capacity to hold onto oxygen as temperatures increase. This accelerates oxygen depletion to put further stress on the aquarium environment. For more information on how to control temperature fluctuations, read our article Manage Water Temperature.
 Test Kit - Know what your ideal water parameters are for each aquarium and have them written down for your reference (and others). As soon as an outage is discovered, it's important to assess the situation by performing tests. How far off are your parameters? Is ammonia present? Have nitrite levels increased? Are further parameter-specific tests required? Tetra EasyStrips™ Aquarium Test Strips are exceptionally convenient during power outages. You'll be able to test, record, and move on in just a few minutes.

 Ammonia Neutralizer - With no water flowing through your biological media to efficiently process nitrogenous waste, ammonia levels can steadily rise to toxic levels. That's why you should always have an instant ammonia neutralizer on hand. These products are essential to quickly bring a dangerous ammonia spike back under control during an outage.

When the filters are not running due to a power outage, it is wise to place airstones from battery-powered air pumps near the aquarium water surface. Placing your airstones at the top of your aquarium during a power outage ensure toxic organic wastes on the bottom are not stirred up and mixed within the aquarium.
 Battery Backup Air Pump - To prevent aquarium water from going stagnant and suffocating, always have a battery-powered air pump on hand. The Azoo Battery Backup Pump is an excellent choice. It runs continuously on 110V and switches automatically to battery backup during power loss to keep your aquarium aerated. Portable, battery-powered air pumps are also available at very economical prices.

 Tap Water Conditioners - After the power returns, it may be necessary to perform an emergency water change to help get water quality back to normal. A water change reduces pollutants accumulated during the power outage and rapidly replenishes dissolved oxygen levels. Be sure to use a tap water conditioner to remove toxic chlorine, chloramine, and heavy metals coming through the pipes. To expedite emergency water changes, it's prudent for saltwater aquarists to consider keeping containers of pre-mixed saltwater on hand.

Don't forgo these minor investments that help prevent major aquarium disasters. Having these items at home is crucial since your nearest aquarium supply store may not be open, or may also be without electricity!

Recommended Products

Shock Buster GFCI

Shock Buster GFCI

Tetra EasyStrips™ Aquarium Test Strips

Tetra EasyStrips™ Aquarium Test Strips

Instant Ammonia Remover

Drs. Foster & Smith Instant Ammonia Remover

Azoo Battery Backup Pump

Azoo Battery Backup Pump

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