Aquarium Health – Actions to Take During a Power Outage

December 1, 2022 Cermedia

Aquarium Health – Actions to Take During a Power Outage

  • Shut down and unplug any unnecessary equipment
  • Preserve Water Temperature
  • Maintain Oxygen Levels
  • Keep the Nitrogen Cycle Going
  • Look into Backup Equipment


Weather plays a key factor in our lives. It can dictate the simplest decisions and actions as to what you should wear before leaving the comfort of your home to head to work, to the major decisions with more devastating effects like having to evacuate your home. Even a small inconvenience like a power outage can temporarily alter your life, and this is even more true for the inhabitants of your aquarium. Whether the power outage lasts for a few hours to several days, knowing what actions to take is important to preserving life in your aquarium.


The first step to take during a power outage is to shut down and unplug your equipment. This may seem as an unnecessary step since the equipment is already off, however some equipment such as powerheads and lights can be very vulnerable to electrical surges. Shutting down and unplugging the equipment can help you prevent permanent damage.


During a power outage, one of the most important elements is maintaining the water temperature in your aquarium. Without the help of electricity, it can be very difficult to keep the water temperature in your tank consistent; it is especially concerning if you have a nano aquarium. Note, most aquariums need to be kept warm in these situations, but sometimes tanks are chilled, and an overheated tank can destroy a tank also.

To keep your aquarium stable, make sure to keep the lid closed and wrap the tank with towels, blankets, cardboard, sheets of Styrofoam, or if you have it available, an emergency Mylar blanket. If your aquarium is in a room that has a gas or wood-burning fireplace, take advantage of that heat source to keep the aquarium warm. Resist the desire to check on your fish. Heat will escape every time you unwrap your aquarium. Try positioning your tank’s thermometer in a location where you will be able to see the current temperature without unwrapping your aquarium. If you are unable to insulate your aquarium, you may need to use hot water bottles placed in the tank to keep

your tank’s temperature elevated. Keep in mind this method is trickier and can lead to wide temperature swings.

On the other hand, for cooling, wrapping the tank can help keep the temperature stable, but allowing rapid evaporation

and keeping the air circulating around your aquarium might be more helpful. To do this, take the lid off your aquarium and replace it with netting. Eliminate exposure to direct sunlight and use aeration, such as fans to help circulate the air. If necessary, use ice in fish safe bags, and/or bottles, and place it into the aquarium. Keep in mind, that this method can lead to wide temperature swings, and careful monitoring will be needed.


Without having the filtration system running, there will be a lack of water movement in your aquarium; sooner or later this will lead to little or no oxygen for your aquatic inhabitants including the beneficial bacteria living in your aquarium.

You may temporarily provide water movement yourself by using a spoon to stir the aquarium water or by filling a cup with tank water and dumping it back into your aquarium. You can also use a turkey baster to suck up the water and squirt it back. The point is to keep the water moving. You will want to do this every hour or so to try to improve the oxygen levels regularly. However, the easiest and most efficient way to keep the oxygen levels is to use a battery-operated air pump. Using this option is not only easier for you, but also safer for your aquatic pets if you are also trying to keep your aquarium’s temperature at an acceptable level.



The goal is to preserve as much of the beneficial bacteria as you can. Therefore, it is recommended to not feed the fish during the power outage to try to maintain stable ammonia levels. Feeding the fish will cause your fish to produce waste and lower your water quality. Most fish can survive around 3-5 days without food. Therefore, it will be best to research the fish you currently have and plan out when to feed, especially if the power outage last longer than a day.

You will want to remove some of the media from its filter and place it into the aquarium with the fish. It will do no good if it is held in a separate sump or canister filter. Don’t forget, nitrifying bacteria also need oxygen. Depending on your media, if you have a battery-operated air pump running, you can place the media inside a nylon bag and place it near or over your air pump. This will allow water to circulate through the bag and into the media. This way, the bacteria will now have enough oxygen running through it to stay alive, and the bacteria will now help to remove the ammonia inside your aquarium. This is where having a high surface area media, such as MarinePure®, is extremely helpful.

With MarinePure® biofilter media you can take the Nitrogen Cycle a step further. Due to its unique composition of nooks and crannies, not only will nitrifying bacteria will stay alive on the outer layers of the media where the Oxygen is present, but denitrifying bacteria will also stay alive in the inner layers of the media, relieving your stress related to higher Nitrates levels and assuring the water quality is healthier.  Read about the nitrogen cycle here.

If you use a wet dry filter system with plastic media, the media will dry out quickly, killing the bacteria.  Using MarinePure® biofilter media instead, the media will stay wet for a longer time making sure there is a slower pace of bacteria die-off, preserving as much of the beneficial bacteria as possible.



They key is to be prepared ahead of time, especially if you live in an area where extreme weather is prone to cause power outages. You don’t want to find yourself running to the store to get the essentials at the last minute, to find that the shelves are bare. Here is a list of equipment to have that will help you easily and efficiently keep your aquarium running during a power outage:

  • Aquarium test kits and equipment – this will allow you to test your water to determine your course of action.
  • Thermometer – monitors your water temperature.
  • Battery-operated air pump / wave-makers – keeps water movement to make sure Oxygen is present in your aquarium at all times
  • Water containers – to perform water changes if needed
  • Zeolite – These are ammonia neutralizers; they will remove the ammonia from your aquarium.
  • Hand warmers, and Thermal Blankets – to help you maintain the water warm.
  • Inverter – Will allow you to power your aquarium equipment with a deep cycle battery.
  • Uninterrupted power supply – This will automatically power your aquarium equipment during a power outage using a large battery.
  • Generator – Perfect for extended power outages, provides you with power not only for your aquarium but for your entire home too.


Maintaining an aquarium during a power outage is no easy task. However, having an emergency plan with the right equipment, and products, will provide you the best chance for your aquarium inhabitants to survive. Having MarinePure® in your aquarium will help you keep the water quality healthier for a longer time, due to its unique composition of high surface area with open-interconnected pores and allow for both nitrifying and denitrifying bacteria to grow through out the media making sure the Nitrogen Cycle is completed. If you would like more information on MarinePure® biofilter media, please reach out to


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Contact us to learn more about how MarinePure and BioVast can help your aquarium and aquaculture environments!


P.O. Box 600
66 River Rock Dr.
Buffalo, NY 14207
USA or

(716) 549-6600

Leyda Vazquez
Business Development Manager
(716) 549-6600 x264

Paul Pustulka
General Manager