Mr. Saltwater Tank TV Friday Am Quick Tip: The Backup Generator You (Likely) Didn’t Know You Had


At some point in your saltwater tank career, the power will go out. While having a generator is the best plan for a power outage, here’s a source of backup power you might not know you had.

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Comments for this article (18)

  • dave says:

    mark you forgot the never fail back up of mentos and pepsi. lol

  • Dale says:

    I ran my complete 55g off my 400watt inverter for almost a week on and off. When looking for a good 12v inverter capable of running a tank make sure it has at least 2x peak wattage that way it doesnt kick off or go into overload when your heaters come on. You’ll probably be in the $150 to $200 range, but it is also something that can be ran by the spouse as a camping tool or tailgating tool (insert appropreate activity here)

  • Raul says:

    do you work for the post office?

  • James says:

    Some of the newer automotive jump-start battery packs like the one I own, come with a built in inverter in them. That would be a great source of temp power when needed. It’s not enough to run a large tank setup, but you can run just the simple basics until power is restored.

  • lee says:

    So how do you hook it up?

  • Dave says:

    Let’s not forget the tried and true battery powered air pump. During hurricane sandy gas stations couldn’t pump gas so the inverter plan went out the window after day 4… Tan my reef for a week off battery power. If you can keep a extra car battery on hand it can save your tank for a while but the odds are your tank still needs aeration when you eventually turn the car off. .

  • Mike says:

    The inverter hooks to the battery and has standard 110 V outlets; one or two depending on the model. You then plug in an extension cord and power strip and run the basics.

  • Never thought about using the car… I’ve been kicking around the idea of a solar powered saltwater aquarium. The system would need to be substantial, to maintain lights, heater pumps and so on. but would make a great back up plan.

  • Elmo Clarity says:

    I have used this method for other critical needs during an extended power outage when I lived in a house. Unfortunately, I am in an apartment now and I don’t have an extension cord long enough to reach to the car. Oh well. Time to get a generator.

  • Mark says:

    Deep cycle marine batteries or, even better, wheelchair batteries are better options than car batteries if only because they can be run down much, much farther without risk of ruining them. Car batteries aren’t meant to experience repeated high levels of discharge. Given that the scenario mentioned here is infrequent, it is not as important, but just be aware of it. I often use wheelchair batteries to power my astrophotography setup when I am in an area without power.

  • lee says:

    Thanks Mike

  • Lisa Foster says:

    What I want to know is what the inverter looks like and how to set one up.

  • Dennis says:

    Here in MN last year straight line winds took out my power for a week. After suffering a panic when I realized I may not have power for days, I started to look for alternatives and that is what I came up with. My Ford Escape provides one of those plugs. I had an AC converter for using my laptop in the car. So I hooked up a heavy duty extension card from the car across my back yard into my house and ran the heater, some pumps and the lights occasionally for days until Home Depot got a new shipment of generators in. Saved my marine tank. No casualties at all with no electricity for 8 days. The car also comes with an engine to recharge the battery.

  • Ralph says:

    Several years ago i had a similar issue. We lost power for several days, but I did have a computer battery back-up for my tank pumps. after a few hours tho the battery backup died. I was left a dead tank again. Then I remembered I had an inverter. I hooked the inverter to the car and recharged the battery back-up. This worked AWESOME. I would charge the battery backup for about an hour then get about 4 hours before the low battery alarm on the back-up would go off. Then I would go charge it again. The bonus I got was while I was charging the battery I had enough power left to run my PCs also.

  • Ralph says:

    Lisa – An inverter is a simple device that hooks up to your car battery with alligator clips and has a standard household plug on the other side. they come in different sizes by their power output rating. can be found anywhere you buy car parts.

  • Lisa Foster says:

    Thanks, Ralph 🙂

  • Silver Rogue says:

    To Elmo Clarity,

    Pull the battery out of your car and take up to your apartment or buy a 2nd battery that would be able to be recharged by your car. Then hook up your inverter to the battery. There is always a way around any problem.

  • Silver Rogue says:

    Elmo Clarity – Pull the battery out of your car and take up to your apartment or buy a 2nd battery that would be able to be recharged by your car. Then hook up your inverter to the battery. There is always a way around any problem.

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