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Old 09-23-2012, 11:45 PM   #1
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stray voltage levels in saltwater aquarium

What's an accepable level of stray voltage in a saltwater aquarium?

Is a grounding probe just a cover up to the real problem (after all, there's still voltage in the tank, it just has a way out now) or is it a viable solution rather than replacing equipment?

I'm guessing this level is really bad? I bought this thing today because my finger felt funny when it touched the water when I was doing a water change.

Should I check each piece of equipment one by one?



It reads 21.5.

EDIT| I put the black probe in the water and the other probe on my finger. I didn't have any metal near by to touch it to.
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Old 09-24-2012, 12:32 AM   #2
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Actually now that I read how to use the meter properly it is 30.6. When I unplug my power strip for pumps it drops to 15.8. However, unplugging them individually only gives me 1-2 per plug (except one pump does leak 5 or so). Does everything leak something?
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Old 09-24-2012, 12:37 AM   #3
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Interesting.... I just tried the same thing with mine & got 4.2v

If it's enough that you feel it, I'd definitely start checking stuff..... I think the most obvious place to start would be the heater, if you have one.

Yes, everything is going to put out some, especially any electric motors.... they work off a magnetic field which is going to leak to the water.
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Old 09-24-2012, 12:49 AM   #4
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Just shut off my master switch & checked it again.... 3.5v. I'm guessing there's some natural conductivity in a saline solution. At that voltage, you definitely need to start checking things out...... you shouldn't be feeling anything.
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Old 09-24-2012, 01:07 AM   #5
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Thanks phranque. It wasn't like an ow feeling.. it was more of a tingly weird feeling. I have a rundown of my equipment I'm about to post. Unplugged one by one. What are your thoughts on grounding probes?
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Old 09-24-2012, 01:17 AM   #6
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Everything off - 1.0 (hmm?)
Everything on - 30.1 - using as a baseline number for when I unplug one by one.

Heater 1 unpluged - 28.4 - difference of -1.7
Skimmer pump unplugged - 27.5 - difference of -2.6
Cooling fan unplugged - 30.1 - difference of 0.0
non-aquarium related plug unplugged - 30.1 - difference of 0.0
koralia 240 unplugged - 29.6 - difference of -0.5
koralia 750 (left) unplugged - 30.3 - difference of +0.2
koralia 750 (right) unplugged - 30.3 - difference of +0.2
reactor pump unplugged - 29.2 - difference of -0.9
heater 2 unplugged - 26.3 - difference of -4.8
moonlights unplugged - 30.6 - difference of +0.5
sump pump unplugged - 30.6 - difference of +0.5
fuge light unplugged - 28.6 - difference of -1.5

I attribute the ones that are higher than my baseline to be due to varying amounts of stray voltage?

That would leave my top offenders at:

Heater 2: 4.8 leaked
Skimmer pump: 2.6 leaked
Heater 1: 1.7 leaked
Fuge Light: 1.5 leaked
Reactor pump: 0.9 leaked

EDIT| Is it worth testing the lights? They hang above the water and have various states. All off. blues on, whites on, white and blues on.. and 2 separate power cords for each light (x2 lights = 4 cords).
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Old 09-24-2012, 02:47 AM   #7
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I'd say the heater in this case. I'm not an expert but I've worked under an electrician for years. IMHO I'd get a new heater or at least try a different heater and see if the numbers go down.

Saltwater is the biggest conductor of electricity so... Adding all the equipment that we add into salt is always gonna create some leaking. Some more serious then others.

Also the higher the salinity the greater the conduction.

I hope this makes sense. If you need me to I'll try and explain it better.
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Old 09-24-2012, 04:42 AM   #8
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Wow! That was very informative. The bird analogy helps it to make sense though. Great info Con!
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Old 09-24-2012, 08:49 AM   #9
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Great info Dino. I've always thought a grounding probe wasn't going to help the situation. I'm dealing with this right now, as a lot of my LPS have been receding. I've got it isolated to either my skimmer, or my circ. pumps. Will try to narrow it down further today, after work. What a pita!! I experienced the same thing, cuticles felt "stingy" when I dipped my hand into the refuge. Hoping that stray voltage is the culprit, been wracking my brain to figure out why these LPS have been slowly dying ... Seems plausible that this has been the cause though, getting there!
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Old 09-24-2012, 11:09 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottayy
What's an accepable level of stray voltage in a saltwater aquarium?

Is a grounding probe just a cover up to the real problem (after all, there's still voltage in the tank, it just has a way out now) or is it a viable solution rather than replacing equipment?

I'm guessing this level is really bad? I bought this thing today because my finger felt funny when it touched the water when I was doing a water change.

Should I check each piece of equipment one by one?

It reads 21.5.

EDIT| I put the black probe in the water and the other probe on my finger. I didn't have any metal near by to touch it to.
Just a wild guess but a lot of stuff will have a voltage.... By anychance do u have a cut or a opening on area around nail cause that can feel like that with saltwater and volts are not dangerous it's amps u must watch for
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