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Old 01-21-2004, 11:19 AM   #1
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Could someone please outline (re: electricity)

the most important safety measures to use regarding electricity and a fishtank?

I'm worried about electrocution. Especially since the tank I'm using has a Home Depot-type light strip....It works great, but I don't think it was built for an aquarium, and I worry about waterproof-ness. The lights are suspended in the hood and don't touch the glass top, but I still worry.

What is a drip loop? And what kind of surge protectors or similar stuff should I be using? Anything else? Please answer as though you were speaking to an eight year-old child with absolutely no electrical knowledge or experience.

Thank you for helping my nerves,
fearlessfisch
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Old 01-21-2004, 11:43 AM   #2
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I have a similar setup on my current 55 gallon. I have a regular flourescent. Two important things (IMHO):

1. Do you have a glass top on your tank? A layer of glass between your light and the water will make the light last a lot longer. Otherwise you're going to see rust very soon.

2. Drip loop - basically, make sure your power line goes down like 6" below your power outlet, then back up. If water somehow runs down your power line, it'll drip off onto the floor. The loop is so it can't just run straight down into the outlet, like it would if the line was taught. Make sense?

I also use a surge protector for everything but the light. My light is on it's own circuit because the timer is plugged into the wall. My powerhead, heater, and filter are on a surge protector just in case.

Good luck!
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Old 01-21-2004, 11:53 AM   #3
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GFI outlet or breaker.

A Ground Fault Interupt outlet or breaker will save lives. These are the outlets you find in bathrooms in homes that have been built within the last 10 years or so.

These outlets will cut power to the outlets if they detect a break in the ground. (ie a short)

In the tank I just picked up used the person had taken a GFI outlet from lowes and installed it in the back of the stand and had wired it up to a plug. The plug goes into your home wiring and then everything running on the tank is plugged into the GFI outlet.
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Old 01-21-2004, 06:53 PM   #4
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Thank you both for explaining so clearly.

Yes, there is a glass top, so that should help. I was worried less about rust than about possible condensation causing a short or something....although I guess the two worries would go together, huh. It's good to hear that other people have similar set-ups and are still alive, though.

The drip loop makes perfect sense. I kept finding mentions of them on other threads but couldn't figure out what the heck it was.

I will pick up some surge protectors and a GFI outlet. Thank you both a *lot* for taking the time to respond. I fell asleep for a while after I wrote the post and dreamed I woke up and the cords were all lying in a huge puddle in the middle of the living room. I decided to wake up and come here instead of dealing with it.

Thanks again....this place is so full of great people and help.
fearlessfisch (waving from St. Paul)
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Old 01-21-2004, 07:05 PM   #5
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After you get shocked the first few times, it really doesn't hurt much anymore 8) . No, I'm kidding...really. Drip loops, GFCI breakers or receptacles, and possibly a grounding probe. The ground probe is a metal rod (usually titanium) that goes in your tank and plugs into the ground of a wall receptacle. It will catch any little bit of stray voltage that might leak from a powerhead or other submerged electrical device and it will also keep you from getting shocked when your hands are in the tank. In order for you to get shocked, you have to be grounded. This is why the birds you see perched on 14,000 volt power lines don't explode. Electricity, like many humans, takes the path of least resistance. As long as the ground probe is in the tank, it provides the path of least resistance. Now I don't claim to be the last authority on electricity, but I don't really see the usefulness of surge protectors on aquariums. The ones you buy that look like a power strip will only blow if there is a large power surge. To get true protection against power surges, you need a UPS. This is a battery backup device often seen on computers or other sensitive electronic equipment. Using one of these will give you some run time for a powerhead or two in the event of a power failure as well.
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Old 01-22-2004, 03:41 PM   #6
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Hey fearlessfisch,

I didn't notice that you're in St. Paul. Cold over there, is it? I'm sure it's much warmer out west here... in Minneapolis. I just got back from lunch (actually left the safety of the skyway... which, though it's indoors, is still colder than the rest of the country!) and OH MY LORD it's cold out there!!!

We Minnesotan's need to stick together... everyone else is quite sure we're crazy!
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Old 01-23-2004, 11:12 AM   #7
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Hmm, loganj. You tell me you have been shocked numerous times....and then you advise me to place a metal rod in my fishtank while the electricity is turned on. I'm gonna have to think about this....

Seriously, thanks *very much* for the info about a grounding probe. It sounds like exactly the thing i was thinking about....something to keep myself (or others) from frying while rearranging plants. I'll definitely look into it.

Thaiboxer, heh heh.....I love all the little habitrails in the sky around here. I think they should extend them all around the metro area, and put in those little wheels and feeding stations, too. 8) I moved up here from Texas in September of 1991, just a few weeks before the famous Halloween blizzard--I can still remember sitting in shock that night, thinking "What on God's earth have I gotten myself into???!!!!"

They're great cities, but I do agree with you that St. Paul was *much* colder yesterday.

fearlessfisch
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Old 01-23-2004, 11:21 AM   #8
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Quote:
Hmm, loganj. You tell me you have been shocked numerous times....and then you advise me to place a metal rod in my fishtank while the electricity is turned on. I'm gonna have to think about this....
You have not lived until you have felt the tickle of some good old 110V AC on your fingertips.
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Old 01-23-2004, 07:01 PM   #9
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Oh, fishfreek, you're gettin' me worried now...

Exactly how much repeated voltage has there been to people in this community? Maybe this explains the happy fascination with "ooooh, shiny fishes!"

heh heh....I knew I loved this place.
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