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Old 10-14-2020, 12:04 AM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 57
Question Electricity Savings - Run pumps < 24/7?

Hello, its been awhile since I've posted here; however, I have a question regarding return pump duty cycle from a electricity cost savings perspective. My setup is a 210 gallon display tank with a 100 gallon sump. The display tank has two large overflows which feen into my sump in the following chambers: 1.) return water chamber which spills over a divider into the mechanical filtration chamber. 2.) Mechanical filtration chamber consists of two layers of spongue media and 2 layers of floss media. 3.) Large Biological filtration chamber which consists of lots and lots of K2 media, 2 large air stones driven by a large Coralife Super Luft - SL-65 air pump, and a powerhead--just to keep the K2 media moving around even more. 4.) Utility/refugium chamber which just houses 4x EHEIM Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater 300W heaters. For the refugium aspect, I mainly ensure algae grows here instead of the display tank. 5.) Return pump chamber driven by a Mag Drive 24 return pump which feeds the display tank via 1" PVC Teed off to two return points in the display tank--one next to each overflow, directed diagonally downwards. My tank species consists of primarily cichlids including 2 large Tiger Oscars, 2 medium sized Blood Parrots, a couple medium-small Jack Dempseys, and a convict. Also home to this tank are 2 large Plecostomus, 2 Silver Dollars, 2 Bala Sharks, a Rainbow shark, 2 Kissing Gourami, and a cat. To facilitate easy water changes, I have the sump plumbed to both the fresh tap-water supply and drain line. I Typically preform water changes equal to the sump water volume-100 gallons twice a week--just because its easy to do and I like to keep things healthy. During each water change, I also clean the sponges and either clean or replace the floss media. I also add Seachem 437 Prime water conditioner with each water change. I should also note that my city water supply enters my house through a mainline charcoal canister filter which I replace every 4 months. My display tank light is a BeamsWork DA 180 FSPEC LED Aquarium Light Pent Freshwater 0.50W (180cm - 72").

Now to my actual question:

Ever since I got this tank up and running, my electricity bill has risen substantially. However, My sky-high electricity bill is also to several other devices running in my house as well. This effort of aquarium electricity use reduction is only part of my overall home utility cost savings effort. I am wondering if I can get away with not running the return pump and perhaps even the air pump feeding the biological media chamber 24/7. I already power off the return pump during feedings. Therefore, I know that I have extra sump capacity and siphon-break concerns worked out so flooding is NOT a concern. I am more concerned about the impact of powering these pumps off for longer time periods would have on my fish. There have been a couple of occasions where during my nighttime feedings, I have fallen asleep before re-activating the return pump. My fish were fine the next morning.

What are your thoughts about trying this in terms of impact to fish health and timespan I can get away with? I was thinking about trying to achieve a total of 8 hours per day with no pumps broken into 2 hour increments. My thought process is to start small while keeping a close eye on water chemistry and work my way up.


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