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Aquarium Safety

PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 11:33 am
by Crazygar
Basic Aquarium Safety

Basic aquarium safety should be a major concern for all of us, especially those of us with small or younger children and or other types of pets. As you know, the combination of water and electricity can be very lethal. Please protect your children, your grandchildren, even yourself . . . from needless accidents or occurrences that are just so easy to prevent. For some these safety tips will only serve as a simple gentle reminder, for others it can or will be the first time you have thought of these items in this way. There are so many things to learn with the purchase of your first or even an additional fish tank. Aquarium safety often takes a back seat to the excitement of stocking the tank after your aquarium has cycled and you are beginning to enjoy the wonders of tropical fish and your new aquarium. This is a good time to teach the family, the joys of the hobby and the dangers of electricity, where ever it is used in the home or office. The members and staff of Tropical Resources and Progeny would like to offer these few words as a starting point for a general listing of safety tips and concerns. Be Safe, Protect the family, Enjoy the Hobby!

Basic Electrical Safety Tips

Electrical danger exists from your heaters, power filters, canisters, powerheads, the hood lighting, air pumps, etc. and are real — they should not be taken lightly. Heaters can be especially dangerous considering that their only protection is the glass wall around the electrical heating element. Cracking the glass from moving decorations, etc. while your hands are in the water can mean instant electrocution. Please, remove any source of electrical power prior to placing your hand or the hand of your child in any aquarium, at anytime for any reason. If you are like most aquarists and or computer users, you know the feeling that there are never enough outlets for your aquarium. While most of the newer aquarium equipment you have has a low energy consumption, the maze of wires and extension cords, pose an additional threat. Ensure that drip loops are in place on all electrical devices attached to or even near your aquarium(s). Never remove or allow to be removed, the ground plug (third prong) from your electrical cords. All electrical components should be properly grounded. One cannot over emphasize this point, please make sure to ground all equipment.

Please use only Ground Fault Interrupter (GFI) sockets and or extension cords with GFI protection. These GFI devices sense when you are drawing current to ground and immediately shut off the electricity. Many homes have these installed in the kitchen and or bathroom. Some newer homes have them installed in the main circuit box to protect the entire home, however it is much safer to have the GFI socket where your aquarium equipment will be plugged in. They are not expensive, easily installed and found readily available at your local hardware store. GFI devices that plug into your conventional socket are also available for those who don't feel handy, but cost more. Still, cheap insurance for those little child’s hands (or even big ones for that matter) that may be tempted to enter the water. These will not supplant the 'unplugging' of the electrical power from the wall, prior to handling your fish or working on the aquarium.

You need to route all of your electrical cords and secure them to the aquarium stand. Use zip ties and or other such controllers of messes. Please, keep all loose electrical cords and or airline tubing up off of the floor and away from children and or pets. Do not touch any electrical equipment while your hands are wet or in the water. If the aquarium is in your child's room, make sure that lamps, wall switches, etc. are not within reach. Wet hands can complete a circuit that should not be allowed to do so. Use a UL approved aquarium equipment and strip connector(s) or multi-plug extension cords to plug in all of your electrical components. You will then be able to shut off the electricity by pulling one plug. By making it so simple — there is no reason to not be safe. Secure all power cords and airlines to the stand rather than just keeping the whole tangled mess under or behind the stand. Remember to use drip loops to stop water from running directly down the cord and into the outlet and or power strip(s). ZAP!

Make sure all electrical cords coming out of the aquarium have their own drip loops. This means to make sure that the cord hangs down below the electrical outlet or power strip before running back up again. This will assure that any water running down the power cord will fall to the floor rather than travel up the cord and enter the electrical outlet. If you are using an extension cord make sure it also has a drip loop. Even airline tubes should have a drip loop to avoid water from entering the air pump. Speaking of air pumps, a check valve should be used on each line to protect the pump from filling with water, and draining you tank through the course of the day.

General Aquarium Safety Tips

Please make sure the aquarium is placed on a strong and secure stand, designed for it, that cannot easily be tipped or knocked over. Consider placing the aquarium in a position in the office or home that is out of your major traffic area(s). Away from children running, and parents chasing them! This may have a secondary usefulness, of avoiding drafty areas and the resulting temperature fluctuations in the aquarium as a result. Assure the hood is tight fitting and firmly held in place. If the aquarium will be in a child's or younger persons room and or your children can easily touch the hood, please consider using the newer fluorescent lighting rather than the old incandescent lamp lighting. The fluorescent lighting runs much cooler and the resulting hood temperature will be much lower, perhaps avoiding a possible burn from touching the hood on a young hand.

Two of the more common chemicals used by many aquarist are ammonia and bleach. These are found in most homes today. Ammonia can be used for cleaning and fishless cycling; bleach is used by some for disinfecting. These two chemicals, or even chemicals that contain these two compounds should never be mixed together, as they can form chlorine gas. Chlorine gas is a pulmonary irritant that can causes acute damage to the upper and lower respiratory tract. It can happen innocently enough, please lets avoid it.

Assure there is nothing attached to the wall around the aquarium, like pictures or other freestanding items that can fall on to, or into the tank and crack the glass and or damage the hood. Prevention here will save much heartache, and wet floors or worse. Please, please, please — wash your hands before and after handling your fish or working on the aquarium. This is a pretty basic concept, but one worth noting. Aquariums have some of the same sorts of bacteria and other pathogens that other animals have. It is not to worry you, only as a reminder of good common sense.