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It happen late one night! How my higher self teaches me. The 2x4 message.

It happen late one night! How my higher self teaches me lessons of life.
Yes all I had to do was to start talking about power backup systems and the what I call the third stage 2x4 message came quickly.
Early on in my life I realized that being an Italian New Yorker I was a little different than my midwestern college mates. When my Higher Self (yes I am expounding esoteric here) wanted me to be aware of a life lesson I would get three chances to GET IT.
First "a little tap on the shoulder". In this case it was when the greenhouse extension cord got un-plugged. I missed this message and just plugged it back in.
Second the "Smack on the back of the Head" ( yes this really happens to some folks by parents and friends) this should have gotten my attention. As I was posting some information here on Backup systems etc. Missed it again.
Third the "2x4" This is my higher self hitting me smack in the forehead with a 2x4. So what happen you may ask?

Well at 10 pm on a sunday while watching TV show Leverage we heard a pop and lost all power to the house. I assumed it was on the main road about 1/8 from the ranch house we live in. But a quick walkabout outside provided that only we were powerless (should have gotten this hint). I did the usual, checked breakers. Did I pay the bill etc. Well then I called Progress Energy. To make this way too long experience less painful for you - alas they sent out a truck. Oh yeah they said they would have it fixed by 1 am.
SOOOOOO my aeration and pump were down from 10 pm to WHEN! I have 100 5" and above fish in one 250 gal tank. I also have a 100 gal aquarium on my back pool deck with 12 frigid breeders ( I think the two males in this tank are gay) now without air and pumps. I didn't even think about these guys until morning. Blog spoiler ( no fish died). Well the truck arrived at 11:30. I had go get up from bed in of house without air-conditioning. Wide awake of course and sweating. I heard the door knock and found a very large PE guy in blue coveralls with a bucket truck in my front yard. We discussed how he could get his truck in the fields. NOW a little explanation of why we had this conversation. The ranch house we live in is surrounded by 20 acres of pasture with 12 bulls in them. Two of them are Brahman and are twice the size of the angus etc. Well the big power guy wasn't going to get out of his truck if the bulls are around. Luckily I was able to get him in his truck into the field and he safely spent the next hour or so cutting tree limbs and succeeded in accessing the Transformer that was on the pole. ( see photo-click to enlarge above. that white spot is the moon just laughing at me the whole time) Alias we had blown a Transformer breaker. So by 1 am we had power back.
All seemed to be working fine. The pumps etc came back on and I gave it all a quick review and went back to bed. WRONG!! I guess that 2x4 hadn't finished its smack yet.
When the morning came I went out to feed the 100 tank and all seemed well and I realized that I didn't even think about it the night before. BUT when I went out the feed the piranha that are disguised as Tilapia (named that after the way the eat) in the greenhouse I found that the 2nd tank had pumped out and only had only 4 inches of water and the two fish I couldn't catch in it now pretty pissed off. Hmm that was the strange noise I had not heard before from the greenhouse. The tank on the left with all of the fish in it was about half down. SOMETHING was wrong! I moved the two sneaky little guys to the populated tank and started filling the low one. I did some quick plumbing checks and found out the sump pump was not working. DAMM float valves!
WHO KNOWS WHY these things happen is still the lesson I have to learn.
Any way all is well. HA you say. What is the lesson?
STILL no back up plan. So now to avoid the fourth step of the lesson. I have managed not to get to this stage in the past and to be honest I fear that it is scaled way up from a 2x4. I am now actively implementing a backup plan. So follow along and see if I get it right.
Step one - get a small generator.
Step two - figure out the rest. QUICKLY.

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Comment by Terry Clark on September 1, 2010 at 4:43pm
I'm going stand alone off grid and I was told to still have O2 backup air for the fish tanks! Thats how important it really is... He was using large O2 cyclinders with medical flow meters at a flow rate of less than 1/2 lpm. He ssaid you want the bubles from the air stone not to reach the surface.
Comment by Amy D Crawford on August 30, 2010 at 11:00am
ROFL... I loved the story. too true
Comment by David Hart on August 29, 2010 at 3:55am
Hi Cosmo, In regards to your 'frigid breeders'.....
I have a male and 5 females in a 55 gal tank. At first they were breeding, but now that they are full grown, they are not. I was told that they put out a hormone into the water and it prevents them from breeding under the semi-crowded conditions. (?)
I was told to try a 50% water change out,every day, for several weeks. I didn't bother to try it. I may just replace them with 'younger/smaller' breeders.

I'm getting ready to build a battery back up. Since I do AC work, I'll use parts that I have available. I'll use a transformer 120 volts/24 volts....I'll hook the 24v side to a single pole/double throw relay.
I'm NOT an electrical engineer, nor do I play one on TV. The drawing is just a 'suggested' way to a DIY back up.

Comment by TCLynx on August 28, 2010 at 6:02pm
Reminder, a backup for your backup plan is sometimes in order. The battery charger for my big deep cycle battery gave up just a few days back. I've gone through three inverters, be sure to get one that will handle the conditions you will subject it to.

I expect we will be looking for a generator soon since hurricanes can leave one without power for days and it would also be nice to keep the fridge and freezer running as well as the AP system.
Comment by Sahib Punjabi on August 28, 2010 at 11:51am
What a reminder Michael. Looks like I too will now seriously look for a "back up" plan. I will also start my research on auto-power change systems and share info as I become aware of it. If you find such products earlier, please share :-)
Comment by ericjf7 on August 28, 2010 at 10:25am
Aren't all pumps constant flow if they don't have timers or float switches, the AquaticEco catalogue has a large variety of pumps, many of which are not harmed by running out of water occasionally, as in a CHOPS system - (Constant Height One Pump in Sump system). They have an e-version of their catalog at All you southerners, eat your hearts out, we had ice on the outside thermometer in southern Canada -- head of the Columbia River -- in the Rockey Mountains!
Comment by M Cosmo on August 28, 2010 at 10:05am
I want a power change over solenoid switch. One that will turn on the backup system when the main power goes out. My system doesn't have a constant flow pump. I know murray has one but I was looking for one in in the US. Does anyone know of one?
Comment by ericjf7 on August 27, 2010 at 11:53pm
Lo Michael, Though so far I've only been studying forums and blogs, the most I've been able to come up with is a double pump system, (single pump CHOPS), with the backup pump triggered by a pressure switch, all of this backed up with a decent inverter charging two deep cycle 12 volt batteries from the grid, with a relay to reverse the power flow in case of a power failure. There is what seems to be a recently designed bicycle generator, which the fellow is looking to hook into a windmill, with detailed directions:

Realizing I'll be facing the same situation, 'hope it works for you
Comment by Sylvia Bernstein on August 27, 2010 at 6:48pm
Michael, I am chagrined to admit that I don't have a backup system either. Your 2x4 is having it's affect on me as well. Thanks

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