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Stray Current


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icon1.gifRe: Stray Current Hi I'm trying to solve a problem which started 3 days ago with one 55 gallon aquarium where the fish are all huddled together at the bottom of the tank (very unusual) they have no obvious signs of distress they are eating, mouth, gill ,fin, movements appear normal but when one or more fish attempt to leave this position they dart back to the same location as if they where repelled by something. All water chemistry checks out OK there have been no recent introductions (fish or inert objects) Some fish forums have suggested stray electrical current or voltage may be responsible for this behavior but information about how to test or what to do about it is not clear for instance the use of a ground probe inserted into tank water (titanium) and with the other end of wire (copper) inserted into or onto a known ground at a receptacle or possibly a copper water pipe solves any possible problems while others suggest this procedure is the wrong thing to do and can only increase problems by completing a circuit. all electrical cords( 3 wire) are plugged into grounded outlets and all equipment is double insulated with 2 prong plugs I'm not certain if that constitutes a truly grounded system or not . The tank is glass supported by a wooden stand air is provided by an electric air pump via vinyl tubing inserted into the water the main filter is an external canister filter also electrical and is a closed system and returns water to the tank and back again via vinyl hoses, lighting is 12 volt led and 120 florescent is positioned above the tank. I have unplugged all lighting and air pump in an attempt to isolate the source. So far no luck.

I would appreciate any help.

Thank you

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  • Regular Member

My fish do that when they are frightened, maybe you added new lighting to the room outside the tank, or there was a loud noise, or new furniture in the human environment. Sometimes I think my goldies dont like the close I am wearing.

My fish actually acted like than when I introduced progold (new food) for a day. And then also when I got my pincher thing to pick stuff up in the tank.

Bottom sitting is also a sign of illness too, so keep a close eye on them, and test your water if your not already. Good luck!

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It's interesting you mentioned being frightened the night before this all started we experienced the worst storm since this tank has been set up approximately 9 months, high winds ,lighting ,etc and coincidentally the day after the problem I started using progold as well for the first time. I wonder if anyone is familiar with ground probes the info I'm reading gives contradictory advice

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Thank you for your reply, since my last post I've read all I could regarding stray current (stray voltage) including pinned results and also the use of ground probes, at best there seems to be no definitive answer regarding there use I was wondering how many of you are using or have used probes either in main tanks or sumps and if if you have experienced problems ?

Thanks again

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  • Regular Member

I can't offer any advice with regard to electrical testing, but maybe a very crude test in the opposite direction. How about unplugging everything that is electrical in, on and near your tank. A couple hours of the filter off shouldn't harm anything. See what they do in the absence of electricity.

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I have given this a fair amount of thought over the years. I have had tanks that are "hot" - such that when I stick a hand in them, I complete the circuit and get blown onto my rear - and kill the fish in doing it. As near as I can determine, however, that until you complete the circuit, the currents that may be "loose" in the tank do not cause any problems for the fish.

I have had ground probes in most of my tanks since that most distressing and painful occurance. I have a coil of titanium with a wire lead that is connected to a "prong" that I have soldered in place. This is inserted into an unused ground pl;ug "hole" in a power strip. This will not protect the fish, but it completes a circuit to a "harmless" place if there does happen to be a problem - and saves your heart and body from a blast.

The most common source of "stray" current in a tank is a water heater. They are NOTORIOUS for this. The cheaper types seem to have a built in failure period - where, no matter how well you work them, they will fail and produce problems after a certain number of years. Others - higher quality - rarely fail. I, personally, will NEVER , EVER skimp on the cost of a heater, if I have reason to use one!

If you can stick your hand in and grab something else - completing the circuit - and not kill yourself, chances are what is going on is NOT stray current.

My first steps when fish are not acting as expected are as follows:

1. Take a look at your water currents. Is the water current too much in most areas of the tank - or the areas where they are avoiding? It is a very common thing - in fact one of the most common. When fish huddle in a bottom corner, it may be that the currents in the tank are such that they get no rest or relief anywhere else - and maybe not too much where they are. You might want to experiment with moving your filter's outlet, blocking it with a well placed plant or rock or deco and watch to see what the fish do.

2. Axamine the fish for signs of parasites. A fish that is only lightly affeected by flukes will tend to hover at the bottom - and only swim around in normal fashion when stimulated by food or other attention.

3. Take a look at your light duration. Fish require sleep. If they are illuminated for too long, they may be trying to sleep at odd times during the day and night - they cannot determine time, so they huddle down and try to sleep.

As I almost always do, I also want to remind you that fish problems are commonly muti-layered. It may be that your fish have a light fluke load - bothering them a bit which makes them a bit more susceptible to currents in the water, etc. As you remedy one problem, you may uncover underlying ones. Keep your eyes open - and observe. It looks like you are really good at that, already!!! :)

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daryl

Thanks so much for your reply, I've read so many negative reports concerning the probe your post leaves me much less concerned.

I'm still interested in anyone else's opinion regarding the probes use. Such a simple devise yet not all aqautic suppliers make it available.

Thank again

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