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Electrical Short In Tank!


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Wow. I had a scary experience today! I was cleaning the tropical tank just like normal, went to put my hand in the water and it shocked me!! I had found 2 fish dead this morning and waited until I was ready to clean the tank to look and see what was going on.

I unplugged the heater first as thats where I've had problems before and still got shocked. Unfortunately I knew I'd have to go through the process of elimination to find out what had shorted and was causing the problem. I unplugged the air pump next. Still got shocked. Then I unplugged the filter and did NOT get shocked so I knew thats what it was! I have NEVER heard of a filter doing this!! I brought it into the kitchen and put it in a bucket of water and plugged it in. No shock. Hmmmm....so I took Ali's filter out and put the hinky filter into his tank. SHOCKED! I quickly unplugged the filter and threw it away.

That was a first for me, although the filter was a little old it had always worked well, and was still working, although not great. I had noticed a buildup of crud in the tank and thought I was overfeeding or needed more filter media. I put the new filter that was in Ali's tank in the tropical tank and the water is clear as a bell now. Ali doesn't HAVE to have a filter immediately so he can wait till payday for one, which is Thursday. I just hated it that 2 fish died before I realized what was going on, but it wasn't doing that last Sunday when I cleaned their tank! Thank goodness I'm always on schedule with water changes or I may have fried all of them.

Weird.

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That is a scary experience Vickie!!! I have had one similar, the water feels like acid and stings! Can you get a circuit breaker installed? I agree that filters seem to have a lifeline. I have had to get rid of so many filters for various reasons..

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That is a scary experience Vickie!!! I have had one similar, the water feels like acid and stings! Can you get a circuit breaker installed? I agree that filters seem to have a lifeline. I have had to get rid of so many filters for various reasons..

Well, its on the circuit breaker to my bedroom. And you're exactly right but here's the funny thing. I have a small cut on the side of one finger. Its covered and sealed in New Skin. THIS is where I felt it! When I stuck one of my other fingers in the water, I felt nothing. But when I stuck the finger with the small cut, even though it is sealed up, thats where I felt the sting! How strange is that? I can't understand why it didn't kill all of the fish, but I have to assume thats what killed the 2 because this is a well established tank with no problems, no new fish, and good water params.

And yeah, Fish Crazy, you've got to be careful with water and electricity. My son worked with a woman who stuck her arm in her tank and got electrocuted. It didn't kill her but it could have. Always be careful unplugging and plugging in.

Edited by vickielm
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ACtually, I am not sure that the fish would be killed by a stray current in the water - UNTIL the current had the circuit completed. Once completed, the current could run through the fish - in theory - and kill them. But until completed by your hand, or something else (many possibilities), the current, itself should not have killed.

I have never had a filter do that - only heaters and lights - but.... wow, it can be scary, I can tell you!!!! Two times I have been "bitten" by stray current - but once, I literally was blown across the room - and landed on my rear! That one killed fish, too.

I am glad you have them on a breaker. You might want to consider putting in a ground probe in your tanks - it is the FINAL solution to accidental stray currents.

http://www.kokosgoldfish.invisionzone.com/...showtopic=41152

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Wow...tht is scary...I always unplug the filter but keep the aeration ON while doing water changes...just so that the oxygen in there is still going...but I will be more cautious in future...Am glad Vickie you are not hurt...and Carol...thrown away across the room...tht is really scary...I never thought current in a tank could be so grave...Wow..

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My son works with electricity on his job alot & got me a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter for each of my tanks. He said it'll cut everything off if any shock hazard happens!

I am sure "TESTING" for a short by sticking your finger in the water each time is a very bad idea!! Electricity & Water is a dangerous combon & should not be messed with lightly!!! If anyone gets a shock of any kind they should NOT touch the water again! If you have no way to test for current find someone who can. The fish would be okay because they aren't grounded, you on the other hand are and the electricity could really have hurt or even killed you!

Edited by Jeana727
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My son works with electricity on his job alot & got me a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter for each of my tanks. He said it'll cut everything off if any shock hazard happens!

If your not able to replace an outlet with a GFCI outlet they make them that just plug into a regular outlet and you plug your equipment into it. There are two wires providing power to an outlet, they should have the same current running through both. The GFCI works by sensing a current imbalance between the two wires. If there is an imbalance the current is going some where to ground, in this case it was through you. They trip at a much lower current rating than a breaker but only trip on current imbalance. Every one probably already has a few of these floating around their house already as they are required in locations associated with water, namely outside, kitchens and bathrooms.

One word of caution is many of the plug in ones I've seen also trip on a power blip where as the outlets don't. You may have to be carefull with the plug in type as they may leave all you filters off in the event of a power fluctuation.

They are a worth while investment as they can save a life and only cost $10-$15.

Edited by will
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One word of caution is many of the plug in ones I've seen also trip on a power blip

This is so interesting and this thread is so useful Vickie! Can you explain about power blips please.. does it mean plug ins are going to interrupt power when its not necessary ?

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Thanks for the input everybody! And Jeanna, in hindsight I guess it wasn't a smart thing to do but it was the only way I could tell which one had the short...the heater or the filter. I also have had a heater short out like that but never a filter.

Wow Carol that must have scared the beejeebers out of you to get knocked across the room!!! :blink:

I assumed that was why I found 2 fish dead that morning. If that wasn't the reason then I'm not sure what was going on, but the rest of them seem fine. For now at least. Trops don't seem to last for me as well as goldies do for some reason.

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One word of caution is many of the plug in ones I've seen also trip on a power blip

This is so interesting and this thread is so useful Vickie! Can you explain about power blips please.. does it mean plug ins are going to interrupt power when its not necessary ?

Many of the ones we use at construction sites are the plug in style. In other words you plug them into an outlet and they provide GFCI protection to what you then plug into them. When thier power supply is interupted they trip and have to be reset. I assume this was done on purpose as to maybe stop power tools from restarting when no one is around after a power outage. If you use these style for your aquarium I would assume they would do the same during a power blip. By blip I mean those times you see your lights flicker or the times you come home and all you clocks are flashing 12:00. I've yet to see a GFCI outlet that is affected by power outages like the plug in style. The latest plug in style I puchased is literally a GFCI outlet mounted in a box with a cord attached that you plug into the wall. This one is unaffected by power outages.

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ACtually, I am not sure that the fish would be killed by a stray current in the water - UNTIL the current had the circuit completed. Once completed, the current could run through the fish - in theory - and kill them. But until completed by your hand, or something else (many possibilities), the current, itself should not have killed.

I have never had a filter do that - only heaters and lights - but.... wow, it can be scary, I can tell you!!!! Two times I have been "bitten" by stray current - but once, I literally was blown across the room - and landed on my rear! That one killed fish, too.

I am glad you have them on a breaker. You might want to consider putting in a ground probe in your tanks - it is the FINAL solution to accidental stray currents.

http://www.kokosgoldfish.invisionzone.com/...showtopic=41152

I agree, if the circuit is not completed there is no current and fish can not be affected. That's is the reason I don't think grounding the water is a good idea, if something goes wrong, the ground will complet the circuit and before the circuit breaker (diferential one) acts, the fish may all die. It will protect you but not your fish.

The tyipical diferential breaker in europe is 30mA, a lot less than that can kill your fish. Also, pumps and heaters can induce some potencial in the wather and, if it is grounded, will create some current, and that is not good for the fish. Have you haver had any problems with your tank after grounding it? I spoke with some work colleagues and they all think grounding the wather is not a good idea. It seems to be a dificult subject.

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I have never had a filter do that - only heaters and lights - but.... wow, it can be scary, I can tell you!!!! Two times I have been "bitten" by stray current - but once, I literally was blown across the room - and landed on my rear! That one killed fish, too.

I'll tell you...

if I landed on a fish with my rear, it'd kill it good too. :unsure:

:D

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You bring up a good point, ASB..... one I have considered many times. I have to assume that the circuit breaker will be sensitive enough that it will cut the power before the fish are zapped.....

The ground probes are, mostly, though, for MY protection. :(

I have had no problems in any tank since the addition of ground probes with the exception that ONE tank continually pops the breaker..... even with NOTHING electrical in the tank. My friends have joked that I have an electric eel in there withthe goldies....... That one needs to be replaced (the GFI....and the probe, I am assuming), but I have not done it yet..... I tend to procrastinate, I am afraid.....

Any other ideas or observations would be welcome!

:)

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I was wondering if the power bars with the breakers in them would be of any help? I have a few for my computers but I never thought of one for my tank. They cost about $10-$15.

Those are just surge supressors with a breaker. They could posibly help protect your equipment from getting damaged in a power surge situation but they will do nothing to prevent you from getting shocked.

Edited by will
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You bring up a good point, ASB..... one I have considered many times. I have to assume that the circuit breaker will be sensitive enough that it will cut the power before the fish are zapped.....

The ground probes are, mostly, though, for MY protection. :(

I have had no problems in any tank since the addition of ground probes with the exception that ONE tank continually pops the breaker..... even with NOTHING electrical in the tank. My friends have joked that I have an electric eel in there withthe goldies....... That one needs to be replaced (the GFI....and the probe, I am assuming), but I have not done it yet..... I tend to procrastinate, I am afraid.....

Any other ideas or observations would be welcome!

:)

An electric eel could be a good idea to save on the electrical bill :D

When you say nothing electrical, does that mean no filter? My canister alone is responsible for a water potencial that could make a breaker to pop.

And that is my point, with the probe you could be poping breakers or having a small current that could not pop the breaker but still hurt your fish.

A small current of only 3 or 4mA is enough to kill fish, if there is enough voltage that current could even hurt you bad. My heater also creates a fair potencial but if the circuit is closed by a probe the circuit's impedance being high would make the potencial go down and the current would than be very low. I could test this by measuring the current closing the circuit between the water and ground, but I will not do this with my fish in it.

Since you have a probe connected, can you make this measure? That could bring some ligth into this topic.

As for my protection, I have been zapped a few times in my life and survived all of them without problems, I'm sure my fish can not do this, but that's just me, I do not advice anyone to do this.

I had an idea how to solve this but still have to test it: If you place a small votmeter measuring the potencial between the water and the ground, you could see if something is wrong, some (but more expensive) let you programe a set point that could trigger an alarm if the potencial gets to high or cut the power to the electrical equipment.

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  • 4 years later...
  • Regular Member

That is a scary experience Vickie!!! I have had one similar, the water feels like acid and stings! Can you get a circuit breaker installed? I agree that filters seem to have a lifeline. I have had to get rid of so many filters for various reasons..

Well, its on the circuit breaker to my bedroom. And you're exactly right but here's the funny thing. I have a small cut on the side of one finger. Its covered and sealed in New Skin. THIS is where I felt it! When I stuck one of my other fingers in the water, I felt nothing. But when I stuck the finger with the small cut, even though it is sealed up, thats where I felt the sting! How strange is that? I can't understand why it didn't kill all of the fish, but I have to assume thats what killed the 2 because this is a well established tank with no problems, no new fish, and good water params.

And yeah, Fish Crazy, you've got to be careful with water and electricity. My son worked with a woman who stuck her arm in her tank and got electrocuted. It didn't kill her but it could have. Always be careful unplugging and plugging in.

I thought I was the only one with this experience. It is nice to know other have experienced it too. When I put my finger with small cut into my aquarium, I felt a sting on the wound, but when I switched my internal (submergible) pump off and try again, I felt nothing. I also tried to put another finger (with no wound) into the water, I felt no sting too.

I wonder, can I still use the pump or should I replace it? If I need to get a new one, which type of pump can guarantee no electrical leak or stray current to build up in my tank?

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Hi Bengyong,

It might be a good idea to make a new thread explaining your problem. This thread is very old and I doubt many of the people participating are still around.. Just start a new thread under tanks and equipt and I'm sure people will chime in with advice.

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Old this thread is, but I learned a lot. I've been kicking myself for not installing a GFCI wall outlet when I set up my 45G. Now I have to break it down in order to get into the outlet. Oh well, it's on my things to do.

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