Battery Backup For Saltwater Tanks – Power Outages

Power outages can be a complete disaster for all aquarium hobbyists. During a storm, you can expect your power to go out for hours and maybe even days. If you currently have a saltwater or reef tank, you know the amount of equipment required to keep it running properly and protect the health of your fish and corals.

You should be prepared with an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for your aquarium. Make sure a battery backup is on your list.

If this equipment were to fail due to a power outage, the risk of your livestock surviving is slim. It doesn’t take long to see the negative effects of your tank after the power goes out. You can start to lose fish and corals in as little as 4 hours. It’s even possible to have a complete tank crash that not only can kill your livestock but can be very costly and disappointing. Nobody wants to experience that.

Fortunately, there are ways to protect your saltwater reef tank against power outages. Using a battery backup is one of the best purchases you can make. Of course, if you have the option of using a generator, this would be the preferred way to keep most of your equipment running easily.

You don’t require a huge or expensive generator for your tank, this one on Amazon is perfectly suitable to run all of your equipment. But not everyone has the option of using a generator. If you are looking to keep certain equipment running like a wavemaker or return pump, then a battery backup is going to be the most convenient and affordable option.

Ecotech Marine Battery Backup

ecotech battery backup


The Ecotech Marine Vortech battery backup is my top choice. If you own the popular Ecotech Marine wavemakers and Vortech pumps, then you need to protect all livestock in your reef tank when the power goes out and this battery backup is the best way to keep those wavemakers running perfectly.

Features and specs:

  • Run time for Vortech pumps: up to 60 hours or 2 pumps running for 30 hours each
  • keep critical components like the return pump and wavemakers going
  • Extend the time by adding a second Ecotech battery backup to your system and daisy chain them
  • Automatically maintains a charge – also includes charger
  • Compact design will fit in most aquarium cabinets
  • Eco smart controller can monitor the charge
  • Corrosion-resistant powder-coated white aluminum housing
  • 18 Amp-Hour 12-volt sealed battery
  • 8 ft. cables
  • Dimensions: 9″ x 7″ x 3.25″

The Ecotech Marine Vortech battery backup will give you peace of mind if you are away from home during a power outage.

ecotech battery backup pros cons


IceCap Battery Backup V2.0


The IceCap battery backup is a reliable and affordable way to power many different brands of wavemakers and return pumps. The advantage of the IceCap is the fact that it’s not specific to one type or brand. It is compatible with most 24V Variable speed DC pumps. Yes, this is the new 2.0 version that replaces the previous 12V model. The IceCap doesn’t have the battery run time that the Ecotech Marine does, but it is still impressive. If you are looking for a great way to protect your tank that is affordable, then the IceCap is worth choosing.

Features and specs:

  • Run time for many different pump brands: up to 35 hours or 2 pumps for 17 hours
  • New 24V version replaces the previous 12V
  • Connect 2 pumps to a single battery
  • Daisy chain 2 backups together for increased battery time up to 70 hours
  • Compact and easy to fit inside most aquarium stands
  • DC Charger: Input: 100V to 240V 50/60Hz | Output: 27V 600MA
  • Main Unit DC: Output: 24V x 2.5A max | Input: 27V 1A max
  • Dimensions: 5.75″ x 5″ x 3.125″

Some popular models that the IceCap work with include the Maxspect Gyre, IceCap gyre, Reef Octopus, and more.


Marine Depot Aquarium Supplies

There a few other ways that you can protect your tank in the event of a power outage. If using the Ecotech Marine or IceCap battery backups are not an option for you, then you may want to consider using a power inverter.

Power inverters can work great in a pinch. They will convert DC power to AC in order to run your aquarium equipment. The problem is you will need to either hook it directly to your vehicle if it has a plugin or connect it directly to the car battery. Then hook your aquarium equipment to the inverter. This means you will have to have your car running constantly to keep your battery charged. I have done this many times over the years and it gets the job done.

Another issue with an inverter is you need a stronger one for it to run your equipment. A small 300-watt inverter is not going to run pumps, heaters at the same time. So make sure you buy a more powerful one.

If that is an option for you, I recommend this one on Amazon. It’s affordable and reliable.


Battery backup for aquariums on a budget

If you are on a tight budget and looking to buy a battery backup for your tank, I also recommend the Penn Plax Silent Air B11. This is a very basic air pump that will turn on automatically when the power goes out. So if you are not home at the time, it will start on its own and provide oxygen to the tank. It requires 2 D cell batteries and lasts for hours of continuous operation. I am currently using this unit on my Coralife biocube and it has also saved my tank on one occasion. But I have to warn you, this thing is loud!

You can buy the Penn Plax Air B11 on Amazon.



What can cause power outages?

There are a few things that can cause the power to go out. Any of these things can occur so it’s important to be prepared and have your battery backup ready.

  • Scheduled outage
  • Storms
  • Accidents and collisions with power equipment
  • Natural disasters

How long can fish survive without power?

This answer can vary based on the size of fish and aquarium, how many fish and other livestock are in the tank. On average expect fish to only survive 4-10 hours after a power outage.

How do you oxygenate water without electricity?

You can manually aerate the water in your aquarium without a pump by using a pitcher, bowl, or cup. Basically, you will want to fill the cup with aquarium water and slowly pour the water back into the tank. It’s best to lift the cup high above the tank before pouring. This will allow the water to pick up any oxygen as is falls into the tank, and releasing it back into the water column.