Standby power maintains healthy aquatic eco-system


Aquacision, a specialist aquatic design company that installs and maintains domestic and large-scale commercial aquariums, turned to UPS Systems forFish in tank ECN advice on a suitable uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for a newly-installed large domestic aquarium. The UPS needed to keep aquatic pumps, filtration units, lighting and heating running for several hours in the event of a power cut, while also providing power to an aquatic computer.

Providing a continuous and reliable supply of mains power can be difficult due to power outages.  Disruptions to power supplies may interfere with electrical devices for several hours. In the case of a large aquarium, it may only take a few hours before the health of fish and other living organisms deteriorate and they eventually die.

Trading for over five years, the majority of Aquacision’s work is aquarium and pond based. Larger projects have included working with zoos, such as Woodside Animal & Leisure Park, to design systems for otters, flamingos and other unusual animals where water quality is of the upmost importance. Aquacision has also carried out a number projects for the television and film industry including Netflix advertisements and consultative roles with Warner Bros for special effects on the Harry Potter films. Aquacision’s work has to be of the highest quality with UPS systems often playing an important role in providing standby power requirements.

The requirement

Tank in room ECNMaintaining a healthy salt-water aquarium requires the circulation of oxygenated water, careful control of water temperature, lighting and constant filtration. Power failure in a large aquarium, such as the one recently installed by Aquacison in a residential home in north London would result in the loss of thousands of pounds of livestock.

Aquaria are essentially closed eco-systems that can take several months to establish. The north London aquarium needed to be kept at a constant 26°C so that the 50-plus species of salt water fish, including Clown, Angel and Goby fish, could thrive. Other living organisms such as hard and soft corals, sea anemones and urchins were added, while invertebrates such as shrimps and crabs provided an essential service by processing excess waste produced by the fish.

The large numbers of living organisms in the tank created a lot of ammonia and nitrate material through waste. Normally this would be dissipated in the ocean, but in a tank, a biological filter was necessary to prevent the build up of toxins and provide a continuous source of well-filtered oxygenated water.

A specialised aquatic computer was also installed which, according to Aquacision, is owned by only a small number of aquarium enthusiasts in the UK. The computer provides valuable information about variations in tank conditions and can send out alerts if the parameters, set by the owner, change.

At a later stage it’s expected that a submersible camera may also be installed to monitor activity in the aquarium.

To keep these electrical devices running in the event of a mains power failure, a cost-effective and reliable UPS was required.

The solution

UPS Systems provided Aquacision with a Riello Sentinel Pro 1000VA Extended Runtime UPS system. This ensured the bespoke aquarium is provided with aSentinel Pro ECN minimum of four hours standby time when all the electrical equipment is running. When operated in ‘normal’ mode with a lower load then the UPS will provide a maximum of six hours standby power.  An additional charger supplied with the UPS system allowed two large B1-sized battery packs to be strung together in order to give extended runtime.

The Sentinel Pro is an on-line double-conversion UPS that can be used to provide high levels of resilience and protection for a number of applications such as critical servers, IT systems and large fish tanks!

Leo Craig, general manager, Riello UPS, said: “An aquarium might not be the typical operating environment for a Riello product but it is still a mission critical environment that requires a reliable UPS system.

“The fact that the Sentinel Pro 1000VA was selected for this project is testament to the product’s resiliency, energy efficiency and of course, versatility.”

The benefits

This type of UPS is well suited for applications where electrical isolation may be necessary or for equipment that is very sensitive to power fluctuations. One of the main advantages with an on-line UPS is its ability to provide an electrical firewall between the incoming mains power and sensitive electronic equipment such as aquatic pumps, heaters and lighting.

The small-sized desktop UPS system can be discretely hidden away, maintaining the aesthetic look of the aquarium. It also has a built-in mimic panel with an LCD display to show input and output voltages, and battery charge status.

The UPS is able to keep filtration devices, lights and heaters running, and allow essential information about the condition of the aquarium to be relayed from the aquatic computer to the owner via email alerts.

The UPS system allows peace of mind for the customer, allowing the carefully balanced eco-system inside the aquarium to continue to thrive in the event of a power cut, while avoiding the potential loss of thousands of pounds of livestock.

The client’s perspective

Chris Granger, aquatic designer for Aquacision said:

“Maintaining the right conditions in a tank of this size can be complicated and involves a certain amount of alchemy! There can be significant risks involved if a reliable source of power isn’t maintained. The financial loss can extend into thousands of pounds while the damage caused to a closed eco-system such as this can often be catastrophic and undo years of work.

“This UPS system will help ensure lighting, filtration, water temperature and oxygen saturation are maintained at optimum levels in the event of a power outage, and remote communications are provided via an aquatic computer system.

“UPS Systems provided us with excellent service and technical advice. This allowed us to make an informed decision as to which UPS system would provide essential life support for the aquarium, while meeting our client’s needs.”