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How To Earthquake Proof Fish Tanks

Updated on April 28, 2011

Being unfortunate enough to reside in a city that was struck by two significant (and one deadly) earthquakes in the past few months, and also being an avid fish keeper, I'm very aware of the damage that a significant quake can do to a tank. In the recent Christchurch quakes a great many fish keepers lost entire tanks worth of fish. Having a tank crack or fall isn't only tragic for the fish, but also exceptionally damaging to one's home, which may have withstood the earthquake well enough, but is now soaked and covered in dead fish.To avoid heart break and fiscal cost, it is an excellent idea to quake proof fish tanks if you live in a country where earthquakes are an issue.

The first, and most significant step you can take towards keeping your tanks safe in the event of an earthquake is to put them on the floor. This might sound silly or off-putting at first, but every single one of my fish survived the incredibly violent February 22 Christchurch earthquake even though our home was very close to the epicenter and damaged city center. We'd moved the tank onto the floor after the September quake, and I have no doubt that it saved not only our fish, but our carpets and floors as well. The water sloshed around a fair bit and we probably lost 50 or 60 liters, but the tank - and the fish, were safe. Fish tanks actually look quite nice on the floor and though they can't be observed at eye level quite as easily, they can usually be seen when one is sitting on a couch or in a similar location, and the fish seem quite happy to be on the floor.

Ensure that fish tank decor is secure. A lot of fish like rocks and caves and things, and these can move about in a quake. Precarious piles of rockery can cause damage to your fish by falling on them. This applies especially to species of fish that like to dig their own caves in the sand.

If you insist on keeping your tanks on stands, then they should be braced securely against a wall. There aren't many purpose built braces for this task, and they might look unsightly, so it could be a costly affair, but if you live in a quake prone area and you want to keep your tanks in one piece, it really is your only option (other than having them on the floor.) Custom built racking may also be an option if you're prepared to expend the money, and if you have a great many tanks.

Remove heavy items around the tank. Tanks aren't only at risk of falling over, they're also at risk of having things fall onto them. If you have heavy knick knacks and bookshelves and things, make sure they're not in a place where they're likely to come crashing down onto your tank.

In a severe quake power is likely to go out, so electrical appliances like heaters shouldn't be too much of an issue. If you are in a quake however, turn your tank heaters off. If they are cracked and broken when the power comes back on, you could be putting your life at risk. If you're worried about tropical fish getting cold, it might be possible to wrap the tank in blankets to keep heat in.

One hopes that you're never in a damaging earthquake, but a little bit of preparation can go a long way to ensuring the survival of your prized pets in such an event.


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