The Gulf of Mexico Oil Disaster
The Gulf of Mexico oil disaster: how it affects aquarists and how they can help.
Joshua Wiegert |
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There are two ways aquarists can help. The first is to not forget the people involved in this awful disaster. Once the oil is cleaned up, visit the Gulf Coast and bring your tourism dollars there. Secondly, we must decrease our dependency upon fossil fuels, including oil, natural gas and coal. The link between fossil fuel usage and global climate change is apparent. But, how can aquarists (or anyone else) help decrease our use of fossil fuels short of putting a solar panel on the roof?
Decrease your power usage. The aquarium, unfortunately, can be a veritable sinkhole of energy, especially among high-end aquariums. Decreasing the amount of energy used around the aquarium will have the added benefit of decreasing your power bills.
The number one energy gobbler around the aquarium is the aquarium light – many of us use several kilowatts of electricity per day just lighting the aquarium. Certainly shifting away from watt-hungry lighting systems to more efficient systems is a desirable thing, though it may be rather expensive. One of the simplest things aquarists can do is to ensure that all of that light energy is reaching the aquarium: clean your covers and replace bulbs regularly. Make sure that the reflector is well designed to drive light into the aquarium. Purchasing a model with a good, high-quality reflector (and keeping said reflector clean and shiny) means more light hitting the tank, and this means you have to use less light(s).
Many aquarists also waste a lot of energy on pumps. Complicated and inefficient plumbing can rob your pumps of head pressure, meaning you need more pump to do the same job. Make sure that the pump you initially purchase is sized for the job – and don't listen to the sales person telling you “more is better, you can always add a ball valve.” I can't believe how often I've seen a huge pump with a ball valve immediately after it, usually turned to half closed. Not only has the unfortunate aquarist had to spend more on the pump, more on the electric bills, but all that back pressure decreases the life of the pump. Further, bigger pumps create more heat – meaning the chiller must be on more.
When choosing a pump, also look at the wattage of the pump. If two pumps perform similarly, but one uses less electricity, you know which one you should pick. Keep in mind that for any device that runs all the time (like a pump), the cost of electricity per year is about $1.50 per watt (in the US anyhow. Multiply this number by how often a device is on for those that aren't constantly on: if you run your tank lights for eight hours a day, one third of a day, it'd cost you $0.50 per watt). If a pump uses 10 watts less electricity than another model, it'll save you about $15 a year. Also keep in mind that lower wattage units will generate less heat, which will mean fewer repairs. In general – in general! – a lower wattage, more efficient device is better made. 10 Power Saving Tips>>
Decreasing your electrical use around the aquarium, as well as the rest of the house, will greatly reduce your electrical bills, giving you more money to spend on fish anyhow. Plus, it'll lower your “carbon footprint,” decreasing overall demand for fossil fuels. Lowered demand may just mean that the next disaster is a little further off. Previous Page>>
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The Gulf of Mexico Oil Disaster