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The Gulf of Mexico Oil Disaster

The Gulf of Mexico oil disaster: how it affects aquarists and how they can help.

By 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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Reader Comments

Dave    Plymouth, MS

7/15/2010 9:38:29 AM

Your article wasn't far from the truth but the amount of oil flooding into the gulf each day can only be described as being on a par with the Chernobyl disaster of the Ukraine.
There is a promise by BP to quore clean up but this is impossible as the amount of oil is to great to do this.
The Gulf of Mexico will be a dead area devoide of marine life perhaps for ever.
I feel that the President being the most powerful man in the world sets in motion a move away from oil and the motor car to something that is much cleaner and kinder to the enviroment but to do this he must stand up against the oil industry ( a very powerful idustry and force them into submission then order them with there mega trillions of Dollars profit to come up with a way out of this mess.
And eave a world that is fit enough for our children and our childrens children to live in!!!.......... I also feel that the internet will be a powerful tool against the Oil industry by outing any mistakes it makes in the future.
My message to the oil industy is the the world is watching you and will be from now on.

Dave    Saint Louis, MO

7/15/2010 9:34:05 AM

Excellent article, and some great tips. Thank you FishChannel for publishing this article. I have been outraged since the spill occured way back in April, and the effects it has already had on the marine and wildlife. Lately, I have been looking at my fish and think "how lucky you are. you have clean water, food and safety here." Mankind is destroying the natural beauty of this earth, and will be our demise. I think all fishkeepers are special people who appreciate all thinks wild.

vince    exeter, ON

7/15/2010 9:21:18 AM

humanities greed will be the destroyer of everything of beauty on this planet and if we dont realize this soon and take drastic measures we will end up being our own destroyers as well!

Vio    Pasadena, CA

7/10/2010 7:23:26 PM

great article. kudos to fishchannel for covering this. this is the saddest thing happening right now. we are all enraged and need to be outraged.

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