March 2010 FAMA Editor's Note
Power Down Your Reef
Every so often an author presents an article to FAMA that truly captures the mood of the times. In this issue, Scott Vallembois’ article “Fight Your Reef’s Power Meter,” is just such an article. Bonus>>
Vallembois begins by noting: “For many aquarists, the monthly electricity bill is the greatest ongoing expense to maintaining their tank, especially for those with reefs. There is a large attrition of reefkeepers every year due to power costs.”
Truer words were never put to paper. Let’s face it — with the economy the way it is, many are having to make difficult sacrifices. For some, this means cutting back on, or perhaps even leaving, the hobby they love.
Vallembois doesn’t present a bunch of “you should ofs,” but rather offers a bunch of practical actions to help budget-conscious, cash-strapped reefers reduce their monthly energy usage and the subsequent costs of maintaining it.
He stresses sound energy planning prior to even setting up a reef system. Like nutritional labels on food packaging, most energy-using devices have labels that tell potential purchasers a device’s wattage consumption. From there, some basic formulas help to determine how much a device costs to run per hour, day, week, month and year. Some of our aquarium devices, such as pumps, remain on 24/7, 365 days a year. That’s a lot of wattage the average reef aquarist is paying for.
Before buying any aquarium equipment, ask yourself if you really need it. Vallembois stresses smart research, layout and purchases be employed during the set-up process. If you have an existing system, you might want to look at how much energy it is currently using every month and then find ways to make the system more energy efficient and thus less expensive to operate and maintain.
After reading “Fight Your Reef’s Power Meter,” you might try and set up a “Great Recession” reef tank. This “style” of reef tank relies on a reduced tank size; small powerheads rather than larger pumps; T5 fluorescent lighting with electronic ballasts; reliance on evaporative cooling (no tight-fitting lids); small cooling fans; a small, energy-efficient protein skimmer; low-light corals and some reef-safe fishes.
So power down and enjoy the satisfaction of making your reef more energy efficient and less costly. This is one of the big challenges facing 21st century aquarists.