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Why you need an aquarium drip loop

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Undoubtedly, if you are looking to buy a beautiful new aquarium, you will know that you will have to buy various electrical devices for it. No matter the size of the tank, you need a filtration system. If you want to keep tropical fish, you need a heater. And to provide plenty of oxygen to your fish, you may also want to install an air bubble.

Obviously, electricity and water don’t make bedfellows happy, and unfortunately accidents happen. This is why you need to know what a drip loop is and how to install one.

In order to keep you, your family and your fish safe, we have compiled this guide to drip loops. You’re welcome!

Electrical equipment for your aquarium

No matter what type of fish you keep, you will need a variety of electrical appliances, as well as an aquarium.

Cold water and tropical fish species need clean water to stay happy and thrive, no matter the size of an aquarium. This is why you need an efficient filtration system.

Tropical fish live in warm water, so unless you have a filtration system that includes a built-in heater, you will need a heater for your tank. If you live in a very hot climate or an area where the summers are extremely warm, you may need a cooler to keep the water temperature within acceptable parameters for your fish.

Most aquarium starter kits come with lights. If not, you will need to purchase a lighting unit so that you can see your fish and grow live plants if you want.

An optional extra that is of great use to species that need well-oxygenated water, such as goldfish, is an air stone or bubble. Air bubbles are powered by a small pump that you purchase separately.

Stay safe

Now the entire electrical kit must be plugged into a wall socket right next to a water-filled aquarium, and that is a clear and present danger!

Many aquarium and electricity accidents happen when water from the aquarium enters the power supply. This can short out the power supply and potentially kill your fish or cause you to receive a massive electric shock if you touch the tank or wall socket.

Setting up a drip loop is a very effective way to ensure the safe operation of the electrical kit that surrounds your aquarium and is recommended by all aquarium equipment manufacturers. What is a drip loop, why do you need one, and how do you set up a drip loop?

What is an aquarium drip loop?

Drip loops are simple devices used to prevent water from entering electrical outlets near your aquarium. A drip loop allows the electrical cable to hang down in a downward loop and then return to the socket.

The premise of a drip loop is simple. Water is relatively heavy and therefore always flows downwards. In the case of your power cord, any water splashing from the fsh tank will run directly through the cord into the device that the wall outlet is plugged into and could be catastrophic.

How to make an aquarium drip loop

Creating a drip loop is super easy. You may even find that you’ve created a drip loop for your aquarium’s electrical equipment without realizing it!

Do you need to create a drip loop?

Basically, you’ve created a drip loop, as long as your power cord is long enough to fall under the outlet it’s plugged into and then come back up. When your electrical wires are all long enough to form drop loops below You don’t have to do anything with the sockets.

A word of warning …

If you use an air bubble, the pump is must be above the waterline. If the pump fails and is below the water line, there is a risk of water flowing from the tank, the airline into the pump and possibly shorting out before the water even reaches the outlet.

Most small pumps have loops in their case that allow you to attach the pump to the wall above your aquarium. From personal experience, I would advise anyone considering adding an air bubble to their setup to take advantage of these fastening loops!

Make a drip loop

Remember that the water always flows downhill to the lowest point of gravity. If your cables run directly from the aquarium to the plug in the socket, leaking water flows directly through the cable into the socket. If your aquarium equipment cables are not long enough to form a loop, you will need to use an extension cord.

To make sure the cable stays securely looped, attach a cable clip to the wall just below the socket and feed the wire through. Should water run over the power cord, it will surely drip from the lowest point of the cord instead of flowing into the socket.

Residual current circuit breaker (GFCI)

Another way to make sure your setup is safe is to use an RCD. A residual current circuit breaker monitors the amount of electrical current flowing from hot to neutral poles in the socket. If an imbalance in these levels is detected, the circuit trips and the flow of current is interrupted.

The residual current circuit breaker is oversensitive and can detect an imbalance of only five milliamperes. This shuts off electrical power in a split second, keeping you safe and avoiding the risk of electric shock. Chances are you already have RCDs in your bathroom and kitchen, but any standard electrical outlet can be upgraded. You can also buy residual current devices and socket strips.

Use an extension cord

If you need to use an extension cord and it is on the floor or hanging behind the tank, tie the power cords to create a loop in front of the plugs that plug into the extension cord. You also have the option to use cable clips, which are inexpensive and can be used to secure the cables to the wall above and behind the tank.


In this section of our guide to drip loops, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions aquarists have about power outages and the potential impact on an aquarium and its residents.

What happens to your aquarium if the power goes out?

The impact of a power outage on an aquarium depends on a variety of factors and varies from tank to tank. In general, large tanks withstand the lack of heat and filtration better than smaller structures.

If necessary, keep the tank warm by wrapping it in a blanket or bubble wrap. Typically, the tank should be fine for up to 24 hours to give you enough time to power up your electrical components. After a long period of time the filtration system has not worked, it is a good idea to perform a partial water change.

Will your fish die if the filter and heater fail?

Unless your home is particularly cold and you lose your heating for more than 24 hours, most tropical fish should be fine. When reheating the water, be careful not to do this too quickly, otherwise there is a risk of your fish experiencing a temperature shock.

Unless the tank was particularly dirty at all, your unfiltered fish shouldn’t suffer too much for a day or so. As a precaution, you can do a water change and test the water to make sure the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels don’t get too high.

How can I provide oxygen to the water if the pump fails?

Uniclife Aquarium Air Pump Battery Operated with Air Stone and Airline Tubing Portable Outdoor …

  • This portable battery operated air pump can be used for aquariums or outdoor aeration up to 30 gallons. Developed for fresh and salt water.
  • Pumping 2.6 l per min, pressure:> = 0.012 MPa; Package dimensions: 3 “W x 6” L x 1.8 “D. An air stone and 20” silicone airline hoses are inserted into the pump.
  • Reliable emergency air source in an emergency such as a power failure. The precision motor runs for about 40 hours on 2-D cell batteries (not included).

Did you know that you can buy battery operated air pumps for aquariums? Yes you can! And that can save your fish in the event of a power failure. You can also improvise a filtration system with one of these handy devices.

The bubbles that the air stone creates move the surface of the water and help provide oxygen for your fish. If you have a freshwater aquarium, remove the media from the filter and place it in a nylon media bag. If you don’t have one, clean tights will work just as well! Place the bag of filter media on the air stone. When water flows through the media it can work pretty well as a temporary filtration system until power is restored.

Battery-powered air pumps are only $ 10 and typically require two D-cell batteries. The running time of these pumps is between 10 and 30 hours, depending on the quality of the pump and the batteries used.

Final thoughts

Electricity and water don’t mix, but you can protect your aquarium and family by making sure a drip loop is in place to prevent leaks from leaking through the power cord and into the wall outlet.

If your energy goes down for a day or so, your fish should be fine. Do a partial water change to make sure the levels of harmful ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates in the water don’t get too high, and use a battery-powered pump to make your air stone bubble to keep the water oxygenated. If the tank cools down quickly, wrap the aquarium in a blanket or bubble wrap to ensure insulation and retain as much heat as possible.

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