NANFA-- Electricity and thinking aloud...

Todd Crail (
Thu, 26 Jun 2003 12:56:42 -0400

Okay. Everybody's down in the basement, and in good time too. The house
upstairs has been up to 87 degrees the last couple days and the systems have
enjoyed only a slow rise into the mid 70's. It's also SERIOUSLY cool to be
able to sit in one place and watch all 3 tanks, have food and supplies all
in one place... Basically, if you have the means, it comes highly
recommended :)

However, because so many things have changed at once, troubleshooting has
been difficult...

Basically, because something _did_ change.

I was minorly concerned when I began noticing a little bit of ectoparasites
come and go on the fish in the first 75 gallon to go down there. We played
with aeration, it went away... It came back, I tested Nitrogen culprits and
all that rot. Nothing... I fed heavy and it went away and comes back every
couple days, feed heavy, rinse and repeat. That was with bulletproof fish
like Pumpkinseeds.

With the consequent moves of the 75 rainbowfish and 30 natives, I'm seeing
similar effects on those animals. A little bit o' ich here and there on the
rainbows... Less than usual color on the natives. Southern Red-Bellied and
Red-Side Dace look really rough. Again, no nitrogen culprits, pH normal
range. So there was zero change from the move. If anything, due to
waterchanges, things were better in the NO3 land of hate.

I'm running Dissolved Oxygen tests right now with a lab grade probe. The 30
gallon is the most heavily stocked per gallon of the systems. At the end of
the photoperiod last night, the DO2 was at 6.0 ppm, this morning after 11
hours of darkness, 5.2 ppm. Nothing to scream and shout about there. I may
try and stabalize this later, but we'll tinker after the current issues are
solved. I just began on the 75 native tank... 5.5 ppm after 11.5 hours of
darkness. With the overhead lights turned on, it began to raise. I was
amazed that such little photo-stimulation could have that much of an effect.
Pretty neat, working as designed. I expect to see it raise to the 6.0+ ppm
range and also find the same in the 75 rainbow tank.

So back to my good friend electricity.

_I_ did the wiring in the entire basement ;) My uncle, who is an
electrician, is coming to verify my work on Monday. But if I could solve
these guy's environmental issues prior to his visit, that'd be great. What
I'm concerned about is that I do not have my lines at ground.

First question: Are iron support I-beams typically used as the earth ground
for a house?

If I connect from the tank to the I-beam with a multimeter... I get about 50
volts (which would shock the snot out of about anything) in each tank.
However, I'm not sure which way the current is going. If there's stray
voltage on the I-beam from other circuits, well, that sucks to send into the

If I connect to a metal object (like a strip light frame) from the tank, I
find about 7 volts in each tank. However, I'm suspicious that since these
objects are plugged into the same circuit I worked on, that the voltage is
just fluttering off into some nebulous void, or more specifically, not
getting removed from the tank. Not a good ground, and possibly only pulling
7 vots off the 50 that are really in the tank.

I don't get _anything_ at all if I connect to the metal conduit, but I think
that's by design :)

Second question: Can a false ground be created by screwing in a metal
object (like a heat sink for a vho ballast) into unconnected wood on the
frame of the house?

What I'm thinking of doing is braving the heat of the attic (it was about
150 last time I went up there yuck!) and dragging these heat sinks out. I'd
rather have them electrifyed than my fish and can just connect my grounding
probes using copper braid to these things. They have nice screw holes and
all that wrot, so I think they'll work... But I wanted to really think this
out before I dehydrated myself in 20 seconds or less lol.

I'm 95% sure it's electricity. But I wanted to type all this out so it
would be clear in my mind what's doing what... And possibly run into someone
else's thoughts as they would be very appreciated to be voiced :)


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and not impaired, in value."
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