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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey All -

This is actually Michelle's husband Steve.

I have a question. So, this morning Michelle asked me to fix a pump in the tank, the minute I put my finger in the tank I was zapped!:eek: I have been zapped by my tank before, but this morning I was actually thrown backwards into the wall. I unplugged both heaters and replaced them with a backup we have. Wasn't zapped again..... so here is the questions...

1) Geting zapped by the fishtank *****. Who here agrees?
2) Do you think it was the heaters? How often does a heater go bad like that?
3) I had to pull our grounding probe from the tank last night because the probe corroded off. Do you think the probe would have prevented it?
4) Final question, if a 190 lb man is thrown backwards from the tank by the zap he got, how in the hell are all my fish still alive?
 

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no clue as to what could have caused it, however I think I would get a new heater ever 1.5 years anyway... You may want to check the casing on your pumps also. if the heater is glass it's most likely from that, but I would think you may have a heat issues or lack of a heat issue for that matter.


Either way, I would test all the equipment in a smaller tank, instead of using your hand perhaps a volt meter...
 

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Well from what you say you replaced the heaters and no more shock...so I'd get each heater in a seperate bucket and test with a voltage meeter to see which is the problem, if neither gives voltage then start testing the other components in the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Doh...

Yeah - I am picking up a multimeter today and a new ground probe. I will have to ask my father-in-law about the GFI question.

What about the fish? How come they are not all floating upside down?
 

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To answer your other question, the fish are not being "zapped" because they provide no path to a ground for the electricity to take. You, unfortunately, did.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ok.. so please pardon my ignorance here. I was an English Lit major in undergrad and education administration for grad school and beyond. Science is NOT my thing. That disclaimner said, do I understand it correctly that if had been standing on a plastic bucket or had rubber soled shoes on I wouldn't have been zapped? I was standing barefoot on the floor in the back room.
 

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if had been standing on a plastic bucket or had rubber soled shoes on I wouldn't have been zapped? I was standing barefoot on the floor in the back room.
As tszetela said, that is true in theory and usually in practice. I had a tank in my basement that had a problem with a light. I usually wear rubber sandals down there. This time I happened to go in bare feet (on damp concrete floor), put some metal planting tongs in the water and BAM! GFI tripped, tongs went flying out of my hand, and I felt a little twinge in my arm. Without the GFI, I probably would have been whimpering on the floor - or worse.

Rubber shoes aren't a good replacement for saftey features like a GFI, etc., but they do often keep you from getting shocked. I've noticed many times I can have a hand in the water when I'm wearing tennis shoes and there's no shock until I touch my hand to another object that is grounded, then I get nailed.

Isn't it fun to have a hobby that involves water (with salt in it, no less) and lots of electricity?!?!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Kirbster said:
Isn't it fun to have a hobby that involves water (with salt in it, no less) and lots of electricity?!?!
Being thrown into the wall from electrocution at 7:10 in the morning is not my idea of fun.

Sure, there may have been a day in college where I would have paid for such abuse, but those those have since passed. -devil
 

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Get rid of your grounding probes. Those are actually no good for reeftanks. Its a common misconception that they help "remove stray voltage" from the tank. They can actually do the opposite. There's a good article about this somewhere, I'll try to look for it and post it for you.
As far as what's shocking you, you probably have a bad pump somewhere. I'd pull them off line one at a time until you figure out which one it is. Wouldn't hurt to go ahead and buy a brand new heater just in case too.
Also, as mentioned above, GFCI's are an absolute MUST HAVE for any electrical outlet near a source of water. Its very dangerous to run your tank with out one. Good luck!
 

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"The phenomenon that we aquarists refer to as stray voltage is actually capacitive coupling; the so-called cure of using a grounding probe actually causes the effect to occur. The abbreviated description of this occurrence is that any electrical device in an aquarium, be that of a heater, pump, etc., acts as a resistor. These are sealed in plastic, glass, or some other nonconductive material, in electrical terms - an insulator. Once the aquarist places a ground probe in the water, another resistor is created by completing the circuit and turning the water into a second resistor. Two resistors separated by an insulator is capacitive coupling and this allows electrons to flow out of the tank through the ground probe. The point being, without the ground probe, the circuit is not completed and no charges flow."

The above quote is from an article in reefkeeping magazine. Just search for stray voltage to find it.
 

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hatfielj said:
"The phenomenon that we aquarists refer to as stray voltage is actually capacitive coupling; the so-called cure of using a grounding probe actually causes the effect to occur. The abbreviated description of this occurrence is that any electrical device in an aquarium, be that of a heater, pump, etc., acts as a resistor. These are sealed in plastic, glass, or some other nonconductive material, in electrical terms - an insulator. Once the aquarist places a ground probe in the water, another resistor is created by completing the circuit and turning the water into a second resistor. Two resistors separated by an insulator is capacitive coupling and this allows electrons to flow out of the tank through the ground probe. The point being, without the ground probe, the circuit is not completed and no charges flow."

The above quote is from an article in reefkeeping magazine. Just search for stray voltage to find it.
He had removed the grounding probe before this incident happened.

I've been zapped by aquariums with grounding probes and without grounding probes.
 

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so.... all in all, grounding probes are useless?

"The phenomenon that we aquarists refer to as stray voltage is actually capacitive coupling; the so-called cure of using a grounding probe actually causes the effect to occur. The abbreviated description of this occurrence is that any electrical device in an aquarium, be that of a heater, pump, etc., acts as a resistor. These are sealed in plastic, glass, or some other nonconductive material, in electrical terms - an insulator. Once the aquarist places a ground probe in the water, another resistor is created by completing the circuit and turning the water into a second resistor. Two resistors separated by an insulator is capacitive coupling and this allows electrons to flow out of the tank through the ground probe. The point being, without the ground probe, the circuit is not completed and no charges flow."

The above quote is from an article in reefkeeping magazine. Just search for stray voltage to find it.
Dave said:
He had removed the grounding probe before this incident happened.

I've been zapped by aquariums with grounding probes and without grounding probes.
 

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I think what Dave is saying is, that even if you have a pump that may be leaking some voltage, it will not complete the circuit until the grounding probe or something else completes the circuit. The something else could be your hand. The article is stating that by inserting the grounding probe, you will not (or should not) be shocked, but because you created a path for the elctricity to flow it will flow. It makes sense to me.
 

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jmuscat2 said:
I think what Dave is saying is, that even if you have a pump that may be leaking some voltage, it will not complete the circuit until the grounding probe or something else completes the circuit. The something else could be your hand. The article is stating that by inserting the grounding probe, you will not (or should not) be shocked, but because you created a path for the elctricity to flow it will flow. It makes sense to me.
Frankly, I'm not an electrician...I can only speak from my personal experience.

I've tested aquariums for "stray voltage" more times than I can count. Most aquariums that had been set up for some time and did not have a grounding probe had some measurable voltage when tested with a multimeter - usually four to ten volts (unless you've got a Rio :rolleyes: ).

A grounding probe usually reduced that to well under a volt. At the same time, if a piece of equipment is leaking current into the aquarium (most common seem to be a poorly-sealed pump or a cracked glass tube on a heater), grounding probes didn't keep me from being shocked...so, does the probe help? I don't know.

I do know that if that device is on a properly working GFCI circuit, power should be cut almost instantly if you're shocked...which is a good thing - I've had to hit coworkers with a 2x4 to get their hands out of aquariums that weren't protected by a GFCI.
 
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