Seawater Bath At Midnight!

My wife and I arrived home quite tired after a great day out. We watched some TV and then went to bed.

It is unusual, particularly for my wife, for us to go to sleep straightaway as we are bedtime readers. My wife eats books and reads until the early hours, I tend to get through a few pages before the book hits the floor as I fall asleep.

About an hour on – I realized the time lapse later – my wife shook me awake. I’ll call it awake anyway, more like an eyes partly open stupor.

My wife told me she could hear a peculiar noise outside. Assuming quite understandably that she meant outside the house I replied that it would probably be a cat, or a dog, or something, generally showing a lack of interest.

I was advised that I was wrong. Well, I’m used to that, it seems I sometimes am to the female boss. Apparently the noise was outside the bedroom, not outside the house. Ok, replied I, still not particularly concerned. I mean, sleep is important isn’t it. Our floor upstairs tends to creak when there’s a temperature change anyway. I suggested it wouldn’t be anything important.

My wife got out of bed at this point and went to have a look. Must be concerned I thought. Still didn’t vacate a very warm and comfortable bed though.

Then I got shaken again, to be advised that the problem was the water. Never one to be slow on the uptake, I repeated the word ‘water’. It was then confirmed that yes indeed it was water. In fact it was my aquarium water.

Aquarium water! My eyes opened fully, probably staring in an uncomprehending way.

My wife said there was a fountain of aquarium water shooting up in the air and the hall carpet had been soaked, the information sounding like a news disaster report.

Now there was action! Aquarium water shooting out of the aquarium, what on earth was this? Out of bed I came like a greyhound. Salt water was spouting out of the aquarium in a small arc as though emitted from a hosepipe, rising about 9 inches into the air before landing on the carpet, which was really soaked over quite a wide area.

I was on my knees in an instant checking the seawater level which had fallen significantly but not enough to cause major trouble. Immediate action was needed to stop the pump causing the seawater loss. The seawater was running down the front of the aquarium and the aquarium sits on a stand which is enclosed except for front opening doors. The plugs to all the equipment were behind the doors at the back of the cabinet. Only one thing for it, open the doors and pull the plug out. So I did. At this point I could hear my wife’s laughter, she was standing behind observing the picture of me kneeling in front of the aquarium with seawater pouring onto my back. It must have looked as though this aquarist had finally lost the last marble and decided on some fun.

It took a long time to dry the carpet out as far as possible using as many dry towels and similar items that we could find. Thankfully after about a week the carpet dried without marks. Good job as well, it had only been fitted a short time before.

The cause of the problem was very clear when an examination was made. The problem was me, pure and simple. The powerhead in question had a short outlet pipe as is normal and onto this some flexible tubing had been fitted. However, the piece of equipment the powerhead was feeding fitted a larger diameter tube. The solution at the time was to push the smaller tube into the larger one as it seemed a tight enough fit. When tested there seemed nothing amiss.

The joint must have been coming apart slowly for a few months; the problem occurred about 5 months after the aquarium started up. The joint was checked after the first week or so and then left.

After the problem I fitted a plastic reduction joint that I found at the local garden centre, it was actually intended for pond use. The tubes were now properly fitted and haven’t given any trouble since. The incident was around 5½ years ago.

So it was clearly my own fault, the joint should have been fitted in the first place. I also assumed all would be well, this was wrong. We learn by our mistakes. Don’t assume.

In retrospect I was pleased an electrical safety trip had been fitted.

And a big thanks to my wife!

1 Comment
  1. lol, i went through something very similar this weekend

    Chriss last blog post..Jenny’s 3g Pico thread

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