Re:grounding probe

Pete Giwojna

Dear John:

Naw, not at all. You don’t need to be an electrician to install a grounding probe, sir — you just need to make sure that they’re plugged into a functioning grounded outlet. A simple way to determine if an electrical outlet is grounded is to see if it will accept 3-pronged plugs; if so, it’s grounded, and would be a good place to connect your grounding probe. (I’m not sure what your instructions are referring to when they specify that you need a licensed electrician to connect the grounding probe, but I suspect Brad is correct — they are most likely just being overprotective and ultra-cautious to make sure their butts are covered legally, like the warning on the box of Q-tips that instructs you NOT to insert them in your ears. Or the directions could be indicating that, if there is not a grounded outlet within reach of your aquarium, then you’ll need to have an electrician install a new grounded outlet that the titanium grounding probe can be plugged into or connected to…)

A titanium grounding probe is a simple device designed to protect your fish from stray electrical voltage and to protect the aquarist from electrical accidents when working on the tank. They are very simple to use, John — on most models, one end consists of a slender metal probe, made of titanium, which is inserted into the aquarium so that it’s in contact with the aquarium water. The titanium probe can be mounted in the main tank, or the sump for the aquarium, or within an external filter — anywhere that it will come in contact with the aquarium water. The other end consists of a three-pronged plug, which you plug into any suitable nearby electrical outlet, which will effectively "ground" the aquarium, preventing stray voltage from stressing the aquarium inhabitants and helping to prevent the aquarist from electrocution, which can happen all too easily when working around an aquarium. For instance, many hobbyists have had the experience of dropping the light fixture or aquarium reflector into the aquarium while it was turned on; many times your first instinct in such an event is to immediately grab the aquarium light fixture out of the water, in order to prevent harm to the fish and the aquarium inhabitants and to save the aquarium light from damage. This can be a fatal instinct that results in electrocution if the aquarium is not grounded.

So a titanium grounding probe is not necessary for the operation of an aquarium, but I wouldn’t maintain a tank without one. They are inexpensive and they can be lifesavers both for your fish and for your family. Installing a grounding probe will protect your seahorses and other wet pets from stray voltage and should also safeguard them electrocution in the event of a catastrophic heater failure or similar accident..

But the best way to protect you and your loved ones from electrical accidents around the fish room, John, is to make sure all the outlets are equipped with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters. And it’s a good idea to make sure all your electrical equipment is plugged into a surge protector as well to further protect your expensive pumps, filters, heaters, etc. from damage. Some good surge protectors, such as the Shock Busters, come with a GFCI built right into them so you can kill two birds with one stone.

Best wishes with all your fishes, sir!

Pete Giwojna

Post edited by: Pete Giwojna, at: 2011/02/05 05:45

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