When we design and operate our aquariums, it seems like we put a ton of thought into almost every aspect- proper filtration, lighting, dosing regimens, stocking, aquascape concept, etc.
We build in all of the things that we feel are necessary for operation of our tank. However, we often fail to build in redundancies or develop "safeguards" to get us through problem situations. For example, a lot of us use canister filters, powerhead, and heaters in our systems. Although most of the ones we incorporate are thoughtfully designed, well-engineered, and generally quite reliable, they do fail now and again. And when they fail, it's almost always: a) At the start of a holiday weekend, b) in the middle of the night, c) during a period of inclement weather, when it's hard to get out of the house d) on the Monday morning after you've returned from vacation, or e) when your credit card is maxed out because of "that other household expense" (whatever that might be.
So these scenarios beg the question, why not create these redundancies or safeguards when we conceive and design the aquarium? Yes, it cost a little extra to have the extra heater on hand, the extra impeller for the canister, or that extra pack of activated carbon, but these items can literally save your tank in the event of a failure. Besides, you're already outlaying the cash...I know that it seems like an incidental thing, and that this column is a waste of bandwidth discussing the obvious, but you'd be surprised just how many hobbyists simply give no thought to this stuff! It's easy to do when stuff is humming along and the tank is doing great. It's for that 1% of the time when stuff goes wrong. And it usually goes really wrong! We've all had friends call us in near panic looking for that "one thing" they need when the filter breaks on the tank that houses their pricy Discus, or whatever, so this is not an impossibly rare occurrence.
At the very least, you can start by creating something like what I've called my "Go kit", which includes stuff like an extra impeller shaft and O-ring for my Ehiem, a couple of Poly Filter pads, silicon sealant, "Rescue Tape", a couple of spare towels, an anti-parasitic dip, an air pump (battery powered) and airstone, some extra return tubing, and a few other essentials that you never seem to have on hand when you really need them! It's a good start towards a more comprehensive "dream kit", that would ultimately include stuff like a spare heater, full media recharge, and even an extra filter and/or powerhead.
This is not "rocket science", nor is this revolutionary thinking. Smart hobbyists have been doing this for years. It's just something that, in the grand scheme of dealing with a new batch of Apisto fry, getting your aquascape ready for a photo shoot, or just enjoying, we seem to put off. Most of us have all of the stuff we need for the most common emergencies on hand...but it's seldom aggregated in one convenient place that we can go to for when disaster strikes. My friends who have fish rooms are the best example of this. Many have everything you'd ever need on hand to cope with most everything...but it's scattered in multiple shelves, boxes, cabinets, and closets throughout the fish room, meaning that, when you need to grab it quickly, you're running around in a near panic after breaking your glass "Lily Pipe" for the fourth time, trying to remember where you put that extra Ehiem intake that you know you have....
So, this weekend, take a few minutes and aggregate all the stuff you might need when the unmentionable happens...and at least be ready to create a meaningful "first response." Like insurance, it's not our favorite expense, or even something that we like to think about...However, when things go south, you will not regret the small amount of time and energy you put into preparing!
Totally obvious. Totally easy to overlook. Totally worth it.
A quick and easy reminder of something you can do right now to make your fish geek life that much easier.
Stay prepared. Stay vigilant. Stay calm.
...And Stay Wet.