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WAMAS Waves v4

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Mixed Reef - Failure as a Design Consideration

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Chad

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We have all heard the stories. We at WAMAS Waves have told them in our last three issues of the Marine Disasters series. Tank catastrophes caused by a myriad of problems that led to the loss of thousands of dollars livestock, damage to equipment, damage to our homes, hits to our pride, and hasty exits from the hobby. It is a risk that we accept in order to have these serene creatures, vivid colors, and part of the ocean in our homes. Right? Wrong.Errors are a part of every human endeavor. We all make them every day. However, when you anticipate the consequences of those errors and make considerations regarding the outcome, you can greatly reduce or eliminate problems resulting from those errors and associated heartache. This quarter in the Mixed Reef, I am going to share my system design philosophy that has been forged by 23+ years of marine experience and tempered by my work as a nuclear safety and reliability engineer. This philosophy is a concept that I like to call the "dual failure reliability criterion." What does that mean? It means the system is protected after any one failure and it would take two failures before a problem becomes an issue.Protecting your reef and all you have put into it requires a little time, effort, and sometimes money. But with all of the time, effort, and sometimes a lot of money you have put into it. The expense is worthwhile.Now, how do you go about applying the dual failure reliability criterion to your reef? By asking questions: "What can fail?" "How can it fail?" "What happens if it fails?" "How likely is it to fail?" "What can prevent its failure?" and "What can prevent or mitigate the consequences of its failure?" Do this for each part you add to your system and you will surely identify things you can do that will make big improvements to your system resilience.With that, let's talk through a few examples.Starting simple: What can fail? The heater. When asking "What can fail?" the answer is always an object, rather than an action. Thinking about glass breaking, seals leaking, or overflows clogging focuses your actions more than addressing the end result of water on the floor.How can it fail? On. Off. Leaches chemicals into the water. Adds a voltage to the water. Start by avoiding the cause of the failure (case breaks and then leaches chemicals into the water) and focus on the failure itself. Once you are satisfied that you have identified how the part can fail, add paths to reach that failure. On

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