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Officer Tang
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all,

I just got finished reading about the famous "Peter's 1350 gal fish tank" and how a seam burst back in march leading to all the water on his floor and only 10% of livestock being saved. I have a 300 gallon glass marineland tank that is about 4 years old, and the thought of it having a catastrophic failure almost made me sick, literally.

what are some best practices to avoid having a failure like this? should the tank be replaced every certain number of years? should you alternate the location of powerheads and pumps? is there something to look for to detect if such a failure is likely in the near future?

thanks for any advice. I dont know why, but after reading about his experience I suddenly feel like my tank could burst at any moment!
 

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Okay well first of all his tank was an acrylic tank, so there are some different rules that they apply to.. which I'll get into.

Okay if you really don't want to have a tank failure, one of the best things to do is to not have a massive tank! :funny: The larger the tank gets, the more pressure there is on the walls and joints. This is why you see most extremely large tanks built largely out of concrete, with only the main viewing panel made out of glass / acrylic (Usually acrylic). But still why do smaller tanks still sometimes fail?

That has to do with the seals. The most common way a tank fails is through the seal, particularly with glass aquariums since they are just pieces of glass wedged together and have silicone applied with a plastic wedge to keep everything straight and held together. Old tanks can have the silicone wear out over time, and a small leak develop , which if left untreated, can grow an eventually lead to the tank to fail completely. But usually the leak is spotted well in advance of a catastrophic failure, and you can make the necessary arrangements to get a new tank.

Acrylic tanks do not have silicone. Instead each molded piece is bonded to each other through a glue, and forms a very strong chemical bond which usually don't wear out. But sometimes they do from the sheets warping, but again a seal leak usually can be fixed quickly without a tank failure.

The worst way and most devastating way a tank can fail is a blow out. This is when too much pressure is applied on a pane, and the whole thing fails. When you get a tank, you will notice the edge around a glass tank include a large brace in the middle, or in the case of acrylic, its built into the tank itself. This is because when a tank is filled with water, the pressure of the water spreads out to the panes of glass, and pushes them out. You will notice a slight bow if you look parallel to a pane, but it would be much more without the brace on. If you notice a very large bow coming out, or cracks along the bracing, you need to replace the tank or frame immediately. Cracks can develop from the age of the tank, or things like the heat of Metal Halides weakening the materials, making them prone to give way to the pressure of the water.

You also need to make sure the thickness of the material can handle the tank. Most name brand tanks are well engineered and you shouldn't have to worry about it, but custom tanks must be carefully planned to make sure they are safe.

This is what I think happened to Peter's tank. The intense lighting, combined with poor engineering of a custom tank, and maybe poor quality construction, weakened the acrylic, causing it to give way to the enormous pressure of the water.

Don't let all of this discourage you though! tank failures are not very common, and can usually be prevented if you look for the signs.. cracks, water leaks, heavy bowing of glass / acrylic, etc. Also try to keep your rock work off the glass as this can increase pressure in specific points, and increase your chances of a failure. Try to spread out the weight by using PVC or other methods. to lift it off the glass.


Hope I have answered your question!
 

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Hydro-Dynamic
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13,149 Posts
The #1 reason a manufacturer voids a warranty is from not using their stand.

Doesn't mean their stand is less apt to cause a failure, nor does it mean
their stand is superior by any stretch of the imagination.
It means not just any Joe blow can frame and skin a stand
level, and capable, so they turn out typically a cheap but capable stand
which at least they know there is some congruity or consistency.

What David said is all major reasons for leaks and blow outs
but the stand is equally involved as well as the flooring sub flooring
and framing. When a manufacturers stand is used, it at least removes
one of the ingredients in their mind from the mix.
It is possible too, that a low quality manufacturers stand, gives with
flooring changes or inconsistencies better than a robust stand.

I had an All Glas 90 suddenly, un expectantly pop the front pane
diagonally for the entire length top to bottom. It was on a metal restaurant stand.
 

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Officer Tang
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
well thanks for the information. I checked the "levelness" of my tank last night (probably better to have done this before it is all set up) but it was very level nevertheless. I'm going to do a better job of checking for small leaks on a weekly basis, and other than that I guess it sounds like I just need to hope for the best. I've already moved this particular tank twice, and when I move again in a few months I think I'm going to replace the tank and stand with a new one. I'm sure each move slightly weakens the structural integrity of the tank. I know it's not cheap to replace, but cheaper than destroying an entire system and surrounding area of the property.
 

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The #1 reason a manufacturer voids a warranty is from not using their stand.

Doesn't mean their stand is less apt to cause a failure, nor does it mean
their stand is superior by any stretch of the imagination.
It means not just any Joe blow can frame and skin a stand
level, and capable, so they turn out typically a cheap but capable stand
which at least they know there is some congruity or consistency.

What David said is all major reasons for leaks and blow outs
but the stand is equally involved as well as the flooring sub flooring
and framing. When a manufacturers stand is used, it at least removes
one of the ingredients in their mind from the mix.
It is possible too, that a low quality manufacturers stand, gives with
flooring changes or inconsistencies better than a robust stand.

I had an All Glas 90 suddenly, un expectantly pop the front pane
diagonally for the entire length top to bottom. It was on a metal restaurant stand.
Good thinking! Completely forgot about the stand / floor factor. Making sure that is well built and level and flooring can support the weight is SUPER important!

well thanks for the information. I checked the "levelness" of my tank last night (probably better to have done this before it is all set up) but it was very level nevertheless. I'm going to do a better job of checking for small leaks on a weekly basis, and other than that I guess it sounds like I just need to hope for the best. I've already moved this particular tank twice, and when I move again in a few months I think I'm going to replace the tank and stand with a new one. I'm sure each move slightly weakens the structural integrity of the tank. I know it's not cheap to replace, but cheaper than destroying an entire system and surrounding area of the property.
You're right that is certainly not cheap, but if you are willing to spend the money, that is a good move.
 

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I'd love to get a rimless glass tank,
but can't help but cower away from a braceless setup.
+1 to that. Rimless tanks look so cool, and I get that they usually made from even thicker glass, and what not... but braces just give you such a nice peace of mind .

Funny story actually. I worked at my LFS for around 3 years before I left for college, and in there, one of the main displays was a 1,200 gallon tank (20' long, 4' tall, 2' wide) with 4, 1000w halides over the top. Well, One day I was up there feeding and I noticed on one of the main braces (acrylic, so part of the tank) there was a huge crack nearly all the way through the brace. Well long story short I end up inside the darn thing after we emptied it removing all the sand, buffing out all the scratches and repairing the cracks (we found another beneath the sand) for the next 2 weeks. Luckily I caught it before anything bad happened... :freak:

So that just shows how these things can happen to even a LFS, and to be careful when setting up and maintaining a tank.
 

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Hydro-Dynamic
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13,149 Posts
+1 to that. Rimless tanks look so cool, and I get that they usually made from even thicker glass, and what not... but braces just give you such a nice peace of mind .

Funny story actually. I worked at my LFS for around 3 years before I left for college, and in there, one of the main displays was a 1,200 gallon tank (20' long, 4' tall, 2' wide) with 4, 1000w halides over the top. Well, One day I was up there feeding and I noticed on one of the main braces (acrylic, so part of the tank) there was a huge crack nearly all the way through the brace. Well long story short I end up inside the darn thing after we emptied it removing all the sand, buffing out all the scratches and repairing the cracks (we found another beneath the sand) for the next 2 weeks. Luckily I caught it before anything bad happened... :freak:

So that just shows how these things can happen to even a LFS, and to be careful when setting up and maintaining a tank.
WOW!!! that's amazing. I wander what caused the bottom pane to crack?
 

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We are were not 100% sure, but one extremely likely cause is the stand. It was a custom stand built our of wood 15 years ago, and over the years warped and expanded from the humidity and spilled water, causing it to go from its initial level position, to a few degrees off in various places.. And when you have over 10,000 pounds of water pushing down at the bottom panel, those few degrees mater a lot. That is all guess though it could be from other sources, but thats what I think happened.
 

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SPS'n It!
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1,232 Posts
A sound plan...go ahead and replace that tank. Heck,I'll even help. Just drop the old one off at my place and I'll " get rid of it" for you! :D
 

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Hi. I note concerns about rimless tanks and of course I have one -- JBJ 45 gal that I love the looks of. Apparently these are suffering catastrophic failures with too much frequency. Range of failure 2% to 35% according to my LFS. JBJ trying to get (free) replacements out but months delayed. Now seeing/imagining horizontal "scratches" 1-2" long bottom corner.
Question: can anyone recommend a 45-60 gallon rimless cube similar to JBJ or the Solana XL that no longer seems to be available?
 

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Hydro-Dynamic
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Range of failure 2% to 35% according to my LFS.
That's just too broad of a statement of failure range to put any faith in.
I mean faith in the word you heard. 1 in less than 3 tanks and 2 out of 100
is terribly spoken. A Magic 8 Ball can give you similar input.

Can I recommend a 75g All Glass RR tank instead?
I've had 2 46g bow front tanks experience a seam leak right at the bow
on the bottom panel, but if a 75g is too big, a 40B is a nice sized footprint as well.
They don't scratch so much with every cleaning either, so can last longer.
 
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