General Aquarium Life Expectancy...and Could Someone Please Tell Me Why This Keeps Happening to our Tanks?

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Kaskade10729

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Jun 16, 2013
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Well, I can't believe it, but it happened again, albeit this time without flooding our house and needing a reconstruction -- our Marineland 60 gallon high seems to have developed a crack or leak from the bottom, as we noticed water pooling from the area where the front of the tank meets the stand. Prior to this tank, we had another aquarium crack in the back, spewing water onto the floor and into our living room below, requiring a team of contractors to fix the water damage and repair everything...it was a NIGHTMARE that lasted at least a month.

Luckily, I was able to stop this leak in time before it broke the glass or spewed the water everywhere; we purchased a 29 gallon Aqueon starter kit just to home our two fancy goldfish for now, filling it with their old tank water so there would be no shock or bacteria crash, and they seem to be doing okay (I'm using an Aqueon QuietFlow 20 on it just temporarily but it seems to be cleaning the water exceptionally well), and I drained the water from the 60 gallon to break the tank's decorations and filters down and all that.

So, this is the SECOND damn aquarium that has busted on us, and we're really getting sick of it -- HOWEVER, I do bear blame for at least the first one, because I believe what caused that crack was a cleaning I did of the tank after it came down with a bacterial infection (we also kept fancy goldfish in it) and I mixed scalding hot water with cold water, thus probably weakening the seals. With this newer Marineland tank, I don't believe the stand and aquarium were ABSOLUTELY level, as there was a slight lean forward from the day we set it up. I never fixed the lean, and it stayed like that for about 10 years or so. This was also a VERY tall "show tank" and the water balance never looked right, with the tank being so high and the stand not being completely level and straight. I think this may have contributed to the current leak, which is definitely coming from the bottom...

So now we have to, yet again, shop for a new tank to put the fish back into, but we really don't want to keep these big, heavy tanks on this second floor anymore...we wanted to drop down to a 55 gallon or maybe slightly less, but we're not really finding any in stock ANYWHERE. The only one we keep coming back to is a 75 gallon Marineland from PetSmart that is low and DEEP, so it would make maintenance so much easier; I also assumed that maybe this 75 would distribute the water more evenly, and the stand it comes with looks much sturdier than the last one we had.

Can anyone lend any insight as to why this keeps happening to us? Is it because the floor we have the tank on just can't hold the weight -- or would this just mean the tank would have fallen through the floor already? With regard to this last crack/leak, does it sound like it was because this very tall Marineland 60 gallon just wasn't leveled? Could a lean forward put enough pressure on a tank as to make it fail from the bottom after about 10 years?

This brings me to another question -- what is the average lifespan for these new tanks? Shouldn't they last more than they are? I mean, we really don't want to keep going through this after some time passes...if the seals on these tanks are going to fail regularly, we're just not going to stay in the hobby, as much as I like it. Could the decorations we put in the tank have weighed it down to the point the bottom glass cracked? We had a big two-piece pirate ship set from PetSmart in this last tank, plus gravel and some plants....but could this have added to the weight enough to break the bottom glass?

Does anyone have any suggestions for us moving forward as we try to get a new tank to rehouse the two goldfish we have? They can't stay in the 29 gallon indefinitely, so we need to get a new tank and stand up and running very soon. Is a 75 gallon a good idea for an upstairs room/area of a house, or will this be too much weight? If we go smaller, what would be recommended?
 

fishorama

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Darn! 10 years seems kind of a short time but seals don't last forever. You can reseal it...not super hard, prep is all...

A standard 75g is 48 x 18 x 20 high, is the possible new 1 different? It's my favorite tank size & shape. You should make it as level as you can using shims under the stand, not under the tank. I've had tanks not perfectly level in 1 direction (either side to side or front to back) & they were ok up to ~1/4 inch off or so. Do the best you can, use a level.

Is the tank on carpet? That can compact in time with the weight & often padding doesn't go all the way to the wall. Too heavy tanks don't really fall through the floor, it's more a gradual sag. Try to have the tank span 2 floor supports if you can tell. Most are 16inches on center, very old house may not be. Near a wall is much better than over "open space" below. There should be wall support in the basement or crawlspace if you have 1. I don't think I go with any tank larger than a 55g or maybe 75g at most without knowing...

Some people put styrofoam between the tank & stand in case of imperfections (the "pink" insulation slab kind from a hardware/big box store, it can be painted I believe). More of an issue with rimless tanks that the entire bottom sits on the solid top stand. Rimmed tanks sit on the rim running around the outer edges so stands often only have wood or metal where the tank touches. An obvious burr or other imperfection could matter, I've never seen that. Run your hand along to feel for that.

As for why you first tank cracked, I don't know. I've never had that happen (knock wood). Tank bottoms are often tempered glass but not the sides. With heavy rockwork (like for African cichlids), people often use lighting "egg crate" diffuser grid under the substrate to keep any pointy bits from contacting the glass & possibly causing cracks...Could that be a problem with your ship decoration? I'd think it very less likely...I have "very lightly" clunked tank glass with rocks...OMG! I was worried at the moment, but no issue.

As for seal failure, it happens. If you use a razor blade to remove algae & dig into the silicone it could be bad. Just algae growing under the seal can eventually weaken it. & sometimes there's a thin siliconed area that may fail sooner than more robust seals. Look for bubbles in the seals, those are weaker places.
 
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dougall

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The tank/stand not being level may well have been a factor, especially for a decade.

I would also make sure the tank is against a load bearing wall, perpendicular to the floor joists.

It can depend on decor in your aquarium if it's the glass breaking if it falls or leans against it.

Overall it really depends, assuming your fish aren't picking at the silicone or something.

I would maybe consider a deeper rather than taller tank, a 75 would give you more volume in a tank that's not as tall.

Make sure you move your old filter with the fish, that is where a lot of the bacteria will reside that you need, it in the water necessarily.. and test the water too

Finally when checking for level-ness check the stand, but check the top of the aquarium once full with water, and occasionally over time too, just in case.

Glad you managed to catch it though!
 

dougall

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And... Be sure to get a stand that is made from solid wood, not pressboard or MDF. They are more likely to better support the aquarium, and not buckle under weight over time.
 
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FreshyFresh

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Just to add to the above. In the past 10yrs, I've lost two tanks catastrophically and both tanks happened to be from Marineland (United Pet Group). Both tanks were under a year old and in use for less than that. Each was placed flat and level on stands specifically designed for their size.

The first was a 29gal that cracked across the back. The second was a 55gal that began spewing water from the bottom perimeter seal. Both times I was home at the time fortunately, but the 55 happened some time in the very early morning hours and leaked a good 20gal or more onto the floor, which ran down into the basement.

Based on my observations and experience, the glass and frames on united pet group made tanks up to ~75gal is thinner and lighter than that of central garden and pet made tanks (Aqueon, All-glass, etc..) To me, thinner glass and cheaper materials is the problem.
 

Kaskade10729

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Jun 16, 2013
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Sorry for the delay in getting back to this thread; had a death in the family that was unexpected. Thank you for all your replies; I will respond in kind just as soon as I can.

The guys are here right now taking away our old leaking 60 gallon...seems there's no crack but rather a seal rupture, as it's still leaking from the bottom but without a visible damage to the glass...
 

dudley

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Sorry for you and your family's loss.
 

Kaskade10729

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Sorry for you and your family's loss.
Thank you, Dudley; it was actually my mom, who I hadn't spoken to in many, many years....we were pretty much estranged over problems between her and my wife. Long story short, she developed dementia issues and a cousin of mine was given power of attorney and all that **** so he had power over her medical decisions. I found out she passed through other cousins who found out before me.
 
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dudley

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I understand family estrangement issues, I had some with my Dad for years but fortunately made up with him shortly before his death years ago.
 
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Kaskade10729

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I understand family estrangement issues, I had some with my Dad for years but fortunately made up with him shortly before his death years ago.
I'm so sorry to hear about your loss; I suppose you can understand what I'm going through then.

What lead to the issues between you guys?
 
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