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

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dudley

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Then, there's the issue of what material to choose from next -- we were seriously considering going with an ACRYLIC tank rather than glass, being that we had two glass tanks that leaked on us back to back (the first worse than the second, obviously), but these are expensive and we'd have to save up some more money for one. Also, I don't know anything about acrylic tanks; do they make lids/hoods that fit as well as on glass tanks? Are they truly shatter/crack-proof? Can HOBs be hung on them as easily as on glass tanks? I know they scratch easily, but outside of that, what would be the downside of going acrylic?
I've never owned an acrylic tank but here's my take on it from reading on fish forums and seeing them in person at people's homes.

Acrylic tanks can still crack if mishandled, must have the bottom of the tank fully supported on a plywood deck or if cleaned with the wrong product that can cause crazing and weaken the acrylic.

They don't make a hood for an acrylic tank though you may be able to buy a canopy for one if you get the tank, stand and canopy from the same company.

Normally you can NOT use a HOB filter on an acrylic tank IF it has a complete acrylic top with only holes to reach in to add decor, fish and maintain the tank. Some acrylic tank manufacturers do have cut outs in the top that MAY accept a HOB filter but you would have to verify that before buying.
 

FreshyFresh

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Dee, good call on that pesky tack-strip. I've got the same thing with a setup I keep in the carpeted/finished side of my basement. I've got to keep my stand a good 5-6" away from the wall to get it sit level.
 
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fishorama

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I'm not sure I remember all your questions but I'll start with sympathy for your mother's death. I imagine even with estrangement it's difficult, maybe more so.

I was given an acrylic 55g & hated it! I never even set it up. There were 1 inch? holes near the corners for heater cords? & a "slot" area for filters in the middle. As we've discussed, I like 2 filters but not crammed next to each other. The distortion of the rounded top to bottom corners bugged me (I wear bifocals, that may have added to the effect). Acrylic also scratches much more easily than glass...the only good I see is they're lighter weight...but substrate, water & stand are much more factor than glass weight. Go with glass!

I've had tanks on carpet many times including thick padding over slab, it's fine. I would try to NOT have the tank lined up exactly with your old tank foot print...that area of carpet & padding is already compressed to a different tank size & may be hard to stay level until the "other new areas" catch up. Just a couple inches away is probably enough.

I would clean out your old filters & run the smaller on the 29 along with the filter it came with. The AC 110 will likely blow your fish away, but maybe some of it's media could fit in the other 2 filters? You want as many beneficial bacteria surfaces as you can. The BB can double in size every 24 hours, so if you can, run all 3 filters in the new tank or at least most of their "seeded" media in 2 filters. Do the best you can.

Old tank water doesn't have much if any BB in it...BB colonizes surfaces, substrate, filter media etc. I know we've discussed this before.

Is your ship or part of it in the 29g? It has some good surfaces...Will you reuse the substrate in the 29g? More surface area...I would strongly suggest you test every few days to make sure ammonia (say .25) & nitrite ( hopefully 0) don't go much higher. Be ready to do a biggish water change as needed. Prime dechlinator can help with both if you "really can't" do a water change.

I had tanks sit dry for many years in both high heat & freezing temps. Neither seemed to cause problems...but no silicone seal lasts forever. If you use a razor blade to clean algae from the glass try very hard not to dig into the corners. Watch for algae of any kind going under the seals...but really the "seal" part is between the glass panels for the most part.

I've probably forgotten your other questions but ask us again...
 
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Wyomingite

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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?
I have several aquariums that are over 30 years old, a couple that I got used that are over 40 years old and one tank that was my Dad's when he kept fish when I was very young, so it's around 50 years old. My 225, which is one of the 40 year old tanks, has been resealed once, roughly 15 years ago. Several of the 20 galllon longs and 10s that are older have been resealed as well as have both 30 gallons (one a standard 30, the other a 30 tall). The 55 and the 75 that are older both have been resealed as well. That 10 gallon tank that is 50 years old, well it's still on the original seal. None have been resealed more than once. So to answer how long a tank can be viable, in my experience as long as the glass remains intact and undamaged. It may have to be resealed at some point, but resealing a tank, espcially a large one, is much cheaper than buying a new one.

Everything fishorama says in the first answer to your original post cover most of the causes and how to avoid them. The only thing I'd add is to be careful not to chip the edges. Chipped edges can lead to weak points that can result in leaks.

WYite
 
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fishorama

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.Good point WYite, external chips can weaken seals too..especially those all important "between the glass panels" silicone seals that actually hold the tank together. Not too much of a problem for me in later years, I'm a more careful vacuumer/furniture mover these days, lol.
 

Kaskade10729

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I'd avoid that Marineland kit. The stands look great in the advertisement pics, but tend to be stapled together MDF board and be very cheaply made. Worst case I'd watch for Aqueon $1/gal sales. Pet Supplies Plus is running a tank sale, but it's not quite $1/gal. 55gal are ~$89.

I have had great luck with Aquatic Fundamentals tank stands which are MDF that you assemble and titan eze metal stands that pop together in seconds. I've had both in service since ~2012.
I think we kind of decided against the 75 anyway due to fears of it cracking and leaking all that water. We will most likely go with an Aqueon 55 kit (it comes with stuff we don't need, but we can keep the QuietFlow 75 filter -- which we already own -- as a backup), but because this isn't sold with a stand, we'll have to purchase one separately. Not sure yet, though.
 

Kaskade10729

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I've never owned an acrylic tank but here's my take on it from reading on fish forums and seeing them in person at people's homes.

Acrylic tanks can still crack if mishandled, must have the bottom of the tank fully supported on a plywood deck or if cleaned with the wrong product that can cause crazing and weaken the acrylic.

They don't make a hood for an acrylic tank though you may be able to buy a canopy for one if you get the tank, stand and canopy from the same company.

Normally you can NOT use a HOB filter on an acrylic tank IF it has a complete acrylic top with only holes to reach in to add decor, fish and maintain the tank. Some acrylic tank manufacturers do have cut outs in the top that MAY accept a HOB filter but you would have to verify that before buying.
Thank you for this information; I had no idea about any of it...
 

Kaskade10729

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Jun 16, 2013
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I'm not sure I remember all your questions but I'll start with sympathy for your mother's death. I imagine even with estrangement it's difficult, maybe more so.
Thank you so much for your condolences; you'd be surprised how little, if any, communication I'm even getting from very good college friends about this (whom I was there for basically every day when their parents passed). I don't even know how to deal with what I'm feeling or the loss in general; it feels like life has just stopped and nothing will ever be the same.

I was given an acrylic 55g & hated it! I never even set it up. There were 1 inch? holes near the corners for heater cords? & a "slot" area for filters in the middle. As we've discussed, I like 2 filters but not crammed next to each other. The distortion of the rounded top to bottom corners bugged me (I wear bifocals, that may have added to the effect). Acrylic also scratches much more easily than glass...the only good I see is they're lighter weight...but substrate, water & stand are much more factor than glass weight. Go with glass!
Thank you for the feedback here; as I said to Dee above, I had no idea about these acrylic shortcomings.

The wife and I were talking last night and we're now considering going with a smaller Aqueon 55 that comes in a kit (but without a stand); I'm just not comfortable putting all that water of a 75 on this second floor, and that big of a tank is really overkill for the two goldfish we currently have. We haven't made a final decision, though.

I've had tanks on carpet many times including thick padding over slab, it's fine. I would try to NOT have the tank lined up exactly with your old tank foot print...that area of carpet & padding is already compressed to a different tank size & may be hard to stay level until the "other new areas" catch up. Just a couple inches away is probably enough.
Thanks for this; will take it into consideration. I'll ensure, too, that the new stand isn't near the tack strip (which is pretty pronounced and thick in this room, so it won't be mistaken) and that it isn't lined up exactly on the same indent points from the old one.

I would clean out your old filters & run the smaller on the 29 along with the filter it came with. The AC 110 will likely blow your fish away, but maybe some of it's media could fit in the other 2 filters? You want as many beneficial bacteria surfaces as you can. The BB can double in size every 24 hours, so if you can, run all 3 filters in the new tank or at least most of their "seeded" media in 2 filters. Do the best you can.
Okay, I'm a little hazy here; we have two large HOBs from the last setup -- an Aqueon 75 and AquaClear 110. I am running an Aqueon 20 on the 29 the fish are in right now, and in that filter I put one of the floss cartridges from the QuietFlow 75 because it was already gunked up with BB. Everything seems to be fine in the 29 -- the fish are active, eating and seemingly happy and the water is remaining crystal clear.

The media from the two old HOBs -- the Aqueon QuietFlow 75 and AC110 -- are otherwise all dried up at this point since tearing down the 60 gallon that just leaked; I don't know what to do with that media (should it be reused anyway even though the BB is probably dead on it or should we buy new?).

Old tank water doesn't have much if any BB in it...BB colonizes surfaces, substrate, filter media etc. I know we've discussed this before.
Okay, but it seemed logical to me to use as much "established" tank water -- that they're used to -- because it's, well, established. I thought this would bring less risk of them going into shock.

I suppose what I'm asking with regard to the tank water is, when we get the new tank, should we fill it up with tap water and go through the cycling process all over again? I used Stability last time and it seemed to work when we got these new fish; should I go through that again BEFORE transferring the fish to the new tank? Should ANY of their current tank water in the 29 gallon be used?

Is your ship or part of it in the 29g? It has some good surfaces...Will you reuse the substrate in the 29g? More surface area...I would strongly suggest you test every few days to make sure ammonia (say .25) & nitrite ( hopefully 0) don't go much higher. Be ready to do a biggish water change as needed. Prime dechlinator can help with both if you "really can't" do a water change.
No -- nothing from the old tank, decor-wise, is being used in the 29. I haven't even gotten into water change schedules yet....

I had tanks sit dry for many years in both high heat & freezing temps. Neither seemed to cause problems...but no silicone seal lasts forever. If you use a razor blade to clean algae from the glass try very hard not to dig into the corners. Watch for algae of any kind going under the seals...but really the "seal" part is between the glass panels for the most part.
As I mentioned, I never use/used a razor to clean algae from the glass -- always just a soft pad on a stick designed to remove the stuff.
 

Kaskade10729

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Jun 16, 2013
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I have several aquariums that are over 30 years old, a couple that I got used that are over 40 years old and one tank that was my Dad's when he kept fish when I was very young, so it's around 50 years old. My 225, which is one of the 40 year old tanks, has been resealed once, roughly 15 years ago. Several of the 20 galllon longs and 10s that are older have been resealed as well as have both 30 gallons (one a standard 30, the other a 30 tall). The 55 and the 75 that are older both have been resealed as well. That 10 gallon tank that is 50 years old, well it's still on the original seal. None have been resealed more than once. So to answer how long a tank can be viable, in my experience as long as the glass remains intact and undamaged. It may have to be resealed at some point, but resealing a tank, espcially a large one, is much cheaper than buying a new one.

Everything fishorama says in the first answer to your original post cover most of the causes and how to avoid them. The only thing I'd add is to be careful not to chip the edges. Chipped edges can lead to weak points that can result in leaks.

WYite
We had small chips in the Marineland 60 but I didn't think that caused this leak, which seemed to be coming from the bottom...
 

fishorama

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If the current 29g is cycled (is it?) you can just move the filter(s). I will not discuss Stability again. You can use the water from the 29 if you want, it won't hurt or help anything much.

You can just clean the filters & media in tap water. When you use dechlorinator in the new tank it will work on those too. If you're worried you can add a drop to the filter boxes. I'm cheap & a bit "eco-concious" so I'd reuse media unless it's really gunked up.
 
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