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Tank disaster, cracked bottom

wickette

AC Members
Last night pulled out my old 20 Long from the laundry room, set it up on its cabinet in the foyer, filled it with water. This morning I added DIY bottle filter an old HOB 50watt heater, slate chunks as substrate (was going to move my paradise fish in there...eventually). The hood is missing the flap, so the tank is only half covered. Obviously the heater and the partially open top was not strong enough couldnt go past 68°. So I had the genius idea of putting a 40 watt lava lamp base with a in the cabinet under the tank. Basically just a miniature light bulb pointing up. (bulb is about 8" from the tank bottom.) The cabinet has covered sides back bottom and top are ope, It was pulled it 4" from the wall so plenty of ventilation. The tank got to 76 after ~10 hours, hurray!.

I was going to swap the bulb for 25watt, as I was rummaging in the garage for the light bulbs I hear a thunder sound and then a gentle water fall. Got to the tank to see a 'K' shaped crack across the entire bottom of the tank. water steadily trickling out.

I specifically checked the sticker on the tank before putting a light under it: Tetra 20 Gallon Long Aquarium - 30" L X 12" W X 12" H - Tempered Glass Bottom

The lamp shorted from the water but otherwise no harm done, not even a big mess, maybe 4 gallon poured out before I threw the breaker then put some buckets under the tank, it even held in one piece when I took it to the curb. BUT should this have happened?
 

the loach

AC Members
Yes you can't heat an aquarium like that, it will crack. It will create a hot spot where the glass expands and it will sooner or later crack. Heating the water or the room are the only options.

But why heat a tank for a paradise fish? Even 68 is warm for them.
 

the loach

AC Members
No. I assume we are talking about Macropodus opercularis. For colors, breeding, longevity and well being they need a winter temperature of about 50 degrees, up to about 70 in the summer.
 

FreshyFresh

Global Moderator
Staff member
Sorry to hear about your issues! I've had two random, unexplainable tank disasters in the past 6yrs. First was a 29g that cracked diagonally across the back and the second was a 55g that started leaking somewhere from around the bottom perimeter seal. Both newer United Pet Group (marineland) tanks supported on appropriate, flat and level stands. Luckily I was home when both happened, so was able to mitigate most of the mess. Still a terrible situation though.

My point is, many times you don't know what triggers the disaster. Water pressure is a real jerk.
 
The tank cracking means it wasn’t tempered. If it was tempered it would’ve shattered into a billion itty bitty pieces and you would be finding pieces into the next millennium.

I can only offer another guess that possibly you scored the glass with the slate chunks ever so slightly. It doesn’t take much for an imperfection in the right place to run corner to corner on a pane of glass. Just when you’re not expecting it.

I also had an “immaculate leak” just this past summer on a tetra 29g. I was lucky enough to get home and find all the fish still flopping around on the substrate. 55 years in the hobby and that was a first on several levels.

They sell them cheap to match the quality which compliments jerky water pressure perfectly.
 

FreshyFresh

Global Moderator
Staff member
While true on the tempered glass thing, the only standard 30" wide tank you'll find with a tempered bottom is typically the 37gal. Other than that, it pretty much has to be a 4ft or larger tank to get a tempered bottom these days.
 

FreshyFresh

Global Moderator
Staff member
I tore down 4 petco couple 40B to make the top glass panels of a hobby greenhouse I attached to my workshop. This was in 2013/2014. Pretty sure Petco was selling Aqueons at that time. They didn’t have tempered glass warning stickers on them, just “inspected by” stickers. All I can say is I still find a stray piece of glass from when I tried cutting the first bottom panel. Mistake in manufacturing? I would think the mistake would’ve happened in the other direction; regular glass instead of tempered. Could changes have been made in the last several years? Sure.

To get back to the point of this thread, I can only suggest that the bottom panel got nicked by one of the pieces of slate. Just a theory that can’t be verified or disproved. Glass is pretty unpredictable under pressure. From the description of the way it cracked this wasn’t a tempered panel. Tempered glass doesn’t crack, it shatters into a million pieces. My only real suggestion here is to put stones with any sort of jagged edges on top of a layer of gravel or sand if possible. Saltwater systems used to use sections of eggcrate under the mountains of live rock for this purpose.
 
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