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Tank in pieces


An Article by Frank Panis
Glass is a very useful material. We can't think of a world without it: windows, bottles, beakers, lamps, art, you name it. Because it comes in different sizes and it's relative easy to cut up to a thickness of about 12mm, glass is extremely suited to build aquaria. These tanks are relatively cheap, especially when you buy them in standard sizes. They're also remarkably strong, if you think what water volume they can hold. But this strength is not unlimited....


Detail from Fred's damaged tank: a huge crack in the back glass.

When a tank is put on a stand that's not properly levelled, the glass is exposed to a great amount of tension. This stress won't necessary result in instant damage, but can cause a crack weeks or even years later!

To prevent this we'll level the support before the tank is placed. For this purpose we use material that cannot be dented and that's put under the legs of the support. Remember that every millimeter is too much. When this is done (always check several times on all sides) a 2cm polystyrene board is placed between the support and the tank. If you are going to use a lot of rocks, a plywood board under the polystyrene board is no luxury. When the aquarium is in its place, and it doesn't wobble after pushing gently against it, the decoration and filling can begin. Always take great care to put styrofoam boards under rocks to spread the pressure on the glass bottom. This procedure should be a guarantee for years of care-free aquarium pleasure.


Joeri's tank: because it was out of balance the tank's bottom glass has broken right above the middle support. The sag of the wooden beams is responible for the damage, 5 years after the build!

The crack was discovered after sweeping away the sand

Joeri's 1600L tank started dripping in the morning. When he heard the news from his wife Peggy,  he rushed back from his work to dismantle the wood canopy of the tank. He called me and meanwhile he emptied the tank. Once arrived I helped him taking out the giant rocks. After catching out the cichlids, we removed the sand from the middle of the tank and discovered the crack.

After cleaning up all the mess and moving the cichlids to my 3000L tank it was time to think about the repair plan. Soon we came to the conclusion that the support has to be strengthened. A metal frame will have to be welded to guarantee a robust construction. 4cm square iron tubes will be used for this purpose. Then the original wood & polystyrene boards will be reused and the aquarium will be put in place again. The bottom glass will be repaired with a huge amount of silicones and a thick glass plate that fits between the front and the back.


The Haps ready to be rescued & the empty tank, always a sad sight


After cleaning the crack gets even more visible

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