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Aquarium Repair - by Carl Strohmeyer


With a good silicone, you can perform a few repairs yourself.

For an older tank that is starting to leak (no broken glass), this can be repaired following these basic steps:
[1] Empty aquarium
[2] Remove ALL old silicone with a razor blade
[3] Clean and prepare surface with fine sandpaper.
[4] Make sure all surfaces are dry.
[5] Apply silicone (a caulking gun works best), making .5 (or smaller) cm. bead in the inside edges.
[6] Tighten all outside corners with strong reinforced dust tape. For tanks over 75 gallons I recommend wooden clamps.
[7] Immediately uses your index finger to smooth ALL inside edge beads into a smooth surface, quickly wiping away excess silicone.
[8] Your repair is complete in 48 hours.

For non structural corner chips:
[1] Drain aquarium down to the area of the chip.
[2] Inspect/ clean/ repair the inside area in needed.
[3] Clean out broken glass on the outside chip area
[4] Carefully clean out broken glass (gloves are recommended), a razor blade followed by fine sand paper works best.
[5] Inject new silicone followed immediately by a piece of glass that fits reasonably well into this chip.
[6] Add more silicone if necessary.
[7] Smooth repair and add a piece of wax paper (or similar waxy or mildly oily band aid), followed immediately by strong reinforced duct tape to hold this repair in place.
[8] This “band aid” can be removed in 24 to 48 hours and the aquarium re filled.

For broken plastic hinges:
[1] Remove old hinge
[2] Place both pieces of glass on a firm level surface
[3] Run a .5 cm bead of silicone carefully down the area where both pieces of glass come together.
[4] Immediately, using your index and middle finger, run these fingers over the top of this silicone bead forming sharp peak of silicone between both pieces of glass. Remove excess. Bare hands (fingers) work best as the oils present repel the silicone from adhering too much to your fingers. The silicone should look sort of like this after finished: /\
[5] After 24 to 48 hours your new and more durable hinge is ready.


Recommended Glass thicknesses:
(Length x Height x Width)

2 x 1 x 1 = 5mm glass
2 x 1 x 1.5 = 6 mm glass
2 x 1.5 x 1.5 = 8 mm glass
2.5 x 2 x 2 = 10 mm glass
3 x1 x 1 = 6 mm glass
3 x 1.5 x 1.5 = 8mm glass
3 x 2 x 2 = 12 mm glass
4 x 1.5 x 1.5 = 10mm glass
4 x 2 x 2 = 12 mm glass
6 x any size x 2 feet max. = 12 mm glass

Please note that the formula for gallon calculations is L x H x W divided by 231 = Gallons. Multiply this by 3.785 for liters.
I do NOT recommend a glass aquarium over 250 -300 gallons!

Can you easily purchase the proper silicone at a Home Improvement Store? The answer is yes, just do not purchase anything other than 100% Pure Silicone (color does not matter) and I strongly recommend brand loyalty as there are good reasons behind GE and Dow Corning patents. To be safe, if you are unsure of the silicone you are buying, do not try and save a few bucks at the local hardware store when your local Pet Store or Aquarium Store have the correct product for maybe a few dollars more (unless an exploding aquarium in the middle of the night is your idea of excitement).

For further reading on the subject of aquarium repair, in particular the subject of the proper and correct silicone to use, please reference this article from Aquarium Answers: Aquarium Answers; CORRECT AQUARIUM SILICONE APPLICATIONS; What Silicone to use and what not to use, Aquarium Repair, Aquarium construction.

Professional aquarium maintenance experience since 1978 as the owner of one of the larger aquarium maintenance companies in LA, CA.

I have been in the hobby since 1969.



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