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Old 10-30-2010, 02:03 PM   #1
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Help! 4000 gallon tank leak.

Hi! I'm Tony, currently stationed here in Saudi Arabia, and I'm fairly new to the forum but I'm posting here in behalf of a friend who's being frustrated by a DIY tank of his that's been causing trouble. It's because of that problem that I found this site, and we're both hoping someone could help.

My friend's built a 9.1 x 2.0 x 0.8 meter glass aquarium. That comes around to 4000 gallons if we figure correctly. The glass is 31mm triple-layer laminate panels, with each panel at 2.0 x 2.0 meters. (For the long sides, that is.) The joints are supported internally by 10cm-wide laminated glass strips and silicone seals, externally by a frame constructed of 10cm-wide, 10mm-thick U-beams.

After the aquarium had been assembled, the silicone was left to cure for 30 days. Then we filled it up and left it full for 15 days to see if any leaks would show up. No leaks were found, so we assumed it was fit for use. We emptied it for cleaning, then refilled. After two days, traces of a leak had shown somewhere around the midpoint.

So we emptied it again, stripped the secondary seals inside, and laid down a new layer of silicone. Then we set this new seal to cure for 15 days as well. When it was all good and dry, we filled the tank up again, but in a few days, the leak had returned and in roughly the same area.

There wasn't any bulging detected on the glass, so we've no idea what else to follow up on. We've tried to find consultants here, unfortunately, no one has experience making tanks this big.

Just to give you a feel for the size of the thing:

And to illustrate the measures that I've mentioned before:


My friend has stated some concerns regarding the silicone seals that were used (both primary and secondary). He's asking how big a bead of silicone you need to use for something this big, and if too much silicone could in some way cause the leak. This is 'cause he's seen aquariums roughly the same size in other countries that didn't use a lot of sealant.

I hope you guys could help, or at least point us in someone who can, as this project has been giving us a lot of headaches for too long a period already. Thanks in advance!

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Old 10-30-2010, 03:37 PM   #2
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Old 10-30-2010, 03:42 PM   #3
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Sorry I have not had that problem with mine so far. Hee hee
Hope you get the assistance you need
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Old 10-30-2010, 05:31 PM   #4
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First of all... I agree. WOW!

Metal frame bent or warped? I can't think of any other possibilities. If you built that, you obviously know more than I do. lol

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Old 10-30-2010, 05:37 PM   #5
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Is the leak getting bigger?
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Old 10-30-2010, 07:12 PM   #6
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Holy cow! I want one!
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Old 10-30-2010, 07:20 PM   #7
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Original poster, nice tank, cant help less maybe try a different sealant, possibly tar sealant.... good luck with it, its an awesome tank.

stationed? as in active duty? if so, Thank you.
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Old 11-01-2010, 10:16 AM   #8
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The too much silicone question is of interest. There is obviously a void somewhere in the area of the leak. When applying silicone from a caulking tube there is a maximum size of bead you can apply. If you do multiple beads or pile it up you risk gaps which could lead to the leak. The inner fillet bead is just insurance to protect from leaks caused by voids. It does not need to be large to work.
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Old 11-01-2010, 10:33 AM   #9
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If the leak is occurring in the same area again, I'd inspect the frame and the glass for imperfections. It could be something as simple as a little oil on the frame preventing the silicone from adhering.

What are the plans for this tank? I think I speak for everyone here when I ask that you please start a build thread. I'd love to see your take on filtering, heating, and, if it's in Saudi Arabia, possibly cooling a tank of this volume.
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Old 11-01-2010, 10:55 AM   #10
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Have you had someone dive into the tank (SCUBA, so they could stay down for a long time) and try squirting some dye near the seals to see if they could detect the exact leak point? That's the first thing I would try. I'd do it myself for free A) if I was in your city and B) just to say I did it

Way cool setup. Bummer about the leak.

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leak, tan, tank leak

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