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Old 04-15-2012, 10:17 PM   #1
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Is ABS plastic safe?

Hey I have an aquarium that I got from craigslist a while ago. Said it was 90 gallons turns outs its 70, but moving on. It came with plumbing.

The tank has two holes (one is the main drain and the other is the emergency) and there is a 2 inch elbow and bulkhead attached.. i think (this would be the siphon overflow). And then there's this whole line of plumbing pipe and parts glued together and it has a ball valve etc.

It seemed okay until I showed a picture of the plumbing line to my LFS and they said ABS plastic is not safe for a saltwater setup (which I am doing). So that means I would have to replace it all with 2" PVC plumbing. I don't want to spend a month finding parts online and hardware stores and spending $50 or so and I really want to get my aquarium up and going already.

So I researched if ABS plastic is safe and I'm confused. I read a forum claiming that they thought ABS was safe and someone posted they used it on all there tanks for 8 years and had no problems. I read that it contains chemicals to kill algae and will leach in the tank and I've read on a forum on AA that a LFS told this guy that ABS was safe (they sold that, not PVC) and said PVC was the one that wasn't safe. I read that the only reason ABS isnt used as a water supply line in homes is that it can hold slightly less pressure than PVC and apparently it can get brittle over time.

I don't really have the luxury of starting with PVC or ABS, but I don't want to change all of my plumbing if I don't have to. SO have any experiences or knowledge to state that ABS is safe? Thanks for taking the time to read all of this!

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Old 04-16-2012, 08:33 AM   #2
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I'm not sure about the abs but I know that pvc is absolutely safe. I've used it for years and years and if you look at other peoples setups you'll see that everyone uses it.I think you need another lfs if they told you that.

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Old 04-16-2012, 08:44 AM   #3
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ABS is safe. The bulkheads that are made for overflows are generally ABS. Just be sure to use the correct glue for the specific connections (PVC-ABS, ABS-ABS, PVC-PVC).
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Old 04-16-2012, 09:25 AM   #4
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I agree, ABS is commonly considered aquarium safe. I think Ehiem even uses ABS in some of its canisters.
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Old 04-16-2012, 10:28 AM   #5
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I also agree that ABS is saltwater safe. The very first sump I used, which was a premade unit, came with ABS pieces to connect to the overflow drain.
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Old 04-16-2012, 11:16 AM   #6
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There is a big difference between joints made with PVC which are welded, and joints made with ABS which are glued. The ABS joints will not stand up to pressure. Bulkheads for glued fittings should be PVC if you are using PVC pipe. As for getting brittle with age, PVC is already brittle when new compared with ABS, and PVC does get more brittle with age.
ABS should stand up to the low pressures involved in a filtration system, especially the drain side. Not so sure about the pressure side. ABS has been used for all sorts of things in fish tanks for many years without any issues.
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Old 04-16-2012, 07:37 PM   #7
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I really appreciate everyone's feedback..it was kinda what I was needing to here after so much "depression" of not starting my tank up for a year. Now I can start fantasizing and not worrying. Going to try to get it up and running this week and have it cycled soon! Thank you.

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plastic, safe

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