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Old 12-10-2011, 11:21 PM   #1
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Moldy canopy

Hello out there!

I've tried searching this subject without much luck, so forgive me if this has come up before...here goes:
I got my tank and stand in late August and I LOVE it. It's 100 gallons with a black MDF stand and matching canopy. While the outside has that finished look they all do, the inside looks unfinished. I noticed this when I was setting up the canopy but didn't think much about it because the back of the canopy is open. I've also got glass covers, which cover all but about 3 inches of water.

About three weeks in, I noticed there was a touch of mold in one of the corners. I started leaving the tops open most of the time because I saw condensation on the inside of the two top panels when I kept them closed. I also covered the panels with a plastic liner, hoping that would help, and it did...except I'd find specks of mold popping up around the edges that weren't lined. Just a little though, and I wiped it off and kept the panels open when I could. I also noticed some bubbling in the inside of the canopy, it's obvious that there is moisture inside.

Sitting on my couch tonight, I was watching my fish and realized the two top panels now have a gap between them (about a half inch). What?!

So I took the canopy off (which I have done several times, usually every 10 days or so I decide to move something around in there) and turned it upside down (which I've never done) and WOW there is so much mold! Because of the shadowing from the top panels and where the mold is, I couldn't see it with the canopy on the tank.

Now I know the reason the two front panels gap is because the wood is swollen and the corners are starting to pull apart a bit. Two back corners have pulled apart just enough that I can see the nails between the two pieces of wood.

I have two questions:
1. Is it salvageable? It's MDF, remember...I hope that's not a bad thing. Can it be refinished like a board of solid wood can?
2. If it is, how do I do that? I have zero carpenter skills, no tools (ok,I have a hammer), and a very tight budget.

I really want to fix it. I'm sure it is no big deal, right? Just let it dry, sand it and seal it? I'd reinforce the corners with some brackets too.
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Old 12-11-2011, 11:05 AM   #2
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MDF and moisture are a BAD combination. MDF is not designed to be constantly exposed to moisture. If you can salvage the canopy, I would put several coats of polyurethane on it before using it again. On a side note, keep a very close eye on your stand also. If you spill water on it during WC's it will do the same thing over time When I first started out with aquariums, I bought a particle board stand that looked great but within a few months it had to be replaced. It started separating at the corners.
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Old 12-11-2011, 02:59 PM   #3
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Ugh. When I bought the stand and canopy, the pet store employee told me MDF was stronger and he'd choose it over wood any day. It seemed a bit counter-intuitive to me but hey, I'm not an expert on these things.
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Old 12-11-2011, 03:33 PM   #4
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What does mdf stand for? Lol
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Old 12-11-2011, 03:36 PM   #5
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Medium Density Fiberboard.......
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Old 12-11-2011, 03:43 PM   #6
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Also known as fibercore......
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Old 12-11-2011, 04:11 PM   #7
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The operative word is fiber. MDF in a non moisture situation is great. It may possibly be stronger than wood. But in my experiences it just don't hold up to water, or prolonged exposure to moisture. For an aquarium application I think real wood, or iron stands are the way to go Even with real wood you can get some warping, and discoloration if you don't keep it as dry as possible. Not knocking LFS but the employees sometimes are not educated in the products they offer
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Old 12-11-2011, 07:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foster53
The operative word is fiber. MDF in a non moisture situation is great. It may possibly be stronger than wood. But in my experiences it just don't hold up to water, or prolonged exposure to moisture. For an aquarium application I think real wood, or iron stands are the way to go Even with real wood you can get some warping, and discoloration if you don't keep it as dry as possible. Not knocking LFS but the employees sometimes are not educated in the products they offer
Seriously, I've learned that lesson so many times over now. I'm very wary of the LFS employee selling a 12" fish for a 10 gallon tank but didn't transfer that knowledge over when talking to the owner of the store about stands that he had all over the place.

I was so careful when planning my new tank that I crawled under my house and placed jacks under the floor where the aquarium was going to go (for a chick thats terrified of spiders, that was a really big deal and practically required xanax, lol). I completely moved my downstairs around to accommodate the tank and place it against an exterior wall out of direct light. I made a plywood platform with trim and linoleum to go under the stand so I don't have to worry about changing water splashing on my laminate floors - and to have one more thing helping to distribute the weight of a 100 gallon tank and all that goes with it. All that because i wanted to be able to sit back and enjoy my fish without worrying. Then, I took the word of the LFS guy when it came to buying the stand itself. Huh. Hindsight is 20/20, eh? I won't blame him, it's my job to be a smart consumer.

I can't figure why particle board stands for tanks this size are so popular - or at least so much more common then solid wood. I do appreciate a cheaper option that allows those of us without a limitless budget the chance to own a larger tank. But when you consider the possible consequences...this is not where you cut corners. I'll get my tank decor from my yard (I did that, ha) before I cut corners on something this important. Who can keep their stand completely dry at all times? That's like using my new couch as patio furniture in the summer because it shouldn't rain "that much" in August.

I'm looking online now and all wood stands are big bucks. Any recommendations? Any chance I'll find a good quality, decent looking one with a canopy for under $650 or so? Why are you laughing?

I'm thinking of all the times I've watched water drip down the front of the glass and didn't catch the drops before they made it to the unfinished inside lip and settled between the tank's frame and the particle board. Ugh.
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Old 12-11-2011, 09:12 PM   #9
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The MDF, and particle board stands are popular because they are much less expensive initially to get started with a large tank. Very sad that you took all the precautions to make everything right with your tank, and then have this problem with the wrong type of stand, and canopy. If the stand is not damaged, you might be able to seal the unfinished portions with urethane or possibly a water seal like is used on decks. That way you might only have to replace the canopy. Problem is the tank would have to be torn down and the stand and canopy moved to a garage or basement to be sealed. The whole situation stinks.
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Old 12-11-2011, 09:43 PM   #10
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Mdf is not good for a canopy it soaks up moisture swells and degenerates
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