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Old 04-29-2010, 09:41 PM   #1
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Help! My 180 gallon aqaurium exploded!

I need help!

First of all check out my aquarium here: 180 gallon freshwater in-wall aquarium. 100% starphire glass.

It is 180 gallon freshwater aquarium that I bought from glasscages.com, i have had it setup for the past 7 months with water.

A few days ago in my sleep I heard a big *crack* then followed by the sound of flowing water! Water was gushing out of it! My house was flooded with water and has ruined my expensive hardwood floor and my silk rug!

Well I got it all cleaned up now, and after I took everything out of the aqauirum I see a big 3 foot crack on the bottom of the tank! After examining everything I think I came to the conclusion of why it cracked. The surface that the tank is sitting on is not completely flat! It kinda "bows" in, and right where it bows in the crack is right there!

The stand is custom built by my contractor, it has 6 legs (2 by 4 boards) and the top is Formica (laminate counter top).

Well, my contractor is coming over tomorrow to take a look at this.

Apparently my contractor has like no idea how to make a good fish tank stand that holds a 180 gallon aquarium!

What I need is suggestions on how to do this right so I can tell my contractor how to build the stand right!

I called glass cages and they suggested to use granite for the top the tank sits on. Is that a good idea? It sounds good to me, it would be completely flat and sturdy! You guys have any other suggestions??
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Old 04-30-2010, 12:56 AM   #2
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I say ditch the plans to TELL your contractor how to do it right, fire that idiot, and hire someone new. Someone with tons of experience in building complete setups of large tanks. That's what you need to do and who you need to look for. In my opinion of course..

And yeah.. granite sounds pretty good to me too.
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Old 04-30-2010, 01:57 PM   #3
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Wow, I'm sorry to hear that. What you described is my biggest fear in owning an aquarium. I can only imagine how stressful that must have been, especially a 180 gal tank. I give you credit for getting over it quickly and staying calm about it. I don't even know what I would do in that situation, who did you call to clean up your house?

About a month ago, I heard a similar loud crack in the room where my aquarium is. Turns out it was a glass pane that is part of my desk furniture that shattered for no reason. I thought for sure it was the tank and I almost had a panic attack.

Didn't the water get all into the wall too?

Again, I'm sorry you had to deal with that.
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Old 04-30-2010, 02:59 PM   #4
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Cool sorry about your tank

sorry for what happen .I got a 125 in the wall and I
will go crazy if that was to happen to me. I will be switching
to salt water soon. i think a tank in the wall should be of
salt water,it adds much more beauty and wow expression when
people go to your house:p
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Old 04-30-2010, 04:22 PM   #5
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Ohh, this is going to give me nightmares.
We're replacing a panel of glass in a 260 gal, and I dread to think of what could happen.

Typically, granite is cut very cleanly and level without bulges or dips. Obviously it doesn't swell or bow. Take pictures once you get it set up! I love wall tanks.
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Old 04-30-2010, 04:50 PM   #6
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If his manufacturing was not currect then you should file a claim against his insurance company (if he is licensed and insured). You will need to preserve your current stand and not let anything happen to it so they can look at it.

I'm kinda suprised this happened though. Is there no frame around the tank? My tank glass doesn't sit on anything as it is like 1/8 or 1/4 inch off the ground because of the framing. If there is a frame and still that much bowing then there was something seriously wrong with that stand.
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Old 04-30-2010, 09:40 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonwilks View Post
I need help!

First of all check out my aquarium here: 180 gallon freshwater in-wall aquarium. 100% starphire glass.

It is 180 gallon freshwater aquarium that I bought from glasscages.com, i have had it setup for the past 7 months with water.

A few days ago in my sleep I heard a big *crack* then followed by the sound of flowing water! Water was gushing out of it! My house was flooded with water and has ruined my expensive hardwood floor and my silk rug!

Well I got it all cleaned up now, and after I took everything out of the aqauirum I see a big 3 foot crack on the bottom of the tank! After examining everything I think I came to the conclusion of why it cracked. The surface that the tank is sitting on is not completely flat! It kinda "bows" in, and right where it bows in the crack is right there!

The stand is custom built by my contractor, it has 6 legs (2 by 4 boards) and the top is Formica (laminate counter top).

Well, my contractor is coming over tomorrow to take a look at this.

Apparently my contractor has like no idea how to make a good fish tank stand that holds a 180 gallon aquarium!

What I need is suggestions on how to do this right so I can tell my contractor how to build the stand right!

I called glass cages and they suggested to use granite for the top the tank sits on. Is that a good idea? It sounds good to me, it would be completely flat and sturdy! You guys have any other suggestions??
Sorry to hear about your situation and I'm glad to hear you are not giving up after this disaster. I think a level granite slab would work fine as long as it was supported properly. Granite is going to add a lot more weight.

Sweet house and in-wall tank setup!!! I love the way the tank divides two rooms and I like your theme. I went to Ireland a couple years ago and really enjoyed all the medieval castles/history.
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Old 04-30-2010, 09:42 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Samantha_p View Post
sorry for what happen .I got a 125 in the wall and I
will go crazy if that was to happen to me. I will be switching
to salt water soon. i think a tank in the wall should be of
salt water,it adds much more beauty and wow expression when
people go to your house:p
These were my thoughts exactly, when I first saw the picture of his tank I said to myself in my head "WOW that would make an awesome reef tank."
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Old 04-30-2010, 10:00 PM   #9
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Sorry for your disaster! And kudos for staying calm. One other thought, what is the stand sitting on??

It doesn't matter how level someone build the stand, if it is sitting on an inadaquate foundation, that will sag & throw the tank off balance. A contractor may not have the experience the set the foundation for such a large tank, this may be a job for a structural engineer. <Agree that granite would be inert & a good surface, but it must be sitting on a solid foundation or you still can get into trouble. ... and pre-made formica counter is not a good top material ... they are particle board & can flex .... When I lay down my counter, I just snug down the top to the cabinets, and I can easily do a 1/4' correction to hide any imperfection in the cabinets ... this is not obvious to the eye, so is a good shortcut, but not for a tank! ...>

As for the stand itself, again a contractor may not be the best guy for the build. They are used to doing framing where tolerances can be up to 1/4". You want something good to 1/16" or better. This is a job for a cabinet maker who can hand plane & fit things to close tolerances. <Not to say the contractor is not up to snuff, he may well be a woodworker in his spare time .... but you have to be careful & check the work.>
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Old 05-01-2010, 09:07 PM   #10
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Black granite would look good with your set up. Possibly one with veins of red. I cant believe your guy used 2X4's, at least 2X6 on end.
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Old 05-03-2010, 10:54 AM   #11
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Sorry to hear about the aquarium. Jsoong is right. A stand is only as good as the surface it's placed on. Figure a 180g weighs around 1800lb. That's a lot of force, especially if one of the panes is stressed from being twisted due to being out of level or a lack or rigidity. Many people with large aquariums place them on sheets of foam used to insulate house foundations. It absorbs some of the irregularities of the stand.

You guys are making me crazy nervous. I've got plans for a big build in the next six months or so. I think I'm going to be building some cinderblock foundations in the crawlspace.
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:30 PM   #12
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six 2 x 4s will hold a 180 gallon tank with no problem. i also agree that something was either wrong with the stand, or the tank.
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Old 05-04-2010, 03:07 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonwilks View Post
I need help!

Well I got it all cleaned up now, and after I took everything out of the aqauirum I see a big 3 foot crack on the bottom of the tank! After examining everything I think I came to the conclusion of why it cracked. The surface that the tank is sitting on is not completely flat! It kinda "bows" in, and right where it bows in the crack is right there!

Regardless of how strong/sturdy a stand/foundation is, if the surface which the glass tank sits on, which is suposed to be a flat surface is not flat/level, there is a good chance the glass will crack. Which is what sounds like happened in this situation. With glass tanks it is important to support around the bottom frame on all the sides whether it is a framed surface or completely flat surface.
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Old 05-04-2010, 10:51 AM   #14
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six 2 x 4s will hold a 180 gallon tank with no problem. i also agree that something was either wrong with the stand, or the tank.
Depends on how you use the 2x4's. Although 2x4's will support a compressive load at over 20,000 lb, it is not nearly as strong with a perpendicular load (ie when used as a beam). It all depends on how long your span is. I personally, will not use a 2x4 to span more than 12". <When we put in our jacuzzi tub (~150gal), building code called for double 2x8's to span 10'.>

At any rate, it is not just the breaking strength. 2x4's will deflect under load, and that movement is what break tanks. Also, as wood dries (and also with seasonal changes) it will move. A cabinet maker will take that into account when designing furniture. You want to have no wood movement with a big tank on top.
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Old 05-04-2010, 02:16 PM   #15
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I'm sorry to hear about your tank disaster, but now I'm really freaking out. This is literally my worst nightmare, I want to build a new stand now. Hahaha
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Old 05-04-2010, 04:42 PM   #16
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Quote:
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Depends on how you use the 2x4's. Although 2x4's will support a compressive load at over 20,000 lb, it is not nearly as strong with a perpendicular load (ie when used as a beam). It all depends on how long your span is. I personally, will not use a 2x4 to span more than 12". <When we put in our jacuzzi tub (~150gal), building code called for double 2x8's to span 10'.>

At any rate, it is not just the breaking strength. 2x4's will deflect under load, and that movement is what break tanks. Also, as wood dries (and also with seasonal changes) it will move. A cabinet maker will take that into account when designing furniture. You want to have no wood movement with a big tank on top.
is this a guess, or do you have experience with this?
i have suspended tanks from the ceiling, and built all sorts of stands for 100+ gallon tanks without issue.. building codes are way overkill.
the next time you go to the lfs, take a look at a storebought stand for a 150. it's not even 2x4s it's 2x3s.
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Old 05-04-2010, 08:59 PM   #17
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2x4

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr_X View Post
six 2 x 4s will hold a 180 gallon tank with no problem. i also agree that something was either wrong with the stand, or the tank.

I used 8 kiln dried 2x4 for the legs in a "L" shape and 3/4" plywood for the top. Before I first filled the tank I leveled and shimmed the tank. When the tank was half full the floor settled so I drained and re-leveled. It's still a little off as one of the two overflows does 80% of the water flow. My tank is plexi you might want to go thicker on the top for a glass tank.
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Old 05-04-2010, 09:18 PM   #18
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That's my worst nightmare.


Geeez, so sorry to hear that happened.
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Old 05-05-2010, 01:14 AM   #19
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is this a guess, or do you have experience with this?
i have suspended tanks from the ceiling, and built all sorts of stands for 100+ gallon tanks without issue.. building codes are way overkill.
the next time you go to the lfs, take a look at a storebought stand for a 150. it's not even 2x4s it's 2x3s.
I have experience building all sorts of furniture. But I must admit, I am all for overkill. OTOH, none of my furniture break or sag .... And I expect them to last generations.

I am not arguing about 2x4's used as legs, it is using it as a beam that is worrisome. And yes, I do have experience with floors sagging This happens with older houses, and I do have to shore up the support for my piano when the beam sagged over 3/4".
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Old 05-05-2010, 02:50 PM   #20
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Keep in mind that water weights 8.35 pounds per gallon, so your 180-gal weighs 1,503 pounds, and that does not include the weight of the glass or the gravel inside. The glass fractured from the stress of an uneven surface. (Note: why didn't you buy acrylic, which is more flexible?) For a tank that size make sure the surface is strong enough to support the weight without distorting or bowing.

Also, the tank should rest on a one-inch thick layer of styrofoam, felt padding, or some other surface that "gives" in order to distribute the weight evenly and avoid stressing one part of the tank.

Forget about granite or any brittle material that is likely to crack or shatter under 1,500 pounds of weight. I would suggest a layer of heavy oak plywood or marine plywood at least one-inch thick, strongly cross-braced to support the weight.
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