Ask Aquariaman
Advice column all about aquariums by J. Hotelling

Subject: leaky tanks

Hi - This is going to sound like a stupid question, but I have had tanks for 30 years, and this has never happened to me before. I have 2 55-gallon tanks. One is a reef tank and the other is a group of breeding ciclids (Labiotropheus sp.), 2 catfish and one enormous tin foil barb. Last week the ciclid tank developed a leak. It seemed to be mainly where one of the short sides meets the bottom. I have emptied the tank (fish living - for the most part - in a cooler) and sealed all the bottom seams. It's too soon to add water just yet. Yesterday, while cleaning the reef tank, I discovered that it, too has been leaking for some time. The stand (oak) is invariably wet, the floor is wet, and there is a large buildup of salt around the bottom edges.

Here are my questions:

1) Is this unusual?

2) Should I be automatically sealing my tanks when they are new?

3) What is a reasonable amount of evaporation to expect from a 55 gallon tank at 75 degrees?

4) Why me?

Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

Carol (MI)


1) Not unusual necessarily, but uncommon is appropriate conditions. 2) No, but a thorough check of the seals is a must. This also depends on your source. If you are buying from a local shop, you can choose the tank you want and check the seals at the same time. If not, that is a different story. If you find a leaky seal, go ahead and re-seal before set-up. Most tanks these days are sealed very well, but due to mass production, there are bound to be some that slip through quality control. 3) Once again there are other factors to consider here like humidity, filtration (type and amount), aeration, etc. I have seen some tanks with ¼” per two weeks and some with over an inch per two weeks. The key here is to inspect each tank every week or so to spot leaks early. 4) Only the creator can answer that, sorry. I do usually find that we get our answer later and say, “Oh, I see now.”

Another important thing to note is that there are products on the market now for re-sealing tanks without draining them. They are usually marketed under “Epoxy….” They can be used underwater and seal quickly. These are especially helpful in reef tanks. Tearing down a reef tank and setting it up again can be very disturbing to its’ inhabitants.

I certainly hope this helps you out.


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