General Question

jca's avatar

What would make an acrylic fish tank leak intermittently?

Asked by jca (28692 points ) September 11th, 2013

I have a small acrylic fish tank (called a Mini Bow), one gallon, on my bedside table. About a month ago it was leaking slightly. I wiped up the water and it did not leak again. Then about two weeks ago, I was on vacation, came home to find water all over the floor and the tank about half full. I took the tank, changed the filter and inspected it all, and put it in the kitchen sink for a day. No leak. I then moved it to the kitchen counter for 4 more days, on a paper towel. Dry paper towel for the duration. I then moved it back to the bedside table. Last night my daughter noticed it leaking again. I had to clean up the water and then I put it on an enamel tray with a lip. This morning there is about ¼ inch of water on the tray, and the water in the tank is about an inch lower than it was last night.

I have no problem getting a new one and I will have to get a new one, but I am just curious why it would not be leaking every day. I don’t want to get a new one if it’s something that I should be doing or looking for.

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6 Answers

DWW25921's avatar

I think you probably have a micro-fracture. I found a forum that talks about that;

http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1920273

Maybe a coat of clear non-toxic sealant (on the inside) will help?;

https://www.google.com/search?q=non-toxic+sealant&source=univ&tbm=shop&tbo=u&sa=X&ei=3FMwUsS4KOjF2AWXyYAQ&ved=0CDoQsxg&biw=1920&bih=977

That’s all I got. I hope it helps?

LuckyGuy's avatar

Is the temperature in the room changing? Was it in a spot that gets sun sometimes?
Both could cause expansion and contraction.

I figure I can fix anything. I’d try resealing the edges with clear epoxy or RTV. That would probably cost more than the tank, not including the time spent. But it is the principle of the thing – I’d have to try.

jca's avatar

My only concern with sealing it is that since it’s going to the fish’s environment, it may kill him.

Temperature in room has remained pretty much the same (probably between 70 and 80, maybe a bit warmer a month ago during the day but nothing drastically hot or cold). Spot does not get sun. If anything, when it was in the kitchen sink and on kitchen counter for 4 days it was in the sun, and it was dry as a bone.

I would be willing to try the sealant but not too thrilled to have a dead fish, so I’ll probably end up getting a new tank. With Amazon Prime I can have it in two days.

El_Cadejo's avatar

It sounds like some small fractures in the acrylic like @DWW25921 mentioned (great forum for fish info btw) That I would also guess are growing larger since the frequency of the leakage is increasing. The only solution I can think of that could possibly work would be finding the place where these fractures are. If you’re able to locate it you could get some weld on acrylic cement and apply it to the area where it’s fractured. In theory this should fuse it back together.

That said, if it’s for a smaller tank it’s probably not worth the hassle and I’d just buy a new one.

jca's avatar

New one has been ordered thru Amazon Prime and should be here by Friday.

dabbler's avatar

It must have a cracked seam or some other crack.
As would @LuckyGuy I’d try to fix it too.
For fishy safety online sites recommend superglue, Krylon Fusion, and silicone sealer that does Not have any anti-bacterial agent in it.

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