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Marine Aquarium Disasters and How to Prevent Them (Part 3) - Scott L. Moore

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The Great Tank BurstPoorly constructed homemade tanks or tanks not placed on a level surface, when filled with water, will put undue stress on the joints and seals causing a burst. Also, the seals in some very old tanks can weaken. More than one aquarist has had to deal with a hundred gallons of salt water in their living room. Consider that one gallon of water weighs 8.5 pounds (2.2 liters weigh 1 kilogram).Prevention: Buy from quality tank manufacturers! There are too many cheaply made tanks on the market. Test used tanks by filling them with tap water, drying the outside and let them sit for several days. If possible weigh all live rock, sand and equipment before putting it in the tank. Know the total weight and ensure your stand will support it. Do the math! Make sure your tank is level and sitting on a completely flat surface! Do not trust standard manufacturer stands in an earthquake zone. Thick steel stands or stacked cinder blocks will be quite sturdy. Attach a nice piece of panel or wood to the front and sides if the cinder block looks too unsightly.AvalanchesRock is often stacked in dangerous ways in a tank. What many aquarists don't realize is that sand slowly dissolves causing even the most carefully stacked rock to come tumbling down and crack or bust the glass. Long before sand dissolves, livestock can burrow in the sand under the rock and cause an avalanche. Some livestock, such as octopuses, are very strong and can easily shift rock around causing an avalanche. True Tale of horror: One aquarist heard a loud crash followed by a wave of water as he lay in bed at 3am in the morning. A large rock had tumbled down and smashed through the front glass of the tank. The tank emptied in only a few seconds. The salt water hit electrical cords and surge protectors and destroyed his TV and other electrical appliances. His living room had substantial damage mostly to carpets and furniture. All this caused by 80 gallons of salt water.Prevention: Place rock gently on the bottom of the tank

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I have had a bad vacation disaster. I took a long trip to costa rica and panama and came back to find my tank crashing and half my fish dead. Those dwarf angels and not very hardy. My friend did not really understand the concept of water evaporation and filled the drip bottle up, but it was clogged and eventually the pump ran out of water and stopped. He was there when I got home and got to witness my panic and anger. He did help with the emergency water changes. Finding the right person/people to take care of your tank is critical.

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I have not read part 1 or 2 or this article set, but this one has lots of good advice.


Watching fish behavior is one of the big clues that I have found to something going wrong in the tank. Keep an eye on your fish. If normally active fish are hiding in your rocks, swimming backwards, lying on the bottom, changing colors, you better start checking things. I have not gotten into corals so much, but I am sure they must look happy in good conditions and sad in bad conditions.


In the last couple of years, I have had two heaters go bad. One had the glass broken while it was in the tank and plugged in. Nothing bad happened from that. Another decided to go full on and I found my tank at 100 degrees one night before heading to bed. I was happy that I decided to feed them something and stuck my hand in the tank that night. All fish survived, but some of my coral died.

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What you say about corals is absolutely true. There are a few that I always use as my "indicator species" that are always the first to not fully extend if something is just slightly amiss. (zoanthids for me, but could be just about anything) If you watch your animals, it usually isn't too hard to identify yours!


Also, if you want, you can find the older editions of the newsletter under the "archive" link on the newsletter drop down menu.

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