A Handyman’s Guide to fixing a fish tank

A leaky aquarium tank can be a big problem, especially if you have a very large aquarium. Most leaks are on the seams and only spill a little water at a time. However, if this problem isn’t fixed, it can lead to the whole aquarium breaking…a friend who owns a handyman service shared these helpful tips with us.

Part 1 of 3:

Preparing the Surface

Drain some water from the aquarium. Drain the water low enough to allow room to clean and dry the area around the leak. You can use a cup, bucket, or other container to remove the water. If the leak is at the bottom of the aquarium, you will need to remove all water and aquarium rocks from the tank.

If the leak is very low in the tank, you may have to move the fish and aquatic plants into a temporary container or other aquarium while repairs are made.

Keep in mind that the sealant you seal the leak with will have to cure before refilling the tank, so plan accordingly to keep your fish and plants healthy.

the old sealant. Scrape away the old sealant around the leaking area with a razor blade scraper. You want to make sure to remove silicone from the leaking area but you don’t want to remove the silicone from between the glass panes. The means that you are just removing the silicone bead on the inside corner of the tank.

If you didn’t drain the entire aquarium because the leak in high up on the walls of the aquarium, be careful not to allow any of the old sealant to drop in the tank.

Silicone sometimes does not bond well with old silicone. You may end up having to remove a lot of the silicone on the inside of the tank and then resealing all the seams at one time. If you are already draining, drying, and scraping silicone, you might as well do the whole thing.

Part 2 of 3:

Apply nontoxic 100% silicone sealant to the leak area.

Run a bead of silicone along the leak area using a caulking gun. Then smooth that bead out, with a damp finger or a caulking tool, so that the silicone is smoothed out and it completely covers the seam that leaked.

Check with a professional aquarium supply for recommended repair products. Make sure that if you use silicone, it is labeled “nontoxic” and “100% silicone”. Also make sure that the silicone sealant has NO fungicide in it and is a High Modulus product.

You may be tempted to try and repair the leak from the outside of the tank, but usually the repair is more effective if made on the inside. A repair on the inside will hold better, since water pressure will “tighten” the seal pressing the silicone against the glass. If it is applied on the outside, the water pushes the silicone away from the glass.

Allow the sealant to dry. Silicone needs to dry and cure for a minimum of 24 hours. If you are applying it in a cool and dry environment, you may need to wait closer to 48 hours. This time will allow it to set completely, assuring that it attaches properly to the glass and does not leak.

You may use a heat lamp or other portable heat source to help cure the sealant, but do not heat above 110 degrees (F).

Inspect for leaks. Refill the tank enough so that there is some water in contact with the repaired seam. Wait a few hours and then fill the tank even further and then look for leaks. Finally, fill the tank all the way and then look for leaks. Take a close look at the area that was leaking and wait awhile to make sure that the water pressure inside the tank doesn’t reopen the leak.

Try taping a paper towel to the outside of the tank where the leak was and leaving it there for an hour or so. If the towel remains dry, your leak is fixed.

Keep towels and a bucket nearby, in case of continued leaking. This will allow you to quickly remove the water from the aquarium once again.

the tank back up. If you have removed everything from the tank, including gravel, fish, and plants, you will need to replace them when you are confident the leak is repaired. Begin with the gravel and then add other objects on the aquarium floor. Add any chemicals to the water that are needed and then return any plants and fish back into the tank.

This is a really good time to make sure everything you put back in the tank is thoroughly cleaned before you put them back.

Clean the area. Wipe the area with a clean cloth dampened with acetone. This will remove any residue and other foreign material from the leak area. Dry with a paper towel and allow to completely air dry, which usually takes about 15 minutes.

Having a clean area will assure that the new silicone that you apply will hold to the glass and you will not end up with another leak in the near future.

Part 3 of 3:

Pay attention to the water level in your aquarium. In some cases, you will first spot a leak in your aquarium by noticing that the water level is dropping. While there is always some evaporation in fish tanks, any noticeable level drop could be due to a leak.

If you have a severe leak, the location will likely be very evident and you will be able to find the source from a quick glance around the tank.

Look around the aquarium for wetness. If the leak is not obvious, you may first suspect one if there is unexplained water around the outside of your tank. Even a small amount of unexplained dampness could signal a problem.

If you have changed a filter, added items into your tank, or otherwise interacted with the tank recently, water outside of the aquarium may be due to your activities. Try drying it up and then keeping an eye out for additional water pooling up. If the water returns, then you have a leak.

Inspect the tank for the leak location. If you suspect there is a leak, but its location is not evident, then you will need to do a bit of investigating. Look for metal corners that appear to be separated from the glass, and for sealant protruding in the corners. These are tell tale signs that the aquarium has a problem.

Also, feel around the edges. If you feel water, move upward from that location, until the surface feels dry. The furthest spot towards the top of the tank that is wet is likely to be the leaking area.

Mark the location of the leak. If you find the location of the leak, or you have an area where you suspect the leak is, you should mark that area with a felt tip pen. This will allow you to keep track of the area once your tank is empty and you begin repairs.

Most felt tip pen marks can be easily removed with glass cleaner after you finish your repairs.

Know what leaks cannot be repaired at home. Leaks along the seams of your aquarium are relatively easy to fix because they are usually caused by a failure in the silicone, and silicone can be easily replaced. However, if the leak is due to a cracked side or bottom of your tank, that is not as easy to repair. Replacing a whole piece of glass will take a lot more time, expertise, and energy. Basically, replacing a glass panel of an aquarium will likely require the skills of a professional.

If one of the sides or the bottom of your tank has cracked, it is likely that the whole aquarium will fail. A crack in the glass will spread due to the pressure of the water and once it spreads far enough, the glass panel will collapse.

Sometimes it’s better (and easier) to just replace a leaking aquarium instead of trying to fix it.

Expert Source Craig Morton

Aquarium Specialist, Aquarium Doctor Inc.

Expert Interview. 21 July 2020.

Bala Sharks

IN THIS ARTICLE
Characteristics
Origin
Colors and Markings
Tankmates
Care
Diet and Feeding
Gender Differences
Breeding

A school of bala shark can make a dramatic addition to a large aquarium tank. These Southeast Asian fish are not true sharks, but their shark-like appearance and size make them quite an intriguing pet. Due to their peaceful nature, juvenile bala sharks do well in a community aquarium. As they mature, however, they will eventually outgrow most tanks, and they will continue to grow for several years.

Species Overview
COMMON NAMES: bala shark, hangus, Malaysian shark, silver bala, silver shark, tricolor shark, tri-color shark minnow

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Balantiocheilus melanopterus

ADULT SIZE: 13 inches (35 cm)

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 10 years

Characteristics
Family Cyprinidae
Origin Southeast Asia
Social Peaceful, but may eat small fish
Tank Level All levels
Minimum Tank Size 120 gallon
Diet Omnivore, accepts all foods
Breeding Egglayer, not bred in home aquaria
Care Easy to intermediate
pH 6.5 to 7.0
Hardness to 10 dGH
Temperature 72 to 82 F (22 to C)

Origin and Distribution
Bala sharks originate from Southeast Asia in medium to large-sized rivers, as well as lakes. At one time they were found in Thailand, Borneo, Sumatra, and the Malayan peninsula. However, they have become rare in many areas that they originally inhabited and are believed to be completely extinct in some regions.1

The cause of this drastic reduction of bala sharks in their native lands is still under debate. Some believe they were overfished for the aquarium industry. Others think damming of the rivers is to blame, while still others believe pollution is the root cause. All of these quite likely factored in the demise of this fish that at one time was quite prolific in Southeast Asia.

Regardless of the reasons, there is no question that the bala shark is rarely found in its original native habitats. In fact, since 1996 it has been on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.2 Currently, this species is commercially farm bred in the Far East, using hormones to promote spawning. Almost all specimens sold in the aquarium trade have been captive-bred.

Colors and Markings
This species is known by a number of names, all of which have something in common: the word “shark.” Even though the bala shark is not a shark at all, it has a large triangular-shaped dorsal fin and a torpedo-shaped body, giving it a distinctly shark-like appearance, but that’s where the similarity ends.

A member of the Cyprinid family, Balantiocheilos melanopterus has a shiny metallic silver body with well-defined scales, large eyes, and a deeply forked yellow-tinged tail. The dorsal, caudal, pelvic, and anal fins are all edged in deep black.1 This tri-color scheme of silver, yellow, and black gives rise to another of its common names, the tri-color shark.

Perhaps the most important feature of this fish is its adult size. Usually sold as young juveniles in pet shops, they are only a mere three to four inches, giving potential owners the impression that they are suitable for most tanks. What isn’t readily apparent is the fact that this fish can grow to a foot or more in size, making it suitable for only very large aquariums. This is particularly important because bala sharks are schooling fish that must be kept with others of their own kind.

Be aware that many pet shops will not take large fish back, so take that into consideration before bringing one home. Ask the shop if it makes trade-in arrangements. If all else fails, check out public locations, such as medical offices or other businesses that have large aquariums that could use large fish. The one option that should never be used is to drop a bala shark, or any other nonindigenous fish, into local waterways. Unwanted fish should be euthanized before opting to release them outdoors.

Tankmates
Juvenile bala sharks can be kept with a wide variety of fish due to their generally peaceful nature. As they grow larger, though, they will sometimes eat small fish, particularly sleek fish, such as the neon tetra. Balas should not be housed with invertebrates, such as snails or shrimp, as these are always part of their diet in the wild. They also tend to scare the shy and slow-moving fish, due to their constant, vigorous activity in the tank.

Balas are most content in schools, preferably of four or more; when kept alone, they tend to be both timid and skittish. If only two or three balas are in the tank, a dominant fish may emerge and bully the others. If the tank is large enough though, adult bala sharks can be housed with other medium- to large-sized robust fish.

Bala Shark Habitat and Care
As previously mentioned, the key factor in the bala’s environment is tank size. An aquarium of 125 gallons is needed to keep a school of adult bala sharks, and since they are active swimmers, a longer tank is recommended. These are active fish that startle easily.

In warm climates, ponds are also an option for this species, but they should only be kept outdoors in locations where it is warm year-round. They are sensitive to water conditions, particularly low water temperatures, and are susceptible to white spot disease when temperatures drop too low.

The tank should be fitted with a tight cover, as this species jumps when startled. Decorate with large robust plants around the periphery of the tank, but leave plenty of open swimming space in the center of the tank. Floating plants are also suitable to deter fish from jumping out. Provide smooth rocks and driftwood to round out the décor. Filtration should be robust to ensure good water movement and high oxygen levels throughout the water column.

Bala Shark Diet and Feeding
This species is an omnivore that is not fussy about what it eats. Bala sharks accept flake foods, pellets, freeze-dried and frozen foods. They also voraciously accept live foods, including Daphnia, bloodworms, brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, and tubifex worms. Vegetables should be included in their diet as well; they readily consume fresh veggies such as spinach and peas, as well as fresh fruits.

How to Feed Your Herbivorous Fish
Gender Differences
Most of the time, there are no obvious external differences between the sexes. However, during the spawning season, the female develops a rounder underbelly than the male.

Breeding the Bala Shark
Bala sharks have not been successfully bred in home aquaria, although occasional undocumented reports do surface. The likely issue is tank size, along with the lack of information regarding the required conditions for breeding. Interestingly though, this species is bred commercially. However, the commercial breeders in Asia employ the use of hormones to induce spawning, so the natural spawning conditions are still largely unidentified.

More Pet Fish Species and Further Research
If you’re interested in similar large and peaceful species, check out:

 

Article curtesy of : https://www.thesprucepets.com/bala-shark-1380864#characteristics