We came home one day to discover some water by our aquarium and we weren’t sure where it came from at first.
It didn’t take long though to discover that our aquarium was leaking.
It was a used aquarium so it was pretty much impossible to know how old it was so I decided to do some research.
My first question was, how long do aquarium seals typically last?
This is what I found…
A glass aquarium seal should last at least 10 years while an acrylic tank seal should last 7 – 10 years. How long an aquarium’s seal lasts depends on the quality of the silicone used for the seal, how much the aquarium was handled or moved, if the aquarium is level, and whether or not you scraped the seal during maintenance.
The Quality Of The Silicone
There are plenty of cheap aquarium silicone products o the market today but they can be misleading.
By misleading, I mean that they may be easy to use and dry fast so they seem awesome but they just don’t stand up to the test of time.
Personal Testimonial – We like to use GE 1200 Series Construction Silicone Sealant – Clear for all of our aquariums when we reseal them. It isn’t advertised as an aquarium sealant but it is the best that we have found available.
If you use this silicone, your aquarium should last for at least 15 years as long as you don’t use it for a hockey puck or coffee table.
If you want your aquarium to last, it is better to do some research to see what type of silicone was used and you will probably have to spend a little more money.
This is the beauty of Amazon.com. Even if you aren’t buying anything on Amazon, you can still look up the silicone you are thinking of buying and check the reviews.
The problem with cheap aquariums is that the manufacturers use cheap silicone that may dry fast but becomes brittle faster than high-grade silicone over time.
How Much The Aquarium Was Handled Or Moved
If an aquarium stays in the same spot for 15 years, the aquarium seal may last for 15 years if it is never moved.
This is because when you move an aquarium, it usually puts pressure on the aquarium in such a way that it wants to twist at the seams, which is where the seal is.
This twisting motion puts pressure on the aquarium seal causing it to move or shift, especially if the aquarium is older and the seal may be becoming more brittle.
It is rather dangerous to move old tanks. If you do, make sure you drain most of the water and use two people to move the tank, so you can try to keep it level without twisting it.
Is The Aquarium Level?
This may seem like an odd statement but if the aquarium is level then the edges will stay straight.
If the aquarium is not level then it puts more of a twisting pressure on the seals.
An un-level aquarium will not last as long as an aquarium that is level.
Insider Tip: You can set your aquarium on an aquarium leveling mat and your aquarium will actually self-level from the weight of the water.
Scraping During Maintenance
A typical scenario here is when someone is trying to scrape algae or other residues along the side of the aquarium.
Especially in the corners or the seams.
You just want to get every little drop of gunk out of your tank suddenly you jab the scraper straight into the silicone of the aquarium seal.
Even if your aquarium doesn’t start leaking right away, the seal has already been weakened, so it will probably eventually leak over time.
How To Make Your Aquarium Seal Last Longer
We have shown you all of the reasons why an aquarium seal doesn’t last as long as it should so to make it last longer, simply:
- Start out with a new higher quality fish tank, so you know it has high-quality silicone and you know how old it is.
- Start out with a sturdy aquarium stand, made especially for aquariums so you can level your fish tank right away and keep it that way for years so there is less pressure or twisting motion against the aquarium seal.
- When scraping the inside of your tank, try to stay away from the edges of the aquarium where the aquarium seal is located.
- If you buy a used tank or move a really old tank, reseal it with the GE Construction Grade Silicone.
Before you leave let me just say, now that you know how long an aquarium lasts, if it starts leaking, you should just go buy a new one.
Do you really want to risk getting silicone everywhere or not doing it right?
10 years is a long time for glass tanks, so we recommend glass tanks.