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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

First post here so if I break any rules or step on any toes, please forgive.

BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front): Any tips on rehabilitating old abused tanks beyond cleaning and replacing outer seal? Specifically, I'm working on a relatively new but completely neglected 36 bowfront (I think Top Fin?) that had an SW setup and an old 55 gal from '97 that spent the last few years as a lizard tank (terrarium? lizardarium?).

Some specific questions:
1: What's the best way to remove long-standing salt deposits from glass? Currently I'm using lots of water, plastic bristle scrub brushes and razor blades, but it's been slow going. Most of it comes off relatively easily but there seems to be a final layer that refuses to come off gracefully.
2: On the 55G, the inner silicon is pretty much non-existent, but the outer silicone (the silicone holding the glass panels together) seems sound. Should I assume the outer silicone should be replaced just because of the age (21-22 yrs) or should I just reseal and water test?
3: The 55G has a brown faux wood frame that is pretty beat up, but seems basically sound. I was considering just sanding it smooth and plastidipping it black. Does that sound okay or should I just replace it?

Additional info:
I live in Hawaii, so the whole $1 per gallon sale, etc., doesn't happen here - our avg price is yours, plus a 20-50% price-of-paradise premium. 40% of what mainlanders take for granted on the shelves of their LFS doesn't happen here - has to be special ordered and shipping costs are an issue. Time isn't super critical, but it is a factor - I just "inherited" a 15 gal show tank (22 x 8.5 x 17) with a UGF stocked with an 8" dojo loach, 6" fantail goldfish, 8" common pleco, and a 5" tiger pleco. I've added an AC 30 that I'm cleaning 2x a week and I'm doing 50% water changes every 3 days or so, but I'm really feeling sorry for these guys so I'm trying to rehouse them as soon as possible. My current plan is to put the GF and the tiger pleco into the 36, rehome the common pleco, and put the dojo into the 55G and look at acquiring some compadres. I didn't pick these fish out myself, but so far the loach is my favorite - I love watching her antics and she always comes up for a pet whenever I have my hands in the tank. Thanks in advance - any advice is appreciated!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Okay, this came up in "DIY" so obviously I'm not conversant in how to post properly. If a moderator could help out it would be much appreciated!
 

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I wouldn't assume the outer silicone needs replacing. I have a circa mid-80's All Glass 55 that was used and then sat empty for quite a while (20+ years) and I filled and set it up last year ... no issues.

White vinegar can be used to dissolve mineral deposits.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the reply! That's what I was thinking - the seams look fine (actually better than the Aquaeon tank I just bought at Petco), and I really wasn't looking forward to a complete disassembly. I tried vinegar without success for the salt staining. For the outside, I ended up using a detailing water spot remover. For the inside, I was thinking of trying a coke/vodka mix that works well for scale removal - am currently researching to see whether that might be dangerous somehow to future occupants. Don't really see how, assuming it gets thoroughly rinsed and sanitized before use, but I get paranoid about stuff like that.
 

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Be sure to report back on how the coke/vodka mix worked.

Coke contains phosphoric acid and can be a good cleaner for some stuff ... assuming one doesn't mind removing the sticky residue that it leaves behind.
 

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wryan said:
Be sure to report back on how the coke/vodka mix worked.

Coke contains phosphoric acid and can be a good cleaner for some stuff ... assuming one doesn't mind removing the sticky residue that it leaves behind.
:popcorn: I would like to know that result also.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well, I wish I could report stunning success but, alas, no...

I've had good luck with the vodka coke mix breaking down hard-water scale on glass, plastic, metal and granite composite, but apparently crusty, baked-on salt deposits are beyond its scope. Fortunately, I was able to console myself with the unused portion of the "cleaning solution".

This is what it looked like when I picked it up -

This is where it's going to end up (Nova paced off the length to make sure it would fit and Pumpkin gave the okay on the feng shui) -

After first scrub. The two big white columns on back panel are my nemesis-

After several hours of scraping and scrubbing. It's hard to make out in the pics, but there's significant white haze frosting the glass. This is what I used the coke mix on -

It's possible the coke loosened it up some, but that could just be wishful thinking. Here's what it looked like after a couple more hours of razor work (these are with the tank full, doing a leak check. I didn't get it perfect like I wanted, but not too bad.) -

Tomorrow I'll put together the new stand and get it cycling. Then I'll start work on this -
 

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Welcome to C-F!!

Q1, Vinegar soaking sometimes works though your vodka/coke mix also seems to have done a great job. I've also used a product called Acid Magic with good results on some tanks but what often happens is that long term deposits etch the glass permanently and can't be removed. Once you have cleaned up any tanks and they look almost good enough, fill with water to see if the cloudiness goes away or is good enough not to drive you crazy seeing any defects.

Q2, I would just reseal ALL the inner silicone fillets, let cure for a week and then water test outdoors for a few days. Be sure to thoroughly clean the interior and remove any silicone 'skin' remaining without digging into the seams of the tank.

Q3, you can lightly sand the plastic trim and use paint to cover the brown trim. I used latex black wall paint on my 125G tank, a couple coats, and it worked great!! I did not paint the trim where the glass lids set though as this portion of the trim stays wet and I figured it would flake off.

Nice job so far on cleaning up the tanks!!
 

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vs;

Tanks look pretty good, but if you are not yet satisfied, I use and like scrubby sponges (retired from kitchen and rinsed super-well) for any really tough deposit cleaning on surfaces (and on where it can be rinsed well), and never in an active tank. You might try those (one side has a nonscratching scotchbrite-like material)...I really fail to see how anything in an aquarium can get onto/into the glass and adhere to be impervious to light acid dissolving and mechanical scrubbing...besides if it is not an active tank, which could be rinsed well after the cleaning operation (as in your case), I could think of some pretty strong (but again not scratching) things to attack the deposits with. I'd start with Bon Ami (non-scratching cleaner), or full-strength bleach...I'll save the vodka for Friday...

Cheers
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for all the feedback! The bowfront glass is as good as it's going to get - I've got too many other things on my to-do list. With water in it, you really have to look close to see the discoloration, so good enough. It's only 2 yrs old and the seals look pristine and no leaks, so I'm going to sanitize it, throw a background on, make a lid (egg crate painted black) and get it cycling.

The 55 is a different story for the seals. I wanted to see how the inner seals looked under pressure, and they look very good. Much better than the brand new tank I bought last week (which I'll be returning). Once it's all cleaned up, I'll be redoing the outer seals, sanding and plastidipping the frames, then I'll have to find some glass lids that won't break the bank.

On a different note, I have a Cascade 1200 canister for the 55. Would that be too big for a 36 gallon with two fantail goldfish and a tiger pleco? I'm mostly concerned about flow/current. A 1000 would probably be better sized, but I can get the 1200 for only $7 more and adds a lot more media.
 

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If you have the option, see if you can buy locally Twin Wall Polycarbonate panel to use as lids for any of your tanks, it's a product normally used for greenhouse panels and should be cheaper than glass lids. It's easy to cut with a utility knife and a straight edge.

I can't advise specifically for fancy goldfish but the Cascade 1200 should come with a spray bar that can be angled to direct the flow so they can still swim without issue. You could also slightly close the output valve to reduce filter flow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I just checked on poly panels - I'm sure I can find one somewhere on-island if I look hard enough, but the BB stores here don't carry them and the ones available for order online are like $80. I'll keep looking.

Kind of having a WTF moment - what I've been assuming is a 36G bowfront doesn't match any specs that I can find. It's 30" x 15" x 24" and has a "Built by xxx" tag with an anchor logo on it. The anchor logo I believe belongs to Perfecto/Marineland but maybe Tetra? These are the closest I've found:
Marineland 38G: 32.25" x 17.125" x 25.719"
Aqueon 36G: 30.25" x 15.5" x 20.875"
Underwater Treasures 40G: 31.9" x 15.5" x 24"

Anyone have any idea what I've got?
 
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