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FAQs on Olde Glass, Metal Frame, Slate Bottom... Aquarium Repair

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Related FAQs: Glass Aquarium Repair 1, Glass Aquarium Repair 2, G lass Aquarium Repair 3, Glass Aquarium Repair 4, Glass Aquarium Repair 5, & FAQs on Repairing Glass Tank: Scratches/Blemishes, Cross-Braces, Leaks, Chips/Cracks, Whole Panes, Tools: Cutting Glass, Silicone, Moulding/Frames; Techniques; Troubleshooting/Repairs, & Acrylic Aquarium RepairUsed Aquarium Gear

Vintage Aquarium       9/9/19
Hello WWM Crew,
I recently pulled an old metal framed aquarium out of an outdoor shed at my parents house. I'm having difficulty finding information on it. It is extremely heavy and I believe it has a piece of glass on top of slate with a DIY silicon job that my dad must've done...
<Someone did, yes. This is a Metaframe (co.) tank... likely from the 1950's>
I found a page on your site that talked about restoration of older tanks so that is how I found you. I've included a couple pictures and am hoping that you could tell me a little more about when it would have been manufactured, brand, tips on resealing, etc.
<Mmm; to make it authentic would require cutting out the silicone, removing the added glass bottom and (trying to) reseal the inside corners w/ "Pecora" or such... heated asphaltum. Instead, IF I were to attempt a repair (to set up, fill w/ water), I'd cut out the existing silicone and reseal with black (color and it is a different consistency) silicone as someone has tried here. Yes, I'd remove, reseal without trying the existing, AND fill outdoors, make sure the new seal is working before moving the tank indoors>
Also, if its important, I believe, based on measurements, that it is a 45 gallon long. There is a small oval indention in the frame on the bottom edge of the front and back that looks to be where a badge with the brand may have been located but it has since fallen off.
<Yes; tis the case. Look up/Google "Metaframe" and you'll find examples of the type of slope-cut frame, bracing here, oval for label>
Please feel free to forward this along or to refer me to anyone that may be a good source of information!
Thanks for the time!
<And you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Resealing a tank from the 60’s/70’s.     10/30/18
Hello, I was referred to you for a suggestion on how to reseal an older tank with a slate bottom and tar as an sealant.
<Oh yes; I recall... did reseal them w/ heated Pecora et al. and have done so for "retro" purposes in recent years>
I have a 5 gal with the original light the only thing I’m missing is the lid.
<Do seek out on eBay and such>
I would like to reseal the tank and showcase it since it’s special to me. Any suggestions?
Is there a tar base out there that can be used that’s safe for the fish?
<There are... sold as liquid asphaltum>
I'd like to keep it in the original condition instead of removing the slate. Any assistance is greatly appreciated. Thanks, Robin
<I encourage you to "cheat" and just use black Silicone (aquarium sealant). Folks won't be able to see it, and it will much more likely make a good seal (that is if you intend to fill it with water) than trying the tar-based material. Unless you're a big risk taker, I would NOT try heating the present packing material to remove the slate bottom or glass sides. DO read on WWM re such repairs... USE only "Aquarium" intended Silicone/Silastic. Bob Fenner>
Re: Resealing a tank from the 60’s/70’s.       11/1/18

Thank you so much for your help Bob. I'll try the black aquarium sealant.
<Ah good. This is the route I'd go, have gone for a long time. The asphaltous material is a mess... >
I didn't try it before because I was told it wouldn't seal.
<... The same formulation is used to hold glass buildings together>
I'll also look on eBay for the lid to go along with the light I have. Glad I was referred to you. Thank you again, Robin
<Thank you for your follow up message Robin. BobF>

Scratch repair on a Metaframe tank - 05/11/2012
I recently acquired a 2.5g Metaframe aquarium that has some scratches in it, but holds water. It doesn't have the soft tar sealant like another Metaframe I have, it's hard as a rock.
WWM: The same, Pecora (sealant), but older, more exposed to air likely
I was wondering if I can use the normal methods for cleaning scratches?
WWM: In the frame, yes. The glass, no
I've read the glass is different than modern day glass used in aquariums and I'm worried about causing more damage to the glass or other repercussions. I've included a picture of my find. Thank you for taking the time to read my question. Jeff
WWM: I would leave all surfaces as they are; other than cursory cleaning. More likely to do harm, lose value if refurbished.
Bob Fenner

Vintage stainless steel tank sealant softening  10/19/2011
I own a 1970 stainless steel framed aquarium (glass bottomed) which has never been used (long story). Unfortunately, when I recently test filled it to the brim in connection with an eBay sale, a small leak in a base strut became apparent.
Searching the web for advice and coming across your informative site I was delighted to find what looked to be the perfect solution headed "Stainless Steel Tanks 9/17/09".
I heated up 89 litres of water to a high temperature and filled the tank to the brim. Disappointingly, after approximately half an hour, the leak in the black pitch looking sealant had not stopped and water
continued to ooze out covering the flat surface the tank was standing on.
As that surface was a kitchen work top I had to rapidly empty the tank again. The tank is 36 inches long, 12 inches high and 12 inches wide therefore it won't fit into a normal sink and the bottom of our bath is curved so that can't be used either. I noted that suggested
alternatives are, a propane torch (On GLASS? You cannot be serious!! )
<With a wing tip, carefully, yes>
 or a hair-dryer but the hot water treatment sounded the safest.
My questions are,
1. How long should it take for the hot water to soften the sealant enough to plug the leak, bearing in mind that the both the water level and it's temperature will be constantly falling?
<I think this technique, technology does not apply here... You apparently have an early Metaframe product that was sealed, not w/ Pecora but black Silastic. Heating this up will do no good>
2. The article 'Removing Black Tarry Sealant (Bob's go)' advised not strip down and refurbish these vintage tanks as they are 'collectors items'. What would a collector do with a leaking tank if he didn't strip and refurbish it?
<Is this really a "tarry sealant?"... IF so, you may have to soften it... there are solvents as well as heat guns... and remove, find some original (it's about in some places)... heat this up on a hot plate, work it into the joints. IF you care naught for "authenticity", I'd Silicone the tank no matter what it's present seal is made of>
Attached are a couple of photos of the tank taken in October, 2011 It would be a shame if such a
little beauty could not be restored for aquatic use.
Compliments on a great site!
P.S. Feel free to edit the above in any way you feel is appropriate.
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

CO: Bob Fenner , useful I hope   10/28/11
dear bob I was reading in the Metaframe aquarium repair section , I think I found the '' tarry sealant '' ? I am going to be doing more research on product along with applying it , here is a link to what I hope will be the modern day replacement ::::
<Thank you for sending this along>
I hope this works and is nontoxic , lol
thank you
<DO contact the manufacturer re. Again, t'were it mine, I'd run a bead of black Silastic inside the interior seams and call it a day. BobF>

Tank emergency. Olde Meta/l/frame leaker  12/8/10
Hi crew. I received a vintage 75 gallon Metaframe about 10 days ago from a friend, but at the time I didn't know that is what it is. After some research I found out what it was, and the weight of it being full, deeply disappointed, I realized I couldn't use it as a brackish shark tank like I have wanted to do for several years, as my floor will not hold that kind of weight. So after 2 days of thinking I decided that I would make a terrarium. I divided the tank in half and placed 2 pieces of glass that I had pressed together and sealed with 100% silicone, making it 1/4 of an inch thick. I then sealed that in and started my 2 day wait, all the while buying and planning the set up of the land and water feature. So I figured out how much water the one half will hold, as I only had the glass cut 9 inches high, and I found that it will hold 15 gallons. I was tickled that It would hold a decent amount of water for the tropical fish that I had bought at That Fish Place in Lancaster, PA.
<Good folks there>
So last night I spent several hours setting up the aquarium side of the terrarium and put the artificial plants in place and the gravel and a really neat homemade submerged waterfall. I knew I had to wait until today to add the water, and I actually gave the tank an extra 12 hours to finish curing the silicone just to make sure it was going to be right. About 2 hours ago I added 14 gallons of water and aquarium salt to start the cycling and sat down to admire my handy work. To my horror after like a week of planning and working so hard on this terrarium, it is slowly leaking from what I assume to be a bottom seal under the tank.
I am so very very upset. It is leaking about 3 fl oz. per hour, so it's not a terribly bad leak, but it is a leak none the less. I cannot lift the tank and honestly I put so much work into the set up that I really don't want to tear it down to fix it. I already have the soil and plants in the land side of this terrarium. Is there any way to fix this leak without having to empty it out?
<Not really, no>
I am wondering if there is some kind of sealant that I can apply under the water as you can for pool patches, that won't release toxins into the water, or very minimal toxins that will filter out after a few hours/days.
I don't have any animals or fish in it right now, and I'm willing to wait another few days or a week or so to add the fish and the House Geckos to their new home. What can I do? Please help me! I'm so stressing right now.
<Best to "bite the bullet" Robin... drain, clean out, let dry... cut away the old Silicone sealant on the inside seams (all) and re-seal. Please see here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/glstksilastic.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Tank emergency 12/8/10
Thanks for your quick response!
I am so confused. Shortly after sending you the email, it stopped leaking completely.
<Heeeee! Happens... some "dirt" has gravitated over the area... the physical properties of water... being sp3 hybridized/hybridised if you're English, have conspired to (who knows for how long? I do not) plug up the hole for now>
I didn't do anything to it while I waited for your response, so I'm not sure why it stopped, though I'm certainly not complaining lol. Is it possible that there is a hole in between the sealant and the metal at the top of the tank (which I feel won't matter as the water level is 9 inches below the top rim), and I may have gotten water into that hole and it just ran its course through the metal part of the frame on the outside of the glass?
<Yes; though not likely the source of the water... as you state, the level is currently way down from there... But the water/leak can originate from most anywhere inside where there is water and exit elsewhere>
The final amount of water that leaked is about 2/3 cup so about 5 1/2 - 6 fl oz. When adding water to a new tank I always allow the water to run down the inside panel of the tank so as to not mess up my decorations in the tank (if that Tid bit helps any). In my mind it makes sense to me, (and just because it makes sense to me doesn't mean that it does to anyone else or that it is even correct.
lol) but I don't know much about Metaframes or their construction,
<Oh, I do... my time in the trade encompasses this Mattel bought brand, Pemco before it... Good units, but olde, subject to leaking. As general practice, I encourage folks to seal (if not done yet)>
so I'm just not sure. I just took a closer look and it even appears to be drying up around the base of the tank.
<I'd keep reading where you were referred to. BobF>

tanks of old-   3/26/10
Greetings from the Panhandle of Texas- I am searching for an aquarium from my past. The sixties and seventies were great years and there was a glass fish tank of five or ten gallons, if I remember correctly. The tank was all glass and rectangular and had no seams. The four bottom corners were rounded. The top edge was pinched to decorate. I know there are some in an old garage some where gathering dust and I need to locate a few of them -
this is my mission!
Any help would be greatly appreciated. Bob R.
King of the Wild Frontier
<Ahh! I do wish I'd kept and collected olde aquariums and gear. A friend is quite an expert... Gary Bagnall of ZooMed... Do write him re sourcing: http://zoomed.com/cm/company-information/customer-service.html
and do please say hello to him for me. Bob Fenner>

Stainless steel tanks  9/17/09
Old Metaframe stainless tanks that leak can always be fixed for free and no work so if you find one buy it! Place it in a sink and Just put hot water in it. It will soften the tar And overnight it will stop leaking. And will never leak again until you take the water out. But if you store it empty the tar dries out and It will leak again then just give it the hot water treatment. Can do this over and over so leave the tar in it. And old aquarist secret. Gary
<Great tip! Just a couple nights back I gave a pitch at the local SDTFS and there were a couple of olde tar type tanks... circa Pemco going into Metaframe era... Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Stainless steel tanks  9/17/09
Yea, I probably shouldn't have said anything I won't be getting any more
free leaker tanks.
<Heeee! They're likely a better hedge against future economic downturn than
US dollars... Make that a surety. Cheers, BobF>

old aquarium (RMF, any secret?), Metal rusting frame  -- 4/30/09
I have searched the whole web for this info I hope you can help me. I recently got a 45 gallon aquarium with metal sides and top, the metal is rusty and we want to clean it and restore it. How do we do this safely?
Thanks Stacey
<Hi Stacey, you really can't. Obviously you could wire-wool away the rust and then coat with varnish, enamel or epoxy, but that would likely save you precious little money compared with buying a new one. Corroded metal is potentially toxic to fish, and in any case, it does imply the metal frame holding the glass panes together is weaker than when built. I can't see any point to using this tank for keeping fish. Compared to the cost of the heater, filter, lights, etc., a new glass aquarium is fairly trivial.
Cheers, Neale.>
<<What Neale suggests is about S.O.P. here... you may be lucky to have just slight corrosion, and be able to "rub off" most all with something like a "Scot Brite" pad or similar... Otherwise... starting with a small/fine "paper" (hand or power tooled) grit for metal polishing... and buffing out with finer... And as stated, for freshwater, likely this is all that will be necessary... I would not use such metal-framed tanks for brackish, marine. Bob Fenner>>

Re: A bit more re: old aquarium (RMF, any secret?) -- 4/30/09
Its not rusted through and a lot of it is stained.... So do you think it will fail if used?
<Is it a "newer" old metal framed tank... with a bead of Silicone/Silastic in the inside corners? If not, I would definitely reseal it with (likely black... flows nicer and hard to see)... and otherwise, not likely that the tank will fail if set on a flat, level stand. BobF>

Re: A bit more re: old aquarium (RMF, any secret?) -- 4/30/09
not sure of the age.....its like two 20 gallons put together long and skinny
if that helps determine the age. Also the metal is straight, not angled like on some tanks.
<Mmm, maybe a Metaframe product... you may be able to see the not-so distinctive spot-welds at the corner overlaps of the nickel/chromium frames... And any length, not an importance. B>

Re: A bit more re: old aquarium (RMF, any secret?) -- 4/30/09
Also its only rusted on the top supports.
<Ahh! Even easier to clean... and not so much involved in structural integrity. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/oldetkrepairfaqs.htm
Bob Fenner>

MetaFrame Aquariums  8/16/07 Dear Crew, August 15, 2007 I occasionally search for old MetaFrame fish tanks (aquariums) and for information concerning their repair, especially trying to effectively bond glass to slate. The best solution came from your WetWebMedia, so I have been reading and researching your site. <Okay> I still have my first (and favorite) 29-gallon slate bottom tank, which I was given in 1973 and still use. Since then, I have acquired at least a dozen old tanks (all different sizes), several of them with slate bottoms. I fancy myself repairing them, gathering lids, lights, hoods, etc. and selling them or making gifts of them as "retro" tanks, which seem to have some interest among fish hobbyists. My wife fancies me getting them the heck out of the house, along with all the other "treasures" I have "collected" over the years. Can't blame her. She needs room for her "treasures", after all. <Neat!> In reading your questions concerning the black adhesive used for the old MetaFrame, I have learned a couple of things. 1. To remove the black goop you must heat it. One way to do that is to put the tank in your oven and put it on a low heat, the lower the better. Then just watch until the goop starts to get warm and gummy. Do not overheat, as the glass will break. Be careful not to burn yourself when removing the tank - the metal gets hot, too! If the tanks is too big for the oven, use a hair dryer. Much milder, less dangerous, and easier to handle than a propane torch, f'sure. And, it works fine. Takes longer, but much safer. I am no expert, but would not recommend "hot tanking"; that seems unnecessarily harsh. And it may create new problems. 2. Silicone does not bond to slate. Period. That is probably why MetaFrame did not use silicone. I have not been able to find out what the black goop is, as I would prefer to use it, if I could. It is possible that you could get an adequate seal between glass and slate using silicone, but do not expect it to be permanent, because...o, yes, silicone does not bond to slate. That is why the best solutions to repairing a slate-bottom tank are: do not repair it and pawn it off to someone like me as it is and get a different tank, or, (my personal favorite) put a new piece of glass directly on top of the slate, and seal it to the vertical glass walls with (100%) silicone. Duh!!! Sure wish I had thought of this before trying several different bonding agents, including silicone, all to no avail! In closing, if anyone wants to "network" with me on buying, selling, trading, or just swapping lies about MetaFrame aquariums and associated hardware, please get in touch. As I learn more about the history of the company, the bonding characteristics of glass, slate, and various adhesives, I will gladly share that. I am not in this to be a capitalist, but hate to give away such fine old aquariums. And it is fun! I am more interested in learning and puttering than anything else. <Great Mike> Thank you for your time, and, if you are going to post any or all of this correspondence, please feel free to edit it as much as desired. I am not sure what you would consider relevant, and I do tend to go on and on. And, God Bless Elvis Presley (January 8, 1935 - August 16, 1977). Michael L. Stewart CactusMike@bigfoot.com (480) 650-8650 (((Note to self: check this website for a reply. Otherwise, what is the point???))) <Heee! I am going to take your offer as noting that we should go ahead and post your contact info. Will archive on a new subFAQ re "olde tanks". Thank you for sharing your passion, and techniques! Bob Fenner>

Old Aquarium, sell... or repair?   2/22/07 I visited a local pet store and inquired about repairing a 55 gallon aquarium that has been sitting in my mother's garage for 20 years.  I am 63 years old and I remember my father having fish in that tank when I was a child. Obviously, it is close to 70 years old; it is on a metal stand with wheels. <Neat!>   The aquarium has a slate bottom with drain hole that appears to be in good shape.  The problem is that one of the larger glass sides was broken and needs to be replaced.  I have considered selling it in a garage sale or just giving it away, but the pet shop owner indicated that it might be of some value. <Yes; might be> He said that he doubts that a replacement glass would be advisable thinking it would probably leak and thought it might be better to use it as a terrarium.  It occurs to me that if I installed glass of appropriate thickness and was successful with sealant application, the aquarium should be adequate to maintain fish.  What would you advise. <Mmm, well, unless you're in a big hurry, I'd "shop" it around... see what it might sell for... And if all you're interested in is having a useful system... I'd trade it in for the money and buy a brand new outfit. OTOH, I do like antiques in the field... so, repairing it might be the way to go... with "matching" technology (likely Pecora sealant...)>   If I were to install a new glass, could I purchase the glass from a local retail glass dealer? <Mmm, yes... if this were the route you settled on> What thickness would you recommend. <Likely 3/8 or 1/4" plate... The latter likely being what it is otherwise made of> Also, is it your opinion that the aquarium I have described would be of value as an antique?   <Yes... And I do encourage you to contact an old (okay, middle-aged...) friend, Gary Bagnall... of ZooMed... who is about the most "in to" person of such gear that I know... Have cc'ed him and another hobbyist/collector friend, Chuck Rambo here... And maybe try a pic or two... on eBay...> Thank you for your assistance, Charlie Marsh Jacksonville, Arkansas <Welcome, Bob Fenner>

Old Glass, Slate Tank repair, speculations re fish physiology re env. nitrogenous compounds   2/18/07 Dear Crew, <<Hello, Anne. Tom with you today.>> I recently purchased a 55 gallon slate bottom aquarium. I've scraped the old silicone out, cleaned and resealed the tank three times. I still have a major leak. The slate is flaking. Could it be leaking the water? It's very hard to lift the tank to tell where the leak is coming from. I am also not sure that I can safely dismantle the tank. <<This one's a little out of my area, Anne, but if the slate's flaking, you won't get proper adhesion with the silicone. Both the slate and glass must be perfectly clean and, in the case of the slate, sealed, in order for the silicone to bond properly. Now, my shortcoming, if you will, is in knowing how to properly seal the slate in order to get the bond that you'll need to prevent leakage. I would hazard a guess here that you'll need a clear epoxy sealer that's, obviously, suitable for aquarium use but, beyond this, I'm at a loss to provide any hard information.>> I have been researching fish for ten years and am hoping to get a PhD in aquatic animal medicine. <<A commendable goal/pursuit.>> I haven't started college yet and am having trouble understanding a few things. I understand pH and the measuring of Hydrogen ions. What I don't understand is the direct effect pH and ammonia have on fish. Is it merely the fact that fish don't come into contact with ammonia and nitrates in the wild? <<From an evolutionary standpoint, I would offer that this is, in part, the case. Fish have adapted, around the globe, to a variety of differing conditions which is why we don't have 'one-size-fits-all' water parameters in the hobby. The most obvious example is the difference between saltwater and freshwater life but variations in pH in different areas of the world are certainly other cases in point.>> Does it affect their bodily functions? <<Absolutely. Ammonia, for example, adversely affects (burns) the gill tissues causing swelling/damage which inhibits/prohibits the uptake of oxygen and the expulsion of ammonia. The result is suffocation. Likewise, nitrites bond with oxygen-transporting hemoglobin in the blood resulting, effectively, in the same thing, i.e. suffocation. pH fluctuations can cause damage to the skin, eyes and gill membranes as well as altering, with sometimes fatal consequences, the very narrow range of the pH of the fishes' blood.>> From what I understand it's not that fish can't handle the levels it's how quickly it changes. <<This is true, to an extent, with pH levels. Ammonia and nitrite levels, ideally, should never even be measurable but fish can/will adapt to pH levels outside of their particular norms as long as these remain stable. The current thinking in the hobby now is to adapt our fish to the pH levels of whatever our primary source of water -- tap water, for instance -- might be. Attempting to chemically alter the pH is, all too often, the recipe for a disastrous change in the pH levels of our tanks. Better to maintain stable pH conditions outside of the 'ideal' than to set the stage for a potential calamity. (This almost always takes the form of a plummet in pH levels due to insufficient buffering.)>> I know some fish can survive with gradual acclimation to abnormal levels. I have a bad feeling that I've got things very messed up! <<I don't think you have things 'messed up', Anne. These aren't easy concepts to get a handle on. The important thing to do is take it slowly. Lots of folks become overwhelmed by the volume of information and throw up their hands in despair. Narrowing your focus to very specific topics until you're comfortable with each one will help in avoiding 'information overload'.>> Please help a very obsessed and very confused fish fanatic. Thank you so very much, Anne  ( I hope to one day be as smart and knowledgeable as all of you) <<Well, in my case that might be taking a step backward but, for all of us, thank you. I've got the feeling that you'll far surpass my knowledge with a little more time and research. Best regards. Tom>>  

Leaky MetaFrame Aquarium   3/19/07 I have searched your website to see if there were any specific tips on how to re-seal an old stainless steel frame MetaFrame aquarium and while there were some tips, I didn't find anything specific enough. <Let's add here> I have a 10-gallon MetaFrame that leaks all over, and I need to re-seal the entire thing. <Yes> I saw that the black linseed oil <This was/is just a solvent for the "Pecora" tar-like substance> or whatever sealant used back then should be replaced with silicone, and that silicone won't adhere to this old sealant. <Correct> How do I get the old sealant out and remove the glass pieces so I can clean everything thoroughly enough for the silicone to adhere? <Mmm, no need to remove the glass... Removing the old sealant can be a chore... some folks with lots of nerve and good eye-hand coordination can use a propane torch (outdoors) and a wing tip to spread the flame, to soften, loosen the old material... and a sturdy putty knife to remove most all... Otherwise, digging at this with hand tools, single-edged razor blades is what works...> (They're really stuck in there...) And, after cleaning the glass and putting it back in, how do I apply the new sealant and where do I put it to ensure a good seal between the frame and the glass pieces? <In the corners, all inside seams, including the upper inside edge of the frame... I would use black Silastic... to match... easier flow...> Do I put this sealant inside and out? <Only on the inside> And, should I remove the slate bottom too or can I just run sealant around the bottom edges? <This latter... after all the "tar" is removed, and all the surfaces cleaned up with a solvent (my faves are Xylene or Toluene)> Any help you can give would be great, I don't want to break the glass or do this project more than once if I can help it! Thank you, Jessica <Mmm, or there's always selling this relic (on eBay or such) and using the proceeds to buy a new all-glass... which is what I would do if all you're interested in is having an aquarium that doesn't leak. Bob Fenner>

Re: Leaky MetaFrame Aquarium   3/19/07 Bob- Thank you so much for your help on this! Your tips were specific and very helpful. I do have a new all-glass aquarium that's low-maintenance, but I love a project, and I like these "relics" too. <Heeee! Are you talking about me or the tank!?> This will be my second one. Thank you again. Jessica <Welcome my friend... Oh, and if you have time, would you please consider making a few images, perhaps penning a short article re your experiences here? I will gladly help you place such. Bob Fenner>

Re: Leaky MetaFrame Aquarium  - 03/20/07   I will do that. It will be a little while before all is up and running, but as soon as it is, I will send a couple of pics and a letter. Thanks again! <Do appreciate this... As am SURE many folks will who follow your input. BobF>

Fixed Metaframe   4/16/07 Hi Bob!   You gave me some help about a month ago, suggesting some ways that I could seal up my leaky Metaframe aquarium. You asked me to send pics when it was done and it is...so here are the pics! <A very nice job indeed; including an 'olde' stand!>   I cleaned the entire thing, scraped all of the old sealant out of the cracks, cleaned the glass with both acetone and then glass cleaner, and then I used aquarium-grade silicone and sealed up all of the edges. (Using the old water on the finger trick, I was able to press the silicone down in to the cracks for a good seal.) I then filled it with water to check for leaks, there weren't any after 2 days so I drained it and put it on the stand that I also restored, and it's been humming along ever since. I wanted to let it run a little before adding fish, but in a couple of days, I'm adding those and this project will be complete!   Thank you again for you help, your website is a real asset to the aquarist community. Jessica Beebe
<Thank you for sharing! Bob Fenner>

Repair of slate bottomed tanks  9/13/05 G'day Bob <Peter> It seems like you know a little bit about slate bottomed tanks.  From what I can find out they were originally sealed with a tar - linseed oil mix (although I'm not sure if the whole tank was sealed with that, or just the bottom).  Seems though that most folks try and reseal them with silicone, which doesn't stick to potentially oily surfaces very well. <Correct... have to absolutely clean>   I have a half dozen 55 gallon tanks that would be nice to get sealed.  Am I better off to try and reseal them with tar-oil, or clean them off with Palmolive and try resealing again with 100% silicone?  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for any help. Cheers Peter Unmack <Well, the semi-purist in me would like to encourage you to go with the old tar-seal... the actual lazy person I am would clean up the tar, lay a thick silicone bead down/twixt the angle of the glass walls and bottom, and the practical person would insert a piece of glass in the inside and silicone that in over the slate... Bob Fenner> Removing Black Tarry Sealant (Chuck's go) I was given a 45 gal aquarium which has a chromed metal frame. The aquarium leaks around the bottom in several places and I was considering removing the bottom and using silicon to reseal. The glass and slate like bottom are all sealed with a black tarry type of sealant. The sealant has dried and hardened. How does one go about softening the sealant and removing it? < I collect antique aquariums and have a few suggestions for you. Many of these tanks actually leaked when new. They recommended that you fill them with hot water and let them sit for a few days. The putty softens up and the weight of the water reseals the tank. Try this first before you tear the tank down. Once the tank is full of water they stay water tight for years. Try and find the hood that goes with them. When they are all together they look unique by today's standards and are still quite functional. If you decide to tear it down you will need an additional piece of glass for the bottom. Sometimes the silicon does not stick to the slate so you have to cut an additional piece of glass for the bottom and them reseal the tank with silicon. Make sure that you use the silicon that is made for aquariums. The silicon you buy in the hardware store has fungicides in it that are harmful to fish.-Chuck> Denny Earle

Removing Black Tarry Sealant (Bob's go) I was given a 45 gal aquarium which has a chromed metal frame. The aquarium leaks around the bottom in several places and I was considering removing the bottom and using silicon to reseal. The glass and slate like bottom are all sealed with a black tarry type of sealant. The sealant has dried and hardened. How does one go about softening the sealant and removing it? <Good questions. First, an important note re this tank and the prospective project of removing, re-doing the sealant: Do strongly consider NOT doing this and INSTEAD saving or selling the tank as is... it's a collector's item that has more value as is than as a re-done fish tank. Now, if you want to "fix it", there is a possibility that gingerly heating the old sealant (with a gas/propane torch... careful) and cutting with hand tools (putty knives, tile knife, single edge razor blades with a holder...) might do the job, along with cleaning up the residue with an organic solvent (e.g. toluene, xylene)... OR you might have enough seal to just glom on over the existing tar material with the silicone, encasing it if you will... do all the joints, not just the bottom here. But my choice is really to save or sell this "relic" as an antique. Really. Bob Fenner> Denny Earle

Rebuilding old tank with steel frame I need help, <Hi Theresa, MacL here with you today.> I'm rebuilding a 100 gallon tank. It has a steel frame, when I took out the old glass, I had to take out some kind of tar. <Theresa that's a very very old tank if I am picturing it correctly and yes it might be something similar to tar.  New glass tanks are put together with silicone instead.> I was told that it has to be hot tanked and NO ONE in Portland does that anymore. <I had to look up to be sure what hot tanked was and here's what I got. "Typically you send it out to be "hot tanked," boiled in caustic soda. This will remove all of the rust. It will also open any impending pinholes if the rust has gone that far. It will also remove any tin coating on the inside which was supposed to prevent rust in the first place." That's for the steel corners of the tank Theresa. And their point is, I'm afraid that they are all concerned your tank is going to leak.> I already have the new glass, and have broke the front panel (have to buy a new piece). What I want to know is there another way to make this tank water tight and not have it pop. <Well I was sitting here thinking about it, what about putting a new tank, or glass pieces inside the old tank. Totally sealed with silicone? You'd have to use all new glass and just set it INSIDE the older tank so you can use the stand and keep the look.>  The glass guy seems to think that I need to get it hot tanked or just buy a new tank. I don't have that kind of money. <I know it gets so expensive.> I have had this tank for at least 15 years, just wanted new glass, already have built a new cabinet stand for it. Please help, is there any other way! <The insert is the only way I can think to go without just totally scrapping the tank Theresa because there is no way to tell how strong the steel is. Good luck and let me know what you decide, MacL> Thank you Theresa

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