Monday, July 27, 2009

Planted Aquarium Mishaps

I'm sure we've all had our share of mishaps when it comes to keeping aquariums. Mixing glass, water, and electricity is a recipe for disaster. I thought this thread about aquarium mishaps was pretty interesting, and I'll share my biggest mishaps to date.

First of all, I've come to the realization that heaters, submersible or not, are probably the most dangerous piece of equipment in an aquarium. They're often glass, and sometimes non-submersible. Combined with electricity...well, it's a bad mixture. Most of the time it's as simple as forgetting to turn the heater off when you do a water change. The heater turns on, heats up much to fast (since it's supposed to be "cooled" by water) and either burns up or, even worse, when you refill the tank, cracks the glass when it comes into contact with water again. Some heaters are designed with an auto-off switch to prevent this. I've killed at least two heaters this way. Luckily, it's fairly easy to notice, given the smoke, steam, and possible fireworks. One of mine just burned up before I raised the water back up, but the other shattered when it contacted the water. Luckily, my fish (and me!) got away without any injuries. I've vowed to never buy cheap heaters again, and always, always use a GFCI outlet or power strip (which should probably added to the 10 Items a Planted Aquarium Keeper Can't Live Without list).

Another mishap occurred when setting up my pressurized CO2 system. I bought a regulator with a bubble counter and filled it with water. I screwed the cap on tight and everything was great for about 2 weeks. Then I noticed that my water level was dropping more than normal between water changes, and the bubble counter was often full of water. It had an integrated check valve, so I wasn't worried about my regulator being damaged. However, I then realized that the floor of the stand underneath the tank was literally mushy and soaked. I examined the CO2 setup for leaks and realized that on the back side of the bubble counter, hidden out of view, was a nice big crack that must have been slowly spreading since I screwed the cap on. Each night, when the CO2 went off, water would siphon back and drip out through the crack. My stand is pretty funky inside now, and the particle board that got wet is deformed and expanded. Let's just say the floor inside isn't exactly flat anymore. I ordered another bubble counter and was extra careful screwing it in.

A few more minor mishaps:

  • I've accidentally overfilled my tank while doing a water change and watching TV at the same time. I suddenly had a waterfall in my living room! Don't multitask while filling your aquarium back up.
  • I've accidentally run my Eheim filter overnight with a kinked hose. Woke up wondering what the funny burning rubber/plastic smell was, till I realized it was my fish tank. The Eheim took it like a champ though, and still works fine.

I count myself lucky that I've avoided most major mishaps (no cracked tanks, major water damage, etc).

What about you? What planted aquarium mishaps have you had?


  1. I had a walstad style tank and the soil was so compacted that the roots on my swords were rotting. I decided to try to "aerate" the soil a little with a skewer. a metal skewer. woke up the next morning to the sound of trickling water to find the tank half emptied onto the floor. once I got a new tank and transplanted the fish as fast I could I found the big hole I tore through the silicone seal on the bottom. brilliant!

    even messier- my sink is clear across the apartment from my tank so I use a 50ft python to do water changes. The one time I cleaned the tank when I was home alone... I hooked it up, turned on the faucet in suck mode and headed to the living room. After emptying half of the dirty mucky water I headed back to the kitchen to find half the apartment flooded and a waterfall going down the back steps. Turns out I left the strainer/plug I had just bought at Target in the sink and when the sink started backing up with water it sank and plugged the drain. After panicking and cleaning it up the best I could I found out I caused it to rain mucky nasty fishwater in the downstairs neighbor's kitchen. oooops.

  2. My Mother thought my fish in a carefully prepared bucket (whilst I was replanting one of my very early tanks - this was years ago) helpfully poured in some boiling water 'to warm them up'. It did that alright and of course I lost the lost. I've never let her forget it!

  3. Glad to see my thread mentioned. Haven't had a mishap myself which is why I posted seems like a lot of people have had some close calls...but nothing serious, thank goodness.

  4. my 1st aquarium with Goldfish taught me to be wary of fish during vac use and the worst memory is also because of a heater, when I grabbed it during a water change once...resulting in mild shock and burns.

  5. About every 3 months, I forget to run the garbage disposal before cleaning my tank with the Python. I figure it out rather quickly when I hear the waterfall in the Kitchen...

  6. Oh believe me Jestep, I've done the exact same thing a couple of times!

  7. Very cool idea! Thanks for posting this.
    Really its amazing information about Fish Tanks
    Awesome job !!! well done keep it up.

  8. Good thing we have this post. It constantly reminds us of things we usually forget in taking care of our tropical aquarium plants. Hence, may we keep in mind these essentials so that we cannot encounter any mishaps on our part.

  9. The worst thing that happened to me was when I was cleaning my catfish 'fry tank' I was using a syphon thing to clean the substrate and accidentally sooked up a fish! I honestly thought they were too big to fit in the tube and I was SO careful! Anyway, this was at 2am and I was totally freaking out. .. I tried to shake him out but ended up cutting the syphon hose thing and holding him in the flow of the filter to get oxygen back into him (he was unconscious) ... After 10 minutes I gave up and he sunk to the bottom. I was in tears :( Then he woke up :L and he's still with me today.


Popular Posts



Planted Aquarium Books