Anyone build tanks for a living? Question for you

Ecotech Marine

spicymikey

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I just had a custom 375gal (96" x 30" x 30") tank built and delivered for a new Reef aquarium. The tank was made locally by Tropical Aquarium Mfg in Miami (tropical-aquariummfg.com). The tank quality is excellent. No complaints there. But I specifically asked for powder coated aluminum framing and NO euro bracing. I did that because of its size and the fact that it is going to be housed inside furniture. Plus its a reef so I didn't want anything more to obstruct light or need to be constantly cleaned.

So what do they build? A tank with huge glass cross braces and perimeter bracing in glass ON TOP OF the metal framing. Why did you do that I asked? I said I did NOT want Euro bracing. The owner (Bob) said I thought you'd want it. I said no I don't want it for the reasons I mentioned above. He then switched his reasoning and said well it must be there for stability. I pushed back and said that's BS. I wasn't born yesterday. I'm 59 and have had tanks built without this technique in the past. Its a thing people do instead of metal/plastic framing to give an an open frameless look. Its never necessary in addition to metal framing. He backed off and said that he would remove it but it will void the warranty.

So I'm ticked. I think he just messed up. An honest mistake really. But he is unnecessarily not owning up to it for some reason. I'm not even asking for credit on the unrequested work. Just remove it.

Anyway, that's the back story. My question is; Does anyone build tanks for a living, or know someone who does, or can point me to construction guidelines, to prove to me, that this extra bracing is not needed on top of metal framing? I'm not backing down and will press this, even if it gets ugly.

Bob @ Tropical Aquarium Manufacturing, if you are reading this feel free to tell your side of the story on here.

Tank top wide view.jpg Top Tank close up.jpg
 
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spicymikey

spicymikey

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Best tank builder in the world. You get what you pay for. https://www.reefsavvy.com
I know, also near by in Tampa. But they had a 6 months waiting list so I went with these guys. They came highly recommended. And again, the tank build quality is excellent. They just made a mistake with the euro bracing and for some odd reason won't own up to it. Its a little mind boggling.
 
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MaxTremors

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I would demand they remove the euro bracing without voiding the warranty. And if they won’t do it, demand a refund. Make it clear that you were very specific about what you wanted and that it’s their mistake, it’s not your responsibility and the warranty shouldn’t be voided (something you paid for) because they made a mistake. At the end of the day, it’s not a huge deal, but the reason you buy a custom tank is to get the exact specifications you want, so don’t feel bad about demanding they make it right, don’t let them make you feel like you’re overreacting, they didn’t deliver what you ordered and paid for.
 
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spicymikey

spicymikey

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I would demand they remove the euro bracing without voiding the warranty. And if they won’t do it, demand a refund. Make it clear that you were very specific about what you wanted and that it’s their mistake, it’s not your responsibility and the warranty shouldn’t be voided (something you paid for) because they made a mistake. At the end of the day, it’s not a huge deal, but the reason you buy a custom tank is to get the exact specifications you want, so don’t feel bad about demanding they make it right, don’t let them make you feel like you’re overreacting, they didn’t deliver what you ordered and paid for.
Thanks for agreeing. But I did demand they do it like I asked. Unfortunately they are claiming structural reasons for not fixing it. We all know its BS, but they have my money at this point so I'm still trying to reason with them and try to further box them in by showing authoritative documentation that shows Euro Bracing is not needed IN ADDITION to metal bracing. Hoping they stop playing games. I shouldn't have to prove this, but like i said I'm still trying to resolve this peacefully before going to war with them.
 
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mdb_talon

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I know nothing about building that size tank, but hopefully you have written communication of the specs you requested prior to the build. Otherwise it is probably going to be a hard battle to win.
 
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spicymikey

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Just realized I posted this in the Triton forum. I'm an idiot! I reposted it under the general hardware forum. Not seeing a way to delete this but will try. Check the same question out in the more correct forum. :)
 
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spicymikey

spicymikey

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I know nothing about building that size tank, but hopefully you have written communication of the specs you requested prior to the build. Otherwise it is probably going to be a hard battle to win.
Well I have the specs asking for metal framing. Of course I didn't say "DONT use euro bracing". But I didn't say a lot of things to NOT do. LOL
 

Variant

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Thanks for agreeing. But I did demand they do it like I asked. Unfortunately they are claiming structural reasons for not fixing it. We all know its BS, but they have my money at this point so I'm still trying to reason with them and try to further box them in by showing authoritative documentation that shows Euro Bracing is not needed IN ADDITION to metal bracing. Hoping they stop playing games. I shouldn't have to prove this, but like i said I'm still trying to resolve this peacefully before going to war with them.

Generally speaking... the thickness of glass used for the tank will contribute to the structural integrity of the tank. In cases where thinner glass was used euro bracing is typically added as almost a must have.

I would check to make sure the thickness of the tanks glass panes are of decent thickness. I would also be weary because if the warranty is void, can they literally just tear off the eurobracing haphazardly, damaging parts of the tanks seam in the process. Then when you take it home to fill with water and leaks they will just give you the cold shoulder?

Tough situation... sucks having paid for one thing only to get another... but for what its worth I like eurobraces because it prevents spills from just wave action, stick hand in tank, magnetic glass scrapers, fish jumping, etc. The tank is nice :)
 

mdrieder

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Hey OP, I'm not a tank builder but I am a mechanical engineer. IMO I would be very concerned considering the tank builder designed this tank knowing he would use bracing. That means that other things such as the glass thickness will likely be less and not really up to standard in terms of a rimless tank. Its not entirely likely it will outright fail but I'm sure you paid a pretty penny for high quality and your going to be getting something more closely related to a Petco special with the bracing taken off. The fact that he won't honor a warranty supports my claim. I hope you can find a resolution to this problem, good luck!
 
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Just realized I posted this in the Triton forum. I'm an idiot! I reposted it under the general hardware forum. Not seeing a way to delete this but will try. Check the same question out in the more correct forum. :)

No worries! The threads have been combined and are now in the correct forum! :)
 
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spicymikey

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Generally speaking... the thickness of glass used for the tank will contribute to the structural integrity of the tank. In cases where thinner glass was used euro bracing is typically added as almost a must have.

I would check to make sure the thickness of the tanks glass panes are of decent thickness. I would also be weary because if the warranty is void, can they literally just tear off the eurobracing haphazardly, damaging parts of the tanks seam in the process. Then when you take it home to fill with water and leaks they will just give you the cold shoulder?

Tough situation... sucks having paid for one thing only to get another... but for what its worth I like eurobraces because it prevents spills from just wave action, stick hand in tank, magnetic glass scrapers, fish jumping, etc. The tank is nice :)
Good point about glass and overall construction from you and @mdrieder. The glass is 3/4". Should be plenty thick for a 8' long tank. As far as your comment on you liking it. I'm ok with the perimeter glass. Doesn't get in the way. I just asked him to remove the cross braces. Thats were we are locking horns unfortunately.

I am not a mechanical engineer and don't know the strength values for the glass and aluminum they used, but intuitively this seems to be built like a "tank" (pun intended). It has 3 aluminum cross braces at 24", 48", and 72". The aluminum is 3/16" from what i can tell. The welds are so clean you have to look close to even see them. This is not junk. Don't want to suggest it isn't well made.

I doubt we even needed the 3 braces, let alone adding siliconed aluminum cross braces. But of course I don't know for sure, thats why I was asking. Everyone I have showed this to so far said wow this is definitely over engineered. Maybe he thought this was going to California and needed to be earthquake proof LOL.
 
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spicymikey

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@spicymikey with a glass thickness of 3/4 the safety-factor for that tank with its given dimensions will be over 4 which is very respectable. I wouldn't worry about it much but I'm still not really sure why the manufacture won't honor a warranty.
Thanks for the feedback. Not sure how you calculated that, but some things, based on experience, you can calculate intuitively in you head. My sense is I could not only remove those glass braces but even cut away the center cross brace and the remaining two would still be more than enough to support against the lateral forces.

As far as why he won't honor the warranty? Its a mystery to me too? Spite? Doesn't want to drive up to Orlando again (3hr drive) so he's trying to make me give in? There's a few possibilities. If Tropical Aquarium Mfg explains his reasonings better, or if he changes his position, I'll be sure to share it. But otherwise, I suggest everyone just be mindful of my experience so far.
 
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spicymikey

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So an update: The guy won't remove the glass cross braces even though I showed by video how little it does to maintain the integrity of the tank. Also, talked to other tank companies that said they'd build me a tank of this size with only metal framing no issue. So hes got my money and washing his hands of me. That's life.

So has anyone rebuilt an aquarium before. I don't want to over simplify this although I know this is not that hard. With the right too and some elbow greases I can get these panels off. Is there a good tool others have used to do something like this (separating siliconed sections from each other? I have used silicone to reseal bathrooms, etc., and its definitely tough stuff. Any suggestions on a cutter would be welcome. A standard utility knife wont work. I need something stronger and longer to get under the glass. I'm sure its siliconed thinly all the way along the contacting surfaces, not just in the corners. Thanks!

Heres is a video I uploaded to Youtube to show what I need to remove

(3) center cross braces - YouTube
 
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spicymikey

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Final update: The tank maker refused to remove it even after I told him to forget the warranty. I filled it and inspected it. It looks great. I have to respect their desire to over engineer their tanks, but in the end, I didn't ask for Euro cross bracing on top of aluminum cross bracing.

I removed that cross brace today and all is ok so far. I will refill the tank to do another test of lateral forces but with three aluminum cross braces spaced every 24" AND Euro perimeter bracing on top and bottom, I'm sure it will be fine.

Moral of this story. Tropical Aquarium Manufacturing in Miami builds a heck of a tank, but realize they use Euro and traditional metal bracing and will not compromise. If you don't want that then look elsewhere.
Euro Brace removed.jpg
 
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spicymikey

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FYI: I did remove those large glass cross braces completely but left the perimeter bracing. So how did this increase the chance of failure? I had to find out!

After researching strength ratings for both aluminum and glass the following are the calculations. Bottom line. This tank still has a Factor of Safety (Fos) of over 4 (as @mdrieder estimated). And that is with the glass. Based on my calcs the aluminum frame is over 6 (and that is being extremely conservative) In other words, if this tank ever failed catastrophically it would be on the glass (hear the bottom) not ever on the aluminum straps near the top). This tank is still extremely over engineered and those glass cross braces were totally useless as I intuitively suspected.

Here are my calculations. Anyone curious please check my math. Keep in mind, to do precise calculations I would need to do some calculus This is just ballpark figures using HS math. I minored in Mathematics in college but that was 35 years ago so I have to sadly admit I would struggle doing an Integral at this point. :(

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