Removing silicone from full tank

bubblynutter

Member
Weird question!

The horrid styrofoam backgrounds that were glued to the inside of my 6ft tank came off tonight (dont ask).

The tank is obviously still full. The question:

How can I remove the silicone used to secure the backgrounds aside from using a razor blade?

Using the razor will allow small particles of silicone to break off into the tank. I'm sure you can all appreciate I am loathe to tear down a 180G tank...

Thanks in advance for the suggestions!
 

Aquarist

Member
Hello Bubbly

My first thought was to use a razor blade. I don't really see another way out of it. Let's see what other responses you receive.

Is there a lot of silicon on the inside glass?

Ken
 
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bubblynutter

Member
aquarist48 said:
Hello Bubbly

My first thought was to use a razor blade. I don't really see another way out of it. Let's see what other responses you receive.

Is there a lot of silicon on the inside glass?

Ken
thanks Ken. Yes, it would literally take me hours. I tried on a small spot above the water line, and one below the water line. Both were smaller than 1" diameter, and both took about 10 mins to remove each. You can imagine the whole back panel of a 6ft!

My last resort will be to tear down the tank and keep everytrhing wet and using acetone. Would also give me the chance to level it properly, but I'd rather not have to yet!
 

Nick G

Member
HI Bubbly, sorry to tell you this, but the only way to remove silicone cleanly is with a razorblade or paint scraper. Even if you dismantle the entire tank there is no easier way of doing it. I work with a lot a silicone everyday and don't know of any other way to do it. If it were me I'd get a sharp paint scraper from a hardware store and work in sections, removing it over a few days.
 

jetajockey

Member
i've only used razor blades to do it, I mean you could use something like a battery powered gravel vac to suck up the small bits of silicone as you are removing it. I'm guessing the silicone doesn't float? I've never tested it to see.
 
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ryanr

Moderator
Member
Totally agree with Nick, silicone is a real pain like that.

One thing that might help is a heat gun or hair dryer. Sometimes heat can help break the adhesive qualities without melting the silicone, then scrape off with a razor/paint scraper. It has worked for me in the past on certain types of silicone.
 
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bubblynutter

Member
ok how do you think the heat would go on tank glass full of water?

Thanks for the suggestions. I just altered my technique slightly and have got about a quarter of it removed. I'm concerned about the small particles I couldn't catch lying on the substrate till I can vacuum. (no, they don't all float)

my back is buggered, so hopefully if I do a quarter each night it won't take too long. The two middle sections will be horrible to access.
 

Nick G

Member
The tank would need to be empty for the heatgun to work.
 
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ryanr

Moderator
Member
Good point Nick, didn't realise it was on the inside, my bad

On a positive, assuming the background was affixed using aquarium safe silicone, fish are smart enough to recognise food from 'rubbish'. They will spit it out if it isn't food, so if you have some bits that fall into the substrate, I don't think it's going to be detrimental to your fish.... agreed, not ideal, but I don't think it'll be real bad.

I really don't have any 'work around' answers, it sounds like a tank drain to me. Unless of course it's not the whole of the back wall, and you could drain part of the tank and use some gaffa tape to put a sheet/towel under where you need to scrape off to catch the bits
 
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bubblynutter

Member
UPDATE.

I near broke my back last night scraping this stuff off with a stanley knife (box cutter). I got about 90% of it off in the end - I am a perfectionist and hate leaving a job half-finished!

There is still quite a bit just above the substrate line, and some residue that is going to take me more time with the razor to remove. BUT, I do have most of it off, and it's less of an eyesore.
There are little bits that I missed on the substrate, but I was able to get into a rythym and get most of it off in big clumps. I will be doing a vac tonight to pick up what I can. I took Ryan's view on that the fish should well realise that it's rubbish and not eat it.

I will eventually have to drain this tank, as there is about half an inch lean in it towards the front. We didn't level it properly before filling, and now it's just a horrid thought to drain and empty such a huge tank... One day...!

Thanks for the help. I did suspect that my only way was with the blade, but hoped there might be a 'magical (mermaid?) solution' out there to save my aching back!
Thanks again, you guys are great.
 
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ryanr

Moderator
Member
Good result Rach, as back breaking as it was
 
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bubblynutter

Member
ryanr said:
Good result Rach, as back breaking as it was
It's a darn good thing I am 5'10"; as it was, I barely reached the bottom of the tank against the back wall even with a step ladder...

And hubby had to catch me at one point, cos I had been leaning into the tank for far too long and stood up waaaay too quickly! Almost fainted! ops:
 

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