seismic concerns - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-24-2014, 08:19 AM Thread Starter
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seismic concerns

I'd be curious to hear about any experiences that West Coast members have had with earthquakes and tanks. Has anyone ever had a tank fail during a quake? Has anyone modified or secured their tanks and if so, how? Any other precautions that folks have taken?

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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-24-2014, 09:31 AM
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never really crossed my mind. now you got me paranoid. I have an open top 40b maybe i should get a cover so all the water won't spill if I ever get a little jolt.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-24-2014, 03:30 PM
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Considering you generally don't get much of a warning for a quake. Having a top ready to go might not help much. When the quake happens are you going to run to your tanks first or take cover?

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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-24-2014, 04:01 PM
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Last earthquake I was in was some aftershocks from the big one in Chile. I was down there about a month after it. They are very quick and unpredictable. There is no chance of doing anything other than getting to a safe place.

Generally for smaller quakes a fishtank will be fine. The shear concentration of weight keeps them pretty stable provided you have a solid stand.

BTW the southeast is an extremely dangerous earthquake zone. They don't go often (every couple of hundred years) but they are huge.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-24-2014, 04:35 PM
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The only time I had any problem with earthquakes was when water sloshed around a lot and a little bit spilled out. This was with a tank that was not against the wall, but in the middle of the room, on a wrought iron stand. It looked like it might topple over, but all I could do was watch. This was in San Jose CA about 50 years ago.

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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-24-2014, 06:40 PM
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I'm a structural engineer on the west coast (Washington), designing everything from container terminals to large industrial buildings to resist earthquakes (and all the other forces that occur). I have my tank stand bolted to the wall and a strong rim to keep the aquarium on the stand . . .

No personal experience, though.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-24-2014, 06:49 PM
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Well there really hasn't been any big ones recently that could cause a problem. For what it's worth the Loma Prieta one from the late 80s caused a 3ft wave to wash from my Aunt's pool into here house via an open screen door. I've bet anything 5+ and all bets are off if you're right on top of it.

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-24-2014, 07:28 PM
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I actually lost some water in a few of my tanks in the east coast earthquake we had 2 years ago. I was out of the house when it happened and honestly my tanks were the first thing I thought of being damaged. Just had to top off. That was a really small quake but all my tanks were on the third floor with the most "sway"....
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-24-2014, 08:16 PM
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I have not had a tank since a big earthquake but we have had more than a few small ones. My tallest tank for the footprint was a 29 gallon and no issues. A more recent one, a 20 long had some slight water sloshing but nothing too bad.

I have not strapped or bolted any tanks to the walls and I am not too concerned. I think if there was an earthquake big enough to actually tip over my tank, it's going to be the last of my worries. I am no engineer, though my father is and agrees, but that may be wishful thinking. However, it's not hard to do so if you want to take that step.

I would be more concerned about lighter things. Even though a tank and stand are top heavy, they are also, really heavy. I will never have a tall stand with a nano tank, nor one that is the same size as the tank. Some of the nano stands I see on the board, and especially 12 gallon long stands would be cause for concern and I would bolt that to a wall for sure.

If anything, I would be more concerned with other things. For example, the likely hood of an aluminum CO2 tank tipping over is much more likely than an entire tank falling over. In the same way, it's more likely that something will fall off a shelf. I have seen a few people take their tank serious and strap it to the wall, have everything thought out about their tank, yet may have a shelf above it with something that could very easily fall on an edge of a tank in an earthquake. Or something could fall on their head, or their nice flat screen, etc.

My point is, don't go overboard with one thing and forget the details. I keep everything away from my tanks, electronics and other expensive things, first and foremost. I make sure anything over shoulder height is secure, be it something heavy, or light.


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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-24-2014, 11:01 PM
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watch this vid:

Since a lot of us are doing planted tanks, and interested in scaping them and such, we tend to use more of the wide, flat tanks (like the 40B, etc.), which are going to be a little more stable. I think the orientation of the tank relative to the direction of shaking will make a difference as well. If something like a 55 is sliding back and forth along it's length, you'll lose some water, but it's unlikely to tip over. If it's shaking back-front, it won't take much, especially if it's on a tall stand.

I only have one tank up right now, but I did put an eyebolt and a gate-latch to connect it to the wall. Nothing major, but it should be enough to keep the stand from tipping over. Right now there is just a 10g on it, but previously it had a 20XH, which I had a band running around the top to help secure it. No idea if it would have helped much or not, but it was cheap and easy to put in, so I did.

Also, the couple quakes I've felt were too quick to really do anything about, by the time I figured out what it was (not a truck hitting the house ), it was pretty much over. If you can, it's best to tuck under a desk/table or something if it's sturdy. Stay away from door frames - that's an incorrect bit of 'advice' that tends to get passed around. If a wall fails and you are in the doorway, the whole timber frame is going to collapse sideways and that doorframe might cut you in half.
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