Big Tank in Little Apartment - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-19-2014, 04:32 PM Thread Starter
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Big Tank in Little Apartment

Hello TPT.

My friend said someone he knows is looking to get rid of a 100+ gallon tank and I could get it for free. This of course caught my interest but I need to make sure I can handle it. I am on the second floor so that makes this a very complicated situation.

My apartment complex does not allow pets but has not said anything about my 55g or 29g tanks. The maintenance workers have been in and out a few times in the 9 months I've been here and haven't said anything.

Now, of course a 100+ gallon tank is a big step so I'm looking into building structure and tank locations to make this the safest possible.


Things I've considered:
-My complex is fairly old and built with thick walls. It is not flimsy construction (like my college housing).
-I'm trying to identify load bearing walls but I don't have access to the lower apartment to compare. I was considering getting a deep-stud finder to look at the joist structure in the floor so I would be able to lay the tank across multiple joists.
-I have renter's insurance but does flood insurance cover aquariums?
-100+ gallons is a lot of water...


Does anybody have experience with having a large tank in an apartment (preferable a non-ground floor apartment)? Do you have any advice?

What are some good ways to prevent a major tank leak?


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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-19-2014, 04:46 PM
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I would first check with the apartment manager/owner to see if a tank this size is allowed. No sense in spending all the money to get everything setup and then find out you need to get rid of it.

Renter's insurance does not normally cover damage from leaking/broken aquariums. Check your policy or call your agent for specifics. Flood insurance is a different product so would be useless to you.

I had a 75G aquarium years ago in a 17th floor apartment with no problems at all. Of course the building was built in the 60's but the floors were concrete and had no problem supporting the load.

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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-19-2014, 06:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deeda View Post
I would first check with the apartment manager/owner to see if a tank this size is allowed. No sense in spending all the money to get everything setup and then find out you need to get rid of it.

Renter's insurance does not normally cover damage from leaking/broken aquariums. Check your policy or call your agent for specifics. Flood insurance is a different product so would be useless to you.

I had a 75G aquarium years ago in a 17th floor apartment with no problems at all. Of course the building was built in the 60's but the floors were concrete and had no problem supporting the load.
All of the above points are valid. Additionally, I would put a thick piece of plywood below such a tank in an older building unless you know you have poured concrete below it to evenly distribute weight (which might make leveling it easier and reducing chance of stress on the aquarium braces). I've also some people have water sensor (usually put in basements) to alert them to leaks sooner rather than later. Home Depot sells one for $10 -- google "water sensor basement" and it'll be within the first 5 links.
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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-19-2014, 07:19 PM Thread Starter
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I forgot to mention that I was planning on building a water sensor using a smoke detector. I can plan out either buying a commercial model or doing a DIY project. Thanks for the reminder.

Yes. Those are all very good points. I wasn't sure how the flood insurance worked. My insurance covers me for damages (to my property and my residence) and if I get sued.


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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-19-2014, 08:42 PM
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Watchdog is the alarm I use. Can't really see any way I could build one that works as well and would cost less.
Really recommend one to anybody who has a risk of overflows or leaks that would do damage.
http://www.lowes.com/pd_117272-84862-BWD-HWA_0__
The price is up. Isn't it always? 11.99 isn't bad though as it is really hard to build anything electronic for $10.
These set on the floor under my tank and work on 9V battery which seems to last forever if it is not alarming. The probe can be separated from the main unit if you want to place the electronics higher off the floor. They work great for places like basements where sewer lines might back up. Once you've cleaned that off a floor once, you would do most anything to keep it from happening again!
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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-19-2014, 08:55 PM
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First off, I am a structural engineer. I would be extremely cautious with doing a 100+gal on a second floor. After a lot of research, I realized that I would need to add tons of floor reinforcement to my second story for my 120gal. If you do not have access to the lower level to ensure it is strong enough, I advise strongly against adding the tank. You are going to be in a ton of trouble if the tank goes through the floor.
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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-19-2014, 09:04 PM Thread Starter
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For the DIY water sensor I'd just wire into a smoke alarm test. If you press the test button down on a smoke alarm you're completing a circuit which will then sound the alarm (test).

It'd be as simple as soldering in a wire to each side of the circuit and placing the ends near eachother outside the alarm (a piece of tape would keep them in place). Then just put the wires on the ground and if there's any sort of water accumulation then the water will complete the circuit and sound the alarm. It's a build by UruJoey. I thought it was a clever design.
$11 isn't bad for a commercial piece either.

I'm less worried about the weight and more worried about what happens if something goes wrong. This really applies to me now because no matter if it's 20 gallons, 55 gallons, or 200 gallons of water it'll still cause damage.

@Deflected - That makes sense. What do you have for second off?


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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-19-2014, 09:38 PM
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Personally I'd just take the tank and save it for when I have my own place if that's an option.

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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-19-2014, 10:36 PM
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Tanks twisting is the main reason for breakage/leaks. The length of any tank over a 75/55/90 is your main enemy here. Had a friend have a 125 break sitting on top of a concrete floor because there was an irregularity hidden under the carpet on one end
of his tank. Tank sat there for months OK but one day just fell apart on him.
Any apartment floor will sag/w that much weight. Can you gaurantee it will sag
evenly ? I'd take it, but store it till later like suggested.

The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line...in the opposite direction...
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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-20-2014, 03:01 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys. I'll see if I can even get the tank. I haven't heard back from my friend.

Gah...it'd be so great to be able to set up a monster tank! Patience is key right?!?!


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post #11 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-20-2014, 03:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AquaStudent View Post
My friend said someone he knows is looking to get rid of a 100+ gallon tank and I could get it for free. This of course caught my interest but I need to make sure I can handle it.
The tank is free but then there is the lights and stand that would be costly.

Also if it leaks it could affect your neighbors and lead to a suit. Thus seems best to wait to own your own property.
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post #12 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-20-2014, 06:02 AM
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Fill it with 30 gallons of water.

And



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post #13 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-20-2014, 12:39 PM
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Quote:
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Renter's insurance does not normally cover damage from leaking/broken aquariums. Check your policy or call your agent for specifics. Flood insurance is a different product so would be useless to you.
A typical renter's policy will not cover the actual aquarium or its inhabitants if it was to break. The liability portion would cover you for damage to the apartment and damage to any neighbor's personal property.

In the scenario that the actual floor collapsed you would most likely have coverage for you own personal property including the tank (animals are typically never covered) and for any liability.

There are a lot of different policies out there and I don't have experience will all of them, but the above scenarios would be true for the ISO forms that is the insurance standard.

Background: I train property insurance adjusters for a living and have paid for claims like this in the past.
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post #14 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-20-2014, 01:18 PM
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Different situation for me. I set up a 120 in my family room on the ground floor. Floor is built over a crawl space, 2x10 joice every 16", 5/8 subfloor, finished with 1/2" hardwood planks. I installed additional support under as the master plan has a larger tank in the future. I welded a two screw type jacks to three foot sections of steel I Beam. I made two of these and tacked the I Beams to the bottom of the joice. I dug in four 20" x 2" concrete pads under each jack. Then I adjusted the four jacks to net a flat floor using a three foot level.

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post #15 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-20-2014, 01:58 PM
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I'm not sure why everyone thinks Renter's insurance won't cover tank leakage damage. A tank breaking is not flooding. I didn't add any special things to my policy but I asked the agent straight out if any of my fish tanks busted would I be covered and the answer was yes, to include any structual or carpet damage. Also, don't think that small imperfections in the tank being level will necessarily cause issues. I have 2-125g tanks and neither are perfectly level side to side or front to back and have had them for 4yrs and haven't had any problems and they are used 10+ yr old tanks.

As far as your apartment, if your outer wall is the same outer wall as the main building I don't see why there would be a question of whether that wall is load bearing or strong enough. A 100g weighs about 1000lbs with everything underneath and in the tank...so 4-5 of your friends would cause your floor to sag? I don't think so.

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