[Updated 2022] Super glue aquarium safe: Everything you should know

It is pretty common always to see news of aquariums taking off or breaking down on the internet. Many reasons make an aquarium break lose or break, but they boil down to a few main points that must be produced in the text, such as excessive curvature of the glass, improper glass, or even the wrong college. Not using safe super glue is undoubtedly one of the main reasons for tank breaks. In this article, we will talk about the importance of Super glue aquarium safe, which has no problem in contact with water and will keep your freshwater aquarium our marine aquarium safe.

The importance of safe silicone for aquariums

It is the glue that has the function of joining the different glass sheets and sealing so that no leakage occurs. There are several types of glass glue on the market, whether they are made of silicone, foam, or resin. In aquariums’ specific case, the glue most used is silicone because it is cheap, practical to apply, and allows easy correction if the bond goes wrong (cut the glue, clean it and glue it again), very flexible, and aesthetically pleasing. Ultraviolet-curing glass glues are sometimes used for aquariums and work very well. Still, once cured, they are difficult (not to say virtually impossible) to clean to separate and reattach the glass if it leaks. This even considering that it is a type of UV glue that allows cleaning with the necessary chemical product.

Essential information for safe aquarium silicone

To continue talking about glues, we need to talk about what makes glue come off the aquarium: the forces and tensions in the aquarium. Back in physics that we learned in school, a point is an interaction between two bodies or between the environment and a body. In the case of aquariums, the force of gravity pulls the water against the bottom and against the glass sides, which is the most responsible for an aquarium breaking or detaching. Tension can be simplified as a state of actions and reactions of forces. Five central tensions exist, and they will be spelled out briefly: tensile stress, compressive stress, shear stress, bending stress, torsional stress. All these five tensions happen simultaneously in aquariums, whether in glass or glue, at different intensities according to the location and shapes of the aquarium. It’s not a complicated subject, but it’s full of considerations.

How glue sticks to glass and keeps your aquarium safe

This part is quite exciting and a little complicated because it goes into the chemistry that studies atomic and molecular bonds. The reader does not need to worry that we are going to explain it here so that you can understand well how silicone holds the glass for a long time and even why glue-everything does not do this job so well. We must first realize that the chemical bonds that hold the molecule together are powerful, which means that this bond is difficult to separate. The second thing we have to understand is that several intermolecular interactions (between different molecules) vary in strength according to the type of interaction, type of molecule, and some other factors. This intermolecular interaction is what makes a drop of water stick together (hydrogen bonds), what makes the crystallization of sodium chloride in blocks in saline (dipole-dipole bond), or the bonds of carbon dioxide that transform it into ice dry (induced dipole bond). These intermolecular bonds are responsible for the cohesion of the glue.

Super glue aquarium safe

Cohesion and adhesion of aquarium safe glue

Cohesion is the characteristic of the body holding itself together. In the case of the aquarium, the glue does not break or separate from the glass when filling the aquarium with water. Now that we’ve talked about these details, let’s get to the most crucial point: adhesion. The definition of adhesion can be given as the act of connecting two bodies, whether they are the same or different, to each other. In the glue molecules that make contact with the aquarium glass, intermolecular and even intramolecular chemical bonds occur between them and the glass. These chemical bonds change the properties of these molecules, unlike other glue molecules that are not in contact with the glued surface. In addition to adhesion forces, there are also micro-and macro-structural interactions that can directly influence the adhesive’s adhesion capacity. The more irregular the surface, in microscale and even macroscale in some cases, the larger the contact surface and also the better the adhesion characteristic.

The underwater super glue curing process

Wettability is an essential characteristic between the glue and the material to be glued. Wettability is defined by the surface energy of the materials together. When a drop of waterfalls on a glass surface and spreads, wetting the surface is because the surface energy of the glass is greater than the surface energy of water, causing the glass to attract water molecules to come into contact with its surface. When a drop of water hits some waterproof material such as acrylic or dry silicone itself, it is because the surface energy of water is greater than the surface energy of acrylic or dry silicone. The lower the surface energy of the substrate, the smaller the amount of bonding that will occur and the weaker the adhesion.

For this reason, glass silicone does not adhere to acrylic but adheres to metal, stone, or glass because the surface energy of the latter is greater than that of silicone. In contrast, that acrylic is very close to that of glue aquarium. This is the summary of how silicone sealant is.

Why should we use super glue for aquariums and not just any silicone?

The explanation is short but very technical. These instant glues are usually made up of cyanoacrylates. This compound has excellent adhesion to many materials, including glass and metals. In the case of the special glass, the curing speed of cyanoacrylates is so high that it probably generates high stresses in the chemical bonds right after the glue comes into contact with the glass, weakening the bond and reducing the cohesion capacity of instant adhesives in this type of material. Generally, when we glue glass with instant glues, and it loosens, you can see that the glass has become rough, a sign that the cement has adhered to the surface. There are glass-specific instant glues on the market, even using the most suitable cyanoacrylates in their formulation.

The most important properties of a safe to use super glue

As we know, in a fish tank, there are lives and parameters of water and microorganisms that are important for the general stabilization of life inserted there. Suppose you use the wrong glue, which releases chemical components into the water. In that case, it can kill or seriously affect the lives of your animals, in addition to not being as safe in fixing and curing the glass as previously mentioned. There are some requirements in aquarium glues so that they are considered safe and effective. As far as possible, the environment that aquatic animals and amphibians would find in nature. The temperature, the pH of the water, the food, and even the landscape. For this, all artificial materials used in an aquarium need to contribute so that this reproduction of the habitat is as faithful as possible. A non-toxic sealing glue that does not release acids and other types of solvents during curing. The ideal is using single-component silicone with acetic cure, free from organic solvents, and, after curing, it is non-toxic to amphibians and aquatic animals. With excellent elastic characteristics, it is ideal for sealing aquariums and terrariums. It has superior mechanical strength, is resistant to weathering, water, high and low temperatures, and has UV resistance. In other words, all the necessary characteristics to be applied in tanks, without any harm to the animals.

Super glue aquarium safe

Excess glue adhesive in tanks

A lot of people don’t like it. Still, those glue leftovers that stay on the edges of the glasses distribute the force to the drinks, decreasing up to 4 times (depending on the size and thickness of the excess and the aquarium locks) the tensions in the glue that are between the glasses. It’s not an exaggeration; it’s four times. In large aquariums, it is recommended to leave these glue leftovers to distribute the forces. Furthermore, they contribute significantly to the sealing of the tank. In some cases, the excess can become food for some fish, as has been reported in the case of some husks devouring the silicones from the edges.

Glue storage to maintain the quality of your aquarium glue

It’s no use having a good quality glue, and you keep it in such a way that it will lose its sound characteristics. Silicone should be kept in a relaxed environment and away from direct sunlight. Many manufacturers limit storage to temperatures as low as 32°C. When silicone is stored in adverse conditions, its adhesion and cohesion capacity are severely impaired.

Acetic superglue x neutral superglue. What is the safest glue for your tank?

The difference between acetic silicone and neutral silicone is that one releases acetic acid (hence that smell of vinegar), and neutral silicone releases alcohol, which hardly smells, during polymerization. In aquariums, this implies absolutely nothing; both types of silicone, if appropriate for aquariums, can be used. Acetic silicone tends to stain limestone such as granite when used as glue, but nothing structurally harmful. Regarding polymerization, acetic silicones tend to be cheaper and cure faster than neutral silicones. On average, neutral silicones have better adhesion and water resistance than acetic ones, but this difference is minimal in aquariums.

Colorless glue x colored glue. Which is best for a fish tank?

There is also a rather heated discussion about the color of silicone. Some say clear silicone is better, others say black silicone is better, others already use silver or other colors available. This is a straightforward question to solve, so simple that we always wonder why people talk about it so much. In the catalogs of some silicones that have a color difference, the only difference is the specific density of the silicone that can change; in some cases, not even the density changes. The mechanical properties remain the same in the glue aquarium.

Lock system in the aquarium. The importance of not saving superglue for safety.

The aquarium locking system is the part responsible for redistributing the tensions so that the aquarium supports your demands. In practical matters, the locks increase the resistance of the aquarium. The idea of ​​how the locks work is pretty simple: In glue, the latches increase the available glued area, reducing the stresses acting on the main glues. The larger the glued regions of the latches, the greater the energy distribution. In the glass, the locks have as a primary function not to let the glass give belly. The less the glass bends, the less internal stresses that glass will be subjected to. This is all very important for tall and long aquariums because the stresses that the aquarium is subjected to are high. In smaller aquariums and with thick glass, locks are often not mandatory, but they always increase the security of the aquarium.

French locks x transverse locks

French cleats are better than transverse cleats because they have a larger glue area. This larger bonding area distributes forces and holds the glass better, preventing it from bending. This makes your aquarium overall super safer. French lock is more used in aquariums. The price difference between a tank with French coils and a tank with cross locks is so tiny that it is not worth using cross locks. The security that the French waves bring is much greater.

Conclusion on superglues for safer aquarium mounting

With this post, we seek to show only that the proper choice of silicone and glass makes all the difference in the safety of the aquarium. Not just any glue can get wet. Aquariums must never work at the limit of security; they must always have considerable slack to withstand small unforeseen events such as the vibration of a heavy truck on the street, a bump from something falling on the glass, or even an accidental bump. Therefore, it is also recommended always to use superglue for your aquarium safe. Always look for an experienced professional to build your freshwater aquarium. Due to the large number of aquariums that these professionals make, they will know the thickness of the glass and the configuration of the lock for each aquarium. In advanced projects, detailed consultation with an experienced professional is vital. Only then will you be able to have a safe glue correctly applied to the need for the water pressure exerted in your aquarium. Safety in aquariums is fundamental, and this includes the choice of glue to the correct choice of glass.

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