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Leak Testing Your Saltwater Aquarium

Posted by Mark Callahan ,Jan 25th 2020
Leak Testing Your Saltwater Aquarium

Now that the tank is full of water it's my least favorite part of building a saltwater tank.  The leak test.  Why is the leak test my least favorite part of building a saltwater tank? 

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Because if you find a leak then your whole build comes to a screeching halt until it's fixed.  Imagine working on your tank you're, getting things built up and your girlfriend or your wife walks in and tells you we're pregnant!!!  Whoa your whole build is gonna stop until you get that handled.  Same thing with a leak testing your system.  Leak testing is done by filling up the sump and the tank with water then plugging in your return pump.   

Water has to flow through the return lines of the drain lines to properly leak test your system.  Once water is flowing through the pipes first look everything over for big leaks check all the seals and the fittings for leaks running your hands over the pipe so the fittings. This will let you check for leaks in places that you can't see.  You shouldn't have any big leaks and if you do turn off the return pump and grab a towel and manage the leak then assess a situation.

I'll get to that in a minute, if you don't have any big leaks let the system run for 24 hours then check for pinhole leaks.  Some leaks are very small and take time to leak enough water for you to notice.  Managing a leak could be as simple as tightening in bulkhead or tightening down a threaded fitting.  Now if you have a glued fitting that's leaking, in my experience unless the leak is very small adding more glue isn't going to help your problem.

You can try drying off the fitting and adding more glue and then waiting for the glue to set up my experience it just never helps.  Let me tell you it's not fun to have to cut out plumbing and redo that section of plumbing.  I've been there plenty of times and I have to bite my pride a little when it happens to me.  I've found it's just easier to cut it out to fix that piece of plumbing versus trying to dry it out or adding glue.  Pinhole leaks can likely be managed with more glue the key is to dry a weak area completely and then apply the glue.  I've seen water push through PVC glue so if there's any water even dripping out of the fitting then the glue won't set up and form a seal.  Once you've managed any leaks or confirm that you don't have any leaks it's time to add salt!