Silicone is a common substance used to build and stable a home tank for fish.
Still, what type of silicone is suitable and how much remains a headache-inducing challenge for many, especially newcomers. One such never-ending debate is about aquarium silicone vs regular silicone.
Is there any major distinction between the two that you should note? Which one is better, and can you just use the regular silicone instead?
This article will gladly dive into these issues in detail. Let us spill the tea!
Aquarium Silicone vs Regular Silicone – The Major Differences
A Brief Overview of Both Types
First, it’s important to have a quick glance into what regular and aquarium silicone entails.
Regular silicones (RS from now on) are synthetic rubber made from oxygen, silicon, and a few other ingredients. Hence, it’s no wonder RS enjoys more features than natural rubber, which include strong resistance to UV light, cold, and heat.
The products often come in multiple colors, mainly red, black, white, and clear. Opaque or translucent options are available, too.
In most common cases, people use RS as adhesives, gaskets, and seals. Not only are they popular in fish tanks, but these products also thrive in the construction, aerospace, and automotive industries.
On the other hand, aquarium silicone (AS) is formulated silicone specifically designed for fish aquariums. Numerous materials comprise their structure, but the most popular one is SiO2 (silicon dioxide), often found in glass, sand, and rocks.
The fact that AS is functional both in gel and liquid form makes them one of the most flexible substances out there.
One can list for days the main usage of AS. Cases in point include sealing the aquariums, securing the decorations on their spot, and shaping custom designs. Sometimes, they are also helpful in repairing unexpected tank leaks.
How Do They Differ?
From the brief introduction above, we believe you can already deduce yourself some of the most fundamental distinctions between them. Still, here’s a quick summary for confused beginners:
- AS is much more flexible than RS – meaning they will unlikely break or crack under heavy rocks or water. Conversely, RS usually surrenders quickly to these obstacles – especially those from lower-end brands.
- AS has a much higher resistance to bacteria and algae growth. Its rival, RS, is not so lucky, which is why you often have to be much more careful/selective when choosing to use RS instead.
- RS is much cheaper than AS – a reason tight-budget customers often prefer them more. But do not be too tight on your money and decide to turn to low-quality products to save money; sometimes, that might kill your fish!
- AS often looks clear, while RS is usually opaque. The latter occasionally may discolor the tank water.
How Should You Use Silicone In The Tank?
Although products differ across different silicone brands, the usage procedures are basically identical. Here is a quick instruction for using AS/RS as seals for your tank:
Step 1. Drain the tank. Ensure it’s 100% empty.
Step 2. Are there old silicones where you need to install new seals? Then remove them all using razor blades.
Step 3. Before sealing the area, clean and smooth out the area with sandpaper. This move helps roughen the surface to foster stronger holds.
Step 4. Confirm every surface is 100% dry. Why? It’s because silicone sealants do not dry in wet environments.
Step 5. Here comes the important step. Apply silicon beads gently on the aquarium’s edges or at the leak’s site. You may also use an applicator or caulking gun arriving with the tubes.
Step 6. Ensure you have tightened all corners by using fortified tape. For aquariums that exceed 75-gallon capacity, then applying wooden clamps instead of tape would be better.
Step 7. Smooth the seams of the silicon with your fingers. This way, the excess product will get removed, creating a sleeker surface.
Step 8. Lastly, wait for some time till the curing is finished. It often takes about two days for the silicon to dry – and an entire week for complete curing.
How Should You Remove The Silicone In The Tank?
Regarding this matter, there are a few alternative methods to pick from, depending on your situation.
Suppose you are handling small areas or seams; then one razor blade is more than enough to scrape everything off.
Again, remember that this method is efficient only if you need to remove a very small amount of silicone. Otherwise, not only does it leave excessive sealant bits behind, but the method also costs you greater effort and time.
How about larger areas or corner seams? In that case, you probably should begin by picking a hair dryer or heat gun. Use it to blow some hot air on the seal.
Note that hairdryers might take longer than heat guns since they are not as hot. Nevertheless, be confident that the job will still get done.
Once you have warmed the silicone enough for them to grow more flexible (no, do not melt it entirely; just make it softer for easy removal), it’s time to use razor blades to scrape them off. Pick a sponge to scrub any remainder left, and you are all set.
Our insightful article has successfully detailed the major variations between aquarium silicone vs regular silicone.
Though using regular ones pose no major harm – given that they are made of non-addictive substances – it’s safe to say that aquarium silicone is still the ultimate choice at the end of the day. Purchase them to ensure the best tank environment for your precious fish!
Aside from that, you should also keep in mind the usage and removal tips we already provided above. If you still feel unsure, remember that our inbox is always open!