Used aquariums - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 12 Old 02-03-2009, 02:43 PM Thread Starter
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Used aquariums

I am thinking of purchasing an aquarium off of craigslist in the near future. I was wondering if anyone could give me any advice on purchasing an aquarium second hand, such as like what to look for, or if it's even a good idea to buy used. Thanks!
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post #2 of 12 Old 02-03-2009, 03:07 PM
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Buying used is a great idea! Some times you can come across great deals. Just have an idea what the tank and supplies would cost new, if they are asking half that price or less, in my opinion its a good deal.
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post #3 of 12 Old 02-03-2009, 03:22 PM
Always, and I can't stress this enough, ALWAYS, do a leak test before moving the tank into your house.
Place the tank outside on a dry patch of concrete. Preferably on bricks so you can see better. Fill it and let it sit for a day (I'd wait 3personally). That way if it leaks, at least its outside, not on the carpet.

But craigslist is a great place to get a deal. You can usually find a complete set up, or almost a complete set up, for half the price you would have payed. I have picked up 55g tanks for $40 from craigslist that were in perfect condition.
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post #4 of 12 Old 02-03-2009, 03:30 PM
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I've purchased three tanks off of craigslist, a 75g, 29g, & 5g. All three have been working fine. The larger two came with cabinets/stands & accessories that made them affordable for me over purchasing them new. The two larger tanks were in use when I first viewed them so I could verify that there were no leaks or other problems. I was able to keep the filter media and gravel and begin to stock the 75g right away after purchase. No need to wait for a cycle because I was given the beneficial bacteria.

1. Expect to give the tanks a good cleaning, usually people offloading their tanks just don't have the time for them anymore or need the money.

2. Wait until you find just what you're looking for. The size, style, etc.

3. Make sure you get the history on the tank. If the person says "I've had it 3 years." I would then ask, "Did you buy it new or used?" Make sure that you're comfortable with their answer. I don't want to purchase a used tank that's ten years old. Eventually they will break down and I don't want a surprise, especially on a larger tank that springs a leak after 6 mos or a year.

4. They may want you to take extra supplies and/or fish if they're "cleaning house". Take them. You can always sell/give them back away on craigslist or to friends. I recently took a clown loach when I purchased a tank. After researching the fish's needs, I determined I really don't want it. I'll either pass it on to my lfs or rehome it off of craigslist. The guy gave me a good deal so no problem.

5. If your gut tells you something's wrong, don't go through with it. You have a right to inspect the setup, ask them to put the tank on dry cement/asphalt and fill it with a hose so you can inspect for leaks. Don't expect perfection, but it must be in useable condition. Like anything else purchased used, buyer beware.

6. If you're a non-smoker and are buying a tank with a cabinet, you might ask if the furniture is from a non-smoking house. Smoke smell gets into the wood (the tank can be cleaned so that's not an issue) and is hard to remove, especially if any part of the wood is untreated like the inside of the cabinet.

7. If you want the tank strictly for freshwater ask if it has ever been used as a saltwater aquarium. This wouldn't be a good purchase if it had.

8. Bring enough people to move it, especially if it's big. Communicate with the seller. Some are willing to help. Some can't or won't.

9. Give yourself enough time. If you're rushed, this is when mistakes and judgement errors can happen.

10. Ask the seller about their interest in fish. Often the things they tell you will either settle your apprehensions or clue you in that something is not right.

11. Even if the tank looks clean (if you buy it dry), clean it again. You never know if whoever broke down the aquarium used a chemical cleaner and you don't want to start out with tainted water and not know it until you add fish.

I'm so thrilled with the purchases I've made off of craigslist. People have been pretty honest with me and I've gotten deals that I could have never afforded new. I hope your experience turns out as good as mine have been.

Last edited by FishGirl; 02-03-2009 at 03:34 PM.
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post #5 of 12 Old 02-03-2009, 06:09 PM
Its a great idea, as long as ou check it for leaks, and scrub really hard! I do not however reccomend getting used gravel off of craigslist, even if it comes free with the tank because it might be infected with some disease, that you probably shouldn't risk.... Anyway, good luck getting a new tank!


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post #6 of 12 Old 02-03-2009, 06:36 PM
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Craigslist is great. I've bought one tank from there and on the hunt for hopefully another. Some great advice given above. Just wanted to add if the tank has been emptied to inspect the silicone seals, look for cracks, ask if there are any leaks. Also ask if copper has ever been used in the tank.

150 Gallon - Mostly American Cichlids
135 Gallon - Angelfish Community
75 Gallon - Odd couple (Polleni/Angelfish)
55 Gallon - African tank
20 Gallon Long - QT
10 Gallon - Empty
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post #7 of 12 Old 02-03-2009, 07:21 PM
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Of My 20+ tanks, Two were purchased new, 2 at auction, and the rest off craigslist.

Fishgirl is right about everything she said except for the marine/freshwater thing. If a tank has been used for saltwater, and it otherwise fits what you're looking for, then it is actually better than a used freshwater tank, all things considered, because with very few exceptions saltwater pathogens can't survive in freshwater. This is particularly the case if you're buying it the same day that it's drained, bringing it home, and filling it right back up.

If you are patient, you can generally get any common sized tank for a dollar a gallon. Make sure you know what size a tank of the advertized capacity is. I can't tell you how many "75" gallon tanks I've seen on Craigslist that were actually 55s (and I've seen the reverse too a couple of times). The second or third tank I bought, the guy said it was a 30, I drove a half hour and found it was a 20 (fortuantely it came with some really nice loaches, so it was still worth it.)

Logic is only the beginning of wisdom
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post #8 of 12 Old 02-03-2009, 11:00 PM
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Ouch! I was wrong... Sorry I'm not a saltwater person. I'd heard that once a tank was used for saltwater it wasn't supposed to be used for fresh again. I stand corrected.
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post #9 of 12 Old 02-04-2009, 06:43 AM
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FishGirl covered most of it. By the way nice avatar, he looks almost exactly like my betta.

My Eclipse is the only brand new tank I own. Both my 55 and 48 corner are both used tanks. Frankly I robbed both the people who sold them to me. I spent $75 on the 55 and got a filter, air pump, heater, hood, light, gravel, and the tank. I got the 48 for $20 and got a filter thrown in just for good measure. Craigslist is the place to buy a tank in my opinion. Sadly our hobby has a lot of first time failures who just want to get rid of their set up or people moving who can't take their tank's with them. In both cases you can almost always get a tank for extremely cheap.

1) Find out the price of the tank, stand, or equipment brand new. If someone is trying to sell you it used for 50% of the new price or more don't bother, it's not a good deal. If someone is selling the gear off for 30% of new or less its a good deal.

2) Assume any equipment you are getting is junk until proven otherwise. In the case of my 75 I was happy to see all the gear that came with it but I didn't assume any worked until I saw it in action. I'm happy to say that all the gear I got with it is in great condition and works perfectly.

3) Ask if the tank has ever been treated for ich. If it has there's a good chance that copper has leeched into the silicone and invertebrates might not be able to be kept in the tank.

4) Ask if it's been treated with any medicines. Note what they are and research them. A lot of fish medicines have copper components in order to kill off parasites. Sadly they also kill invertebrates. If a copper containing medicine has been used on the tank assume it's leeched into the silicone. If your heart is set on keeping shrimp or snails you will probably want to pass on the tank. If you want to keep saltwater you should run like hell.

5) Leak test. On smaller tanks most sellers will be willing to fill it up while you're there and prove it doesn't leak. On larger tanks they might not. It never hurts to ask. There's no guarantee it won't leak later but at least you aren't buying a lemon right off the lot.

6) Take what they give you for free. Then throw away any food, medicine, carbon they gave you once you get home. You never know what might have been done with it in their possession and the food is almost certainly past any conceivable expiration date.

7) Negotiate. If the price is on the high side see if you can talk them down. Find some nit to pick with the tank and see if you can get it for less. Heck try and talk them down even if they're just about giving it away.

8) If the aquarium glass is chipped or cracked in any way walk away. Chips and cracks are irreparable and will only get worse. The only thing a chipped or cracked aquarium is good for is recycling.

Tetra Fanatic
Watch my tank progress from Craigslist salvage to fishy habitat: Aaron's Tank
The only things that happen quickly in an aquarium are bad things.
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post #10 of 12 Old 02-04-2009, 05:32 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone, those were all some really great suggestions. I actually just found a 75 gal. with wood cabinet, hood, lighting and all other accessories for $100. It seemed that the filter it came with sells for around $60 at most stores, so I figure that's a pretty good deal. The tank is also currently set up, and I could have kept the fish if I had wanted.

Again, thank you for all your help. I'll probably be dropping by pretty often, as I'm planning to transfer most of whats in my 45 gal. over to the new tank, and adding Discus.
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