07-03-2012, 03:04 AM
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Are those small clear fragments pieces of silicone, or are they glass shards? It looks like the former, and the gap between the panes indicates that the silicone joint has disintegrated for whatever reason. It doesn't look like as big as a gap as 1/4 inch from the photos, but if it is that is a BIG gap, surprised that something like that can happen.
Seeing as that bottom seam seens the highest water pressure, and the bottom glass has to support the entire weight of the water column, if anything is structurally compromised in the glass or the silicone in that area it really is quite critical.
As for the specific questions:
1. No, not necessary, to my knowledge tanks are built using either method and both are fine.
2. Is the glass actually physically chipped away or cracked? The first picture makes it look like it might be a corner area chipped away? In which case I wouldn't really feel happy about using that piece of glass....
3. I'm not an aquarium builder so I can't be more specific, but basically the way I understand it is that a strip of fresh silicone is applied to one glass pane, and the other pane woudl then be gently pressed against the other, creating a thin layer of silicone between the two pieces of glass. The joint can then be reinforced by putting another strip of silicone in the inner corner, if that makes sense. I had a few diagrams of silicone joint methods handy somewhere, I'll put them up later when I find them.