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larryngu

Share any knowledge you have on buying used tank and equipment

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Share any knowledge you know on the subject of buying used tanks and equipment.

1) Where to look ?

2) What questions to ask?

3) What to look out for?

4) What you shouldn't buy used?

5) How not to get scammed.

I know nothing on the subject.

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Disinfect everything!!! And for tanks, always ask them to have it full of water when you come to get it. That is a way to check to make sure it doesn't leak. Also do a leak test when you get home.

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1) Where to look ? CRAIGSLIST. Also, Amazon.

2) What questions to ask? "Has this <creature/item> had any issues with pests/disease/algae etc. in the last 2 months?"

3) What to look out for?

Craigslist:

-Many free pond plants in the summer! Free/cheap tanks and stands. (Items I got there)

-Cheap/free miscellaneous items. Goldfish, plecos, guppies, and other common fish for free adoption. Lots of neat rare tropical fish for sale!

-Make sure used items are leak-proof or have them demonstrate that it works before you give them money.

Amazon:

Pretty much anything but not always cheap.

4) What you shouldn't buy used?

Craigslist:

Opened food that's too old. Sick/diseased items if you could help it.

5) How not to get scammed.

-I know on Craigslist, some people are looking to adopt your rehomed fish... but they just end up selling them on Craigslist. Or discarding your pet and using the free tanks/setup for themselves.

-On Amazon, use paypal.

I think most of my stuff was bought from Amazon, Craigslist, or a major pet retailer. :)

Haha. I love shopping. Even for my goldies!

Edited by soupmonster

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1) Where to look ?

Check for sales at your local fish stores. I scored two brand new marineland penguin 350s for 4 dollars each from petco (: Also, craigslist, kijiji, goodwill, and other thrift stores. Those are great places (:

2) What questions to ask?

When was this cleaned? Does it hold water? Any electrical problems with this? When did you buy this? Did any fish get sick in the time this was used? Dimensions? Etc...... Basically you want to make sure it works, it's clean, and it won't cause you any problems (: Also, a lot of people overestimate gallonage. I have seen many 20 tall tanks listed as 40 gallons when it is clearly not, which is why dimensions are incredibly important.

3) What to look out for?

Tanks, plants, some minor equipment such as heaters and bubblers, filters (not cartridges), basically anything you can bleach and re-use. I have seen some aquaclear 70's in my area for 20 dollars (: Also, stands or things that can be used for stands. I have a dresser I got for free that my 55 sits on. No breaking or bending yet (:

4) What you shouldn't buy used?

Cartridges, filterpads, airstones, food, medication, basically anything that has been opened and used, and is totally replaceable. The price that it might cost to fix a problem caused by a dirty purchase will definitely outweigh the cost to buy something new or unopened.

5) How not to get scammed?

Ask the important questions. Does this hold water, are there any cracks, when was this cleaned, etc.... And checking out the item long and hard before buying it. Also knowing the value of something. I bought a 55 gallon for 40 dollars that had been torn apart without actually thinking about it. The brace was sawed off and it has a diagonal crack in the corner that does not leak. BUT if I had seen those flaws, I would have waited to buy a new 55 for 55 dollars at Petco when the dollar per gallon sale was going. Luckily both I can fix relatively easy, but if I had bought it new it would have been cheaper than buying the materials needed to fix the tank.

Just knowing what you want, what condition, and what you are willing to spend is very important. You want well taken care of items that can be sanitized and reused properly. If you know the inherent value of something that you want, you will know when someone is trying to con you or isn't being honest with you. If you are very attentive and examine the items really carefully there isn't much they can hide from you and you will save yourself the trouble of a bad purchase (:

Edited by LovelyChaos

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When I have wanted something specific, I look on Craigslist as often as possible. Bargains sell quickly. I once tried to get a tank that sold in 30 minutes. I search the terms aquarium, fish tank and fishtank. Some people get discouraged and say, there's nothing! But people take down ads when something sells, so you are only seeing unsold stuff. Search often!!!

If you want something specific, look at Craiglist from nearby cities if you can. This site can help: http://zoomthelist.com/ It lets you search multiple CLs at once. Maybe you can get a deal if you drive a little farther. I drove an hour to get my big tank. It still was pricey, but it was less than a third of the price as new. And it was just 1 year old.

I have bought multiple used tanks and never asked for a water test -- and I've never gotten one that leaks. :) It's not practical to do that on a 120 or a 77 that already has been drained and is in someone's living room. I just asked enough questions to get a feel for whether the seller was trustworthy. I don't know how to define that to others, but I do to myself, and I haven't had any problems with anything I've ever bought on CL. If you are worried, though, general condition says a lot. Filthy tanks aren't worth the time. If equipment is filthy, realize that the seller doesn't take good care of their things and steer clear. Likely, they didn't maintain anything well. Also, fish people talk fish. It's easy to tell if you are dealing with someone who cares or cared for their fish.

I wouldn't buy or use any open food or chemicals, but everything else is fair game. I bleach everything thoroughly, so I don't worry about diseases or pests. That scrubbing can be a bit of work, but in my big tank, some scrubbing was worth the $1,200 markdown. :o;)

If you are going to shop used, it's best if you look around at new stuff too. You need to have an idea of what new items cost so you know a fair price for something used. There's no set-on-stone good price -- it depends on your wants and needs. If you love the stand on a setup, maybe you pay more. Or if it has every piece of equipment you need, you pay more. Or if it's newer or very clean or top brands or it's closeby -- price is relative. Again, (I'm not trying to go on and on, but it's a good example ;) ) I paid a lot for my big used tank, but it was very expensive new, it was only a year old, it had an extra filter, and it was not a common tank. It's been six months, and I haven't seen another for sale used, so I'm still very happy with my purchase. :) However, I had seen the tank new in stores, and I knew what I was getting. :thumb:

Edited by ShawneeRiver

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Always make sure they give you the exact measurements for the tank. A lot of sellers on Craigslist for example claim that it is a "really big tank" but don't know the exact gallonage. It is often difficult to tell by a photo how big a tank is, and what looked like a 75g might only be a 55g etc.

Make sure it is leak proof, and actually a fish tank. Reptile aquariums (especially larger ones) are not made to be fully filled with water and can leak/crack because of the thinner glass and missing center brace.

Never buy food or chemicals. Open or not, I just don't trust this. I rather spend a few extra $$ and get fresh food for them.

Disinfect, disinfect, disinfect.

For used tank I would never pay more than 50% of what this tank would be worth new. There are a lot of people on craigslist that try to sell you used tanks for literally more than it would be worth to go to the LFS and buy the same setup. This happens more with smaller tanks (10g - 29g) but I watch out with big tanks too. Like I know that Petsmart sells their 125g long tank for roughly $ 350 (just the tank with hood and light), so I would not pay more than $ 170 for a used one, unless you can tell that this tank has been in use only for a few months.

One of the very knowledgeable fish department people at my Petsmart actually told me that the best time to look for large, used tanks is between March and June. He said a lot of people buy large tanks for Christmas, but many of them lose interest after a 3-6 months and will try to get rid of it.

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I personally would only take the ads with pictures of the equipment seriously. Not that pictures guarantee the person isn't trying to pull something but at least you have a better idea what you're getting yourself into. As others have said there are a lot of people who consider a 20g a REALLY BIG TANK when you're looking for a 50g, and people who don't know the true dimensions of what they're selling. Plus everyone has different standards when it comes to how bad a superficial scratch/other small imperfections have to be to qualify as a deal breaker, though that's something you'll have to check more extensively in person. Definitely ask whatever questions you have ahead of time and make sure you've agreed on a price before you go pick it up because people on Craigslist sometimes like to ask for more once you get there. There's no fool proof way to not get scammed but if you're perceptive you can often get a vibe of whether it's a good or bad situation from the ad, emails/calls with the seller, and what you see in person before you take the item home. Depending on how feasible the request is you can always ask for proof that the tank holds water, or proof that a piece of equipment works. I know it's awkward but if you get there and aren't happy with what you see don't be afraid to decline the offer! It's not unreasonable especially if the situation is kind of sketchy, and trust me, there are MUCH more difficult potential buyers than one who respectfully admits that they changed their mind.

Remember to be safe about meeting sellers too. Bringing someone with you can make it safer, less awkward, and give you a second pair of eyes when inspecting equipment. Oh, and you can get a lot of stuff (Chemicals, food, filters) new from sellers on Amazon.com for at least a little cheaper than a pet store.

Edited by Goldenhero

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I ask sellers to give dimensions of the tank (before I go check it out) and use this site to check the size. http://reef.diesyst.com/volcalc/volcalc.html

For some reason, many people say they can't post pictures on CL, so I wouldn't discount those sellers automatically. Many of those sellers have been able to send me multiple pictures by text or email. If a person isn't willing to send any pictures, move on.

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Thanks everyone for participating and sharing your knowledge.

I think this thread is pin-able.

Mods what do you think?

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For fish keeper living in a country other than USA.

Craigslist is a giant classified section. http://www.craigslist.org/about/sites/

Amazon is giant online retailer. http://www.amazon.com/

I'm sure every country has their own version of craigslist and amazon.

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Is it safe to turn a tank that was being used for as a saltwater tank to a freshwater is there anything that needs to be done to make is safe for freshwater fish?

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Is it safe to turn a tank that was being used for as a saltwater tank to a freshwater is there anything that needs to be done to make is safe for freshwater fish?

This should not be a problem :)

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I' m looking at used tanks. If I get one, how do I proceed?

(1) bleach the tank, then remove the chlorine w/ Prime?

(2) what about filters, if they throw those in? Bleach the whole thing, remove the chlorine w/ Prime, and replace the media?

(3) If it was a saltwater tank is there anything special to do re: the tank or the filters?

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I got a lot of my stuff on eBay. There is a much bigger selection of products and sellers on eBay than on Amazon.

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When buying any used tanks over 45g capacity - make sure the CENTER BRACKET is intact or not broken or removed. If this is missing or broken (probably used as terrarium or reptile tank) then you can be sure this will not hold water. The tank sides will bow out and you'll have major leaks.

Check the silicone sealant. Silicone degrades over time and if this is a very old tank, best to replace the silicone.

I use either of the following to disinfect / nuke used tanks:

  • Pool Shock *contains calcium hypochlorite (6 - 24hrs, rinse thoroughly)
  • Jungle Net Soak *contains benzalkonium chloride + methylene blue (leave to soak overnight, rinse thoroughly)

Both of the above disinfectants are fast-acting biocidal agents effective against bacteria, some viruses, fungi, and protozoa. I don't use extremely hot water (might weaken the silicone sealant).

Make sure the floor where the fish stand/ tank goes is not uneven. Make sure your base/tank stand is level. Any uneven surface can compromise the structural integrity of your tank. Even a few degrees off on one side can cause a torque force that can weaken the tank from water pressure. Use a carpenter's level.

Hope this helps.

Edited by eastcoastranchu

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I assume you are referring to rectangular tanks. I recently bought an used Juwel Trigon 190 which is 50G, but it's a corner tank (its shape is one-quarter of a spherical disc or cylinder) and it has no centre bracket. But then I'm pretty sure that even on a completely new Juwel Trigon tank there is no central bracket either, since I've downloaded and printed off the instruction manual for this tank.

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I just want to point out that older model 55 gal. tanks did not have that center bracket, they were made with thicker glass. Some people seek out these older model aquariums.

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My aquarium I have is from craigslist and I find tons of great deals and you can usually get the person to give it to you for about 20-50 dollars cheaper than what it was listed in my experiences. Always ask if it holds water, maybe what lived in it before. If it's been resealed. Look out for cracks and scratches, my aquarium has no cracks but it has quite a few scratches but I didn't mind I just wanted the fish to like it. When I got the tank I got tons of goodies with it. I threw out the magnetic algae scraper and manual algae scraper because they both looked super gross and I had no idea what could have been on them. I threw out all the filter media because it was gross as well. And the getting scammed part I would just say make sure it's water tight and it's made for aquarium use ( some glass tanks are for reptiles and can't hold large amounts of water) I didn't get scammed on my tank at all. I haggled him down to $80 and I got the tank the stand a QT tank a canister filter an awesome heater and a coral light worth about $300. Used aquariums are a great find

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Do not purchase a tank with a damaged plastic brace as it will be structurally unstable, and silicone won't fix it permanently

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