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Is it ok to put my fish back in the tank after I've cured the silicone but it still smells a little of vinegar?

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Looking at the chemistry of condensation curing of silicone, that vinegar smell is literally coming from a chemical bond being formed -- the smell is a byproduct. You have to remember, acetic acid (the stuff in vinegar) can either evaporate or solublize in water. There's also a special salt in the silicone that is necessary for it to form a solid structure, and this salt is also soluble in water.

If there is any vinegar smell, that means it's still setting/curing/evaporating, so by no means should you add your fish just yet (unless you're ok with acidic water for your fish and potential holes in the silicone)


Picked up at FishLore Forum:

Generally speaking, silicone takes:

1-2 hours to get a 'skin' (go off)

24 hours to set and seal (safe for showering)

48 hours to set, seal and bond (safe for immersion in water)

7-10 days to be fully cured, ready for use in a full fish tank. Most tank builders will require the tank to stay 'still' and clamped for 7 days before moving it. After 7-10 days, the silicone is strong enough to handle the pressures and movements.

I recently bought some silicone, and it had a clear guideline on the back "If using for an aquarium, allow 7 days before filling" or something like that.

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