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decorating - loaches and paint fumes?

Posted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 2:59 pm
by sophie
My daughter's room needs painting. It's very small, and has a 39 gallon tank in it, with kuhlis, lambchop rasboras, dwarf gourami and four (possibly five) baby yoyos.
It will be an enormous pain in the backside to get the tank out of the room (it's one of those ones with a big wooden cabinet - that way I get to kid myself it's a useful piece of furniture rather than unnecessary fish Wink). How sensitive are fish to paint fumes? I'm assuming they won't enjoy them much...

My only real alternative option at the moment is to get all the fish into the spare (q or hospital) tank. It's about 12 UK gallons. THere are six lambchops, 2 gouramis, 4 (poss 5) small yoyos and I think seven pangios but there could be more; I can't remember anymore! Apart from the fact that netting the loaches is going to be infuriating, will having this lot in an 18 inch tank for a couple of days be more or less stressful/bad for them than being in their normal tank in a room being painted? It would be low odour paint, btw.

many thanks,

Posted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 3:49 pm
by Graeme Robson
Low odour paint shouldn't pose a real problem. What i personally did was to use a electric fan to blow the fumes away from the tank and opened a window. I covered the tank with a blanket to reduce the chance of fumes getting in the tank. And also switched off any "air pumps"


thanks Graeme!

Posted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 4:01 pm
by sophie
thanks Graeme, that sounds reassuring. How long did you leave the blanket over the tank? And did you move it away from the wall (if it was close to one, that is.) This unit can only really be moved if you break it all down into its smallest possble components (not to mention draining the tank. urk.)

Now I just need to work out why the smiley in my first post came out as "Wink" instead of a smiley. I'm betting on "smilies are the tools of the devil". myself.

thanks again,

Posted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 6:19 pm
by Emma Turner
Hi Sophie,
This is something I can help with as I worked for ICI Paints (Dulux) for 10 years as a research scientist!
Graeme has given you excellent advice, and is pretty much what Dulux used to recommend to customers posing the same question. So to reiterate: ventilate the room as best you can, cover the tank well, and switch off any air pumps and venturi attachments on power heads.
Make sure the paint you use is water-based (sometimes labelled low odour or low VOC) and stay well clear of anything solvent-based (or oil-based as it used to be known) as the fumes can prove deadly to aquatic life. If it's just the walls you are painting, then your standard water-based emulsion is fine, and when painting trim such as windowsills, skirting boards, door frames etc, make sure you opt for a product like Quick Drying Gloss or Quick Drying Satin, both of which are water-based. They are not quite as easy to use as the solvent-based stuff, but when you absolutely can't move a tank, they really are your only safe option.
Good luck with it all,


Posted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 6:44 pm
by Diana
When I painted, I stuck the air pumps outside a window, then sealed the window. Fresh air into the tank! Ventilate the room, too. I didn't want to breath paint fumes, either.
I also covered the tank with a garbage bag. Be careful the plastic or fabric if you use a towel or blanket does not touch any heat source (light, heater) or the water. A towel will wick up quite a bit of water!

Posted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 7:33 pm
by Graeme Robson
Diana wrote:Be careful the plastic or fabric if you use a towel or blanket does not touch any heat source (light, heater) or the water.
A valid point. A day without the tank lights on wont harm anyone.

Posted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 8:11 pm
by Martin Thoene
I had this problem to deal with years ago in England. What I did was seal the tank as far as possible with Seran Wrap (Cling Film) and extend the air pump tubing so the pump was inhaling fresh air. Effectively then you have a positive pressure system like some hospital rooms. Air leaves the tank, but air from the painted room cannot get in.

Actually, I've painted rooms here in Canada with water-based paint with no special precautions and without problem.


Posted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 11:20 pm
by Lotus
I've heard a lot of people advise that you run fresh carbon in the filter once you're done, just in case anything got in there. It doesn't seem that it would harm anything to do this.

thank you everyone!

Posted: Sun Jan 08, 2006 10:51 am
by sophie
Thank you for the advice; the prospect of decorating a small room has now reverted to a relatively simple task rather than a completely horrendous one. And I never cease to be amazed at the useful stuff Emma knows, it's quite incredible! I tend to use the water-based gloss anyway (much as the other half hates it) we've got a small asthmatic in the house for starters, and I hate the smell of gloss paint as well...

many thanks,

Posted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 3:20 am
by Nikki
the first time I sealed my tanks, the last time i covered them with blankets, left the aquaclears running, opened the windows and used a fast dry paint. I also ran two oscillating fans as well, dried in less than an hour and no probs at all. I did wait for warm weather tho, it was much pleasanter then. :)