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PLA safe for use in an aquarium?

Posted by MindRealm 
PLA safe for use in an aquarium?
August 24, 2015 11:35AM
Has anyone made anything out of PLA for use in a freshwater aquarium?

I would like to make some things but don't want to kill the fish. They are goldfish and tetra.


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Re: PLA safe for use in an aquarium?
August 24, 2015 12:37PM
... the 'killer criterion' are the additives used to colour or optimize the material properties ... pure 'natural' PLA should be foodsafe ...


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Re: PLA safe for use in an aquarium?
August 24, 2015 05:01PM
One thing to note is that PLA is bio degradable so may eventually start to degrade in the water, ABS however is widely used for water pipes etc. and is ideal for in your aquarium.
Re: PLA safe for use in an aquarium?
August 24, 2015 05:31PM
Quote
MindRealm
Has anyone made anything out of PLA for use in a freshwater aquarium?

I would like to make some things but don't want to kill the fish. They are goldfish and tetra.

If you do print something, just make sure to clean it really well. As VDX says, it's not the PLA that will kill them, it's whats in it, or on it, that will.


Quote
ChavasRegal
One thing to note is that PLA is bio degradable so may eventually start to degrade in the water, ABS however is widely used for water pipes etc. and is ideal for in your aquarium.

PLA is only bio-degradable when exposed to the proper bacteria in large enough volume. Fresh water shouldn't be an issue. Salt water on the other hand, might have enough of the right type, but probably not. I have talked to several people who have printed PLA based items for salt water tanks and have not had any issues with degradation.
Re: PLA safe for use in an aquarium?
October 22, 2019 03:44PM
Hey man, frankly speaking, PLA isn't the best material for making stuff for aquarium. It has a lot of toxins, that can kill the fish. From personal experience, it's better not to use such materials, for example plastic and wood, that I used like decoration for fish tank and almost killed the fishes. After that I use only organic things, like live rock - https://arcreef.com/live-rock/live-rock-guide/, that makes aquarium beautiful and in addition brings profit, filtering the water.
Re: PLA safe for use in an aquarium?
October 22, 2019 03:44PM
Anybody else?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/23/2019 01:50PM by kosai1111.
Re: PLA safe for use in an aquarium?
October 22, 2019 06:47PM
There are a few kinds of filaments that you can use in your aquarium. Some PLA and PETG are specifically labeled as food safe. Look for that "food safe" label.
ABS is right out. Most colored PLA is also not a good choice either because of the chemicals used to give it color.
Use an "all metal" hotend and a stainless steel nozzle. These will be free of icky additives, and will also assure you of "food safe" viability.
You just never know what is in those brass nozzles that you get 5-for-a-buck.
Taking all of these precautions should get you stuff that you can use in the aquarium. Caveat Emptor: You never know when the vendor is lying, so do your research and get their MSDS for the product. However, there are some companies that are just unethical and will defeat your every attempt at caution, and you find out only after its too late.

So,

You can use your colored PLA if you coat it in clear polyurethane, when this dries it is inert and if you are careful, it will totally seal off the plastic from the water. I wouldn't use the polyurethane on ABS, the chemicals in the can might melt it, it certainly smells foul enough to.

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Re: PLA safe for use in an aquarium?
October 22, 2019 07:03PM
The PLA it self maybe "food safe", but is your printing methods food safe? Are all parts of the filament path food safe?

If you have expensive fish, I wouldn't risk it. Maybe make a mold of an object and use aquarium safe materials to cast it.
Re: PLA safe for use in an aquarium?
October 23, 2019 03:12PM
I have used PETG with great success. After two years the figurines I printed started to get enveloped in algae though.


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Re: PLA safe for use in an aquarium?
October 23, 2019 05:43PM
I use foodsafe PETG for all my printing. Not sure about the hairspray I use on the glass bed, though I figure it probably isn't TOO toxic, as it is a product intended to be in contact with a person's skin. Might be different after it gets cooked though.

As mentioned, PLA is supposed to be biodegradable, which means that it breaks down in water. Not likely to be the best choice.

Goldfish are frankly pretty hard to kill. There's actually a pretty big problem with goldfish in the local water treatment system from being flushed. Tetras are a little more sensitive, but at least they're not super expensive.

In any case, for the aquarium, I'd probably want to sand and paint anyway, or at least hit the finished product with a coat of clear to prevent it from shedding bits into the water.


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