View Full Version : Building an Aquarium

01-23-2012, 04:12 AM
I have a question about aquarium construction. I have built several singel panel aquariums in the past but now I am considering one that has several panels of glass on each side of the aquarium and is a bit loss.

Does the size of the panel or the total size of the tank decide which glass thinkness I need ?

The construction I have in mind would have an L shape, be about 400 gallon and have a very heavy duty frame. Basically if you drove your car into it might breake but only if you hit it at high speed. The individual glass panels that would fit into this frame would never be larger than 1ft x 1.5 ft. Now what kind ofglass thinckness would i need in a scenerio like this. I am thinking that I should be able to use a lot thinner glass than I would if it was a singel front.

01-23-2012, 04:25 AM
If you have the glass completely supported on the sides and bottom and a good solid base so that there is no additional stress on the glass as a result of being part of a larger tank, then the stress on the glass would be a function of the size of the glass, not the tank. Something I have never thought about is that a bigger tank could be made out of the glass from two smaller tanks. Lets see, two 29 gallon tanks, with suitable framing and a bottom, could be 116 gal..

Lady Hobbs
01-23-2012, 04:54 AM
William, is this tank going to sit outside on the ground or be raised up on a structure?

01-23-2012, 05:03 AM
IF, big IF i build it I would do so under roof. (not sure if you would call it in or outside. The lines sometimes blur here) It would however have its own fundation), I would like a habitat for Jags and Doovi

Thanks for the answer of the glass. That was what I was thinking.

01-23-2012, 05:11 AM
For glass thickness it'll depend on the height of the tank. Here is a link on mfk http://www.monsterfishkeepers.com/forums/showthread.php?287989-Glass-Acrylic-Thickness-Calculations

The L shape makes it a bit odd, may want to check out some other diy tanks on that site. That site is the holy grail of all things diy big tank.

01-23-2012, 05:32 AM
I have been a regular visitor on that site basically since they opened. (Or atleast since Waterwolves went down in flames)

The height would likely only be 50

01-23-2012, 08:25 AM
yes, height alone will determine the thickness of glass you will need. I believe 0.5" glass is good up to 30" tall.

01-23-2012, 08:53 AM
Glass thickness is a part of the problem here since it is very hard to get anything above 7mm. I have talked to several shops and they cant even get it. But by the looks of it 5 mm should work for the type of setup I am contemplating so 7mm should work well.

01-23-2012, 01:26 PM
An L shape would put varying amounts of pressure on diferent parts of the tank. I would be concerned about the inside angle collapsing. It would need to be well braced for it to work

01-23-2012, 08:35 PM
The design I am playing with would have 1ft / 30cm thick tree trunks as braces with slides (5cm deep or so) cut into them with a chain saw to slide the glass in. The wood would be hard wood that can handle being exposed to water.

01-23-2012, 11:21 PM
Thats an interesting idea. I'd really like to see the finished product

01-24-2012, 02:45 AM
Me too. I have heard a few people talk about L shaped tanks but have never seen one.

01-24-2012, 03:32 AM
If you have problems it will probably be in how flexible your support for the glass is, not in how strong it is. Glass is pretty rigid stuff compared to metal or wood.

01-24-2012, 06:29 AM
I am thinking that 1-2 mm of silicone on each side of the glass in the slides should prevent that from becoming a problem. Uncut hardwood does not move much, if anything it cracks rather than bends.

01-24-2012, 04:14 PM
My personal fantasy with regard to a really big tank would be a pond with a glass viewing area that would allow you to see the fish and the stuff under the water better than you can by looking through the water's surface. Maybe the glass would be vertical and maybe it would lean in toward the water. And it would have to be elevated sides or lowered people people so it would be glass at eye level, perhaps when standing or sitting.

01-24-2012, 11:31 PM
I am thinking that 1-2 mm of silicone on each side of the glass in the slides should prevent that from becoming a problem. Uncut hardwood does not move much, if anything it cracks rather than bends.


found this one on that site. Problem on that site seems to be, a lot of posts start up with people starting a L shaped diy tank, but never actually get past the planning stage. I think the problem is that inside corner being the weak point of the tank.

Have you considered using acrylic perhaps? Might be easier to find in thicker pieces. Might even be able to avoid using any wood at all for the frames. Also wouldn't weigh as much as the glass.

01-24-2012, 11:46 PM
The wood is a feature I would like to implement to give it more of a looking into a mangrove swamp feel so that is nothing I would want to avoid.

01-25-2012, 12:12 AM
Are the anableps going in here?

01-25-2012, 01:04 AM
No. This is just a thought at this point but I imagen either

1. jags, Doovi, fredrichstalli
2. a large group of angels

The anableps is going in the Aviary pond.

01-25-2012, 12:50 PM
Thanks all for your useful tips. I was really looking for this and I got here. It will help me out. Thanks

01-25-2012, 04:56 PM
A local non profit near here was selling quite a few 50G L tanks. They were about a foot deep and very thin glass. They pulled it off with eurobracing on the top, about 1" wide, and on the bottom inside the tank they used glass strips adhered to the bottom of the tank to give the sides a little more surface area to grab onto.

What will the bottom be made out of? And will the glass simply go into the tree trunk, or will it connected to another piece of glass? With the tree trunks I doubt the eurobracing will be needed. And if that corner is braced with that, I don't see it collapsing. the water pressure will keep it from imploding, and the trunk should stop it from exploding.

Also, one other thing to consider is if that tree is still alive, you are ASKING for a disaster. As it grows it will shift the glass around unless the glass is braced by something else. Then it might work. Even then a growing tree is a powerful thing.

01-25-2012, 06:51 PM
LOL. No i am not thinking about using live trees. That would, like you say, not end well.

Stand, Bottom will most likely be bricks and cement.

The glass would not be connected with eachother

01-25-2012, 07:17 PM
If the trunks are anchored into the concrete or bricks properly your biggest concern at that point will be the concrete failing IMO. I can't really see any reason it wouldn't work.

As it was said, the length of the glass is irrelevant when considering thickness. It is the depth that matters, and at 50cm (I think I read that right) you will be fine as long as your big fish don't get too rowdy.

Have you tested the wood for adhesion properties IRT silicone. How well silicone holds against it. The vinegar may be enough to degrade the wood around where it contacts and lead to a leak.
*Edit- thinking about it now I have a few pieces of aspen wood that have been siliconed, and the ones I did right and siliconed to all freshly sanded wood are still holding up like 3 years later, even with me moving them around. The ones that failed were the ones I didn't remove all the exposed wood from. These are all relatively small pieces of wood attached to 5-10lb rocks, and I pick them up by the wood. So as long as you prep it right you should be fine.

Also the wood may slowly leach out water, even more so if it has any rotten spots in it. Might help to seal off the tops of the trunks to keep it from eroding the inside and leaving you with hollow logs for bracing.

Will there by temp swings? You also might have problems with the logs contracting and expanding differently than the glass, leading to leaks.

No woodpeckers nearby I hope? Though you might be the frist person to ever have to consider woodpeckers as a danger to their fish tank.

Just trying to think of things that might go wrong BEFORE it gets built. I find it usually makes things easier to be proactive rather than reactive.