Aquarium building can be costly, so if you’re building your own aquarium to save money, you may want to reconsider. You’ll first need to decide what dimensions you’ll want your tank to be, then have the glass cut or cut it yourself. You’ll need special cutting tools and some know-how before attempting to cut the glass yourself. The glass panes must be precise and smooth at the edges.
For a 24″H X 18″W X 42″L tank, which will hold 79 gallons, you’ll need to use 3/8″ glass and cut one bottom piece 41-1/4″ X 17-1/4″, two side pieces, each 42″ X 24″ and 2 end pieces, each 24″ X 17-14″. After cutting the glass, use silicon carbide sandpaper to smooth the edges of the glass. Clean the glass pieces well. Other materials you will need are a tube of silicone, specifically made for aquariums, tape or clamps to hold the pieces temporarily in place, solvent, and paper towels.
Lay all glass pieces out on a large flat surface with a covering to prevent scratching of the glass. Arrange them in accordance to how they will be attached. It might be helpful to use a washable marker to draw arrows or write instructions directly onto the glass, indicating which side is up, and so forth. If you will be adding a background, attach the plastic piece directly to the back glass before affixing the back glass to the tank.
Place 2 large pieces of tape to the underside of the bottom piece of glass, where the front will meet, sticky side up, leaving 8″ hanging. Put 1 piece of tape on each side of the bottom where the end pieces will be attached, then 2 more pieces where the back will meet the bottom piece of glass. Working with the bottom piece, place a line of silicone and set front glass piece on top of the silicone. Bring tape pieces up from where they are attached to the bottom, sticking them to the front piece of glass.
Next, attach the end piece by laying the silicone line at the end of the front piece and across the end of the bottom piece of glass. Set the glass, securing temporarily with the tape which is attached to the bottom and additional tape wrapped from front to end piece. Set the opposite end following the same steps. Lastly, set the back glass piece laying the silicone across the back bottom and the edges of the two end pieces.
Again, use the tape already attached to the bottom, then another piece that will wrap around the entire tank. During the silicone process, immediately wipe away any silicone which gets smeared outside of the joint area with paper towels and solvent.
After all of the pieces are in place and the tank is finished, lay a line of silicone into the eight joint areas on the inside of the tank, running your finger in one quick motion over the silicone from one end to the other, smoothing it into each joint. Silicone must be allowed to cure for at least 24 hours.
Fill the tank with water and let it sit for 24 hours to test your tank for leaks. If you find that the tank leaks slightly, drain the tank, dry completely and redo the silicone treatment in the joint where the leak is occurring. Allow the silicone to again cure for 24 hours, refill, and leave for an additional 24 hours to check for further troubles.
To make a lid for your aquarium, measure a piece of the screen the size of the opening. Lay the screen on top of a piece of sheet metal and draw around it. Cut the sheet metal, allowing the opening of the sheet metal to be slightly smaller than the screen size. Then cut the sheet metal at a 6″ width, all the way around the perimeter of the previously cut hole. Glue or screw the screen into the sheet metal rectangle.
Place the lid on top of the tank and snip the corners of the sheet metal, gently bending the metal down around the top edge of the tank. The screen should lay flat on top of the tank with the sheet metal attached and folding over the sides of the top of the tank. After snipping the corners, fit and screw each corner together.
A sheet of hard plastic can be substituted for the sheet metal and makes fabricating the lid much easier. You can also purchase a lid for your tank online or at a pet store and then add filters, rocks, or even a ceramic scuba diver.A sheet of hard