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How to Make Your Own Glass Aquarium

by David Anthony (follow)
David Anthony. Writer and Publisher. Port Stephens, Australia
DIY (53)      Pets (5)      Hobby (1)      Craft (1)     
Building your own glass aquarium is a satisfying project and even if you don’t have fish, it has a dozen uses. Use it as a kitchen herb garden, a terrarium or indoor atrium.

Being glass, people often imagine that construction will be complicated and overly delicate. Sure, you have to be careful with glass. But no more careful than you are with paint thinner or a pair of sharp scissors.

Making a glass aquarium is not that hard to do. You only need a few basic tools and equipment plus patience.

The glass tank I am going to build is for live fish, but if you are using this as a terrarium, then it’s even easier.

Things you will need:

- 5 sheets of cut glass
- 35x35cm for the base, front and back and,
- 34.3x34.3cm for the side panels.
- Silicone and silicone gun
- Masking tape

Sourcing Your Glass

If you plan to put pressure - as in water pressure - on your glass tank then thickness and type matter. Getting hold of the glass you need is not that hard. Find a local glazier or glass repair business and ask them to cut you the lengths you need.

I live in Newcastrle, so I sourced my glass from Koala Glass who also cut it to measure for me. I also had them sand and grind the edges for a smooth finish. Any good glazier should be able to help you with this.

Tempered glass, like the kind you find in a diving mask is no good. The type you will need is “Annealed Glass”.

Though this glass cannot be repaired, it can be easily replaced if it cracks or chips.

My cuts were for a 35cm tank and I used .6cm thickness. Any bigger than this and you will have to get thicker glass to contain the weight of water.

Using the Silicone

The kind of silicone you use is open to question. You don’t need to buy speciality, “Aquarium Glue”. It is exactly the same as ordinary silicone. The most important thing is that it not have any anti mould additives - as a lot of silicones tend to have. These can be toxic to your fish.

Check with your local hardware store for a reasonably priced silicone that does not contain these anti-mould additives and pick up a caulking gun while you are at it.

You might need something solid to lean your glass sheets against while you are building the aquarium.

Most towns in Australia have a Mitre 10 hardware or similar where you can pick up all the smaller items. You should be able to get everything you need for well under $100.

Assembling your Glass Aquarium

Start with the glass pane that will form the base of your fish tank and the front pane. I used the same size glass cuts for each side, so this was a fairly straightforward job. However, remember to adjust the size of your side panels as they will need to be slightly shorter in order for your tank to fit together properly.

You want your line of silicone to be as straight as you can get it and about 3mm thick (so make sure you cut the tube to that thickness. Practice a few times on some old newspaper until you are confident.

Once you have the front pane in position you will move to the sides and then finally the back plate.

Step 1

Ensure all pieces are clean of any grit or grease. Methylated spirits is ideal as it will evaporate quickly.



Making a Glass Fish Tank 01
Source: David Anthony, 2015


using your masking tape, tape one side of your base piece so that the tape is half under the glass and half exposed. This is going to help you steady the front and base pane until you have siliconed the two.

As you go around, you are going to lift the tape upward so you can attach the adjoining piece of glass.

Step 2

Lay down an unbroken 3mm line of silicone along the edge. Place the front pane down and apply pressure (not too much, but firm).



Making a Glass Fish Tank 01
Source: David Anthony, 2015


If you need to, lay something heavy against the front glass pane to act as a wall and keep the panel upright.


Step 3

Continue down to the bottom panel with one continuous line of silicone. Keep it just off the edge. Do the same with each side of your front panel and then begin to attach the side glass, applying even pressure as you go.



Making a Glass Fish Tank 01
Source: David Anthony, 2015


Try not to lift and replace the glass once you have put it in position. This can create air pockets which later cause leaks. Simply move the panel around in the silicon so that it is flush - then leave it be.

You can always go in and add addition silicone if needed once the pieces are all in place.

Do the same thing for the final panel (the back pane). As soon as you have completed all sides, remove the tap and allow up to 48 hours for the silicone to properly cure.

Curing and Finishing your Glass Aquarium

Finally, fill your tank with water and check for any leaks It is a good idea to leave the water in the tank for a full 24 hours to be sure there are no leaks.



Making a Glass Fish Tank 01
Source: David Anthony, 2015


Once you have done this, remove all water and dry the tank out for a day. This will allow any residue from the silicone to evaporate and ensure you tank is clean of any chemicals before adding your fish.

And your done! Enjoy your new tank.

#DIY
#Hobby
#Craft
#Pets
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