DIY Acrylic/Glass Aquarium

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DIY Acrylic/Glass Aquarium

Postby Subroto » Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:45 pm

I have been exploring the possibilities of a 6'x2'x2' planted aquarium, built DIY. The size is not written on stone and can be modified to a 6'x2'x2.5' or an 8'x2'x2', depending on the practical aspect of handling such a DIY project. For filtration I prefer to have a sump which would be connected through bulkhead-fitted holes drilled into the bottom of the main tank. That way, I can move the unsightly pipes, heaters etc. away from the main tank for a more natural view of the show tank.

My leaning is towards acrylic which would be a great saver of weight, in addition to being clearer than glass and provide better insulation. Acrylic is much easier to work with than glass and it shines when it comes to DIY drilling (I need to drill the bottom plate for my bulkheads). Proper designing with euro-bracing would take care of any tendency of such a big acrylic tank to bow outward. The only negative things about acrylic are: 1) it is prone to scratches and 2) it is costlier than glass.

It is not difficult to DIY such an aquarium with glass but the long glass panes become unwieldy due to their weight. And DIY drilling the bottom glass for fitting bulkhead is out of question for the average aquarist unless you happen to own a glass factory as well :D.

Now my questions are :

1. Is there any place in Kolkata that sells cell cast acrylic (protruded acrylic is no good) and can cut them to size that you want? Has anybody tried building an acrylic aquarium in any size here? If there is somebody out there, I would love to hear from him.

2. Is low-iron glass available in Kolkata in 15 mm or above thickness? It would be nice to have at least the front panel in low-iron glass, if the price difference between normal float glass and low-iron glass becomes prohibitive.

In case my query draws a blank in Kolkata but gets results from other parts of India, I don't really mind paying the shipping, so long as I get what I want.

I would appreciate any suggestion/advice/info.

Thanks

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Re: DIY Acrylic/Glass Aquarium

Postby mithun » Mon Mar 25, 2013 2:04 pm

  1. first of all acrylic costs twice as much of the best glass quality available. Therefore u wont be saving anything by making it with acrylic rather u will be spending twice as much.
  2. Secondly joining acrylic of that high thickness and making them bear the load of 800litre or more water will need super bond strength, something that should be strictly left to professionals rather than doing DIY. Acrylic leaks are almost impossible to mend once the acrylic joins are made and cured.. therefore dont venture into it.. you could go for single cast acrylic (with no joins), ofcourse the price will shoot skyhigh for that. A 2' acrylic cast tank costs around 15k minimum.. you can guess how much it is for 6' tanks..
  3. Saint gobain ultra clear glass is very clear and is readily available in kolkata. The price is not extravagantly higher than normal Saint gobain and will suit your purpose beautifully.
  4. Drilling hole in the glass can be done easily from the glass shops where u will buy the glass sheets.. they charge 15-20 bucks per hole. Responsibility for breaks etc remains with them so you can rest assured.
  5. Acrylic is scratch prone.. So after 1-1.5 years of use in house where u wont be able to use it so carefully would definitely turn the acrylic unsightly scratchy.
  6. Lastly, making DIY stuffs is though my passion, I would suggest you stick to professionals for making tanks as it needs great amount of experience and skill to make a perfect looking tank with great finish which do not have erratic running Silicones smudges all over. Buroda will be your best man to do that for you. No one in kolkata makes better tank than him.
  7. For 6x2x2 u will marely need 10-12mm. For 8x2x2 u will need around 15mm.
  8. Cost for your 6x2x2 or similar will be under 10k with diamond polish. a little higher if you go for better glass. With acrylic cast tanks of same dimension your price will go way over 50k.
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Re: DIY Acrylic/Glass Aquarium

Postby soumadip » Mon Mar 25, 2013 3:18 pm

completly agreed with mithunda... when i started fish keeping even i wanted to make acrilic tank and mithunda posted quiet a same reply :D
making a 6/8ft tank needs exprience even with glass...i made 3 2/3ft tankes before i made my 4ftr and then a friends 6ftr...
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Re: DIY Acrylic/Glass Aquarium

Postby Subroto » Mon Mar 25, 2013 4:05 pm

Thanks a lot Mithun. Your post was most informative. It couldn't have been better :-bd . As regards the acrylic sealing, if we can get hold of Weld-On #4 and #16, nothing to worry about that, irrespective of the thickness. But that is merely of academic interest, as the the basic purpose of doing it DIY is defeated due to the cost factor.

I have come across Buroda's name in a number of posts in KAC and would love to meet him if I can when I come to Kolkata next time. I would request for his contact details then.

Once again, thanks for a great post!

Thanks Soumadip. I haven't tried my hands at a 6 feet yet, but tried from 2' to 4' sizes without any issue. None of them ever sprung a leak. I believe I have been lucky!

Happy fishkeeping!

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Re: DIY Acrylic/Glass Aquarium

Postby soumadip » Mon Mar 25, 2013 4:11 pm

okay then u can definetly try ur hand on 6/8ft...building ur own tank sure is a lot of fun...good luck on ur build!!
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Re: DIY Acrylic/Glass Aquarium

Postby pool1975 » Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:19 pm

Yes , just off topic .. but couldnt stop the share .... I did build 2 of my tanks ... must say the finished product is not pro quality .. has a few silicon smudges and rough work showing but its great fun to plan it, get the heavy glass home, get sour looks for eating up space, build it, brace it, feel pissed by the leaks, patch it and then fill it finally .... :) The joy is unlimited ...
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Re: DIY Acrylic/Glass Aquarium

Postby Subroto » Tue Mar 26, 2013 3:23 pm

pool1975 wrote:Yes , just off topic .. but couldnt stop the share .... I did build 2 of my tanks ... must say the finished product is not pro quality .. has a few silicon smudges and rough work showing but its great fun to plan it, get the heavy glass home, get sour looks for eating up space, build it, brace it, feel pissed by the leaks, patch it and then fill it finally .... :) The joy is unlimited ...

I believe Mithun will as readily agree with you Subhankar as I do since he is a DIYer too; it is fun to build something yourself, more so if that DIY is related to our hobby which we all are so passionate about.

The primary driving force behind the concept of DIY is IMO you want something specific that you cannot just buy off the shelf and you are not willing to compromise. But we just can't ignore the other two : cost effectiveness and what you just pointed out, the adventure involved in it!

Happy fishkeeping!

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Re: DIY Acrylic/Glass Aquarium

Postby soumadip » Tue Mar 26, 2013 4:42 pm

@ subhankar exactly
u can use black tape along the edges before putting the silicon it does give a professional finish
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Re: DIY Acrylic/Glass Aquarium

Postby mithun » Wed Mar 27, 2013 3:16 pm

its not the taping/coverup to save smudges.. its the smooth straight and homogeneous running of the silicone gun that gives the same slick finish of the tank and leaves no bubbles in the thin joints.. silicone becomes virtually undetectable in such tanks.. over time krishnendu has build up the skill to get close to buro da's finish but having made over 20 tanks till now i still can't get that smooth! Therefore I admire the skill involved.. everything is not engineering and planning.. something is skill of the hand and mine are too shaky for the job :(

But go ahead if you have that kind of confidence.. but If i were you and building one of my giant dream tanks, I would do no compromise and take no chances! Thats why I left it to buro da to make my 6 feeter for the reef!
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Re: DIY Acrylic/Glass Aquarium

Postby Najib » Wed Mar 27, 2013 5:13 pm

I agrees^^ It does takes a lot of practice to master the skill.
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