Building your own fish tank is a great way to get a custom look in exactly the size and style you want. It is unlikely to cost less than buying a pre-made tank, but it gives you plenty of flexibility and a sense of accomplishment. It might be your best choice if you are trying to find a tank that fits a specific area in your home or a tank that is exceptionally large and not available in a pre-made version.
Start by creating a design for the tank. You will need to measure the area where you want to put the tank to be sure the dimensions fit the space. Use an aquarium glass calculator to determine the appropriate thickness for the tank, once you know the dimensions of the structure. The larger the tank, the more water it will hold. This means the glass needs to be thicker in order to withstand the pressure of the water. The glass should be as thin as possible without jeopardizing the safety of the tank.
Purchase Materials for the Fish Tank
Next, purchase the materials needed for the project. You will need five pieces of glass, but the size will depend on the desired size of the finished tank. You will also need silicon sealant, acetone, silicon carbide sandpaper, duct tape, paper towels, and a washable felt-tip pen. The glass will likely need to be special ordered in accordance with your needs. Once the glass arrives, you might need to sand the edges with the carbide paper. Some glass cutters do this for you, but you should have the sandpaper on hand to smooth the edges as you build the tank.
When you are ready to begin building, label each glass piece with the washable marker. This makes it easier to keep track of the pieces during the process. Tear 20 strips of duct tape about six inches in length and put them within easy reach. Clean the edges of the bottom piece of glass by wiping them with the acetone. Place it flat in front of you on top of several strips of the duct tape. These pieces of tape should be lying adhesive side up to stick to the bottom of the glass with a few inches sticking out on each side of the glass. Next, line the far edge of the glass with a bead of sealant.
Assemble the Glass Panels
Take the glass back of the tank, wipe its edges with acetone and place it in position against the bottom pane of glass. The sealant should join the back to the bottom, but you will need to lift the flaps of the tape to hold the glass in place until the sealant dries. Repeat this process for the three other sides of the tank. You will also need to run a bead of sealant up the side edges of the panel to join the corners and place duct tape around the corners to hold the side panels in place until the sealant dries. Having another person hold the panels while you work is very helpful. Once all four sides are connected to the base, the weight of each, plus the drying sealant and duct tape, should hold all of the parts in place. A final bead of sealant should be run over all joining corners once the pieces are in place.
Sealant will need to dry for at least 24 hours or per the instructions on the tube. Once drying time is finished, slowly fill the tank with water. You should add just a few inches at a time and watch for leaks. Should you experience a leak, it can be plugged with additional sealant.