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View Full Version : DIY acrylic tank; quick, easy, functional


McPuff
08/15/2017, 07:01 PM
I know there are other acrylic threads out there, but I thought this one would be of interest so some of the noobie DIYers. My experience with DIY grows every day but I would definitely not consider myself an expert! In fact, there are some DIY threads that are so good, it can make people think, "I could never do that!" I know because I've thought that! My "tutorial" shows how easy it can be to build a small acrylic tank without using a lot of involved tools and/or processes.

Several months ago I purchased some clownfish for my kids with the intention of putting them in the display. When I got them, however, they were so small that I knew they couldn't go in the tank and hope to survive. So I had a temporary solution to keep them in a 20 gal tank with its own heater and filter. Well, that lasted about 4 months. By then, I had changed my mind and decided I'd like to have them in a separate tank but still hooked into the system. So I decided to make an acrylic tank to accomplish this goal.

About a month ago I actually finished the DIY acrylic tank. It's small (12" cube) and that's how I wanted to start. I made it so I could have a separate display that was part of the larger system and therefore minimize the equipment needed while having an ultra stable "nano" tank. Truthfully, I went with a quick and easy approach. I found an ebay lot of 15 pieces of 1/4" (12x12") acrylic for a great price. Cut off 1/2" on 6 of those pieces so I could actually make 3 cube tanks (and they sent scraps I can use too). I went with Weld-On 4 (the watery stuff) using the squeeze bottle with needle applicator which was super fast and easy (the thick stuff is good to plug any leaks if necessary). I didn't bother to prep the edges much so there are some tiny bubbles in the seams... truthfully nothing that will affect the integrity of such a small tank (Lg tank is another story). I did incorporate some bracing on the top though it is not necessary.

The overall project was remarkably easy and since it wasn't my first acrylic project I had a bit of experience to help me along. The tank has worked out perfectly so far (about a month) and I don't see any issues forthcoming. You can see some still pics on my original 300DD "build" thread below.

http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2605811

And here is a [hopefully helpful] video I made to document the process of making the tank. I didn't do a step by step as that has been done so many times. But I do provide some decent overview and rationale behind my decisions. Again, everything I did was based on the functionality of the tank, not the aesthetics. But I still think it looks pretty decent.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1Btfj6kKCE

Once I'm home for more than a few days at a time (probably Nov), I'll build two more identical tanks to use for TTM and QT. The difference, however, is that I'll take more time to prep the edges and make cleaner seams. Really, this is unnecessary but I'd like the practice in case I decide to build an acrylic sump at some point... which I am pondering (or maybe PVC??).

If you're interested in making your own tank, it's certainly a rewarding and fun experience. My advice is to first try building a small practice "project" to learn about the process firsthand. It doesn't even need to be a tank. I'm happy to answer any questions you may have and I hope you enjoy!

Techhnyne
10/03/2017, 03:15 AM
nice post. I just built my 1st project. A sump refugium I want to build a tank now but i need to figure out a way to make a jig or something to get the sheets square and straight to eachother because my method just using corner angle rulers sucks. Also i need to learn how to get bubble-less joints

McPuff
10/04/2017, 06:08 AM
Hey thanks. As I said in the post, I did this one quick and easy. The next couple will be more precise, at least for the joints.

So you've already tried the corner clamps and they didn't work? For these little tanks it's much simpler than a larger tank. I don't have to worry about pins and it's pretty easy to make sure the edges are straight and 90deg. I do think it would be even better with corner clamps though.

My main goal in the next couple builds will be to get nice and clean joints. That should be pretty easy with some edge preparation, of which I did none previously. This is a simple enough process and should not take long. I'll post on how the next couple builds go, but not in as much detail at all... more of a summary.