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Old 06-12-2006, 10:46 PM   #1
Wasserpest
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Cheap tank construction ideas


Glass is obviously the best... easy to look through, easy to glue together, inert and very, very water resistant.

But I am trying to make things cheaper. For about $40, you can get a 3/4" 4x8ft piece of plywood which, properly cut down, would give me material for a 4x2x2 (roughly) tank, of course adding a piece of glass in front to be able to look through it.

To keep water and plywood apart from each other, ppl start applying epoxy and such. That's great, but I don't want to work with it, because it is smelly, makes you hurry, and good epoxy isn't cheap either.

Next thought would be some sort of liner. Acrylic sheets/Plexiglass/Lexan sounds like a good idea. However, it isn't exactly cheap. A 2x4 sheet weights in at $20, and one would need at least 3 (back, bottom, sides) of them. Then the issue of sealing it up, with Silicone not sticking to it so great. I know there are better acrylic glues, but then it would have to be precision work to make it all waterproof.

Pondliner would be another possible solution, but it would probably be a headache to get it waterproof around the front glass.

The easiest would really be some magic paint, which dries to a non-toxic, water resistant coat, while it is cheap and easy to work with.

Anyone looked into that? Purpose is really just to see how cheap one can build a tank. If the overall project cost (time is NOT an issue) gets even close to what a commercial glass tank costs, well, then one could save all the hassle and just go out and buy one.
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Old 06-12-2006, 11:35 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wasserpest
Glass is obviously the best... easy to look through, easy to glue together, inert and very, very water resistant. But I'm trying to make things cheaper.
Glass is actually the cheapest option till you get into the 100+ gallon range. But I see where your going.
If you want to make a plywood tank...check out this thread:

http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/sh...hreadid=308681
I know you might not be a reefer, but it can be used for fresh or salt anyhow.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wasserpest
Next thought would be some sort of liner. Acrylic sheets/Plexiglass/Lexan sounds like a good idea. However, it isn't exactly cheap. A 2x4 sheet weights in at $20, and one would need at least 3 (back, bottom, sides) of them. Then the issue of sealing it up, with Silicone not sticking to it so great. I know there are better acrylic glues, but then it would have to be precision work to make it all waterproof.

If your using the acrylic as a liner, you can just use extruded acrylic($20 stuff). If you were making a tank out of acrylic, you would need cell cast acrylic, which runs you up about $70 for a 2x4 sheet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wasserpest
The easiest would really be some magic paint, which dries to a non-toxic, water resistant coat, while it is cheap and easy to work with.
I'll dig up the perfect RC thread for you...if only I could find it..


You might want to consider the outcomes though. A loose nail or a bad seal could lead to a huge mess. I'm not trying to discourage, but is it worth to skimp out on the most important and critical piece of equipment?

Tony
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Old 06-12-2006, 11:50 PM   #3
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You could use Copon Paint. It is a resin paint they use for boats. You have to add activator like you would with resign.
Not sure how durable it would be though.
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Old 06-13-2006, 12:06 AM   #4
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if you want to build a tank check out monsterfishkeepers.com. alot of the people there build their own tanksbecause they are too expensive to have made or they dont make the sizes they need.
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Old 06-13-2006, 12:16 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wasserpest
To keep water and plywood apart from each other, ppl start applying epoxy and such. That's great, but I don't want to work with it, because it is smelly, makes you hurry, and good epoxy isn't cheap either.
Don't really agree with you... It's no worse to use than paint. Plus, you can add powder to either color it or make it thicker to get a thicker coat. Not cheap, but buy wrom a boat builder that has bought it in bulk. Smells really no worse than paint. More toxic though, need to use gloves. But one should really use gloves with paint too...

Anyways, just my opinion I used to build boates with this stuff, so I'm kind of used to working with it...
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Old 06-13-2006, 12:20 AM   #6
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Thanks for the tips, and the link Tony, that will be some interesting reading.

Quote:
Originally Posted by exmt
Glass is actually the cheapest option till you get into the 100+ gallon range. But I see where your going.
Not sure what glass really costs, but around here a 55 gal tank is about $100, so yeah, with plywood I think I could carve off a few $$.

Quote:
Originally Posted by exmt
If your using the acrylic as a liner, you can just use extruded acrylic($20 stuff). If you were making a tank out of acrylic, you would need cell cast acrylic, which runs you up about $70 for a 2x4 sheet.
Yep, that's what I meant, just using it as a liner.

Quote:
Originally Posted by exmt
I'll dig up the perfect RC thread for you...if only I could find it..
Cool, that would be great

Quote:
Originally Posted by exmt
You might want to consider the outcomes though. A loose nail or a bad seal could lead to a huge mess. I'm not trying to discourage, but is it worth to skimp out on the most important and critical piece of equipment?
See that is the thing, I don't need another tank, and I could probably get an inexpensive one used if I did. But I love a little challenge without spending a load of cash. So it isn't important or critical, but of course before I really start doing anything I want to make sure it doesn't fall apart after it is finished (and no nails!! screws would be my choice )
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Old 06-13-2006, 12:23 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fshfanatic
You could use Copon Paint. It is a resin paint they use for boats. You have to add activator like you would with resign.
Not sure how durable it would be though.
Thanks, I'll check that out. Wonder if it is available over here. And needs to be non-toxic too (no copper etc).
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Old 06-13-2006, 12:27 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nik
Don't really agree with you... It's no worse to use than paint. Plus, you can add powder to either color it or make it thicker to get a thicker coat. Not cheap, but buy wrom a boat builder that has bought it in bulk. Smells really no worse than paint. More toxic though, need to use gloves. But one should really use gloves with paint too...

Anyways, just my opinion I used to build boates with this stuff, so I'm kind of used to working with it...
Really looking for that magic paint There must be something.

I was thinking along the lines of varnish that I used to paint some of my furniture, it is pretty tough stuff. Not sure if it survives 24/7 contact with water though.
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Old 06-13-2006, 12:36 AM   #9
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Still don't get it, what's the problem with the epoxy? The smell? Oh well, to each his own...

Anyways, I wouldn't try normal varnish. You would need 5 or 6 coats, at least. It has no ability to fill in gaps, like my beloved epoxy has if you mix it with the powder... It will survive water, at least for a few years, but it will leak toxics...

Alright, I'll shut up about epoxy now, obviously you want something else...
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Old 06-13-2006, 12:50 AM   #10
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By the time you assemble it I doubt you can save any money at all over a standard 55 gallon tank.

And unless you plan on sealing all plywood surfaces you really should be buying marine plywood. And that alone is going to make it more expensive than a 55 gallon tank.

try www.craigslist.org
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Old 06-13-2006, 12:53 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOtherGeoff
if you want to build a tank check out monsterfishkeepers.com. alot of the people there build their own tanksbecause they are too expensive to have made or they dont make the sizes they need.
Interesting site. So much to read, so little time.
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Old 06-13-2006, 12:59 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rex Grigg
By the time you assemble it I doubt you can save any money at all over a standard 55 gallon tank.
If I can't, then I won't. That is why I am posting this, asking questions, getting opinions, doing some research.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rex Grigg
And unless you plan on sealing all plywood surfaces you really should be buying marine plywood. And that alone is going to make it more expensive than a 55 gallon tank.
Well that throws the marine plywood out then. Sealing is the plan.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rex Grigg
Very familiar with this. But like I mentioned earlier, this is not the point of my thread. Don't need a tank. Just wanna play. I know I can buy a tank cheap.
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Old 06-13-2006, 01:03 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nik
Still don't get it, what's the problem with the epoxy? The smell? Oh well, to each his own...

Anyways, I wouldn't try normal varnish. You would need 5 or 6 coats, at least. It has no ability to fill in gaps, like my beloved epoxy has if you mix it with the powder... It will survive water, at least for a few years, but it will leak toxics...

Alright, I'll shut up about epoxy now, obviously you want something else...
The last time I checked out Epoxy, it seemed like a @#$% to work with. Now you being a professional boat builder, keep in mind I am not, and so...

Need to read some more, maybe they came up with something less toxic, less critical to exact measuring and mixing, cheaper and more reliable
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Old 06-13-2006, 01:16 AM   #14
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After endless pages of searching, I found the RC thread I was looking for. Just what your doing, plus loads of great information.

http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/sh...hreadid=716410

Sean used clear epoxy to seal the wood, then painted it over with shiny blue paint. I like the way the overflow is built into the back of the tank.

Tony
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Old 06-13-2006, 01:20 AM   #15
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So I guess Transparent aluminum is out...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transparent_aluminum

When looking for cheap and huge tanks I think of major aquariums. Most are concrete with large glass (or plastic) windows. They have to be cheap (and permanent) else we would see something else.

And swimming pools:
http://www.lakeranchresort.com/llr%20008.jpg
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