DIY 150g all glass aquarium
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Old 08-02-2013, 06:49 PM   #1
the_deeb
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DIY 150g all glass aquarium


I just finished building a new custom aquarium and thought I'd post up a build journal. I did a lot of research beforehand and am quite happy with the final product.

The tank is a wide, shallow aquarium: 60"L x 32"W x 17"H

I built it with 3/8" (9mm) glass, which puts me at a safety factor of over 4.61 according to this glass thickness calculator:
http://saltaquarium.about.com/od/pla...Calculator.htm

I initially thought of going rimless, but decided to do a 3" eurobrace instead for additional structural peace of mind. I don't find the eurobrace particularly obstructive given the overall width of the tank, and I also find that it's a convenient place to rest items on during feeding/maintenance. I'm also hoping it will help to reduce the risk of fish swimming up the glass and escaping out over the sides.

Here's a sketchup of the tank:





The tank could be considered to have a semi-floating bottom: the sides are built around the base but are flush with the edges so the base is fully supported by the stand. From my research, this is the strongest way to assemble a tank because it it means that the silicone joints at the bottom primarily experience tensile stress (as opposed to shear stress if the side are sitting on top of the bottom), and silicone has higher tensile strength than shear strength.

You'll notice that the tank is also designed for a coast-to-coast overflow with beananimal style drains. I'll be using the front of the overflow as a mounting surface for riparium planters.
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Old 08-02-2013, 06:55 PM   #2
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Impressive!
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Old 08-02-2013, 07:44 PM   #3
the_deeb
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Given that this is a reasonably large tank with fairly heavy glass, I wanted to use a serious silicone adhesive.

RTV108



Tensile Strength: 400 lb/in2
Elongation: 450%
Tear Strength: 8 lb/in
Shear Strength: 200 lb/in2

This is a nice industrial strength adhesive rather than just a caulk like GE silicone I. It's a little trickier to work with because it's thicker and cures much more quickly - the skim time is only about 5-10mins, after which you're not supposed to fiddle with it or you may compromise the bond. For this reason, I decided to assemble the tank a little differently than previous tanks I've built. I also needed to come up with a plan of assembly that would allow the tank to come together quickly in a stable, non-chaotic fashion.

Before starting on the tank, I built some 90 degree support braces out of some scrap wood left over from my stand build.



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Old 08-02-2013, 11:35 PM   #4
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I decided to build the tank directly on the stand because it's a nice, sturdy flat worksurface.

I started by attaching the eurobracing to the sides



and the C2C overflow



Putting my education to use



I those dry and cure for at least 24hrs before proceeding to the next step
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Old 08-03-2013, 12:10 AM   #5
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I laid out some 1X2 and 1X4 boards on top of the stand extending out the sides and placed the base glass on top.



The extensions provides a place to lay out the side pieces before moving them up into position





Cleaned all the edges and bonding surfaces really well first with acetone and then 100% ethanol



Then we raised the side panels into the vertical position, placed the support braces and checked to make sure everything was square



Once everything was positioned appropriately, we clamped the support braces to the sides and to the boards projecting out from under the base glass





With the glass in place, I applied a thick bead of silicone to the bonding surface



and then pushed the side panels into place



Here's both side panels in place and some 50lb sandbags added to the base to keep everything in place



The back panel was siliconed and lifted into place



Then the front



The panes were pushed together to squeeze out bubbles



and then clamped at the corners to hold everything together





Left everything in place undisturbed for at least 24hrs to cure
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Old 08-03-2013, 07:05 AM   #6
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After letting the silicone cure for 24hrs, I removed the clamps and replaced the wooden boards with some high density styrofoam boards.



Because of the fast cure time of the silicone, I didn't attempt to tool the silicone at all after the initial application. But after the silicone had cured, I went back and trimmed off the excess squeeze-out with clean razor blades.

Outer seam before:


Outer seam after:


Inner seams:




After:


I really liked the clean look of the seams after trimming off the excess silicone and debated leaving it like that. However, I was nervous about the long term durability of the joint and the potential of water wearing away at the structural silicone. So after removing the excess I went back and cleaned all the inside corners with acetone and ethanol and then applied a new interior silicone filet.

I kept the filet fairly thin and I think they still look quite clean and unobtrusive







Overall, I think the seams look great. The one issue is that I think I ended up applying too much clamping pressure and I think this forced out too much silicone from the seams in the corners.





I'm hoping it's mostly an aesthetic issue and won't compromise the structural integrity too much. I'm going to wait a week for the silicone to fully cure before doing a test fill to find out.
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Old 08-03-2013, 07:35 AM   #7
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That's such a cool build. Nice tank. Where'd you get the glass?
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Old 08-03-2013, 07:50 AM   #8
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VERRY nice tank! any ideas for stocking? as if you dont.. lol

i love your ambition btw lol idk if i could dive into a project like that. even though i did just DE-rim a tank i think building one is another thing alltogether :P

put a bamboo shark it in ^.^ lol
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Old 08-03-2013, 08:12 AM   #9
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Totally awesome! Can't wait to see how this tank grows and matures to!
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Old 08-03-2013, 01:07 PM   #10
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Very inspiring!
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Old 08-03-2013, 01:40 PM   #11
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Very nice. Smart that you built the thing on the stand so you don't have to move it.

You're from NYC so are you in an apartment or house? Find a good solid floor for this tank.


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Old 08-05-2013, 05:32 PM   #12
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very well documented...clicking all the pics while making the tank...i would have smeared silicone all over lol
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Old 08-06-2013, 01:12 PM   #13
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Thats great work!!

But I'm a bit worried about that bubbles at corners. I heard many stories about that corners get bigger and bigger and finally explode or just leak. And I know few friends send back to their custom made tanks just about that issue.

Maybe you can make some corner clamps or sometning else, I dont know maybe it wont happen anything. Just I want you to know that...

Greetings from Hong Kong!!
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Old 08-14-2013, 09:18 PM   #14
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That looks awesome. I have been wanting to try this for years, but just can't get the courage to do it.

Have you filled it yet?

We need updates....
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Old 08-21-2013, 03:22 PM   #15
the_deeb
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Thanks for all the comments. Sorry that I have been remiss in replying.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluek24a4 View Post
That's such a cool build. Nice tank. Where'd you get the glass?
I ordered the glass from glasscages.com and picked it up at one of their reptile shows. Their cuts are usually quite good and it was cheaper than most of the local glass places.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RedseaReefer View Post
VERRY nice tank! any ideas for stocking? as if you dont.. lol
I'm actually still a little bit unsure of stocking - too many potential ideas! Of the various plans I've been kicking around, the current forerunner is a West/Central African riverine setup focusing on rarer oddballs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mistergreen View Post
You're from NYC so are you in an apartment or house? Find a good solid floor for this tank.
I'm in an apartment. It's an old pre-war building so the construction is pretty solid. The tank is against a load-bearing exterior wall.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gecko View Post
Thats great work!!

But I'm a bit worried about that bubbles at corners. I heard many stories about that corners get bigger and bigger and finally explode or just leak. And I know few friends send back to their custom made tanks just about that issue.

Maybe you can make some corner clamps or sometning else, I dont know maybe it wont happen anything. Just I want you to know that...

Greetings from Hong Kong!!
Thanks for the concern. I've heard about that problem before and I'm a little worried too. However, I've mainly heard about it happening to ADA-style rimless tanks with a minimal interior seam. The problem in that scenario is that water can easily enter the joint and degrade the structural silicone bond, plus the absence of bracing puts greater strain and pressure on the seams. I'm hoping it won't be as much of an issue in my case because I have a decent interior fillet to protect the structural seam, and the eurobrace provides extra bonding surfaces and reduces some of the flex of glass and consequent strain on the joints. I'm also reassured by the fact that it's a relatively shallow tank, so the pressure shouldn't be too great, and the RTV108, which is a really strong structural silicone that also has good elongation properties.

All that being said, I'll definitely be keeping a sharp eye on those areas over time to see if they appear to be getting any larger.
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