Crazy Idea: Anyone Ever Build a Tank? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-12-2020, 10:42 PM Thread Starter
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Crazy Idea: Anyone Ever Build a Tank?

So am I crazy, or can it be done? I had the idea to use 1/4 inch thick plexiglass (acrylic) to make a 1/4 cylinder to go in a corner. It would be small maybe 5 gallon just for shrimp. I have the skill needed to bend plexiglass, I've made a few windshields for airplanes. All you need is heat and patience. Then you seal it together with aquarium silicone which I know for a fact will stick to plexi. Let me know if you've done it, know someone who has or know why you shouldn't try it. Or if you think I'm nuts, lol.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-13-2020, 12:11 AM
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Originally Posted by TimB172 View Post
So am I crazy, or can it be done? I had the idea to use 1/4 inch thick plexiglass (acrylic) to make a 1/4 cylinder to go in a corner. It would be small maybe 5 gallon just for shrimp. I have the skill needed to bend plexiglass, I've made a few windshields for airplanes. All you need is heat and patience. Then you seal it together with aquarium silicone which I know for a fact will stick to plexi. Let me know if you've done it, know someone who has or know why you shouldn't try it. Or if you think I'm nuts, lol.

Not nuts https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/1...-new-bows.html
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-13-2020, 12:24 AM
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Not the prettiest, nor is it nuts, but check my signature out. I've built 3 so far.


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7.5 Cube - shrimp tank
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-13-2020, 01:19 AM
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Cell cast acrylic is the most water stable type
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-13-2020, 01:25 AM
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If you are going to use silicone on acrylic, get a mop too. You are going to want dichloromethane (Weld-on 4?) for fusing acrylic.

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-13-2020, 02:45 AM
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Acrylic manuf suggest using only 2 part epoxy types though doesn't seem ti be the "usual" suggestion.

Professional Plastics › Building...PDF
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Building an Acrylic Aquarium - Professional Plastics

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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-13-2020, 05:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Bunsen Honeydew View Post
If you are going to use silicone on acrylic, get a mop too. You are going to want dichloromethane (Weld-on 4?) for fusing acrylic.

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Weldon 4 is the correct solvent for welding acrylic together. There are thicker versions of Weldon for other acrylic welding applications but Weldon #4 is the most common used for aquarium seams. I would NEVER use silicone to hold acrylic together in a structural situation!

Have you checked the price of cast acrylic sheet recently? The price has tripled since COVID due factory production slow downs and a huge demand for acrylic shields to separate customers from employees etc. If you have free acrylic available from your job... go for it... WITH the correct solvent. If you have to buy the acrylic I would recommend saving yourself a lot of money and just buy a 5g aquarium.

Google "DIY acrylic aquarium"... many others have built acrylic aquariums very successfully in sizes many times larger than 5g.
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Last edited by Oughtsix; 10-13-2020 at 06:16 AM. Reason: sp
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-13-2020, 06:38 AM
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The local acrylic guy is telling me the way to go is with Weldon 40. It's the 2x part cement that fills in cracks and gaps
http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1317359

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Weld-On #40 2 part clear adhesive - see IPS chart on this page. Highest strength adhesive for acrylics. This is used in making large aquariums, tanks, and glueing thick pieces of plexiglass. It cures perfectly clear. Removing bubbles after mixing requires patience and practice
https://www.eplastics.com/accessories/plastic-adhesives.

Consider it an alternate. Not reserved just to thick acrylic
https://www.monsterfishkeepers.com/f...and-42.544585/

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I've built many acrylic tanks with #4 and #16 for years but still reinforce the inside of them with #40 to prevent any crazing or seam popping down the road. Tanks 15-20yrs old came "stock" with #40 tip and poured on the inside of them and I really don't understand where this practice was lost on tanks being sold today. My opinion is newer tanks are being made cheaper and newer builders just don't know about the product or are making more profit by using cheaper acrylic cements. #40 first and foremost can be used to weld together any thickness of acrylic with crystal clear seams
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-13-2020, 10:25 PM Thread Starter
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Wow, thanks for the replies. I would have googled it, but I thought it would be fun to present the idea here. The weld-on solvent stuff did occur to me, but I've never worked with it, so I didn't know if it was the right thing. We don't use it on airplanes, just silicone. Of course these are light planes and not pressurized, so it's just to keep the rain out. Sadly, I don't work in the aviation industry anymore for economic reasons, as you can imagine there isn't a big demand with everything going on in the world. I do however work at a hardware store and have access to scrap acrylic sheets leftover from masking custom cuts for customers, we sell those off cheap especially to employees. If nothing else I get a discount just for working there. I'll keep bouncing the idea around and read up on weld-on.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-14-2020, 11:42 PM
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Note that you have a lot of option when it comes to DIY project, and it may help to think outside of the box a little bit.

Acrylic and glass may be the first thing come to mind, but in my experience they are difficult to work with if you're a new to it. Especially if you gonna do the scoring/cut and finishing yourself (which IMO equally important if not more than the assembly step itself). That's even more so if you're working with acrylic. Without proper scoring and proper surface finishing step, your weld almost guarantee to fail even before you do it. It's best to have whatever place you buy from to cut and finish/polish it for you, and even then if the company don't normally do it for aquarium building, you'll have to double check their work. It would be best to start out with a small project - like a 5-10g and see if you can make it water-tight with your technique before attempting a bigger project.

On the other hand, plywood + epoxy may not be what people think about, but they actually much easier to work with. The main reason is because the error margin is much larger, and you can over-engineer to the point it will compensate any mistake you may make. With glass, there is only so much silicon you can use until it looks ridiculous, with acrylic either you make the perfect weld or a bad weld, you can not "overweld" to be sure (since it's chemical welding).

Here is a few picture of my first project, a 200g tank made from 3/4" plywood.

https://imgur.com/a/mkD5dkM

- The panels are hold together with 2" long nail/screw + super-wooden glue. They're then braced with 1" lumber around the base and top. If you are unsure, feel free to throw on a couple extra metal corner bracer.
- The inside are coated with epoxy. Again if you're not sure about your current coats, you can always put on another one, and another one, and another until you feel confident.
- The seams are line with fiberglass cloths, with epoxy painted on top, followed by silicone.

That tank basically was built to widthstand even an earthquake ... I think, and I never had any experience with woodworking prior, basically was just youtubing the whole process. And I think it looks fairly decent. I built it to house the baby koi you saw swimming in there. Years later when they got big, I built another 1000g tank to house them, also from wood (but line with pond liner instead of epoxy) to the cost of about 1$ per gallon. So you can't beat the price.
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-15-2020, 01:50 AM
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It's best to have whatever place you buy from to cut and finish/polish it for you, and even then if the company don't normally do it for aquarium building, you'll have to double check their work.
You do not actually want the edges of the acrylic polished. This will impair the penetration of the Weldon. You want the edges perfectly straight and scraped flat, not polished... there is a difference. Someone mentioned using Weldon 40 instead of Weldon 4 for welding the acrylic sheets together. Weldon 40 is much thicker and will fill gaps much better than the water thin Weldon 4. To me Weldon 40 is a poor excuse for not doing your acrylic edge preparation properly.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-22-2020, 11:48 PM
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To me Weldon 40 is a poor excuse for not doing your acrylic edge preparation properly.
hmmm, so many ways to skin a cat really. #40 is another tool in the toolbox. i use it to bond dissimilar materials like acrylic to pvc,abs etc... i also use it when the material is prone to crazing and i am to lazy to whip up some solvent. he had mentioned heating up the sheet to make a cylinder? in that application i would prolly go for the #40. the pita with #40 is getting the bubbles out without a vacuum chamber.
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-27-2020, 05:39 PM Thread Starter
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After a bunch of internet research, I talked myself out of it, lol. My big problem is that I don't have a way to evenly heat a sheet of acrylic large enough to do what I want. As I mentioned in the first post, I wanted a 1/4 cylinder to go in a corner. Without heating it evenly so that the whole thing is the same temperature before it's placed on the form, it will have a lot of distortions. I suppose I could put together an oven of sorts with modified space heaters and fans and after a few hundred dollars I could use it once. Or I could settle for a store bought hexagon.

Raven, that wooden tank is awesome! I would never have thought of that.

Anyway thanks for the replies, it's been an interesting thread.
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