DIY glass lids - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-05-2011, 06:26 AM Thread Starter
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DIY glass lids

I'm looking into making glass lids for my 55 gallon and my 29 gallon aquariums. Both planted and have t5ho fixtures anyways was wondering if anyone has done this befor? Should I buy glass and have it cut to fit? Should I buy a aquarium glass lid? Could I use acrylic? it would bs the easiest to cut and what not. Also how much light power is being removed as it passes through the glass or acrylic?
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-05-2011, 06:34 AM
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I have had acrylic lids made at a local hardware store for a 20L tank. It was cheap ~$5. It did the job, but it eventually warped and got cloudy. I prefer a glass cover (which is also cheap to have made at the LHS), but I also have a large cat that likes to stand on it, so that idea didn't work. Both will reduce the amount of light into the tank, but I guess how much would depend on the clarity of the cover and thickness. Using a PAR meter to figure out how much light gets through would be your best bet.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-05-2011, 11:04 AM
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I like and use Lexan Acrylic sheets. Lexan is used as bullet resistant glass. You'll need to go to 1/4" stock to avoid wrapping in that long of a pc.(29). The 55 might need 2 lids or 3/8" stock.

There's a seller on Ebay, "Pop Displays" I but from he'll make a few cuts for free. You can work Lexan with basic power tools. He also sells Weld-On the glue for acrylic. You could make lid handles or supports for your lids too.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-05-2011, 01:59 PM
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I just did this for my 20 Long. You can get a 1/8 glass slab for $6.30(you'll probably need 2 for a 55g). I know at lowes they will cut it down to whatever size for free. Home depot may not. I was surprised at how strong this glass was....it holds a double T8 fixture and a single T8 fixture directly on top of it.

As for reduction of light, I think it's negligible unless you have dirty glass. I just clean mine during my weekly water change.

Like dogfish says, the only thing with using acrylic is you need a pretty thick piece or it will bend or warp. Something like 1/4" or more. Those start to get expensive relative to glass.

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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-05-2011, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by BlueJack View Post
Like dogfish says, the only thing with using acrylic is you need a pretty thick piece or it will bend or warp. Something like 1/4" or more. Those start to get expensive relative to glass.
Yes, Sir they do!

Glass is less expensive and will not wrap.

Acrylic is Lighter, stronger, safer(breakage) and you can work with it yourself.

I can be a clumsy oaf at times, glass...not my friend.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-05-2011, 10:13 PM
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I have 1/4" acrylic lid, not sure if it was with teh tenecor tank or not but it warped.

I would use glass.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-06-2011, 03:10 AM
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I use acrylic lids for my 55g tank, 2 pieces that I cut myself with a jigsaw from a 1/4" sheet I bought at Lowes. I cut the pieces 1/2" short intentionally so that I don't need handles. I turn them over once a week. Because they have no handles, flipping them doesn't matter, and though the pieces do warp, they warp one direction slightly, then the other direction slightly each week. It never adds up to more than perhaps 1/8" deflection along the length of the piece in that time.

If you go glass, Home Depot and Lowes sell single strength (3/32") glass only, and only Lowes will cut it for you, at least around here. You'd do better to find a glass shop (the kind of place that makes shower doors and the like) and buy a piece of 1/4" glass, cut to size and with the edges ground. They can also drill holes for a handle of your choosing, if you like, or you can just make the piece sufficiently short that you can get your fingers around it to pick it up when required. Thinner glass would work, and it is surprisingly strong stuff against a distributed load, but it doesn't take much of a rap on the top of the tank to break a piece of double strength (1/8") glass, and single strength is super easy to break.

If you don't want to find a glass shop, you can also order tempered glass cut to size online. It should run you about $20 per piece, iirc.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-06-2011, 08:52 PM
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I've used glass tops for over a decade and never had any problems. Any local glass shop can cut them to size. I currently have 2 hinged assemblies on my 55gal tank with the corners cut out for plumbing. I paid about $20 for the four glass pieces (1/4" thick), and $8-9 for a 6' piece of hinge from McMaster Carr. If you don't want a permanent handle, a clear suction cup works great for lifting the glass enough you can get your fingers under it.

All thermoplastics will creep (warp) when placed under load, so you'll have to flip them over routinely. Lexan (polycarbonate) is softer than acrylic, thus much easier to drill/machine, and also much more impact resistant. On the down side it costs more and will warp a little easier.

Clarity will depend upon the grade of glass/plastic you buy; but none of them should cut down the visible light much (all glass will absorb UV rays to some extent). Optical grade acrylic is actually a little clearer than standard window glass, and comparable to low iron glass.

Personally, I tried acrylic but it always warped and ended up getting all scratched; especially when trying to remove hard water stains. I switched to glass after the first year and never considered going back to plastic.

Sean
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-09-2011, 12:39 AM
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I somehow managed to trace, score and break a bowfront acrylic cover a few months ago only to have it bow badly.

I picked a .220 piece to try again and while clamping the previous piece to it to use as a form I came to the conclusion that I should just have my LFS order me an AGA glass top for the stupid tank. Stupid bowfront tanks.

Fortunately scoring and breaking works much better in straight lines so I will probably knock out a piece to cover one of my 20H tanks instead. I had hoped that the thicker acrylic would resist the warping but from the sounds of the comments in this thread the warping is a function of the acrylic itself rather than a symptom of insufficient thickness.
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