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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-27-2014, 11:10 AM Thread Starter
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DIY aquarium help needed

So I am planning to make a betta breeding aquarium/housing for adult females.

My original plan was to make a 50*35*40cm (20"x14"16") or 70 L ( 18,492 US Gallons) aquarium, and when the glass maker offered to do it for me (apparently he has done a few in the past) I took him up on his offer.

The reason I want it so big is because I want to split it in half using a plastic mesh and use one side for breeding and the other side for housing the adult females.

It was an all glass aquarium, he used extra pieces of glass on the top front edge and top side edges to place a glass lid to prevent excess loss of water. Sadly, this morning, the bottom of the aquarium cracked with a majestic bang.

I am not sure why this happened, perhaps it is because of the glass thickness? He seems to have used 5 mm glass. Any insight would be helpful here so I can avoid making the same mistake.

So now I have to start over. What are the important things I should take into account when making it? Should I go for the standard rectangular or for a more unorthodox hexagonal aquarium? what would have a lower likelihood of failure (crack, break, explosion due to water pressure, etc)?
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-27-2014, 11:42 AM
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Was the tank level?
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-27-2014, 12:15 PM
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-27-2014, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by aquariumhobbyist View Post
So I am planning to make a betta breeding aquarium/housing for adult females.

My original plan was to make a 50*35*40cm (20"x14"16") or 70 L ( 18,492 US Gallons) aquarium, and when the glass maker offered to do it for me (apparently he has done a few in the past) I took him up on his offer.

The reason I want it so big is because I want to split it in half using a plastic mesh and use one side for breeding and the other side for housing the adult females.

It was an all glass aquarium, he used extra pieces of glass on the top front edge and top side edges to place a glass lid to prevent excess loss of water. Sadly, this morning, the bottom of the aquarium cracked with a majestic bang.

I am not sure why this happened, perhaps it is because of the glass thickness? He seems to have used 5 mm glass. Any insight would be helpful here so I can avoid making the same mistake.

So now I have to start over. What are the important things I should take into account when making it? Should I go for the standard rectangular or for a more unorthodox hexagonal aquarium? what would have a lower likelihood of failure (crack, break, explosion due to water pressure, etc)?
I'm just going to throw a few things in here that I gleaned from other pondering.

1)Many manuf. use tempered glass for bottoms. From yours cracking that was not used. Tempered would have shattered into hundreds of squares.
Quote:
Annealed glass (i.e normal glass) undergoes a similar deflection compared to tempered glass under the same load, but tempered glass can take a higher load and, therefore, deflects further before breaking.
2)Most manuf. "float" the bottom, meaning the sides do not rest on top of the bottom..
3) glass breaks easily under weight and small "deflections" from flat. Many "pad" the bottom to relieve small imperfections in the surface.

good read:
http://saltaquarium.about.com/od/diy...esignatank.htm
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-27-2014, 12:27 PM
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Must have been quite a mess. Hope you did not lose any livestock.

For attempt #2 suggest to use styrofoam sheets on the tank bottom. Commercial/pet shop tanks have a plastic brace on the bottom to help even the stress loads and lift the bottom plate off so its only resting on its edges on the support.

If you want to go that route then make a rectangular wood frame for the bottom border of the tank say only about 2x2cm (width and thickness) to support the edges of the tank only with no stress or load on the bottom plate on its center.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-27-2014, 02:13 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by aquabruce View Post
Was the tank level?
Yes, it was level.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Topekoms View Post
rectangle
Thanks for the input.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkrol View Post
I'm just going to throw a few things in here that I gleaned from other pondering.

1)Many manuf. use tempered glass for bottoms. From yours cracking that was not used. Tempered would have shattered into hundreds of squares.

2)Most manuf. "float" the bottom, meaning the sides do not rest on top of the bottom..
3) glass breaks easily under weight and small "deflections" from flat. Many "pad" the bottom to relieve small imperfections in the surface.

good read:
http://saltaquarium.about.com/od/diy...esignatank.htm
So is tempered glass better? Wouldn't it be more catastrophic on failure though?

I do not understand the "float" you mentioned; how are the sides not going to rest on top of bottom?

By "pad" do you mean placing the bottom on top of some soft material? Would a sponge used in sofas work?

Oh and I already read the site today after the failure of the glass bottom and it did give some insight but I still feel lacking wrt to glass thickness I should be using (i.e. is the current one I have enough at 5 mm)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rezco View Post
Must have been quite a mess. Hope you did not lose any livestock.

For attempt #2 suggest to use styrofoam sheets on the tank bottom. Commercial/pet shop tanks have a plastic brace on the bottom to help even the stress loads and lift the bottom plate off so its only resting on its edges on the support.

If you want to go that route then make a rectangular wood frame for the bottom border of the tank say only about 2x2cm (width and thickness) to support the edges of the tank only with no stress or load on the bottom plate on its center.
Thankfully, I was still testing the aquarium for leaks at the time... What I did is add water at a gallons each every day. was on the final day and now this... My Betta fish are so cramped up in their make shift homes now...

I am having trouble finding Styrofoam locally. I am going to have to go to some hardware/furniture stores to see if they got a shipment recently and threw out a bunch. Will definitely add this on the bottom. By plastic brace, do you mean like a plastic frame on the bottom or small plastic legs that lift it off and the aquarium rests on these small legs (like those found under laptops)?

If there is a brace, would foam help or be more of a trouble maker then?

Finally, w.r.t. to making a wooden frame, I am at a loss as to how to best join 2 pieces of wood for this purpose; join by nailing the vertical piece to the horizontal piece (the nail enters horizontally on the vertical piece into the horizontal piece) and the two piece edges lie on the same plane, or the vertical piece lies on top of the horizontal one and you nail vertically?

Last edited by Darkblade48; 03-01-2014 at 08:51 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-27-2014, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by aquariumhobbyist View Post
So is tempered glass better? Wouldn't it be more catastrophic on failure though?
Yes.. but it has more "give"...
Quote:
Originally Posted by aquariumhobbyist View Post
I do not understand the "float" you mentioned; how are the sides not going to rest on top of bottom?
See video.. Sides get attached to edge.. not rest on top.. Silicone is strong enough to hold the water from pushing the sides away from the bottom edge.. in general..
Quote:
Originally Posted by aquariumhobbyist View Post
By "pad" do you mean placing the bottom on top of some soft material? Would a sponge used in sofas work?
thin styrofoam or padding. Personally I don't use it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by aquariumhobbyist View Post
Oh and I already read the site today after the failure of the glass bottom and it did give some insight but I still feel lacking wrt to glass thickness I should be using (i.e. is the current one I have enough at 5 mm)?
http://saltaquarium.about.com/od/pla...Calculator.htm

I don't see 5mm

another calculator:
http://www.theaquatools.com/building-your-aquarium

You can get "5" here
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-27-2014, 10:19 PM
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In the U.S., you can get really big sheets of styrofoam at hardware/building stores, it's sometimes used as insulation, so that might be an option for you.

A lot of people also use yoga mats, and a sleeping pad for camping would probably work (those can be a bit pricey for this purpose though...).

I've used craft foam, it's fairly small, most of the sheets are about the size of standard letter paper ~8" x ~11". I think people use it for scrapbooking or something, I'm not sure. It comes in all sorts of colors, and I got a couple sheets of black about ~1/4" thick to go under one of my aquariums.

I think people have also used cork tiles (Like what they use for bulletin boards).

If you can find stryofoam for packaging, that would be the cheapest (free) way.

Tempered glass is stronger (I think its roughly twice as strong as the same thickness untempered?), but if it's so much as scratched, it will shatter into hundreds of little fragments.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-28-2014, 03:33 AM
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Originally Posted by aquariumhobbyist View Post
Finally, w.r.t. to making a wooden frame, I am at a loss as to how to best join 2 pieces of wood for this purpose; join by nailing the vertical piece to the horizontal piece (the nail enters horizontally on the vertical piece into the horizontal piece) and the two piece edges lie on the same plane, or the vertical piece lies on top of the horizontal one and you nail vertically?
Finally got some time to do some sketching -here is what I was thinking....



The bottom plate should be lifted off from the bottom so that there is no pressure against it, all the load is transferred to the edges and into the wood frame
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-28-2014, 01:46 PM Thread Starter
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Finally got some time to do some sketching -here is what I was thinking....



The bottom plate should be lifted off from the bottom so that there is no pressure against it, all the load is transferred to the edges and into the wood frame
Aha! Excellent, very informative this one. Thanks!

I thought I needed something like a frame so was at a loss on how to join the segments. All I need, based on this as I understand it, is a small hollow wooden frame that acts as a platform.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkrol View Post
Yes.. but it has more "give"...

See video.. Sides get attached to edge.. not rest on top.. Silicone is strong enough to hold the water from pushing the sides away from the bottom edge.. in general..

thin styrofoam or padding. Personally I don't use it.


http://saltaquarium.about.com/od/pla...Calculator.htm

I don't see 5mm

another calculator:
http://www.theaquatools.com/building-your-aquarium

You can get "5" here
Thanks for the calculator. I had found the one at the first link and the min I see is 6 mm. There is no 5, as you mentioned.

I am not sure where I can find tempered glass though, so I will probably go with the more primitive standard glass with Styrofoam or wood frame (if I can make it) on the bottom.

Last edited by Darkblade48; 03-01-2014 at 08:52 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-28-2014, 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by aquariumhobbyist View Post
and when the glass maker offered to do it for me
not much of a glassmaker if he can't cut and temper a piece of glass.......



You can't cut tempered glass so any "glass repair" of safety glass i.e windows/doors is done "on the spot" so to speak..

It's need is open for discussion.......

DIY FYI...
http://www.doityourself.com/stry/how...s#.UxEO-4XEFMg
for fun
http://www.cmog.org/article/precise-...tempered-glass
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-03-2014, 09:00 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jeffkrol View Post
not much of a glassmaker if he can't cut and temper a piece of glass.......



You can't cut tempered glass so any "glass repair" of safety glass i.e windows/doors is done "on the spot" so to speak..

It's need is open for discussion.......

DIY FYI...
http://www.doityourself.com/stry/how...s#.UxEO-4XEFMg
for fun
http://www.cmog.org/article/precise-...tempered-glass
Thanks for the links.

On a related note, I figured out what went wrong with my aquarium; it was related to the bendşng of the glass under the weight of the water but the cause of the crack was not the hardness of the floor. The guy who made it used a double layered glass (one where one piece of glass is actually to that are joined together through some sort of adhesive), so while the one on the top bent due to weight of the water, the one on the bottom did not so the glass on the top broke while the one on the bottom was intact...

Anyway, I had the bottom replaced now with a 6mm, but the only problem is the glass maker put water in the tan before the silicone had a chance to cure (i.e. before 24 hours). The inside is dry (I mean the silicone) but some of it on the outside was still oozy... If I let it dry for another day or two will it be safe for aquarium use? Is there a way to test if the aquarium is going to be contaminated with harmful silicone?
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-03-2014, 12:24 PM
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Thanks for the links.

On a related note, I figured out what went wrong with my aquarium; it was related to the bendşng of the glass under the weight of the water but the cause of the crack was not the hardness of the floor. The guy who made it used a double layered glass (one where one piece of glass is actually to that are joined together through some sort of adhesive), so while the one on the top bent due to weight of the water, the one on the bottom did not so the glass on the top broke while the one on the bottom was intact...

Anyway, I had the bottom replaced now with a 6mm, but the only problem is the glass maker put water in the tan before the silicone had a chance to cure (i.e. before 24 hours). The inside is dry (I mean the silicone) but some of it on the outside was still oozy... If I let it dry for another day or two will it be safe for aquarium use? Is there a way to test if the aquarium is going to be contaminated with harmful silicone?
Laminated glass is THE weakest type of glass.. though this seems to a bit arguable.

silicone is not harmful when fully cured.. Your nose can tell you when it is mostly cured.. the smell will be gone...
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-03-2014, 01:04 PM
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silicone is not harmful when fully cured..
Even if it's not aquarium-safe silicone? I thought if it had mold-inhibitors it still wouldn't be safe for fish.

Which leads me to ask aquariumhobbyist, do you know what kind of silicone was used?

Personally, I'd give it a week to cure before adding water.
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-03-2014, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by aquariumhobbyist View Post
So I am planning to make a betta breeding aquarium/housing for adult females.

My original plan was to make a 50*35*40cm (20"x14"16") or 70 L ( 18,492 US Gallons) aquarium, and when the glass maker offered to do it for me (apparently he has done a few in the past) I took him up on his offer.

The reason I want it so big is because I want to split it in half using a plastic mesh and use one side for breeding and the other side for housing the adult females.

It was an all glass aquarium, he used extra pieces of glass on the top front edge and top side edges to place a glass lid to prevent excess loss of water. Sadly, this morning, the bottom of the aquarium cracked with a majestic bang.

I am not sure why this happened, perhaps it is because of the glass thickness? He seems to have used 5 mm glass. Any insight would be helpful here so I can avoid making the same mistake.

So now I have to start over. What are the important things I should take into account when making it? Should I go for the standard rectangular or for a more unorthodox hexagonal aquarium? what would have a lower likelihood of failure (crack, break, explosion due to water pressure, etc)?
Sully has a long thread on building your own tanks. Most important thing is to use a quality silicone. Search RTV SILICONE. Do not use stuff for windows and doors.
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