Where to buy: Colored Acrylic for DIY in tank sump walls? + Silicone question - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-16-2015, 06:10 PM Thread Starter
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Where to buy: Colored Acrylic for DIY in tank sump walls? + Silicone question

As title says, I'm looking for where to buy per-tinted acrylic sheets for in-tank sump building. I'd prefer black. Any specific thickness recommendations?
Also curious about price difference for clear and black acrylic.. see if its cheaper to krylon fusion color the sheets myself.
Also can I use the aquarium safe GE door and windows silicone to adhere acrylic to a glass tank? A youtube video by "The king of DIY" just said to use silicone but did not mention what type.

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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-16-2015, 06:23 PM
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Source: Look locally, first. I do not know if they are nationwide, but there is a store called Tap Plastics in my area that carries acrylic, lexan and other 'plastic' materials.

No, silicone will not adhere well to acrylic. Maybe well enough to work inside a sump, where a bit of a leak is not a problem. The Window and Door will stick well to very clean glass, and might act like a sort of dam, to hold the acrylic in place, even if it does not stick very well. Water could seep through, though.

If your sump is going to have several levels of water such as different chambers where the water might be pretty close to the top on one side, then almost empty on the other, then you will need fairly thick sheets. Also, a wider span, or a taller tank used as the sump will require stronger materials.
If your sump is not going to have such extreme water levels, or is smaller, then thinner material will work.

You would probably get by with something under 1/4" if there is not a lot of pressure on it, and not too wide a span, but I would go thicker if there is going to be more pressure. MAYBE: 3/16" minimum, to 3/8" max?
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-16-2015, 06:59 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
Source: Look locally, first. I do not know if they are nationwide, but there is a store called Tap Plastics in my area that carries acrylic, lexan and other 'plastic' materials.

No, silicone will not adhere well to acrylic. Maybe well enough to work inside a sump, where a bit of a leak is not a problem. The Window and Door will stick well to very clean glass, and might act like a sort of dam, to hold the acrylic in place, even if it does not stick very well. Water could seep through, though.

If your sump is going to have several levels of water such as different chambers where the water might be pretty close to the top on one side, then almost empty on the other, then you will need fairly thick sheets. Also, a wider span, or a taller tank used as the sump will require stronger materials.
If your sump is not going to have such extreme water levels, or is smaller, then thinner material will work.

You would probably get by with something under 1/4" if there is not a lot of pressure on it, and not too wide a span, but I would go thicker if there is going to be more pressure. MAYBE: 3/16" minimum, to 3/8" max?
Thank you for the reply.
I'd planned to do this in a 40g breeder and basically do 1 side wall and back wall.
I plan to hide my riparium planter baskets in the sump section so I don't have the root visible in tank, and have a lot of holes to let water through. I'd probably run a small pump on the side wall along with the heater in there may consider a spray bar return/outflow. I'd probably just stuff a used (currently cycled) big sponge filter on the back wall.. not really compartmentalizing.. The purpose is mostly to make a false back to hide riparium plant roots and equipment behind..I'd stuff extra expanded clay media on the pump side for addition filtration. I don't want a sump full of foam that will clog and cause the pump section to be empty and the pump to over heats and burn out).

I was confused about the silicone as I'd read its hard to put acrylic in a glass tank and vise versa because the use different sealants/adherents.. but the DIY video was vague. Is there another sealant/glue I can use (aquariums safe obviously) to adhere glass and acrylic together?

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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-16-2015, 08:18 PM
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If your goal is to hide a riparium, you could use open cell foam and make a giant matten filter... Added bonus is crazy filtration and mosses and such can be planted directly on top
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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-16-2015, 08:42 PM
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I do not know if there is an adhesive that will bond glass and acrylic.
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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-16-2015, 08:53 PM
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What about glass? They sell 12x12 inch glass sheets at a lot of craft stores for mosaics and stuff. They come in all sorts of colors.

I'm fairly experienced with fish, but new to planted tanks.
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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-16-2015, 08:59 PM
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I'll just throw out some thoughts on the mechanical aspects.

SW tanks use center or corner overflows that are siliconed in place. I believe the material is an ABS plastic and not an acrylic. I believe TAP is a chain of some size and they have a website and you may be able to ask them about what sheet material they sell that silicone adheres to.

If you don't need a true "sump", the mattenfilter material theatermusic87 suggested should work, though it's rather thick and may eat up more real estate than you'd like in a 40B just to hide RipRoots.

I think you're on the right track, but TAP can certainly provide colored acrylic sheet. You can simply crazy glue the panels together to form a 3-side box and silicone it in place. A leak from the tank into the "sump" shouldn't be fatal and as long as you don't whack it with a hammer it should stay in place well enough. It all has to be VERY clean and dry at the time of assembly though.

Consider the one truly annoying aspect of acrylic when under warm water and placed in the path of unequal water pressure: It bends. It's that bending that usually leads to a silicone joint between glass and acrylic to fail.

Bump: Bettababe has a really good idea as well in using colored glass and don't sweat the bonding issue. I'll just caution that if you're working with glass that's the same thickness as window pane glass, you should buy some extra and be careful when you work anywhere near it with rocks and such. It's not durable at all..........I should know. If it comes in something like 1/8" thick, this may be your solution. But the cost.......? I don't have a clue there.

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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-16-2015, 11:22 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theatermusic87 View Post
If your goal is to hide a riparium, you could use open cell foam and make a giant matten filter... Added bonus is crazy filtration and mosses and such can be planted directly on top
Interesting idea, I'd have to lok into cost and measurements, my only concern would be roots growing into it and not coming off easily if I needed to remove it.
If I couldn't get solid sheets I'd through of getting glass panels and making several connected "T"s and wrapping black matting (like the weed preventative stuff on flow beds) over it. Would have to check what would be aquarium safe and not break down.

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Originally Posted by BettaBabe View Post
What about glass? They sell 12x12 inch glass sheets at a lot of craft stores for mosaics and stuff. They come in all sorts of colors.
Because I need holes to let water pass through. Acrylic is easier/quicker to cut than glass.

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I'll just throw out some thoughts on the mechanical aspects.

SW tanks use center or corner overflows that are siliconed in place. I believe the material is an ABS plastic and not an acrylic. I believe TAP is a chain of some size and they have a website and you may be able to ask them about what sheet material they sell that silicone adheres to.

If you don't need a true "sump", the mattenfilter material theatermusic87 suggested should work, though it's rather thick and may eat up more real estate than you'd like in a 40B just to hide RipRoots.

I think you're on the right track, but TAP can certainly provide colored acrylic sheet. You can simply crazy glue the panels together to form a 3-side box and silicone it in place. A leak from the tank into the "sump" shouldn't be fatal and as long as you don't whack it with a hammer it should stay in place well enough. It all has to be VERY clean and dry at the time of assembly though.

Consider the one truly annoying aspect of acrylic when under warm water and placed in the path of unequal water pressure: It bends. It's that bending that usually leads to a silicone joint between glass and acrylic to fail.

Bump: Bettababe has a really good idea as well in using colored glass and don't sweat the bonding issue. I'll just caution that if you're working with glass that's the same thickness as window pane glass, you should buy some extra and be careful when you work anywhere near it with rocks and such. It's not durable at all..........I should know. If it comes in something like 1/8" thick, this may be your solution. But the cost.......? I don't have a clue there.
Thank you for your input!

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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-17-2015, 12:38 PM
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Welcome!

I forgot to address the holes you said you need in a panel of colored glass: It's certainly different than acrylic, but not impossible by any means. You can get diamond-tipped hole saws at Harbor Freight and I would think lots of other places. They won't break the bank and not a bad thing to have in the tool box for this hobby. You'll need a simple spray bottle to keep the bit cool and carry away the glass dust. I've seen them used free-hand but of you have a friend with a small benchtop drill press they are actually a snap to use.

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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-17-2015, 01:57 PM
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There is information suggesting specific silicones bond extremely well to both acrylic and glass, but nobody has tested them long term ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mReJB4qc9QU ). The question is basically what happens if the overflow detaches from the glass. An in-tank sump is basically zero risk so acrylic may be apropriate.

Extruded acrylic expands a lot when exposed to water, but cast acrylic is more stable. Colored glass is available from any place specializing in stained or fused glass.

In critical applications they generally seem to use glass with a cosmetic acrylic cover. http://www.conceptaquariums.ca/media...20in%20one.jpg


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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-17-2015, 02:09 PM
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Silicone is fine because you're not making a watertight, pressured seal. It's only to hold the piece of acrylic in place.

You wouldn't want to make an acrylic tank with silicone.


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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-17-2015, 03:11 PM
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Not sure how well it would work but I wonder about kind of sandwiching your piece of acrylic between a double glass frame. Cut the piece of acrylic and cut one inch strips of glass. Silicone a strip of glass on both sides of each edge of the acrylic that is going to be attached. After the 3 sides are done this way silicone the whole assembly in place. You'll have 2 glass surfaces on each edge of the divider siliconed to the sides of the sump tank with the plexi in between. The glass should help keep the plexi from flexing. The silicone may adhere well enough to the glass because it's a 1 inch wide surface and the way it's positioned it will only have stress on it if the acrylic flexes and it would have to flex way to far for the joint to fail.
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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-17-2015, 07:13 PM Thread Starter
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Well I looked at Tap Plastics-nowhere near the east coast sadly, and just the back long piece would take $100+ (item+ shipping) excluding the side wall and spacers..this is for the clear acrylic, already black costs more x.x
I've tried contacting some more local acrylic places, but have not heard back yet. As such a high cost I'd reconsider using a foam alternative.. or other material water can pass through.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushkill View Post
Welcome!

I forgot to address the holes you said you need in a panel of colored glass: It's certainly different than acrylic, but not impossible by any means. You can get diamond-tipped hole saws at Harbor Freight and I would think lots of other places. They won't break the bank and not a bad thing to have in the tool box for this hobby. You'll need a simple spray bottle to keep the bit cool and carry away the glass dust. I've seen them used free-hand but of you have a friend with a small benchtop drill press they are actually a snap to use.
My husband does have a drill press, I'm just vary that if glass cracks when drilling it can shatter/become useless, if the acrylic gets a crack from drilling its not as likely to be fatal/shatter. Or is it just as likely to happen with acrylic?

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Originally Posted by 691175002 View Post
There is information suggesting specific silicones bond extremely well to both acrylic and glass, but nobody has tested them long term ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mReJB4qc9QU ). The question is basically what happens if the overflow detaches from the glass. An in-tank sump is basically zero risk so acrylic may be apropriate.

Extruded acrylic expands a lot when exposed to water, but cast acrylic is more stable. Colored glass is available from any place specializing in stained or fused glass.

In critical applications they generally seem to use glass with a cosmetic acrylic cover. http://www.conceptaquariums.ca/media...20in%20one.jpg
Thank you for the info! Is there any info on how much extruded expands?

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Originally Posted by mistergreen View Post
Silicone is fine because you're not making a watertight, pressured seal. It's only to hold the piece of acrylic in place.

You wouldn't want to make an acrylic tank with silicone.
Fortunately not making an acrylic tank, I recall reading that acrylic uses a sealant that basically melts the plastics together.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubla View Post
Not sure how well it would work but I wonder about kind of sandwiching your piece of acrylic between a double glass frame. Cut the piece of acrylic and cut one inch strips of glass. Silicone a strip of glass on both sides of each edge of the acrylic that is going to be attached. After the 3 sides are done this way silicone the whole assembly in place. You'll have 2 glass surfaces on each edge of the divider siliconed to the sides of the sump tank with the plexi in between. The glass should help keep the plexi from flexing. The silicone may adhere well enough to the glass because it's a 1 inch wide surface and the way it's positioned it will only have stress on it if the acrylic flexes and it would have to flex way to far for the joint to fail.
Interestingidea. I'd like to find more info on how much acrylic flexes/expands in water.

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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-17-2015, 09:36 PM
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Quote:
Interesting idea. I'd like to find more info on how much acrylic flexes/expands in water.
The glass certainly wouldn't be very strong in 1" strips, but there shouldn't be too much pressure and there would be 2 layers. There is a lot more contraction and expansion in the acrylic than the glass, but you're not dealing with very large pieces and the temperature should be fairly constant so after the initial settling in I don't think you'll get much expansion or contraction.. I think the glass strips would stop a lot of the flex. If you were to cut on more strip of acrylic and weld that flat to the top of the baffle you should end up with virtually zero flex in the panel. It should attach to the sides of the sump tank really well with the two layers of glass. Might even do better if you cut the acrylic small, say 1/4" short on each side and then let the glass strips overlap the edge of the acrylic by 1/4". Now if you pour a big bead of silicone across that whole edge you'll end up with a silicone bead on each edge of glass, you can lay another bead down each inside corner and there will be a 1/4" raised bead between the 2 glass panels touching the edge of the acrylic. I don't see how it could go anywhere.

Last edited by Kubla; 12-17-2015 at 09:41 PM. Reason: addition
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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-17-2015, 10:35 PM
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If the goal is the entire back wall is a riparium/sump/filter...

Then how about using the idea of glass strips, but only on the side facing the tank, and on the floor of the tank.
Then slip a sheet of acrylic in there.
Acrylic is much easier to drill, cut etc. for as many holes, whatever size you want.
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