Using plexiglass as a tank lid thoughts and concerns - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-29-2014, 03:02 PM Thread Starter
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Using plexiglass as a tank lid thoughts and concerns

Ive read alot of people say that this will warp over time, is that due to the heat from the light? What if you are using an LED fixture? I usually just use glass cut from lowes as partial lids, but was thinking of going with a plexiglass lid this time as im using my first finnex fixture. Also would this dull over time and reduce par? thanks folks


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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-29-2014, 03:14 PM
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I think it also depends on how thick it is, it wont warp as much if it's thick of course. It would probably block some light as well though. I would also think it would be harder to get buildup off of. I personally like good ol glass.
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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-29-2014, 03:19 PM
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I've seen lexan as a replacement that doesn't bend, warp or discolor over time. It does cost a bunch per sheet, but if you are looking to make multiple lids and have the means to cut it, it'd be worth it
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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-29-2014, 03:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardy85 View Post
I've seen lexan as a replacement that doesn't bend, warp or discolor over time. It does cost a bunch per sheet, but if you are looking to make multiple lids and have the means to cut it, it'd be worth it
My tank builder (Jason Gregory) built me a Lexan lid for my acrylic tank. He said Lexan is much better than acrylic as you won't have to keep flipping it. While it does seem to keep a tiny small bend in it it's worked great so far (~4 weeks). Mine is 1/4" Lexan on a 60"x30" top.

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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-29-2014, 04:00 PM
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I don't think you'll find Lexan at a box store. If my fuzzy memory serves me right, they only sell acrylic sheet in two thicknesses. As mentioned, Lexan is more expensive and acrylic isn't cheap either. Acrylic will bend. Severely. And just doesn't work as a tank cover. I've never used Lexan so I can't comment on using it other than its' cost. I can't be specific as to the reason, but it always warps away from the water. So if it's a moisture issue, it curls away from the water. I've never put a light fixture over acrylic so I can 't say if it would curl in the other direction.

Why are you considering acrylic / lexan instead of glass?
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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-29-2014, 04:01 PM
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Even 1/4 thick plex was no good for me. Since it did not work, I found a canopy to be a good option that works better to hide the ugly on top of tanks. With a canopy, I can get air without jumpers and use all kinds of ugly cheap lights since they are out of sight. An open top reduces my worry about EOTD.
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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-29-2014, 04:11 PM
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Just a word of caution on using glass from Lowe's or HD: It's window pane glass, and just as thin as thin can be. I know I tend to overbuild, but just keep in mind that this stuff won't hold up to much pressure or any sort of shock, and most important remember to sand down the sharp edges which Lowe's won't do.
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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-29-2014, 05:10 PM
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The glass at the hardware stores aren't even window pane glass. Its picture frame glass. Super thin and not very strong at all.

I mentioned in another similar thread that I've posted ads on craiglist requesting broken tanks so I can use the glass for tops and other projects. I've got tanks for free with this ad. A cheap glass score tool and some sandpaper and you got yourself almost free tops. They'll be better than plexi and you won't have the hassle of the stuff warping and getting fugly on you.


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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-29-2014, 05:31 PM
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Lexan is just a brand name for polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is the generic industry term. Similarly, plexiglass is a brand name for acrylic.

If you can find a local plastic supply place you should be able to ask for polycarbonate. I've even seen some local glass shops selling plastics. I have seen polycarbonate being sold at Lowe's or Home Depot under some name other than "Lexan"

If you really can't get it locally then McMaster Carr will ship it to you. Other options may be TAP Plastics and E-bay.

For me personally, I wouldn't put anything glass or plastic between my lights and my tank.

-------------------------------------
The coolest fish I've ever owned were some fish sticks in my freezer.
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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-29-2014, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by thelub View Post
The glass at the hardware stores aren't even window pane glass. Its picture frame glass. Super thin and not very strong at all.

I mentioned in another similar thread that I've posted ads on craiglist requesting broken tanks so I can use the glass for tops and other projects. I've got tanks for free with this ad. A cheap glass score tool and some sandpaper and you got yourself almost free tops. They'll be better than plexi and you won't have the hassle of the stuff warping and getting fugly on you.
Man after my own heart. Agree on every count. I've "inherited" broken tanks and it's much cheaper than buying 3/16 or 1/4" glass. Having 22+ tanks, I've got glass covers over almost all of them this way. I also use small glass mosaic wall tiles to silicone on handles.

At those thicknesses, you'd be amazed at the shocks it can absorb safely. A cinderblock, maybe not.

If you have little guys running around the house or a rambunctious cat, I may change my mind. The cat won't fall through, but it may bring things down onto it.....like a cinderblock, lol!
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post #11 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-29-2014, 07:26 PM Thread Starter
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I have glass over a few tanks from lowes and never had one break, although it is wicked thin. But for what people are saying as far as cost and such of lexon and other products I mine as well buy a glass lid.


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post #12 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-30-2014, 02:56 AM
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I also just use the thin glass from Lowe's. I don't have kids or other pets and I'm careful with them. I didn't make fancy tops, the glass just rest on top of the tank. I lift it up to feed & take them off when working in the tank. I use them to keep my heaters from working so hard. My basement gets down to about 55 degrees in winter & in summer most it gets is 75. It's nothing fancy so not for everyone. Never had any problems or breakage .. BUT what works for me might not work for anyone else.

I also got a piece of acrylic from Lowe's .. was a scrap piece so thought I'd try it since I needed something at least 19" long but only 5" wide. It DOES warp. I turn it over every few days & until it warps the other way. Or take it off for a couple hours & it will straighten back out. If I end up keeping that tank I'll probably get glass for it.
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post #13 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-30-2014, 03:22 AM
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the plexi warps due to the temperature difference between the air under it and the air outside of the tank. you can flip it or just go with glass. if you go to lowes ask for double strength glass. if you dont ask for it specifically they will give you the super thin stuff, which is made for picture frames, not fish tanks. its not that expensive to get a piece of 1/4 in from a glass shop either. plexi is much more expensive compared to glass.
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post #14 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-30-2014, 10:15 AM
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There is a shop on ebay, the man is in Indiana. He will make a one or two cuts for free on his Lexan sheets. I've bought from him several times. Very nice guy. He also sells the glue but that has to be shipped separately as it's hasmat.

I 've been dumpster diving for old aquariums to learn/practice my glass cutting skills. As thelub posted $7 glass cutter, sand paper & a straight edge, your ready. I use 5 round 100gt. sanding disc paper because it has a heavy paper backing. It last longer and is a little safer to use.

I've learned that 3/8s glass can not be cut less that 4" if you are good, 8" if you are a beginner.
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post #15 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-30-2014, 11:57 AM
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SowNreap brings up a really important point about using glass: It keeps your tank warmer. It does a much better job of containing heat in the tank, compared to curled pieces of acrylic this time of year. And then there's the evaporation issue too. Keep a tank at 75-80 degress in a room with an ambient temp. of 60-65 and evaporation becomes a big deal.

DogFish also hits an important point: 3/16" is easy to cut; 1/4" isn't too bad but 5/16" and up is really tough with the cutters most have available to them. A long time ago, I got a whole PILE of glass shelving for free. It was all 3/8". I was all full of myself after all the projects I'd finished using 1/4" scraps. Let's just say that I wasn't so full of myself after I butchered a bunch of those 3/8" shelves. So if you find/are given scraps of really thick material, try and work with it as it is and save yourself the headaches, lol!
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