Building an Acrylic Aquarium
by Brad Newton (aka FeatherfinFan)

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Assembling the pieces:

Once youíre confident with your prep and seaming skills, itís time to assemble your tank. Hereís the order that I use:

  1. Seam the sides to the back panel
  2. Seam the sides to the front panel
  3. Seam the sides, front, and back to the top panel
  4. Seam the assembled pieces to the bottom panel

This pic shows the two sides up for seaming. The side closest has already been seamed with an extra top support for my overflow. Notice the weight I put atop the PVC jig -- you need it for taller panels. This tank is 190 gallons.

Once the sides are seamed to the back panel, wait 4 hours and flip the tank over (carefully, with a helper) and seam the sides to the front. Notice the jig is now used to hold the center of the back panel from sagging. Just remove the two PVC elbows and itís the perfect height.

Wait 4 hours, put the assembed sides on the top panel and seam. Note the use of shims in this pic.

Wait 4 hours, flip the tank over and seam the bottom

If you have an overflow to install, you can do so after the tank is assembled. Most overflows mount internally, but in my application I needed one on the outside to integrate with another tank, retaining tankspace. I didnít take a pic of the assembly, but to mount this you have to put the tank on end and keep the seams horizontal.

Since youíll have a bit of Acrylic overlap on the sections that were seamed, itís a good finishing touch to use a flush-cut router bit, like the one shown on my router in the first pic. Be sure to keep the protective paper on and run the router against all the protruding edges to get a good, flush finish around all corners. Be sure to keep the router steady and flat against the plastic. If you havenít used a flush-cut bit itís best to practice on some scrap plastic or wood first. One last note, all outside corners will be very sharp and should be sanded down a bit to round the corners. Just use a power palm sander and 200 grit paper and just round the corner edge down a bit -- just enough to take out the sharpness of the edge. You may also want to do the same on the lip edges around the lid openings, as it can really get sharp when doing tank maintanance and aquascaping.

The picture to the right is the other tank completed. Itís 110 gallons with a center brace & perimeter bracing rather than a one-piece top.

Hereís a couple pics of the completed tanks. See, it can be done.

Getting the final inspection:

Be sure to let the tank cure at least a week prior to filling it with water. The longer you can wait, the better. I wait a month. Be sure your stand has a full support underneath such as a piece of plywood.

I know itís a rather involved project. Feel free to email if you have any questions. Hopefully most issues have been adressed in this article. Have fun building your new tank. □

Disclaimer: By building this DIY project you agree not to hold the author or the owners of this Web site responsible for any injury or bodily harm you may cause to yourself or others. Always wear safety glasses when working with tools and keep chemicals and power tools away from children. Read and understand all safety instructions pertaining to equipment prior to use.           

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