Anyone knowledgeable with building acrylic aquariums?

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Hey all!

Alright, this is me just thinking out loud, so please be kind, but.....

I'm wondering if anyone here at R2R is knowledgeable in building acrylic aquariums. I have an idea, I have a space in my home, a "nook", if you will, that encases some plumbing where the municipal water lines come into the house, so I can't just knock this down, and this "nook" was finished by the 1970's home builders to basically be a stand for an old standard definition TV - those old huge boxes, some of you may remember.

Currently I have an IM Fusion 15 and 10 gallon going in this location. Please don't be too critical, this is temporary until I can build stands for these tanks, but you can see the "nook":

image.jpg


Clearly, televisions have changed, they no longer fit this "nook", and this "nook" has been screaming (to me!) for an aquarium ever since we have lived in this house. I firmly reinforced this "nook shelf" from underneath and I'm confident it can hold a lot of weight.

I am wondering if I can build an acrylic aquarium that would fill this space, I'm thinking a footprint of about 36"Lx24"W, and as tall as I can get using 3/8"-1/2" cast acrylic. What do you guys think?

Here's a few thoughts:
I have some experience putting together and drilling glass aquaria
No, I have never done anything with acrylic, but I have at least some knowledge of it
Yes, I will research A LOT more, and would start with much smaller projects before committing to a huge tank like this
I am an avid woodworker with a reasonably well equipped shop who can measure and cut material accurately, and could build wooden jigs or holders that could aid in building an acrylic aquarium
The cost of glass would be prohibitively expensive, and much heavier that myself and my wife could safely handle. Acrylic is light :)

My questions would be:
Has anyone else worked with acrylic on this scale before?
Can I bend 3/8"-1/2" acrylic with a heat gun - I'd love curved corners
Any thoughts for putting together an acrylic aquarium of this size?
 
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musel101

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Yes, I build acrylic sumps and small aquariums. I use weld on 4
 

musel101

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Most important thing is you want to get a chemical seal on acrylic aquariums by any means don’t you ever use caulking or clear silicone
 

musel101

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And one more thing, you’re gonna need clamps to hold the pieces together while you chemically weld them together
 

musel101

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Hey all!

Alright, this is me just thinking out loud, so please be kind, but.....

I'm wondering if anyone here at R2R is knowledgeable in building acrylic aquariums. I have an idea, I have a space in my home, a "nook", if you will, that encases some plumbing where the municipal water lines come into the house, so I can't just knock this down, and this "nook" was finished by the 1970's home builders to basically be a stand for an old standard definition TV - those old huge boxes, some of you may remember.

Currently I have an IM Fusion 15 and 10 gallon going in this location. Please don't be too critical, this is temporary until I can build stands for these tanks, but you can see the "nook":

image.jpg


Clearly, televisions have changed, they no longer fit our "nook", and this "nook" has been screaming (to me!) for an aquarium ever since we have lived in this house. I firmly reinforced this "nook shelf" from underneath and I'm confident it can hold a lot of weight.

I am wondering if I can build an acrylic aquarium that would fill this space, I'm thinking a footprint of about 36"Lx24"W, and as tall as I can get using 3/8"-1/2" cast acrylic. What do you guys think?

Here's a few thoughts:
I have some experience putting together and drilling glass aquaria
No, I have never done anything with acrylic, but I have at least some knowledge of it
Yes, I will research A LOT more, and would start with much smaller projects before committing to a huge tank like this
I am an avid woodworker with a reasonably well equipped shop who can measure and cut material accurately, and could build wooden jigs or holders that could aid in building an acrylic aquarium
The cost of glass would be prohibitively expensive, and much heavier that myself and my wife could safely handle. Acrylic is light :)

My questions would be:
Has anyone else worked with acrylic on this scale before?
Can I bend 3/8"-1/2" acrylic with a heat gun - I'd love curved corners
Any thoughts for putting together an acrylic aquarium of this size?
He’s right if you got about five grand you can get somebody else to do it! Yay
 
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And one more thing, you’re gonna need clamps to hold the pieces together while you chemically weld them together
Thanks for your reply. I am a woodworker, and I thought I could build some jigs or fixtures to help me hold the pieces in place and square to each other. Yes, I know to use Weldon and not silicon ;-)

What's the tallest I could build using 3/8" acrylic for the sides? 18"? The tank can be Eurobraced and I can have a wooden top and bottom frame to add extra strength if needed.

Can I use 3/8" for the top and bottom and 1/2" for the sides so I can build a little taller and still save a little on materials? The 1/2" stuff is expensive or I'd use it for the whole tank.

Could I bend 3/8" or even 1/2" acrylic with a heat gun and a form? I'd like just the one front right corner to be bent if possible, otherwise a typical joint is fine.

I don't want glass, it would be too expensive and way too heavy for my wife and I to physically move around, and weight is a big reason I want to use acrylic here. A professionally built tank would be many thousands of dollars, and I can't do that right now.

The space absolutely screams for an aquarium, what else are we going to put there?

Worst case scenario, I have a brand new, never seen water, standard 65 gallon tank with a footprint of 36"x18", but I don't love it since it's the old greenish glass, and though it's a "reef ready" tank I don't like the overflow. Or, I did find a 65 gallon acrylic tank that's also 36"x18", but the space would hold 36"x24" perfectly. If I could figure out how to build it, I think an acrylic tank that's 36"x24"x18"-24" would look very good in the space.

Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance!
 

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I’ve built hundreds from 5gall up to 500 gallons.. if you’re a proficient wood worker, acrylic shouldn’t be that hard for you.. it’s just welding that will take practice but plenty of threads on here.. as for bending it with a heat gun the answer is no! To properly form acrylic you need to heat the sheet “anneal” it completely and uniformly across the joint to be bent.. it will also open another can of worms as it stretches and buldges out on the bends and makes solvent welding that much harder since it’s not machined perfectly after being rolled… not in possible by any means but very tough for a rookie is say.
 
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I’ve built hundreds from 5gall up to 500 gallons.. if you’re a proficient wood worker, acrylic shouldn’t be that hard for you.. it’s just welding that will take practice but plenty of threads on here.. as for bending it with a heat gun the answer is no! To properly form acrylic you need to heat the sheet “anneal” it completely and uniformly across the joint to be bent.. it will also open another can of worms as it stretches and buldges out on the bends and makes solvent welding that much harder since it’s not machined perfectly after being rolled… not in possible by any means but very tough for a rookie is say.
Thank you for your help!

Yes, I'm a pretty good woodworker with a decently equipped shop, and I know acrylic can be cut and machined much like wood, with a router, for example.

The bending thing is not a requirement. I had already been thinking I may weaken the material by trying to bend it, and I see your point about bulging that would make getting a good joint much harder. A regular joint would be fine for me.

I do plan on getting some practice in on much smaller tanks or media baskets to get a feel for cementing acrylic. I know a little about the process, and would certainly research that part more before trying my first small tank, but I'm fairly confident I can do this with some help and more research.

Thanks again for your reply!
 

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Not an expect, but have owned many large acrylic tanks, and built many acrylic frag tanks and sumps… imo a 65g. 18” tall tank doesn’t need 1/2” acrylic. I have a 30 year old 120g, 24” tall Tenecor that is still in perfect condition with less than 1/2” material… with both front corners bent!
 
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Not an expect, but have owned many large acrylic tanks, and built many acrylic frag tanks and sumps… imo a 65g. 18” tall tank doesn’t need 1/2” acrylic. I have a 30 year old 120g, 24” tall Tenecor that is still in perfect condition with less than 1/2” material… with both front corners bent!
Thank you for your reply. From what I’ve learned, 18” is the max you’d want to go with 3/8” material. I’d be absolutely fine with 18”, but if I could go 20” or 22” that would be even better. I’m really hoping to go larger than a 65, I’m ideally imagining a tank that’s about 36”x24” and 18”-24” high. I just think the 1/2” material is going to be pretty expensive, so maybe the 18” height is best for me. I need to call around and see who has the material near me and at what prices before I get too far into things.
 

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Thank you for your reply. From what I’ve learned, 18” is the max you’d want to go with 3/8” material. I’d be absolutely fine with 18”, but if I could go 20” or 22” that would be even better. I’m really hoping to go larger than a 65, I’m ideally imagining a tank that’s about 36”x24” and 18”-24” high. I just think the 1/2” material is going to be pretty expensive, so maybe the 18” height is best for me. I need to call around and see who has the material near me and at what prices before I get too far into things.
Your wall sizes are basically determined by your euro bracing size and if you choose to use a center cross brace.. being new to the game I’d recommend you use 1/2” just for bigger “stronger” glue joints if nothing else.. I just finished up this build for a buddy it’s 3/8” all the way around with a 2-1/2” euro.
IMG_2574.jpeg
 

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Hey all!

Alright, this is me just thinking out loud, so please be kind, but.....

I'm wondering if anyone here at R2R is knowledgeable in building acrylic aquariums. I have an idea, I have a space in my home, a "nook", if you will, that encases some plumbing where the municipal water lines come into the house, so I can't just knock this down, and this "nook" was finished by the 1970's home builders to basically be a stand for an old standard definition TV - those old huge boxes, some of you may remember.

Currently I have an IM Fusion 15 and 10 gallon going in this location. Please don't be too critical, this is temporary until I can build stands for these tanks, but you can see the "nook":

image.jpg


Clearly, televisions have changed, they no longer fit this "nook", and this "nook" has been screaming (to me!) for an aquarium ever since we have lived in this house. I firmly reinforced this "nook shelf" from underneath and I'm confident it can hold a lot of weight.

I am wondering if I can build an acrylic aquarium that would fill this space, I'm thinking a footprint of about 36"Lx24"W, and as tall as I can get using 3/8"-1/2" cast acrylic. What do you guys think?

Here's a few thoughts:
I have some experience putting together and drilling glass aquaria
No, I have never done anything with acrylic, but I have at least some knowledge of it
Yes, I will research A LOT more, and would start with much smaller projects before committing to a huge tank like this
I am an avid woodworker with a reasonably well equipped shop who can measure and cut material accurately, and could build wooden jigs or holders that could aid in building an acrylic aquarium
The cost of glass would be prohibitively expensive, and much heavier that myself and my wife could safely handle. Acrylic is light :)

My questions would be:
Has anyone else worked with acrylic on this scale before?
Can I bend 3/8"-1/2" acrylic with a heat gun - I'd love curved corners
Any thoughts for putting together an acrylic aquarium of this size?
36x18x30. 90gal option $1200

Diy stuff..

30" braced.
aquariumacrylic.JPG
 
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oreo54

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If one went with cut and edge polished sheets the raw material is about $1200
3/4 for a 36 x 24 x 28 tank.
105 gallon-ish.

Not including bracing.
Anyways you can price panels here.
 
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Why not tag Tenecor Aquariums to get his advice
Because I have no idea who Tenecor Aquariums are :)

Your wall sizes are basically determined by your euro bracing size and if you choose to use a center cross brace.. being new to the game I’d recommend you use 1/2” just for bigger “stronger” glue joints if nothing else.. I just finished up this build for a buddy it’s 3/8” all the way around with a 2-1/2” euro.
IMG_2574.jpeg
That's awesome! That's a lot like what I'm imagining including the external overflow. Can I ask where you get your acrylic?

If one went with cut and edge polished sheets the raw material is about $1200
3/4 for a 36 x 24 x 28 tank.
105 gallon-ish.

Not including bracing.
Anyways you can price panels here.
Thank you for your replies. I will check out the calculator. I've seen ACME Plastic's website before, is this a good place to look for material? I'd like to make some calls and see if the material can be found locally too.

I'm not familiar with TruVu or Riverbed Aquatics, but I'll take a look. I did find Clear For Life and another acrylic tank that I can't remember right now. I'm not opposed to buying a tank if it's affordable, but if I can build one that's custom sized for my "nook" so much the better.

Thanks for the help!
 

Troylee

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Because I have no idea who Tenecor Aquariums are :)


That's awesome! That's a lot like what I'm imagining including the external overflow. Can I ask where you get your acrylic?



Thank you for your replies. I will check out the calculator. I've seen ACME Plastic's website before, is this a good place to look for material? I'd like to make some calls and see if the material can be found locally too.

I'm not familiar with TruVu or Riverbed Aquatics, but I'll take a look. I did find Clear For Life and another acrylic tank that I can't remember right now. I'm not opposed to buying a tank if it's affordable, but if I can build one that's custom sized for my "nook" so much the better.

Thanks for the help!
I get my acrylic from nglantz it’s a sign supply shop. Check for local plastic shops in your area.
 
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