How to Build a Large Aquarium

By Lisa Russell

Building a large aquarium is easier than you might think. Spend the morning at the hardware store, and the afternoon constructing an aquarium. Next week you could be lounging in the living room watching the fish swim by. Learn how to build a large fish tank with easily obtainable materials.

Building a Large Aquarium

Decide exactly how large you'd like this fish tank to be. Water is very heavy, therefore, you must plan your aquarium carefully. Make sure it will be sturdy enough to accommodate the weight of the water.

Use an aquarium glass thickness calculator to determine the glass thickness, in mm and the safety grade, shown as a decimal number. Using the correct thickness is the only way to be sure your tank will withstand the pressure of the water. You do not want it to break in your living room.

Order your sheeted glass from a glass cutter. If you can't find any in your Yellow Pages directory, ask a local window repair contractor. Be vigilant about the safety and thickness of your glass. You are ordering 5 pieces -- one for the bottom and one for each side, unless you've designed an unconventional shape.

Use an emery cloth to sand down the rough edges of your cut glass. For safety's sake, you might want to pay the glass cutter extra to provide you with beveled safety edges.

Lay out all of the pieces and label them with a permanent marker or masking tape. You will begin assembly with the base piece.

Wipe the edges of the base down with acetone, to remove any oils or residual dust. A dust-free paper towel, or even a stack of coffee filters is best.

Lay 8-10 6-inch pieces of duct tape under the base, so that when the sides are in place, you can bring the duct tape up to hold it steady. If you're building a very large aquarium that is too heavy for duct tape, then use plywood and 2x4's to build a frame for the base that extends high enough to hold the sidepieces into place.

Place your front piece on the base first. Wipe the bottom edge of the front piece with acetone. Squirt a ribbon of 100 percent nontoxic silicon sealant on the top edge of your base, where the front will be. Gently lower that front piece down onto the base. Don't worry about it bulging out at the edges; don't cut your finger by trying to wipe it off. It's much easier to clean when it's dry. Just press it into place with one hand and use the duct tape to hold it secure.

Get your side piece. Wipe it down with acetone, then squirt a ribbon of silicon on both the base and the front piece to which it will attach. Press it into place, secure with strips of duct tape and continue with each of the 4 sides.

Once all four sides are attached to the base, put a second layer of silicon along the inside bottom and inside sides of your tank. Use the tip of your finger to press it in, so that you're sure there are no leaks.

Let the silicon dry completely for 24 hours. Fill your tank with water and let it sit for a day or two. Once it passes this test, you can drain it out and give it a thorough cleaning