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DIY Optiwhite tank build

Dogtemple

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22 Nov 2011
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86
Hi

Ive been lurking for a while, doing lots of reading for the past few months.

Im at a point with my diy build where its worth showing to people now and if anyone would be interested, i hope it would be people on here :D

My plan is to build an optiwhite cube type tank for my first planted aquarium. i have a couple biorbs (dont shoot me!) with guppies in. but they got me in to this fish keeping thing, the planted aquarium will be taking it to the next level.

so ive been planning the tank for a while and everything else to go with it. ive got into the engineering side of this quite heavily and made some gear to try and get a finish which i hope will be as high as possible. ADA tanks are the aim here, minimal silicon seams etc.

this is what i have so far

img4815sg.jpg


it's in a state of being partially done and ready to build with. using an old table I bolted down on the left a jig with a wooden plate, which to that i clamp the glass to. I used some soft wood so when clamping, the wood would compress before the glass, saving any potential disasters.

so the glass is clamped to the wood, i then lay a seam of silicon and lower the glass down and press it firmly. this gives the right amount of gap without the glass going any further and pressing it too much.

it can then be left to set for how ever long i want and the glass wont move. the pic below shows how it holds above the base sheet of glass.

img4819s.jpg


i made the wood on the right hand side of the top pic to clamp to the table and then clamp to the set pieces of glass - this allows them to be dead firm and can use the lowering jig on the next side of glass. The right angle bits of orange perspex are just there to do a similar job from the inside should they be needed, held with double sided suction cups. the old lamp is there to light the workspace, its yet to be wired up...


I am just trying to keep everything as firm and rigid as possible with perfect right angles. it appeals to me more than the method of sticking the edges up with masking tape and holding it that way.


This is where its starting to take shape, lots of ideas and this is what i settled on.

im using pilkington optiwhite glass for the sides and pilkington dark glass for the base. it is 4mm. this first tank is 50x50x40. i know this height is risky on 4mm glass but i want to see how far i can push the first build. i got hold of a big stack of glass so have plenty to play with. the next few i expect will be safer sizes, around 30cm high. although i am in 2 minds about trimming the glass down to 50x50x30, i think the shallowness and depth could look pretty cool.

any input/constructive criticism i am certainly open to it! even support, so far everyone ive spoken to about this has made :crazy: :lol: :thumbdown: :? :bored: faces at me, apart from a few people that get it, so would be nice to see some enthusiastic comments on this!

cheers!

Andy
 

cheebs

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16 Jun 2011
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103
Welcome to the forum Andy. :wave:

No funny faces from me! (well not intentionally anyway :p ) I commend your effort. Ive fancied having a go at a DIY tank for a while, shame I don't have the time at the moment. There are a few tank builders here, you should get some helpful tips :thumbup:

Good Luck, I'll be watching with interest.
 

Radik

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26 Oct 2010
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Niice, always like DIY stuff, for the starters where u get those tools + glass cut to size and at what cost? :)
 

Dogtemple

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22 Nov 2011
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foxfish said:
Your jig is inventive but it only allows one joint at a time?
If so, you would then have to join fresh silicone to cured silicone?


yeah good point, got to admit i hadnt considered that. is that a big problem?
 

foxfish

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To be honest I dont know if that would be a problem but, I build my tanks in a complete jig that allows all the joints to be bonded at the same time.
This method does require quite a few clamps & a lot of organisation, I also use masking tape to get a neat finish on all the interior corners.
 

Dogtemple

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22 Nov 2011
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Radik said:
Niice, always like DIY stuff, for the starters where u get those tools + glass cut to size and at what cost? :)

well the tools, i just bought them from srewfix/b&q, the spirit level, hand clamps etc, all around £6 each. the lowering jig part i had to modify something else to make that but it only cost me £5. the wood clamps, i had the wood already, spoke to a kitchen fitter about what i was doing and he let me use his chop saw to cut the wood accurately. the perspex, got that done at a local plastics shop, a4 sheet cut in half and bent at a right angle, £5. suction cups were a few quid on ebay.

money wise its not cost much at all its the time ive spent on it i suppose.

i took the glass to a local glazers, thats been the most costly part - they cut it, arrissed the edges and straight polished the top 4 edges, came to around £18. the cost on polishing all 20 edges came out to an awful lot, so im looking into doing that myself, and maybe cutting the glass myself too.
 

Dogtemple

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22 Nov 2011
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foxfish said:
To be honest I dont know if that would be a problem but, I build my tanks in a complete jig that allows all the joints to be bonded at the same time.
This method does require quite a few clamps & a lot of organisation, I also use masking tape to get a neat finish on all the interior corners.


ok cool, thanks for that, thats one of those things i just didnt consider but can see how it makes a difference.

ive just had a good look at it and can see a way around it. doing it as is currently, then using the wood clamps to hold the glass then move the jig around to the next side, clamp with wood, move to next side etc.

would require something like fixing a bolt to the table on each side of the tank then holding the jig down with a wing nut for quick assembly/reassembly. that could work but would be a bit of a faff!

im going to test some new silicon on dried silicon, see if it adheres or not.
 

foxfish

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The easy way is to make a box out of plywood ( or MDF) with screwed edges & fit all the glass inside with clamps then unscrew the box a few days later.
You need to make the box so the glass can be clamped to the top edge & allow 2mm (or whatever) for silicone.
Once all the glass in in place I run a bead over all the joins & then run your finger around to ensure the silicone has filled the gap. I then remove the masking tape & do another run over with a silicone rounding tool (available from tiling outlets)
However this sounds easier that it is as timing is important so that the silicone does not have time to skin over.
If you are using 10 0r 12 mm glass I make a very different jig but the box method is good for smallish tanks.
 

Aquadream

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5 Apr 2010
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Hi Dogtemple. I believe I can also give you some tips since.
A few right angle clamps will do the trick. You have to remember not to press the glass panels too much to each other, because if the silicone layer is too thin on this size aquarium when you fill it with water the silicone will make ugly bubbles between the glass panels. It may even fall apart. It is a good idea to leave a gap of at least 0.5mm in this case that will be filled with silicone. The best silicone I have found by direct comparison of few brands is Dow Corning 881.
For the corners I use a polished tea spoon handle or anything that can give me small radius, to get accurate equal finish. I could post some pictures if you would like to see the look of the work.
 

Dogtemple

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thanks guys, yeah pictures are always good!

i have a grout tool for getting the silicon rounded nicely. ive done some test strips and the glass holds very well, even across the whole edge, no bubbles and appears to be a very strong bond.
 

hinch

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31 Oct 2011
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trick from a plumber friend to give nicely rounded silicon :)

spit on your finger tip and wipe along the siliconed edge while its still wet / fresh.
 

Dogtemple

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did a little test with the silicon, fresh silicon applied to 2 day old dried silicon - and it adheres perfectly as though there was no join. couldnt pull it apart at all, so doing one seam at a time shouldnt cause any problems, i just have to make sure the new/old joins match up fully.
 

Dogtemple

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grabbed these today, £2 for the pair! cant go wrong, old tools are awesome!




theyre right angle clamps, should hold the top corners together brilliantly and they have a cut out at the corner so wont be getting in the way of the silicon whilst it dries.


one other thing i just found, i have a canister filter sitting out of the way, about 2 months ago i filled it with tap water and dumped some ammonia in and forgot about it. just tested the water out of curiosity and theres no trace of ammonia or nitrite just a whole load of nitrate! pretty pleased with that! the other tanks ive cycled have been hard work, i guess because i was tending them so much.

i shall keep a closer eye on the levels now but it looks ready to use with this new tank.
 

Dogtemple

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sorry for the lack of updates on this, but this is where i am up to now.

here are some of the few in between photos i have

img0446ec.jpg

img0452pn.jpg



didnt do many in progress due to the whole drama of the silicone drying so quickly.

but anyway, learnt some things which i didnt expect, such as the tiniest wrong angle can throw it off massively and the last piece of glass was harder than expected.

so anyways, its done now, only one tiny leak which appeared in the corner of the last bit of glass put in. plugged it up and filled again, success!

img0460m.jpg

img0461g.jpg

img0462iv.jpg


Its holding water and there is only a small amount of bowing in the glass which was expected.

managed to keep the seams as minimal as possible so they are barely visible, only on the edges of the glass and not covering the inside corners at all.

as it stands with the water in it, i can see where its stressed most but it doesnt appear to be giving at all. so far it looks to be very strong, more so than expected. even so i am still tentative. its 50x50x40cm - that equals to 100litres, thats a lot of water to drop in a flat... i have a day off work tomorrow so will put it out on the balcony and fill it up to leave out all day and put some stress on the sides, just to see how it fares.



sooo, the next part is to build a stand, obelisk/ada style will be the way forward. will be enlisting my dad for this when i go back to theirs next time. he built one for a big tank we had when i was a kid and is an engineer so will be obsessing over the science, which is nice :)
 

Dogtemple

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thanks! its just a reflection on the base of the tank

ive had it full for a week now and no leaks, i think its safe to go and use now
 

Dogtemple

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ok, big old thread dredge... this thread is just for the tank build bit but I'm documenting the entire build here Everything DIY build

so I built this tank in 2011, fast forward to a few months ago and its still sitting unused, for various reasons, but decided it was time to get it out and use it.

so here it is:
IMG_9531.JPG



when I built it I built to the tallest height I could given the thickness of the glass and its safety factor of I think 4. it was 50x50x40cm tall.

so I filled it up to check it was ok, it was bowing a fair amount, you can't see it in the photo but it was there. no leaks but it was bowing. years back I would have risked it but not now.

IMG_9533.JPG



I took a razor blade to it before I had a chance to talk myself in to taking the chance.

I built it with RTV silicone and it wasn't as easy as I thought to take it apart. good strong stuff, if anything was to have given way on this tank, it would have been the glass and not the seams.


here it is below after a trip to the local glazers to get it trimmed down. now cut to 31cm high, which gives a good safety factor, hopefully no bow in the glass at this height and a better proportion.


IMG_9659.JPG
 

Dogtemple

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after a hell of a lot of meticulous cleaning of the glass (and more cleaning to come) I've started to build it back up again.

I've dug out the original jig I made and got cracking. some other other parts I made to build tanks with have gone awol but I can work around it.

the jig was part of an old photo enlarger. just has a bit of wood fixed to it, clamp the glass on and it allows you to lower it down to the silicone.

the way I make them is to have the base glass, run a bead of silicone on one edge, lower the pane of glass to it and use a silicone edge tool to clean it up. then do the other 3 panes the same way and then stick one side then the other. when dried I trim the excess with a razor blade. fill with water to test and thats pretty much it. only downside is that it takes ages to do, I like to let it cure 24hr at least before going to the next seam. I'm aiming for the best quality as possible though, so this is the trade off. and I'm in no massive rush so doesn't matter.

works well doing it this way, ive made a few tanks like this although not made one for a few years.

so this evening I've done the first pane. was pretty tense trying to run that first bead but got it done nicely enough.

the lower bead has a larger fillet of silicone than the edges as that's where the most pressure will be, as I'm trying to get as minimal as possible the edges will have a very tiny silicone fillet.

using momentive rtv silicone again. expensive stuff but worth doing it right first time. cost around £30 with vat and delivery so one of the most expensive aspects so far.
 

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