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Old 04-20-2010, 05:17 PM   #1
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Converting an Oakley display cabinet into an aquarium

I just got an Oakley plexiglass display cabinet that they use to hold their sunglasses. I can't post pics at the momment but I will get them on asap. It has big aluminum edges as a frame and 1/4 in. plexiglass for the sides and back. It will be about 92 gallons if I pull it off. It's going to need work, the tops and bottoms of the glass are not supported so I will have to reinforce them. Another biggy is the front has two plexiglass doors that split in the middle. So I won't be able to use them and will have to find something to put there instead. I was thing a piece of plywood, another piece of plexiglass is too expensive, and even just glass is pricey. Anyways, that's the jist of it. I was hoping to just be able to pump all the cracks with a ton of silicone and it would do the trick.
Dimentions of the glass enclosure are; 44in. Tall, 32in. wide, and 15in. Deep.
Like I said, pics coming soon. Any hints or probable unforseen problems would be greatly accepted. Or maybe tell me if this is even posible. Anybody know if that thickness of plexiglass is even strong enough to hold that much water.
Thanks,
Tetra22
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Old 04-20-2010, 05:42 PM   #2
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Good luck. If it's what I think it is, I think you're in for a lot of frustration with leaks.
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Old 04-20-2010, 05:47 PM   #3
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+1 on frustration with leaks! at that point, IMO you would be better off doing a plywood build......
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Old 04-20-2010, 10:02 PM   #4
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Well I've been wanting to do a plywood tank, but that costs alot of money...which I don't really have alot of, and you need to be in a stable housing situation...which I also don't have. So with this, I got the cabinet for free...and I'm hoping I'll be able to convert it without a whole lot more that a few tubes of silicone and a jerryrigged front to the tank. We have enough scrap metal and plywood at my house to do the necesary beef-ups. Were pretty handy 'round here so I think we can do it. Remember I never said it was going to be easy.
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Old 04-21-2010, 01:36 AM   #5
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I wouldn't trust silicone on plexi - that won't stick!

How tall a tank you are making, 1/4" is not very thick, so is good only for shallow tanks only (16" deep or less - less than 12" prob safer). Even then, you would need to reinforce the open top with a full euro-brace.

To do the job properly, you would need to take the whole thing apart & use the plexi as sheet stock. After cutting to size & re-finishing all the edges (router best, sandpaper if you are really good at making a perfectly flat edge), you would join the pieces with Weld-on or other solvent weld product. If needed, you would seal the seams with thickened Weldon rather than silicone. <They sell it as thick as silicone, or you make your own by dissolving shaved off bits of acrylic into thin weld-on till you get it as thick as needed - good way to use up your thin Weld-on used for the original seam bonding.>

This si an article to get you started:
Building an Acrylic Aquarium
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Old 04-21-2010, 01:14 PM   #6
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Ok well, I've done some thinking, and I've decided against building the tank as it was. So now I'm going to take the metal frame and make some shelves or something. And use the plexi as sheet stock, as jsoong suggested, and create multiple smaller tanks. So now I know I can't use silicone and I have to use that special suff, but how do you seal plexiglass to plywood???? That fancy plexi glue won't stick to ply will it? Is this why everyone uses glass fronts on their builds?
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Old 04-21-2010, 08:38 PM   #7
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All plexi construction is the simplest. Mixing glass & plexi construction is tricky at best ... i would avoid that.

Usually, you would do a full plywood with a plexi or glass front. Unfortunately, there is no glue that will bond plexi (or glass) to plywood reliably. You need to do a plywood frame & gasket the plexi or glass to it - rubber gasket & bolts (ideally a plywood - gasket- glass/plexi - gasket - plywood sandwich - esp. for large tank ... although some plans have only the plywood frame on the outside.) For small tanks, it might be safe enough to use a bead of silicone as your gasket, but you will still need to mechanically fasten the glass/plexi to the plywood frame.

Other options might be epoxy or fiberglass as your joint, but all involve a hefty plywood frame or some sort. <No frameless edge to edge joints here!.> This is an article on one construction method:
DIY - Plywood/Glass Aquarium
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Old 04-22-2010, 02:41 PM   #8
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Ok thanks. That clears it up a bit. Its alot more complicated than I thought.
Btw what do you use to seal the plywood to make it all waterproof?
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Old 04-22-2010, 03:47 PM   #9
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Epoxy paint - and gap/holes filled with autobody putty ("bondo").

More details:
Building a Plywood Aquarium
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Old 04-29-2010, 02:46 PM   #10
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not to mention the base would not hold it up.

So, does that mean you have an Oakley hookup??
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