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Old 11-03-2004, 04:38 PM   #1
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i need advice on building my own acrylic tank

hey everyone,
im pretty new to the forum and dont post much but ive read A LOT!!! great info on every subject i could think of...lol
anyways, i want to take on the task of building my own acrylic tank. the dimensions i want are 24"x24"x72" im not sure what capacity that is...i think about 180gal? this will be a FRESHWATER setup.
i am, unfortunately, fairly new to fish tanks but i am confident in my DIY skills. i have a 26gal currently with 2 young oscars and 2 other fish. i know they will need somewhere bigger to live within a short time from now, hence the motivation to build a larger tank.
first of all, should i just buy a pre-built tank? or will this be easy enough to do myself? ive read the DIY posts and it seems easy enough. i DO want to save money however.
second of all, i have no idea about the filters for a tank this large. my current tank has 2 HOB filters and they work fine for me. i see all the large tanks having some intricate undertank system with sumps and pumps and etc... what exactly do i need for a filtration system like that? how does it work? any recommendations as to what type of system/setup i should go with? is it possible to buy a pre-made filtration setup that i only had to run pipes for?

ok well enough of my questions. i just hope somebody can guide me in the right direction. if i left anything out, please inform me! thanks very much!



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Old 11-03-2004, 08:45 PM   #2
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well i have no real experience with building acrylic tanks, so i will not comment on that. but i will about the filtration questions.

it might be a little cheaper (and easier) if you buy a tank. the acrylic you will need should be around 1/2in to 3/4 thick, which for the dimensions you listed, will proably be more expensive than a new tank. usually searching your local newspaper's classified section for a used tank will get you a good deal. at most you might have to reseal it, or replace some plastic molding but usually the savings are worth it. lastly check this forum's for sale page, people often sell equipment, fish, etc there and any garage sales, sometimes people sell them there too.

with all filtration you should try to turn over the water in the tank at least 3-5times per hour. if you have a 100 gallon tank, plan on getting pumps/filters that run at 300 - 500 gph.

to have a sump you need to have a few things, either an overflow box, or a drilled tank with an overflow system installed (if you choose to build the tank, this would probably be the best way to install an overflow) the overflow box drains water from the main tank, passes it through a prefilter (like filter floss) and then into one end of the sump, which is nothing more than a large container usually about 20-30% of the size of the main tank, the bigger the sump the better, but shoot for at least 20%. the sump can be anything that holds water, like a rubbermaide container, another tank etc. placing baffles into the sump to direct the water through the sump will make sure water spends more time mixing with the filters, and media. filters can be anything from hob models, bags of media both carbon and biological, bio balls, etc.
Sumps will usually house heaters as well, and various other things if you do saltwater [like protein skimmers, calcium reactors, etc]. then at the other side of the sump, a pump returns the water back to the tank.

your lfs should tell pre built sump / wetdry units, that only need a pump, and to be plumbed into your system. they can become more expensive the bigger and more intricate they are. if you were to build anything the sump is what i would suggest.
Marine land, cpr, and aquarium systems (i think) are all manufactors of sumps/wet dry filters.

here's one, http://www.marineland.com/products/c...n_tidepool.asp -the tidepool, side note: 139.99 at thatpetplace.com

but all sumps need an overflow, never use a 2 pump system (1 to send, and 1receive)

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Old 11-03-2004, 09:43 PM   #3
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Building with acrylic isn't too hard. You'll need a good (no cheap benchtop models) table saw though. I would use 3/8" acrylic minimum with 1/2" being preferred. You'll need acrylic glue as well. I use Weld On #3 and #16. You can easily build in your internal overflows too. If you haven't ever worked with acrylic, I'd suggest getting some scrap and building a few small projects first to get the hang of it. One thing you CANNOT do is stick acrylic together with silicone...it won't hold. You can find some plans for building an acrylic tank at www.garf.org . BTW, as mentioned above, acrylic is EXPENSIVE! I would probably look for a used tank unless I was really committed to building. I'm going to guess you can buy a glass tank with internal overflows for the same or less than you can buy the acrylic to build it. If you want to use a wet/dry, and with your fish I would, be sure to get a tank that has internal overflows (aka "reef ready")
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Old 11-04-2004, 07:02 PM   #4
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I went through the whole thing researching build tank myself vs buying one.

One major problem is getting acrylic sheets at a good price ... I priced out the acrylic sheets & find that I can get a pre-made glass tank for less ... <What some of the shops in town charges - I can buy a pre-made acrylic tank for less!>

So basically, I think that a DIY acrylic tank only make financial sense if it is an odd size that you can't buy pre-made, or if the tank is so big that you want acrylic so it is lighter & easier to move. Otherwise, I'd go with factory made glass - preferable a good used one --- That's the route I went eventually.

Now of course, you can't put a price tag on seeing something built perfectly by you & the bragging rights that come with it ....

As for sump & wet/dry filters, etc. Those are pretty easy for a DIY setup. I made mine out of rubbermaid tub, plastic baskets, & electrical conduits & various plumbling/lawn irrigration odds & ends. The whole setup costs maybe 15% of a premade unit.
80 gal FW with 30 gal DIY wet/dry/sump.
9 fancy golds, 1 hillstream loaches, 1 rubber-lip pleco (C. thomasi), 3 SAEs, small school of white cloud minnows, planted.
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Old 11-05-2004, 08:22 AM   #5
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Check out the thread on acrylic fabrication here: http://www.aquariumadvice.com/viewto...257&highlight=

It would be fairly easy to design any tank with internal filtration hidden well and/or include a sump. For a tank of those demensions I wouldn't make it out of anything less than 1/2". It is also very important to include a Euro style bracing and ONLY use cell cast acrylic. Cell cast 1/2" should run around $150 Retail a sheet, so if cutting cost is an option a deal on a used glass tank would be much much cheaper. But there is something to be said for a tank you build yourself. I am up the high 20s in number of tanks and countless sumps and you definately get better with each project.

PM or post any questions you may have, I'll be heppy to help.

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